How Does Comparative Negligence in Fort Walton Beach, Florida Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
Most personal injury cases are based on the theory of negligence. Usually, these cases aren’t the result of somebody intentionally hurting you. They are caused by an accident or someone’s carelessness. When someone doesn’t exercise the care expected of them, it is called negligence.
Personal injury lawyers in Fort Walton Beach know what is expected of them in a negligence case. They need to prove the following:
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- They breached this duty
- This duty caused you to become injured in some way
- The injury was directly caused by the other party’s breach
You have to prove all four elements of the offense in order to have a case. If you fail to prove any of these elements, you will not win your case. If you are filing a claim against an insurance company, they are going to look for the exact same thing.
Attorneys for insurance companies are personal injury defense lawyers. They are going to work hard to prove that their client isn’t responsible for your injuries. They can do this by proving the following:
- Their client didn’t owe you a duty of care, or
- Their client didn’t breach any such duty, or
- You were not hurt, or
- If you were hurt, it wasn’t caused by any breach of duty by their client
Keep in mind; they only have to prove one of these four things to defeat your claim.
What are the Comparative Negligence Rules in Fort Walton Beach?
Each state is a little different in how it treats comparative negligence. In a nutshell, comparative negligence just means that the plaintiff was partly at fault. It doesn’t mean you have to be totally at fault. It just means that both parties share the blame.
States who follow comparative negligence rules follow one of two types:
- Pure comparative negligence: in this type of theory, your claim for damages is reduced the percentage that you are at fault. So, if you are suing for $100,000 and you were 25% at fault, your claim will be reduced by $25,000.
- Partial Comparative Negligence: In this type of theory, if you are more at fault than the defendant, you are not allowed to recover at all. So, if you sue for $100,000 and you are 51% at fault, you will not receive a dime.
Florida follows the pure comparative negligence law.
So, if I am Partly at Fault, What Happens to My Case?
In some states, if you are found in any way to be at fault, your claim will be denied. This means that in these states if you were only 10% at fault, your entire lawsuit will be dismissed. Thankfully, Florida is not one of these states.
In Florida, your lawsuit damages will be reduced by the percentage you are at fault. So, let’s presume you are in a rear-end accident. The driver behind you is speeding and slams into your car while you are at a red light. If the defendant can prove that your brake lights were not working, you will be found partly at fault. The fault in a case like could be around 25%. So, whatever damages you win from the defendant will be reduced by 25%.
Contact a Fort Walton Beach Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been in an accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in Fort Walton Beach. They will review your case and let you know how strong they think it is. They may even give you an estimate of what your case may be worth.
When you meet with your attorney, tell them the truth. If you were partly at fault, tell him. You don’t want him to find out down the road. He needs to be prepared so that he can try to get a higher settlement to account for the comparative negligence.
Your attorney will work hard to prove your case. He will also try to convince the other side that you were not at fault. However, if you were and the other party knows this, expect your claim to be reduced. This goes for insurance claims as well.
If you file an insurance claim, the insurance company will argue that you were partly at fault. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to get you the highest settlement possible.
If you’ve been injured, contact a personal injury lawyer in Fort Walton Beach. The initial consultation is absolutely free. Your lawyer will answer any questions and concerns you may have. You pay nothing until you win your case!