When you get hurt in a personal injury accident, the last thing you want to hear is that the accident was your fault. Whether it was a car accident or a slip and fall, you don’t want to hear that you’re partially responsible. After all, if it weren’t for the defendant, you wouldn’t have been injured, right? The thing is, none of us ever want to admit that we’re at fault in any sort of accident. It’s not just a matter of pride or arrogance. We may truly think the other party is at fault. Perhaps we weren’t really paying attention at the time of the accident. Or we may just not be able to recall exactly what happened. What we do know, however, is that it was all the other person’s fault. The problem is, someone has to be at fault. And, if both parties insist it was the other person, then the case isn’t going to be settled.
What a lot of people don’t realize, or don’t want to admit, is that rarely, if ever, is one person 100% responsible for an accident. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if someone is drunk driving and crashes into a minivan, odds are, they’re going to be found liable for any injuries. But if you get into a run-of-the-mill car crash, there is a good chance you’ll be found at least partially at fault. Perhaps you were hit from behind but your brake lights weren’t working right at the time of the accident. Yes, the other driver did hit you. However, would they have done that if your brake lights had been working properly?
It’s questions like this that keep personal injury lawyers in Crestview busy. Very rarely does a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit admit that they were 100% at fault. If they don’t deny liability altogether, they’re probably going to say that both parties were in the wrong. Once this happens, your Crestview personal injury lawyer has their opening to start settlement negotiations. In order for this to happen, however, you need to call and meet with a skilled injury lawyer in Florida right away. This way, they have plenty of time to find out what the defendant’s story is. It also gives them time to try to settle your case so you can avoid having to file a lawsuit.
What is the Law in Florida When it Comes to Partial Fault and Liability?
Like most states, Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that your claim won’t be dismissed if the court finds you were partially at fault. However, it does mean your claim for damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you sue someone for $100,000 and are found to be 20% at fault, your damages will be reduced by $20,000. But before you receive anything, your Crestview injury lawyer has to prove negligence.
In order to do this, your attorney basically needs to prove four (4) things:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care. This will depend on the type of case you’re involved in. If you’re hurt in a car accident, it won’t be hard to show that the other driver owed you a duty of care. All motorists owe everyone else on the road a certain duty of care. At a minimum, they need to obey all traffic laws. If, on the other hand, you were hurt in a slip and fall, it’s not as easy. You’ll need to show that the property owner owed you a duty to make sure their property was clean and safe. This isn’t so hard if you fall in a grocery store. But what if you fall at an outdoor concert venue? What duty would you be owed in this kind of situation? Your Crestview personal injury lawyer will need to show that this duty of care exists.
- This duty was breached. This can be a bit harder to prove. Again, in a car accident case, it can be easy if the other driver was issued a traffic ticket. For example, if they were speeding or were drinking and driving, it’s easy to prove beach. But in other cases, it’s not so clear. If your child is hurt at daycare, your lawyer can probably easily prove that the daycare owed your child a duty of care. However, it won’t be as easy to prove that they breached this duty. It will depend on what kinds of injuries your child suffered. It will also depend on how they got hurt.
- You were injured. This is why it’s so important that you seek medical treatment immediately after your accident. It really doesn’t matter what kind of accident you’re involved in. Your Crestview injury lawyer is going to have to prove that you were hurt. The best way to do this is by submitting medical records. If you don’t go to the hospital, there’s no way to show that you were even injured. If you can’t do this, you’re not going to have any claim for damages.
- Your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach. It's not enough to show that you were hurt. Your attorney also has to prove that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty. For example, if you have terminal cancer and get into a car accident, you can’t blame your illness on the accident. The same is true if you have a pre-existing condition. Let’s say you have a bad back and have for years. It can get difficult to prove that your back injuries were actually caused by the accident.
What are the Odds that the Defendant Will Claim You Were at Fault?
It’s very rare that any defendant would sit back and take all the blame for your accident. At some point, they’re either going to say you were totally at fault or you were at least partially at fault. This is usually when your Crestview injury lawyer will try to negotiate a settlement. The defendant’s lawyer will claim you were at fault. Your attorney will insist you were an innocent victim. Both lawyers know the truth lies somewhere in between. It’s just a matter of determining who was more at fault. This is where evidence comes in handy.
When you first meet with your personal injury lawyer, they’re going to look at your case carefully. If they don’t think your case is worth any money, they’re not going to accept your case. The same is true if they think you were primarily at fault. No attorney is going to want to waste their time on a case that can’t be won. However, if you were partially at fault, that won’t prevent a lawyer from agreeing to represent you. They understand that you may not get as much money as you want. But they should have a good idea of how much your case may be worth.
Rather than go to court and let a jury decide who was at fault, your attorney will try to settle your case. A settlement is in the best interests of everyone involved. Nobody wants to go to trial. Trials are expensive and time-consuming.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Crestview Right Away
If you’re hurt in any sort of personal injury, you’re going to need an experienced lawyer in Crestview. More likely than not, the other party is going to say that you were at fault. It may be a matter of who retains an attorney first as to who’s going to win. For example, if you wait a few months to call an experienced personal injury lawyer, it may be too late. By then, the other party may have hired their own lawyer to file a lawsuit against you. If this happens, you’re going to be defending a case rather than filing a suit for damages.
The sooner you schedule your free initial consultation with our office, the better. This way, our attorneys have a chance to review your case and decide if you have an actual claim for damages. We can also determine what these damages may be. Rather than have to file a counter-claim against the defendant, we can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. This way, you’re in control. Yes, your lawyer may still have to prove the defendant is at fault. But this is a lot easier than you having to both defend a lawsuit and convincing a jury that you were the injured party.