Proposed Changes to Florida Negligence Laws Could Impact Your Accident Claim

One of the key concepts in a Florida accident claim is negligence, in which the actions of the at-fault party are evaluated to determine if they breach the duty to exercise reasonable care. Negligence is also a factor when reviewing the victim’s conduct. When they are also negligent, victims may lose out on a percentage of their compensation. Under current law on comparative fault, a person’s monetary damages are reduced if their actions contribute to the incident. However, under a new bill under consideration by Florida lawmakers, there is a possibility that you might be prohibited from obtaining any compensation at all. 

The measure has a long way to go before it becomes a law, but it is important to understand how it works. A look at the proposed changes can also help you grasp what the existing statute says about monetary damages in accident cases. You can trust a Miami personal injury lawyer to provide personalized advice, but some background is useful.

Current Law on Comparative Fault

If you were hurt in an accident today in Florida, your monetary damages would be calculated according to the concept of pure comparative negligence. You could be mostly to blame, even up to 99% liable for causing the accident – and you would still be able to recover some compensation. The law takes the full amount of damages and reduces them by the amount of fault attributable to your misconduct. For instance, if you won an award of $100,000 but were determined to be 30% responsible, you would receive $70,000.

Impact of the Proposed Amendment

The bill under consideration in Florida would change the statute to modified comparative negligence. This rule has a harsh impact: If you are 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover any monetary damages for your losses. However, if your negligence is evaluated at 50% or less, your compensation is only reduced. Again, it is the percentage of fault that determines the total reduction for your damages.

It is not surprising that proponents of the bill include insurance companies, who would be exposed to less risk when victims are unable to recover compensation.

How Comparative Fault Affects Your Case

There are two key aspects of an accident claim in which the concept of comparative negligence may enter the picture:

  • Your negligent actions will come up during settlement discussions, and the insurer will use the information to justify making a lowball counteroffer. The company may even deny your claim entirely.
  • At trial, the jury is allowed to consider evidence about your negligent acts when assessing damages. Jurors can reduce any amount they award on a percentage basis.

Discuss Legal Remedies With Our Miami Personal Injury Attorneys

As legislators debate whether to make changes to Florida’s comparative fault law, the current statute remains in full effect. For more information on how monetary damages work, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. You can schedule a no-cost case review at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL, by calling (305) 371-6000 or going online.

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