Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases in Florida
When a car accident occurs, and more than one party is to blame, the principle of comparative negligence kicks in. Under comparative negligence, each party’s fault is assessed, and each party’s percentage of fault is assigned based on their contribution to the accident. Comparative negligence laws help determine how much the plaintiff is eligible to recover and what each defendant is required to pay. There are two types of comparative negligence rules: pure and modified comparative negligence rules. Some states use the pure comparative negligence rule, whereas others use the modified comparative negligence rule. For many decades, Florida used the pure comparative negligence rule. However, in 2023, after Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 837 into law, Florida shifted from a pure comparative negligence state to a modified comparative negligence state.
Pure Comparative Negligence
As mentioned already, since 1973, until Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 837 into law, Florida had been a pure comparative negligence state. Under the pure comparative negligence rule, a car accident claimant can recover compensation regardless of their percentage fault. Even if a claimant is 99% at fault for their accident, they can still recover compensation. However, a plaintiff’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if someone is found 90% liable for their accident, their compensation is reduced by 90%, and they can recover only 10% of the damages.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Under modified comparative negligence, which is the rule that Florida now applies to car accident cases, a plaintiff is barred from recovering compensation if their percentage of fault is over a certain threshold. There are two variations of the modified comparative negligence rule. The first one is the 50% bar rule. Under this rule, a plaintiff cannot recover compensation if they are equally or more at fault for their accident. Under the 50% bar rule, you can only recover compensation if you are 49% or less to blame for your accident and injuries. The second one is the 51% bar rule. Under this rule, a claimant is barred from recovering damages if they are 51% or more at fault for their accident. Under the 51% bar rule, you can only recover compensation if you are 50% or less to blame for your accident. In either scenario, damages are reduced according to the claimant’s percentage of fault.
Under Florida’s modified comparative negligence rule, a car accident claimant can only recover financial compensation if their share of responsibility is 50% or less. You cannot recover compensation if you are found to be 51% or more at fault for your accident. This means that Florida uses the 51% bar rule. If, for instance, you are 40% to blame for your car accident, you would recover 60% of your damages. On the other hand, if you are 51% or more to blame, you will not recover any compensation.
It is crucial to note that the new Florida law applies to car accident claims filed on or after March 24, 2023. Some claims might be more complex to figure out, so it is best to contact an attorney.
Contact a Lakeland, FL, Auto Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a Florida car accident, do not hesitate to contact our Lakeland car accident attorneys at Darla K. Snead, P.L. for legal help. Handling a car accident claim on your own can be challenging, especially when more than one party is to blame for the accident. Our attorneys can help you handle any comparative negligence issues that arise.