If you have been injured in an accident in Bartow, Florida due to the negligence of another person, you have the legal right to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. With that being said, the amount of compensation you receive depends on several factors — two of the most important of which are the expertise of your personal injury attorney in Bartow, Florida, and legal fault.
Determining fault in a personal injury lawsuit can be complicated. It is often apparent where the fault lies; however, most of the time, the defendant disagrees and accuses the plaintiff. Rarely does someone like to admit they were at fault for an accident, especially when it can have serious financial consequences.
When there is a question of blame that needs to be settled for the payment of damages, Florida — like most states — uses a legal doctrine called “comparative negligence.” Per the comparative negligence rule, both parties could potentially absorb fault in a personal injury suit if both of them contributed to the accident. The amount that is awarded to the plaintiff depends on the percentage of the fault assigned to them by the jury.
If you are planning on filing a personal injury lawsuit in Bartow, Florida, it’s important that you have an understanding of what Florida’s comparative negligence rule could mean for your claim.
Florida’s Pure Comparative Negligence Rule
Some States recognize modified comparative negligence, or partial comparative negligence (also known as the 50% or 51% bar rule). This rule states that the plaintiff can recover compensation directly proportional to their percentage of fault, provided that they do not have an equivalent or higher percentage of fault than the other party. Only four states (Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, plus Washington D.C.) recognize pure contributory negligence, which means the plaintiff is not entitled to any compensation if they are found to be at fault at all — even if their percentage of fault is as low as 1%.
However, Florida’s comparative negligence model is a bit more flexible. Florida recognizes the “pure” comparative negligence rule that allows the plaintiff to recover compensation directly proportional to their percentage of fault, regardless of their share of fault.
Let’s say the jury reviewing your case finds you to be 60% liable for causing the accident that resulted in your injuries, and the other party involved is determined to be 40% at fault. Your final settlement, or case award, is set at $500,000. In a modified comparative negligence or pure contributory negligence state, you would not be able to recover anything. However, per the pure comparative negligence rule in Florida, you would be entitled to recover 60% of $500,000, which would be $300,000.
Note: It often does not make financial sense to pursue a personal injury claim if your percentage of fault exceeds that of the defendant. Doing so could leave you open to the defendant’s countersuit. After losing a portion to reflect your fault percentage, the potential recovery would likely be less than the cost of legal fees.
Are you in need of a personal injury lawyer in Bartow, Florida?
If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in Bartow, Florida due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The dedicated personal injury lawyers at the O’Toole Law Group have extensive experience in handling all types of personal injury claims throughout Central Florida. We can determine your potential liability and minimize the amount of fault you absorb for the accident, thereby increasing your overall recovery.
To learn more about how we can help you obtain compensation for the injuries you’ve sustained, contact us at (863) 533 5525 to schedule a free consultation.