I'm Partially at Fault in a Car Accident: Can I Still File a Lawsuit?
Whether emotionally, financially, or medically, recovering from a car accident — regardless of who or what caused it — can feel like an uphill battle. Those who find themselves in the aftermath of an accident that they know they are at fault for, even partially, can make matters seem even worse. Some may believe that being partially at fault in a car accident strips them of any right to take legal action against another party and receive any kind of compensation. However, our car accident lawyers serving Plant City, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Tampa, FL, and beyond are here to assure you; that isn’t true.
Here’s what you need to know about filing a lawsuit even if you are partially at fault in a car accident:
Florida’s Modified Comparative Negligence Laws: What You Need to Know
Each state has its own method of determining how to compare negligence after a personal injury or auto accident claim occurs. In March of 2023, Florida Governor Ron Desantis signed HB 837 into law. This wide-changing tort reform made several changes, including transitioning the Sunshine State from a “pure comparative negligence” system to a “modified comparative negligence” one.
What Is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Under modified comparative negligence, individuals cannot collect compensation recovery if they are found to be more than 50% responsible for their own injuries. If they are found to be less than 50% responsible, they can recover compensation, although it may not be complete compensation. It is worth noting that these changes do not apply to actions based on medical negligence.
How Did It Used to Work?
Under a pure comparative negligence system, individuals would be able to recover compensation even if they were found to be 99% responsible for the car accident. Under both symptoms, an individual would receive reduced compensation depending on how “at fault” they were found to be.
An Example of Florida’s Modified Comparative Negligence Law
Kelly is driving over the speed limit on her way to the store. Conditions are rainy and she doesn’t have her lights on. Mark is driving on a road perpendicular to the one Kelly is on and arrives at their intersection. He looks both ways, doesn’t see any oncoming traffic, and decides to turn right. Moments later, Kelly collides with Mark’s vehicle.
This simplistic example illustrates an accident where both parties are at fault to some degree; Kelly was speeding with her lights off and Mark pulled out into Kelly’s right of way. If this was brought to court, a judge or jury would need to assess each party’s percentage of fault given more details about the circumstances (how over the speed limit Kelly was driving, how long Mark stopped before turning, etc.).
Let’s say Kelly is found to be 70% at fault. Under pure comparative negligence, her recovery would be reduced by 70%, but she could still recover 30% of the damages. Now, under modified comparative negligence law, Kelly would be barred from recovering anything.
Do You Believe You’re Partially At Fault for a Car Accident? Contact Us
If you were involved in a car accident and believe you may be partially at fault, it’s critical to partner up with seasoned attorneys who will work with you to get a fair ruling. Under Florida’s modified comparative negligence law, you need a team that will fight tooth and nail to hold other parties fairly accountable — even if you believe the accident was partly on you.