To determine who is “at fault” for a car crash, courts often look to who was “negligent.” A negligent driver can be held liable for any damages that result from their negligence and mistakes behind the wheel. Filing a lawsuit in court alleging negligence is often the best way to get full damages in your car accident case under Florida law, since insurance policies might limit the damages you can claim.
For a free legal consultation on your car accident case, call the Miami negligent driver car accident lawyer at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA today. Our attorney represents victims of car accidents caused by another driver’s negligence in and around Miami, and he fights to get victims and their families the financial compensation they deserve. For your free legal consultation, call us today at (305) 694-2676.
Proving Negligence in a Car Accident in Florida
For a court to accept that a driver was responsible for the car crash, the victim must provide evidence and proof of the negligence. This evidence can usually come in the form of testimony from the victim and witnesses, traffic cam footage, and pictures of the accident scene, which help a jury determine where the cars where and how the accident happened. To meet the legal definition of “negligence,” you and your attorney must prove four elements of your case:
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty. Typically, this duty includes the duty to drive with reasonable care and skill or the duty to follow traffic laws by stopping at red lights, following speed limits, and yielding when required.
- The at-fault driver violated this duty. If they violated traffic laws or drove in a dangerous way, their breach of a legal duty can help prove their negligence.
- The breach caused your injuries. If the other driver was negligent, but that was not the “but for” cause of your injuries, they can’t be held responsible.
- The accident caused you damages the court can compensate. Without harm, there is nothing to sue for, so this is a vital element.
Once your attorney proves these four factors “by a preponderance of the evidence,” the jury can find the defendant liable and the judge can order them to pay damages. “By a preponderance of the evidence” essentially means that it is “more likely than not” that your claim is true, or that the jury is on your side by around 51%. This is a far lower burden than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases, making it far easier for drivers to get damages for these kinds of civil lawsuits.
Suing for Car Crashes with Shared Negligence and Comparative Fault
In many cases, a driver who caused a car accident will try to shift blame back to the victim. Often, victims are not completely blameless; drivers who looked down to adjust the radio or who were driving 5mph over the speed limit technically share some fault in causing the accident. In some cases, the at-fault driver may be right in claiming that you also did something wrong and that two wrongs don’t make a right. However, just because a victim did something wrong does not legally negate the other driver’s fault under Florida law.
Florida is a “comparative fault” state. This means that when the court hears a case involving negligence in Miami, the jury is allowed to assign a percentage of fault to each driver involved in the crash. At-fault parties then cover that same percentage of the total damages in the case. For example, if two bad drivers were racing and struck another car, they could likely be held 50% at-fault each, and they would each pay half the damages to the victim. In other cases, the victim might share some of the fault as well.
A court might not see a victim as totally innocent, and Florida law allows them to assign the victim a percentage of the blame in their own injury case. However, this doesn’t stop the victim from being able to claim damages and get compensation for their injuries. Some states cut-off victims at 50% liability or 51% liability, stopping them from being able to get damages if they shared half or more than half of the blame. Florida law does not have these restrictions, and victims can always claim damages from an at-fault party for their share of the harm. This means that even if two cars strike each other and only one driver suffers injuries, that injured driver might be able to sue the other driver even if they were 75% or 90% responsible for their own injuries.
These kinds of cases are rare, but this law is incredibly helpful for people who are judged in court to be 25% or 50% liable for their own injuries, since it still gives them an opportunity to claim at least some of the damages.
For any percentage of fault a victim is found to have in their case, they pay their own damages. This means that if the victim suffered $100,000 worth of damages from the crash, but they were found 25% at fault for their own injuries, the defendant would cover 75% of the damages they caused ($75,000), but the victim would cover the other 25% ($25,000) themselves.
Call Our Miami Negligent Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you or a member of your family was injured in a car crash, call Miami negligence car accident attorney Prosper Shaked today. Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA recognize that car accident cases are often murky, and both parties might share some of the blame. Nonetheless, our lawyers fight to help victims seek compensation for their injuries up to the legal maximum by filing their claim in court instead of relying on insurance payments. For a free legal consultation on your case, call our attorney today at (305) 694-2676.