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What is Comparative Negligence in a Car Accident Lawsuit?


Every state has its own rules when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. Some states operate on a form of pure comparative negligence, while others have a modified rule. Florida, for years, had a pure comparative negligence rule that was recently changed by the governor and modified. In this article, the Tampa car accident attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm will discuss Florida’s modified comparative negligence rule and how it applies to car accident lawsuits.

Understanding comparative negligence 

Some accidents are simple. One driver rear-ends another driver causing an accident. In that case, you can assign 100% of the blame to the driver who rear-ended the other driver. While not every rear-end accident collision will pan out like this, the vast majority of them do. The driver who did the rear-ending is generally held liable for the accident.

But what happens if the accident is more complicated? What if the vehicle that got rear-ended had neither taillight working at the time of the accident? What if the leading car stopped suddenly for no reason? What if the pavement was icy? In those cases, some of the blame may be assigned to the driver who got rear-ended. As an example, a vehicle that had both taillights out at the time of the accident may be assigned 25% of the blame for the collision. The driver who did the rear-ending might be assigned 75% of the blame. What happens then?

Under Florida’s rules, the driver who contributed 25% of the liability to the accident can still file a lawsuit against the driver who contributed 75% of the liability to the accident. However, to file a lawsuit under our state’s rules, you must not have contributed more than 50% of the blame for the accident. That bars you from filing a lawsuit.

Comparative negligence in a car accident lawsuit 

So, with our example above, we have one driver who can file a lawsuit. This driver contributed only 25% of the liability to the accident because their brake lights weren’t working. This resulted in a rear-end collision in which they sustained a personal injury. The total value of their claim is $30,000. The driver who contributed 25% of the blame would have their total award reduced by 25%. That reduces their overall recovery to $22,500.

Florida’s modified comparative negligence rule 

Florida prohibits anyone who contributed more than 50% of the liability for an accident from filing a personal injury lawsuit related to the claim. Other states may allow a lawsuit to move forward even if the plaintiff contributed 99% of the liability for the accident. This limits who can sue in certain situations.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Car Accident Lawyer Today 

The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of Tampa, FL residents who have been involved in serious car accidents and sustained severe injuries. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin investigating your claim right away.

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The greatest distinguishing feature among attorneys is their level of experience. Our firm has more than 60 years of legal experience, much of it spent in the courtroom at trial. As a result, our Tampa personal injury lawyers rarely encounter an unfamiliar situation and can thoroughly answer your urgent questions. Our criminal defense practice features a board certified criminal trial lawyer and two former prosecutors with impressive knowledge of trial tactics and procedures.

The resources to provide quality representation for the length of your case

Whether your case involves medical malpractice, an auto accident or a wrongful death, your attorney must be prepared to take the case all the way through trial to verdict. Many personal injury attorneys advance the cost of litigation, so they can only last so long before financial pressures start to mount. As a client, you have to wonder whether an attorney's advice to settle your case reflects the quality of the offer or your attorneys need to get paid. Fortunately, The Matassini Law Firm has the resources to pursue civil verdicts and settlements that reflect the actual value of your case.

Call our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers for a free consultation

A crisis in your life calls for capable and compassionate assistance. The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. addresses your needs all the way through the legal process. For your free initial confidential conference with one of our Tampa car accident attorneys, call us today at 813-217-5715 or contact us online.

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