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Posted 02/28/2023 in Personal Injury by Erik Abrahamson

Auto Negligence In Florida - What Is It?

Auto Negligence In Florida - What Is It?

With a population of millions, Florida is a state where the high volume of drivers on the road, unfortunately, results in numerous accidents. Such car accidents frequently occur due to the negligence or irresponsible behavior of one or more drivers, putting the safety of other drivers at risk. 

It is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of how Florida law addresses cases of automobile negligence, as it could potentially impact any driver in the event an accident occurs. 

Auto Negligence Defined

Negligence refers to a failure to act in a reasonable manner, leading to an accident or injury. Likewise, in the context of driving, auto negligence refers to a situation where a driver fails to operate their vehicle in the way a reasonable driver would, resulting in a car accident. 

How Auto Negligence Is Proven

In Florida, demonstrating negligence requires providing evidence that the driver failed to operate their vehicle in a reasonable manner, which ultimately led to an accident and subsequent injury. To prove auto negligence, four critical elements must be satisfied, including:

  1. The driver owned a duty of care to the injured party

  2. The driver breached this duty by driving irresponsibly

  3. The breach was the direct cause of the accident

  4. The accident resulted in damages, such as physical injuries and property damage

When operating a vehicle on the road, drivers have a legal obligation to act reasonably and responsibly toward other drivers. If the driver failed to uphold this duty of care and acted negligently, this may be considered a breach of their legal obligation. If the breach of care caused the accident and resulting damages, such as injuries and property damage, there may be grounds to prove the driver’s negligence. 

Proving negligence can be a challenging task, but a skilled car accident attorney can assist in gathering the necessary details and information to demonstrate the other driver’s negligence. Establishing negligence is a critical aspect of a car accident case.

Florida Is A Comparative Negligence State

Every car accident is unique, and while some accidents may be caused by the negligence of a single driver, others may involve multiple parties at fault. In Florida, cases involving multiple negligent drivers are governed by the pure comparative fault rule. 

Under this rule, a judge will assess the exact percentage of fault attributable to each driver involved in the accident. The plaintiff’s compensation award will then be reduced by the percentage of fault they bear in the accident. For example, if a defendant crashes into a plaintiff while the plaintiff was texting and driving, and the judge determines the plaintiff was 30% at fault, the plaintiff’s total damages are $100,000, then their compensatory award will be reduced by 30%. Meaning they will only be entitled to receive $70,000 of the $100,000 total damages owed to the plaintiff. 

In some states, a plaintiff may lose the right to recover damages if they are more than 50% at fault. However, this is not the case in Florida, where a plaintiff is entitled to a percentage of the damages award, even if they are determined to be mostly at fault. For instance, if the plaintiff is found to be 90% a fault, they would still be entitled to 10% of the compensation award. 

No-Fault Law In Florida 

Florida is among the limited states that implement a no-fault car insurance system. This insurance system requires that after a car accident, individuals must turn to their own insurance coverage for financial assistance. 

The Personal Injury Protection insurance will provide coverage for medical expenses and other accident-related costs up to $10,000, irrespective of who was at fault for the accident. 

If an individual’s losses and injuries go beyond the $10,000 limit, they may be able to bypass Florida’s no-fault system and file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. It’s important to note that the no-fault insurance system does not apply to property damage resulting from a car accident. Individuals can make a claim against the driver who is at fault for the property damage and loss. 

Serious Injury Defined by Florida’s No-Fault Law

To seek compensation for noneconomic damages from the at-fault driver under Florida’s no-fault system, individuals must have injuries that qualify as serious. The state of Florida defines serious injuries as:

  • Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function

  • Permanent injury that is likely to occur, other than scarring or disfigurement

  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement

  • Death

Individuals will be unable to receive compensation for noneconomic damages if their injuries do not meet these qualifications. 

How A Florida Car Accident Attorney Can Help

Although it is not mandatory to hire a car accident attorney, retaining legal representation often leads to the best possible outcome. Car accident cases can be complex, and some may present unique challenges. Your attorney will handle all aspects of your case, which may include:

  • Investigating the accident

  • Collecting evidence and information

  • Calculating appropriate damages

  • Communicating with insurance companies

  • Engaging in settlement negotiations

Many car accident cases are resolved through settlements outside of the courtroom, but some may require a trial. An experienced Florida car accident attorney will provide peace of mind by ensuring the case is handled correctly. An attorney will advocate for victims, protect their rights, and work diligently to secure the compensation they are entitled to.

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