When you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to seek financial compensation for your losses. This is the general rule in Florida and other states around the country. Drinking and driving, texting behind the wheel, weaving in and out of traffic, speeding – these are all examples of negligent driving that can support claims for just compensation.
But, what if the driver who hit you was not the only one at fault? For example, what if you were speeding when the accident occurred?
Understanding Florida Personal Injury Law
“Negligence” In Florida Auto Accidents
In most auto accident claims, the key questions for determining liability focus on the legal concept of “negligence.” Under Florida personal injury law, all drivers and motorcycle riders owe a legal duty to exercise reasonable care on the roads. If they breach this duty – for example, by driving recklessly in heavy traffic – and cause an accident, then the law holds them financially accountable for the consequences of their mistakes. Of course, all drivers and riders should have insurance; and, in most cases, driver’ and riders’ auto insurance policies will cover their accident-related liability.
Now, let’s add in the fact that you were speeding when the accident occurred. So, you were speeding, but you were hit by a reckless driver, and there is no question that his or her driving was a factor in the accident. Can you still recover compensation?
Florida’s Law of “Pure Contributory Negligence”
Potentially, yes. Florida is one of a relatively small number of states that adheres to a law known as, “pure contributory negligence.” The law states:
“In a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.”
In other words, if you are partially at fault in an auto accident, this can diminish your financial recovery, but it does not preclude you from securing financial compensation. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Example No. 1: An investigation reveals that your speeding played a minor role in the accident, but that the reckless driver was primarily responsible. Based upon the evidence, you were 10 percent at fault while the reckless driver was 90 percent at fault. Under these circumstances, you would be entitled to recover 90 percent of your accident-related losses.
Example No. 2: An investigation reveals that you were speeding well over the limit, and your speed was a major factor in the accident. The reckless driver played a role, but only a limited one given the speed at which you were traveling. You were 90 percent at fault and the reckless driver was 10 percent at fault. Under these circumstances, you would only be entitled to recover 10 percent of your accident-related losses.
Whether it makes sense to pursue a claim for 10 percent of your losses (once you factor in the costs of pursuing an auto accident claim) will depend on the severity of your injuries. An attorney can help you decide. The key takeaway is that you should not make any assumptions or decisions about your claim until you have a clear understanding of your legal rights.
Speak with a Crestview Auto Accident Attorney at Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A.
If you have been injured in a car or motorcycle accident and would like to speak with an attorney about your rights, contact Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A. for a free initial consultation. To find out if you have a claim for financial compensation, call (850) 682-2757 or inquire online today.