If someone else’s negligence caused your Florida accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company typically holds the purse strings when it comes to settlements. The insurance companies are big businesses, and they do not make money by paying out large sums of money on personal injury claims. Instead, in many cases, the insurance companies try to pin some—or all—of the blame on the injured accident victim. For example, the insurance company may allege that you drove carelessly or recklessly or that you somehow caused or contributed to the collision. Even under these circumstances, though, you may still recover monetary compensation for the personal injuries and damages you sustained in the accident.
The knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group know and understand the tricks that insurance companies routinely use to try to limit their liability in personal injury cases. Our attorneys are ready and willing to take on insurance companies and fight any liability disputes that their adjusters raise. Our knowledgeable team of attorneys can investigate and evaluate your claim and may help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve.
Common Causes of Florida Accidents
Thanks to busy highways and congested roads, aggressive driving has unfortunately become all-too-common on roadways throughout Florida. When motor vehicle drivers engage in aggressive, reckless, or careless driving, they jeopardize the safety and well-being of all other drivers on the roadways at that time. Negligent driving may include:
- Abrupt lane changes
- Weaving in and out of highway traffic
- Failing to use appropriate turn signals
- Exceeding posted speed limits
- Distracted driving (for example, texting while driving or using a cell phone that lacks a hands-free option)
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Fatigued driving
Proving the At-Fault Driver Was Negligent
Florida drivers owe all other drivers on the roadways an affirmative duty to operate their motor vehicles in reasonably safe, prudent, and careful ways under the circumstances. In other words, Florida drivers have a duty to carefully obey all Florida traffic laws and rules of the road while operating their vehicles.
To recover damages for personal injuries sustained in an accident that a negligent driver caused, the injured accident victim has the burden of proving that the aggressive driver behaved in a reckless, careless, or negligent manner, or otherwise breached the applicable standard of care. The injured accident victim must also prove the accident directly resulted in injuries and damages.
Denying or Limiting Liability
In Florida personal injury cases, insurance companies and their adjusters will do everything in their powers to limit the accident victim’s monetary recovery and damages, or they may deny liability (or fault for the accident) altogether. They do this by alleging that the injured accident victim caused or contributed to the accident. Some jurisdictions outside of Florida take extremely unforgiving views when it comes to contributory negligence. Those jurisdictions completely bar an injured accident victim from obtaining any monetary recovery if a jury finds that the accident victim caused or contributed to the accident in any way—no matter how slight. An injured driver may contribute to an accident by speeding, engaging in distracted driving, or running a red light, for example.
Fortunately, instead of applying this harsh doctrine of contributory negligence, Florida uses a pure comparative fault standard. Under this law, the injured plaintiff who is partially to blame for causing a motor vehicle accident reduces the amount of potential monetary recovery by an amount equal to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault for causing the accident.
By way of example, if the plaintiff traveled five miles per hour more than the speed limit and the jury ultimately found the plaintiff was 5 percent at fault for the accident (and that the other driver was 95 percent at fault), then the plaintiff’s available damages will reduce by 5 percent. In theory, under this system of recovery, a plaintiff could still receive some slight recovery, even if a jury found the plaintiff 99 percent at fault for the motor vehicle accident. A court may deem a plaintiff fully or partially responsible for an accident for:
- Failing to use a turn signal
- Stopping too quickly in front of another vehicle
- Failing to maintain the proper driving distance
- Running a red traffic light, stop sign, or yield sign
- Failing to properly yield the right-of-way to another vehicle
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated or while under the influence of drugs (DUI or DUID)
Potential Damages Available to Car Accident Victims
An injured motor vehicle accident victim may still recover both economic and noneconomic damages when partially at-fault for the accident. In this case, damages may include monetary compensation for medical bills and expenses, physical therapy costs, lost wages for time missed from work, pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress, loss of earning capacity, loss of companionship, and loss of spousal support.
Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Someone else’s negligence can cause potentially serious and lifelong personal injuries in a Florida car accident. Even if the court deems you, the accident victim, partially responsible for the accident, the law may still entitle you to some (or all) of your available damages.
The St. Petersburg personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group may help you to fight any liability disputes raised by the insurance company in your case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer, please call us at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online today.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712