Can Both Parties To An Injury Lawsuit Be Liable For An Accident?
In some car accidents, it is clear who is at fault. Rear end accidents, or someone running a red light make it clear who caused the accident and who didn’t. But sometimes, it isn’t so easy to tell who caused an accident. And that means that both parties to the accident point the finger at each other.
How it Happens
That may have some validity; there are many instances where both parties can have some fault in a car accident. Imagine a situation where two cars change lanes into each other, or where both cars run a 4-way stop sign. In that case, everybody may be at fault, to some degree.
But when that happens, the question is, can you still get compensation or your injuries? Or does the other party or driver have to be the only one at fault?
The answer is yes, even in a situation where you are partially at fault for the accident, you still can recover damages.
But before we go much further a caution is needed: Don’t just assume you are at fault at all. Don’t listen to the other driver who blames you, or even, sometimes, the police report. You should always bring your case to an injury attorney, to see legally who is most likely at fault.
The reason why you can get compensation, even if you are at fault, is because of Florida’s comparative negligence system. Florida looks at each party’s responsibility or liability for an accident, and will reduce what you get, based on the percentage that you caused your accident.
So, let’s say that the jury finds that you were 50% liable for your accident, and your damages are $50,000. You would receive a judgment for $25,000. In theory, a jury could find you 99% liable for your injuries, meaning you would receive $500—certainly not a favorable outcome, but it illustrates that yes, even if the jury finds you to be very much at fault, there is still the chance of recovering compensation for your injuries.
Other States Are Different
Note that this is not how it works in many states. Florida is unique. In many states, if the victim is responsible for his or her own accident by 50% or 51% or more, the victim gets nothing. In those states, if you were 52% responsible for the accident, no matter how severe your damages are, you would receive no compensation.
This is often why expert reconstructionists, or witnesses are used in car accident cases. Because if these witnesses can convince a jury that the other side is even just slightly “more liable” for the accident than you are, that can translate into significant compensation—the difference of only a few percentage points in liability, can be tens of thousands of dollars, in a significant damage case.
Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian today. Schedule a consultation today for help with your injury case.