If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, Florida law allows you to seek compensation for your injuries. However, you must prove every element of negligence in order to recover compensation for your damages. What this means is you must show that:
a. The at-fault party owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident
b. There was a breach of the duty of care
c. The breach caused your injuries, not some underlying health condition.
d. You suffered a certain extent of the damage.
While states across the country have different negligence laws, Florida has three types of negligence. Keep reading to discover these three types of negligence in Florida and how each one works in a personal injury claim.
Negligence Type 1 – Florida comparative negligence: How much blame do you share for the accident?
In some situations, it’s possible for more than one person to share the blame for an accident. To regulate such scenarios, states use comparative negligence rules to establish which party is liable for an accident and, if so, by how much. Usually, these rules vary from state to state, with most of them adopting two main varieties of comparative negligence:
a. Pure comparative negligence
b. Modified comparative negligence
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. That means you can still recover damages for the accident even if you were mostly to blame for your injuries. The amount of compensation that you recover will simply be reduced by your percentage of blame in the accident.
For example, if you are hit by a speeding driver, and he or she argues that you had a defective tail light, you could share some level of responsibility for the accident. If the judge or jury establishes that you were 80% responsible for your accident injuries, your damages would be reduced by an equivalent percentage. So you could still recover 20% of damages to cover your injuries.
Keep in mind that the pure comparative negligence rule does not only apply to car accidents. It can also be used in cases involving dog attacks, defective products, slips and falls, and other personal injury cases.
On the other hand, modified comparative negligence means you can only sue the other person for damages if you were less than 51% to blame for your accident injuries. So if a judge establishes that you were 49% responsible for the accident, you can still recover 51% of your damages from the other person. But if you are 60% percent responsible for the accident, you may not recover anything from the other person.
Negligence Type 2 – Vicarious liability: When someone else is responsible for the person or thing that injured you
Vicarious liability applies when one individual, animal, or entity’s behaviors or actions cause harm to another person. For instance, a dog owner may be vicariously liable for the injuries that his or her dog causes to others. Similarly, an employer is vicariously responsible for the actions of their employees. In some cases, the government will also have vicarious liability for the actions of government agents, public bus drivers, and public schools.
The good thing about vicarious liability is that it makes it easy for the injured party to seek compensation, especially in complicated cases like those involving a harmful child or dog. Even better, it gives accident victims a better chance of getting higher compensation than they would have received from the at-fault party alone.
For example, holding a nursing home liable for the caregiver’s negligent actions would generally yield better compensation than a lawsuit against the individual caregiver alone. If you suspect that you may have a valid vicarious liability claim, turn to an experienced personal injury attorney to establish whether you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries.
Negligence Type 3 – Gross negligence: The worst kind of negligence
When someone consciously or intentionally violates another person’s rights or puts them in danger, such a person may be termed as grossly negligent. As per Florida statute section 768.72 (2)(b), gross negligence refers to behavior that is reckless that it demonstrates a conscious indifference or disregard to the individual’s rights, safety, or life.
For example, if someone is facing charges for a drunk driving accident, they may be found guilty of gross negligence simply because he or she was aware of the commonly-known dangers associated with driving under the influence.
In Florida, the plaintiff (you as the person filing the personal injury lawsuit) may be awarded punitive damages if the judge has a reason to believe the person who injured you was grossly negligent at the time of the accident. Unlike regular compensatory damages, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the person and to discourage other people in the community from demonstrating the same high degree of reckless behavior.
Do you know which type of negligence applies to your case? Consult our personal injury attorneys today
The laws surrounding various types of negligence can be complicated. Regardless of the type of negligence you are claiming for your injury, consult with our experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers who will guide you through every step of the legal process. With all the expertise, experience, and legal resources, the team of injury attorneys at Fetterman & Associates, P.A. will pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Give us a call at 561-845-2510 to schedule your free consultation.