After a car accident, you find yourself seriously injured. You cannot work and the medical bills are compounding. You didn’t cause the accident; someone else did. But, you didn’t wear a seatbelt – which forced harsher injuries than you would have sustained if you had worn the safety restraint in the first place. In these types of accident cases, fault is not as straightforward and often victims feel as though they don’t have the right to request compensation.
Failing to wear your seatbelt is against the law in Florida and you may be cited, but you didn’t cause the accident itself. Therefore, you may still be eligible to collect compensation for your injuries from the driver who caused the accident.
Understanding Comparative Fault
Apportioning fault in an accident case is complex; especially if you didn’t wear a seatbelt, but also didn’t cause the accident. Florida law requires that you establish the other party was negligent or acting in a negligent manner, which in turn caused the accident.
Florida utilizes the pure comparative fault or negligence standard (Florida Statute 768.81). This means that your portion of negligence in the accident will reduce the settlement amount you are awarded in your injury case. For example, you are suing another driver for injuries sustained in an accident and the courts have determined that you are 30 percent negligent. Your damages would decrease by 30 percent – allowing you to only collect 70 percent of the total.
Under Florida law, you can establish negligence as long as three specific conditions are met:
- The party responsible for your injuries had a duty to not injure you – for example, they had a responsibility to not text and drive.
- The defendant’s duty breach is related to your injury.
- The defendant’s failure to meet their duty is what caused your injury and resulted in damages.
The rationale behind the comparative fault rule is simple: Florida knows that accidents are not always as simple to determine and often accidents can have multiple parties involved. Comparative fault helps ensure that those injured can still receive compensation – even when the causes of their accident are not black and white.
Proving negligence in these types of accident cases is more difficult. It often requires witness statements, police reports, photographs and other hard evidence. The accounts of both drivers will help as well. This is why when you report the accident, you must be clear and concise about what happened.
Also, insurance companies are quick to place the blame on the other party – in order to limit how much they have to pay out. Even if you were wearing a seatbelt, insurance companies may try to claim you are partially at fault and then fight to reduce your settlement. This is where taking statements and gathering evidence can help.
Speak with a Car Accident Attorney
If suffered a car accident injury and are worried that you were partially at fault for your injuries, contact Hancock Injury Attorneys. We can help determine comparative fault in your claim. Schedule a free consultation at 813-915-1110 or fill out an online contact form.