Understanding Contributory Fault in Florida

In many scenarios, determining who is at fault in an accident can be fairly straightforward. If someone breaks a traffic law and causes an accident, it can be easy to assess their fault for the wreck. But what happens if the other driver did something to contribute to the accident? 

Many parties can share fault for a personal injury accident — car crashes or otherwise. The law uses what is known as “contributory fault” to divide fault between parties who share blame for an injury.

Under the varying fault rules in each state, different outcomes can occur with the same facts. If you have legal questions, then it is important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.

The Different Types of Fault

Personal injury laws vary from state to state. If it is clear who is at fault in an accident, then an injury victim’s damages become the main focus of a claim or case.

If multiple people contributed to an accident, the laws of the state where the case is filed will determine recovery. A party’s level of fault can diminish or even prevent them from recovering money for their injuries.

There are three main standards of fault in personal injury cases: pure comparative fault, modified comparative fault, and pure contributory fault. Each standard can have a different result and will decide what compensation is available to an accident victim. 

What is Pure Contributory Fault?

Pure contributory fault precludes an accident victim from recovering damages if they share any fault for an accident. If you are determined to be even 1% at fault for an accident, you are not eligible to get any compensation under this harsh standard. 

Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. are the only jurisdictions that follow this standard.

What is Comparative Fault? 

There are two main kinds of comparative fault: pure and modified. Under pure comparative fault, you can recover damages no matter how much blame you share for your injuries (so long as you are not 100% at fault).

However, your recovery will be reduced by your level of fault. If you suffer $100,000 in damages but are deemed 30% at fault, then your damages will be reduced by that 30%. This results in a maximum recovery of $70,000. 

Under modified comparative fault, you can recover damages if you share less than a certain amount of fault for the accident. In some jurisdictions, you must be less than 51% at fault. In others, you must be less than 50% at fault. These are known as 50% or 51% bars, respectively.

If you are over these thresholds in a modified comparative fault jurisdiction, you cannot recover any damages. If you are under these limits, your damages will be reduced according to your share of blame.

Contributory Fault in Florida

Florida was a pure contributory fault state until 1973. This harsh standard led to many unfair results due to minor mistakes of the accident victim. Florida then became a pure comparative fault state. Then, in 2023, Florida changed its rules again. As of now, it is a modified comparative fault state with a 51% bar.

Under current Florida law, accident victims may still recover damages so long as they weren’t mostly to blame for their injuries. If you have legal questions, then make sure you speak to an experienced attorney who can help guide you.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Determining potential recovery in personal injury cases can be tricky. Having prior experience in determining fault and recovery is imperative for a fair outcome. An experienced personal injury attorney can assess the value of your case and how much your potential fault will affect the value.

You need to know what your case is worth to know how much to demand. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side will level the legal playing field. 

Get a Free Consultation Today to Have Your Questions Answered

If you have been hurt in an accident, then make sure you get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You should also contact an attorney if you are being blamed for your accident.

Insurance companies use comparative fault as a way of reducing their liability for your accident. Sometimes, their blame-shifting is completely baseless. An attorney can help minimize allegations of comparative fault to get you the recovery you deserve. Contact our Cleawater law office today at (727) 796-8282  for a free case consultation.