Florida drivers are expected to seek compensation from their own insurance companies in the event of a car accident, regardless of which driver is at fault in causing the accident. There are exceptions to this rule, for example, when the driver suffers permanent injuries, or has medical bills that exceed a certain amount. If an exception exists that allows an injured driver to seek compensation from the driver who caused the accident, the actions of the injured driver may limit the amount of compensation that injured driver receives.
Under Florida law, when a person is involved in an accident caused by another person and a judge or jury decides to award the person money in compensation for his injuries, the amount awarded can be reduced by a percentage amount that represents the injured person’s contribution to the accident. This is because the injured person is found to be contributorily negligent.
As an example, let us say driver A was driving and failed to stop at a stop sign. As he turned, he was hit by driver B, who was speeding in order to avoid a red light. Both drivers were arguably at fault in causing the accident. If driver A sues driver B for compensation to cover medical bills for injuries sustained in the accident, a jury may decide that driver B was more at fault in the accident than driver A. Assuming the jury finds that driver B was seventy percent at fault in the accident, and driver A was thirty percent at fault, driver A can only recover seventy percent compensation for his medical bills.
If driver A had stopped at the stop sign and then subsequently got hit by driver B, the jury would likely find driver B solely at fault for the accident. In that case, driver A can recover one hundred percent of the compensation awarded by the jury.
Determining the percentage of fault attributable to one driver instead of another in an accident is not a simple matter. In cases that go to trial, the jury or a judge makes this determination. However, in negotiations with an insurance company, an injured person representing himself may not be fully able to counter the insurance company’s estimation of fault in the accident. This is why it is important for the injured person to have an experienced personal injury attorney handle the negotiations.
Experienced attorneys can evaluate the case and investigate the details of the accident to ensure that the insurance company’s offer is fair based on the evidence of how the accident happened. Even if an injured driver does not want to go to court, and would rather settle with the insurance company, if the driver is represented by an attorney during the negotiations it can make a big difference in the settlement amount.
Let Us Help You
If you suffered permanent injuries following a car accident, you may be able to receive compensation to help you cover the cost of the medical bills and your long term care. To learn more, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation.