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Understanding Comparative Negligence in Florida

Accidents can happen in any part of life, and often times come out of nowhere. If you have been injured by the actions of another, you have every right to recover for your damages and suffering. But it is also important to understand the role that your actions can play in the amount that you are able to recover, if you are able to recover at all.

What is Negligence?

Negligence can arise in a variety of cases but is often involved frequently in personal injury and tort cases. At its very basic, negligence boils down to a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. Generally this will consist of someone’s actions, but it can also include omissions or failure to act, when there is a duty to do so.

There are many factors to consider in determining whether a person’s conduct lacks reasonable care, some of which include: the foreseeable likelihood that the person’s conduct will result in harm, the foreseeable severity of any harm that may ensue, and the burden of precautions to eliminate or reduce the risk of harm.

There are also five elements that are required to prove negligence:

  • Duty: A duty arises when the law recognizes that there is a relationship between the defendant and plaintiff. Where a reasonable person would find that a duty exists, the court will generally find that a duty exists.
  • Breach of Duty: A defendant will be liable for negligence when the defendant breaches their duty to the plaintiff. The question of whether a defendant has breached a duty or not is left for a jury to decide. For example, in a car accident, the jury must determine whether a defendant breached a duty of driving in a manner that a reasonable person would.
  • Cause in Fact: Generally, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injury. This is often referred to as ‘but-for’ causation. In other words, but-for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff’s injury would not have occurred.
  • Proximate Causes: This relates to the scope of a defendant’s responsibility in a negligence case. A defendant in a negligence case is only responsible for those harms that the defendant could have foreseen through his or her actions. The defendant will not be responsible for any damages that are outside of the scope of foreseeable damages.
  • Damages: Finally, a plaintiff must prove a legally recognized harm, which is usually in the form of physical injury to a person or property. That is, the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care must result in actual damages to the plaintiff.

Florida’s Comparative Negligence

In 1973, Florida adopted the doctrine of comparative negligence. With comparative negligence, more than one person can be responsible for an automobile accident or another type of accident. For example, it may be found that a defendant was 90% at fault for a car crash, while the plaintiff was 10% responsible. In this case, rather than receiving the full amount of money they are seeking in their suit, it would be reduced by the percentage that the plaintiff is at fault. If this car crash amounted to $10,000 in damages, the plaintiff would only be able to recover $9,000 from the defendant.

Contact a Florida Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you know has been injured in any type of accident or fall, you need an experienced personal injury attorney representing you. Consult with an attorney who can advise you on your case. Contact the Clearwater attorneys at Roman & Roman, P.A., for a consultation and to learn how we can be of assistance.

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