To collect damages after a car wreck, your Miami car accident attorney must prove that the other driver was at fault. The question is whether you can still receive compensation if you were partially at fault. You may be entitled to compensation if you contributed to the car accident. We will discuss the impact this may have on your damages.
Very Rarely Is One Driver 100% Responsible for a Car Accident
It is nearly impossible for any lawyer to prove that another driver caused their client’s car accident. The insurance company may argue that you were partly at fault. This can happen in the following situations:
- You were in a rear-end collision and your brake lights were not working properly.
- The defendant was speeding but you were also driving above the speed limit.
- The other driver was intoxicated but you crashed into the back of their vehicle.
The defendant’s attorney may argue that you should pay their client damages. Your lawyer will have to prove that the other driver was the person primarily responsible for the crash.
Is Florida a No-Fault State?
Florida is a no-fault state. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to prove fault to collect damages from the other driver. It means that some of your immediate bills may be covered by your personal protection insurance policy, regardless of fault.
Given that your PIP insurance only covers $10,000, you’ll probably need to pursue a claim against the other driver. Under Florida law, you can only do this if you can prove you suffered serious or permanent injuries.
If you meet the below criteria, you can demand the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Keep in mind, if you were partly at fault, your damages will likely be reduced.
How Will Your Lawyer Prove the Other Driver Was Primarily at Fault?
Before you can collect damages, you will have to demonstrate that the defendant was primarily responsible for the accident.
There are many ways to do this:
- You can submit proof that the other driver was charged and convicted of DUI immediately after the crash.
- Your lawyer can hire an accident reconstructionist to determine who was truly at fault.
- You can present witnesses who testify that the defendant caused the crash.
- You may have video footage from an intersection camera showing what transpired.
Using this type of evidence is powerful because it comes from impartial parties.
What if the Court Finds That You Were Partially at Fault?
In Florida, you can collect damages even if you were partly at fault. Florida follows the modified comparative negligence rule. According to Florida Statute §768.81, a plaintiff can still collect damages as long as they were less than 50% at fault for their car accident.
This law also states that your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, imagine that you sue somebody for $500,000. The court finds that you were 20% at fault. This means that your damages will be reduced by 20%, or $100,000.
What Happens if Both Drivers Are Equally Responsible?
While it is rare, there is a chance that you and the other driver will be deemed equally at fault. If this is the case, one of three things will happen:
- The defendant may file a counter-claim demanding damages
- Your attorney may encourage you to dismiss your lawsuit
- The judge may award nominal damages (less than $10)
This is why it’s critical that your lawyer try to settle your case out of court. Even if you agree to settle for much less than your initial demand, it may be the best possible outcome.
Being Partially at Fault Can Affect Your Settlement as Well
Most car accident cases are settled out of court. Therefore, it is rare that a judge will determine which driver was most at fault. Instead, this issue will come up during settlement negotiations.
When your attorney attempts to settle your case, the insurance company will raise the issue of fault. They will offer less money based on their claim that you caused the accident.
Your lawyer will consider the role you played when negotiating with the defendant’s attorney. If you were partly at fault, you should expect to receive a lower settlement offer.
Meet with a Skilled Miami Accident Attorney Sooner Rather Than Later
If you were partially at fault for your car accident, you can still collect damages. However, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This means that you need an experienced accident lawyer in Miami.
Not only will your attorney work to prove fault, but they’ll also fight to get you as much money as possible. Contact our office at 954-915-7405 and schedule your free, initial consultation.