Last Update: 8/25/19
Who’s To Blame and Who Pays For Your Injuries And Damages In a Florida Traffic Accident? You, The Other Driver, The Car Maker, Part Supplier Or The Car Dealer?
Who Are All Of The Parties That Can Be The Cause, Or At Fault, For A Car Accident?
When a party owes you a legal duty of care and they breach that duty, then they are at fault and they are required to compensate you for an injury you may sustain as a result of that breach. So, what parties owe you a duty of care when you are driving on Florida’s roadways:
Obviously, the drivers in a car accident are the first people we look at to see who is to blame for a car accident. Fault will be placed upon a driver if they are:
- Speeding (Driving Over the Speed Limit)
- Driving too fast (driving within the speed limit but unreasonably giving the road conditions, weather, etc.)
- Driving with Distractions (talking on their phone, texting, eating fast food while driving, etc.)
- Driving Drunk or Otherwise Impaired
- Failing to Stop at a Red Light or Stop Sign
2. Car Makers, Part Suppliers, And Car Dealers
Car manufacturers can be responsible for traffic accidents, too. More and more recalls are being issued by car makers involving serious product defects including ignition switches that malfunction, steering mechanism defects, and air bags that explode. These defects are known to have caused car accidents as well as wrongful deaths. Here, “products liability” law comes into play.
Besides car manufacturers and part suppliers, car dealers could also be held responsible. If they sell a used car that they know is the subject of a recall, and either don’t fix the issue or tell the buyer of the car about the recall, then they too could be required a compensate a car accident victim.
3. You – The Injured Party
Florida law recognizes “comparative negligence” in car accidents. This is a legal doctrine that allows juries to allocate blame in a car accident case between both drivers involved in the wreck, which you can learn more about in our post: Fault, Blame, and Damage Claims: Contributory Negligence in Florida.
Nonetheless, it is true that there are car accidents where one driver is 100% to blame for a crash; however, defense lawyers will argue this a rare situation and that in most crashes, both drivers are almost always somewhat responsible for what has happened.
In Comparative Negligence, fault is distributed among those determined to be at-fault for the accident. Here’s are examples of how it works:
1. A car maker might be found 90% responsible, for example, in an air bag explosion accident, and the At-fault Driver who was driving that defective car, 10% at fault. Here, the injured driver would be found not to blame, and he or she would get 100% of the damage award.
If the injured driver (you) has $200,000 in proven damages, then you are entitled to $200,000.00 because no fault has been attributed to you.
2. However, in an accident in a Miami intersection on an ordinary workday, it may be found that the at-fault Driver was 90% at fault for speeding, but you — the injured driver and the claimant (plaintiff) — may be blamed for 10% fault because you were driving with a defective turn signal at the time or distracted in some way.
Here, if your total damages are proven to be $200,000.00, then under “comparative negligence” law you will see 10% taken off your total damages because you’ve been held to be 10% “at fault.” In this scenario, you get $200,000 – $20,000 (10% of $200,000) = $180,000.00.
It’s Important to Get Legal Help if You’re Being Blamed For the Crash
Anytime that you are in a car crash here in Florida and someone begins to blame you, even in the smallest bit, for the accident then you need to get legal help to protect your interests.
Insurance adjusters may assert that you are at fault — maybe even 100% to blame — for the crash, even if you are seriously injured! If the insurance company can win on the argument that you caused the wreck, that the accident was all your fault, then they don’t have to pay.
Having an experienced Florida injury lawyer with knowledge of how insurance companies deal with accident claims can keep you from being treated unfairly. Together, you can work to determine fault in the accident and seek justice for your injuries. This may be through a settlement with the insurance company or by a jury verdict — where jurors will determine who is at fault and the amount of damages you can recover for your injuries.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a car accident, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including which parties should be held responsible for your injuries. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.