Last Update: 01/13/16
Florida No Fault: Who’s To Blame and Who Pays For Injuries And Damages In a Florida Traffic Accident?
Just because Florida is a “no fault state,” that doesn’t mean that fault is not a very important factor in an auto accident injury case. Determining who is to blame for causing a crash is a critical part of any car crash claim.
Despite the name, “No Fault”, under Florida’s negligence law, Fault determines who is legally responsible for the damages sustained by the victims of a car accident.
What is “No Fault” Insurance?
“No fault insurance” is a protection enacted by the Florida Legislature to make sure that people here are covered by insurance when they are in a crash regardless of blame. It’s a limited coverage policy known as Personal Injury Protection (or “PIP”) and you can learn more about PIP in our earlier posts.
Fault Points The Finger At Who Must Pay For Your Damages.
When another party owes you a legal duty of care and they breach that duty, then they are at fault for the injuries that you have sustained as a result of the accident.
Drivers involved in the crash are the first people to be considered as being to blame for a crash. Fault will be placed upon the Other Driver who crashed into you when evidence is found that proves that the Other Driver was doing things like:
- 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, eating fast food while driving, etc.)
- Driving Drunk or Otherwise Impaired
- Failing to Stop at a Red Light or Stop Sign
2. Car Makers
Car manufacturers can be responsible for traffic accidents, too. In recent months, more and more recalls are being issued by car makers involving millions of cars driving on our roads with serious product defects including ignition switches that malfunction and air bags that explode. These defects are known to have caused car accidents. They are known to have resulted in wrongful deaths in these crashes, too.
When a car maker, as well as the auto part manufacturer that supplied that part (air bag, ignition, etc.) to the car maker, has placed a vehicle on Florida roads that crashes, then these companies may be found at fault for the accident. Here, “products liability” law comes into play.
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.
It’s true that there are 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 somewhat responsible for what has happened.
In Comparative Negligence, fault can be distributed among those involved in the accident. It’s math.
1. For example, the car maker might be found 90% responsible, for example, in an air bag explosion accident, and the Other Driver who was driving that defective car, 10% at fault. Here, the injured driver would be found not to blame, and he would get 100% of the injury damages that he has demanded in his claim.
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 an Miami intersection on an ordinary workday, it may be found that the Other 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.
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 savvy in 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 through proving your case to a jury — where jurors will hear your arguments on who is at fault in your case.
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 the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. 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.