What if I’m Partially at Fault for a Car Accident in Florida?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of John Romano with Romano Law Group.
Car accidents are inherently stressful situations and can often be caused or contributed to by both parties. This can make establishing liability and figuring out who is eligible for compensation particularly tricky. Depending on your state, you may or may not be eligible to receive compensation in a car accident claim if you were partially at fault for the accident.
Florida, like many states, practices comparative negligence; comparative negligence or “comparative fault” is a legal doctrine in which someone who was partially at fault for the car accident may still be able to seek damages in an amount reduced by their percentage of liability.
Identifying fault is harder than it sounds.
It’s easy to assume that you are completely or primarily at fault for an accident, only to later find that the other driver was texting while operating their vehicle at the time of the accident. This inability to know what is going on inside the other vehicle at the time of the collision is why car accident attorneys do not recommend giving any official statements about what happened or admitting to any fault before a thorough investigation has been conducted.
In a car accident claim, both sides will be able to present their own evidence before a jury to have the percentage of fault on each side established in as objective a manner as possible. Similarly, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident and it’s likely your injuries could have been largely avoided if you had been wearing the seatbelt, a court might consider you primarily responsible for your own injuries.
If you suspect you are partially at fault, don’t make any statements.
One of the biggest mistakes car accident victims make is admitting to liability either at the scene of the accident, to the other driver, or to an insurance company. It’s important to refrain from discussing the accident until accident reconstruction experts have had time to examine the case from both sides. Even something as simple as a blanket apology at the scene of the accident could be taken as an admission of guilt and later used against you to reduce or even deny your compensation.
In fact, it’s strongly advisable to refrain from discussing the case on social media and even with your medical professional. Litigation aside, even insurance companies can pull from these official/public statements and twist them around in an effort to deny the compensation you would otherwise be eligible for.
Talk to an experienced car accident attorney if you suspect you might have been partially at fault.
Car accident attorneys are intimately familiar with state laws regarding comparative fault and eligibility for recovery. These lawyers also have access to expert resources who can help reconstruct the accident and figure out what was going on inside both vehicles when the accident occurred to estimate the percentage of fault likely to be attributed to both sides. For those who suspect they need to talk to an attorney but are afraid of an expensive legal bill, it may help to note that most of these attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis; this means that the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless and until they win your case. A car accident lawyer can advise you on exactly what to say or not say and will know exactly what kind of evidence is available to protect you and your family after a shared-fault accident.
To learn more about partial fault car accidents or for help filing a claim, reach out to a car accident attorney in your state.