What is comparative negligence in a Florida pedestrian accident case?
When a pedestrian is injured in the roadway, the first question that must be answered is who is at fault? Was it the driver of the car, the person crossing the street, or both? Florida’s comparative fault statute states:
EFFECT OF CONTRIBUTORY FAULT
In a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery. Florida Statute § 768.81(2)
Simply put, the parties involved in an accident in Florida will be held responsible for their share in the carelessness that caused the injury. The Florida Supreme Court has explained that comparative negligence avoids unjustly causing defendants in negligence cases to have to pay for damages that they did not cause. Fabre v. Marin, 623 So. 2d 1182, 1187 (Fla. 1993).
A PEDESTRIAN’S DUTIES
Florida law requires that pedestrians:
- Use a crosswalk when it is available to cross the street
- Follow and obey all traffic signs and indicators
- Travel on sidewalks when they are present
- Only walk on the road when there are no sidewalks (although they must give way to traffic)
- Not to dart out into the roadway
A person who is injured by an automobile when walking on or crossing a road may be negligent if that person has failed to follow these legal requirements. Although a pedestrian may have some fault for the damages, it does not mean that the driver is entirely without blame. After all, the driver may have been distracted, speeding, or drinking. It is also possible that the accident could have been avoided if the driver was not being careless or even reckless.
DOES CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE KEEP A PEDESTRIAN FROM RECOVERING ANY DAMAGES?
Florida law is not intended to completely bar a plaintiff from recovering damages unless the plaintiff is 100% at fault. Rather, the damages will be reduced by the plaintiff’s portion of negligence. If a plaintiff suffers $100,000 in damages, and a jury finds that the plaintiff was 40% (and the defendant 60%) at fault for the accident, then the plaintiff will recover $60,000.
IF I HAVE BEEN STRUCK BY A CAR AND INJURED SHOULD I SEE AN ATTORNEY?
Cases involving comparative negligence can get quite complex. There are multiple parties involved, which means that the case will include numerous attorneys and insurance adjusters. These professionals will work to show that their clients are not at fault and that you were the negligent party. It is therefore vital that you consult with a qualified Florida personal injury attorney who can be an advocate for you.
Proving which person is negligent, and how much of the damages each party is responsible for, is usually the toughest part of a case. Witness testimony will be the most important piece of evidence. You need to be clear and consistent in relating the events that lead to the injury. It is also important that your attorney have access to any photographs or videos pertinent to the case, as well as the names and contact information of other witnesses. If you have been struck by a car and injured, then you need an experienced Florida automobile accident attorney on your side.