Close Menu

What is Comparative Fault and How Does it Impact Florida Auto Accident Claims?


The main principle of personal injury law in the United States is that whoever is negligent and causes an accident should be responsible for paying the other party’s damages, like medical bills and property damage. However, this is not entirely black and white. What if there are multiple people who were negligent? What if the at-fault party also had a vehicle defect that contributed to the accident?

Different states handle negligence differently. Some follow the theory of contributory negligence, while others prescribe to the theory of comparative negligence. Only a handful of states still use contributory negligence. Most use comparative, but there are two types of comparative as well. One is pure comparative while the other is modified comparative. Because of this, the amount of money you may be entitled to after an auto accident can vary widely based on where the accident occurred.

How Contributory Negligence States Work

Contributory negligence is the most challenging system to prove negligence under. With contributory negligence, you cannot be even one percent at fault and still recover any of your damages. If the other party was 99% at fault, you are still barred from recovery in a contributory negligence state. It’s a very harsh way of evaluating damages. Not surprisingly, insurance companies will push to find a small percentage of liability against the injured party in order to keep them from recovering any financial compensation. This helps their bottom line since it reduces their payouts.

Comparative Negligence in Florida

Florida, along with many other states, follow comparative negligence. This means that if multiple parties share responsibility for the accident, then each party shares a percentage of fault. If someone is 95% at fault, the injured party can collect 95% of their damages. Essentially, your damages are reduced by the percentage of fault you were responsible for.

However, this is where the important distinction between modified and pure comparative matters. With pure comparative negligence, you can collect for a portion of your damages even if it’s only one percent. In a pure comparative state, the driver who was 95% at fault can still collect 5% of his or her damages against you.

Some states felt pure comparative was unfair and adopted a new version modified comparative. With modified comparative negligence, the victim must be less than 50% negligent in order to recover his or her damages. This means that someone who is 49% at fault for the accident can collect, but the person who is 51% at fault is barred as though he or she was in a contributory negligence state.

Contact an Orlando Auto Accident Attorney Today

Determining liability in a Florida car accident is much harder than saying one party is at fault and therefore liable for the victim’s damages. Having an Orlando auto accident attorney on your side is important. Contact Payer Law today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve after a Florida auto accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence.


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn