Can more than one person be at fault for and accident?

August 12, 2019

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What is Comparative Negligence?

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In the State of Florida, when is comes down to fault in an accident, the legal term “Comparative Negligence” will often be involved. Comparative negligence in the state of Florida means that anyone can recover for damages and injuries in an accident, so long as they are not 100% at-fault. As a result, whatever percentage of fault has been apportioned to a party, their damages will be reduced by that amount. This term is also referred to as pure comparative negligence for the stated reasons. For example: Car A and Car B collide, Car A was determined to be 40% at-fault for the accident, and Car B was found 60% at-fault for the accident. Therefore, Car A can still make a claim for injuries, but his settlement will be reduced by 40% because that was the percentage of fault Car A was found for. Thus, if the insurance company determines that Car A is worthy of a $10,000 settlement, they will only give $6,000 instead. The same mathematics would apply to Car B as well. /span>

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The above math also works if there are multiple cars found at-fault for a crash. For example, there was a four-car accident involving Car A, Car B, Car C and Car D. It was determined that Car A was 50% at-fault, Car B was 25% at-fault, Car C was also 25% at-fault and Car D was not a-fault at all. Just as above, Cars A, B, and C will be able to make claims against one another, but their settlements will be reduced by the amount of fault they were each found. Additionally, in the example above, Car D was not found any portion at-fault. This means that no one will be able to make a successful claim against Car D. This also means that Car D will be able to recover the entirety of their damages, with no reduction. The only catch is, Car D must submit claims to all the vehicles that were found a portion at fault, and those vehicles will only have to pay Car D the amount that they were found at-fault for. For example, if Car D presents a claim for injuries to Car A, who was found 50% at-fault, Car A will only be required to pay Car D 50% of his damages. Therefore, in this hypothetical, Car D will most likely have 3 separate settlements from each company.

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What is Contributory Negligence, and how does it differ?

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In addition to comparative negligence, you may have heard of the term, “contributory negligence” as well. Believe it or not, comparative negligence and contributory negligence are two very separate and distinct legal terms. There are different types of contributory negligence, there is pure contributory negligence and modified contributory negligence. Pure contributory negligence is more of an older Common Law Rule and is followed by only three states. Pure contributory negligence means that if a person was found any percentage of fault, even just 1%, they will not be able to recover for any amount of their damages. This is a very harsh rule, which is why many states have done away with it and replace it with either comparative negligence or modified contributory negligence. Modified contributory negligence is when literally a modified version of pure contributory negligence. Modified contributory negligence states that a person cannot recover for an accident if they are 50% at-fault or more for an accident. If a person is 50% at-fault for an accident, they are completely barred from recovering anything. Some states take it a step further and say that a person cannot recover for damages if they are 51% or more at-fault for the accident.

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