In March of this year, the Florida legislature passed a new tort reform law. For most people who are not involved in the legal or auto insurance industries, they may not understand what’s in this law, or maybe wasn’t even aware of its existence. If you are one of those people, then you will want to keep reading. This law has severe consequences and effects on people who have been in an auto accident. Understanding this bill is extremely important if you are involved in an accident.
One of the biggest changes in the new tort law was Florida’s rule regarding negligence. Before, Florida followed the rule of pure comparative negligence. Pure comparative negligence states as long as you are not 100% at-fault for an accident, you could still pursue a case for your injuries. So, under that rule, if you were hypothetically 80% at-fault for an accident, you could still pursue a claim for 20% of your injuries, which is the portion you weren’t at-fault. The new tort law got rid of pure comparative negligence and instead adopted what’s called modified comparative negligence. With modified comparative negligence, if you are more than 50% at-fault, you cannot bring a claim for your damages or injuries. So, if you are 55% or even 60% at-fault, you cannot recoup any money from the insurance whatsoever. This rule is much more ridged than Florida’s old negligence rule and has the potential to hurt a lot of people who are injured and need assistance with pain and suffering, or don’t have money to repair their vehicle. Often with cases that liability is an issue, the lines are blurred as to what “percentage” someone has contributed. It can be difficult to determine whether someone is 51% or 49% at-fault. Because of this new change, it is more important than ever to not only make sure you contact a lawyer if you are in an accident but to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Even from the accident scene if you can. The more time that goes by, the more valuable evidence that is lost. Having a lawyer involved from the very beginning is often the difference that can make or break someone’s case where liability is an issue.