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Navigating the Waters of Comparative Negligence in Tampa, Florida Injury Cases

If you have been involved in a an SUV or car accident in the Tampa Bay area call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez at 813-755-9500
Navigating the Waters of Comparative Negligence in Tampa, Florida Injury Cases

In Tampa, Florida, where the bustling streets meet the tranquil waters of the Gulf, the legal landscape for personal injury cases holds a unique facet that significantly impacts the outcome of these cases: comparative negligence. This doctrine can play a pivotal role in determining the compensation that injury victims can receive. Understanding how comparative negligence works in Tampa, Florida, is crucial for anyone involved in a personal injury case. This comprehensive guide will delve into the nuances of comparative negligence and its effect on personal injury claims in Tampa, offering invaluable insights for those seeking justice and compensation for their injuries.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence, a legal doctrine found in Florida Statute § 768.81, allows for the apportionment of fault among all parties involved in an accident. Unlike the traditional “all or nothing” approach of contributory negligence, comparative negligence acknowledges that more than one party can be responsible for an accident and allocates fault accordingly. This means that an injured party can still recover damages even if they are partially to blame for their own injuries, with the award amount being reduced by their percentage of fault.

What If I am Found to be more than 50% liable for the accident?

On March 24, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 837 into law.  There were several changes, and one of the major ones was the shift to a comparative negligence system to handle shared fault or majority at-fault issues for a personal injury claim.

Under the new modified comparative negligence system in Florida, individuals will be barred from compensation recovery if they are more than 50% responsible for causing their own injuries versus just simply reducing their portion of the claim. This does not apply to claims based on medical negligence. However, generally, any person more than 50% responsible for the incident will be unable to recover compensation.

Individuals 50% or less responsible for causing their own injuries will recover compensation for their losses, but they may not recover complete compensation. The total amount of compensation a person receives will be reduced depending on their percentage of fault, as determined by a jury.  This part did not change.

The Impact on Tampa Injury Cases

The application of comparative negligence in Tampa personal injury cases can dramatically affect the outcome of a lawsuit. Whether you’re dealing with a car accident on the bustling streets of downtown Tampa or a slip and fall on a slippery dock by the bay, understanding how your own actions may influence your compensation is critical.

  1. Car Accidents:In Tampa, where traffic can be as unpredictable as a Florida thunderstorm, comparative negligence comes into play when both parties contribute to a crash. If a driver is found to be 30% at fault for speeding, but the other driver is 70% at fault for running a red light, the first driver’s compensation will be reduced by 30%.
  2. Slip and Fall Accidents:The vibrant shops and restaurants of Tampa’s Ybor City attract locals and tourists alike. If a patron slips and falls due to a wet floor but was texting and not paying attention to warning signs, their compensation might be reduced based on their share of negligence.
  3. Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents:Tampa’s initiative to be more bike-friendly and pedestrian-oriented doesn’t exempt cyclists and walkers from the comparative negligence rule. If a pedestrian jaywalks and is hit by a car, their compensation could be reduced if they are found partially at fault.

Navigating Comparative Negligence in Your Tampa Injury Case

Gathering Evidence: The key to minimizing your fault percentage in a Tampa injury case is robust evidence. Photographs, witness statements, and expert testimony can all support your claim that the other party bears more responsibility for the accident.

Understanding the Numbers: An experienced Tampa personal injury attorney can help you understand how comparative negligence might affect your compensation. They can negotiate with insurance companies and argue in court to ensure your fault percentage is fair and minimized.

Settlement Negotiations: Comparative negligence often becomes a central theme during settlement negotiations. Insurance adjusters may attempt to inflate your degree of fault to reduce the payout. Legal representation is invaluable in countering these tactics and fighting for a fair settlement.

Legal Representation: Your Navigator Through Comparative Negligence

Given the complexities of comparative negligence in Tampa, Florida, securing knowledgeable legal representation is paramount. A skilled personal injury attorney can:

  1. Assess Your Case: Provide an honest assessment of your case, including the likely apportionment of fault and its impact on your potential compensation.
  2. Collect and Present Evidence: Diligently gather and present evidence to support your claim, minimizing your percentage of fault.
  3. Negotiate Effectively: Leverage their expertise to negotiate with insurance companies and opposing counsel, aiming for the most favorable outcome.
  4. Advocate in Court: If your case goes to trial, present a compelling argument on your behalf, highlighting the other party’s liability.

Conclusion

The doctrine of comparative negligence adds a layer of complexity to personal injury cases in Tampa, Florida. Understanding its implications is crucial for anyone seeking compensation for injuries sustained in an accident. By recognizing the role of comparative negligence, gathering strong evidence, and enlisting the aid of an experienced Tampa personal injury lawyer, you can navigate the legal process with confidence. Remember, even if you share some fault in your accident, you still have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. With the right approach and legal support, you can work towards securing the justice and compensation you deserve.

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