Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida car accident case discussing whether the trial court was correct in determining that the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower court was correct in finding that the defendant was negligent; however, the court went on to explain that the jury should have been allowed to consider whether the plaintiff’s actions contributed to the accident.
Comparative Fault in Florida Personal Injury Law
While the negligence of one party is the sole cause of some Florida car accidents, it is not uncommon for a plaintiff to bear some responsibility for causing an accident. Under Florida personal injury law, a plaintiff is not precluded from recovering for their injuries merely because they are partially at fault. Instead, the law allows a plaintiff to recover a reduced amount, based on their own percentage of fault.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s vehicle was struck from behind by the defendant. It was agreed that the plaintiff had planned to make a U-turn, but realized that it was not legal to do so at that particular intersection. The plaintiff claimed that she began to veer into the center median, but never applied the brakes and maintained a speed of about 30 miles per hour.
The defendant’s recollection of the events preceding the accident was quite different. The defendant testified that the plaintiff came to a quick stop with her vehicle halfway in the center median, at which point he ran into the rear of her car.
The trial court determined that the defendant was presumed to have been negligent because he rear-ended the plaintiff. The court also concluded that because the rear-end presumption applied, the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident. The defendant appealed.
On appeal, the case was reversed. The court explained that the defendant was properly presumed to have been negligent because he rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle. However, the court noted that a “presumption that the rear driver’s negligence is the sole cause of the collision can be rebutted if there is evidence from which a jury could infer that the front driver was also negligent.”
Here, the court held that the defendant’s testimony gave rise to the possibility that the plaintiff shared responsibility for causing the accident. Thus, the court held that the jury should have been allowed to consider the plaintiff’s comparative negligence.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the South Florida personal injury law firm of Frankl Kominsky, we represent injury victims across Florida in all types of Florida personal injury lawsuits, including Florida car accident claims. To learn more, call 561-354-6184 to schedule a free consultation today.
See Additional Blog Posts:
Court Determines Liability Release Waiver Did Not Prevent Plaintiff’s Claim in Recent Florida Wrongful Death Case, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, January 9, 2019.
The Pre-Suit Affidavit Requirement in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, February 20, 2019.