Miami is a vibrant South Florida city known for its scenic beaches, diverse culture, and lively nightlife. Most agree it’s a nice place to live, but there are risks.
The traffic congestion in Miami is the fifth worst in the US and ninth worldwide. The busy expressways and cities like Doral and Miami have resulted in 63,497 car crashes in 2022, causing 28,709 injuries and 305 fatalities.
It’s not only auto accidents. The Miami accident rate resulting in hospital emergency departments was 31,250.1 per 100,000 people in 2021. Some were due to unintentional falls and other incidents resulting in traumatic brain injuries.
No one is at fault for many of these mishaps in Miami-Dade County. However, suppose another party’s negligence or intentional act contributed to an accident that resulted in injuries. Victims can file a personal injury lawsuit, provided they are not primarily at fault.
The reason for this qualification is the comparative negligence principle. States typically subscribe to one of three types of proportional fault in tort cases. Courts use it to adjust the damages a plaintiff can recover for a negligence-based incident.
Essentially, tort principles of fault ensure a fair distribution of liability among the involved parties, including the plaintiff. If you want to minimize your proportion of responsibility, a personal injury lawyer can help you.
This article will consider the role of comparative negligence in Miami accident personal injury cases.
|Key Takeaways |
Comparative Negligence in Florida
Comparative negligence reduces the damages a plaintiff can receive by their percentage of fault in negligence cases. Suppose you are 20 percent responsible for an accident. In that case, the court will reduce your compensation by 20 percent.
Comparative negligence is of two types: pure and modified. Pure comparative negligence lets a plaintiff recover damages even if they are 99 percent liable. Modified comparative negligence allows recovery for plaintiffs less than 50 percent responsible.
Until recently, Florida subscribes to the pure comparative negligence principle under Section 768.81(2) of the Florida Statutes. However, House Bill (HB) 837 was signed into law on March 24, 2023, by the Florida governor.
The new law imposes a 51 percent bar rule for modified comparative negligence. It referred to it as the “greater percentage of fault.”
Miami Accident Personal Injury Cases
Miami accidents can lead to personal injury cases. Victims of these accidents can suffer serious injuries, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Pursuing compensation for these injuries can be complex and require the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Frequent types of personal injury cases in Miami
Personal injury cases in Miami can arise from various incidents. The most common types include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and product liability. They can result in serious injuries, requiring the help of a skilled personal injury attorney to recover compensation for the victim’s losses.
Car accidents: Car accidents are common in Miami, but comparative negligence will not impact most of them. The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. It allows injured parties to file a claim with their insurers, regardless of fault. The tort exemption protects the liable parties from lawsuits, except for significant losses, permanent injuries, and death.
Slip-and-falls: Slip-and-fall accidents typically fall under premises liability, although they can also be workplace accidents. In either case, the parties with control over the circumstances leading to an injury may be liable.
Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice occurs when the care provided by healthcare professionals falls below the accepted standard of practice and results in patient harm. The most common forms of negligence include misdiagnosis, medication errors, and surgical mistakes.
Product liability: Product liability is the accountability of manufacturers, distributors, and sellers for injuries or damages caused by defective products. Under Florida law, it is a civil action based on strict liability. The plaintiff need not prove the defendant was negligent or intended to inflict harm. They must only prove that the product was defective and caused their injuries.
Dog bites: Owners are strictly liable for any injuries or deaths caused by their dogs under Section 767.04 of the Florida Statutes. However, the incident must have occurred in a public place or while the victims were lawfully in a private residence. The owner may be exempt from liability if their premises include warning signs, including the words “bad dog.”
Assault and battery: Section 784.011 of the Florida Statutes categorizes assault and battery as a misdemeanor with criminal implications. However, it is also a cause of civil action as an intentional tort. Assault is when someone intentionally makes another person fearful of imminent harmful or offensive contact. Battery is when someone has harmful or offensive contact with the victim.
Wrongful death: The Wrongful Death Act applies when death occurs due to negligence, wrongful act, or breach of contract. It applies to any case where the victim could have filed a personal injury case if they had not died.
Defamation: Defamation refers to a false statement about an individual or company that harms their reputation or results in financial losses. Defamation can either be libel (written) or slander (spoken). Chapter 770 of the Florida Statutes embodies the rules for defamation as a civil cause of action in Florida.
Nursing home abuse: Nursing home or elderly abuse refers to harm, mistreatment, or neglect of a resident in a nursing home or long-term care facility. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. It may also include financial exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Section 400.023 of the Florida Statutes describes the civil enforcement specific to nursing home abuse.
Importance of establishing fault in personal injury cases
Proving fault in personal injury cases is crucial in determining who is responsible for the harm or injury suffered by the victim. You can establish fault by showing that the defendants failed in their duty of care. The next step is showing that the breach caused injury or losses.
Proving fault is essential because comparative negligence determines whether the plaintiff is entitled to compensation and how much. For instance, in the state of Florida, a plaintiff found 51 percent at fault for their injuries is barred from recovering damages.
Establishing fault can also affect the outcome of personal injury settlement negotiations or trials. Suppose your personal injury attorney can prove the defendant’s negligence. It increases the likelihood of a favorable settlement offer or a successful trial outcome.
Role of comparative negligence in Miami accident personal injury cases
Comparative negligence plays a vital role in Miami accident personal injury cases. It helps identify the level of fault between the parties involved. It also determines the proportion of damages to be paid by each party based on their level of responsibility.
The recent rule change has a significant impact on recovery for personal injury cases in Miami Beach as well as Coral Gables. For one, a plaintiff found by the court to be 51 percent at fault may not claim compensation for their losses.
Moreover, the limitation applies anywhere in the state of Florida. For instance, secondary victims in a car pileup in Pembroke Pines or Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, are likely not at fault. However, they can hire car accident attorneys to file a claim. They can negotiate with the insurance adjusters if the losses do not exceed policy limits.
Personal injury cases typically require plaintiffs to prove the other party was negligent. Because of comparative negligence, plaintiffs must also convince the court that they contributed 50 percent or less to the accident. A lawyer may coordinate with Miami police or law enforcement to obtain an accident report, analysis of skid marks, and CCTV footage, if any.
Suppose you sustained injuries in a slip-and-fall accident in the mall because of a wet floor. There were no warning signs, and the spill had been there for some time. However, you were using your phone at the time of the incident and not looking where you were going.
The defense could argue that you were partially to blame. A skilled personal injury attorney can persuade a jury that your fault is much less than the defendant’s.
Comparative negligence apportions fault and damages among the liable parties. Here are some examples of potential defendants in a personal injury case.
Scenario 1: Car accident with multiple drivers
All motor vehicle drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone sharing the road with them. They should drive defensively to avoid accidents, including following at a safe distance. In a scenario involving multiple vehicles, the fault may lie with drivers who fail to follow traffic rules.
Take the example of Adam, Linda, and Robert. Adam was traveling at a reasonable speed in West Palm Beach when a Toyota swerved in front of him. Adam stopped suddenly to avoid hitting the car, and Linda rear-ended him.
Robert hit Linda’s car in turn. Linda and Robert could not stop in time because they followed too closely. In this scenario, while Adam caused the accident by stopping, Linda and Robert may have to pay for property damage.
Scenario 2: Slip and fall accident in a public place
Proving liability for a slip-and-fall accident in a public place can be complex. For example, establishing fault depends on state regulations if you sustain an injury by tripping on an uneven sidewalk. Sidewalks are public property, so the parties responsible for maintaining them are usually the city or local government. Some localities put the burden on the property owner if they modify the sidewalk.
For example, Hank installed a sidewalk ramp in Miami Gardens to accommodate his wife’s wheelchair. Karen tripped on the ramp early Wednesday while jogging and broke her arm. In this case, Hank may be liable for Karen’s medical treatment and loss of income because he had control over the installation and maintenance of the ramp.
Scenario 3: Product liability case
Everyday products we use can cause serious, even permanent, injury when defective. For example, producers of carbonated drinks or beer should ensure the bottles have no defects.
Suppose a beer bottle explodes in your hand when you remove it from the refrigerator, and a glass shard hits your eye. Upon investigation, it turns out the bottle had a manufacturing defect that caused it to explode. In that case, you can file a personal injury case against the manufacturers of the beer and bottle.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence assumes that multiple parties share responsibility in an accident. It apportions liability for damages among the involved parties. Although this approach has its benefits, it also has drawbacks.
Comparative negligence makes it fair on liable parties as it divides their responsibility for damages according to their degree of fault. If the plaintiff is at fault, it reduces their compensation. The proportional fault also encourages parties to settle out-of-court, as the trial may not turn out in their favor. Ultimately, comparative negligence ensures all parties get just and equal treatment.
The primary issue with comparative negligence is applying it in practice. It requires a detailed analysis of each party’s actions to determine fault. Additionally, the interpretation of the evidence is subjective, depending mainly on the lawyer’s skill.
Comparative negligence is also subject to abuse. A defendant may try to escape liability by victim blaming, which is why finding a reputable law firm is crucial.
In personal injury cases, parties can negotiate a settlement rather than go to trial. Be ready to deal with liable parties or their insurance companies for fair compensation.
Make Comparative Negligence Work for Your Miami Accident Case
Despite the possible drawbacks, comparative negligence can work in your favor in Miami accident personal injury cases. Suppose you or a loved one sustained harm due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. You can get compensation by dividing the liability for damages across multiple parties.
However, it can also backfire if the defendants can prove you have a greater percentage of fault. In Florida, that means you cannot recover damages. You can prevent that by learning about what to do in Miami accidents and hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The Personal Injury Center has everything you need to understand your rights in a personal injury case. Visit our site to access our free legal articles. Our free consultation can match you with Miami car accident lawyers specializing in personal injury cases.
A Miami accident can trigger complex issues regarding assigning fault. Visit The Personal Injury Center to find excellent resources for dealing with a personal injury case in Florida.
FAQs on Miami Accidents
Strict liability applies to activities that are inherently dangerous or unpredictable. A person engaged in these activities can be liable for resulting injuries, even when they acted reasonably. Strict liability may apply in dog bites, wild animal attacks, product liability, and abnormally dangerous activities.
Contributory negligence is a tort rule. It bars plaintiffs from recovering damages if they are responsible to any degree for an accident that caused their injuries. A plaintiff who is one percent at fault for an accident cannot sue the defendant for damages. Four states currently use this rule: Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia.
Section 95.11 of the Florida Statutes limits the period for filing a personal injury lawsuit for negligence to four years. However, you have only two years to file a medical malpractice and wrongful death claim.