Drivers can go for damages based on comparative negligence

In many states including Florida, drivers are allowed to sue for their injuries even if they played a role in an automobile accident that caused them. In a collision where one driver failed to put on the turn signal and another driver sped through the intersection, a judge would look at the percentage that each driver was at fault to determine the amount in damages that the plaintiff is entitled to under the state law concerning comparative negligence.

In a car accident with two at-fault drivers, pure comparative negligence is used to determine the total damages amount and the amount each driver would receive based on the percentage of the accident they caused. This means that is an accident is deemed to be worth $100,000 in damages, a driver who was 30 percent responsible for the accident could receive up to $70,000 in damages to cover medical bills, lost wages and other costs.

A few states, as well as the District of Columbia, go by a very different rule, known as contributory negligence. Under this principle, drivers cannot try to recover damages if they held any responsibility for the accident. Other states allow motorists to sue if they only bore 50 percent or less of the responsibility for the accident.

In states such as Florida that adhere to the comparative negligence rule, both sides need to gather evidence in the form of police records and eyewitness testimonies to help judges to gauge what actions led to the accident and which person was more responsible. In these types of cases, both sides can bring claims against each other, making it even more important for the plaintiff or defendant to have documents to prove the extent of injury.

Source: FindLaw, “Defenses: Contributory and Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases”, accessed on March 2, 2015