Understanding Contributory Negligence in Florida
Have you been involved in an accident that resulted in bodily injury? If so, you may be entitled to compensation. Compensation, however, can be at risk if you contributed at all to the accident. It is critical to speak to a personal injury lawyer in Florida so that a thorough investigation can be conducted and a detailed analysis of the facts and circumstances can be undertaken. You do not want to lose out on the compensation you deserve – the compensation that can help you recover from physical and mental harm – because the defendant argues you contributed to the accident.
At Asbury Law, our personal injury lawyer in Florida understands the law and how to use it to maximize recovery of compensation in personal injury cases. Do not let time pass you by before starting your personal injury claim because the defendant is not waiting to build a case against recovery. Contact us at 904.203.8776 today to schedule a Free Initial Consultation (up to 30 minutes).
What Constitutes Contributory Negligence in Florida?
Contributory negligence is a legal principle used to defend personal injury claims. It's an absolute defense – if a plaintiff's actions contributed to the incident and their subsequent injuries in any way, they are barred from recovering any damages.
So even where a plaintiff is only 1% at fault, contributory negligence means they won't receive any damages, even if their injuries are serious or life-changing and despite the defendant's actions being more negligent.
The defense of contributory negligence was originally available in most states, resulting in harsh outcomes in many personal injury claims.
Now, the majority of states instead use comparative negligence to assess fault. In contrast to contributory negligence, comparative negligence involves assessing the degree to which each person is at fault and apportioning the damages accordingly.
If you live in a state that still follows the rule of contributory negligence, contact a personal injury attorney immediately to help make sure you get the compensation you deserve. You must protect your interests and take steps to build a strong personal injury claim.
What Types of Personal Injury Cases in Florida Involve Contributory Negligence?
Defendants may raise contributory negligence in the context of the following:
- Car, truck, motorcycle, or other auto accidents, including those involving pedestrians and bicyclists
- Boat or flying accidents
- Construction accidents
- Medical malpractice, e.g., where a patient doesn't follow a doctor's post-operative instructions
- Dog bites, e.g., where a plaintiff provoked a dog
- Wrongful death, including workplace accidents
- Product liability, e.g., where the plaintiff used the product in a way not intended by the manufacturer
- Premises liability, including slip and fall accidents
Contributory negligence is only followed in a few states, and its specific application to personal injury cases varies. Again, see the counsel of a personal injury attorney in Florida to understand what applies in your situation.
Who Determines Contributory Negligence in Florida
Who is at fault in a personal injury case – including the issue of contributory negligence – is a finding of fact, not law. In most personal injury cases, if the matter goes to trial, the jury acts as the fact finder.
In a case where contributory negligence is raised, the jury hears the evidence from both sides to decide whether the plaintiff contributed in any way to their injuries.
In some cases, the judge will hear the evidence and decide whether contributory negligence applies. This is particularly true in bench trials as opposed to jury trials.
How Is Contributory Negligence in Florida Used as a Defense in a Personal Injury Claim
Insurance companies often act on behalf of parties in personal injury cases. The nature of their business model means that insurers have a commercial interest in reducing the payouts they make.
Where the defense of contributory negligence is available, defendant insurers commonly raise it to try and defeat a personal injury claim. This can cause significant financial stress to a plaintiff who sustained extensive or serious injuries.
How Can a Plaintiff Protect Themselves against a Contributory Negligence Defense in Florida?
If you're the plaintiff in a personal injury claim where the defendant alleges contributory negligence, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer.
Personal injury attorneys have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies and can review your matter to assess the strength of the contributory negligence claim. They can also advise you on how to best proceed to ensure you have the best chance of receiving adequate compensation for your injuries.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Florida Today
If you or a loved one has suffered harm in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. You must act fast, especially if you live in a jurisdiction that adheres to the contributory negligence rule. Contact Asbury Law at 904.203.8776 or by filling out our online form. Our personal injury lawyer in Florida will schedule a Free Initial Consultation (up to 30 minutes) to review your case.
While many of our clients are from Jacksonville, Florida, and surrounding counties in Northeast Florida (including Baker County, Clay County, Duval County, Flagler County, Nassau County, Putnam County, and St. Johns County), Asbury Law serves individuals and corporate clients (e.g., family-owned business, single-member LLCs, and much larger and/or publicly traded companies) throughout the State of Florida.