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How a Plaintiff’s Own Negligence Can Reduce Total Available Damages in Florida Injury Cases

Whenever an accident occurs and a personal injury case is filed, there must always be a determination of who was at fault and whether any other parties were also at fault. In the simplest example, in a two-vehicle accident, one person may be 100% at fault and the other 0% at fault. However, these situations are rare. Often, there are multiple parties involved in the accident, and each party has some percentage of fault that can be assigned to them.

In Florida, the legal doctrine that helps courts figure these situations out is called “comparative negligence.” Under a comparative negligence analysis, anyone injured in an accident can recover compensation from anyone else who was at fault. However, the person’s available damages will be reduced by their own percent at fault. So, for example, if a pedestrian was determined to have suffered $500,000 in damages but was 10% at fault for the accident that caused their injuries, the pedestrian’s total available recovery amount would be $500,000 minus $50,000 (10%), or $450,000.

Comparative negligence is seen as a “plaintiff-friendly” doctrine, since it still allows plaintiffs to recover for their injuries even if they are partially at fault, albeit at a reduced amount. Other jurisdictions across the U.S. employ much harsher rules. For example, consider the case of Bertsch v. Mammoth Community Water District, in which a father was prevented from receiving compensation for the death of his son because his son was engaging in the “dangerous activity” of skateboarding at the time of his fatal accident.

Bertsch v. Mammoth Community Water District:  The Facts

The plaintiff took his two sons on a trip to Mammoth County, California, a very hilly area. At some point during their stay, the plaintiff’s two sons went out skateboarding. They found a sizable hill so that they could push themselves up and then enjoy the long, fast ride down. Tragically, one of the plaintiff’s sons struck a manhole cover and fell off his skateboard, sustaining fatal injuries. The plaintiff then filed a wrongful death case against the government agencies involved in the placement of the manhole cover.

The father, however, was not permitted to recover for his loss under the doctrine of “assumption of the risk,” which precludes recovery when the injured party is engaging in a dangerous activity. Because of this ruling, the man will not be entitled to seek any compensation for the death of his son.

Thankfully, such harsh rules do not apply in Florida courts, and a judge or jury in a Florida court would be given the opportunity to determine if the young boy was at fault, and if so, how much, before determining what award his father could be entitled to receive.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Florida accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The laws of Florida are favorable for accident victims in some ways, but not in all. Thus, it is very important that you seek out a trusted and knowledgeable personal injury attorney to assist you with your case. The skilled South Florida wrongful death attorneys at Cecere Santana have decades of experience handling all types of injury cases, and we would be happy to discuss yours with you. Call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Unexplained South Florida Accidents May Be the Result of Distracted Driving, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 3, 2016.

Topamax Birth Injury Case Results in $3 Million Verdict, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 9, 2016.