Plaintiffs Need Not be Perfect Says Boca Car Accident Lawyer Joe Osborne

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

A Florida plaintiff can be partially at fault for an accident but still recover damages for his or her injuries says Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne.

Nearly all of the cases we file on behalf of injured clients are based on the legal theory of negligence. These lawsuits are based on state law and states have their different take on what needs to be shown in order to be awarded damages. Fault by a plaintiff, the one filing the lawsuit, doesn’t bar a person from recovering damages in a Florida negligence case says Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne.

In order to be successful in a negligence case the plaintiff has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it’s more likely than not the defendant was negligent. To do that the plaintiff must show,

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to act, or not act, in the situation,
  • The defendant violated that duty,
  • That breach of duty is the cause of the accident, factually and legally,
  • The defendant suffered an injury because of that breach, and
  • Compensating the plaintiff for his or her particular injury is recognized by state law.

For a vehicle driver, that legal duty can be stopping at a red light, not speeding, not drinking and driving or giving a pedestrian the right of way. It’s normally shown the defendant violated that duty by evidence showing the person did or failed to do something and the plaintiff needs to show the nature, extent and degree of the injury that resulted.

Under Florida statutes,“In a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.”

This means that during a trial when the parties submit evidence concerning who should be blamed for the accident if a jury finds that a plaintiff is partially to blame that’s not grounds to dismiss the case. The jury needs to determine the degree of fault of each party. When deciding the damages award the proportion of the plaintiff’s fault is deducted from the damages award. If the jury decides $100,000 is the right amount of damages and the plaintiff is 25% at fault, the damage award would be $75,000.

This is a plaintiff-friendly law because even if a plaintiff is mostly at fault, he or she can still collect damages. In some states the plaintiff may be barred from any recovery if he or she is at fault to any degree and other states prohibit recovery if the plaintiff is more than half at fault for the accident.

Whether a legal action is worth pursuing depends in part on how much at fault the plaintiff may be and the amount of damages. A case where the damages are low but the plaintiff is mostly responsible may not be worth the time, effort and expense of a lawsuit. On the other hand even if the plaintiff is mostly to blame, if the injuries are serious enough and the potential recovery large enough, a lawsuit may be worth pursuing.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury caused in a vehicle accident, contact Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. You can discuss your case, how the law may apply and your best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your injuries.

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