What is Contributory Fault?

When someone is hurt in an accident, it seems easy to determine who was at fault. For example, if someone runs a red light and hits a car at an intersection, then the driver who ran the red light is most likely 100% at fault for the accident. But what if the other driver contributed to the accident somehow, say, by speeding or driving recklessly through the intersection? Does that change what happens in a case? 

Yes, an accident victim’s actions and contributions to their accident can change the outcome of a personal injury case. If you have specific questions about your own personal injury case, then it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney.

The Different Types of Fault

Personal injury laws vary from state to state. If there is no dispute about who is at fault in an accident, then all that needs to be determined is the case’s worth. If more than one person is at fault in an accident, then a party’s damages can vary significantly depending on the laws of the state.

Three theories of fault exist in personal injury cases: contributory fault, comparative fault, and modified comparative fault. Under these theories, your level of fault for your injuries will determine if you will be compensated, and how much.  

What is Pure Contributory Fault?

Under pure contributory fault, you cannot receive any compensation if you are partially responsible for your accident. Being even 1% at fault will bar you from recovering compensation for your injuries. Pure contributory fault is an extremely harsh standard followed by only four states (Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia) and the District of Columbia. 

What is Comparative Fault?

Comparative fault can be separated into two categories: pure comparative fault and modified comparative fault. Under pure comparative fault, you can recover compensation for your injuries from the at-fault party if you are partially at fault for the accident — even up to 99% at fault. However, your damages will be reduced by your share of fault. There are a dozen or so states that follow this approach.

For example, if you suffer $100,000 worth of damages because of an accident and are 20% at fault, then your maximum recovery will be $80,000. Pure comparative fault will allow you to recover money even if you are mostly at fault. If you are 95% at fault, then your maximum recovery would be $5,000. 

Many states follow a modified comparative fault approach, which still allows parties to recover damages if they were partially at fault for their accident. Likewise, your damages will still be reduced by your level of fault. However, states that follow modified comparative fault rules bar you from recovering damages if you bear more than 50% or 51% of the blame, depending on the state

Contributory Fault in Florida

Up until 1973, Florida was a pure contributory fault state. This led to many at-fault drivers nitpicking to find small mistakes on the part of the victim to prevent recovery for any resulting injuries. Today, Florida is a modified comparative law state. 

Contributory fault is still described in the Florida statutes as something that will diminish but not bar a person’s recovery of damages. So, if you are hurt in an accident in Florida, you may still be eligible for damages unless you are mostly at fault in the accident. Make sure you speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine what you may be eligible for. 

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side can help your case immensely. Determining the level of each person’s fault in an accident can be difficult. An experienced attorney can help you estimate the potential level of fault you may be assessed if your case goes to trial. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer can also help you put a dollar value on your overall case, so you can have a good idea of what your case might be worth if you file a lawsuit. A personal injury attorney will use this and other information to negotiate on your behalf if you are seeking an injury settlement. If you have questions, then give us a call at Hollander Law Firm so we can help.

Call for a Free Consultation Today

 If you have been hurt in an accident in South Florida, then it is important to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Hollander Law Firm, we are proud to offer free consultations to any potential clients who have questions about their situations.