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“Should I Call A Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Even If It Was Partly My Fault?”

Fort Myers car accident lawyerRecent changes to Florida’s tort laws have made it a bit tougher to successfully sue for crash-related injuries if you were partly at-fault. That said, you shouldn’t presume it’s pointless until you talk to a Fort Myers car accident lawyer – especially if your injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization or time off work.  While the new comparative fault law certainly creates legal challenges, rarely are matters of personal injury entirely black-and-white.

The vast majority of Florida car accidents are caused by human error. Common causes include inattention, speeding, failure to yield, intoxication, etc. However, there’s a tendency to think of fault in car accident cases as a binary: One person was at-fault, another was hurt because of it. And sometimes that’s true. But it’s also frequently true that more than one person’s actions contributed either to the cause of the crash or the severity of injuries. One driver may have been speeding, but the other wasn’t paying attention. One person ran a red light, but the other wasn’t wearing a seat belt. So then the question for insurers (and possibly the courts) becomes, “To what extent is each person at-fault – for the crash and resulting injuries?”

As a Fort Myers car accident lawyer, I can tell you the answers aren’t always perfectly obvious. In fact, they can often be a bit subjective. Even if you know you made some missteps, an experienced injury attorney will know what evidence is needed to make a compelling case that you are still entitled to compensation.

Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents. If your injuries aren’t major, damages will likely be covered by your own auto insurance (personal injury protection/PIP) and health insurance. However, if your injuries are substantial enough to meet the serious injury threshold, as outlined in F.S. 627.737, you can step outside of that no-fault system and file a claim for damages against the other at-fault driver. A driver who is “at fault” is one who failed to exercise the reasonable care they should have when they assumed the privilege of driving. This is called negligence.

When a plaintiff (person who is filing the claim for monetary damages for a car accident) is partly at-fault, this is called “contributory negligence.”

Previously, Florida had a system of pure comparative fault. Under this system, you could be 99% at-fault and still succeed in suing the other driver for their 1% of fault (though in that case, you would only collect 1% of your total losses, so that wouldn’t be an ideal outcome).

Now, though, Florida follows a modified comparative fault system with a 51% bar. What that means is you can still successfully sue another at-fault driver for financial damages, so long as your percentage of the blame doesn’t exceed half. So if you were partly at-fault for a crash, the most you could share fault and still collect would be 50%.

But who decides the difference between 48% fault and 52% fault? Either insurance companies or the courts – and it’s often not a clear line. This is why having a skilled Fort Myers car accident lawyer as an advocate is so essential. We help our clients craft a strong argument advocating for them to collect the compensation they deserve.

Worth noting: If you aren’t sure whether you have a case or who was more at-fault, there’s really nothing to lose in reaching out to a personal injury attorney. Most Florida injury attorneys offer free initial consultations. They’re also paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no upfront attorney fees. They aren’t paid unless/until you win. This fee structure also provides strong incentive for attorneys to be frank about your prospects. The only risk is NOT reaching out and assuming there’s no point – when in fact, you may be entitled to a substantial sum to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and recovery expenses.

If you have been injured in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free consultation. 

Additional Resources:

Florida Crash and Citation Reports & Statistics, FLHSMV

More Blog Entries:

Florida Auto Insurance Breakdown From Southwest Florida Injury Lawyers, March 20, 2024, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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