Being injured in an accident is a traumatic event. You may sustain serious injuries, resulting in lost time from work, expensive medical bills, and other financial losses. Additionally, your injuries may cause debilitating pain and suffering.
The at-fault party’s insurance company generally handles your personal injury claim. The insurer investigates the claim to determine if its insured caused your injury. The insurance company frequently tries to find a way to avoid paying the claim, including blaming you for causing your injury.
Comparative negligence could reduce the value of your personal injury claim. Continue reading to learn more about liability for injury claims and how a personal injury lawyer can help you after an accident or injury.
Comparative Negligence Laws in Florida
Comparative negligence is a method of assigning fault for the cause of an injury. Damages for the accident are based on each party’s percentage of fault.
Alternatively, contributory negligence bars a party from recovering any money for damages if the party has any liability for the cause of the injury. In other words, the other party could be 99% at fault for the cause of your injury, but you would receive nothing because you contributed to the cause of the accident by just one percent. Fortunately, only four states and the District of Columbia adopted this harsh rule for dividing damages in personal injury cases.
Florida adopted a pure comparative fault standard. Under Florida comparative fault laws, an accident victim is not barred from recovering compensation for damages even though the person contributed to the cause of their injury. In other words, you could be 99% at fault for the cause of a car crash and still file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the other one percent of your damages.
Unfortunately, comparative negligence allegations are used by insurance companies to avoid compensating victims fully for their damages.
Why Do Insurance Companies Try to Shift Blame for the Cause of an Accident to the Accident Victim?
If an insurance company convinces a jury that you were partially to blame for the cause of your accident, it can save money. It does not have to compensate you for the damages that equal your percent of fault.
For example, if a jury finds that you were 40 percent at fault for the cause of an automobile accident, the insurance company is only liable for 60 percent of your damages. If your damages total $100,000, you will only receive $60,000 for your injury claim.
Therefore, insurance companies have a strong incentive to shift blame from their insured to the accident victim. They may begin by trying to convince you that your claim can be denied because your actions contributed to the cause of the accident. If you stand your ground, the adjuster may argue that your claim is worth much less because you played a role in the cause of your injury.
If the insurance company does not have any evidence of fault, an adjuster may try to trick you into admitting fault. For that reason, it is wise not to provide recorded or written statements to an insurance company without talking with a lawyer.
Remember, insurance companies record most conversations with accident victims, even if they do not tell you they are recording the call. The adjuster may use casual conversation to obtain information that the company can use to argue you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident. For example, the adjuster may get you to admit you were running late for work the morning of the accident. The company will then argue you were speeding or distracted while driving to work.
Do not let the insurance company convince you that you are not entitled to full compensation for all damages. Instead, contact an attorney to ensure you receive advice from someone who has your best interest as their only priority.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You if You Are Being Blamed for an Accident in Florida?
A lawyer can help you avoid making mistakes with the insurance company that could inadvertently damage your claim. Insurance adjusters are trained and skilled at getting people to say things they may not mean.
For example, saying you are sorry the accident happened could be used to allege you admitted fault. Your lawyer will handle all communications with the insurance company and its representatives.
Evidence that can be used to prove fault in a personal injury case includes:
- Copies of the accident report or incident report
- Information related to citations issued to the at-fault party
- Statements from the parties and eyewitnesses
- Videos of the accident captured by traffic cameras, dash cams, and surveillance cameras
- Physical evidence and photographs of an accident scene
- Data collected from a vehicle’s black box and other onboard data recording systems
- Medical records
- Records of investigations by any government agencies or entities
Your attorney may retain experts to assist in the investigation. Accident reconstructionists, engineers, road construction experts, and other professionals may assist in the accident investigation. They may also provide expert opinions regarding how the accident occurred and how each party contributed to the cause of the accident.
Throughout your personal injury case, your attorney will advise you about your options for settlement. The attorney’s goal is to obtain the best possible settlement for your case.
That means fighting allegations of comparative negligence when you are blamed for causing your injury. It also means protecting you from aggressive insurance tactics designed to pressure you to accept a low settlement offer.
The Types of Damages You Could Receive for a Personal Injury Claim
Even though Florida is a no-fault insurance state for car accident claims, you may recover compensation from the at-fault driver if you sustained serious injuries. Additionally, accident victims can file personal injury claims seeking compensation for damages for injuries related to slip and fall accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, and other injuries caused by another party.
A party responsible for causing your injury could be financially liable for damages including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Future lost wages and diminished earning potential
- Personal and nursing care
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
- Disabilities and permanent impairments
Don’t let an insurance company cheat you out of the money you deserve for damages. Instead, talk with a car accident attorney in Jacksonville about your personal injury case.