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Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that when there is more than one person at fault for an accident, the law allows the court to apportion damages based on the degree of fault. By using comparative negligence, juries and judges have more leeway in assigning blame so they can reach a fair decision.
So, how does that apply to you if you are in an accident with more than one person?
Who to Involve
The law does not force you to sue only one person when more people may have been involved in an accident. However, you must still be able to show how each person was involved and their level of responsibility.
A good example of an accident that has more than one responsible party is a multi-car accident. These cases can be very difficult and often require the skill and experience of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
If you assert a case against one person (or business) and determine later that there was likely more than one person at fault, then you may be able to add that person in as a defendant even after the case has started.
How Are Damages Assigned?
When you involve more than one party, you cannot collect more total damages. Instead, the judge or jury will assess the total amount of damages and then divide fault among the parties. Those who are considered more at fault will have to pay more in damages.
Here is an example. Imagine that you are involved in a multi-car accident. You lost control of your vehicle and slammed into a pole. Another car comes along and does the same thing, hitting you instead of the pole. Then, a third car does the same thing, hitting the second car but still further damaging your vehicle. This type of accident is fairly common when poor road conditions are involved.
The jury decides that you should receive $100,000 in damages. The jury finds that the second car is mostly responsible, assigning them to 80 percent of the damages. Then, the third vehicle is assigned 20 percent of the damages. That means that the first defendant will have to pay $80,000 and the second driver will pay $20,000.
The jury or judge could also assign you a portion of the fault in this situation. After all, you did lose control of your vehicle first. Assume that the jury assigns you 10 percent of the fault. That means that your total $100,000 award will be reduced by $10,000. Then, the leftover $90,000 will be divided between the at-fault defendants (with the first paying $72,000 and the second paying $18,000).
If you are involved in any accident, even if it is very complicated, call a best car accident attorney West Palm Beach today. An attorney can help build your case against the right parties and help to get you the settlement you deserve.