Some motor vehicle accidents, while unfortunate, are straight-forward. For example, a drunk driver might rear-end another motorist stopped at a red light. Or, a semi-truck could fail to yield to the right of way of another motorist, resulting in a collision.
However, there are many factors at play in most car accidents. For example, what if one's vehicle was side-swiped by a distracted driver, but the impacted driver was also breaking traffic laws by speeding? If one is partly at fault for the crash, can they still recover damages in a subsequent lawsuit?
Florida, like some other states in the nation, follows the doctrine of contributory fault when it comes to car accidents. In a negligence lawsuit, the percentage of fault that the plaintiff is responsible for will diminish proportionately the damages the plaintiff can receive. Though, if the plaintiff was partly at fault, this does not bar him or her from recovery. Thus, in a negligence lawsuit, the court will issue a ruling against the plaintiff and defendant based on their respective percentage of fault. This means that Florida courts do not follow the doctrine of joint and several liability.
So, in general, if a person in Florida is injured in a car crash, but was partially at-fault for the collision, he or she may pursue a lawsuit, and receive damages that are lowered proportionately to the percentage he or she is at fault. But, determining liability in any car accident case is nuanced. Since this post cannot replace the advice of an attorney, those who wish to know more about the doctrine of contributory fault and how it applies to them may want to seek professional guidance.