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Florida’s New Comparative Negligence Laws

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Posted By Legal Team | August 4 2023 | Florida News, Personal Injury

Each state around the country has a method for determining how to compare negligence after a personal injury claim occurs. If more than one party was responsible for an incident, comparative negligence laws help determine who pays how much compensation and who gets how much compensation. Recently, Florida passed a tort reform law that changed how the state handles comparative negligence claims. Florida has gone from a “pure comparative negligence” to a “modified comparative negligence” system.

The New Tort Reform and Florida’s Comparative Negligence

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 837 into law on March 24, 2023. This is a wide-ranging tort reform bill designed to overhaul the litigation landscape across the state. There were several changes, and one of the major ones was the shift to a comparative negligence system to handle shared fault issues for a personal injury claim.

Under the new modified comparative negligence system in Florida, individuals will be barred from compensation recovery if they are more than 50% responsible for causing their own injuries. This does not apply to claims based on medical negligence. However, generally, any person more than 50% responsible for the incident will be unable to recover compensation.

Individuals 50% or less responsible for causing their own injuries will recover compensation for their losses, but they may not recover complete compensation. The total amount of compensation a person receives will be reduced depending on their percentage of fault, as determined by a jury.

For example, if a person sustains $1 million in damages after a truck accident caused primarily by a truck driver, but the injury victim was found to be 30% responsible due to their actions on the roadway, then they would receive $700,000 instead of the full $1 million. Of course, this is a rather simplistic scenario designed solely to display how the comparative negligence system works, in theory. Any actual personal injury case will be much more complex, and we strongly recommend working with a skilled personal injury lawyer in Florida who has experience handling comparative negligence issues.

How Did The Old System Work?

Florida used to be a pure comparative negligence state. Unlike a modified comparative negligence system, under a pure comparative negligence system, individuals can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident. Similar to a modified comparative negligence system, individuals will receive reduced compensation depending on their percentage of fault.

A pure comparative negligence system is seen to be much more plaintiff (claimant) friendly, and a modified comparative negligence system is seen to be more favorable to defendants. However, this is a middle line for most states, though there are some states that use a contributory negligence system that prohibits individuals from recovering compensation if they have even just 1% fault for an incident. 

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the negligent actions of another individual in the state of Florida, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney immediately. Handling an injury claim can be incredibly challenging, especially when going up against aggressive insurance carriers and legal teams. When you have a skilled St. Petersburg personal injury attorney by your side, you will have an advocate ready to help investigate the claim and handle any comparative negligence issues that arise.

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