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Pure Comparative Fault Rules in Florida

Flanagan & Bodenheimer Injury and Wrongful Death Law Firm Team

Getting injured is not on anyone’s to-do list. However, if somebody sustained an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another party, they are generally able to recover compensation, whether through an insurance settlement or through a lawsuit. But what happens if a person is partly responsible for the incident that caused their injury? Will they still be able to recover compensation?

Most states throughout the US operate under some form of the comparative fault system that allows for a person to recover compensation even if they share some blame for their injuries. However, not every state’s compare fault laws work the same way. Here, we want to examine how this works in Florida.

Why Are Comparative Fault Laws Necessary?

Comparative fault laws are generally seen as much more fair than the alternative, which is called contributory fault laws. Under a contributory fault system, a person is not able to recover any compensation if they share any of the blame for causing their own injuries.

For example, if a person is injured in a grocery store after they slip and fall on a spill that employees knew about but failed to clean up, you would assume that the injured victim would be able to recover compensation. However, if it can be proven that the injured person was texting on their cell phone at the time they slipped and fell and that this contributed to them not seeing the spill, they might not receive any compensation at all under a contributory fault system.

A contributory negligence system essentially bars a person from recovering compensation even if they are only 1% at fault for the incident. Because of the perceived injustice of this type of system, comparative fault laws were created to deal with this more fairly. Most states operate under a modified comparative fault system that allows for a victim to recover compensation if they are 51% or 50% or less at fault for the incident. However, Florida handles this a bit differently.

What Does Pure Comparative Fault Mean?

Florida is one of a few states that operate under a “pure comparative fault” system. This means that a person can recover compensation for their injuries regardless of how much fault they had for the incident, even if they are mostly at fault for their injuries (up to 99%).

Under both a modified comparative fault system and a pure comparative fault system, the total amount of compensation a victim receives will ultimately be reduced by the amount of fault they had in the incident. For example, if a person is awarded $100,000 in damages after a car accident causes them harm, but a jury determines that the person was 20% at fault for the incident, then they would receive $80,000 in total damages.

Now suppose that the person in that scenario was 80% at fault for the incident instead. Under a modified comparative negligence system, this person would be prohibited from recovering compensation. However, under Florida’s pure comparative fault system, this person would still be able to recover $20,000 in total compensation.

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