Yes, both drivers can be found at fault for a car accident in Florida. Florida is a “comparative negligence” state, which means that a person’s recovery for damages can be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault for an accident. In other words, if both drivers are found to be partially at fault for an accident, each driver may be held responsible for their respective percentage of fault.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal principle used to assign fault for an accident between two or more parties who were at least partially responsible for causing the accident. In a comparative negligence system, each party’s degree of fault is determined, and the damages awarded in a lawsuit are then divided based on the degree of responsibility of each party.
In Florida, comparative negligence is used to determine fault in personal injury cases, including car accidents. The state uses a “pure comparative fault” system, which means that even if a person is found to be mostly at fault for an accident, their liability can be offset by another party’s negligence. This can in turn reduce the amount of damages they would be responsible for.
What Type Of Accidents Can Occur Where Both Drivers Are At Fault?
Examples of situations where both drivers may be at fault for a car accident in Florida include:
Rear-end collisions: Although the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is often considered at fault, there are situations where the driver in front may also be partially responsible. For example, if the driver in front suddenly stops or makes an unsafe lane change without warning, and the driver in the back cannot stop in time to avoid a collision, both drivers may share fault for the accident.
Intersection accidents: Accidents at intersections can be caused by drivers who run red lights or stop signs, but they can also occur when both drivers fail to yield the right-of-way. For example, if two drivers approach a four-way stop at the same time and both try to go at the same time, they may collide, and both be at fault.
Left-turn accidents: When a driver makes a left turn, they are typically required to yield to oncoming traffic. However, if an oncoming driver is speeding or runs a red light, they may also be at fault for the accident.
Distracted driving: If both drivers are distracted at the time of the accident, they may both be at fault. For example, if one driver is texting while driving and the other is eating or adjusting the radio, they may collide, and both may be held responsible.
How is Fault Determined?
In Florida, fault is typically determined based on a combination of the police report, witness statements, and evidence gathered from the accident scene. Insurance companies and/or attorneys for both drivers will investigate the accident to determine who was at fault.
Some factors that may be considered in determining fault for a car accident in Florida include:
Traffic laws: If a driver violates a traffic law, such as running a red light or speeding, they may be found at fault for the accident.
Driver behavior: If a driver was distracted, drunk, or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident, they might be found at fault.
Road conditions: If the accident was caused by poor road conditions, such as a pothole or a malfunctioning traffic light, the government agency responsible for maintaining the road might be held liable.
Vehicle defects: If a defect in a vehicle, such as faulty brakes or a malfunctioning airbag, caused the accident, the manufacturer may be held liable.
Contributing factors: In some cases, both drivers may share fault for an accident. For example, if one driver was speeding and the other driver ran a red light, and the resulting accident was found to be 60% the fault of the speeding driver and 40% the fault of the driver who ran the red light, then the speeding driver would be responsible for 60% of the damages and the other driver would be responsible for 40% of the damages.
Once fault has been determined, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will typically be responsible for paying damages to the other driver. If the drivers cannot agree on who was at fault, the case may need to be resolved through a court trial.
What if Both Drivers Sustained Injuries?
If both drivers are found to be at fault for an accident and both sustain injuries, they would typically be responsible for their medical expenses. This is because Florida is a “no-fault” state regarding car accidents, meaning that each driver’s insurance company would be responsible for paying their medical expenses from their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
However, if one driver’s injuries exceed the limits of their insurance coverage, they may be able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. In this case, fault would still need to be established, and the driver who was found more at fault for the accident may be required to pay a larger share of the other driver’s medical expenses.
It’s important to note that determining fault in a car accident can be a complex process that involves gathering evidence and evaluating the actions of each driver leading up to the accident. If you’re involved in a car accident in Florida, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
At The Law Offices of Nerina Smart, P.A., we understand the complexities of Florida’s legal system and have a proven track record of success in helping our clients recover damages for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to their accident. With our knowledge, experience, and dedication to our clients, we can help you navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and build a strong case for your claim. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.