How Does Comparative and Contributory Negligence Impact a Florida Personal Injury Claim?

In a personal injury lawsuit, the terms comparative and contributory negligence may be used. This happens when an accident is not the fault of just one individual but shared by others. Understanding how shared negligence impacts a personal injury lawsuit is important. Florida personal injury attorneys in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach can help you recover expenses, even if you are partially at fault.


An individual may be injured by the negligent act of another motorist. This injury can result in both economic and non-economic damages. While insurance is required in Florida for all motor vehicles, some motorists carry only the minimum amount required by law. In addition, an insurance company pays 80 percent of medical expenses up to the limit of a person’s policy. Today, the expense of a hospital stay and medical care can easily exceed that amount. When an individual is injured due to the negligence of another driver, a personal injury lawsuit can recover such additional expenses.

Shared Negligence

If you are in a motor vehicle accident or suffer a slip and fall that you might have avoided, you may be considered partially at fault. For example, when driving on wet pavement, two cars may skid and slide into each other due to the weather, this may be considered shared negligence. The drivers may have been driving without regard for the wet pavement. In this case, both drivers may be partly to blame. Accident scene specialists are able to determine the fault of each driver using investigative techniques.

In another scenario, suppose an individual trips and falls after stepping in a parking lot pothole but was chatting on a cell phone at the same time. The owner of the parking lot is perhaps at fault for not repairing the pothole, but the individual talking on the cell phone while walking can also be at fault for not paying attention to his or her surroundings. States differ in the way this is viewed regarding negligence. In some, it is called pure or modified contributory negligence, while in others it is referred to as pure or modified comparative fault.

Comparative Negligence in Florida

Comparative negligence was adopted in Florida in 1973. Before 1973, Florida operated under the law of contributory negligence. Comparative negligence means that even if an individual is partially responsible for an accident, he or she can potentially recover damages. After the percentage that this individual is deemed liable is subtracted from the total, the injured party is awarded the rest.

Contributory Negligence Before 1973

Under the old Florida law of contributory negligence, an individual injured in an accident could not pursue a lawsuit for damages if he or she had any responsibility in the accident. Many states still have contributory negligence laws in place. Under this law, if an individual involved in an accident was deemed to be partially responsible, then that injured party could not recover damages from the other person.

Contact Florida Personal Injury Attorneys to Help

An individual who has suffered an injury in an accident may face medical bills and lost time from work above what insurance will pay. Kaiser Romanello in South Florida has experienced personal injury attorneys who can answer your questions, review your case and advise you on how to proceed, while you can concentrate on getting well. If you have been injured in an accident that you believe is due to the negligence of another, contact us to get a free case evaluation.