When you get injured in an accident that is someone else’s fault, the general rule in is that you are entitled to recover financial compensation for 100% of your accident-related losses. This includes past and future losses that are both financial (such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-financial (such as pain and suffering) in nature. The scope of the damages that can be recovered is one of the primary reasons to seek experienced legal representation for your claim. As “compensation,” your financial recovery in a personal injury claim is supposed to make you whole again. If you do not have a clear understanding of what you have lost – and what you still stand to lose in the future – you will simply have no way of knowing what constitutes “just” compensation for your injuries.
However, there is one critical exception to this general rule. This is the rule of “comparative fault.” In Florida, if an accident victim is partially responsible for causing his or her own injuries, then his or her compensation award can be reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of fault.
In insurance claims (which comprise the vast majority of personal injury claims), the comparative fault rule is one of the insurance company’s most valuable tools for trying to minimize their liability. It is commonplace – especially when injury victims are unrepresented – for insurance companies to claim that victims share in the responsibility for causing their injuries. This is why insurance companies try to get accident victims to give recorded statements, and why accident victims should refuse to do so. They want to be able to use your own words to prove that you are not entitled to full compensation.
When is an Accident Victim Partially at Fault?
In order for an insurance company to prove that an accident victim shares in the liability for his or her own injuries, it must meet the same standard of proof as the victim. This means it must prove that (i) you made an avoidable mistake, and (ii) your mistake played a role in causing your injuries. For example, an insurance company may accuse you of speeding or following too closely. Or, it may claim that you should have noticed the slip hazard that caused you to fall. Whatever the case may be, if the insurance company can find any justification for accusing you of fault, it will use this to try to reduce your compensation award.
What if an Insurance Company Accuses Me of Fault?
If an insurance company accuses you of fault, it is critical that you thoroughly attack its allegations. Where did the insurance company get its evidence (assuming it has any)? What countervailing evidence is available? How did it calculate your percentage of fault? These are all critical questions, and they are ones for which accident victims will often struggle to find answers without experienced legal representation by their side.
Call for a Free Consultation
If an insurance company has accused you of causing your own injuries, it is important that you speak with an attorney before you accept a reduced settlement for your injuries. To learn how I can help you Demand More® for your losses, call me, Brian D. Guralnick, at 561.202.MORE(6673) for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.