Opinion

Who to blame when a car accident occurs

Florida law recognizes a concept called “comparative negligence.” Comparative negligence is how insurance companies and juries apportion (or distribute) fault. So if you are entitled to $10,000 for injuries sustained in a car accident, but you are found to be 50 percent comparatively negligent (i.e. that the accident was 50 percent your fault), you would be entitled to only $5,000.

Insurance companies make it their mission to try to find any reason to assign you blame in an accident. This is just one of many reasons why you need a personal-injury attorney to help you fight this fight.

I have seen situations where police officers, who I have the utmost respect for, make mistakes in when they issue a ticket or document an accident. Just because the police officer gives you a ticket or citation, this does not mean he or she properly investigated the facts (i.e. listened to your side of the story, elicited the germane facts from witnesses, etc.). Remember, the police officer tends to arrive at the scene of an accident AFTER the accident occurs! So they are not always in the best position to figure out who is really at fault.

Let’s say you run through an intersection as a light turns from yellow to red, and you hit another car. If you can show that the other car was speeding, failed to properly watch out for oncoming traffic, etc…, you could argue that some percentage should be properly assigned to the other driver for his or her failure to drive safely even if the accident is deemed mostly your fault.

Obviously, every situation is different. But when an accident is mostly your fault, a recovery may still be possible (i.e. 20 percent of something is better than nothing). These are the more challenging cases, but certainly worth investigating.

Jason Neufeld, Esq., a University of Miami alumnus, is an associate with Neufeld,Kleinberg & Pinkiert P.A (NKP). For more information, please visit http://www.nkplaw.com, dial 1-800-379-TEAM (8326), or email Jason directly atjneufeld@nkplaw.com

August 24, 2011

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Jason Neufeld

Contributing columnist


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