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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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How Does Comparative Negligence Affect Lawsuits Involving Pedestrian and Bicyclist Accidents?

With Florida’s pleasant weather and beautiful scenery, many residents and visitors try to spend as much time outdoors as possible, often walking or riding a bike to their destinations rather than driving. Unfortunately, however, a high number of pedestrians and bicyclists on the roads can lead to tragic collisions with motor vehicles. In fact, Florida has been named the deadliest state in the country for pedestrians, with more than 5,400 pedestrian deaths reported between 2008 and 2017, and one of the top three states for cyclist fatalities. The drivers of cars involved in these accidents often claim that the pedestrian or bicyclist “came out of nowhere” or was somehow acting negligently—but in a lawsuit, how is fault apportioned between the parties, and can injured pedestrians/bicyclists still recover damages if they were also negligent? The answers to these questions may be determined by looking at Florida’s comparative negligence rules.

Comparative Negligence in Florida

For drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike, Florida law imposes general duties to avoid collisions. While drivers are often in a better position to prevent accidents, pedestrians and bicyclists may take actions—such as jaywalking, failing to look both ways when crossing the street, swerving into traffic, or walking/biking while intoxicated—that can increase their chances of being hit by a car. When the injured bicyclist/pedestrian pursues a lawsuit against the driver in these cases, comparative negligence rules will apply. 

Since 1973, Florida has followed a pure comparative negligence system. This means that while plaintiffs can still recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident, the damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that may be attributed to the plaintiff. For example, if a pedestrian is hit by a car and the jury finds that he or she suffered damages worth $100,000—but also finds that the pedestrian was 30% responsible for the accident—the pedestrian will only be awarded $70,000 in damages. Under pure comparative negligence, this method of apportioning damages holds true even if the plaintiff was 99% at fault; in contrast, under the modified comparative negligence system used in some states, plaintiffs are barred from recovering anything if they are found to be at least 50% responsible. 

When a pedestrian or bicyclist is struck by a car, determining who is at fault can be a complex process. While the injured victim’s negligence in causing the collision may reduce the amount of damages they can recover, pursuing a claim may still be worthwhile under Florida’s pure comparative negligence system. Securing an optimal outcome requires the assistance of a personal injury attorney with experience in pedestrian/bicyclist accidents, such as the team at Leighton Law. Call us today at 888.988.1774 to schedule a consultation!

Article by:

John Leighton

A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite

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