What is Pure Comparative Negligence?

A new bill was just signed by Governor DeSantis on March 24, 2023 that changes the face of injury law in Florida. Up until now, we enjoyed “Pure Comparative Negligence” in the State of Florida. Comparative negligence can simply be defined as an allocation of fault between the plaintiff and the defendant with a corresponding reduction in damages paid to the plaintiff.

For example, If you are hurt in a car accident, and it was determined you were 75% at fault, you could still make a recovery for 25% of your damages. So if your damages were $100,000.00, they would be reduced to $25,000.00 because you were found to be $25,000.00 at fault. It’s only fair, right?

What is Modified Comparative Negligence?

Florida was one of ten states in the United States who enjoyed “pure comparative negligence.” Under the new modified comparative negligence law, a plaintiff found to be more than 50% responsible for their own injury cannot recover for any damages. Zero.

What if a Plaintiff is found to be 49% at fault for the injuries under the new law? Then their damages are reduced by 49%. Following the example above, if the damages were $100,000.00, the recover would now be reduced to $49,000.00. This would be the same outcome as the pure comparative negligence standard. But again, if the same Plaintiff is found 51% at fault under the new law, there is no recovery.

Who makes this important decision?

Typically, the insurance carriers themselves make the decision. If there is a dispute with this finding, then luckily, a jury gets to decide in a court of law. But that is long road that could take years.

Why did this change take place?

The purpose of this law is to avoid “frivolous lawsuits”. Opponents of the law say it will “do nothing to lower insurance premiums and would hurt people seeking compensation from businesses that have harmed them”. Unfortunately, the effect of this law is that good people who are not completely at fault will not have any recourse to recover their damages.

It’s not always black and white. Pure comparative negligence allowed injured people to recover under all shades of gray. For more information call Sherris Legal, P.A. at 407-999-9955 or go to: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=77575&SessionId=99