What is Auto Negligence in Florida? 

Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person. In the context of car accidents, negligent behavior involves violating traffic laws, driving recklessly, or failing to pay attention while driving, amongst other actions. If another is harmed due to negligent behavior, the injured person is legally entitled to compensation for the harm caused. Compensation can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.  


Key Elements of Negligence in Florida Car Accidents 

Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person. In simple words, negligence can be understood as carelessness resulting in harm.  In Florida, understanding the key elements of negligence is crucial for determining liability and seeking compensation in personal injury cases.  Personal injury accidents extend beyond physical suffering; they often encompass emotional distress and financial strain. Moreover, depending on the severity of the injury, a person may be required to take time off work all while the medical bills pile on. Accident victims experience the unfair phenomena of life in which the victim of an already unlucky situation must now also endure its aftermath. This is where the law steps in. Car accident attorneys are dedicated to securing compensation from the responsible party to alleviate the burden of accidents. With the help of an attorney, the at-fault party will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and more. This article outlines the key elements of negligence in Florida and how they impact your right to compensation. 


Modified Comparative Negligence 

Florida follows a “modified comparative negligence” rule, meaning that each party involved in an accident can be assigned a percentage of fault, and their compensation is reduced by their share of the fault. If the injured party is partially at fault for their injuries, their compensation is reduced proportionately to their degree of fault. However, if the degree of fault exceeds 50%, you are not entitled to compensation. For example, if a driver is involved in an accident and found to be 35% at fault while the other driver is 65% at fault, the partially at-fault driver can still recover damages. However, their compensation will be reduced by 35%. So, if the total damages were $10,000, they would receive $6,500 after the reduction. This rule does not apply to cases of personal injury or wrongful death arising from medical negligence. To be considered partially at fault for an accident, the opposing party has to identify and prove that a negligent act contributed to the severity of the damages (injuries) being claimed. For instance, if you were rear-ended at a stop light, you are clearly not at fault for the accident itself. However, if you failed to abide by Florida’s car seat laws, the at-fault party can argue that the child’s injuries were exacerbated by this, thereby reducing your compensation due to your contribution to the damages.


Determining Negligence  in Florida


Negligence in Car Accidents | Personal Injury Law. gable and toy cars

Determining negligence in Florida involves evaluating several key elements to establish who is responsible for the accident. In simple terms, to establish negligence, you need to check if the person had the legal responsibility to be careful (duty of care), failed to do so (breach of duty), and if this failure caused the accident (causation) and resulted in injury or damage (harm). To best prove this, it is essential to gather evidence such as witness statements, police reports, medical records, and any other relevant documentation.  




Examples of Negligence in Car Accidents 

Driving Under the Influence:

Scenario: A driver is under the influence of alcohol, runs a red light, hits a pedestrian and breaks his leg. 

  • Duty of Care: The driver has a legal responsibility to operate the vehicle safely and soberly. This includes following traffic laws, paying attention, and avoiding impairing substances to ensure the safety of all road users. 
  • Breach of Duty: By driving while intoxicated, the driver fails to uphold this responsibility. Intoxication impairs judgment and reaction time, violating safety standards and increasing the risk of accidents. 
  • Causation: The impaired judgment and reaction time due to intoxication lead to running the red light and causing the accident. The driver’s inability to react appropriately results directly from their intoxicated state. 
  • Harm: The intoxicated driver runs a red light and hits a pedestrian, breaking the pedestrian’s leg. This results in physical injury, medical expenses, emotional trauma, and potential loss of income for the pedestrian. 
  • Outcome: The intoxicated driver is liable for the injury resulting from the accident. The driver must compensate the pedestrian for medical costs, pain, suffering, and lost income, and may also face criminal charges for driving under the influence. 


Reckless Driving:

Scenario: A driver speeds through a red light and collides with another vehicle causing total loss of the vehicle.  

  • Duty of Care: The driver must follow traffic laws and drive safely. This involves adhering to speed limits, obeying traffic signals, and maintaining control of the vehicle. The duty of care ensures that all drivers act in a manner that prevents harm to themselves, other drivers, pedestrians, and property. 
  • Breach of Duty: Running a red light and speeding are violations of this duty. These actions demonstrate a disregard for traffic regulations and the safety of others. Such reckless behavior significantly increases the likelihood of accidents. 
  • Causation: The reckless behavior directly causes the collision. By running a red light and speeding, the driver creates a dangerous situation that leads to an inevitable accident. The driver’s failure to obey traffic laws and control their speed directly results in the collision 
  • Harm: The collision results in the other driver’s car being a total loss. The impact of the crash causes extensive damage to the other vehicle, rendering it irreparable. 
  • Outcome: The reckless driver is responsible for the other driver’s total loss of their vehicle. Legally, the reckless driver must compensate the other driver for the value of the totaled vehicle. This may include covering the cost of a replacement vehicle and any additional expenses incurred due to the accident. 


Distracted Driving:

Scenario: A driver is texting and fails to notice the car in front of them stopping, leading to a rear-end collision. The driver of the stopped car is now suffering a concussion and has severe damage to the rear bumper. 

  • Duty of Care: The driver must pay full attention to the road and other vehicles. This vigilance is essential to prevent accidents and ensure everyone’s safety on the road. 
  • Breach of Duty: Texting while driving is a direct violation of Florida Statute 316.305, which prohibits texting while driving. This law is designed to reduce distractions and enhance road safety. 
  • Causation: The distraction causes the driver to fail to stop in time, leading to the collision. By focusing on their phone, the driver misses the stopped vehicle ahead, resulting in a rear-end collision. 
  • Harm: The rear-end collision results in the driver of the stopped car suffering a concussion and severe damage to the rear bumper. This causes both physical injury and significant vehicle repair costs. 
  • Outcome: The distracted driver is at fault for the accident and must compensate the injured party for medical expenses and car repairs. This includes covering the costs of the concussion treatment and the damage to the rear bumper. 


Negligence in car accidents can have severe consequences, causing physical, emotional, and financial distress. Understanding personal injury laws and examples of negligence can help you recognize when you may be entitled to compensation. 



What to do After Being Involved in a Car Accident in Florida  

After being in a car accident, it is crucial to document the scene meticulously and gather witness information, as these steps are vital in establishing negligence. Keep a detailed record of all expenses related to the accident, including medical bills, repair costs, and any lost wages. Also, keep track of your injuries, pain levels, and how the accident has impacted your daily life.  

Determining negligence involves proving that the other party did not act with the level of care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Keep evidence such as photos of the accident scene, witness statements, and police reports. A Florida car accident attorney can help you navigate the complexities of negligence claims and work towards securing fair compensation for any damage or injuries sustained. 



Path to Justice and Compensation 

Understanding personal injury law and recognizing instances of negligence are crucial steps in seeking justice for your injuries. Through legal recourse, victims can hold negligent parties accountable for their actions, alleviating some of the burdens imposed by the accident. Ultimately, a thorough understanding of negligence empowers individuals to protect their rights and pursue the restitution they deserve after a car accident. 

The Law Offices of Scott J. Senft provide the legal support and expertise required to pursue maximum compensation for your damages. With over three decades of experience in handling personal injury claims, our team is dedicated to delivering justice and fair compensation to their clients. Contact us for a free consultation today.  

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