When you or someone you love gets injured in an auto accident or suffers an injury in a slip and fall or any other type of accident involving negligence, Florida law has specific provisions to determine who was at fault. Imagine an accident involving several cars: it’s not just about blaming one driver. Instead, the law looks closely at what an at-fault driver was doing. Were they speeding? Not paying attention? Were the roads slippery? All these details are necessary to establish the liability of each negligent party.

Determining who is at fault is important because it ensures everyone is treated fairly. The goal is to make sure that no one is unfairly blamed for something they did not do or only partly did. This is where the “Fabre Doctrine” comes in.

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Who Is a Fabre Defendant Under Florida Law?

The Fabre Doctrine was established by the Florida Supreme Court case “Fabre v. Marin,” decided in 1993. The court ruled that the liability in a personal injury lawsuit could be assigned among all responsible parties, including those not named defendants in the lawsuit.

Essentially, this doctrine allows the court to consider the fault of all parties involved in an accident, even those who are not directly being sued. The defendant can legally point out that other parties not involved in the lawsuit might also be responsible for the damages. These other parties are referred to as “Fabre defendant” or “non-party at fault”.

For example, if the other driver whom you are suing believes that another person or entity also contributed to your car accident injury, they can ask the court to consider this other party as a Fabre defendant. Of course, they must provide concrete evidence to support this claim.

Unlike an affirmative defense in personal injury cases, the Fabre doctrine does not excuse the defendant’s behavior but instead seeks to distribute the blame among multiple parties.

Note that Fabre defendants are not physically part of the lawsuit. They do not come to court or participate in the legal proceedings. They are more like a concept used to measure how much each party is at fault.

How Does the Fabre Doctrine Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

When a Fabre defendant is introduced in personal injury cases, the amount of damages you can recover can be reduced. If a jury finds that the non-party-at-fault shares some of the responsibility for your accident, your damages will be divided. For instance, if the Fabre defendant is deemed 40% at fault, you can only recover 60% of the total damages from the defendant in your lawsuit.

To obtain the full extent of what you are owed in this case, you might need to initiate a separate lawsuit against this Fabre defendant. So now, you not only have to prove the fault of the defendant you are suing but also contend with the defense’s arguments about the fault of this other party.

The defense might use a Fabre defendant as a strategy to shift blame and reduce their financial liability. As the plaintiff, you and your Florida personal injury lawyer will need to carefully strategize how to address this, either by minimizing the perceived fault of the Fabre defendant or by reinforcing the primary defendant’s liability.

The presence of a Fabre defendant can also affect settlement negotiations. Knowing that the liability might be shared with another party, the defendant might be less inclined to offer a high settlement, expecting that the jury might not hold them fully responsible for the damages.

Protect Your Right to Compensation with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Florida

Sometimes, when an accident happens, the obvious negligent party is not the only one at fault. There could be Fabre defendants — parties you might not know yet, but who share the fault.

At The Law Offices of Scott J Senft, our legal team specializes in identifying and proving such hidden liabilities by:

  • Investigating the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries
  • Visiting the accident scene to collect physical evidence
  • Collecting all available documentation (police reports, medical records, witness statements)
  • Consulting with experts (accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals, engineers) to get the full picture of what happened and who might have contributed to it
  • Reviewing all the relevant laws to understand who might be liable under current legal standards
  • Negotiating with the insurance company and the defendants to achieve the highest possible settlement
  • Staying prepared to go to trial, if a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached (and aim to get a verdict form in our client’s favor)

Throughout the process, we look beyond the obvious parties to identify other individuals, businesses, or even government organizations for apportioning liability. If the named defendant claims that a Fabre defendant is responsible, we know how to counteract any attempts to shift blame unfairly. If you are not sure where to start or who to blame, give us a call at (954) 505-2183 to set up a free consultation.

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