When an accident occurs, determining legal responsibility for it can be pretty complicated. This legal responsibility is often termed as “liability” in terms of law. This liability often rests on whether someone was careless or “negligent.” While it is easy enough to say that the person or business that caused an accident must pay for your injuries, however it is always not so easy to determine who was “legally” at fault.

There are many accidents that occur just because someone was careless. When one person involved in an accident was less careful than another, the less careful one is usually entitled to pay for at least a portion of the damages suffered by the more careful one.

It is taken for granted that a person of ordinary intelligence should be able to anticipate when his actions, or inactions, present a risk to others. In general, foresee ability must be determined by the Trier of fact in light of all the circumstances. When it comes to personal injury cases, the Trier of fact is usually a jury. The jury needs to consider whether

  • the defendant could have predicted his conduct would be harmful or high risk in the scenario
  • the resulting injury was a predictable or likely outcome of the defendant’s conduct

However, there is one area where foresee ability does not matter. This is with regard to the extent of harm a victim might sustain. As per a plaintiff rule, it is established that a defendant is liable as long as harm was foreseeable. The actual harm he causes is irrelevant, even if the harm is disproportionately severe due to the victim’s health.

A victim needs to show that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have been able to anticipate that a particular action, or failure to act, would create a dangerous condition. This is important to prove foresee ability. Victims can do this by presenting solid evidence. Also, the victim can use eyewitness testimony to independently corroborate the circumstances surrounding the accident. Only an expert testimony can demonstrate why the accident was a likely outcome of the defendant’s conduct.

When it comes to the determination of legal liability for almost all accidents, this rule of carelessness is followed. Here is a list of all the simple propositions:

  • In case the injured person was where he or she was not supposed to be, or somewhere he or she should have expected the kind of activity which caused the accident, the person who caused the accident might not be liable because that person had no duty to be careful toward the injured person.
  • The plaintiff or injured person’s compensation might be reduced if he or she was also careless along with the defendant. The extent of reduction depends on the level of carelessness that caused the accident. This is referred as comparative negligence, as per the Florida Law.
  • When a negligent person causes an accident while working for someone else, the employer might also be legally responsible for the accident.
  • When an accident is caused on property that is dangerous because it is poorly built or maintained, the owner of the property is held responsible for being careless in maintaining the property, irrespective of whether he or she actually created the dangerous condition.
  • When an accident is caused by a defective product, the manufacturer and seller of the product are both liable even if the injured person doesn’t know which one was careless in creating or allowing the defect, or exactly how the defect happened.

There might be situations when more than one person is at fault. This involves cases where several careless drivers cause a wreck and such other similar scenarios. The Florida law in most states provides that any one of the careless parties is responsible for compensating you fully for your injuries. The responsible parties then need to decide between themselves whether one should reimburse the others.

This specific rule is all about collecting from any responsible person provides you with a couple of important advantages. When one liable person is insured and the other is not, you can make your claim against the insured person for the entire amount. In case both are insured, you will have to settle your claim with only one insurance company. In the beginning, you need to consider everyone you think might be responsible and notify each of them that you may file a claim for damages. Then, you need to pursue a claim against only one person depending on what you discover about how the accident happened, or on which insurance company takes responsibility.

Your own carelessness certainly affects your claim as well. You might have been careless yourself and partly responsible for having caused the accident in the first place. In Florida, you can still get at least a little compensation from anyone else who was also careless and partly responsible for the accident. The amount of the other person’s liability for the accident greatly depends on the extent of carelessness with your own. The percentage of liability highly determines the percentage of the resulting damages he or she must pay. This rule is known as comparative negligence.

There is no specific formula for arriving at a precise number for a person’s comparative carelessness. At the time of claim negotiations, you and an insurance adjuster will have to discuss all the factors that might have resulted in the accident. Along with all the other factors on which the amount of your claim rests, your own carelessness also goes into the negotiating hopper. Other factors determining the worth include the seriousness of your injury and the amount of your medical bills.

Comparative negligence is applied in three pretty different ways. The ways by and far depend on the state where the accident occurred. However, a majority of the states use a slightly more restrictive rule under which you can’t recover anything if your own carelessness was 50% or more responsible for the accident. Some of the states do not allow you to recover any compensation at all if your fault is any more than “slight” compared to the others involved — or, worse, if your own carelessness contributed in any way to the accident. This is referred to as “contributory negligence.”

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