What Happens When More than One Driver Is at Fault in a Car Accident?
When drivers get behind the wheel of a car, the vast majority do so with the intent to drive carefully and do everything possible to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, car accidents do happen, and people do get injured. Sometimes it is clear one person is at fault, but in other accidents, there may be contributing factors that reduce a person’s fault for injuries suffered by others, or the fault may shared by more than one driver. Determining who is at fault and by how much is a crucial issue if a lawsuit is filed by an injured party seeking to recover compensation for things lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.
A recent car crash in Venice involving a school bus in a head-on collision with a car could result in the distribution of fault. Two students were injured in the crash, and while police initially cited the driver of the car for accident, the school bus driver could still be allocated partial blame during a trial if the students’ parents sue. This is a large issue in personal injury case because Florida law reduces the amount of damages a defendant is required to pay if it is established at trial that the accident was not 100 percent his/her fault. In addition, if multiple people share fault for an accident with injuries sustained by other parties, those at fault may be responsible for reimbursing each other if one person paid more than their share when compensating the victims. These legal theories are called comparative fault and contribution among tortfeasors.
Comparative fault is a form of negligence law that allows injured parties to recover compensation from a negligent person or company to the only extent the other party was at fault. In Florida, comparative fault is applied using a pure system that allows a plaintiff to recover from the other party for any amount he/she was at fault, even if the other party was only responsible for one percent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, even though the plaintiff is partially responsible for their own injuries, this fact does not bar from them recovering some measure of compensation. This differs from other states that disallow any recovery if the plaintiff shares any fault in their own injuries.
Contributions Among Tortfeasors
If there are multiple parties that share fault for the same injury and one party pays more than their share of liability would require, the other responsible parties are obligated to pay them that portion of the settlement or judgment that is above what they should have paid. However, this provision does not apply if the settlement amount was unreasonable or the injury was caused intentionally. Further, this right to contribution exists independently of a judgment finding fault for negligence. Thus, it is possible to sue the other responsible parties to force them to pay their share without ever going to trial for the original injury that instigated everything.
If you were injured in a car accident due to another’s driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover money damages even if you are partially at fault. It is always best to speak to a personal injury lawyer after any car accident involving an injury to see what legal options you have. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado has the experience necessary to investigate the facts of your case and determine what the best course of action is for you. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.