Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to auto insurance and how people are compensated for car accidents. To be crystal clear though: Fault still matters in Florida crash litigation. Jurors are asked to “score” each party’s fault. Based on the comparative negligence finding, total damages plaintiff can collect are proportionately reduced. It’s rarely “all-or-nothing,” but an experienced car accident lawyer will work diligently to dispel or minimize any allegations of comparative negligence.
Recently, a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer at Freeman Injury Law cleared a major fault-related hurdle when he was able to secure a multi-million-dollar settlement on behalf of a crash victim seriously injured in a wrong-way, head-on collision.
Let’s start with the fact that wrong-way car accidents are relatively rare compared to other types of crashes. Hundreds of thousands of crashes are reported to police every year, and of those, just 2,600 in 2016 were wrong-way crashes, many involving drivers who are novice, elderly or impaired. They are the sort of occurrence that just should never happen. From the perspective of a car accident lawyer, fault in wrong-way crashes is typically straightforward – and all on the wrong-way driver. But Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer Christopher Lassen‘s case was a bit more complicated.
Car Accident Lawyer Details Fault Obstacle
Personal injury plaintiff was a man named Jeffrey who had been driving southbound – the correct way – on a south Florida highway. At the same time, an elderly couple entered the southbound lanes traveling north, against the flow of traffic. Jeffrey was hit head–on and sustained severe injuries that required hospitalization and eventually surgery.
There was little question the elderly wrong-way driver was to blame. The question was whether Jeffrey, who was driving with the flow of traffic, should be deemed comparatively negligent for driving drunk. There was nothing to indicate he’d caused the crash, but the issue of comparative fault became increasingly worrisome when Mr. Lassen learned several other drivers who had been ahead of Jeffrey were able to move out of the way as the wrong-way elderly couple approached, whereas Jeffrey had not.
Mr. Lassen had a difficult decision. If he took the case to jurors, there was a decent chance they would find at least some percentage of comparative negligence. If it was substantial, it could significantly reduce the amount of compensation with which he’d walk away. For instance, if a jury were to find Jeffrey 40 percent at fault for the auto accident, his damage award would be reduced by 40 percent. That was a problem because Jeffrey’s injuries were quite serious, his medical care costly and he had no health insurance. On top of all that, he was unable to return to work, so the financial pressure was weighing heavily on him.
Chris Lassen, was able to secure funds to assist our client while he was recovering as well as get our client the medical care he needed under a letter of protection, which is basically a promise to pay for medical care with a portion of the settlement proceeds in the future. Jeffrey was ultimately received the medical care he needed, with a successful surgery on his cervical spine (neck) after other more conservative treatment options failed.
Successful Car Accident Settlement Negotiation
Taking this case to a jury would be risky. Even though Jeffrey was not the one driving the wrong way, juries tend to frown on drunk driving, making the chance of a substantial comparative negligence finding. Hoping to avoid this outcome, Attorney Lassen worked diligently to secure a favorable settlement for Jeffrey – $375,000.
This case underscores the fact that when you’ve got a challenging injury claim, your trust should be placed in an experienced car accident lawyer committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for you.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
F.S. 768.81, Comparative Fault, Florida Statutes
More Blog Entries:
Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Explains Possible Crash Compensation Options, Oct. 30, 2018, Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer Blog