How Speeding Can Diminish Your Cape Coral Car Accident Claim — Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Blog — August 29, 2023
Excessive speed is a factor in approximately one-third of all fatal crashes, according to the NHTSA. As Cape Coral car accident lawyers, we’ve seen far too many cases where rushed drivers recklessly put others’ lives at risk just so they could get to where they’re going a bit sooner.
Most drivers recognize speeding as risky, according to a recent AAA survey, and yet more than 50 percent admit driving 15 mph or more over the designated limit on the freeway at least once in the last 30 days.
What many people don’t realize is that even if they’re careful and attentive while sneaking past that speed limit, such violations have the potential to significantly curb the amount of financial compensation they can collect if they’re injured in a Cape Coral car accident – even if they weren’t the primary cause of it. This is especially true given the recently-passed state legislation introducing modified comparative negligence rules, limiting the right to any compensation whatsoever to drivers deemed more than 50 percent at-fault for a crash. (It used to be that a driver who was 99 percent liable could still collect on the other 1 percent in damages from the other at-fault driver, though obviously such a disparity wouldn’t be a desirable outcome.) Speeding can be considered in determining comparative fault behind the wheel.
What is Comparative Fault?
Comparative fault is defined in Florida Statute 768.81. It’s the recognition that there can be multiple factors that contribute to an injurious accident, and that each party should only have to pay their fair share.
As our Cape Coral car accident lawyers can explain, it’s the contributory fault of the plaintiff in a negligence action that proportionately diminishes the amount of money (economic and non-economic damages) one can collect for an injury. While it proportionately reduces the amount a person can collect, contributory fault won’t entirely bar recovery of damages – so long as their share doesn’t exceed half.
Every state has their own rules about contributory fault standards. Some hold that if you are even 1 percent responsible for the crash, you walk home with $0. Others set the cutoff bar at somewhere between 49 and 50 percent. Florida was one of the few pure comparative fault states that had no bar for recovery. That changed this spring with a slew of state tort reform measures.
Comparative fault is sometimes referred to as “the claim killer” because if proven, it can erode the monetary value of your case. An experienced personal injury lawyer can work to push back against comparative fault claims – but clear evidence of speeding is unquestionably going to count against any plaintiff in such an analysis. You may not have made the wrong left turn, but if you were going 15mph over the speed limit, the severity of the crash was likely amplified – and that factors into the comparative fault analysis.
Besides speeding, examples of other actions cited as comparative fault in Florida car accident cases include:
- Failure to wear a seat belt
- Failure to wear a helmet (motorcyclists)
- Operating a vehicle you know is defective
- Driving drunk
- Brake checking
- Distraction, such as talking on your phone, texting, blasting music, eating, smoking, turning to talk to passengers, etc.
Not all acts of comparative fault are against the law. Breaking traffic rules may be presented as evidence of per se negligence (as a matter of law) by the driver, but simply failing to use reasonable care can be adequate to establish comparative fault in a Cape Coral car accident.
Given that Florida now has that modified comparative fault standard, speeding – or any other act of comparative fault – has the potential to tip the scales sharply against injured crash victims.
Determining How Speed Impacts Liability for a Cape Coral Car Accident
There’s no clear rule for how speeding will impact your share of the fault in a crash. Insurance companies will have their own opinions. The courts may differ, Your lawyer can make a case on your behalf.
You may share less of the blame for traveling a bit too fast for road conditions than you would be for blowing past at 35 mph above the posted speed limit – but there’s no exact formula.
Injured crash victims should assume that no insurance company (even your own) has your best interests at heart. Before you give a statement to any adjusters, talk to a Cape Coral injury lawyer who can help guide you through the process.
If you are injured in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free initial consultation.
Going in Reverse: Dangerous Driving Behaviors Rise, Dec. 8, 2022, AAA Newsroom
More Blog Entries:
Southwest Florida Injury Lawyers Warn of South Florida Summertime Driving Dangers, June 27, 2023, Cape Coral Car Accident Lawyer Blog