Comparative Negligence in Florida

Florida is now a modified comparative fault state, meaning that drivers can only sue if they are less than 51% at fault for an accident.
Written by Sean Boehme
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Florida used to follow the pure comparative negligence model, allowing drivers to sue for damages even if they were 99% at fault for an accident. As of March 2023, however, Florida has adopted a modified comparative negligence law that only allows drivers to claim damages if they are less than 51% at fault.
Whether it's a major crash or a minor bump, dealing with the fallout of a car accident can be a headache. Your state’s comparative negligence law helps to determine how much you can claim in damages after an accident, so knowing the rules will make the process a lot quicker. 
If you’re a driver in Florida looking to better understand how comparative negligence works, this guide put together by the
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal principle that allows all parties involved in some sort of incident to collect damages based on how “at fault” they are determined to be.  You might be surprised at the types of damage covered by insurance.
In other words, if an incident is only 25% your fault, you only have to pay 25% of the damage costs. However, for the person who’s 75% at fault, 75% of the damage needs to be paid.
Comparative negligence comes up in a few different circumstances but is common when it comes to traffic accidents. When there is an accident, you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company and they’ll pay off the damages for that driver’s blame. Here's a checklist for filing a car insurance claim.

Comparative negligence vs contributory negligence

There are three different models that most states follow, and they are:
  • Pure comparative negligence: You can simply collect damages proportionately based on the percentage you are at fault.
  • Modified comparative negligence: You can collect damages proportionately based on the percentage you are at fault unless you are determined to be over 50% at fault (or over 51% in some states).
  • Contributory negligence: You can not recover any compensation for damages if you are found to be at all at fault
The majority of states in the U.S. utilize the modified comparative negligence model that Florida recently switched to.
MORE: 6 tips to survive a car crash

What is Florida’s comparative negligence law?

Since Florida follows the modified comparative negligence model, the law is relatively simple. You are not entitled to damages if you're more than 50% responsible for an accident, but if you're less than 51% at fault you can file a claim or lawsuit. You’ll need to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company to receive the compensation. 
Let’s say you’re in an accident and you’re assigned 25% of the fault for the incident. That means your insurance will be responsible for paying 25% of the damages for the other party. 
However, since the other party is then 75% at fault, their insurance will have to pay 75% of the cost of damages for you.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties?

If there are three or more parties involved in an accident, the blame may then be split between all parties involved. You might place claims with both of their insurance providers or just one of them to receive the damages you are entitled to. The insurance companies determine the value of a totaled car before you'll receive (or be responsible for) a payout.

How is fault decided in comparative negligence cases?

When insurance companies are determining fault, they’ll utilize police reports as well as any evidence that is submitted to them. Some of the information they’ll look for includes
  • The time and weather
  • Maps of the area
  • Witness accounts
  • Medical records
  • The type of vehicle both parties were driving
Generally, car insurance companies have an algorithm they use to determine blame. If you believe you were not at fault or very little at fault, providing a lot of evidence will help you to prove that.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence?

Since Florida uses the pure comparative negligence model, filing a claim with another driver’s insurance is pretty simple. Even if you were partially or even mostly at fault, you can file a claim for damages proportionate to your blame
Let’s say that you are rear-ended by a car on the highway and that the driver was both speeding and distracted. However, you changed lanes suddenly and forgot to turn on your blinker before changing lanes. 
In this case, you are both likely to be assigned blame for the incident. If you are assigned 30% of the blame, then you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance for 70% of the damages. So if the total damage was $1,000, you’ll receive $700 from the other driver’s insurance. 
Similarly, the other driver will be able to file a claim with your insurance, and receive 30%, or $300, to cover the cost of their damages. If this were to happen in a state with modified comparative negligence, the other driver would not be able to recover anything. 

How to find affordable car insurance

Understanding Florida’s traffic guidelines and
Florida's car insurance laws
are a great way to protect you and your car, but accidents can still happen. You’ll want to make sure you're covered by an insurance company you can both trust and afford.
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Yes. Your insurance company will determine how much to
raise your insurance rates
based on several factors including the accident itself as well as your age and record. On average, you can expect about a 34% increase in your premium after an accident.
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