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Comparative Negligence and Assessing Fault

March 17, 2018

Lake Buena Vista Personal Injury Attorneys

Accidents and personal injuries are complex matters, and sometimes more than one person is at fault.  In a typical scenario, a careless driver causes an accident and the injured motorist recovers 100% of the cost of their injury against the careless driver.  In Florida, however, comparative negligence could change the outcome.  While typical, just as often the injured motorist is somewhat responsible for their injury.  Perhaps the injured motorist was on their cellphone and had they been paying attention, could have reduced the rate of impact, or turned at the last minute, even though the careless driver was the primary cause of the accident.  In either event, in Florida, the injured motorist will have their recovery reduced to the degree they are deemed to have contributed to their own injury.  If a court determines that they were 30% responsible, they will only recover 70% of their injury from the careless driver. Florida’s comparative negligence rule is codified under section 768.81 and is an important consideration when evaluating the facts of your case.

Comparative negligence can be applied in a variety of legal matters.  Erin Andrews is a sportscaster and television personality who came to prominence on College Gameday.  In 2016, a “jury has awarded Erin Andrews $55 million in her lawsuit stemming from nude videos secretly taken by Michael Barrett, an insurance executive from suburban Chicago” according to Property Casualty 360.  Barrett was caught “secretly recording Andrews through peepholes bored in hotel walls after he made arrangements to occupy rooms next to Andrews.”  After Barrett was criminally sentenced, Erin Andrews eventually filed suit against the hotel company, the hotel operators, and Barrett himself.  The hotel company, the Marriott, was dismissed.  The operators were not dismissed from the suit.  After a trial, the “jury apportioned liability with 51% assessed against the perpetrator, Michael Barrett, and 49% against the two companies, West End Hotel Partners, and Windsor Capital Group, which owned and operated the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University, where the secret videos were taken in 2008.”

The Erin Andrews case demonstrates that even though the perpetrator, Barrett, was the primary cause of the intrusion into Andrews’ privacy, the hotel operators contributed to the injury.  The hotel employees, agents of the hotel operators, revealed Andrews’ private information, allowing Barrett to commit these heinous acts.  Without their involvement, Barrett very likely would not have discovered Andrews’ location within the hotel.  While the facts of this case are not typical, they do demonstrate that apportioning fault, and comparative negligence can limit your recovery against anyone tortfeasor.

The Lake Buena Vista personal injury attorneys at Bryan W. Crews and Associates will evaluate your claim for free. Contact them today for a consultation.  If your claim has merit, you may be entitled to recovery and the Lake Buena Vista attorneys will advocate on your behalf to protect your interests.

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