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Car Accidents: Whose Fault is It, Really?

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Often it is difficult for accident victims to truly understand who is at fault in their accident from the legal perspective. Even if your car is the one that was totaled, it may not be easy to blame the other party. Let’s take the case of an intersection collison. It’s raining, Car A approaches the intersection within the speed limit, but potentially a bit fast for the weather conditions. Car B runs the red light and slams into Car A who swerves to avoid direct collision, hydroplanes, spins out of control and hits the nearby fence. Clearly Car B’s fault, right? Not so fast. According to Florida Statute 316.183(4)(e), “The driver of every vehicle shall drive at an appropriate reduced speed when: any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions“. Given this, it seems that Car A was partly at fault, and thus has been partially negligent in the collision. Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful person would use under like circumstances. IF Car A had gone slower to accommodate for the rainy weather, even if Car B had still run the red light, the damage could have been mitigated.

How is this going to play out after the fact? Both with any insurance settlement and in any accident related court proceedings, the damages you can recover could be less than you think. For example, the awardable damages are decided to be $10,000 to cover the cost of A’s car damage. If the driver of Car A is determined to be 30% at fault, he/she is only entitled to 70% of the damages, or $7,000.

What is the moral of the story? Always drive safely, because you never know what is going to happen.

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