Many of us in Escambia and Santa Rosa County have used rideshare companies like Uber® or Lyft® to hitch a quick, affordable ride for a number of reasons: to avoid driving in traffic, the difficulty in finding parking, or to avoid driving after having had a few drinks. The ease and convenience of rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft have increased their footprint in the transportation industry exponentially. However, with many more drivers on the road as a result of the popularity of these rideshare services, Uber and Lyft accidents have also increased, resulting in many more inquiries to our firm from passengers or third parties who have been injured in accidents caused by rideshare drivers. If you have been injured in an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft driver, here is what you need to know about Florida's comparative negligence laws and the impact they may have on your car accident claim.
How Florida's New Modified Comparative Negligence Law Works
As we have explained previously, as of March 24, 2023, Florida now operates under a modified comparative negligence standard, which requires the judge or jury in a car accident case to assign a percentage of fault to both parties before damages can be awarded. A comparative fault negligence standard essentially compares the two drivers' conduct and apportionments of negligence to determine the amount that is owed up to 50%. A plaintiff is barred from recovery if he is more than 50% at fault for his injuries under a modified comparative negligence standard.
For example, if Bob ran a stop sign and pulled out in front of Martha, who had the right of way but was driving in the rain without her headlights on making her vehicle more difficult to see, a jury may apportion Bob 70% of the blame for the accident, and Martha 30%. If Martha suffered $100,000 in injuries, the jury, under Florida's comparative negligence laws, would then find Bob liable to Martha for $70,000 as his portion of fault for her injuries.
However, if we assume Martha was speeding and ran a stop sign at the intersection before colliding with Bob and the jury found her 51% liable, Martha could not recover anything from Bob under Florida's modified comparative negligence because she was more than 50% responsible for the accident.
Uber and Lyft Can Use Comparative Negligence to Limit Their Liability
If you were injured in an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft driver, Uber or Lyft will work to gather evidence to determine how the accident was caused and any factors contributing to the accident. These can range from weather to visibility, to traffic and road conditions, but also the conduct of the passenger(s) in the rideshare vehicle or the driver and passenger(s) in the other vehicle involved in the collision. If you are the injured party bringing the lawsuit to recover for your damages, you have the burden to prove the rideshare driver's negligent driving primarily caused the accident. However, in states that operate under a comparative negligence standard, like Florida, Uber or Lyft may present evidence showing you as the plaintiff were partially at fault for the accident to reduce the amount of compensation to which you might be entitled, and remove your ability to recover entirely if they can prove you were more than 50% responsible for the accident under Florida's new modified comparative negligence standard.
For example, if you as the rideshare passenger were talking to the rideshare driver and pointing his attention off the road, a judge or jury could find you partially at fault for the accident. If you were the driver of the other car involved in the accident and you were not entirely responsible for the accident but your conduct did contribute (like Martha's failure to have her headlights on in the example above), your recovery could be reduced (like Martha's was) in proportion to your responsibility for the accident. Under this example, if Uber or Lyft can prove your negligent conduct was a 30% contributor to the accident and a judge or jury agrees, your recovery could be reduced by 30% under Florida's comparative negligence laws. If the rideshare company was able to prove you were more than 50% responsible for the accident, you would not be able to recover at all under Florida law.
Why You Need an Attorney to Assist With an Uber or Lyft Accident
When a collision involving a rideshare driver and a third party vehicle results in personal injuries to either the rideshare passenger(s) or occupants of the third party vehicle, the process of pursuing litigation and proving liability can be incredibly complicated. Multi-million dollar rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft have significant resources and employ teams of lawyers who work tirelessly to protect their interests. You need and deserve to have experienced insurance attorneys like our skilled car accident attorneys at Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock fighting for you and your best interests. Our dedicated attorneys never charge any fee, cost, or obligation to review your case and advise you of your rights. If you need help with an Uber or Lyft accident, never hesitate to contact us.
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