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Determining Fault In A Personal Injury Case

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One important issue that is part of every personal injury case is the concept of fault. “Fault” refers generally to the liability or responsibility for the personal injuries and damages suffered / sustained by the victim. In determining the issue of fault, there are a number of factors, facts, and circumstances that are considered or reviewed by a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney.  

Four elements that are part of every personal injury case

1 – Duty;
2 – Breach of Duty;
3 – Causation; and
4 – Damages

All elements must be established in order to pursue, seek, and obtain compensation on behalf of the personal injury victim.  In baseball, batting .500 would make a player an all star and an excellent part of the team and league.  Unlike baseball, all – not just half – of the elements must be established in order to have a viable personal injury case to pursue on behalf of the victim.  Because of the complexities and inner workings of personal injury cases, it is important to have a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney by your side and on your side every step of the way.  Whether the case involves an automobile accident, trucking accident, bicycle accident, day care center injury, medical malpractice, or other type of negligence, the above elements must be established in order to establish the concept of “fault” or responsibility for a personal injury.  

Let’s take an example of an automobile accident.  Let’s say that a “Driver A” is proceeding through an intersection on a green light and “Driver B” coming from the other direction attempts to make a left hand turn in front of “Driver A”.  The front of the vehicle for “Driver A” crashes into the passenger side of the vehicle driven by “Driver B”.  The police arrive on the scene, assess the situation, and issue a citation to “Driver B” for violation of the right of way.  “Driver A” is taken to the hospital and then obtains follow up medical care and treatment with local doctors, therapists, and specialists.  One may think that this is a clear cut case; however, there is more than meets the eye or common sense in evaluating “fault”.  Many people do not realize that the Accident Report and issuance of the citation are not admissible as evidence in most civil cases involving claims for personal injuries.  As such, “Driver B”, his insurance company, and his attorneys could take the position that “Driver B” had a green arrow and / or that “Driver A” was speeding.  This, in turn, would present a factual issue or dispute that could ultimately be determined by a jury.  There are other factors to consider as well including extent of property damage, amount of property damage, passenger statements from each vehicle, witness statements from others, and other factors.  What seems like a clear cut case can become complicated. For some cases, an accident reconstruction expert is hired to assess the angles, speeds, black boxes, and other technical and engineering aspects of a crash.

Comparative Fault

It should be noted that Florida is a Comparative Fault state when it comes to negligence cases including automobile accident cases.  In other faults, fault can be divided or apportioned to more than one parties depending on the facts and circumstances.  Liability or fault may be apportioned on a 75 % / 25 % to the respective drivers.  Then again, it may be determined that liability is apportioned 100 % / 0 %.  The case value can be affected if there is an issue as to partial fault on the part of the personal injury victim. It should be noted that cases are not evaluated on the fault or negligence alone.  Other factors considered in putting a value on a case including the diagnosis of the injuries, prognosis of the injuries, medical care received, medical care anticipated in the future, severity of the injuries, permanency of the injuries, lost wages, age of the victim, and a number of other factors.

Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyers

“Fault” as a basic concept is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up a personal injury case.  Insurance companies and businesses are well represented by adjusters, investigators, and attorneys.  You, as the personal injury victim or family member of a personal injury victim, should also be represented by a qualified an experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney.  At Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., your personal injury case will be handled by a partner – not a case manager or young associate – with over 25 years of experience.  Get Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. on your side and at your side.  Contact Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. today for a Free Consultation.  

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