How Comparative Negligence in Florida Affects Damages — Busted Barbara

Posted by Fred Koberlein | Apr 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

Broken leg

Comparative negligence is a legal defense used in civil cases to reduce the amount of potential damages a defendant could be ordered to pay. The crux of the argument is that the plaintiff — the person who files the lawsuit against the defendant — would not have incurred a tort or personal damages had they not been partially negligent themselves.

For parties that have been injured, comparative negligence can quickly take away much of the compensatory damages they would have been awarded. This money could have helped pay for medical care and other losses. Understanding how defenses use comparative negligence is instrumental to presenting the full facts of the case and retrieve every penny the plaintiff deserves.

Barbara's Busted Leg

Barbara works at Frank's Florists, which runs a popular flower delivery service. In the back of the building is a narrow alley connected to the parking lot. Since delivery drivers using the alley often have low visibility when turning the preceding corner, employees are instructed, with verbal warnings and handwritten posted warning signs on the rear door, to avoid the alley area. Employees are expected to exit on the building's side and walk around the front should they need to reach the parking lot.

One day, Barbara realizes that she has left her cell phone in her car. Since she is expecting an important call, she runs out the back exit to reach the parking lot. A delivery truck hits her. The impact breaks her femur so severely that her doctor says she may never regain full functionality.

Barbara sues Frank's Florists, alleging that the company created unsafe conditions that placed an unreasonable burden on employees to maintain their own safety. She further alleges that delivery drivers had been encouraged to drive recklessly in order to hasten order fulfillment times, and this, coupled with the expectation that no one would enter the alley, leads to negligent attitudes.

Frank's Florists responds that although their practices may have been negligent in some way, Barbara's decision to ignore warnings both verbal and posted meant that she shared comparative negligence. The jury must then decide how much Barbara's own free will contributed to her injury and the subsequent damages.

Comparative Negligence and Burden of Proof

One complicating factor about cases like Barbara's is that the burden of proof for asserting comparative negligence lies upon the defendant. Frank's Flowers must prove with a preponderance of evidence that Barbara deliberately ignored the warning signs knowing full well the potential consequences.

Although meeting the burden of proof is not always easy, comparative negligence defenses have been responsible for stripping plaintiffs of their expected court-ordered award. If you are filing or have filed a civil suit, and have reason to believe that comparative negligence arguments could be used against you, we suggest you seek out professional representation from an experienced civil attorney now.

Koberlein Law Offices provides representation for injury and negligence cases that require strategies for countering comparative negligence claims. Our law offices in Gainesville and Lake City can provide legal services to claimants in the North Florida area. Contact us today.

About the Author

Fred Koberlein

Fred Koberlein is a trial attorney who opened Koberlein Law Offices after acquiring extensive legal experience in three legal practice areas, which are: personal injury law; criminal defense; and local government matters which require you to appear or present your matter before your local government Boards, government Councils, and government Agencies. Mr. Koberlein began trial preparation through an externship as a legal clerk with the Judges of the Third Judicial Circuit for Florida prior to his graduation from the University of Florida, College of Law.  After law school Mr. Koberlein was dedicated to becoming a trial attorney and worked with the Public Defender's Office from 2004 to 2007, where he was promoted to handling felony cases within eight months of hire.  Mr.  Koberlein has handled over 1500 criminal cases ranging from possession of cannabis, DUI, serious felonies, white-collar crimes, violations of probation hearings, and countless motion hearings. Mr.  Koberlein began practicing in the areas of personal injury and insurance defense during 2006.  Mr. Koberlein's experience in prosecuting personal injury claims against those insurance companies he was not representing and defending other insurance companies and their customers provided a unique experience where he was able to learn what each side anticipates from the opposing party.Next, Mr. Koberlein was hired by a City to defend the City's interests and three additional Cities quickly followed and retained Mr. Koberlein to protect their interests.  Currently, Mr. Koberlein represents a total of four (4) municipalities in the North Florida area.  As Mr. Koberlein focused on civil litigation he remained passionate about representing individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes as well as civil litigation issues. Mr.  Koberlein has the experience and reputation to negotiate a favorable resolution in your matter, and if that is not possible, to provide the best, most zealous trial representation available.  Utilizing competent and trusted investigators and experts, your case will be prepared so that the best result will be achieved.  If you or a loved one is hurt, damaged, or is facing criminal charges, you want a qualified, hard-working attorney who will explain your options to you in a straightforward, commonsense, and honest manner. Education and Practice Experience: University of Florida; Gainesville, Florida; Bachelor of Science, 1997 University of South Florida; Tampa, Florida; 1998 University of Florida, College of Law; Gainesville, Florida; 2003 Bar and Court Admissions: Florida Bar, 2004 – Present All 67 Counties in Florida All 20 Circuits in Florida U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida Professional and Civic Activities: Florida Bar Trial Lawyers, 2007 – Present Florida Bar Business Law Section, 2007 – Present Florida Bar Criminal Law Section, 2004 – Present Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2004 – Present Third Judicial Bar Association, 2004 – Present Mr.  Koberlein is committed to his clients and devotes himself to protecting their interests from the beginning to the end of their case.  Mr. Koberlein has spent his career helping clients defend themselves against criminal charges, fight insurance companies, and proceed through the bureaucratic process of local governments.  Mr. Koberlein welcomes the opportunity to meet with you and evaluate your legal needs and provide you with an experienced and competent analysis.


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