The basic rule of personal injury claims, including premises liability cases, is this: The negligent party should suffer the losses associated with the accident.
But what happens when the defendant in your case (or the defendant’s insurance company) claims that you are partially responsible for your own injuries? Each state handles the situation a little differently. Florida follows the rule of comparative negligence, which means that you can still collect damages for your injuries even if you contributed to your own losses. However, any damages you might be due would be reduced according to your share of the blame.
For example, imagine that you slipped in a dark stairwell while carrying groceries to your apartment and seriously injured yourself in a fall. You blame the fact that the owner allowed the lights on the stairwell to burn out and didn’t promptly replace them. The owner, on the other hand, says that you share the responsibility for the fall because you were carrying too many grocery bags at once and didn’t use proper caution on the stairs in the first place.
If the judge or jury in your case agrees that you are partially responsible for the accident, you’ll be assigned a percentage of the fault and any award you might be given will be reduced by that amount. If you are awarded $100,000 in damages but are found to be 10% at fault for the fall, you would then only receive $90,000 in damages. If you are found to be 90% at fault for the accident, you would only receive $10,000.
This is why it is so important not to discuss your accident with the insurance company’s adjuster or give any statements until after you have spoken to an attorney about your premises liability claim. You can bet that the insurance adjuster will be listening carefully for any statement that can be used to devalue your claim down the line.