Almost all car accidents result from someone’s negligence—maybe the driver of the vehicle wasn’t paying attention, or maybe someone walked into traffic without looking. Maybe the road was poorly designed or maintained, or perhaps the owner of the vehicle failed to maintain it properly. In any event, negligence can cause an accident in many ways, and Uber or Lyft accidents are no exception.
A person who fails to exercise the same level of care as a person of ordinary prudence is negligent. A person can prove negligent in action (driving recklessly) or by failing to act (not maintaining a vehicle). In a personal injury lawsuit, the victim alleges that the defendant’s negligence caused an injury. The standard of negligence varies by state and by case. If you were injured, a lawyer can help you determine whether you may hold the other person liable for your damages.
Comparative Negligence Under Florida Law
But what if both parties shared some degree of negligence?
This is not an uncommon scenario—an example would be a car accident where one driver made an illegal left turn and the other driver was speeding. Traditionally, the law prohibited an injured person from recovering any damages if his own negligence contributed to the accident.
For example, let’s say a pedestrian enters the street without looking and a drunk driver runs him down. While it’s true that the pedestrian’s own negligence contributed to the accident, it seems grossly unfair that the law would bar the pedestrian from recovering compensation for his injuries.
Recognizing the harshness of this rule and its subsequently unfair outcomes, most states adopted a contributory or comparative negligence standard that applies when both parties bear responsibility for the accident in some way. Some states bar victims from recovering compensation if their negligence exceeds that of the other party.
Florida, however, is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that a victim’s own negligence will limit, but not bar, the recovery of compensation, if the other party shares liability. In the example above, let’s say the pedestrian’s negligence accounted for 10 percent of the accident. As a result, the court would reduce the pedestrian’s compensation by 10 percent. To put it another way, the court would allow the pedestrian to recover 90 percent of the total damages.
How This Applies in Uber and Lyft Accidents
The negligence standard and the comparative negligence rule apply in all personal injury cases, including car accidents involving ridesharing services.
From a legal perspective, comparative negligence constitutes a partial defense raised by the defendant. The defendant will use comparative negligence to either limit or completely avoid liability.
Scenarios where an Uber or Lyft driver may raise a contributory negligence defense:
- You were the passenger. Many people use Uber or Lyft after a night out for obvious reasons—even if you’re “fine,” it’s best not to drive if you were drinking. In the event of an accident, the driver may allege that you were drunk and disruptive. The driver may claim that your distracting behavior caused the accident. The driver still needs to prove that your behavior contributed to the accident, however.
- You were the other driver. In this situation, the Uber driver may allege that you drove recklessly and failed to obey the traffic laws. Maybe the Uber driver will claim that a mechanical failure in your car caused the accident. If it’s late at night and you were consuming alcohol, the Uber driver may allege inebriation on your part even if police did not charged with a DWI. Again, the other driver has to prove your negligence. Assuming the police were involved, the accident report will carry a great deal of weight.
- You were a pedestrian. The driver may allege that you were jaywalking, which caused the accident. Or the driver could assert that you failed to look before entering the intersection. Again, given the popularity of ridesharing services around closing time, the driver may claim that your intoxication contributed to the accident. Given the nature of these accidents, the Uber driver may face a difficult challenge in proving that your behavior caused the accident in any meaningful way.
- You were a cyclist. Many cyclists have a reputation for disobeying traffic laws—running red lights and stop signs, failing to yield, or riding against traffic. Cyclists must understand and follow the law, but also know that their negligence does not absolve the driver of the duty of care. In other words, you still may recover compensation even if you violated a traffic law and that violation contributed to your accident.
The two things we want you to take away from this article: (1) Understand the role your behavior may have played in the accident, if any; and (2) You may still recover compensation for your injuries even if your own negligence contributed to the accident.
Call Us Today to Speak With a South Florida and Miami Uber Accident Attorney
These are complicated issues—whether someone was negligent, whether you were partially at fault, and whether or how much compensation Florida law entitles you to. These issues grow even more complicated with the involvement of Uber or Lyft.
If you were injured in an accident, whether heading to work on Brickell Avenue in downtown Miami, or enjoying a night out in Miami Beach or South Beach, trying to figure this out on your own may jeopardize your rights. Keep in mind that the other side will likely hire legal counsel, aggressively trying to protect its client from liability.
You need a skilled advocate to argue for your rights and protect your interests. The attorneys at Uber Accident Law are dedicated to helping victims obtain the compensation to which Florida law entitles them. If you were injured in an accident, call us at (305) 964-8806 or send us an email via our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.