Florida Personal Injury Law: How Does It Work?

Personal injury law varies from state to state. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state and also recognizes something called the Fabre doctrine. To understand how Florida personal injury law works, we asked Eric Block, a Florida injury attorney whose practice concentrates on personal injury claims and trial work related to those claims. Here's what he told us in a recent interview:

What is pure comparative negligence and how is it used in Florida?

There used to be something called assumption of the risk which meant that is if somebody was going to a sporting event and they got hurt participating in the sporting event, they assumed the risk of getting hurt by participating in that endeavor.

Well, that's no longer the law in the State of Florida. The State of Florida is now a pure comparative negligence state. What that means is that if someone has been injured because of the negligence of somebody else and they've suffered $100,000 in damages, that amount will be reduced by the percentage of their own negligence.

For instance, if a man is walking in a grocery store and he slips and falls, hurts himself and has $100,000 worth of damages, the jury will determine whether he was watching where he was going and had due regard for his own safety. If the jury finds that he was 50 percent negligent, then instead of awarding him $100,000, he would be awarded $50,000.

What is the Fabre doctrine and why is it important?

Approximately ten years ago, the Supreme Court of Florida came down with a decision called Fabre v. Marin. It used to be that if Smith sued Jones, the only two people on the verdict form were Smith and Jones. However, under the Fabre decision, if Jones (the defendant) claimed that somebody else was also negligent and that person, firm or business participated in causing the plaintiff's damages, then a jury can put that person's name on the verdict form and assign a percentage of fault and damages – even though they're not a party.

So, it's basically somebody that a defendant can blame for the injuries, but is usually judgment proof and can very much limit the recovery that a plaintiff can get against the defendant. Fabre is a very important doctrine.

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, contact a Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your situation. You can also have an experienced attorney evaluate your case at no cost or obligation, by completing the case evaluation form provided by FreeAdvice.