Every person who under the law has a duty towards others and breaks that duty because of his or her negligence, or lack of care, can be liable to the injured party for damages. Drivers have a duty towards others to drive their vehicles with care. When their carelessness—through speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence, or some other reason—causes an accident that injures others, the victims may be able to sue for damages.
However, Florida law carves out an exception to this rule, known as the doctrine of comparative negligence. The relevant law states: the court shall enter judgment against each party liable on the basis of such party’s percentage of fault. For example, if two drivers are involved in an accident, and both have made errors that equally caused the accident, the Court would find each one 50% liable to the other. If one party’s mistake were found to be less, say 30%, then the other party’s fault would be 70%. As a result, the victim of an accident whose actions contributed to the accident may receive a smaller amount in damages than a victim who was without fault.
Because of the special nature of motorcycle riding, comparative fault may often play a role. The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is left-hand turns by cars that strike the motorcyclist. If the motorcyclist shouldn’t have been in that lane, then he or she may bear some of the fault of the accident, in addition to whatever fault lies with the driver of the car.
Similarly, many motorcyclists engage in lane splitting, where they drive the motorcycle between two lanes of cars when the cars are slowing or stopped for a red light. Lane splitting is an inherently risky activity that is illegal in Florida. A motorcyclist who is struck when lane splitting may find that the court will declare that he or she bears a portion of the fault, which could decrease or eliminate any recovery sought for damages following a motorcycle accident.