Lenhart v. Basora, 100 So. 3d 1177, 1178-80 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012)
This case originally involved a passenger on a scooter, Abby Chronister, and a driver of a motor vehicle, Christopher Basora. The lawsuit at the trial level dealt with the comparative negligence of the victim, Chronister, as the defendant Basora admitted to being negligent in an auto accident which caused injuries to Chronister.
As the facts have it, the defendant in the case was traveling on a road in Fort Lauderdale when he made a sudden shift into another lane occupied by the scooter that the victim was traveling on. The abrupt move by the defendant caused his automobile to collidewith the scooter and propel the Chronister from the bike. Chronister was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and she ultimately suffered permanent brain damage.
Chronister’s mom filed a lawsuit on her behalf against Basora for negligence. Basora accepted responsibility for the accident and causing injuries to Chronister. However, it was Basora’s contention that the amount of damages being sought by Chronister’s mother be reduced by the amount of comparative negligence Chroinster was responsible for by not wearing a helmet.
Prior to the beginning of the trial, Basora won a motion in limine to have certain evidence excluded from trial regarding him not being a licensed driver, his lack of driving experience, failure to take his prescribed medication that day, and the fact that he could not recall if he had been wearing his glasses when the accident occurred. Basora claimed that these facts had nothing to do with the issue at trial because he had already taken responsibility for the accident; the trial judge agreed with him.
After the cases for both the plaintiff and defendant were presented, the jury assessed Chronister’s damages at $11,802,488.80, but assigned sixty-seven percent of fault for the injuries to her for not wearing a helmet. The difference of thirty-three percent liability that was given to Basora, left him owing $3,827,621.30 in damages to Chronister after reducing the damages.
An appeal was filed by Chronister’s mother, who did not feel that the reduction in damages was appropriate because the jury was unable to hear about the extensive amount negligence by Basora. The appellate court did in fact reverse the judgment of the trial court because the prevention of the evidence to the jury did not properly allow them to completely consider the issue of comparative fault between the parties.
Theory of Comparative Negligence
In Florida, a theory of comparative negligence is used in determining the amount of fault, or liability, that a person is responsible for in a rear-end auto accident. Under comparative negligence, there can multiple people held responsible for causing the collision. In fact, there are many situations when more than just one person created a hazardous condition which contributed to the accident. What is commonly done in these shared liability situations is that there is a percentage of fault assigned to each party based on their particular actions. This has proven to be a much more fair way to approach negligence claims, as a defendant can provide evidence to reduce the amount of a potential award against them.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident and you need questions answered, then contact the Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys at Madalon Law for your free consultation.