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Sudden Emergency Doctrine and Other Affirmative Defenses in Florida Car Accident Lawsuits

Under Florida’s personal injury laws, individuals who suffer injury because of a negligent driver may be able to recover for their losses through a Florida car accident lawsuit. However, these cases are rarely straight forward, and plaintiffs must ensure that they understand the evidentiary and procedural requirements they must follow. In addition to fact and evidence disputes, plaintiffs must anticipate and refute any defenses that the defendant may present.

There are three main types of defenses in Florida car accident claims that, if successful, can defeat liability. These defenses are, assumption of the risk, contributory negligence, and force of nature or unexpected loss of capacities. To overcome these defenses, plaintiffs must be able to pierce the evidence that the defendant presents.

The assumption of risk defense reduces a plaintiff’s right to recover when the defendant establishes that the plaintiff voluntarily and knowingly assumed the risks of the dangerous activity that led to their injuries. Plaintiffs must present evidence that they did not know there was a risk of the same type that they suffered, or that they did not voluntarily take on the danger. Defendants may also argue that the plaintiff somehow contributed to their injuries and subsequent damages, and therefore their recovery should be reduced by their level of fault. To avoid a significant reduction of compensation, plaintiffs must be able to show that their behavior did not contribute to their damages. Finally, some defendants argue that an unexpected loss of capacity or other force of nature led to the plaintiff’s injuries. This defense typically requires a defendant to prove that the behavior giving rise to the incident was unanticipated, exceptional, unavoidable, or related to a grave natural disaster or phenomena.

For example, a state appellate court recently issued an opinion that hinged on a defendant’s act of God defense. In that case, a teen driver hit a pedestrian while he was walking his dog in a crosswalk. The teen driver tried to avoid liability by alleging that the accident occurred because the bright sunlight obscured her vision. Although, she cited the bright sunlight, she also conceded that she has driven in bright sunlight previously, and on this occasion, she did not wear her sunglasses. The plaintiff argued that the defense was not appropriate because bright sunlight was not an extraordinary or unanticipated event. Ultimately, the court found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him damages for the accident.

Have You Been Involved in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or someone you know suffered serious injuries in a Florida car accident, you should contact the attorney at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, PA. Florida injury victims do not often understand how destructive a defendant’s affirmative defense can be to a victim’s personal injury claim. The injury attorneys at our office thoroughly investigate, prepare, and present our client’s cases. This preparation includes effectively strategizing to address and refute affirmative defenses. Our clients routinely receive substantial amounts of compensation for their injuries and losses, through settlement offers and jury verdicts. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to discuss your Florida injury case with an attorney at our law firm.

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