As noted, criticism of the doctrine of contributory negligence as unduly harsh has led some states to modify the common law rule by enacting comparative negligence statutes. In these states, the fact finder (judge or jury), rather than deny the plaintiff any recovery, is permitted to compare and apportion the negligence of the plaintiff against that of the defendant and adjust its damage award to the plaintiff according to the degree of contributory negligence of the plaintiff. For instance, assume a plaintiff and defendant are both found to have been negligent in causing a car crash.
As between the plaintiff and defendant a jury finds that the plaintiff's negligence contributed 40% to the injuries and the defendant's negligence contributed 60% to the injuries. The jury would then decide upon the amount of damages sustained by the plaintiff and would reduce them by 40%, representing the plaintiff's percentage of contribution. Most states with comparative negligence statutes draw the line where the plaintiff's contribution is found to reach 50%. In these "modified comparative negligence" states, at the point where the plaintiff has been found to be equally as at fault as the defendant, recovery is denied. However, there are some states with "pure comparative negligence" statutes, that permit a plaintiff to recover even if the plaintiff's own negligence was responsible for 95% of the accident. Such a plaintiff would recover only 5% of his or her damages. Felicetti Law Firm understands Florida law and can help you.