Strict Liability versus Comparative Negligence in Florida

 Some rights reserved by jeff_roThe Florida State Statutes offer instances where the law is enforced by strict liability, as well as instances where comparative negligence is used.

Merriam-Webster defines strict liability as liability imposed without regard to fault.” Whereas, it defines comparative negligence as “the doctrine long the rule in admiralty and now adopted by statute for suits at law in a few states under which the negligence of the parties is weighed and the total damages divided up among them in proportion to the fault of each.”

Strict liability means that someone is usually liable for something (once it is proven it happened, etc.) because of the way the Florida statute is written—unless an exception is noted. The law has already been created to govern the situation and little is up for discussion. One example of this is a dog bite.

The statutes discussing dog bites are found in Chapter 767. There it states Owners of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person or to any animal included in the definitions of “domestic animal” and “livestock” as provided by s. 585.01.” We wrote about dog bites on our blog before–check out this article for more information. As with some other types of strict liability cases, dog bites allow for some exceptions–such as whether or not a Bad Dog sign was posted.

Florida operates under comparative negligence laws for other situations, like car accidents and some personal injury cases. This means that you have to prove or disprove the amount of negligence someone contributed in order for the situation to occur. The damages awarded are based on this negligence. In addition, some mitigating circumstances allow for a decrease of liability—like trespassing or signage to the effect that something is dangerous. We also discussed some of these types of cases in a previous blog post.

Then there is product liability. It is an example of a type of case that might be proven by strict liability or comparative negligence—it depends on the situation and the route the attorneys take.

Florida law is complex. Understanding the exceptions allowed by law and proving negligence can be difficult, and is best done by an experienced attorney.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith is an attorney with SmithLaw Attorneys in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. He handles many types of cases, including personal injury cases. Call 941 907-4774 to learn more.

Image:  Some rights reserved by jeff_ro

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