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Blame for Florida school zone fatality remains unclear

More than one person can be faulted for an auto accident. Mistakes made by drivers and pedestrians are factored into personal liability cases in different ways, depending on state laws. Florida and most states use a system known as comparative negligence to assign blame and damages for car accidents.

A few states use a contributory negligence system that can negate an injury claim if a victim is responsible for any part of an accident. Florida's law of pure comparative negligence divides fault by percentage.

Police in Miami-Dade County have not determined whether charges should be filed against a teen driver for a fatal pedestrian accident. The 16-year-old was driving a car that struck a 6-year-old elementary school student and her grandmother as they were crossing a street.

The girl died in the collision. The grandmother was hospitalized in serious condition with ankle and arm fractures.

The child's mother suspects the driver was speeding through a school zone. The woman and many of her neighbors said it was common for cars to exceed the speed limit along the street where the crash took place, which is near schools attended by the girl and the driver.

Police noted the accident occurred less than 15 minutes before a posted 15-mph school zone speed limit was in effect. The grandmother and child were not in a crosswalk when the pair was struck.

Florida crash victims collect damages based on the defendant's percentage of fault, even in cases where the plaintiff bears the majority of blame. Modified versions of the law used in other states allow damages to be awarded only when defendants have an equal or higher percentage of fault than plaintiffs.

Negligence is a violation of a "duty of care" to others. An effective personal injury claim will show a defendant's actions or failure to act were unreasonable compared to what most drivers would do in the same situation.

Source:, "6-Year-Old Hit & Killed By Car Driven By 16-Year-Old" Carey Codd, Nov. 06, 2013

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