Personal Injury Lawyers
Injuries can happen in a variety of ways, including car accidents, bike accidents, medical malpractice, and slipping and falling in a store. If you’ve been hurt in Florida due to someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Elements of a Successful Personal Injury Case
Accidents and resulting injuries are common, but that doesn’t make them less painful or damaging for a victim. If you or a loved one have been injured, it’s important to protect your rights through a personal injury claim.
Except in claims related to workers’ compensation, you can obtain compensation for your injuries — and related expenses — by proving four elements of negligence:
- The defendant had a duty under the law to behave in a certain manner or avoid behaving in a certain manner to avoid injury to you or your loved one.
- The defendant did not meet that duty due to an action or failure to act.
- The negligent behavior of the defendant resulted in your injury.
- You suffered harm because of the injury.
For injuries suffered on the job and for claims related to workers’ compensation, it is not necessary to demonstrate that the other party was at fault.
Automobile accidents are an exception to personal injury laws in Florida, which is a “no-fault” state — your auto insurance policy pays for your injuries and property damage regardless of who was at fault in the accident. However, you still may file a personal injury claim if you sustained serious injuries in a car accident, including significant, permanent injuries, scarring or disfigurement.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations
In Florida, you must file a personal injury claim within four years of the date you were hurt. The deadline for suing the state or local government is three years after an accident. The statute of limitations may be shorter for certain types of accidents; your personal injury attorney can advise you.
If you fail to file within the statute of limitations, you may lose the right to sue and win rightful compensation. Plaintiffs may not realize that they suffered long-term harm for some time after an accident. The filing deadline may be extended in such instances.
Determining Who’s at Fault
In some cases, more than one person may be responsible for negligent behavior that causes injury to someone else. The state of Florida has rules regarding “joint and several liability,” or more than one individual being at fault.
If a court finds that an individual is at fault 10 percent or less for your injury, that individual will not be required to pay out of pocket for any economic damage to you. If someone is at fault by more than 10 percent, but less than 25 percent, the individual can be held liable for up to $500,000 in damages.
Being at fault between 26 percent and 50 percent can mean damages up to $1 million, and someone found to be at fault of more than 50 percent can be liable for damages up to $2 million. If you’re determined to be partly to blame for your injuries, the damages you can collect are reduced under Florida’s comparative negligence law.
If you’re harmed by a defective consumer product in Florida, a legal principle known as “strict liability” comes into play. Under strict liability, companies are responsible for making safe products. If a product defect caused your injury, you may be entitled to damages.
Compensation for Your Injuries
If you file a personal injury lawsuit and you’re successful, a judge or jury may award you damages to cover the harm that you’ve suffered. The amount of damages can include compensation for costs like lost wages, medical bills and the loss of future wages. In addition, damages can compensate you for your pain and suffering due to your injuries. If you were disfigured or disabled in an accident, you also may receive damages.
The amount of money you receive may be limited by law. In Florida, state law caps the amount of punitive damages you can win. In most personal injury cases, the state’s limit is three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000 — whichever is higher.
Depending on the details of your case, it also may be possible to reach a settlement with the responsible party rather than going to court. When you agree to a monetary settlement, you receive compensation for your injuries without going through a potentially lengthy trial. Your personal injury attorney will advise you on the chances of winning a case through litigation and whether a settlement offer is favorable to you.
Knowledgeable, Aggressive Representation
If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to work with attorneys who can deliver results, protect your rights and win the compensation you deserve. For a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, please contact Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.