A GUIDE TO PERSONAL INJURY LAW IN FLORIDA.
Personal injury cases are the most common lawsuits. Each year thousands of people who are seriously injured by the negligent acts of individuals and businesses, resort to filing lawsuits against such individuals and businesses. These injuries can result in long-lasting and sometimes debilitating physical and mental complications. The amount of money that can change hands after a personal Injury case is won is often staggering.
The period following a personal injury accident can be stressful and confusing for victims who have to deal with mounting medical bills, lost wages, and insurance companies hell-bent on shrugging off liability and responsibility.
During such trying times hiring a personal injury lawyer allows victims to focus on the healing process while the attorney tackles the insurance company, and prepares and files a claim on the victims’ behalf.
PERSONAL INJURY LAW IN FLORIDA.
Florida Personal Injury law allows victims to recover certain damages when they are injured due to the negligence of another person or business entity, The plaintiff who is the injured person initiates legal action to seek compensation from the defendant, the person or business responsible for causing the injury.
In Florida, personal injury cases are governed by Florida Statutes Title XLV (torts) and Florida Statutes Chapter 768 (Negligence). Florida Statutes help define and determine negligence, duties of care, Statutes of limitations, liability, damages, and recovering compensation.
FLORIDA “COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE” RULE.
If you share some amount of fault for your injuries, the amount of compensation you are entitled to is affected. Florida follows a “Pure Comparative Negligence” Rule. Under this rule, the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for your own injuries.
This system apportions damages between negligent parties based on their share of fault. This means that a victim is entitled to recover damages – even If he or she is 99% at fault, the victim can still recover that 1% of damages.
FLORIDA NO-FAULT CAR INSURANCE RULE.
Florida follows a no-fault insurance system which means that an injured person’s own Insurance policy (Personal Injury Protection Coverage) will provide compensation for certain out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills and lost income, irrespective of who was at fault for the car accident.
SENATE BILL 54.
The passage of Senate bill 54 paves the way for the repeal of the Florida No-Fault PIP system. The bill will entirely overhaul the framework under which motor vehicle claims are handled. The new bill, if signed by Governor DeSantis will require bodily injury coverage starting at $25,000 for all Florida drivers and eliminate the No-Fault system.
STRICT LIABILITY FOR DOG BITES/ ATTACKS.
Florida Statutes 767.04 makes a dog owner liable for damages suffered by a person bitten by the owner’s dog, regardless of the dog’s past behavior, as long as the victim was lawfully on the property where the bite took place. A victim’s own negligence can reduce the dog owner’s liability.
Common types of Personal Injury Claims include:
- Truck accidents.
- Workplace accidents.
- Premise Liability.
- Product Liability.
- Medical Malpractice.
- Negligent Security.
- Dog bite accidents.
- Child injury.
- Child Abuse.
- Wrongful death.
ROLE OF A FLORIDA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER.
If you are injured due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person or business entity in Florida, it is in your best interests to hire a lawyer to represent and assist you. Your lawyer will take the requisite steps to gather and preserve evidence to support your claim and initiate communications with insurance companies on your behalf.
The attorney will establish fault, identify the liable parties, gather photographic evidence, witness statement, and official reports.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU ARE INJURED DUE TO THE NEGLIGENCE OF SOMEONE.
If you have been the victim of someone else’s negligence, then the actions you take soon after the accident can have a major impact on the amount of compensation that you may recover. Our Miami personal injury lawyers recommend that you do the following:-
STAY AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE SAFE.
After an accident, do not leave the scene of the accident. Stay in the vicinity of the accident scene and remove yourself and others, if possible from being exposed to further harm.
REPORT THE ACCIDENT.
It is important to call emergency services and the Police to report the accident.
After informing the Police, you should get information which includes:
- The personal information of the person whose negligence caused you injuries.
- Insurance information of the person responsible for causing the accident.
- Names and addresses of witnesses.
TAKE PHOTOS AND CAPTURE VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE ACCIDENT SCENE.
If possible, use your cellphone to capture images of the entire scene and If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, also of vehicles involved in the accident from various angles. It is important to take photos of road signs, road conditions (such as slickness from rain). Check for skid marks left on the road by the vehicles involved in the accident.
AVOID MAKING STATEMENTS OR GIVING DETAILS OF THE ACCIDENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Posts on social media right after an accident can be used against you in an injury lawsuit with regard to severity of injuries sustained. While speaking to representatives of other parties involved in the accident, refrain from blaming anyone or accepting blame for the accident.
CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.
Explaining your version of what happened is important in establishing the liability of the other driver. However, you should speak with your lawyer prior to speaking with any insurance company. Therefore, it is imperative to hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
GET YOURSELF ASSESSED FOR SERIOUS INJURIES.
Concussions and internal bleeding may not show obvious symptoms right away. Medical records of injuries sustained can be vital in receiving adequate compensation.
STAGES IN A FLORIDA PERSONAL INJURY CASE.
An experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney will conduct an in depth investigation to determine whether the facts and circumstances genuinely support a claim for damages. The lawyer will seek to address the following questions:-
- Which of the party/parties were at fault.
Determining who was at fault can be very difficult. The Insurance company of the opposing party will attempt to shift the blame to the victim for causing or contributing to the accident.
- Were injuries sustained, and if so, were they caused by the accident?
It is vital to document injuries caused by the accident. This injuries are documented by collecting and studying medical records, medical bills, doctor’s evaluation etc.
- Is there insurance available to provide adequate compensation?
A competent Personal injury Lawyer will seek to identify all potential sources of compensation for a victim. The lawyer will evaluate insurance coverage of the at fault parties and ascertain other possible sources of insurances available to the victim such as personal injury protection and health insurance.
SENDING DEMAND LETTER WITH COMPILATION OF DOCUMENTS TO INSURANCE COMPANY.
The lawyer sends a demand letter to the insurance company to request compensation for the victim’s injuries and economic damages and seeks specific monetary compensation. A demand letter is drafted professionally and precisely by the lawyer and is supported by necessary documents which contain:-
- A summarized list of all the facts and information regarding victim’s claim.
- Victim’s rationale explaining the liability of the at fault party.
- Detailed description regarding the medical treatment undergone by the victim and the expenses incurred.
- Detailed description of all income lost.
- Detailed description of all types of damages and losses sustained.
- A demand for a specific monetary amount to resolve the claim.
After scrutinizing the claim made by the victim in the demand letter, the insurance company may:-
- ACCEPT DEMAND.
In this scenario, insurance company accepts the demand and agrees to the compensation claimed in the demand letter. Such a thing rarely happens as Insurance companies always try to negotiate the claim.
- COUNTER OFFER MADE BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY.
The insurance company offers the victim an amount less than what he or she had asked for in the demand letter. The victim decides to accept such an offer, or continue negotiations or file a lawsuit after consulting his lawyer.
- INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES CLAIM.
The insurance company may deny the claim out right and refuse to pay.
In the event a victim rejects the offer of the insurance company or the insurance company denies the claim of the victim out right, the victim through his lawyer files a lawsuit.
In mediation, a neutral mediator, usually a retired Judge or a lawyer, assists the parties to try and amicably settle the case.
The mediator guides the parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution. A mediator does not render a decision. If parties reach a settlement, the insurance company will pay the agreed upon amount to the victim, who in turn will dismiss the lawsuit.
If parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will go to trial.
The case will be tried before a judge and jury, or a judge without a jury.
Phases of a trial are as follows:-
- Jury selection.
- Opening statements.
- Witness testimony.
- Closing arguments.
- Instructing the jury.
- Deliberations and
A jury verdict is unpredictable and this reason motivates parties to settle a case and not leave the outcome in the hands of a jury.
Lawsuits are an expensive proposition and litigating parties face mounting legal costs.
A party unhappy with a verdict can seek to Appeal if there is sufficient legal basis for it.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR FILING A PERSONAL INJURY CASE IN FLORIDA.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR FILING A PERSONAL INJURY CASE IN FLORIDA.
There are specific time limits, restrictions and rules for filing a personal injury claim. An accomplished lawyer ensures that you fully understand the Federal, State and Local laws that might apply to your case. Florida Statutes section 95.11(3) establishes limitations for various personal injuries. The application of the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Florida is complex and complicated and depends on the circumstances of that particular case and also the type of Personal injury.
The Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Florida is as follows:
- General Personal Injuries – 4 years.
- Medical Malpractice – 2 years.
- Product Liability – 4 years.
- Assault and Battery – 4 years.
- Wrongful Death – 2 years.
COMMON ELEMENTS NECESSARY FOR A VALID PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT.
The Legal Institute defines Negligence as the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. While the behavior in question usually consists of actions, it can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act.
To prove negligence, the plaintiff (the injured party) must establish the following four main elements:-
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a reasonable duty of care.
The defendant is legally responsible for the injuries caused by his or her negligent actions or inactions.
- The Defendant breached his or her duty of care.
The breach of care by the defendant is the crux of the personal injury law. If the defendant breaches any of his or her duties or responsibilities, he or she can be held liable for the injuries sustained by the victim. It is the plaintiff’s burden of proof to convince the judge or jury that there was a breach of care committed by the defendant.
- The breach of duty by the Defendant caused the injury.
It is not enough to show that the Defendant was negligent, careless or reckless, the breach of duty must directly result in injuries suffered by the victim. It has to be established beyond reasonable doubt that the negligent action or inaction of the defendant was the main cause of the injury suffered.
- The plaintiff suffered compensable damages.
The lawyer for the plaintiff has to establish that his or her client suffered damages due to the breach of duty by the defendant. Damages may include physical injury, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, lost wages, loss of quality of life.
COMPENSATION FOR A VICTIM OF AN PERSONAL INJURY IN FLORIDA.
Florida personal injury lawyers seek to get maximum compensation for victims of personal injuries and help them and their families explore other options and alternative ways to seek additional compensation for their injuries and sufferings.
Our skilled and resourceful Florida personal injury lawyers strive tirelessly to achieve adequate compensation for victims of personal injuries who have to undergo numerous lifestyle adjustments.
Our personal Injury lawyers help victims recover:
- Past and current medical costs.
In most of the personal injuries cases, the medical bills are the largest single expense incurred by the victim. Adequate medical care and treatment is required by the victim for his or her injuries. When seeking medical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit, victims are entitled to recover for procedures and services such as doctor visits, ambulance fees, emergency room treatment, medications, MRIs, X-rays, and other scans.
- Future medical costs.
After initial treatment and rehabilitation, victims of personal injuries often require further medical care in the future. Expert testimony from doctors and therapists can establish that the victim requires further extensive treatment.
- Lost wages and business income.
A victim, whether employed, self employed or a business owner, is entitled to recover compensation for the time spent away from work or business.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
Some personal injuries harm the victims in such a manner that they are no longer able to do the job that they were doing before the injury. In many instances, a victim may have to change from a full time job to a part time job or move from a highly paid job to a lower remuneration job. In such cases, additional compensation may be awarded.
- Permanent injury and disability.
Some injuries have life long implications on the health of a victim.A victim never recovers fully from his injuries.
NON ECONOMIC DAMAGES.
- Pain and suffering.
Injuries cause pain which can be extreme and debilitating. Such pain Is accompanied by emotional suffering and stress. Florida law allows victims to collect compensation for such sufferings.
- Emotional distress.
Additional mental and emotional illnesses can arise from personal injuries sustained Emotional distress, if proven by experts can support a victim’s claim for compensation.
- Loss of consortium.
Many injuries can limit and restrict a victim’s basic life functions resulting in loss of love, affection and companionship. Under loss of consortium, a victim can claim damages for physical isolation suffered due to injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
A victim of a personal injury is entitled to receive compensation if he or she is unable to perform physical, social and recreational activities which he or she enjoyed performing before sustaining the injury.
CONTACT A MIAMI PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the carelessness, recklessness or negligence of another person, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. Call an experienced personal injury lawyer at our firm for a free case evaluation right away.