Laws Specific To the State of Florida
Whether you’re filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit in Florida, you’ll need to be familiar with the different state laws that come into play. Most importantly, it would help if you found Florida attorneys that are knowledgeable of the law so they can provide you with a snapshot of the process and what to expect from the state’s laws.
At LJW Legal, our attorneys dedicate time to explaining the complex Florida specific laws to our clients to make sure they’re aware of every step of their legal process.
Florida Personal Injury Laws
If you’ve been dealing with a personal injury claim, you may have questions about the laws that affect your case. These are some of the most common laws associated with personal injury claims in Florida, including car accidents, property damage, and other claims.
Pedestrians in the state of Florida are equally protected by law as car drivers. There are some laws designed to protect pedestrians from vehicles, including those noted in the Florida Statutes, section 316.130:
- Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic control signals.
- Where sidewalks are provided, no pedestrian shall, unless necessary walk upon the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic.
- Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, on the right half of crosswalks.
A violation to any section within the pedestrian laws is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation.
In 2018, the state of Florida was witness to 2,964,856 traffic violations, including criminal and non-criminal violations such as careless driving, DUI, toll violations, texting while driving, and more. While driving laws in Florida are similar to those in other states, they have significant variations:
- Motorcycles and bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, meaning they’re subject to the same penalties as car drivers for violating such laws.
- Drivers involved in an accident must provide their name, address, and vehicle registration number upon request.
- Drivers can’t drive while handling mobile electronic devices to send or read information, except to contact emergency services.
A violation of any of the Florida Statutes within Chapter 316 can result in life-altering penalties depending on the severity and circumstances of the offense.
Chapter 768 of the Florida Statutes features laws related to negligence, its general provisions, and damages. Liability laws in the state determine car insurance minimums, insurance information, comparative negligence, and more. The most notable liability laws in the state include:
- Unlike other states, Florida makes a dog owner liable for damages suffered by persons bitten by the owners’ dog, regardless of the animal’s past behavior.
- Florida is also a no-fault state, meaning the law allows a person who is injured in a car accident or whose property received damage to file a claim with their own insurance company, regardless of which party was at fault.
- Florida has a modified Dram Shop Law, in which private social hosts, such as wedding receptions, private parties, or corporate sponsored events are not held liable for the actions of intoxicated guests unless they knowingly provided alcohol to a minor or an alcohol addict.
In Florida, victims can also submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage, under what’s known as sovereign immunity. Liability laws carry harsh penalties depending on the severity of circumstances of the incident.
Florida Criminal Defense Laws
Most criminal defense laws are charged at a state level. Criminal charge convictions carry severe consequences that may include a jail sentence. Florida’s criminal code outlines specific offenses that will fall under felony or misdemeanor crimes, such as aggravated assault, sex crimes, theft crimes, manslaughter, and more.
Classification of Crimes
Crimes in the states are divided into felonies and misdemeanors. In most cases, misdemeanors are considered less severe offenses, and do not result in any imprisonment. If a jail sentence is imposed, the defendant generally goes to the county jail. Felonies, on the other hand, are considered severe crimes punishable in the state with imprisonment of more than one year and a fine of up to $15,000. In this case, the defendant goes to the state prison.
Florida follows a criminal code to immediately classify certain crimes, such as:
- Aggravated assault and battery, burglary, robbery, manslaughter, theft crimes, kidnapping, sex crimes, murder, drug offenses, and arson are considered felony crimes.
- Petty theft, shoplifting, public intoxication, reckless driving, and possession of a small amount of marijuana are considered misdemeanors.
Florida has a Zero Tolerance law for a driver under 21, meaning any driver under 21 with a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will immediately face consequences. For Florida drivers over 21, the blood alcohol concentration limit is .08. Also, any person driving under the influence that causes property damage or personal injury to another is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, which is penalized with a fine or imprisonment time.
Defendants who face capital charges can be sentenced to death in the state. Crimes such as capital drug trafficking and murder are considered the most heinous. A capital defendant can be sentenced to either lethal injection or electrocution, or life imprisonment when not given a death sentence.
Sex Offender Registration
Those convicted of a sex crime in Florida must be registered as a sex offender in the state. This requires the defendant to provide current updates on where they live and work. Sex offenders in Florida are not allowed to work with children, as well as are not allowed to live within a certain distance to schools.
Florida Statute of Limitations
Under Florida’s statute of limitations, there are specific deadlines for the time you have to file a lawsuit in civil court against a person or business that’s legally at fault for your injuries. For most personal injury cases, victims have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. For criminal defense cases, victims have two years from discovering the injuries in cases such as medical malpractice to file a lawsuit.
Florida Damage Caps
Individual states have damage caps to limit the amount of money a person can receive in some instances. Under Florida law, the only damage cap set under the statute limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever amount is greater.
Florida law is extensive and complex. If you or someone you know needs legal assistance regarding a personal injury or criminal defense case, contact the attorneys at LJW Legal Start your private consultation to understand the laws behind your case or claim today.