Personal Injury Liability in Florida
If a negligent party has injured you in an accident, you’re entitled to damages for your medical expenses, lost income from work, property damage if applicable, and your pain and suffering. However, your ability to prove the scope of liability is contingent on a number of factors, and each one can impact the amount of your settlement or jury award. Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. is a Fort Lauderdale area personal injury law firm that helps accident victims collect full compensation for their accident injuries. As an accident injury law firm, LJW represents injured clients on a contingency basis. There are no out-of-pocket costs for their legal services. They receive compensation at the end of their case, and only if your case settles, or they win in court. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a professional personal injury lawyer.
What is Personal Injury Liability?
Liability is a legal principle where the at-fault party is held responsible for damages that they caused. In Florida personal injury law, liability usually arises from an accident. In order to establish liability, an attorney must prove the following four elements:
1. Duty of Care
For there to be liability, the presumed at-fault party must have a duty to care for the wellbeing of the plaintiff. Examples of a duty of care include:
- A driver’s responsibility to operate their vehicle in a safe manner, obeying all traffic laws
- A physician’s duty to offer sound medical advice to patients
- A dog owner’s responsibility to keep their pet leashed or contained in a fenced yard
- A proprietor’s obligation to keep their establishment free from hazards that can injure visitors or employees
2. Breach of Duty
The plaintiff’s injury attorney must be able to establish that the defendant somehow breached their duty of care. This usually involves an examination of the details of the accident. For example, in a car accident, a personal injury attorney will review police reports and video footage from mounted cameras if available. They will also consult with crash reconstruction experts to determine which party was at fault for the crash and the degree of liability each driver has in a personal injury lawsuit.
In order for there to be liability, the defendant’s breach of duty must have caused the accident. In Florida, it’s not necessary to prove that the defendant was 100% responsible for the incident, just that their negligence contributed to the accident.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, there are damages, even if you have not paid for medical services. Damages are monetary compensation for your injuries.
When you contact LJW for a free consultation, our attorneys will review your case to determine whether or not all four elements are present. If they are, we can offer you immediate representation on a contingency basis. Call today!
Proving Negligence and Determining Comparative Fault
Under Florida’s comparative fault law, the plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their degree of liability. For instance, if the court determines that you were 20% responsible for your accident and your cumulative damages are $100,000, you can collect up to $80,000. This apportionment of liability doesn’t always occur in court, however. In many cases, personal injury attorneys and insurance attorneys agree on the degree of liability during negotiations.
In order for an attorney to pursue your case for the maximum settlement, they must be able to not only prove negligence but also the degree of negligence. This is why it’s important to have as much evidence as possible. For example, if you were involved in a t-bone collision at an intersection because another driver ran a red light, On the surface, this might seem like the other driver is 100% responsible. However, if the defense was able to show you were speeding, they might ask for a reduction in damages.
From a personal injury attorney’s standpoint, it’s better to have all information, including evidence that is not necessarily in your favor. Once the facts of the case are established, they can negotiate for the appropriate settlement amount.
Types of Liability
Personal injury cases in Florida fall under one of the following three categories:
These involve accident injuries caused by negligence. Examples of accident torts include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, etc.
While intentional acts are not accidents, they are actionable. For example, battery is a criminal act under Florida law, but the injured party can sue for damages, even if the defendant beats the criminal charge.
Strict Liability Torts
Unlike the previous two types of liability, strict liability torts don’t require the defendant to have been negligent or committed an intentional act. The defendant is held liable regardless of what efforts they may have taken to avoid the accident.
The Personal Injury Cases We Handle
As a full-service personal injury law firm, Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. represents clients who have been injured in the following types of cases.
After Miami-Dade, Broward has the most crashes in the state of Florida. Most of these involve two or more cars colliding. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department (FHSMV), there were 41,381 crashes in Broward alone. Most of these involved passenger cars.
Broward County has a disproportionately high amount of semi-truck activity due to the presence of Port Everglades, the railways, several major highways, and a large truck stop off of I-595. With their massive weight of up to 80,000 lbs., commercial trucks can be extremely dangerous even at low speeds. Drivers are required to undergo extensive training and are subject to safety protocols that they often violate. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, it’s essential to contract an experienced Fort Lauderdale truck attorney.
Motorcyclists are vulnerable to the actions of other drivers. In addition to being able to travel at a higher speed and offering little protection to the rider, motorcyclists are also less visible. However, this does not mean that motorcyclists are responsible for their injuries. If you were injured while riding on a motorcycle, you might be able to recover part or all of your damages.
Fort Lauderdale, Pompano, and other Broward cities are seeing increased amounts of foot traffic, which means that pedestrian accidents are on the rise. This category also includes skaters, scooter riders, hoverboards, etc.
Even with miles of bicycle lanes, Broward cyclists are facing an ever-increasing danger due to distracted drivers. Cyclists are also at risk of being “doored,” where a parked driver opens a door in their path without checking.
Fort Lauderdale may be the Venice of the Americas, but all of Broward County is dotted with lakes and crisscrossed with canals and inlets. If you’ve been injured on the water due to negligence, contact LJW today. This category also includes small personal watercraft, like jet skis and wave runners.
Premises Liability Accidents
Property owners and managers have a legal responsibility to maintain their premises so that it’s safe for visitors and employees. That means that pathways should be well-lit, floors should be dry and have traction, and the property should be free from hazards and nuisances. Because slips, trips, and falls are among the most common types of premises liability accidents, this category is often referred to as “slip and fall” liability.
Healthcare providers are not able to guarantee outcomes, but they are expected to adhere to the highest professional standards when providing advice, dispensing medication, performing medical procedures, etc. Just because the outcome is unexpected does not mean that there’s a viable case. However, when the outcome is due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, the patient should receive payment for their damages.
Nursing Home Negligence
As is the case with healthcare facilities, nursing homes have the obligation to care for the well-being of their residents. If you or your loved one has suffered harm due to negligence or abuse, contact LJW immediately.
Product Liability and Mass Tort
Manufacturers must ensure that the designs of their products are safe, that they do not put defective products on the market, and that they properly warn consumers of any known risks. In some instances, many consumers are injured using the same product. In these cases, it’s sometimes better to join a multi-jurisdictional litigation suit.
Your civil rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution. If your rights have been violated by the police, government agencies, or another party, you should be compensated for your damages.
Florida law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This would cover all workplace accidents, even if you were at fault. Workers’ compensation pays for your medical care and a portion of your wages. It may, however, not completely cover your damages, which is why you may need an attorney in your corner.
Under Florida law, only the personal representative of the estate can pursue damages on behalf of the survivors. If you’ve lost a loved one due to negligence or you are the personal representative of an estate, contact our law firm. We can help you navigate the legal process and pursue justice through the civil courts.
Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Florida law allows accident victims to pursue compensatory and non-compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are further subdivided into economic and non-economic damages. Here is a breakdown of each:
These are the financial costs of an accident. They include all medical expenses, lost income, property damage, etc. In a wrongful death suit, economic damages can also include funeral expenses and projected lost wages.
The law recognizes that merely compensating victims for their expenses is insufficient to make them whole after an accident. For example, someone who loses their arm due to negligence is unlikely to be satisfied by reimbursement for their bills. Non-economic damages are also referred to as pain and suffering because they seek to compensate accident victims for their physical pain, emotional suffering, and inconvenience.
Florida does allow accident victims to pursue punitive damages. However, these are usually only awarded in cases where the negligence was egregious, or the actions were intentional. Florida caps punitive damages at three times the value of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Florida-Specific Laws Around Personal Injury Liability
The following legal concepts are specific to Florida. If you were injured in another state, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to discuss the legalities surrounding your case.
Statute of Limitations
Florida allows plaintiffs four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. For wrongful death cases, the clock starts at the date of death if it’s after the date of the accident. With medical malpractice, the plaintiff has two years from the date of the discovery of the injury to file a claim but not more than four years from the date of the incident that caused the injury.
There are no statutory damage caps for compensatory damages. The state caps punitive damages at three times the total amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Florida operates under the comparative fault principle. Plaintiffs who are partially at fault for their injuries can still receive damages.
For a more detailed explanation of these legal concepts, contact LJW Law to speak to an attorney.
The following are some of the more commonly asked questions we receive at Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, contact our office.
Will my personal injury case go to court if I hire a lawyer?
Most insurance companies prefer to settle accident cases instead of taking the chance that the court will side with the plaintiff. We will do our best to negotiate a full settlement on your behalf, but if the insurance company refuses to come to terms, we will litigate your case in the civil courts.
Why shouldn’t I just take the settlement offer from the insurance company?
Insurance companies attempt to limit their payouts to injured parties. With this in mind, adjusters will do their best to convince you that what they are offering is fair. However, you really won’t know the extent of your injuries until some time has passed. If you take an early settlement, you won’t be able to go back and ask for more money because you have to waive your right to future claims as a condition of the settlement.
On the other hand, a lawyer can negotiate for a full settlement. While they do take their fees at the end, they are often for a much greater settlement amount, which means that the clients’ net proceeds are more.
Florida Accident Lawyers for Injured Plaintiffs
At Long, Jean & Wechsler, our attorneys pride themselves on their ability to get full personal injury compensation for our clients. We work on a contingency basis, so clients do not have to pay out of pocket. At a time when you’re facing mounting medical bills, missed paychecks, and the pain of injuries, it will be a tremendous comfort to have the resources of a personal injury law firm backing your claim. Call today for a free consultation.