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Personal Injury Law in Florida
With nearly 20 million residents, Florida is one of the top 5 states by population in the United States. With this many people, injuries due to negligence are unfortunately commonplace. Florida personal injury law provides for a way for victims of negligence to “be made whole” after an injury. While money alone is often inadequate to provide the medical relief you need, monetary compensation is available to aid in the recovery from the damage caused by a personal injury.
Under Florida Law, you must prove negligence in order to recover damages in a personal injury action. Negligence, in general, is a term that describes an action that falls below the standard of car expected from a person in a same or similar circumstance. However, as with many aspects of the law, the analysis of any given case is extremely fact specific. Having a skilled and experienced advocate on your side is often the only way to ensure you obtain fair and full compensation.
|Florida Personal Injury Statutes||Florida Statutes Title XLV Torts:
• Florida Statute §768.041 (Covenant Not to Sue)
• Florida Statute §768.0415 (Liability for Injury to Parent)
• Florida Statute §768.042 (Personal Injury Damages)
• Florida Statute §768.0425 (Personal Injury – Negligent Contractors)
• Florida Statute §768.81 (Florida Comparative Negligence)
• Florida Statute §768.31 (Multiple Tortfeasors – Contribution)
|Florida Personal Injury Damages||Under Florida Law, damages include all natural and probable consequences of negligence - including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.|
|Comparative Negligence||Florida is a State that has a "comparative negligence" law. This means that whenever a victim of negligence is partially responsible for his or her injury, the amount of recovery is reduced by that amount. While the contributory negligence of the injured party will reduce the claim, it will not serve as an absolute bar on recovery.|
|Multiple Tortfeasors||When more than one person is negligent (known as "multiple tortfeasors") Florida law states that " when two or more persons become jointly or severally liable in tort for the same injury to person or property, or for the same wrongful death, there is a right of contribution among them even though judgment has not been recovered against all or any of them."|
Types of Personal Injury Case
A personal injury occurs whenever there is harm caused to the human body by someone else – as opposed to physical property. A personal injury case is actionable, and a lawsuit can be brought, if a victim of an injury can show that the tortfeasor was “negligent”. The Florida Supreme Court has pointed out, however, that defining negligence can be elusive due to the fact specific nature of it. “Different degrees of negligence are far easier to demonstrate than to define. The same conduct, in different settings, could and does result in different degrees of liability.” In our Florida personal injury practice, the most common types of actionable negligence we see are:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Poor Road Maintenance
- Workplace Injuries
- Medical Malpractice
- Intentional Torts (i.e. Assault)
- Premises Liability (i.e. Slip and Falls)
- Products Liability (i.e. Dangerous Products)
Florida Statute of Limitation
Every state affixes a timeframe wherein you must bring a lawsuit – or lose the claim forever. This is known as the “statute of limitation”. In general, all statutes of limitation for Florida are contained in Florida Statute §95.11. Per this Statute, all actions founded on negligence must be brought within 4 years. Because of this timeframe, it is vital that you speak to a Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as practicable after a serious injury. Failing to move in a timely fashion can result in the loss of your rights. Also remember that there are various shorter timeframes depending on your claim. For example, Florida Wrongful Death claims must be brought within 2 years.
What Should I Do If I'm Injured?
In order to win your personal injury case, you will need to be able to prove carelessness or negligence – and prove that the negligence of that person caused your injury. This is made much easier by diligent and thorough documentation throughout the process of healing. Time has a way of blurring memories, so the quicker you are able to document things, the better. We recommend documenting the following information whenever you have been involved in a personal injury accident:
- Any information you can remember about how the injury occurred; and
- Weather conditions on the date of injury; and
- Any information your doctor provided to you regarding your injury; and
- The pain and suffering you endure – including descriptions about your limitations; and
- Photographs of the scene of the injury, as well as the injury itself throughout the healing process; and
- Any issues with work caused by the personal injury
Obtaining information regarding insurance coverage in the context of slip and falls, dog bites and the like, can be much more of a challenge. In a pre-suit posture, the tortfeasor is not legally required to provide insurance information – or even acknowledge the claim. However, there are some tips to improve the chances of obtaining this information. The best and simplest way to obtain information about insurance from a business or home owner is to send them a letter demanding the information. This should always be sent via certified mail, and lawyers should take efforts to ensure that the registered agent is similarly served if a business is involved. In this letter, it is useful to explain that insurance coverage may be available to avoid personal liability. This can trigger a sense of relief and self preservation in the recipient and prompt the intended outcome of notice to the insurer.
There will inevitably be holdouts – which can be indicative of a lack of insurance, but practitioners should be wary of tortfeasor’s “trying to call your client’s bluff.” Another useful tip is to look through Court filings involving the tortfeasor and/or business to identify past or current legal counsel. Oftentimes, a simple call to counsel will accomplish your goal in a simple and straightforward manner. More extreme options include hiring an asset research or insurance tracing company or just filing suit. One other useful tool is to search land records for mortgages – as most mortgagors will require that you have insurance in place. As with any good investigation, tenacity, ingenuity and persistence often pays off here.
Dennis E. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Florida
Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan
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