Florida Personal Injury Laws – Everything You Need to Know
By Team at Zimmet & Zimmet, In Personal injury
Many personal injury claims in Florida have a direct link to traffic accidents. Many of them are eventually settled in court, mostly because Florida is a no-fault state.
In other words, car insurance companies pay for the injuries and damages that drivers cause to other motorists and road uses. It does not matter who was at fault for the accident.
It is also important to note that, in Florida, the law requires all drivers to have at least $10,000 in personal injury protection per person for each accident. Note too, that in Florida, it is almost impossible for a person to file a personal injury lawsuit or claim against the party at fault for an accident.
Insurance companies are obliged to provide cover and settle personal injury claims. Such settlements often include compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income.
Interestingly, Florida state laws allow injured victims to file personal injury lawsuits after traffic accidents if the accident resulted or caused serious injury to you. The keyword here is ‘serious injury,’ which is defined by Florida state laws as an accident causing any of the following:
- Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
- A permanent injury
Talk to an attorney if you think your car accident injury meets the dangerous injury threshold mentioned above. Keep in mind that you have a maximum window period of four years to file a claim. After that, the statute of limitations will bar you from filing a claim.
Product Liability Claims
Product liability refers to an injury caused to an individual by a faulty or defective consumer product. Often, they are handled differently from other types of personal injury claims.
That’s because Florida applies strict liability principles to product liability claims. Aptly put, Florida state laws impose a duty on all product manufacturers within the state to make their products safe.
Dog Bite Cases
Unlike many other states, Florida courts use strict liability principles to determine dog bite cases. A dog owner in Florida can be held responsible for injuries caused by his or her dog.
The dog’s past behavior does not matter, as it is the case in other states. Strict liability principles apply as long as the victim was lawfully within the same premises as the dog.
Nearly all personal injury cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. In layman’s language, negligence occurs when an individual’s behavior falls below the threshold of a reasonably prudent person. The behavior must then cause someone else harm.
To establish negligence, you must prove certain elements. First, you must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. For instance, in medical malpractice incidents, you must prove that the health care personnel or provider owed you a duty to act according to well-established and accepted medical practices.
The same principles are applicable in traffic cases. You must prove that the defendant had an obligation to follow all traffic rules. You must then demonstrate how the defendant failed to uphold the duty.
This is sometimes as simple as proving that the driver ignored traffic lights. An experienced personal injury attorney should make the entire process easy for you.
Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Damages refer to the extent of the harm you have suffered because of an accident. Once your attorney proves your case, you may be entitled to receive compensation for damages, which often includes:
- Damages for permanent disfigurement
- Lost wages for the time you have to stay at home to recover
- Past and present medical expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Anticipated medical expenses
- Any other damages the court may grant while exercising its discretion
Comparative Negligence Principles in Florida
A defendant can easily claim that the victim contributed to an accident. This is referred to as contributory negligence. Once proved, this can have a direct impact on the amount of monetary compensation available to the victim.
Florida uses a pure comparative negligence rule to determine the amount of damages a victim is entitled to. In other words, the amount in terms of compensation will be reduced based on the degree of fault a victim had in the accident.
Note that, in many accidents, a series of facts usually comes into play. For example, the other driver may have been distracted. The jury or insurance adjuster may then determine that the driver is only 80% at fault.
If you were speeding without your seatbelts on, the jury or insurance adjuster might decide that you were 20% at fault. The impact here can be significant.
If your damages amount to $200,000, then the figure will be reduced by the 20% you were responsible for. Your total damages will, therefore, cut to $160,000.
Florida also uses a structured rationale to hold several people at fault. This means that multiple defendants can be held liable for an accident if the plaintiff proves that they all contributed to an accident. This is referred to as several or joint liability.
After you or your loved one suffers a personal injury, don’t battle it alone. Call Zimmet & Zimmet today at (386)-255-6400 for help.