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Personal Injury Law in Florida

by on May 4, 2012 » Add the first comment.

What is a Personal Injury?

A personal injury occurs when an individual has suffered physical or psychological damage that is not a result of his or her own actions. Although the most common type of legal personal injury claims involves traffic accidents, other accidents such as personal injuries resulting from tripping accidents, assault accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, product defect accidents, and holiday accidents may also be legally pursued. If individuals can prove that their sustained personal injury was a result of the negligence of another party, then they may be entitled to monetary compensation.

Because each state varies in its legal procedures, it is important for individuals to understand the specific procedures of the state in which they reside. Below contains information on procedures and laws pertaining to personal injury claim in the state of Florida.

What Steps Do I Take Directly Following an Accident in Florida?

Directly after an individual has been wrongfully injured in an accident, they should immediately document all details pertaining to how the accident happened. Individuals should also gather all contact information from witnesses, police officers, and insurance companies. Photographs should also be taken of the accident scene, if possible. During this time, individuals should also alert any and all parties that they plan on filing an official claim against them.  We advise our client’s to speak to an attorney before conversing with either their insurance company, or the insurance company of the person that hit them.  Many times insurance companies record conversations with a client.  It is important to properly describe how the accident occurred and what injuries you may have sustained during this conversation.  Again, we recommend you speak with an Attorney before contacting the insurance company, or answering any questions that they might pose to you.

How do I Know if The Other Party is Completely at Fault?

Individuals should keep in mind that under Florida state law, they must prove that the person who caused their injury was negligent. Specifically, individuals must prove that the other party had a responsibility not to injure that party and did not live up to that responsibility; there was a connection between their injury and the other party’s duty to them; and that they consequently suffered damages.

Under Florida’s Comparative Negligence law, if the injured individual was also careless, then the amount of compensation to which they are entitled will reflect the amount to which they were careless. Florida’s Joint and Several Liability rules dictate that if an injured individual is found to be at fault.

  • Any party found to be 10 percent or less at fault for an individual’s injuries will not be required to pay for medical expenses or lost wages.
  • Any party found to be more than 10 percent but less than 25 percent at fault for an individual’s injuries will be required to pay up to $200,000 of the injured party’s economic damages.
  • Any party found to be more than 25 percent but less than 50 percent at fault for an individual’s injuries, will be required to pay up to $500,000 of the injured party’s economic damages.

However, if the injured individual is not found at fault:

  • Any other party found to be more than 10 percent but less than 25 percent at fault, will be responsible for up to $500,000 of the injured party’s economic damages
  • Any other party found to be more than 25 percent but less than 50 percent at fault, will be responsible for up to $1,000,000 of the injured party’s economic damages
  • Any other party found to be more than 50 percent at fault will be responsible for up to $2,000,000 of the injured party’s economic damages.

What if I Sustained Injuries as a Result of Using a Consumer Product?

If individuals sustained their injuries as a result of using a consumer product, according to Florida’s Strict Liability legal theory, the manufacturer of the product may be held responsible if the product was unreasonably dangerous. But individuals must first prove that the dangerousness of the product directly caused their injuries.

How do I File a Claim?

In the state of Florida, although anyone may file a claim, this is not advisable. Unfortunately, without strong guidance by a lawyer, most claims are dropped by the court system either because they are incorrectly filled out, or they lack substantial support. Nevertheless, individuals generally have up to four years from the time of wrong doing to file a claim. If individuals are victims of malpractice, then they only have two years from the time of wrong doing to file a claim. Once a claim has been filed with the appropriate court, the defendant will be served papers and the litigation process will begin.  It is important to consult with an Attorney for every case as soon as possible; once the statute of limitations on a case has run, you will not be able to further pursue the claim.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney?

Although individuals are able to file lawsuits on their own, they are usually not very successful in doing so. Typically, a judge in Florida will dismiss any unsubstantiated or incorrectly filled out claim. However, with the help of an experienced and highly reputable personal injury attorney, individuals will be able to receive maximum compensation for their pain and suffering. Specifically, a reputable personal injury lawyer will help individuals to fill out all legal documents correctly, ensure that the defendant is promptly and properly served, and to gather all evidence needed in order to receive maximum monetary compensation.

Not a lot of individuals realize that they are entitled to monetary reimbursement for any or all medical bills, travel time to and from medical appointments, lost wages, and lost earning potential along with any psychological or physical suffering. In most cases, a structured settlement, or a financial or insurance agreement, is usually reached between the two parties.

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