Under Florida law, if you suffer injuries due to the negligence of another person, you can file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation. Personal injury lawsuits revolve around the legal theory of negligence. Negligence occurs if a person fails to act the way a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances and causes harm to another person. Clay County Personal Injury Attorney assists victims in seeking compensation upon suffering injuries. If you require legal representation for your personal injury lawsuit, you can contact a Green Cove Springs personal injury attorney.

Overview of Personal Injury under Florida Law

When filing a personal injury claim, you have to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. For instance, if you suffer harm due to medical malpractice, you have to prove that the medics owed you a duty of care. Medical practitioners owe a duty of care to all patients. To avoid being liable, practitioners have to adhere to acceptable medical practices. In the case of a vehicle accident, it must be evident that the other driver owed you a duty of care. According to Florida law, drivers owe a duty of care to other road users, including other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Common Forms of Personal Injury Cases in Florida

There are several forms of personal injury lawsuits in Florida. All lawsuits have one thing in common; they occur due to the negligence of one or more parties.  The most common types of personal injury lawsuits in Florida include:

Traffic Accidents

There are many forms of traffic accidents, including truck accidents, bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and car accidents. These accidents mainly occur due to the negligence of one or more road users. Florida is a no-fault state. Therefore, in many traffic accidents, each driver's insurance company handles the damages suffered irrespective of who is at fault. Therefore, if you suffer injuries in a traffic accident, your insurance company may cover the damages. In Florida, it is a mandatory requirement for all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 personal injury insurance cover.

When can you file a traffic accident personal injury claim in Florida? Despite Florida being a no-fault state, you can file a personal injury claim if you suffer a severe injury in a traffic accident. What defines a serious injury? Injuries that fall under the category of grave injuries include permanent injuries, including permanent disability. A Green Cove Springs Personal Injury Attorney may also file a personal injury case if you suffer permanent disfigurement or scarring. A significant or lasting loss of a bodily function also qualifies as serious injuries. In case a loved one dies in a traffic accident, a Green Cove Springs Personal Injury Attorney may file a wrongful death claim on your behalf. 

At times, you may not be sure if your traffic accident injury meets the severe injury criteria. If this is the case, your Green Cove Springs personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and determine its magnitude. The attorney will then advise you on the best steps to follow.  It is advisable to counsel immediately after the accident to ensure that you are within the statute of limitations. 

Dog Bites/Attacks

Concerning dog bites or attacks cases, states adopt two approaches. The first approach is the one-bite rule. If a dog bites a person for the first time, the dog owner may not be liable. This is mainly if the dog owner was not aware or had no reason to believe that the dog was dangerous. However, some states use strict liability principles. In Florida, the rule of strict liability principles applies. Under this rule, if a dog bites another person even for the first time, the dog owner may be liable. The dog owner is liable even if he/she had no reason to believe that the dog was dangerous. The dog owner is liable if the victim was lawfully at the scene of the attack. In case a victim trespasses or unlawfully access private property, a dog owner may not be liable.

Product Liability Claims

A product liability personal injury lawsuit arises when a person suffers harm due to defective consumer products. The state of Florida handles product liability claims differently from other types of personal injury claims.  To ensure that consumer products are safe, the state of Florida imposes a duty on product manufacturers. If you consume a product and suffer harm, your Green Cove Springs Personal Injury Attorney file a claim seeking compensation under California law. 

Other forms of personal injury claims include medical malpractice and slip and fall accidents, among others. 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may apply in a case where the defendant's conduct is outrageously careless. The court may award you punitive damages on top of comparative damages. Unlike compensatory damages whose goal is to make the victim whole, punitive damages seek to punish the defendant for gross negligence. The punitive damages act as a deterrent to ensure that the defendant does not repeat the gross negligence in the future.

Comparative Negligence

At times, you may be partly to blame for injuries sustained in an accident. The defendant may claim that you contributed to the injuries or in making your injuries worse. If you are partly at fault for the accident, you may receive lower compensation. There are several types of comparative negligence rules. In some instances, the victim may not recover damages if he/she was at fault for the accident. In some other cases, even if you were more at fault than the other party involved, you may still successfully recover some damages.

In the state of Florida, pure comparative negligence rule applies. This means that in case of an injury, you will receive compensation less your degree of fault in the incident. For example, if you are 20% at fault in a traffic accident, you will receive 80% compensation. Therefore, if total damages suffered in an accident amount to $100,000 and you are 20% of the fault, you will receive a compensation of $80,000. This is the total value of damages less your degree of fault. 

At times, there may be multiple defendants in a personal injury case. When apportioning fault amongst several defendants, Florida uses several liability principles. It is common for pile-up traffic accidents to happen in Florida. Such accidents usually involve various defendants. While holding more than one person at fault, Florida uses a structured system.  Any defendant whose percentage of fault does not exceed 10% does not have to make any out of pocket payment for economic damages a victim suffers. Any defendant whose degree of fault exceeds 10% but is not more than 25% may pay for damages not exceeding $500,000. Any defendant whose level of the fault lies between 26% and 50% may pay for the victim's damages up to $1 million. Finally, any defendant whose degree of fault is 50% may pay for the victim's damages up to $2 million. 

What is the Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations refers to a deadline within which you have to file a personal injury case in Florida. No matter how clear the liability is, if you do not file a personal injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you may not get compensation. When filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida, the applicable statute of limitations is four years. The deadline of four years applies from the time when the accident occurs.  A shorter statute of limitations may apply in some cases. For instance, the statute of limitations is three years if you are filing a lawsuit against the government.

In some instances, there may be some exceptions to the statute of limitations. For example, in cases involving medical malpractice, it may take some time to discover an injury. If it was hard to discover the injury, and the victim was not aware of the injury, the law may extend the statute of limitations. The victim will have up to two years to report the case after the discovery of the injury. At times, defendants may conceal an injury through fraud. It an injury remains unidentified due to fraud, the victim may enjoy an extension of statutes of limitations. The victim will have up to two years from the time of discovering an injury to file a lawsuit. However, despite the circumstances, victims must file personal injury claims within a maximum of seven years from the occurrence of the injury.

Tolling of the statute of limitations is also common in the state of Florida. For instance, a victim may escape from Florida to conceal his/her location and in turn, delay the victim from filing a claim. In a case of mental incapacitation of the victim, the court may toll the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations will only apply when the victim regains his/her mental capacity.

Types of Compensable Injuries

The compensation a victim receives after an injury aims at making a victim whole. It is not always possible to make a victim whole after an injury. It is hard to attach a monetary figure on aspects like pain and suffering. However, compensation helps to put the victim back to the position he/she would have been in if it were not for the injuries. Some of the compensable personal injuries include:

Medical Costs

If you must undergo testing and treatment after an injury, you will incur medical costs. You may also incur costs by staying in hospital stays or stays in nursing homes. You may also incur a cost by undergoing physiotherapy, especially in the case of broken bones. In case of serious injuries, a victim may face permanent disability and may have to rely on adaptive devices. A victim may also have to spend a long time in nursing care.

To prove the medical cost you may have incurred, ensure that you consolidate all medical bills and records. Even if your health insurance covered some of your costs, ensure that you get copies of all your medical bills. Consider every medical expense you may have incurred immediately after suffering an injury and the costs you are likely to incur in the future in seeking extended treatment.

Lost Wages

This is the total of all the wages and earnings you may have lost due to the accident. Due to the injuries, you may not be able to report to work. You may obtain a letter from the employer outlining your normal pay rate. If you take vacation time or sick days due to the injuries, you should still get compensation.

Out of Pocket Expenses

Personal injury compensation includes all forms of expenses you may incur in relation to the injuries. Out of pocket expenses may consist of money spent on acquiring over the counter medication. If you incur costs in purchasing medical aids like crutches or wheelchairs, you should include the expenses in your claim. Any cost that you would not have incurred if you had not suffered injuries in counted in the compensation.

Property Damage

Personal injury compensation may also include vehicle repair costs and other property damage costs. If your vehicle is totaled in an accident, you should get compensation to acquire a new car. You should also seek compensation for personal property damage in a crash. If you had a laptop, tale, clothing items, or other items in the car, you could seek compensation for damages.

Pain and Suffering

This compensation covers the present and the future pain and severe discomfort you have to endure because of the accident. The compensation for your pain and suffering will depend on the type of injury and the duration it takes to recover. If you are expecting a long and difficult recovery, you will get the compensation that is equivalent to the level of suffering

Emotional Distress

This refers to any form of emotional disturbance that results from the accident. Emotional distress may include experiencing feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, shock, and insomnia. A victim may also have post-traumatic stress disorder. How can you prove emotional distress? You may obtain written evidence from your psychiatrist or psychologist to indicate that you are undergoing mental turmoil. A written narrative from a mental health professional accompanied by proper diagnosis and prognosis is enough to prove what you are going through. 

You may also get compensation for loss of enjoyment in life. Your spouse or registered domestic partner may seek compensation for the loss of consortium. 

Contact a Green Cove Springs Personal Injury Attorney near Me

Have you suffered harm due to the negligence of another person? Clay County Personal Injury Attorney can be of help. Contact us at 904-494-8242 and speak to one of our attorneys. With proper legal representation, you will get the compensation you deserve.