The concept underlying most legal cases such as personal injury, medical malpractice, auto accidents, and slip and falls is negligence. When you are injured by the negligence of another person, you can hold him/her liable and file a personal injury lawsuit. Medical record review is necessary to find out how serious the injury is and how it has affected your ability to work and day-to-day life. In the United States, personal injury laws vary from one state to another.
Negligence laws of Florida are found under Chapter 768 of the statutes. The plaintiff or the injured person has to show that the defendant was negligent, and that negligence led to the injury. You have to demonstrate that the defendant
- Had a duty not to injure you but failed in that duty
- The failure of that duty is directly related to your injuries
- You suffered damages.
Here are some must-know facts about Florida from the viewpoint of personal injury law.
- Florida is a No-fault state: The big exception to Florida personal injury laws is automobile accidents. In Florida, each car insurance company has to pay for their respective client irrespective of who was at fault for the accident. Each driver is required to carry a personal injury protection (PIP) policy, covering a minimum of $10,000 per person per crash. Car accidents are different from how most personal injury situations function, because in every other case of injury, the individual or institution that failed to protect you is held liable for the damage caused. However, you are allowed by law to file a personal injury case after a car accident if the injuries are serious. According to Florida law, serious personal injuries are those resulting in:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- The statute of limitations: In Florida, the statute of limitations is 4 years. In other words, you have 4 years to sue the negligent party before you lose that privilege. Certain types of accidents such as a boat accident in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean may have a shorter statute of limitations. It is important that you pursue legal action as soon as you have suffered a personal injury. Since the impact of injuries may not appear weeks, months, or even years later, ensure that you record each piece of information regarding the accident the moment it happens. This will enable you to have a detailed account of what happened, contact information of witnesses, pictures of what happened, and anything else that may have a legal value.
- Compensation: In Florida, an injured person may be entitled to the financial compensation of a vast range of reparations. It may extend to medical bills in relation to the injury, lost wages, property damage, emotional distress and other forms of financial impact directly caused by the accident.
- If more than one person is to blame for your injury: Florida has joint and several liability rules that set up a very structured system for dealing with more than one person at fault. A person found to be 10% or less at fault will not pay out of pocket for any of your economic losses. Anyone found to be more than 10% but less than 25% at fault will be responsible up to $500,000. Anyone between 26 and 50% at fault will be responsible for up to $1 million of your damages and a person found to be more than 50% at fault will owe up to $2 million of your damages.
- If you are partially to blame for your injury: Florida has comparative negligence law, which means if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, then your potential award is reduced at trial. If you are partially to blame and the defendant is more than 10 but less than 25% at fault, you will be awarded only up to $200,000. If the other person is 26 – 50% at fault, the maximum amount you can collect is $500,000. If the other person is more than 50% at fault and you were also partially at fault, the maximum amount you can collect is $1 million.
- If you are injured by a product: Proving a case against a company that produced a defective consumer product that caused the injury is different from other personal injury cases in Florida. Instead of the negligence element, the company has “strict liability.” In other words, the company has an absolute duty to make its products safe. If it didn’t, and the defect caused an injury that resulted in your suffering damages, you may have a case.
- Dog bite cases: In Florida, dog bites are considered to be strict liability cases. Here, a dog owner is liable for the damages suffered by the victim who was bitten by the owner’s dog regardless of the dog’s past behavior. It applies so long as the victim was lawfully on the property.
- Damage caps: Florida has a rule regarding damage caps for punitive damages. Florida courts limit punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. There are no other damage cap laws in Florida that apply to personal injury cases.
As a company providing medical review services to personal injury lawyers, we can say that injured persons should contact a personal injury lawyer in their area to learn more about their legal options. The lawyer would be familiar with the applicable laws in that jurisdiction and help identify the parties who may be legally liable for the injury. The lawyer would also communicate with the concerned insurance companies and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement for the injured person’s claim to compensate him/her for the damages they have sustained.