Injury Law: The Basics
Approximately 50,000 personal injury civil lawsuits are filed in Florida each year in areas including medical malpractice, product liability, premises liability, automobile negligence, and nursing home abuse and neglect. That adds up to a lot of injured people.
When you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, your damages may include not only physical injury but emotional distress, medical expense, lost wages, and in the case of a loved one’s death, funeral expense, loss of consortium, and loss of income. The stress can be overwhelming.
Perhaps you are not sure someone else can be held accountable for your injuries or a loved one’s incapacitation or death. Begin by knowing the basics of Florida personal injury law, then seek the advice of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can help determine whether you have a personal injury claim.
Hoag Law Firm represents personal injury victims in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Clearwater, and Land O’ Lakes, Florida. They cut their legal teeth representing insurance companies in claims against their insureds before putting that experience to use on the other side, representing victims seeking compensation for their damages.
Understanding Personal Injury Law in Florida
When a person or business fails to exercise the degree of care necessary to protect others from injury, that is called “negligence.” Negligence is the basis for personal injury claims in Florida.
Some examples of negligence that could lead to personal injury include:
- A driver who causes a crash while texting or when driving too fast for road conditions;
- A business that fails to remedy a hazard, such as a wet floor or cracked sidewalk; and,
- A doctor who makes a mistake or knowingly fails to adhere to a proper standard of care.
Personal injury is any type of injury suffered as a result of an accident, whether that is an auto crash, slip and fall, or medical error. Bodily injury implies injury you cause to another person. With auto insurance, for example, you carry your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay up to your limits for injuries you sustain in an accident, no matter who was at fault. Your insurance also has bodily injury liability coverage which pays for the injuries sustained by other people if you cause a crash.
Florida Laws Addressing Personal Injury
Florida is a no-fault state for auto accidents. That means your PIP coverage pays for your damages; however, if your injuries are severe, disfiguring, or cause death, you can assert a claim against the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage.
Florida is also a pure comparative fault state, which means any recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault awarded to you. For example, you are found to be 10% at fault for an auto crash and the other driver is 90% at fault. The other driver has bodily injury liability limits of $100,000. If you are awarded the limits of that policy, you would collect $90,000.
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Florida is four years from the date of the injury; therefore, you have four years to either settle your claim with an insurer or file a civil lawsuit.
The Claims Process
The first step in pursuing compensation for damages is to file a claim against the negligent party’s liability insurer. A settlement with an insurance adjuster to compensate you for your damages will then be negotiated.
If the insurer is unwilling to settle for adequate compensation, or if you are nearing the end of the four-year statute of limitations, you can file a lawsuit in the Florida civil court with appropriate jurisdiction. You are the plaintiff in the case. The person, persons, or business you file the lawsuit against is called the defendant. The insurance company for the defendant will have its attorneys defend the lawsuit.
In court, you need to prove to a jury that the defendant owed you a standard of care which they failed to uphold, that the failure resulted in your injuries, and that you suffered damages as a result.
Damages That Might be Recovered
You may be able to recover special damages and general damages from a negligent party.
Special damages include more quantifiable damages, including property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. General damages are less quantifiable but include pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement or disability, and mental and emotional anguish. Spouses of injured or deceased victims can also make a claim for loss of consortium.
Hiring a Knowledgeable Florida Attorney
As you can see, making a claim or filing a lawsuit in a personal injury case can be complicated. You should retain a personal injury attorney to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the event that led to your injuries, build a case, quantify your damages, and aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf. Insurance companies make profits by denying compensation to those injured by their insureds. You need an attorney who will not back down.
Attorney Brian Hoag began his legal career working for insurance companies. Now, he's able to use that knowledge to work for victims of someone else’s negligence. Hoag Law Firm is proud to serve clients in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and surrounding Florida communities who see the benefit of hiring a personal injury attorney who fully understands how the other side operates.
Don’t pursue a claim on your own. If you have been injured, call Hoag Law Firm now to schedule a case evaluation. The evaluation is free, so call today.