If you have sustained injuries in an accident, caused by someone else, you should be aware of different applicable state laws (in your case, Florida laws) that may come into play. Here, experienced personal injury attorneys at MANGAL, PLLC discuss major aspects of Florida personal injury laws that you must be familiar with while filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the party at fault after an injury.
What Is Considered a Personal Injury?
A personal injury is said to occur when a person sustains any physical injury. A personal injury may also include any damage to personal property, but it must involve a physical injury.
A personal injury lawsuit is a type of court case, in which a person is held responsible for someone else’s injuries. Florida personal injury laws let victims demand compensation from the responsible party to cover their losses.
Different Types Of Personal Injury Cases
A personal injury case arises when an individual’s action (or inaction) causes harm to someone else. For instance, if a shop owner fails to clean a spill or fix a faulty step, it may lead to a personal injury case. A personal injury case may arise in the following situations:
- Automobile accidents
- Slip & fall accidents
- Poor road maintenance
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Workplace accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Injuries due to faulty products
- Deliberate acts like assault & battery
Deadlines to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida
Like other states, Florida also has a statute that limits the amount of time for filing a lawsuit in court against the person, group, or business that you think can be held legally responsible for your injury. This law is known as the “statute of limitations.”
It states that for personal injury cases, a person has 4 years from the date of the accident/injury to file a lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts. If you fail to file your case within this specified period, the court may deny hearing your case altogether.
There can be situations, wherein you may be unable to discover immediately that you sustained an injury due to the accident. In such special cases, the time window to file the claim can be extended. Besides, there are other situations too that may modify this time window.
In case your personal injury claim is against the local or state government within Florida, you will need to adhere to a specific set of rules, which may include a shorter filing duration. Your personal injury attorney in Clermont, Florida can explain this at length.
It is to be noted that the statute of limitations discussed above is applicable to most personal injury cases, but not all. For instance, Florida has a distinct statute of limitations for lawsuits for cases, involving injuries due to medical malpractice.
The “Comparative Negligence” Rule in Florida
In some situations, the party you are attempting to hold responsible for your harms may start blaming you (partly, if not completely) for the accident that resulted in your injuries. If you do share the fault with the other party for your harms, it is likely to impact your recompense amount you could obtain from the other party at fault.
To handle such cases, Florida has a “pure comparative negligence rule.” According to this, the amount of recompense (“damages”) you’re entitled to get will be decreased by the amount that is proportional to your percentage share of fault in the accident.
Let’s understand this with an example. If you were involved in a car accident, in which the other automobile driver ran a red light, and you were driving at a speed slightly beyond the specified speed limit, you may share 10% of the blame for the mishap. So, if you were to receive $10,000 in damages, your compensation amount will decrease to $9,000 under the state’s comparative negligence rule.
Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance Rules
The Florida state follows a “no-fault” insurance system, exclusively in cases of automobile accidents. According to this law, in most automobile accidents, the insurance policy (under the “personal injury protection” coverage) of the injured person will give recompense to cover some specific out-of-pocket expenses like loss of income, medical bills, etc., regardless of the party at fault in the accident. If you were a passenger and got injured, you may seek compensation via the policy of the driver or owner of the car you were in.
In Florida, the other driver cannot be held responsible for a car accident (through a 3rd-party insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit) unless the accident caused “serious” injuries to you. This means, the majority of minor accidents fall into the “no-fault rule” category.
However, you can still go beyond the “no-fault” system to file a claim against the party at fault if your claim, arising due to the accident, fulfills the “serious injury” criteria. In Florida, it would mean that the accident caused you:
- Prominent and/or permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent injury
- Substantial or permanent loss of a bodily function
“Strict” Liability for Cases Involving Dog Bites or Animal Attacks
In many states, dog owners enjoy protection (to some extent) against injury liability the first time their pet harms someone, particularly if they had no acceptable reason to believe that their pet was a threat to other people. This is commonly known as “one bite” rule.
However in Florida, a dog owner can be held responsible “for damages suffered by people bitten” by the owner’s dog, irrespective of dog’s previous behavior – as long as the sufferer was rightfully on the property where the incident took place. It is to be noted that that the sufferer’s very own negligence may lower the liability of the dog owner.
Product Liability Claims
Product liability claims occur when a person gets injured by using a defective consumer product. In Florida, these claims are handled in a different way than other kinds of personal injury claims. The state law applies stringent liability principles to such claims. This means, it imposes a duty on manufacturers to create safe products. If the product wasn’t safe and resulted in injuries to a person, the manufacturer could be held liable for the harm caused to the consumer. The injured consumer in such a case is legally entitled to receive compensation from the manufacture for his/her loss.
Damage Caps in Personal Injury Cases in Florida
Damage caps, basically, define a limit on the amount of money a victim can obtain in specific types of injury cases or for particular kinds of losses. In general, these laws restrict the amount of non-fiscal damage like pain and suffering that a sufferer can recover.
In common personal injury cases, such as slip and fall injuries, automobile accidents, and defective product claims, the most crucial Florida law on Damage Caps is related to punitive damages. For most personal injury cases, Florida law limits punitive damages to thrice the amount of compensation or $500,000 – whichever is greater.
Remember that punitive damages are applicable to a very small percentage of personal injury cases, and are aimed at punishing offenders for their risky or deplorable behavior. A Florida law, limiting non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering in cases of medical malpractice was deemed unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court in June 2017. So presently, there are no other damage cap rules under Florida Law in relation to general personal injury cases.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Clermont, Florida
If you have sustained personal injuries due to someone else’s negligent behavior and want to know your legal options for filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, contact a professional personal injury lawyer at MANGAL, PLLC in Clermont, Florida. Our experienced lawyers are experts at determining the parties who may be legally responsible for your injuries. They can also efficiently handle communications with any insurance companies involved to negotiate fair compensation so that you fully cover your losses and bring your life back on track.