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Establishing Negligence in a Florida Injury Case

Jeffrey R. Davis

When you have been injured in Florida, you may wonder if you can receive compensation from the party that caused the accident. That is what negligence cases are all about – whether you are hurt in a car accident, struck by a vehicle while walking across a street, or riding your motorcycle when a car turned in front of you.

The plaintiff (you, the injured person) files the lawsuit against the defendant (a party we believe is responsible for the accident). You have the burden of proving that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the accident and should pay you damages.

Damages cover the harm you endured and will endure due to the accident. Damages are measured in dollars and can be expenses you incurred, pain, suffering, permanent physical limitations, or scarring.

What Role Does Insurance Play?

Nearly all the defendants involved in our cases have insurance policies. They cover the insured if they are found liable (they need to pay) because their negligence caused an accident that harmed someone in some way.

The insurance company pays for a settlement or verdict up to the policy limit as long as the defendant’s actions aren’t excluded from coverage. (For instance, the defendant acted intentionally or injured you while committing a crime). The company also pays the attorney representing the insured.

How Do I Prove Negligence?

You must prove all the elements of negligence to win your case:

  • Duty: There was a legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff. The defendant owed you a duty of care because of the relationship between the two of you. Perhaps you both shared the roadway, they own a store where you were shopping, or they piloted a boat you were in. A duty requires the defendant to do or not do something based on the circumstances.
  • Breach of Duty: The defendant failed this obligation or breached this duty of care by not acting reasonably, given the situation. The defendant was distracted while driving and failed to stop at a red light, the storeowner allowed a dangerous condition to exist in the public area of the store, or the boatowner was intoxicated and lost control, so the boat struck a pier.
  • Causation: The defendant’s actions or failure to act was the factual and proximate (or legal) cause of the accident and your injuries. Causation may or may not be easy to prove. The more outrageous the defendant’s mistake, the simpler the case. If several parties are involved, they may blame each other (and you), possibly confusing the jury.
  • Damages: You must provide evidence establishing your damages, which covers the harm you suffered since the accident and what is reasonably expected to continue into the future.

Very few personal injury cases go to trial. They settle through an insurance company payment to the plaintiff. The stronger the evidence supporting the elements of your case, the greater the chance you’ll get a fair settlement earlier in the process.

Do I Have a Case If I’m Partially to Blame for the Accident?

Florida is a “pure comparative negligence” jurisdiction. That means that after all the evidence is considered and it is found that you are partially to blame for the accident, your share is deducted from your recovery. If you are 25% responsible for the accident, your $100,000 damages award would be cut by a quarter, so you’d end up with $75,000. A recent change in the law will prevent a Plaintiff from getting compensation in a case where they are more than 50% at fault for their own harm or loss.

Injured in an Accident? Jeff Davis Can Help

Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A., is a personal injury law firm in Miami dedicated to fighting for justice for our clients. Jeffrey R. Davis has helped clients in thousands of legal cases obtain the compensation they deserve. Call us at (305) 577-3777 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation so we can discuss what happened, how Florida law may apply, and your best options for moving forward.

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