Filing a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Florida can be a confusing process. After suffering injuries and trauma from an automobile accident, dog bite and the like, getting the proper treatment and compensation for pain and suffering is the primary concern. Hiring a specialized West Palm Beach personal injury attorney who understands the laws and processes involved, will help you gain closure to recover and move forward in life.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Florida?
Florida’s statute of limitations gives the plaintiff four years from the start date of the accident or incident, to file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation “for an action founded on negligence”. Negligence is defined as the failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person. There are four areas:
- There is a duty in the circumstances to take care (i.e. the obligation of a person to exercise reasonable care in the conduct of an activity).
- The standard of care exercised by the defendant if the circumstances didn’t meet the standard of care, which a reasonable person would meet in the circumstance.
- The plaintiff suffered a loss or injury which a reasonable person in the circumstances could have been expected to foresee (damage).
- The damage was caused by a breach of duty (causation).
When filing a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Florida, time is of the essence. If you file a case after four years, the defendant can point this out, causing the case to be thrown out of court. You’ll have lost leverage and the ability to seek damages and recover compensation for injuries.
Compensation for Personal Injuries in Florida
If you or somebody you love has suffered an injury, property damage, or any other type of loss, you may seek financial compensation from the party that caused or otherwise contributed to your injuries or losses. In the legal world, compensation is known as “damages.”
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Medical bills
- Loss of earnings
- Cost of future medical care
- Loss of future earnings
Wrongful Death Damages
- Emotional distress of surviving family
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- Loss of financial contribution
- Funeral and burial expenses
Depending on the circumstances, sometimes the court will award punitive damages. These are only given to an injury victim when the negligent behavior of another party was reprehensible or despicable.
Injuries You Can Sue for in Florida
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Work injuries
- Wrongful death
- Brain injuries
- Nursing home abuse
- Bicycle accidents
- Dangerous or defective products
Florida’s Comparative Negligence Law
As previously defined, negligence is the obligation of a person to exercise reasonable care in the conduct of an activity. Florida follows a pure comparative negligence rule that can affect the outcome of a case. The defendant can claim that the plaintiff is partially to blame for the accident and his or her own injuries. By Florida law, if the plaintiff is partly responsible for the incident or injuries, it can affect the amount of compensation received from the at-fault party.
For example, you were hit while driving but were texting on your phone at the same time. In this case, you hold a level of responsibility for the accident. If the vehicle damages were $5,000 and you were found 10% responsible, then you would receive $4,500 in compensation, while paying $500 for your part of negligence.
No-Fault Car Insurance in Florida
Florida follows a no-fault insurance system for car accidents. This means that the driver’s own auto insurance company pays for his or her damages, injuries, and potential loss of wages. This occurs regardless of who is at-fault.
Florida requires all drivers to have a minimum of $10,000 in liability insurance. Notwithstanding, you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, unless you have suffered from severe injuries:
- Permanent injury
- Significant/permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Significant/ permanent loss of bodily functions
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney?
Most lawyers in Florida charge on a contingency fee basis. This means that they do not get paid for their legal services unless the victim recovers compensation. It should be noted that there is a difference between “legal fees” and “legal costs.” Fees relate to compensation, while costs relate to copy charges, fees paid to witnesses, phone charges, and other costs related to litigation. The victim may be held responsible for covering these costs if they receive compensation or not.
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss the specifics of your case with a qualified injury lawyer, contact us today for a free legal consultation.