Personal Injury Lawyers in Pensacola, Florida
An accident can happen to anyone, but it can be especially frustrating when another party’s negligent behavior results in serious injuries. If you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs associated with the accident, you must do so within four years of the date of the injury. The Florida statute of limitations expires at that time and a court will refuse to hear your case. One possible exception to this limitation is when you don’t associate your injuries with the accident caused by the other party right away.
What You Need to Know About the Comparative Negligence Law in Florida
It’s common for a defendant in a lawsuit to say that the plaintiff shares at least some of the blame or is even completely responsible for his or her own injuries. Each state has its own rules about whether a person can recover any financial compensation in a lawsuit if he or she has any fault in the accident.
Florida maintains what is known as pure comparative negligence law. That means a judge would reduce your monetary award by the percentage for which the jury determined you held liability for your own injuries. For example, if the award amount is $100,000 and you are 25 percent responsible, you would receive $75,000.
No-Fault Auto Insurance Claims
Florida is one of 12 states with no-fault laws on the books when it comes to auto accidents. That means your own insurance company must pay a portion of your expenses under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage of your policy, regardless of fault. When it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit, Florida does not allow injured people to do so unless they meet one of the following definitions of serious injury:
- Permanent injury
- Significant and permanent loss of the functioning of a body part
- Significant disfigurement or permanent scarring
What this means in practice is that people involved in a minor car accident can’t sue the other party since each insurance company should pay expenses under Florida’s no-fault policy. However, what qualifies as a serious injury can vary from one person to the next. If you feel that you sustained serious injuries in a car crash, it’s worth your time to speak to a personal injury attorney to learn more about your rights.
Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases
Florida maintains a one bite rule when it comes to an owner’s liability for the damage his or her dog inflicts on someone else. That means you can potentially collect financial compensation even when it’s the first time the dog bit someone.
Under Florida Statute 767.04, a dog owner is liable for the injuries suffered by another party regardless of the dog’s behavior in the past. However, you must have been on the property legally. If you shared any responsibility, such as teasing or taunting the dog, the monetary reward will be less under the state’s pure comparative negligence law.
Medical malpractice is among the most challenging categories of personal injury to prove and win. As the injured party, you must demonstrate that the medical provider owed you a duty of care, he or she failed in that duty, and his or her actions directly caused your injuries.
Florida imposes a strict statute of limitations on this type of claim. You’re required to file a lawsuit within two years of discovering the relationship between your injuries and the actions of the medical provider. Regardless of when you discover your injuries, you can’t sue the medical provider more than four years after the alleged malpractice took place. If the provider committed fraud to prevent you from discovering the malpractice, you have two years from the date of discovery and seven years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
Slip and Fall Injuries
This type of accident is one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury. Sadly, the incidents are entirely avoidable in most cases. For example, you would have a good case for a personal injury lawsuit if you slipped on a wet floor at a grocery store because no one put up a sign warning of the danger. Another example is tripping in a parking lot due to uneven pavement that the owner knew about but never fixed.
Private and commercial property owners are responsible for the reasonable prevention of injuries by people visiting their home or business. If the owner of an office building had no security installed and someone assaulted you, you could potentially file a personal injury lawsuit under the category of premises liability. An example of this at a private home is when you fall down the steps and break a leg because the homeowner didn’t install any handrails.
If you sustain injuries while using a certain product, you could potentially sue its manufacturer, the designer, or the retailer that sold the product. Each has an obligation to ensure product safety, such as designing and creating the product correctly and providing adequate instructions and warnings on its use. As with other categories of personal injury, your own intentional misuse of the product or failing to heed all safety warnings could reduce the amount of your lawsuit.
How Much Could You Win in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Judges typically allow for two types of compensation. The first is for actual expenses incurred and those you expect to incur in the future. Examples include lost wages, having to permanently adjust your work responsibilities to accommodate the injury, and damage to property. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, account for the other type of compensation.
The defendant may also have to pay punitive damages if his or her actions deliberately disregarded your safety. Florida limits punitive damages to $500,000 or three times what you received in compensatory damages, whichever is greater. The state doesn’t impose any other limits on compensation in personal injury lawsuits.
The above represent the most common types of personal injury lawsuits. We understand that you might have suffered a different type of injury and still need help. Please contact Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law, to schedule a free, confidential review of your case at 850-912-8080.