If you or someone you love has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation. This compensation may include more than just monetary factors, such as pain and suffering. But what is negligence?
Negligence & Personal Injury Claims
Florida personal injury law covers many types of cases, including strict liability, intentional conduct, and negligence claims. Most Florida personal injury claims fall into the third category, negligence, which can include wrongful death, premise liability, car accident claims, and more. Legally, negligence is defined as:
- failure to exercise due care that a reasonable person would likely exercise in the same situation
- acting in a way that a reasonable person would not act
If you have suffered a personal injury and are considering a claim, your case will most commonly depend on your lawyer's ability to demonstrate negligence. There are four elements of a personal injury claim:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty of care
You will not receive monetary damages for your injuries unless there is a finding of negligence on the defendant's part. Continue reading for a detailed explanation of each of these elements.
Duty of Care
The first requirement, duty of care, is often easy to demonstrate. It requires that the defendant owed you a "duty of care," meaning the defendant was required to act with reasonable caution toward others.
Consider this: someone invites people over for a holiday party. They should warn their guests about loose railings, heavy doors, or steps that wriggle when you walk on a stairway because they have a “duty of care” to protect the safety of their guests.
Doctors also owe their patients a duty of care. Drivers should be cautious and considerate on the road. The list of examples is endless.
Breach of Duty of Care
Demonstrating a breach of the duty of care is equally as straightforward. Using our most recent example above of the person driving a car, they have breached their duty of care if they disobey traffic laws while driving.
Unlike the previous two requirements, causation can be hard to prove. Florida courts use a particular standard of causation called proximate cause, which simply means direct cause. Proving cause means showing that the defendant’s actions foreseeably caused your injury.
For example, if someone drives through a red light and smashes into your car, they directly caused your injuries. On the other hand, if someone was startled by the sound of this accident and dropped a glass on your foot as a result, you may be injured, but proximate cause requirement will likely not be satisfied.
Finally, the plaintiff must be able to prove that they were injured or harmed by the defendant’s actions. If you can prove that negligence was a key factor in your injury, you are entitled to two distinct types of damages, economic and non-economic.
What Damages Are You Owed for Negligence?
Economic damages cover monetary expenses an injured person has incurred, such as medical bills and transportation fees (related to receiving care for the injury). These damages are generally easy to identify and calculate.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are difficult to calculate as they do not come with an easily identifiable price. These damages aim to compensate you for your pain, suffering, and/or emotional distress.
In some cases, injured individuals are awarded punitive damages, which are designed to punish defendants for overtly dangerous and/or reckless behavior. These damages are not related to your injury so much as the intentional behaviors exhibited by the defendant.
Contact Our Florida-Based Personal Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Proving negligence and calculating damages is legally complex and stressful, and should only be handled by a qualified attorney.
At The Watson Firm, PLLC, our legal team is focused on helping injured victims get compensation and justice. We would be happy to talk with you about your options and answer any questions you might have.
Your initial consultation with us is always free. We will take the time to understand the unique facts and circumstances surrounding your injury, answer all your questions, and advise you of your options. For more information on how we can help with your case, contact The Watson Firm, PLLC at (850) 607-2929 or contact us online.