The term “liability” refers to the legally enforceable accountability of an entity or person. When a party is liable for a plaintiff’s injury in a personal injury lawsuit, they can be held financially responsible for the damages suffered by the victim. Liability is a key concept in the area of personal injury law. In this article, we discuss liability in a Florida personal injury case.
Liability and Negligence
The majority of personal injury lawsuits are based on claims of negligence. So, in most personal injury lawsuits, an injured party must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries. If the plaintiff in a personal injury case can prove this, the defendant will be found liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
In a personal injury case based on a theory of negligence, the plaintiff must demonstrate the existence of the following four elements to prevail:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached the duty of care
- The defendant’s breach was both the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff suffered damages due to the defendant’s conduct
The plaintiff must prove these elements by a preponderance of the evidence.
How To Prove Liability in a Personal Injury Claim
In a Florida personal injury case, the court determines whether the defendant was negligent based on the evidence presented by the parties. Negligence in a personal injury case is a party’s failure to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Thus, in cases involving negligence, the court must decide whether the defendant failed to act reasonably under the circumstances.
Since the reasonableness of the defendant’s behavior is a major factor in a personal injury lawsuit, one of the first tasks of the plaintiff’s attorney is to present an argument of how a reasonable person would have acted in a similar situation.
Next, the injured plaintiff’s attorney must present evidence demonstrating that the defendant’s behavior was unreasonable and caused the accident resulting in the plaintiff’s injury.
If the plaintiff’s case is successful, the court then determines the amount of money the defendant must pay to the plaintiff as compensation for their injuries. However, the majority of personal injury cases in the state of Florida never make it to trial. Rather, the majority of such cases settle through negotiations between the parties. In fact, even if a plaintiff’s lawyer files a personal injury lawsuit, the case is likely to settle prior to trial.
What Is Strict Liability?
Although most personal injury lawsuits involve negligence claims, some cases don’t require a showing of negligence. One type of case that doesn’t require a plaintiff to prove negligence is a lawsuit involving strict liability.
In a case based on a theory of strict liability, the plaintiff is not required to prove that the defendant was negligent. Rather, to succeed in a strict liability action, all that a plaintiff must prove is that the defendant in the case was responsible for their injuries.
Strict liability is often at issue in cases involving product liability. For example, in a product liability case, if a plaintiff can prove that the defective nature of a product caused their injuries, they can recover compensation without proving negligence.
Liability and Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
When an injury victim files a personal injury claim, the responsible party may be liable for their economic and non-economic damages.
Common types of damages available in personal injury claims include:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- Cost of healthcare
- Cost of personal care
- Diminished earning potential
- Medical bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Property damage
Non-economic damages and future losses can be difficult to value. A personal injury lawyer will help you calculate the value of your case.
What Is the Deadline To File a Personal Injury Claim in Florida?
In Florida, the deadline to file a lawsuit for most types of personal injury claims is within four years from the date of the injury. However, for wrongful death cases, the deadline is two years from the date of death.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you are required to file a lawsuit before the applicable deadline. If you fail to file your lawsuit by the deadline, you will be unable to collect damages from the liable party. Therefore, if you’ve been injured, you should immediately seek legal assistance.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for Help Establishing Liability for Your Damages
If you’ve been hurt in an accident in the state of Florida, contact our personal injury attorney Brannon & Brannon at (850) 863-5297. They’ll review the facts of your case, help you value your losses, and establish liability for your damages.