Personal injury cases involve an injured party and an at-fault party. Those same parties are involved once you file a personal injury lawsuit, and one will be referred to as the plaintiff while the other will be referred to as the defendant. Continue reading to learn about who each side is in a personal injury lawsuit and their respective roles.
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Who Are the Plaintiffs and Defendants in Personal Injury Lawsuits?
A personal injury lawsuit is a civil lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for an accident or injury.
Civil lawsuits involve claims arising from incidents involving:
- Car accidents
- Wrongful deaths
- Medical malpractice
- Slips and falls
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites
- Defective products
Even though an insurance company is involved in a personal injury claim, you do not sue the insurance company when filing the lawsuit. Instead, the defendant is the person who is being sued for damages.
The plaintiff is the person who files the lawsuit. The plaintiff is the party who sustained injuries because of the defendant’s conduct.
What Is Your Role as the Plaintiff in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
You would be the plaintiff in the lawsuit because you are the injured victim. It is your job to provide evidence that proves your allegations against the defendant. Your burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence.
Proving the defendant is guilty by a preponderance of the evidence means there is a greater chance that the person caused your injury than not. Therefore, the jurors must believe there is a 50% or greater chance that the defendant is guilty of the allegations based on the evidence presented during the trial.
Negligence is the basis for most personal injury lawsuits. Florida tort laws hold a party financially responsible for damages a person sustains because of their negligent conduct. Proving negligence requires that you have evidence establishing:
- The defendant owed you a legal duty of care to act reasonably to avoid injury or harm
- The defendant’s conduct breached the duty of care
- The defendant’s breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries
- You sustained damages because the defendant breached a duty
Once you establish causation and fault, you create liability for damages. Damages for a personal injury can include financial losses and costs you incur because of the injury, such as lost wages and medical bills. Damages also include the pain and suffering you experience, in addition to future damages because of permanent impairment or disability.
What Is the Defendant’s Role in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
You have the burden of proving your allegations at trial. However, even though you have the burden of proof, the defendant can refute your claims by calling witnesses, cross-examining your witnesses, testifying on their behalf, and producing evidence.
The defendant could raise one or more affirmative defenses to the claim. For example, the defendant might claim that you contributed to the cause of your injury.
Florida adopted a pure comparative fault law. Therefore, you cannot be barred from recovering damages for an injury if you are partially to blame for the injury. However, your compensation for damages is reduced by your level of fault.
The defendant could also argue that you failed to mitigate damages. Mitigating damages means taking reasonable steps to avoid incurring additional harm or injury, such as seeking prompt medical care and following your doctor’s treatment plan. Failing to mitigate damages could lower the amount of damages awarded by the jury.
Failing to meet the deadline in the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit could result in a dismissal. However, the defense is affirmative, so the defendant must raise the defense in court before the court dismisses the lawsuit for missing the filing deadline.
Examples of Defendants in Personal Injury Lawsuits
The defendant can be any party who caused you to be injured or harmed. Some lawsuits involve multiple defendants. Examples of defendants in personal injury cases include:
- Traffic Accidents – Drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, government entities, and construction and road companies
- Dog Bites – Dog owners, property owners, tenants, and landlords
- Medical Malpractice – Any medical provider, including hospitals, physicians, nurses, laboratories, chiropractors, dentists, and urgent care facilities
- Product Liability – Product designers, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers
- Truck Accidents – Truck drivers, trucking companies, shippers, maintenance facilities, loaders, repair companies, and truck manufacturers
- Premises Liability – Commercial and residential property owners, government entities, landlords, tenants, business owners, and rental companies
- Construction Accidents – Property owners, contractors, tool and equipment manufacturers, employers, subcontractors, and other third parties
The above list is not exhaustive. The facts and circumstances of the case determine the defendants named in the lawsuit. Our legal team conducts an exhaustive investigation to ensure we name all parties in the lawsuit who could share liability for your economic and non-economic damages.
Call Now for a Free Consultation With Our Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyers
Our legal team aggressively pursues your personal injury claim inside and outside the courtroom. We advocate for your best interests during settlement negotiations and at trial. Call Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers at (561) 347-7770 or contact us online to request a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys in Boca Raton, FL.