Liability is a legally enforceable claim against another party’s assets. There are several different legal causes of action that could establish liability in a personal injury case.
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Proving Liability in a Personal Injury Case
Depending on the facts of your case, one or more of the following liability standards may apply:
Negligence is one of the most common causes of action to prove liability. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to act with reasonable care. The level of care is based on what a “reasonable person” would have done under similar circumstances.
The legal elements of a negligence claim are:
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- The party breached the duty of care
- The party’s conduct was the proximate and direct cause of your injury
- You sustained damages because of the party’s conduct
An example of negligence could be a car accident caused by a driver who failed to yield the right of way. The driver had a duty to obey traffic laws. He breached that duty by failing to yield the right of way, which resulted in a car crash. If the car crashed caused injuries to others, the driver would be negligent.
Another example would be a property owner’s duty to provide safe premises for guests and visitors. If a property owner knew about a hazardous condition and failed to remedy the situation or warn you, the property owner breached the duty of care. If the dangerous condition led to your injury, the property owner may be liable for your damages.
In most cases, the person who causes your injury is the party liable for your damages. However, vicarious liability could result in another party being liable for damages caused by the at-fault party. For example, vicarious liability is often used to sue an employer when an employee causes an accident or injury.
For the employer to be responsible, the employee must have been acting within the scope of the employment. However, a company is generally not liable for the actions of an independent contractor.
An example of vicarious liability might be a trucking company being found responsible for the damages caused by a truck driver. Another example would be a medical facility being liable for injuries caused by a staff member.
In some cases, parties may be strictly liable for damages caused by their actions. Under strict liability, the injured party does not need to prove negligence or intent for the at-fault party to be liable. The victim only needs to prove that the party’s conduct caused their injuries.
Cases involving strict liability include:
- Product liability claims
- Dog bite cases
- Abnormally dangerous activities
- Cases involving wild animals
In addition, some criminal acts could result in strict liability if the defendant’s conduct resulted in damages for the victim.
Negligence Per Se
Ordinarily, an injury victim has the burden of proving each of the elements of negligence to win their personal injury claim.. However, in a negligence per se case, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant.
If a defendant violates a safety law and injures another person, it is presumed that the defendant is negligent per se. Therefore, the defendant would be liable for the injury victim’s damages.
The law must be enacted to protect the general public interest. One of the most common examples of a negligence per se claim would be a DUI accident. A person who drives intoxicated violates a safety law designed to protect the public interest and prevent serious motor vehicle accidents.
What Compensation Can I Recover From the Liable Party?
Florida personal injury laws allow injured parties to recover compensation for several types of damages. Damages that you could recover for a personal injury claim include:
Economic damages are your financial losses and expenses related to the accident and injury. They include medical bills, nursing care, therapy, and personal care. It also includes the loss of income, including future lost wages and reductions in earning potential.
You may also receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel costs to doctor’s appointments, help with household chores, and medical supplies.
Non-economic damages include the physical pain and suffering you experience. It also includes mental anguish and emotional distress. You may also receive compensation for loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and permanent impairments.
Punitive damages are only awarded in a few cases. These damages are intended to “punish” the defendant for intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Insurance Companies and Negligence
In many cases, the at-fault party has insurance coverage that might apply to the injury or property damage claim. An example would be auto insurance or car insurance coverage. The company would be liable for damages up to the coverage limit.
However, Florida requires drivers to carry personal injury coverage or PIP. PIP only covers a portion of medical expenses and lost wages. If you sustain serious injuries, you could sue the other driver under their bodily injury liability insurance. Liability insurance covers most economic and non-economic damages.
Homeowners’ insurance and personal injury coverage may apply in some injury claims. An insurance company would only be liable up to the policy limits for a negligence claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
The party who caused your injuries should be held financially liable for your damages. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our Florida personal injury attorneys. Let us help you get the money you deserve after an accident or injury.