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What Is a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Matthew A. Dolman, Esq. Florida Personal Injury Attorney

Matthew A. Dolman, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

Understanding Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury lawsuits are a type of civil lawsuit brought by a person who was injured as a result of someone else’s negligent actions or inaction. These lawsuits allow victims to recover any financial losses they suffered as a result of that injury. In some cases, victims may be able to recover a financial award for non-monetary losses as well. Read on for more information from skilled Florida personal injury attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Personal injury law may seem confusing until you understand the basics. Some of the various scenarios that might warrant a personal injury lawsuit include:

  • Roadway accidents – An accident involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and/or pedestrians all fall under personal injury law. A driver who was speeding, driving under the influence, driving distracted, or was otherwise negligent and caused an accident may be sued if they caused serious injury.
  • Medical malpractice – This type of personal injury lawsuit may be filed against a medical practitioner who made an error resulting in a birth defect, failed to diagnose or made a wrong diagnosis of an illness, or committed a surgical error. These lawsuits are complex and often involve significant resources to demonstrate that the medical practitioner did not act in accordance with the generally accepted standard for treatment in the medical field.
  • Premises liability – When someone visits a shopping center, doctor’s office, or office complex, the last thing they expect is to suffer an injury. Unfortunately, too often, victims suffer a spinal cord injury, back and neck injuries, or other serious injuries due to hazardous conditions. Slip and fall accidents falls down staircases, and injuries that result due to a lack of security may warrant personal injury lawsuits.
  • Workplace injury – While a worker may be covered under worker’s compensation for an injury suffered on the job, there are instances in which there may be other parties responsible for the injury. In cases involving another worker’s negligence, a defective piece of equipment, or hazardous chemicals, an employee who has suffered an injury at work may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Dog bite injury – Unlike other states, Florida does not have a “one bite free” rule. Under Florida Statute § 767.04, dog owners are strictly liable for any injury their dog causes, provided the victim was not trespassing.

Establishing Negligence in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, you must first establish three facts: the person who caused the injury had a duty to you not to cause you injury, that person failed to uphold that duty, and you suffered damages as a result of that failure. For victims of roadway accidents, the other driver had a duty to follow traffic laws and to operate safely. If the other driver was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and caused an accident in which you were injured, all three elements needed for establishing negligence have been met. Victims must be able to demonstrate the person responsible for their injury owed it to them to act in a “manner in which others would deem reasonable under the same circumstances”. A qualified personal injury attorney in Florida can explain this to you in more detail.

Florida No-Fault Insurance and Personal Injury

Victims of accidents on Florida roadways are often confused about how the no-fault insurance rules work when it comes to filing a personal injury claim. If you have been injured in a car accident you should speak with an attorney who has experience dealing with auto accidents, but first, you should understand the basics of no-fault insurance. If you are one of the more than 250,000 victims of a car accident in Florida this year, you will first file a claim with your own insurance company. Florida requires all drivers to carry car insurance with a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage. However, in cases of serious injury, this may not come close to covering your medical expenses, lost time from work, and other damages. Before you file a personal injury lawsuit, you will be asked to demonstrate that your injuries were significant. This means the accident resulted in a permanent injury, such as traumatic brain injury, permanent scars or disfigurement, or the loss of a bodily function such as hearing or vision. When you speak with an attorney, they will explain in further detail what constitutes a serious injury. If you have lost a loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

7 Damages to Recover After an Injury

One of the challenges some victims have is understanding what damages they can request compensation for when filing a personal injury lawsuit. Damages include any losses that are a direct result of the injury caused by the other person’s negligent behavior. These damages may include:

  1. Lost wages – This includes wages you lost while being unable to work when you were recovering from your injury, as well as wages you may lose going forward. You may also be entitled to claim lost earning capacity if your injury forced you to take a job that pays less than the job you had before your injury, or if you are unable to return to work at all because of a permanent injury.
  2. Medical expenses – The cost of any medical attention you require may be recovered through a personal injury lawsuit. This can include the cost of doctor’s visits, prescription drugs and medical supplies, physical therapy, or surgical procedures or tests that you need because of your injury. If your injury is long-term or permanent, you may also be entitled to include future medical expenses that may be necessary as a result of the injury.
  3. Property damage – If you were involved in a car accident in which you suffered an injury and your car, clothing, or items in your vehicle were damaged, the cost of replacing them may be included as damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
  4. Cost of hiring help – When you are unable to perform household chores because of an injury suffered due to someone else’s negligence, the costs of hiring someone to assist you may also be recovered by filing a lawsuit.
  5. Non-monetary damages – Some losses are “indirect” insofar as they are not tied to financial expenditures. Damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress are often recoverable when you ask a personal injury attorney to take on your injury case.
  6. Other damages – You may be able to recover damages for any monetary and non-monetary costs that would not have otherwise been an issue had you not suffered an injury because of the other person’s negligent behavior.
  7. Wrongful death claims -When you lose a loved one because of an accident, you have the legal right to recover financial damages to cover their medical bills, burial expenses, funeral expenses, as well as several other types of damages. An attorney who works on wrongful death claims can explain these to you.

Florida Statute § 768.73 explains the state’s personal injury lawsuit damage caps. That statute caps, punitive damages, which are imposed upon a person whose purposeful behavior was directly responsible for your injury, at three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000 at the high end. Punitive damages are generally awarded only in egregious cases of negligence on the part of the person who caused the injury.

Record Keeping and Documentation in Personal Injury Cases

When you have suffered an injury caused by another person, keep good records to share with an attorney. Recordkeeping begins at the time of your accident, sometimes even before you seek medical attention. Take these steps after an accident to help protect yourself:

  • Step one: Protect yourself from further injury – If you are in a car accident you should get as far away from traffic as quickly and safely as possible. If you can, pull your car to the shoulder of the road and if it is safe to do so, get out of the car and away from traffic.
  • Step two: Make the proper notifications – For car accidents, you will need to contact the police. If you are injured on someone else’s property, you should notify them immediately. All notifications should be recorded so you know who was informed of the incident, regardless of the type of accident.
  • Step three: Photographic evidence may help – Photograph the scene of the accident if you can do so or ask someone else to do it on your behalf. Roadway accident photos should include traffic signals or signs, damage to all vehicles involved, roadway debris if it exists, and anything else you think may be helpful. If you are injured on someone’s property, photograph the area of the incident including any defects that may have contributed to your injury.
  • Step four: Get names and contact information – Anyone who witnessed the accident should be asked to provide their names and contact information. This may be important later to help a personal injury attorney reconstruct the accident scene.
  • Step five: Seek medical attention – Whenever you are involved in an accident, your body has an immediate response to danger and floods your system with adrenaline. This means you may not immediately feel like you have suffered an injury even if you have. Seek medical attention at an urgent care center, emergency room, or your own personal physician even if you feel fine. Make sure you let the physician who sees you knows you were involved in an accident and what type of accident it was.
  • Step six: Contact the relevant insurance company – If you were involved in a car accident, no-fault insurance means you should notify your own insurance company. Otherwise, it will be up to the property owner to contact their insurer on your behalf. Use caution when speaking with insurance companies since they will likely try to pry information from you. It is best to speak with an attorney before you speak with an insurance adjuster.
  • Step seven: Contact a skilled attorney – You have rights after you are injured in an accident when someone else was at fault. A personal injury attorney who understands Florida’s personal injury statutes can help protect your rights and inform you of anything you need to know.
  • Step eight: Moving forward – Once you have taken all the necessary steps and have consulted with an attorney, there are still some things you should record after the fact. For example, you should record any physical or emotional changes you experience after an injury, and keep a record of all doctor’s visits, changes in medication, and time lost from work. These items will be helpful when filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Florida Statutes of Limitations

Your rights to file a personal injury lawsuit do not last forever. There is a four-year statute of limitations in which accident victims may contact an attorney, have their cases evaluated, and decide whether to file a lawsuit. The clock starts on the day of the accident. In cases where you have lost a loved one, the statute of limitations is only two years, so contacting an attorney as soon as possible is important. Personal injury lawsuits can be complex, so you will need a lawyer who understands the grounds for filing a lawsuit. Most personal injury lawyers provide a free case evaluation and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Since most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not have to pay anything upfront, you have nothing to lose by hiring an attorney. After you suffer an injury, you need to get answers, but you also need to focus on recovering from your injuries. If you have questions about anything pertaining to a potential personal injury lawsuit, ask an attorney who has experience dealing with similar cases. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 N Belcher Rd Clearwater, FL 33765 Phone: (727) 451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-personal-injury-lawyer/