Florida Tort Law
A Guide to Understanding Injury Lawsuits
Florida tort law is a branch of the civil laws of Florida. It refers to the legal principles used to compensate people that are injured by another person or by a company. The goal is to make wrongdoers take responsibility for the damages they have caused. In order to be successful, the injured party must demonstrate that the person that caused the harm had a legal duty to act in a particular manner; the wrongdoer breached that duty; and the breach caused harm. The first step is to gather evidence to prove the wrongdoing and the damages caused. The next step is to make a personal injury claim that asks the wrongdoer to compensate the injured party. If adequate compensation is not paid, the injured party can file a Florida lawsuit. Ultimately if the wrongdoer does not enter into a settlement, the final step is to have a jury determine whether compensation should be awarded.
WHAT IS A LEGAL DUTY
Legal duties can be created by the Florida legislature; administrative agencies, and or the courts. legislatures create legal duties when they pass a law requiring a person to act in a certain way. When someone violates that law and the violatation cause injury, the person that violates the law may be required to pay money damages to make up for the harm caused. Administrative agencies create duties as well when they create regulations that mandate certain actions. Lastly, the courts create legal duties when they decide in a particular case that certain actions create a foreseeable zone of risk to harm people.
The following are some key concepts and elements of Florida tort law:
- Intentional conduct occurs when someone consciously chooses to act in a certain way.
- Reckless conduct occurs when someone knows their conduct might cause injury but they engage in the conduct anyway.
- Negligence: Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, which results in harm to another person. To establish a negligence claim in Florida, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty, the breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
- Comparative Fault: Florida follows the legal principle of comparative fault, which means that the plaintiff’s damages may be reduced if the plaintiff is found to have contributed to their own injuries. For example, if a plaintiff was 20% at fault for an accident, their damages may be reduced by 20%.
- Statute of Limitations: In Florida, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within a certain time period, known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Florida is four years from the date of the accident or injury. If a lawsuit is not filed within this time period, the plaintiff may lose their right to recover compensation.
- Damages: Damages are the monetary compensation that a plaintiff may recover in a personal injury lawsuit. Florida law allows for both economic and non-economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
- Premises Liability: Premises liability is an area of Florida tort law that deals with injuries that occur on another person’s property. Property owners have a duty to maintain safe conditions on their property and to warn visitors of any known dangers. If a property owner fails to fulfill this duty and someone is injured as a result, the injured party may be able to recover compensation.
- Products Liability: Products liability is another area of Florida tort law that deals with injuries caused by defective products. Manufacturers have a duty to produce safe products and to warn consumers of any potential dangers associated with their products. If a defective product causes injury, the injured party may be able to recover compensation from the manufacturer.
These are just some of the key concepts and elements of Florida tort law as it pertains to personal injury lawsuits. If you have been injured in Florida and are considering filing a lawsuit, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on your rights and options under the law.