Tampa Attorney for Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury law provides an injured person (a plaintiff) with legal recourse. Personal injury lawsuits are usually filed when a person suffers injury because of someone else’s negligent conduct. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, it’s important to speak with a Tampa personal injury lawyer right away. You may be entitled to compensation. Such accidents can include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip & fall accidents, and others such as:
- Alcohol-related accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boat accidents
- Construction accidents
- Cruise ship accidents
- Dog bites
- Falling merchandise accidents
- Car and motorcycle accidents
- Negligent security
- Pedestrian accidents
- Sexual abuse/sexual assault
In order to receive compensation for an accident, the claimant (or plaintiff) must demonstrate that the person that caused the act was negligent.
What is Negligence?
From the objective standpoint of the law, negligence is measured using “the reasonable person standard.” Which is to say that the law looks at a person’s behaviors and actions and compares them to the behaviors and actions of a reasonable person. Negligence can be a complicated and ambiguous concept, and it can encompass a great many actions in which a person acted unreasonably or without due care. Jurors serving on civil cases in Florida are asked to abide by the legal definition of negligence provided in Jury Instruction 401.4 which states the following:
“Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful person would use under like circumstances. Negligence is doing something that a reasonably careful person would not do under like circumstances or failing to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under like circumstances.”Florida Standard Jury Instructions – Civil: Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Civ.) 401.4.
The Elements of Negligence
In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove the four elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages. More specifically, the plaintiff must show the following:
- Duty: That the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care, under the circumstances, not to place others in unreasonable danger.
- Beach: That the defendant breached this duty by acting (or failing to act) in a certain way. This can be tricky to determine.
- Causation: That it was the defendant’s actions that actually caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, the defendant’s breach of their duty, was the cause of the harm to the plaintiff.
- Damages: Finally, it must be shown, that the plaintiff’s injuries are compensable—also known as damages
The duty element requires a showing that the defendant had a duty to refrain from actions and behaviors that might cause unreasonable harm or injuries to the plaintiff. Second, that this duty was breached by the defendant. “Florida, like other jurisdictions, recognizes that a legal duty will arise whenever a human endeavor creates a generalized and foreseeable risk of harming others.” McCain v. FPL, 593 So. 2d 500, at 503 (Fla. 1992).
Causation essentially means that the defendant’s breach of this duty is what caused the injuries sustained by the Plaintiff. So even if the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, and that duty was breached, but that breach did not cause the injuries, then there can be no case. For instance, a driver may breach their duty of care when they cause an accident because they are speeding, failing to pay attention to traffic lights, driving while intoxicated, or failing to yield the right of way. Negligence can also be found when an employer carelessly hires someone that is not competent to perform a task that requires specialized training or experience. Or when an institution fails to perform routine maintenance, causing a slip, trip, or fall accident, or when an organization produces a defective product that harms someone.
Damages in a Negligence Case
A negligent party can be ordered to pay a variety of different damages to a plaintiff. Such damages can include:
- Economic Compensatory Damages: These are damages ordered to compensate the injured plaintiff for financial loss the he or she may have suffered because of the defendant’s negligence. These typically include compensation for medical bills, impaired earning potential and lost wages.
- Non-Economic Compensatory Damages: These are damages that that compensate a plaintiff for non-financial losses like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and emotional pain.
- Punitive Damages: These are damages awarded to punish the defendant, usually ordered in a small number of cases, and typically only when the defendant’s behavior was deemed to be reckless or malicious.
Speak with a Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today!
Attorney William B. Wynne is a Florida personal injury attorney. If you were injured due to an accident that occured anywhere in the state of Florida, contact us today for a free consultation.