The fact that mishaps are fairly commonplace does not detract from the pain and confusion that can result when an accident or injury happens to you or a loved one. If you decide to take steps toward protecting your legal rights after an accident or injury, you may have a number of general questions about personal injury cases.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit? The Basics
Personal injury cases are legal disputes that arise when one person suffers harm from an accident or injury, and someone else might be legally responsible for that harm. A personal injury case can become formalized through civil court proceedings that seek to find others legally at fault through a court judgment or, as is much more common, such disputes may be resolved through informal settlement before any lawsuit is filed:
Formal Lawsuit — Unlike criminal cases, which are initiated by the government, a formal personal injury case typically starts when a private individual (the «plaintiff») files a civil complaint against another person, business, corporation, or government agency (the «defendant»), alleging that they acted carelessly or irresponsibly in connection with an accident or injury that caused harm. This action is known as «filing a lawsuit». Our discussion on negligence and proof is especially helpful.
Informal Settlement — In reality, most disputes over fault for an accident or injury are resolved through informal early settlement, usually among those personally involved in the dispute, their insurers, and attorneys representing both sides. A settlement commonly takes the form of negotiation, followed by a written agreement in which both sides forgo any further action (such as a lawsuit), choosing instead to resolve the matter through payment of an agreeable amount of money.
Note: The middle ground between a lawsuit and an informal settlement is alternative dispute resolution procedures like mediation and arbitration.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
Plaintiffs have a limited time in which to file a lawsuit, called a statute of limitations. Generally speaking, the period of time dictated by a statute of limitations begins when the plaintiff is injured or discovers the injury.
Statutes of limitations are established by state law and often vary by type of injury. For instance, the statute of limitations for injuries to an individual in Texas is two years, but five years for sex crimes and one year for libel or slander. It can vary from state to state.
Where are the Laws that Govern Personal Injury Cases?
Unlike other areas of the law that find their rules in statutes (such as penal codes in criminal cases), the development of personal injury law has taken place mostly through court decisions, and in treatises written by legal scholars. Many states have taken steps to summarize the development of personal injury law in written statutes, but for practical purposes court decisions remain the main source of the law in any legal case arising from an accident or injury.
Free Personal Injury Claim Review
Any potential personal injury case requires a detailed understanding of the facts, the processes, and the law. If an accident has impacted your life, you will want to consult with an experienced attorney to see if you should pursue a lawsuit. Not sure if you have a case? You can always have an attorney do a free evaluation of your case here.
Florida Personal Injury Lawyers in West Palm Beach, Orlando, Plantation and Miami Protecting Your Right to Compensation
After an accident that results in serious injuries, you may feel stressed over the impending medical bills, the changes to your life, and the burdens on your family. You should not handle this situation on your own. Instead, you should seek legal guidance and representation so that you can fully understand your options and pursue the person or company responsible for your injuries. If you were injured in West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, you should contact Freeman Injury Law. We have offices in West Palm Beach, Miami, Plantation, Port St. Lucie, and Orlando, from which we represent victims injured in car crashes, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, construction accidents, incidents of medical malpractice, and many other accidents. Our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys have decades of combined experience, and we charge no fees unless we get compensation for our clients.
Many car accidents occur because one or more drivers acted negligently. In Florida, you must usually show a serious injury to go beyond no-fault insurance coverage and sue another driver. To establish another driver’s negligence in court, a personal injury attorney in the West Palm Beach area would need to show that the other driver owed you a duty, the other driver breached that duty, there was actual and proximate causation, and you suffered damages. All drivers have a duty to use reasonable care when operating their cars, and there are many ways that they can breach that duty. A breach of duty may occur when a driver texts or otherwise gets distracted behind the wheel, drives while drunk, runs a red light or stop sign, or drives while excessively fatigued, among many other examples.
In a truck accident case, we will investigate to determine whether both the truck driver and their employer may bear some responsibility for the accident. It is important to work with an attorney who understands how to hold these parties responsible as appropriate. In many situations, the injuries suffered by victims in a passenger car after a truck accident are catastrophic or fatal, due to the size and weight of the truck. In addition to holding a truck driver responsible for their negligence, a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney may be able to hold the employer vicariously (indirectly) liable or directly liable. The direct liability of an employer may be established if you can prove negligent hiring, supervision, or training. Vicarious or indirect liability simply means that the driver was an employee of the trucking corporation and on the job when they caused the crash.
There is no buffer zone between a motorcyclist and a passenger car or truck. Thus, the driver of the larger vehicle may walk away without a scratch, while the motorcyclist may be left with life-changing injuries. Often, insurance adjusters have an unfair bias against motorcyclists. An adjuster is likely to look for ways in which an injured motorcyclist was negligent and at fault. Comparative negligence is a doctrine that reduces the amount of damages that you can recover as a plaintiff in an accident claim, based on the extent to which your own negligence caused the accident. We understand how to fight back against these arguments and make sure that our clients get all of the compensation that they are entitled to receive.
Florida’s no-fault insurance law requires you to turn first to your own no-fault insurance coverage after a bicycle accident. You can recover 80% of your reasonable medical expenses, 60% of your lost wages, and replacement services such as household cleaning or babysitting through no-fault coverage. In order to file a lawsuit for damages against an at-fault driver, you will need to have suffered a serious injury, such as loss of bodily function, disfigurement, or serious scars. Unfortunately, similar to motorcyclists, bicyclists lack much protection against the impact of a car or truck, so these situations arise all too often. Our personal injury lawyers can help West Palm Beach bicyclists determine who was responsible for a crash and prove the full scope of their damages.
Florida is considered one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. Pedestrians are also covered under Florida’s no-fault law. Although drivers have a heightened duty to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, the driver is not automatically at fault. Therefore, insurance adjusters may try to look for ways in which you were to blame as a pedestrian. Pedestrians have a duty to use reasonable caution when crossing roads or interacting with motor vehicles, and there are several laws set forth in Florida Statutes section 316.130 that they need to obey. However, most pedestrian accidents do result from driver error, and the consequences can be devastating or fatal. We have represented not only injured pedestrians but also the families of victims of pedestrian accidents who lost their lives to careless drivers.
All property owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for lawful visitors and may be held accountable for a visitor’s injuries arising out of a dangerous condition on the property. Generally, to win a premises liability lawsuit, our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers will need to show that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. This often comes down to establishing constructive notice through video surveillance evidence, witness testimony, or the testimony of experts who can explain how long a dangerous condition likely existed. Some common causes of accidents on property include spills or wet floors, uneven or cracked pavement, faulty handrails or guardrails, broken steps, and swimming pools that lack the appropriate safety protections.
Often, workers are limited to receiving workers’ compensation benefits when they are injured on the job. They cannot sue their employers for damages, since workers’ compensation is considered an exclusive remedy. However, if you are injured at work due to a third party’s negligence, you may be able to sue that third party for damages in a personal injury claim. Workplace accident victims often bring claims against manufacturers of defective equipment, careless drivers, and other defendants that have no employment relationship to them.
Construction employers must provide a safe workplace for employees and report serious injuries to OSHA. In many cases, Florida residents who are injured in construction accidents are limited to workers’ compensation benefits. However, when accidents arise out of intentional conduct by an employer, a non-employer’s negligence, or a defective product, you may have other legal options. A personal injury lawyer at our West Palm Beach firm can advise you on the various types of actions that you can pursue.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
In Florida, nursing home patients are legally entitled to a basic set of rights. Nursing home laws require a facility to provide patients with a homelike, clean, comfortable, and safe environment. In practice, however, nursing homes are often understaffed, and many caregivers are not adequately trained or get frustrated easily with the challenges of caregiving. If you or a loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, such that a serious injury or wrongful death occurred, it may be possible to hold the nursing home accountable.
Cases arising from health care negligence tend to be especially complex. In order to recover damages for medical malpractice, our attorneys will need to show that a physician’s actions in diagnosing or treating you fell below the professional standard of care, and this deviation from the standard of care caused your injuries. This usually means retaining experts in the defendant’s specialty or a related area who can explain how the defendant’s care was deficient and how it led to your injuries. Medical malpractice claims must meet specific procedural requirements, which makes it important to retain legal counsel early in the process.
If you were injured by a defective product, you may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer and others in the chain of distribution. There are three types of product defects: marketing defects, manufacturing defects, and design defects. In some cases, the personal injury attorneys at our West Palm Beach firm will need to retain an expert to show the existence of a defect. These cases often are based on strict liability, which means that you do not need to show negligence by the defendant to establish liability.
Boating is a popular recreational activity in Florida. Varying laws may apply to injuries arising from an accident on the water, depending on the specific place where the boating accident happened. You may be able to recover damages under theories of negligence or intentional misconduct, as well as specific maritime laws. These cases can be similar to motor vehicle collision cases, since they often arise from a boater’s failure to properly operate their vessel, such as by being drunk or distracted or lacking the appropriate training.
Dog bites can result in severe injuries and infections for both adults and children. There are many theories under which you can potentially recover compensation for dog bite injuries in Florida. These include negligence, negligence per se (negligence as a matter of law), strict liability, and intentional torts. Even if the dog did not actually bite you, our attorneys still may be able to recover damages if you were injured because the dog knocked you over or caused injuries in another type of attack or incident.
Under Florida Statutes section 768.19, when someone’s death is caused by another party’s wrongful act, negligence, default, or contractual breach, the decedent’s estate can sue in civil court for wrongful death. The personal representative of the estate is supposed to file the case. It is filed on behalf of not only the estate but also any surviving family members. Surviving relatives who can recover damages include the decedent’s spouse, children, and parents, as well as any blood relative or adoptive sibling who was partly or completely dependent on the decedent for services or support.