Every seven seconds, an American worker sustains an injury on the job. Many of these incidents lead to serious injuries or even fatal outcomes. An injury can drastically affect your health and well-being in addition to your financial situation. To complicate matters, making mistakes that could jeopardize your workers’ compensation benefits claim in Florida could put you in an even more difficult situation.
Negligence in Florida Law
There are many famous court cases that provide the building blocks for negligence in Florida, and there is even a Florida Statute that defines negligence. Florida Statutes Chapter 768 deals exclusively with Florida negligence statute and all connected issues like damages, special exceptions, etc. Sorting through all the legalese can be overwhelming and confusing. That’s the reason we went to law school and we’re going to break it down for you below into its basic elements.
The 4 Elements of Negligence in Florida
At its most basic level, negligence is when someone fails to exercise that degree of reasonable care expected of them to minimize risk of harm to someone else. Remember, Florida negligence laws don’t just define what a claim is, they often define the types of damages a plaintiff can seek. The four elements of negligence in Florida are: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Here’s how they are broken down:
- Duty of Care – This means that person who injured you had a legal obligation to do (or avoid doing) something based on the relationship between the parties. For example, every driver on the road has a duty to others on the road to drive their vehicle safely and according to the law. Someone who owns a business open to the public owes a duty to visitors to take reasonable steps to keep their store free of hazards.
- Breach of Duty – When a person fails to fulfill their duty, there is a breach of that duty. For example, a driver breaches their duty by driving too fast, failing to keep a proper distance, or failing to pay attention while driving. A store owner would breach their duty by failing to timely clean up a spill or repair a leaking freezer that keeps putting water in a walkway.
- Causation – While this might seem logical, it can be complicated. If one driver hits another causing damage, causation is easy to determine. But when there are multiple people or events involved in an accident, things may not be as clear. The breach of the duty must logically and foreseeably lead to harm for there to be causation.
- Damages | Injury – Lastly, a plaintiff must show they suffered injuries or losses that can be compensated because of the breach of duty. Damages must be proven by evidence such as medical bills, proof of lost wages, appraisals for property damage, and more. In addition, losses like pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment can be recovered under Florida law.
Florida and Comparative Fault
Bear in mind that in Florida, the damages you recover can be reduced, or completely barred, if you are partly at fault for the accident or incident. If an injured plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault for causing an accident or incident, they now cannot recover for a negligence claim.
If a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault, but that amount is less than 50% or less, then the percentage fault reduces their recovery. For example, say you incur $100,000 damages however the jury decides that the accident was 40% your fault. This means that the amount you are awarded will be reduced by 40% and you will receive only $60,000.
At Weinstein & Cohen, we have more than 50 years of combined experience fighting for accident victim’s rights. Our experienced Miami and Naples accident attorneys at Weinstein & Cohen will put your priorities first. If you or someone you care about has been injured or involved in an accident across South Florida or Southwest Florida, contact the Miami and Naples personal injury lawyers at Weinstein & Cohen at 305-374-1011 or 239-793-3331, or visit fairnessforall.com for an absolutely free legal consultation to learn more about your options.