Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys
Why People Choose Holliday Karatinos Law Firm
- Free Consultations
- Extensive experience in and out of the courtroom
- Dedication to each and every case
- Personal attention to every client
Legal Causation of Personal Injuries
Not every injured plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for the injury he or she sustains. Besides the injury, the plaintiff must also establish, through credible and relevant evidence, that the defendant is legally responsible for his or her injuries. The plaintiff must present proof of causation both in terms of actual causation and proximate (legal) causation. Actual causation is determined by literal cause and effect. Whether legal causation is established depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular matter in question.
In some personal injury actions, legal causation may be established if the plaintiff can show that the defendant engaged in intentional conduct. This means that the wrongdoer intentionally or purposefully harmed the plaintiff or knew that the conduct in which he or she engaged gave rise to a substantial likelihood that harm would result.
Negligence and Strict Liability
Other personal injury actions are based on a looser concept of fault called negligence. Under the negligence theory, a defendant is held liable for the results of action, or inaction, when an ordinary person in the same position should have foreseen that the conduct would create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Still, other types of personal injury actions are based on strict liability, which is a no-fault system under which liability may be established regardless of the fault of the various parties, including the plaintiff. Strict liability may be applied in product liability cases, such as when a manufacturer or seller of a defective product puts that product into the hands of consumers and users of the product are injured.
The defendant can be held liable for actions taken or for actions not taken. A driver who fails to stop at a red light and hits another vehicle and injures the other driver or passengers is liable based on her negligent acts. A property owner who fails to clear the ice and snow from the front steps of a business open to the public may be liable for his inaction if a patron falls and breaks her leg when attempting to enter the premises.
Types of Personal Injury Claims
Automotive Accidents – When a collision involving a car, motorcycle, or truck injures you, you may need help communicating with your insurance company to get the settlement you need. If insurance is not willing to help you, it might be time to escalate your claim further
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
Negligence– Some things must be established by anyone who wants to sue in negligence. These are what are called the “elements” of negligence. Most jurisdictions say that there are four elements to a negligence action:
- Duty: the defendant has a duty to others, including the plaintiff, to exercise reasonable care,
- Breach: the defendant breaches that duty through an act or culpable omission,
- Damages: as a result of that act or omission, the plaintiff suffers an injury, and
- Causation: the injury to the plaintiff is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s act or omission.
Some jurisdictions narrow the definition down to three elements: duty, breach and proximately caused harm. Some jurisdictions recognize five elements, duty, breach, actual cause, proximate cause, and damages. However, at their heart, the various definitions of what constitutes negligent conduct are very similar.
Premise Liability – Premises liability may range from things from “injuries caused by a variety of hazardous conditions, including open excavations, uneven pavement, standing water, crumbling curbs, wet floors, uncleared snow, icy walks, falling objects, inadequate security, insufficient lighting, concealed holes, improperly secured mats, or defects in chairs or benches”. “Premises liability law is the body of law which makes the person who is in possession of land or premises responsible for certain injuries suffered by persons who are present on the premises”.((Larson, Aaron (17 January 2015). “Premises Liability Law”. ExpertLaw.com. Retrieved 24 August 2017.))
- Slip and Fall
- Dog Attacks
Other Personal Injury Claim Types – While auto accidents are perhaps the greatest cause of injuries, they are by no means the only one. Other causes of injury include:
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Defective products
Defenses to Liability in Personal Injury Cases
In some situations, the defendant’s conduct, while questionable, may not give rise to damages. If, for instance, a plaintiff knowingly and willfully chooses to encounter a known hazard, then the law provides that he or she has assumed the risk of injury and therefore the defendant should not be liable. The assumption of the risk theory may apply also in a case in which the plaintiff engaged in a friendly game of tackle football and another player broke his arm; in such a case, the plaintiff may be unable to recover for his injuries because he knew of the risks inherent in the game and willingly chose to encounter them.
The following are possible defenses to personal injury claims.
- Statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations are laws setting forth the period within which the lawsuit must be initiated
- Sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity provides that certain government officials are immune from civil liability for their official conduct
- Intentional misuse. Injuries caused by a plaintiff’s intentional misuse of a product may be a defense to liability in a products liability case
- Contributory or comparative negligence. Contributory or comparative negligence exists where the plaintiff’s own conduct caused or contributed to his or her injuries
Florida’s “Comparative Negligence” Rule
In some cases, the person you are trying to hold liable for your injuries may turn around and say that you’re actually to blame (at least in part) for causing the accident that led to your injuries (or for making your injuries worse). If you do share some amount of fault for your injuries, that can affect the amount of compensation you can receive from other at-fault parties.
Florida follows a “pure comparative negligence rule” in cases like these. Under this rule, the amount of compensation (“damages”) you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident.
So, if you’re in a car accident where the other driver ran a red light, but you were driving a few miles an hour above the posted speed limit, you might share 10 percent of the blame for the accident, while the other driver is 90 percent to blame. Let’s say your damages add up to $10,000. Under Florida’s comparative negligence rule, your compensation will be reduced to $9,000 (or the $10,000 total minus the $1,000 that accounts for your share of fault.)
Courts in Florida are obligated to follow this rule in an injury case, and if you’re dealing with an insurance adjuster outside the court system, don’t be surprised if he or she raises the comparative negligence rule during settlement negotiation.
Under Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts ((Florida Statutes Annotated section 95.113)). If you don’t file your case within this time window, the court will very likely refuse to hear it at all.
With our extensive experience, we have always fought for the best possible outcome for our clients. Holliday Karatinos Law Firm is prepared to work with you to get the results you deserve. If you have experienced a serious personal injury due to the negligence or intentional actions of another, you may be eligible to file a claim.
We encourage you to explore your options with a personal injury attorney from our firm. Get started today with a free consultation. Call (866) 364-9529 .