Tort Law In Florida Personal Injury Cases
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimate that of the nearly 27,000 civil lawsuits filed in the year of the most recent available data, almost 60 percent of them were based in tort law. A tort is often described as the civil equivalent of a crime, but this is not always true – crimes usually require malice, or at least ‘indifference to human life,’ but a tort almost always results from negligence. If you believe that someone’s negligence or general recklessness caused you to suffer injuries, consulting with a Florida personal injury attorney is the best way to be aware of your options.
Legal Criteria For A Successful Suit
In Florida, the way to establish a negligence case is to establish certain facts on the record. They are codified in Sec 401 of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions as:
- Establishing that the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the plaintiff or toward a class of people that includes the plaintiff. For example, a driver on the road owes a duty of care to every other person on the road with them;
- A breach of that duty of care must have occurred;
- The breach of duty must have been directly caused by the defendant’s actions (or non-actions); and
- The defendant’s actions or non-actions must have directly caused any injuries or damages you suffered, and the injuries you suffered must be tangible and long-lasting (more than mere cuts or bruises).
If all four criteria – duty, breach, causation, and damages – are satisfied, the defendant in your case will likely be found liable for your injuries, because their conduct has been established as the action that caused them to happen. It is possible for a plaintiff to be found to have been partially negligent as well, but Florida law still allows them to recover monetarily for at least part of their damages in such cases.
Some More Complex Than Others
Within tort law, there are a handful of potential types of action that may require more interpretation or evidence. One of the most common in Florida is cases involving automobile accidents, because while most auto accident cases involve someone being negligent (and/or committing torts), Florida has a “no-fault” auto insurance system, which means that instead of prosecuting a potentially tortious driver, you must instead file a claim with the personal injury protection (PIP) insurer you have, unless your injuries are “significant and permanent.” The alleged tort does not change, but the method for handling it will.
Another variable type of tort lawsuit is known as premises liability. If you are injured on another person’s premises, there are several factors that the court must entertain in addition to the standard four – for example, if you were trespassing, you are entitled to less care on the part of the property owner than an invitee might be, because a trespasser is not generally supposed to be on the premises at all. Landowners must still refrain from any kind of deliberate injury to a trespasser, but beyond that, no real duty of care is owed. This will make any premises liability case involving a trespasser that much more difficult to settle successfully.
Contact A Tampa Personal Injury Attorney
Torts are not crimes; if someone is held liable for a tort, their punishment will usually be more monetary in origin than anything. That said, if you have been injured by another person’s tortious behavior, the Tampa personal injury attorneys from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you decide how best to handle the situation. We are happy to try and assist you. Call our offices today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.