Florida personal injury law is a broad area of legal practice that includes claims for just about any type of injury to your body. If another party’s negligence or misconduct causes you harm, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them for your economic and non-economic damages.
Below we discuss the various types of cases personal injury lawyers in Florida typically handle.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Auto accidents are the most common form of personal injury claim in Florida and the rest of the United States. They can include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Bus accidents
- Rideshare accidents (Uber/Lyft)
Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance System
Florida requires its drivers to purchase at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance. For most injuries, victims must initially file a claim against their own PIP insurance instead of suing the at-fault party.
However, if the injury is serious enough, an injured victim can sue the at-fault driver. The problem is that Florida does not require drivers to purchase liability insurance.
Nevertheless, the following drivers might have liability insurance coverage:
- Drivers who choose to purchase optional liability insurance coverage
- Tourists who carry the liability insurance required by their home state
- Uber and Lyft drivers
- Taxi drivers
- Commercial truckers and trucking companies
Your own health insurance policy might pay for your vehicle accident injuries as well.
Product Liability Claims
A product liability claim arises when you suffer an injury due to a defective, unreasonably dangerous product, such as:
- Prescription medication
- An auto part
- An exploding cigarette lighter
- Toxic food
- Medical devices
The foregoing list is far from exhaustive. Just about any product can become the subject of a product liability claim.
A design defect, a manufacturing defect, and even inadequate product warnings can all result in a product liability claim. These defects trigger liability only if they render a product unreasonably dangerous, which will depend on the facts of the case.
If you were injured by a defective product, one of the advantages you possess is the ability to sue any party in the product’s chain of distribution. In most cases, you can win without proving that the defendant was negligent. For example, you can hold a manufacturer strictly liable for a defect, even though there was no negligence in the manufacturing process.
Most workplace injury claims don’t qualify as personal injury claims. Instead, the Florida workers’ compensation system applies. The advantage of a workers’ compensation claim is that you don’t have to prove fault to win. The disadvantage is that you cannot claim non-economic damages, which account for the majority of compensation in many personal injury claims.
Some workplace accident cases, however, do qualify as personal injury claims. If you can find an at-fault third party (other than your employer), you might be able to win a personal injury claim. In that situation, you must prove that the third party was at fault.
As an employee of a subcontractor on a construction site, for example, you might file a claim against the general contractor for negligence. You might also file a claim against an at-fault property owner.
Dog bite claims are extremely common. Small children are disproportionate victims, perhaps because they are too young to realize when they are provoking a dog. Homeowners’ insurance and renters’ insurance cover most dog bite claims.
Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is one of the most despicable offenses that anyone can commit. Still, it is not at all uncommon. In many cases, the victims themselves are unable to communicate their abuse, leaving it to loved ones to detect the telltale signs of abuse on their own.
The first priority, of course, is to move your loved one out of harm’s way. The second priority is to demand full compensation for all harm done. You need a lawyer because the nursing home might try to cover up the offense.
Premises liability refers to the liability borne by the owner or operator of real estate. Such parties must ensure that their premises are safe for visitors. If there is a dangerous condition on the property, the owner must either fix it or warn about it, depending on the circumstances. If they fail to repair or warn and an injury occurs, the victim might be able to win compensation.
The most common type of premises liability claim occurs when a customer suffers an injury at a commercial establishment. Slip and fall accidents are particularly common. Owners may also bear liability for negligent security.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor is negligent (or worse). Your doctor might fail to order necessary lab tests, for example. They might misdiagnose your condition or subject you to unnecessary surgery. Normally, you will need a medical expert to determine the exact nature of the doctor’s duty of care under the circumstances. Medical malpractice compensation is often very high.
Florida frequently imposes prison sentences on people who commit violent crimes like assault. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit against them seeking compensation. The problem is that most violent criminals lack the funds to pay compensation, and insurance companies refuse to cover intentional acts.
In many cases, however, you can find a third party, such as a nightclub, that is liable for negligent security. You might also find a company liable for the on-duty crimes of its employees.
A wrongful death claim arises when someone dies as a result of a personal injury. Strictly speaking, a wrongful death claim is not a personal injury claim. Nevertheless, it is based on a personal injury.
Since a deceased victim cannot file a lawsuit, the personal representative (executor) of the victim’s estate must file the claim. Damages go to the victim’s close relatives and to the probate estate itself.
Most St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyers Work on a Contingency Fee Basis
A contingency fee is a fee that you don’t need to pay unless you win your claim. Even if you win, the fee amounts to a certain percentage of your compensation (typically around 33% unless your claim goes to court). Since most personal injury lawyers don’t charge for initial case consultations, you have little to lose by scheduling one.