When Can You File a Lawsuit?
Not every accident or injury gives rise to a valid claim. Another party’s negligence must have been the cause of your injuries. To pursue a injury lawsuit, you must establish that:
The party who caused your injuries had a duty to you. For example, all drivers have a duty to other motorists to exercise reasonable care. Property owners have a duty to make reasonable efforts to maintain their property free of hazards to others. Medical professionals have a duty to perform with the same level of skill and care as would a reasonably competent practitioner in the same field, under similar circumstances.
That party breached its duty. Aggressive drivers who cause accidents by driving over the speed limit and running red lights have clearly breached their duty of care. So have doctors who neglected to order standard tests, and have failed to diagnose serious health conditions as a result, and drug manufactures who fail to test their products adequately before a release onto the market.
You suffered physical, emotional, or financial injury. No matter how appalling the actions or negligence of the other party, if there were no injuries suffered, then there is no personal injury claim.
The negligent party’s actions caused your injuries. In a claim, you must establish the facts that the party you are suing is responsible for causing the injuries you have suffered. The owner of a vicious dog, for example, who failed to control the animal, is responsible for injuries caused to a victim bitten by the dog.
What Damages Can You Claim in a Lawsuit?
Damages in a personal injury claim are intended to place the victim in the position he or she would have been in if the accident or injury had never occurred. Three basic types of damages may be recoverable in personal injury cases:
Economic damages: This may include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning potential, mileage to and from medical appointments, and replacement value of lost personal property.
Non-economic damages: These are damages with no set dollar value, such as pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and loss of consortium (family relationship).
Punitive damages: Awarded in a small percentage of cases, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for behavior that is extremely harmful, such as driving drunk or talking on a cellphone while driving. In Florida, state law limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory (economic and non-economic) damages, or $500,000, whichever is greater. In extreme cases of shocking, outstandingly bad behavior, however, the court may award whichever is greater in punitive damages – 4 times the amount of compensatory damages or $2 million.
Get a Free Consultation with Our Attorney in St. Augustine
Morgan & Morgan is a leading Florida personal injury law firm. Our seasoned trial lawyers are not afraid to take a case to trial to pursue the maximum in compensation for our clients. We are dedicated to protecting the people – not powerful corporate entities.
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you owe us no fees until we win your case for you. If you or your loved one has been seriously injured due to an act of negligence, contact us for a free case evaluation.