A “personal injury” case is one in which a legal dispute arises as a result of one person suffering harm due to an accident or intentional act for which someone else is legally responsible. Unlike in criminal law, these cases – referred to as “torts,” Latin for “wrongful act” – are brought not by the government, but directly by the victim or victim’s representative.
Primarily, most personal injury lawsuits are based on the legal doctrine of negligence, which holds that people in a society have a duty to act responsibly and refrain from putting others at-risk. It’s not necessary to prove the at-fault person intended to cause harm, only that the wrongdoer owed a duty of care, breached that duty and that someone else was harmed as a result.
At The Law Offices of Richard Ansara, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys can help victims to negotiate with insurance companies or file a lawsuit to help recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Other damages
Our offices have recovered substantial sums against reckless drivers, amusement parks, boaters, home owners, construction companies, schools, local governments, product manufacturers and dog owners.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report there are 31 million hospital emergency department visits attributed to unintentional injuries each year in the U.S., and more than 131,000 people die as a result of these injuries.
Although not every injury is grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, many cases are actionable – including those that stem from criminal actions.
Common types of personal injury claims include:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bike Accidents
- Premise Liability
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Wrongful Death
- Injuries to Children
- Defective Products
- Tourist Accidents
- Boating Accidents and Injury
- Dog Bite Injury
- Insurance Do's and Don'ts
- Catastrophic Injuries
- Construction Accidents
While some of these cases may be fairly straightforward, a significant number of claims are highly complex. In the majority of situations, cases involve pursuing damages against insurance companies. Despite mottos declaring compassion and caring, these firms are truly only concerned about maximizing profits.What Is Alleged in a Personal Injury Case?
There are essentially three types of allegations that can be made in personal injury lawsuits. Those are:
- Strict Liability
- Intentional Wrong
The most common of these is negligence, which as previously mentioned is a breached duty of care resulting in harm to another. Some types of negligence claims include:
- General negligence
- Premises liability – Wrongdoing by a property owner or business.
- Medical negligence – Wrongdoing by a health care provider.
- Vicarious liability – Responsibility held by an employer, parent, vehicle owner or other for the actions of an employee, child, driver, etc.
- Strict liability – Responsibility held by designers and manufacturers of products to ensure products are not unreasonably dangerous when used as intended.
- Intentional wrongs – Liability for injuries by perpetrators of a violent crime or those persons or entities who had a duty to try and prevent that crime.
Successful personal injury cases are resolved in one of two primary ways:
- Informal Settlement
- Formal Lawsuit
Each resolution can have its downsides and benefits, and it’s important to discuss all ramifications with your attorney.
Informal Settlement – This is generally a written agreement reached as a result of negotiations in which those involved agree not to take further action (i.e., a lawsuit) in exchange for resolution of the matter by an agreed-upon sum of money or assets. The federal government estimates about 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled pretrial. Settling a case can avoid the cost and emotional tax of a cumbersome trial and results in faster payouts. The downside is amounts awarded may be less than what one could win in a trial.
Lawsuit – These are actions initiated via civil “complaint” by an individual or representative of an individual (the “plaintiff”) against an alleged wrongdoer (the “defendant”) in which defendant is accused of careless, irresponsible, reckless or intentional action that resulted in harm or injury. About 5 percent of all personal injury cases are resolved by lawsuits. Although they can be expensive and time consuming, the damage awards can be substantial if you win. In many cases, plaintiffs who prevail are also awarded attorney’s fees, so their legal costs are covered.Statute of Limitations
When deciding whether to take legal action in an injury case, one important consideration is the statute of limitations. There is a limited amount of time in which plaintiffs in a Florida personal injury lawsuit have to file their claim, or else the opportunity is forever forfeited.
F.S. 95.11 details statutes of limitation in Florida. For negligence actions, the time limit is four years from the date of injury. However, wrongful death actions have to be filed within two years.
Very few circumstances allow a person to pursue personal injury or wrongful death claims after the statute of limitations has expired. The one exception that is often cited is the “discovery rule,” which allows that the clock doesn’t start ticking on the case until the moment a person knew or reasonably should have known they had suffered some harm or the nature of that harm. This is generally not applicable in car accident cases or slip-and-fall lawsuits (as there is nothing new to “discover”), but rather usually applied in medical malpractice or product liability claims.
To learn more about whether you may have a valid claim, contact our offices today.