There are people injured daily because of circumstances they cannot control. Not all accidents will result in personal injury claims or manifest into civil lawsuits; there are circumstances and details around your specific personal injury that determine whether you might have a claim for damages against the responsible party.
What Warrants Legal Action for a Personal Injury Claim in Clearwater, FL?
A personal injury claim that is viable results from someone suffering injuries following the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another individual or entity. Not every personal injury claim leads to a legal proceeding in an attempt to recover damages. In most situations, a claim is filed with the insurance company of the liable party (or in some cases, multiple insurance companies). Most of these cases are resolved before they get to court. Sometimes you should let a jury hear your case and make a decision. A settlement might occur at any time during the claims process, right up until the time that the jury hears the case and makes a ruling.
Clearwater & St Petersburg Personal Injury Claims Legal Grounds
Most personal injury cases are filed as result of negligence. Negligence implies that an individual or employer had an obligation to act in specific way to a different party failed that duty. The breach that resulted caused an injury to the other party. This is the most common kind of personal injury action, covering many classes of claims.
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Personal injury claims can result from the intentional misconduct of another person or entity. This might happen when a person physically assaults another party or when someone falsely imprisons or kidnaps another person. If you are hurt by those actions, odds are personal injury action that is viable exists. The majority of other personal injury cases are filed as a result of strict liability. This is a legal theory that was enacted for ultra-hazardous activities, dog bite cases, and even product liability cases. In what is known as a strict liability case, you don’t have to show the defendant acted in a manner that was intentional or negligent, it is enough to prove you were injured as a result of the product or animal in question.
LEGAL ELEMENTS OF A NEGLIGENCE CLAIM IN CLEARWATER, FLORIDA
A negligence claim in St Petersburg & Clearwater is based on four legal elements. To win your claim, you must establish all four elements based on a preponderance of evidence, which shows the facts you are presenting are accurate. This is a lower burden which makes it much easier to prove than what you see in the television criminal cases. In those TV cases, the use the legal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Using the “preponderance of evidence” benchmark, if it is 51% likely that the facts you present are what did indeed happen then you have met the standard and proven your case.
Duty of Care in Clearwater, Florida
The initial element you must establish to be victorious in a negligence claim is that the defendant had a duty of care that was obligated. This duty is based on relationships between parties, thus for example: (1) employers have an obligation to employees, (2) business owners or operators have an obligation to clients, (3) higher learning institutions and education directors have an obligation to students, and (4) caregivers have an obligation towards those they care for.
Everyone by law has specific duties that must be met; for example, we tend have an obligation to drive safely while operating a vehicle. Everyone normally owes one another an obligation to act in a fair manner and avoid causing injuries to others, whenever possible.
Breach of Duty
After it has been proven that the other party owed an obligation, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the other party did not meet the obligations of that duty. Breach examples require issue, which depends on the circumstances. Here is an example with the employer/employee relationship. Employers owe their employees an obligation to give them safe operating conditions while performing work duties. If a worker is hurt because a piece of working equipment they must use wasn’t maintained in properly, then the employer has failed this duty. Another example is that caregivers owe the youngsters or the elderly they take care of the duty of care when they provide services. If you have an older family member in a nursing home and that relative develops bedsores because the caregiver failed to properly turn the elderly person enough, the duty of care has equally been broken. If you’re in a St Petersburg car accident, and the other party is speeding or acting in a reckless manner, the duty of care to drive safely and adhere to the traffic laws has been broken.
After establishing the other party did owe you an obligation for care and that duty was broken, you then should show the negligent actions of the other party led to the damages you suffered. You must be ready to show you wouldn’t have suffered the damages or injuries you want compensated if the other party didn’t act negligently.
The last personal injury claim aspect is proving damages. You must have suffered a legitimate injury to legally recover damages, though all of the three primary parts have been proven. This means you should establish either bodily injury or property harm occurred so you can be compensated for the acts of negligence.
PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS & STRICT LIABILITY
There are specific members of society who are expected to be more careful and attentive to the safety of the public than other people, which also plays a role in liability for many Clearwater personal injury cases. Someone or some company subjected to strict liability have far tougher legal standards to challenge. You must show the person or company acted in a negligent or careless manner to prevail on your claim. A prime example of the strict liability customary in Clearwater and St Petersburg is Florida’s dog bite laws. If the Clearwater and St Petersburg resident’s dog bites someone in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner’s property or on the property of a third party, the dog owner is responsible of the dog’s actions and for the damages suffered by the victim.
Most Common Kinds of Clearwater Personal Injury Claims
Motor vehicle accidents make up the traditional personal injury claim; it so common we’ve devoted a complete section of this St Petersburg and Clearwater Guide to them. There are several different kinds of personal injury claims brought forth by the injured people of Clearwater, Florida with the most common ones listed below.
PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS
Premises liability claims result because the property owner, who owes an obligation of care to people on their premises, breach that duty, and a private party visiting suffers injury as a result. A premises liability claim might arise because a customer, who slips and falls in an area of business, or because of a guest trips while visiting someone else’s home. Generally speaking, homeowners can’t be held accountable for injuries that were caused by unknown conditions on their property that they had no reason to know existed. Anyone coming on the property of another person is required to exercise due care for his or her own safety. The particular duty of care owed by property owners is dependent on the conditions as to why the victim enters their premises. There are three classes of guests, business invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Each visitor class has a different duty of care.
The highest duty of care is for property owners to those invited for business or those who enter a property for the conducting business. This might include those operating a restaurant, a retail store, or a gas station. This classification extends to repairmen and various employees invited to a home to perform work duties.
When it involves business invitations, property owners are obligated to ensure the grounds are safe. Owners should either repair any dangers on the property or give adequate warnings about the danger. Property owners should regularly check their property for any threatening conditions. This might include spilled food and drink in the aisles of a market, merchandise blocking the associate gate, and various conditions that happen in places of business.
The second highest duty of care is owed by homeowners to their guests. This spans from friends invited into the house of the owner for a birthday party to even uninvited guests, such as a neighbor or friend who drops in unexpectedly. The duty owed to these people is to keep up the premises in a safe fashion and repair any unsafe conditions. The duty requires homeowners to warn guests of unsafe conditions on the property.
Although a trespasser doesn’t have permission to get on personal estate, the owner still has a restricted duty to prevent any intentional and reckless injury. The owner so cannot come upon a visit causing injury to an entrant that does not face civil liability. Property house owners even have an obligation to warn discovered entrants of any dangers that the trespasser cannot notice with average observation.
Children are Owed Elevated Duty of Care
Homeowners are obligated to exercise special care, and shield children who are on their property whether they were invited or have trespassed onto the property. Homeowners should take steps to protect children from conditions on their property, especially in places that might entice children such as swimming pools, trampolines, playground sets, and the other dangerous conditions which a child might find tempting. Affordable steps should be taken by property house owners to get rid of any dangerous conditions or keep children away from any dangers that lurk. Being particular problematic area for a liability situation, swimming pools should be fenced and protected.
EXAMPLES OF PREMISES LIABILITY CASES
The duty to keep premises free from dangers could be a duty that applies to the inside of the home as well as the exterior of the property. This means the homeowner should keep the boundaries safe along with the outside areas, including the parking lot and the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. Of course, any food served to guests must be safe. The most popular category of premise liability claims is so called “slip-and-fall” cases, where somebody is injured because they slip on an obstruction or other hazard on your property and fall.
Other situations that give rise to premises liability claims include bumpy and broken sidewalks or stairs, broken or missing handrails or staircases, improper lighting, water puddling or slippery floor conditions, and even doors or windows that malfunction. Dog bites are also considered a dangerous condition on private property, also giving rise to lawsuits in premise liability. Anytime a person has been injured on the property of another as the result of a potentially unsafe condition, that person should consult an experienced attorney.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS
A different kind of negligence claim that arises with relative frequency in Clearwater involves defendants in the healthcare industry. Medical malpractice lawsuits, while still personal injury claims, have specialized requirements that involve showing evidence. These cases require a plaintiff to prove that a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider fell below the accepted professional standard of care. Medical malpractice cases, therefore, require expert testimony regarding the proper standard of care in any given case, and there are many attorneys that specialize in solely medical malpractice law, as it is an in-depth area of law.
WORKPLACE INJURY CLAIMS
Another leading kind of personal injury claim arises from injuries sustained in the workplace. This area of law intersects with workers’ compensation law and is preempted in cases of just plain negligence. In cases involving intentional conduct by the employer, however, or in cases where the injured party was not an employee but an independent contractor, personal injury claims can be brought.
PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS
Claims arising out of injuries sustained by defective products are another common kind of personal injury case. Dependent upon the case’s facts, it might be able to proceed under a negligence theory or based on a strict liability theory, but most of these claims are based on some kind of product defect. Design defects happen when the design of the product leads to the injury. A manufacturing defect happens when a product does not conform to the usage for the product and leads to an injury. A warning defect happens when a product does not display proper warning labels and doesn’t adequately advise customers about the risks that are associated with using this particular product.
WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
The last are of personal injury claims are those brought after a loss of life resulting from the negligent or intentional actions of another. Wrongful death cases are brought pursuant to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, and there are two separate categories of damages that can be awarded pursuant to this statute. The first category covers damages that the decedent’s survivors are entitled to recover. Survivors are those close family members defined in the statute entitled to damages for the death of a loved one. Close family usually includes the spouse, surviving parents, and any children. The second category of damages is those recoverable by the decedent’s estate. The estate cannot recover as many categories of damages as the survivors, as there is no compensation available for pain and suffering.
If you were partially to blame for an accident, you might be entitled to recover some of your damages. Florida follows a “comparative fault rule,” which means that the compensation you are entitled to receive is reduced by the same percentage that you were at fault for in the accident. Suppose you were jogging through a parking zone, then twisted your leg in an open manhole. If the court determines you were 30% to blame for your injuries, then your recovery is to be reduced by 30%. If your damages total $100,000, you might be able to collect $70,000. Courts in Florida are duty-bound to follow this decree for personal injury cases, and insurance claims adjusters are responsive to this rule further and often bring this up when you are in negotiation settlements.
HOW TO DETERMINE A VIABLE PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Personal injury cases might be challenging, and often, take years to settle. Some cases are settled earlier, but to protect yourself entrust your claim with Clearwater personal injury attorneys if you’ve been hurt in any way. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know the viability of your claim and the relative probability of its success. He or she might offer an estimated value of your claim. Speaking with an experienced attorney before negotiating with the insurance company for the liable party usually significantly improves your chances of recovering damages.
WHAT TO DO AFTER SUFFERING INJURIES
You must document your injuries right away if you were hurt in an accident because of negligence or intentional conduct committed by another party. You should seek medical care as quickly as you can because the faster medical treatment is sought-after the better your chances for a full recovery. Keep copies of all records associated with your accident and your injuries, including your medical records and all employment records that show lost wages from missed work. Collect contact information from witnesses at the scene of the injury and take photos of the scene if possible if you’re ready to pursue a Clearwater personal injury claim for your damages. Witnesses should be talked with as quickly as possible while recollections of the accident are fresh in their minds. Get the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.