People are hurt everyday due to circumstances they are unable to control. Not all accidents lead to personal injury claims or civil lawsuits; but there are circumstances surrounding your personal injury situation that determine whether you might need to pursue a Lakeland personal injury claim for damages from the individual or entity at fault.
What Warrants Legal Action for a Personal Injury Claim in Lakeland, FL?
For a personal injury claim to be successful, it must be filed by someone injured by the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of someone else. Not every personal injury claim warrants legal proceedings in seeking damages. In most situations, a claim is filed with the insurance company for the party who is liable. Usually, these claims get settled before going to court. There are some situations where you have to let a jury hear your case and decide, but not often. A personal injury settlement might take place at any time during the claims process, up until when the jury hears the case.
Lakeland Personal Injury Claims Legal Grounds
Negligence is what causes most personal injury claims. Negligence implies that a person or an employer was obligated to act in particular way to protect another party but failed in that duty. The breach resulted caused the other party to get hurt. This is the most common Lakeland, Florida personal injury action, which covers multiple classes of claims.
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Personal injury claims might happen because of the intentional misconduct of another person. This can result when a person physically assaults another party or when someone is imprisoned against their will by another person. If you suffer injuries because of these acts, you probably have a viable personal injury case. Most other personal injury cases are filed as because of liability only. This legal theory was enacted for activities of an ultra-hazardous nature, dog bite cases, and also product liability cases. In what we call a strict liability case, you don’t prove the defendant’s harm to you was intentional or negligent, it is enough to show you were injured as a result of the product or dog that is in question.
LEGAL ELEMENTS OF A NEGLIGENCE CLAIM IN LAKELAND, FLORIDA
A Lakeland negligence claim has four specific legal elements. To be successful with your claim, you have to show all four elements based upon the set preponderance of evidence. This shows that all the facts you are presenting in your claim are accurate. This is a smaller burden, which is easier to prove than on those television criminal cases. Using the “preponderance of evidence” benchmark, if it is 51% reasonable or likely that the facts presented in the court case are accurate, your claim has been proven.
Duty of Care in Lakeland, Florida
You must be able to prove that the defendant had a duty of care that was obligated to you in order to have a successful claim. This duty is based on relationships between the two parties. As an example: (1) employers are obligated to employees, (2) business owners or operators are obligated to customers, (3) higher learning institutions and education directors are obligated to students and staff, and (4) caregivers are obligated to those they take care of.
By Florida law, everyone has their own specific duties that must be met; for example, we do are obligated to drive safely when operating a vehicle. Everyone is obligated to everyone else to act in a fair manner and not cause injuries to others, whenever possible.
Breach of Duty
After accurately proving that the defendant owed you an obligation, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the other party didn’t meet those obligations. Breach examples must be shown in the evidence, which depends on the specific circumstances. Employers owe their employees an obligation of safe working conditions while doing their job. If a worker is hurt because a lathe they must use wasn’t properly maintained and broke, the employer has failed in this duty. Another example is that caregivers owe the elderly and disabled they care for the duty of care while taking care of them. If you have an elderly or disabled relative in a nursing home who suffers from bedsores because the caregivers failed to turn them, the duty of care has been broken. If you’re in a Lakeland car crash and the other party was texting while driving and crashed into your car, the duty of care to drive safely and adhere to traffic regulations was broken causing them to become liable.
Once you have proven that the other party owed you an obligation for care and that duty was broken, you must show that the negligent actions of that party caused you to be hurt. You must be ready to prove you wouldn’t have been hurt if it wasn’t for the other party’s negligence.
The last element of a Lakeland, FL personal injury claim is proving damages were suffered. You must show you suffered real injuries to recover damages after you have proven all three of the case’s primary parts. This means you have to prove you suffered bodily injury or property damage due to other’s negligence.
PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS & STRICT LIABILITY
Some individuals are expected to exercise more caution and be more attentive to the public safety needs. This is important for liability for many Lakeland personal injury cases. Someone or some company with stricter liability might have much tougher legal standards to fight to show innocence. You must prove the person or company acted negligently or carelessly to succeed with your claim. A good example of the strict liability common in Lakeland is Florida’s dog bite laws. If a Lakeland resident’s dog bites someone, the dog owner is responsible of the dog’s actions, so that person is responsible for any damages suffered by the dog bite victim.
Most Common Kinds of Lakeland Personal Injury Claims
Car accidents are the most common personal injury claim; it is so common we’ve devoted a complete section of this Lakeland, Florida Guide to them. There are several different kinds of personal injury claims filed by the those in Lakeland, Florida with the more common ones listed below.
PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS
Premises liability claims happen because the owner of the property, who owes an obligation of care to those visiting, breaches that duty and a visitor suffers injuries. A Lakeland premises liability claim could result because a customer slips in a store on smashed fruit or because a guest slips on ice while visiting a friend’s home. Homeowners can’t be held liable for injuries that resulted from conditions unknown to them on their property. Anyone visiting another person’s property must take responsibility for his or her own safety. The particular duty of care owed by property owners depends on the conditions as to why the injured party enters their property. There are three different kinds of guests, business invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Each class of visitor has a different duty of care in Lakeland, Florida.
The first level of duty of care for property owners goes is for those who are invited on the property to conduct business. This includes those operating a diner, a store, or even a filling station. This classification includes repairmen, pest control staff, and others who were invited to your home to perform various work duties.
As far as business invitations go, property owners are obligated to ensure property is safe. Owners should quickly repair any dangers on the premises and post warnings about dangers. Property owners should check their grounds for any risky conditions on a regular schedule. This could include dropped plastic wrappers on the floor of a store, merchandise blocking an emergency exit, and many other problems.
Guests are owed the next highest duty of care. This group might be friends invited into your home for a football game on TV or guests who are not invited, such as a neighbor or friend who drops in without warning. The duty owed to these individuals is to ensure the premises are safe and to fix any risks. This duty requires homeowners to warn guests of any dangerous conditions that might exist on the property.
While someone trespassing doesn’t have permission to be on the premises, the property owner still has some restricted duty to prevent any intentional injury or reckless injury from resulting. The owner is not permitted to inflict an intentional injury on a trespasser without some kind of civil liability resulting. Homeowners even have an obligation to warn discovered trespassers of any dangers they might not notice with regular observation.
Children are Owed Elevated Duty of Care
Property owners must exercise extra care to protect any children on their property even if they weren’t invited. Property owners must take additional steps to protect children from being harmed on their property, especially in places that children might be enticed, such as swimming pools or trampolines. Reasonable steps should be taken by homeowners to remove any dangerous conditions or keep children out of these kinds of areas. Swimming pools, in particular, should have a tall fence that children cannot get through or over.
EXAMPLES OF PREMISES LIABILITY CASES
As the owner of property, you are responsible for removing threats from your grounds. This duty could apply to the interior of your home as well as the property exterior. This means a homeowner needs must ensure the boundaries safe as along with the outside areas, such as the parking lot and sidewalk out front. Any meals or beverages served must be safe. The most common premises liability claim is the “slip-and-fall” case, where somebody is injured because they slip and fall on something on the ground or floor.
Other causes of premises liability claims include bumpy and broken sidewalks, shaky stairs, broken or missing handrails on staircases, improper lighting, slippery floor conditions, puddling water, and even doors or windows that don’t work right. Dog bites are also considered a dangerous condition on private property, leading to lawsuits for premises liability. Anytime a person gets hurt on the property of another because of a potentially unsafe condition, that person should consult an experienced Lakeland lawyer.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS
Another negligence claim relatively common in Lakeland involves defendants in the healthcare industry. Medical malpractice lawsuits are a specialized kind of personal injury claim with specific requirements for presenting evidence. These claims require the injured party to show that a healthcare provider didn’t meet the accepted professional standard of care. Medical malpractice cases require expert testimony detailing the proper standard of care for the case in questions. There are many Lakeland attorneys that specialize in handling medical malpractice claims.
WORKPLACE INJURY CLAIMS
A personal injury claim can result from injuries that happen at work. This particular area of law intersects with workers’ compensation law. It is preempted in cases of plain old negligence. In cases that involve intentional misconduct by the employer or owner, however, or in cases where the party that was hurt was not an employee but an independent contractor, workplace personal injury claims can be brought in Lakeland.
PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS
Claims that arise for injuries caused by defective products are also common. Dependent upon the case’s facts, the case might be able to proceed with a negligence theory or a strict liability theory. Most of these claims, however, are based on a defect of the product. Design defects result when the product design causes injury. A manufacturing defect occurs when a product does not conform to the designed usage. A warning defect happens when a product does not have adequate warning labels and doesn’t properly advise customers about the risks that are associated with its use.
WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
Personal injury claims brought after a death resulting from the negligent or intentional actions of another are wrongful death claims. Wrongful death cases are brought pursuant to the Florida Wrongful Death Act. There are two different categories of damages that can be awarded according to this state statute. The first category covers damages that the survivors of the person who died are entitled to recover. Survivors are those close family members defined in the statute, including the spouse, surviving parents, and any children. The second category of damages is those recoverable by the estate of the deceased individual. The estate cannot recover as many categories of damages as the decedent’s survivors, as there is no compensation available for pain and suffering in that case.
If you were part to blame for an accident, you still might be entitled to recover damages. Florida follows a “comparative fault rule,” which means that the compensation you are entitled to receive is reduced by the amount you were at fault for in the accident. If you were speeding while driving your car, then a drunk driver hits you, this would result in an accident with both parties being to blame. If the court determines you were 15% to blame for your injuries, then your recovery amount is reduced by 85%. If your damages total $100,000, you might be able to collect $85,000. 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 can be difficult and take years to settle. Some cases are settled early on, but to protect yourself entrust your claim with a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer 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
Be sure to document your injuries right away if you were hurt in an accident because of someone’s negligence or intentional conduct. Get immediate medical because the sooner you seek medical treatment, the better your odds are for a full recovery. Keep copies of all documents associated with your accident and your injuries, including your medical records and all employment records showing lost wages. Gather contact information from witnesses at the scene of the injury and take photos of the scene if possible if you might pursue a Lakeland personal injury claim.