People suffer serious injuries every day because of circumstances that are beyond their control. Not all accidents lead to personal injury claims or even result in lawsuits; the facts and circumstances surrounding your personal injury case might dictate whether you might have a claim for damages against the party that is responsible for you being hurt.
What Warrants Legal Action for a Personal Injury Claim in Tampa?
A viable personal injury claim results because someone suffers injuries after the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another person or legal entity. Not all personal injury claims result in the filing of a legal proceeding to recover damages. In most cases, a claim is filed with the insurance company that insures the lawfully accountable party (or in several cases, more than one insurance company). Most cases are settled before ever going to court, but it is sometimes necessary to let a jury hear your case. A settlement can happen at any time within the claims process, up until the jury hears the case and makes a decision.
Tampa Personal Injury Claims Legal Grounds
Most personal injury cases are brought as a result of negligence. Negligence implies that employer or individual with an obligation to act fairly in some manner to a different party failed that duty and that breach caused the opposite party injury. This is often the most common kind of personal injury action and covers several classes of claims.
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There are times when personal injury claims are the result of the intentional misconduct of another person or entity. One example of this is when someone physically assaults another party, someone batters someone else, or when someone imprisons another person. If those actions cause you to suffer injuries, a viable personal injury action exists. Most other personal injury cases are filed because of strict liability. This is a legal theory employed for ultra-hazardous activities, dog bite cases, and some product liability cases. In a strict liability case, there is no need to show that the defendant acted intentionally or negligently, it is enough that the plaintiff was injured as a result of the product or animal.
LEGAL ELEMENTS OF A NEGLIGENCE CLAIM IN TAMPA
A negligence claim in Tampa is based on four legal elements. To prevail, you must establish all four elements by a preponderance of the evidence, which means the facts you present are accurate. This is a lower burden that makes it easier to establish than what you notice in television criminal cases. In those cases, the legal standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Under the “preponderance of evidence” benchmark, if it is 51% likely that the facts you present are what happened then you have met the standard.
Duty of Care in Tampa, Florida
The first element you must establish to be successful with a negligence claim for personal injury is that the defendant had some sort of duty of care that he or she was obligated to meet. This duty is usually based mostly on relationships between parties, thus for example: (1) employers have an obligation to workers, (2) business owners or operators have an obligation to customers, (3) higher learning institutions and education directors have an obligation to students, and (4) caregivers have an obligation towards those they look after.
All people by law have specific duties that they must meet; for example, we tend to all have an obligation to drive as a responsible and prudent driver when operating a motor vehicle. All folks normally owe one another an obligation to act fairly and avoid inflicting injuries to others, whenever it can be prevented.
Breach of Duty
Once it has been established that the other party owed you that obligation, you need to be ready to prove by a preponderance of the proof that the other party failed in that duty. Breach examples take issue, which is dependent on the circumstances. Let’s scrutinize the example through the employer/employee relationship. Employers owe workers an obligation to supply safe operating conditions. If any worker is harmed because of a part of working equipment in use that wasn’t maintained in correct operating condition, then the company has failed this duty. Another example is that caregivers owe the aged they care for the duty of care when they give home health services. If your family member develops bedsores because the caregiver failed to properly turn their body position frequently, then the duty of care has been broken. If you’re in a Tampa automobile accident, and the litigant is speeding or driving recklessly, he or she has broken the duty of care to drive safely and adhere to the traffic laws.
After it has been established that the other party owed you an obligation for care which the duty was broken, you then should determine that the negligent actions of the litigant caused the damages you ultimately suffered. You must be prepared to show that you wouldn’t have sustained the damages or injuries that you’re seeking compensation for if it wasn’t for the negligent actions of the other party.
The last component of negligence claim damages. You must have really suffered an injury to legally recover damages, though all the three primary parts must be factors in the accident from which you suffered. This implies you need to be ready to establish either bodily injury or property harm to be compensated for the negligence.
PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS & STRICT LIABILITY
Some members of society are expected to be more attentive to safety than other people, which plays a role in liability for some personal injury cases. Someone or some company subjected to strict liability features a far tougher legal standard to beat, as you are doing not got to show that the person or company acted negligently or carelessly in order to prevail on your claim. A prime example of the strict liability customary in Tampa is found in Florida’s dog bite laws. If the Tampa resident’s dog bites someone that is either in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner’s premises or the premises of a third party, then the dog owner is control in command of the dog’s actions and for the damages sustained by the victim, while not reference to negligence or intent.
Most Common Kinds of Tampa Personal Injury Claims
Motor vehicle accidents comprise the common personal injury claim; it so common we’ve devoted a complete section of this Tampa Guide to them. There are several different kinds of personal injury claims brought forth by the injured people of Tampa with the most common of them mentioned below.
PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS
Premises liability claims arise after the property owner, who owes an obligation of care to people on his or her premises, breach that duty, and a private party suffers injury as a result. A premises liability claim might arise because of a client, who slips and falls once within an area of business, or because of a guest trips while on the personal estate of another individual. Typically speaking, homeowners can’t be held accountable for injuries that were caused by unknown conditions on their property that they didn’t have reason to know existed. Anyone coming onto the personal estate of another must exhibit due care for his or her own safety. The particular duty of care owed by property house owners depends upon the conditions as to why the victim enters their premises. There are three classes of guests, business invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The duty is totally different for every visitor class.
The highest duty of care is owed by property house owners to business invitees or those who enter a property for the purpose of doing business. This includes those who are in a restaurant, a retail establishment, or people at a gas station filling up their car. This classification conjointly extends to repairmen and various employees invited to a home to perform some kind of work.
When it involves business invitations, property owners have the obligation to make sure the premises are in a safe condition. They should either repair any dangers on the premises or give warnings of the danger. Additionally, property owners should frequently examine their property for any risky conditions. This includes spills in the aisles of a market, merchandise blocking the associate gate, and lots of different forms of dangerous conditions that arise in places of business.
The next highest duty of care is owed by property house owners to their guests. This spans from friends invited into the house of the owner for a celebration to even uninvited guests, like a neighbor or friend stopping by unexpectedly. The duty owed to licensees is to keep up the premises in a very moderately safe fashion and repair 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.
Youngsters are Owed Elevated Duty of Care
Property house owners have an obligation to exercise special care, and shield youngsters on their property whether or not they were invited. House owners should take steps to shield youngsters from conditions on their property in places that will entice children. As an example, swimming pools, trampolines, playground sets, and the other dangerous conditions which might tempt a child. 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. Swimming pools, in particular, should be fenced and protected.
EXAMPLES OF PREMISES LIABILITY CASES
The duty to keep premises moderately free from dangerous may be a duty that applies to the inside and exterior of the property. This means the owner should keep the boundaries safe along with the outside areas, including the parking lot and the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. Of course, the food served must be safe as well. The most popular category of premise liability claims is so called “slip-and-fall” cases, where somebody is injured because they slip on something on the ground or floor of your property and fall down.
Other situations that give rise to premises liability claims include bumpy and broken sidewalks or stairs, broken or missing handrails or staircases, improper lighting, 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 suits sounding 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 attorney.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS
A different type of negligence claim that arises with relative frequency in Tampa involves defendants in the healthcare industry. Medical malpractice lawsuits, while still personal injury claims, have specialized evidentiary requirements. 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 significant type of personal injury claim arises from injuries sustained in the workplace. This area of the law intersects with workers’ compensation law and is preempted in cases of 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 type of personal injury case. Depending on the facts of the case, it might proceed under a negligence theory or a strict liability theory, but most such claims are based on some type of product defect. Design defects occur when the design of the product causes the injury. A manufacturing defect occurs when a manufactured product does not conform to the design for the product and causes an injury. A warning defect is one which arises when a product did not display proper warning labels or properly advise customers on the risks that are associated with using the product.
WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
A final areas of personal injury claims are those brought after somebody dies as the result of the negligent or intentional conduct of another. Such cases are brought pursuant to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, and there are actually two categories of damages that can be awarded pursuant to this statute. The first category is 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. The second category of damages is those the decedent’s estates can recover. The estate cannot recover as many categories of damages as the survivors, as there is no compensation available for pain and suffering.
Even if you were partially at fault for an accident, you may still be entitled to recover for most of your damages. Florida follows a “comparative fault rule,” that means that the compensation you are entitled to is reduced by the same proportion that you were at fault in the accident. Let’s say that you just were running through a store and fell. If the court determines you are partly to blame for your injuries because you were running, then your recovery amount is reduced by the percentage of fault you are to blame. If the court determines you are 15% at fault for the accident, that percentage is reduced from the award. If your damages total $100,000, you might be able to collect $85,000. Courts in Sunshine State are duty-bound to follow this decree for personal injury cases, and insurance claims adjusters are responsive to this rule further and can talk it over when you have settlement discussions.
HOW TO DETERMINE A VIABLE PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Personal injury cases can be very difficult, and generally, take years to settle. Some cases are settled early on, but to protect yourself entrust your claim with a Tampa personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured in any way. An experienced personal injury lawyer will advise you regarding your claim’s viability and its odds of success. He or she might offer an estimated value of your claim. Speaking with a lawyer before negotiating with the insurance company for the liable party typically improves your odds for recovery for damages.
WHAT TO DO AFTER SUFFERING INJURIES
It is necessary to instantly document your injuries if you were hurt in an accident because of the negligent or intentional conduct of another. You must get medical attention as soon as you’re aware you were hurt because the faster medical treatment is sought-after the better your prognosis. Keep all the records associated with your accident and your injuries, your medical records, and all employment records that reflect lost wages. Interviewing witnesses at the scene of the injury and taking photos of the scene is suggested if you’re ready to pursue a claim for your damages. Witnesses should be talked with as quickly as possible while recollections of the accident are fresh in their minds.