Personal Injury Law 101: What Is Negligence?

Most personal injury cases in Florida arise from some type of accident, such as an automobile collision, slip and fall, or unexpected dog bite. Since the harm you suffered was not intentional (otherwise it would be a criminal matter), your claim for damages is based on the legal concept of negligence.

What Constitutes a Negligent Action?

With a negligence case, there are five elements that must be met in order to have a valid claim. They are as follows:

  • Duty. There are some situations where a person has a legal responsibility to keep others safe from harm. In personal injury law, this is known as the duty of care. This standard applies to building landlords, business owners, drivers, medical practitioners, and others in a position to protect you from harm.
  • Breach. A person breaches their duty of care to you when their actions (or failure to act) places you in danger. Examples include a motorist who runs a red light, a landlord who fails to fix a broken handrail on the staircase, or a restaurant owner who does not clean up a spilled drink.
  • Cause. You must be able to prove that the other person’s breach of their duty of care caused you to be injured. For example, if you are filing a medical malpractice claim against a doctor because they failed to properly test you for cancer when you reported a breast lump and now you have lost a breast, you have to demonstrate that their breach caused you to suffer later on.
  • Scope. The injuries you suffered must have been foreseeable given the circumstances of the accident. If you slip and fall, it’s not surprising that you would injure your back or even suffer a traumatic brain injury.
  • Damages. You must have experienced actual physical injuries. While you can include pain and suffering in your claim, it must be based on a physical injury.

Comparative Negligence

In personal injury cases, Florida insurance adjusters and courts use the statute of comparative negligence to assign both liability and the amount of damages you may receive. With car accidents in particular, it sometimes happens that the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed in some way to the collision. When this happens, the at-fault driver may have their liability reduced proportionately.

For example, you may have been pushed off the road into the ditch by someone who was going 20mph over the speed limit, but if you hadn’t been browsing Facebook while driving, the accident might have been avoided. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to recover any damages at all, but if the court or insurance adjuster decides that if you were 25% at fault, you will only recover 75% of the damages claimed.

It sometimes happens that insurance adjusters attempt to distort the facts of a case to make it look like the injured party was mostly responsible for the accident. In this instance, you need an experienced and dedicated Miami personal injury attorney to ensure that you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

Contact Sutton Law Group

Being injured by someone else’s negligence is never easy. Not only are you in physical and mental pain, but you may have to deal with the stress of a difficult insurance company. Don’t go through it alone: the Miami personal injury attorneys at Sutton Law Group are here to help. We will represent your interests with care and diligence and demand the compensation you need and deserve. Contact Sutton Law Group for experienced representation you can trust.

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Sutton Law Group

Sutton Law Group is a full-service, multidisciplinary law office serving clients in and around Miami, Florida. Established in 1985, we are trusted legal advisors and advocates in complex and even life-changing legal actions.

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