In personal injury law, liability is the legal responsibility to pay compensation for someone’s damages. Typically, that means losses an at-fault party caused.

However, this is not always the case – in some cases, a defendant bears liability for an injury caused by someone else.

Forms of Liability in a Personal Injury Claim

Forms of Liability in a Personal Injury Claim

Following is an explanation of the most common forms of liability.

Negligence Liability

Negligence is, by far, the most common form of liability in a personal injury matter. The word negligence means something like “carelessness.” 

You can break negligence down into five facts that you must prove to win your claim:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care. Every mentally competent adult owes everyone else a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring them. A doctor owes a heightened duty of professional care when treating their patients.
  • The defendant breached their duty of care to you. They either did something they should not have done or failed to do something they should have done.
  • You suffered an injury. Typically, this means a physical injury.
  • The defendant’s actions (or inaction) were the factual cause of your injury–without the defendant’s negligence, you would not have suffered your injury.
  • Your injury was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s conduct.

You must prove these elements by a preponderance of the evidence.

Comparative Negligence

If you were mostly at fault for the accident (over 50%), you do not qualify for any compensation under Florida’s comparative fault law. If you were partly at fault (1% to 50%), a Florida court will reduce your compensation in proportion to your percentage of fault.

Strict Liability

The defendant is strictly liable if you can win compensation from them without proving fault. Two common instances are strict product liability and engaging in inherently dangerous activity.

Strict Product Liability

Strict product liability can apply if you suffer harm from a defective and unreasonably dangerous product. You don’t have to prove that the defendant was negligent. For example, you can sue a product manufacturer for a defective tool even if the company did not negligently manufacture it. 

It is also possible to sue for negligence in a product liability claim.

Engaging in an Inherently Dangerous Activity

Inherently dangerous activities include transporting certain hazardous materials, blasting, using explosives, keeping a wild animal, or undertaking other dangerous activities that people do not normally engage in. A party that participates in abnormally dangerous activities bears financial liability for any resulting injuries or wrongful death, no matter how careful they were.

Intentional Torts

A defendant commits an intentional tort when they act with intent. Punching you in the nose during a bar fight could be an example. Pointing a gun at you or locking you in your room are two other examples.  

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability arises when one party bears liability for the misconduct of another. In many cases, for example, an employer can bear liability for the harmful conduct of their employees. 

What Are Damages in a Florida Personal Injury Case?

Damages” are direct and indirect losses that you suffer as a consequence of someone else’s misconduct. Once you prove an at-fault party’s liability, they will be responsible for compensating you for your damages. 

Florida recognizes three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and (sometimes) punitive.

Economic Damages

Economic damages include medical bills, lost income, childcare expenses while you were in the hospital, etc. You may also be entitled to compensation for future losses, such as ongoing physical therapy and reduced earning potential.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible and typically psychological or physical in nature. Examples include: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress 
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Non-economic damages frequently make up a large portion of a victim’s damages in a personal injury claim.

Punitive Damages

If the defendant behaved in an outrageous manner, you might qualify for punitive damages. The purpose of these damages isn’t to compensate you but to punish the defendant. 

For example, imagine that a surgeon operated on you while intoxicated. Florida law requires you to prove punitive damages by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is an elevated standard of proof. 

Florida’s No-Fault Car Accident Compensation System

If someone injures you in a Florida car accident, you generally cannot sue them unless you suffer a “serious” injury (as defined by Florida law). Instead, you work out your claim with your own personal injury protection (PIP) no-fault insurance. Nevertheless, you can still sue in some cases, such as if you sustained serious injuries. 

A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Can Prove Liability in Your Case

If you have a personal injury claim you’d like to assert against someone, you needn’t worry that you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, at least if your claim is strong. Personal injury lawyers typically charge on a contingency fee basis. You only pay attorney’s fees if you win; they will equal a pre-agreed percentage of the amount you recover. 

Contact a Florida personal injury attorney, the experienced lawyers at Norden Leacox Accident & Injury Law can help by proving liability in your case. Call us today at (407)-801-3000