Negligence in Florida is the failure to exercise the degree of care expected of someone in order to minimize the risk of harm to another person. Negligence law was formed under the belief that members of society should act in ways that avoid an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Negligence serves as the legal basis for many personal injury cases including automobile accidents, slip and falls and medical malpractice. For instance, a customer may sue for negligence if he or she is injured by a faulty store escalator that the store knew was malfunctioning and injuring people. In that case, the store had a duty to maintain a reasonably safe escalator for its customers and workers.
Negligence can often be a difficult area of the law to define because it often deals with a legal analysis of the elements of negligence as it relates to the facts of a particular case. In order for a negligence claim to exist, the following must apply: (1) the defendant owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the plaintiff suffered injury or loss; and (4) that breach was the direct cause of the injury or loss.
The laws governing negligence in Florida are found in Chapter 768 of the Florida Statutes. If a party is found to be negligent, damages can be awarded. Damages are compensation provided to the plaintiff for the harm or injury suffered as a consequence of someone else’s negligence. The amount of damages that may be claimed depends on the circumstances of the case, including the negligence committed, the injury suffered and the identity of the defendant. Additionally, there are time limits for filing negligence claims. These time limits are called statutes of limitation. The statutes of limitation vary depending on the type of negligence alleged in a particular case.
Often, more than one party can be at fault, including the plaintiff themselves. If the plaintiff is partially at fault for an accident that he or she suffers from, that person’s recovery of damages will be reduced. This concept is referred to as comparative negligence. Any contributory fault charged to the plaintiff reduces the economic and non-economic damages proportionate to their amount of fault. However, it does not completely prevent a plaintiff from recovering damages. When one or more persons act negligently and is responsible for causing injury or damage to another, generally all must pay damages. This is true even if a judgment has been entered against every responsible party. Moreover, a defendant has a right of contribution from other persons who act negligently if he or she has paid more than his or her share of common liability.
If you have been negligently harmed by a person or entity, contact Wittmer|Linehan. Each year, Wittmer|Linehan represents hundreds of clients and their families who are injured as a result of the negligence of someone else. To speak with our experienced attorneys and staff, please contact us at (941) 365-2296.