If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of another’s carelessness or negligence, you understand the devastating effects an injury can cause. Not only do injuries impact your mental health, career, and personal life but they can also cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills, property damage, and lost earnings. Under Florida law, you are entitled to recover monetary damages if your injuries are the result of the negligence of another individual or entity.
Personal Injury Law and Proving Damages
Personal injury is defined as “harm done to a person by the acts of omissions of another.” In Florida, in order to prove your case and recover damages, or compensation, for your losses, you must prove four elements:
- A Duty of Care was Owed to You - you must show that the at-fault individual or entity owed you a duty of care
- Breach of the Duty of Care - the at-fault individual or entity failed to provide the duty owed
- Injury - you suffered actual injury
- Causation - the actions or omissions of the at-fault individual or entity were the direct cause of your injury
How to Know When a Duty is Owed and When it is Breached
The first element in a personal injury case requires proof that a duty of care was owed to the injured party. Generally, when an individual undertakes an act, he or she has a duty to act responsibly in order to avoid harm to others. For example, a driver in Florida owes other drivers a duty to drive responsibly and follow the rules of the road.
Sometimes, individuals may owe others a higher duty of care. For example, doctors and other professionals must adhere to a higher standard when treating patients or providing professional services.
Once you prove that a duty was owed, you must then prove to the court that the at-fault party breached, or failed to adhere to, that duty.
What if I am No Longer Able to Work?
Under Florida law, if you are able to prove the elements in a personal injury case, you are entitled to recover damages. If you are no longer able to work as a result of your injuries, future earnings may be included in the damage award. There are three types of damages that can be awarded in Florida:
- Economic Damages - for example, medical bills, loss of earnings, property damages, and loss of future earnings
- Non-Economic Damages - pain and suffering and mental distress
- Punitive Damages - designed to punish the defendant
How do I Know When to Call a Lawyer?
The legal field can be confusing and knowing when to call an attorney is not always straightforward. In addition, the law imposes a time limit within which you must file your claim or risk losing the ability to recover damages. This is known as the Statute of Limitations. It is important to call an attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Neil Morales at the Law Offices of Neil Morales is available to answer any questions you may have about your personal injury case, help you through the process, and help recover any money that you are rightfully owed.