Overview


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
explains Personal Injury Law (An Overview)

Personal injury law is actually referred to as "TORTS" in the law.  A "tort" is a wrongful act which results in injury to another person.  The State of Florida has a multitude of legal provisions that dictate when, where and how a person can sue another person for committing a tort (or personal injury) against them.  There are statutes, regulatory provisions, administrative provisions, ordinances, and other legal provisions that define the rules.  There is also case law where courts interpret those legal provisions, which in turn, creates binding law on those within that jurisdiction.   

A tort action is brought by a Plaintiff, the person who is alleging that they have been injured by another's wrongdoing.  The Plaintiff sues the Defendant, who is the person or entity whom the Plaintiff alleges wrongfully injured him or her.  The Plaintiff can sue multiple people or entities based on differing theories of liability.  However, there are some basic general principles that almost always apply.  

First, the Plaintiff must be able to prove four elements.  First, the Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant owed the Plaintiff a duty of care.  Second, the Plaintiff must prove that the Plaintiff breached that duty of care.  Third, the Plaintiff must prove that the Plaintiff's injury was caused by the breach of duty.  Finally, the Plaintiff must prove damages.  If the Plaintiff can't prove every single one of these things, the lawsuit will fail.  For example, if you were rear ended after the Defendant ran a stop sign, but you had no injuries, you could not win your lawsuit because you cannot prove injury damages.  If you slip and fall on a puddle in a store, but the puddle occurred from another customer spilling a liquid only seconds before you fell, you could not recover money from the store because they did not breach their duty of care to you.  In other words, they weren't negligent, because they had no knowledge of or opportunity to cure the dangerous condition.  


DEGREES OF NEGLIGENCE

There are varying degrees of negligence that a plaintiff may be required to prove depending on the circumstances.  The most common type is "ordinary negligence." 
SLIGHT NEGLIGENCE

Slight negligence is the failure to exercise great care.  This is a low standard for the plaintiff to establish.  The most common example of when the slight negligence standard is utilized is in carrier cases.  For example, if you take a bus, that bus driver owes you the exercise of greatest care in toward you.  So, for example, if you are pregnant, the bus driver may be required to help you on and off the bus.  If the bus driver fails to render assistance, the company may be liable for injuries you sustain if you are injured getting on or off the bus.  

ORDINARY NEGLIGENCE

Ordinary negligence is the most common standard required in personal injury cases.  Ordinary negligence is the failure to exercise that degree of care, precaution and vigilance which na ordinary prudent person would exercise.  It has also been described as conduct which a reasonable and prudent person would know might possibly result in injury to others.  

GROSS NEGLIGENCE

Gross negligence is defined as conduct which a reasonable and prudent man knows would probably and most likely result in injury to another. This standard typically will arise in cases where the conduct evinces a conscious disregard of the consequences.  

CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE

Culpable negligence is negligence that is sufficient to sustain a conviction for criminal manslaughter.  Culpable negligence is usually described as requiring a gross and flagrant character and evincing reckless disregard of human life or as a wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard of the safety and welfare of the public, or that reckless indifference to the rights of others which is equivalent to an intentional violation of them.  

ABILITY TO RECOVER

One further potential impediment to a viable personal injury case may be the ability to recover any money if you win.  For example, you may be able to prove all of the elements of a personal injury case, but the person you're suing may not have insurance and they may not have any money.  If this is the case, you would not have a viable personal injury case because a lawsuit against that individual would simply result in a judgment against them that may never be collectible.  Therefore, if you are going to bring a lawsuit against an individual, they will typically have to be insured or have considerable assets in order to actually recover money upon a settlement or favorable jury verdict.  
If you or a family member has been injured,

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