What are the 4 Elements of a Personal Injury Case?

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by another individual’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for damages under Florida personal injury law.  In a case based on negligence, the plaintiff (injury victim) must establish that the defendant (at-fault party) was responsible for the accident and the injuries they suffered.  That is one of the reasons that you need to work with a lawyer that understands the legalities of the whole case. Although this sounds pretty straightforward, numerous factors can make recovering difficult for the accident victim.

What are the 4 Elements of a Personal Injury Case?

From a general standpoint, the defendant will be liable for negligence if they failed to establish reasonable care meaning the reasonable care taken by a prudent individual under the same conditions or circumstances.  Negligence may include:

  • acting or behaving in a way that a reasonable individual would not
  • the failure to act as a reasonable individual would

There are 4 elements that the personal injury lawyer and plaintiff must establish or prove in an accident with injuries case including:

  • the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • the defendant breached that duty
  • the defendant was injured and suffered financial loss
  • the defendant’s injuries resulted from that breach

Keep in mind that the defendant has the right to refute any part of the plaintiff’s claim and should they be successful, the claim will be invalid.  Hence the reason why it is so important that you contact a personal injury lawyer when you’ve been injured so they can ensure meeting all 4 of the above elements in your case.

Different Circumstances – Different Duties of Care

In a personal injury case based on negligence, the most critical question is whether or not the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.  In Florida personal injury law, the duty of care is defined as the at-fault party’s or defendant’s responsibility to the injury victim or plaintiff.  For example, the duty of care for a private individual and their actions towards another is different from the duty of care that a doctor or healthcare provider has towards a patient.

In any event, establishing the duty of care is necessary before you can proceed with your claim.  Let us help you. If you’ve suffered injury or lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligent actions or behavior, don’t risk losing the compensation you’re entitled to.  For more information or to schedule a FREE consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.

What Happens When Injury Victims Die Before Finalizing Their Lawsuit?

Sadly, some injury victims pass away from catastrophic injuries before a decision has been reached in their personal injury lawsuit.  So what happens then? Can the surviving family members take over and finish the case? According to Florida law, some rules apply to these circumstances.  If the injury victim passes away during the legal process, the case becomes a wrongful death lawsuit.  This will enable the surviving family members to continue and pursue compensation for damages.

What Damages are Recoverable?

The surviving family members can pursue compensatory or monetary damages and punitive damages if the actions or behavior of the defendant that caused the accident were outrageously careless or egregious.

Compensatory damages include:

  • burial and funeral costs
  • emotional distress and mental anguish resulting from the loss of a loved one
  • loss of companionship
  • loss of future earning potential 
  • loss of income
  • medical bills and expenses pertaining to the victim’s death 
  • property damage 

Basically, any costs associated with the victim’s accident and injuries are a potential source of compensation.

How Do Family Members Pursue Survival Actions?

In some cases, the victim’s passing is not attributed to their injuries.  Florida allows the victim’s family members to pursue a survival action that will continue the injury claim.  This simply means that the original personal injury claim will proceed as a survival action that is meant to compensate the family members for the damages the victim incurred before their passing.

As with a wrongful death suit, the representative of the estate of the deceased can file a survival action to recover the damages that they would’ve been awarded had they survived.  These damages might include lost wages, medical bills, and expenses, and pain and suffering.

Who is Eligible to Sue the Party at Fault?

In a survival action or wrongful death lawsuit, the only one eligible to pursue legal action against the at-fault party is the personal representative of the estate of the deceased.  However, they must prove that negligence caused the person’s death and that the party at fault for the accident failed to establish a duty of care for the deceased.  If the victim failed to name a personal representative (often referred to as an administrator or an executor), the court will appoint one.

Keep in mind that personal injury claims that involve the death of a loved one can be complex, hence the need for a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer.  We work on contingency basis so you don’t have to worry about upfront payments. For additional information regarding this legal issue, contact the Graves Thomas Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.

5 Reasons Why Personal Injury Lawyers Refuse to Take Cases

Personal injury lawyers decline legal representation for numerous reasons, most of which have nothing to do with the person they’re consulting with.  They may feel that taking your case doesn’t make any sense financially, that representing you may create a conflict of ethical interests, or that there isn’t enough evidence to win your case.  In any event, here are the 5 most common reasons why a personal injury lawyer may refuse to represent you and your case:

  • The lawyer doesn’t specialize in the practice area that applies to your case – not all lawyers handle every type of personal injury case. For example, some may avoid medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and workplace accident cases while others have dedicated their practice to only 1 or 2 areas.  So if you approach a personal injury lawyer with a case that falls outside their expertise, they may refuse to take your case.
  • The statute of limitations expired – the statute of limitations establishes a deadline for filing a lawsuit and exists to provide a degree of certainty to businesses and people. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit based on negligence in a motor vehicle accident or premises liability case is 4 years whereas it’s only 2 years for medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit.
  • The value of your case is too low – if your injuries were minor and you didn’t suffer that much damage, a personal injury lawyer might refuse to represent you. So if you fully recovered from minor injuries, you might not have sufficient damages to make your case economically feasible.
  • There’s a conflict of interest – the rules surrounding conflicts of interest exist to ensure that a personal injury lawyer will represent your best interests. Consequently, any conflict of interest could split their loyalties.  If this should happen, ethical rules will bar that lawyer from representing you and your case.
  • You contributed too much fault – in Florida, your opportunity for recovering monetary compensation is based on the role you played in your accident. If you contributed to the fault of the accident in any way, the court will reduce the number of damages you’re entitled to.  In some cases, it may not be financially feasible for a lawyer to represent you if you contributed too much fault to the accident.

Although it is the sole purpose of lawyers to ensure that justice is delivered and usually, they are ready to take on cases, but sometimes, they do refuse to represent you. The Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group is here to help and we specialize in an extensive range of personal injury cases as well as consumer fraud, Social Security Disability, and Veterans Affairs benefits cases.  For more information, call us today at (772) 569-8155.

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How do Compensatory Damages Differ from Punitive Damages?

In personal injury lawsuits, victims are often entitled to monetary compensation for several types of “damages” or what a person’s injuries have cost them emotionally, financially, and physically.  However, understanding how these damages differ can often be confusing, to say the least.  There are usually two types of damages in personal injury lawsuits – “compensatory” and “punitive.”  Here is how they differ:

Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the injury victim or plaintiff for the losses they suffered due to their accident and injuries.  In other words, it is monetary compensation that is intended to make them financially whole again.

Punitive damages, although rare, are intended to punish the at-fault party or defendant when their conduct is deemed as egregious or outrageously careless.  The goal is to hurt their purse or wallet and act as a deterrent against any such behavior in the future.

Compensatory damages are the most common form of damages awarded to plaintiffs in a personal injury case.  These damages cover financial losses occurring from:

  • current and estimated future medical expenses
  • damaged relationships
  • emotional distress or trauma
  • loss of future earning capacity
  • loss of enjoyment
  • lost income (current and estimated)
  • pain and suffering
  • property damages

Furthermore, in wrongful death cases, the surviving family members can sue for other types of damages including funeral costs and loss of companionship.

Punitive damages are awarded in conjunction with monetary damages but are less common.  They are primarily awarded to the plaintiff when the defendant has exhibited gross negligence or participates in illegal activities that caused the accident.  Drunk driving is a perfect example of egregious or outrageously careless behavior.  The hope is that punitive damages will deter other individuals from acting or behaving in a similar manner.  Additionally, the defendant may be criminally charged for their illegal actions. However, that is not under the purview of tort laws but criminal laws.

Limitations on Damages

In Florida personal injury cases, the state does not place limitations on compensatory damages.  However, there are limitations on punitive damages to keep them from becoming excessive.  Punitive damages aren’t allowed to exceed $500,000 or 3 times the compensatory amount awarded to the plaintiff except under specific circumstances.

The goal of our personal injury lawyers is to ensure the best outcome possible for victims and their families.  That is why it helps to take advantage of the fact that we work on contingency basis, so you only pay us if we get you compensation. We are prepared to litigate your case aggressively with experience, expertise, and professionalism.  To learn more about how we advocate for personal injury victims and ensure their rights are protected, call the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.