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Types of Negligence in Florida Personal Injury Cases

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Lawsuits on November 17, 2020

The legal doctrine of negligence is the center point of most personal injury cases. It is generally necessary to prove negligence to obtain financial compensation for an injury. Proving negligence will establish liability for an injury and related losses, such as lost wages and medical bills. A personal injury case can involve a few different types of negligence under Florida law.

Standard Negligence

The most common type of negligence is standard negligence. Standard or general negligence refers to a breach of the duty of care. Most circumstances place a duty of care with one or more parties. Driving a motor vehicle, for example, places a duty of care on the driver to reasonably prevent accidents. If someone carelessly breaches his or her duties of care, this is negligence. A breach of duty can describe any action or omission that a reasonable and prudent party would not make in the same or similar circumstances. Establishing negligence in a personal injury case is generally all it takes to qualify for financial compensation in Florida.

Gross Negligence

If you wish to seek punitive damages for your injury case in Florida, you or your lawyer will need to establish gross negligence. Punitive damages are relatively uncommon as something a judge will only award during a case involving maliciousness, intent to harm or a wanton disregard for the safety of others. If you can prove that the defendant was grossly negligent in causing your losses, you may qualify for punitive damages. Gross negligence is an action or behavior either meant to intentionally harm the victim or so dangerous in nature that it creates a foreseeable risk of serious bodily injury to others.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a defense strategy a defendant in Florida may use to refute liability for your losses. Florida’s comparative negligence statute asserts that the injured victim caused or contributed to the accident him or herself. A successful comparative negligence defense could reduce or completely eliminate a plaintiff’s financial recovery, depending on the situation. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that while comparative negligence will not bar a plaintiff from recovery, it can reduce his or her award by an amount equivalent to the degree of fault. If you are 20% to blame, for example, you would receive 20% less in financial compensation.

Contributory Negligence

In a contributory negligence state, any degree or percentage of fault will completely bar a plaintiff from financial recovery. Even 1% of the blame for an accident would mean losing the right to bring a claim against a defendant in a contributory negligence state. Not many states use contributory negligence laws. Most have replaced their contributory negligence laws with the more lenient comparative negligence rule.

Vicarious Negligence

Vicarious negligence means that the person or party who caused the accident is not directly liable; instead, someone else is liable for his or her actions. Vicarious negligence comes from the Latin phrase respondeat superior, or let the master speak for the servant. This type of negligence is most common in cases involving at-fault parties that are minor children or on-duty employees. In the case of a minor child causing an injury, his or her parent or legal guardian will be vicariously liable for the child’s actions. If an on-duty employee causes an injury in Florida, his or her employer will be vicariously liable.

Proving Negligence in a Florida Personal Injury Case

Your ability to recover financial compensation for your injuries and losses often comes down to whether or not you can prove negligence. The four elements of negligence are duty of care, breach, causation, and damages. If you believe you have a negligence claim in Florida, contact a Tampa injury attorney for assistance proving your case. A lawyer will understand all the types of negligence under Florida law, as well as how to navigate the specific type of negligence involved in your case.

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