Florida Personal Injury Law: An Overview
How does personal injury law work in Florida and what obstacles do plaintiffs face? To find out, we asked Eric Block, a Florida personal injury attorney whose practice concentrates on personal injury claims and trial work related to those claims. He provided the following overview:
Burden of proof. In personal injury cases, the burden is by the greater weight of the evidence to show that the defendant was negligent, that they either did something that they shouldn't have done or they didn't do something that they should have done and that they victim was injured because of that negligence.
Damages. Florida is a state in which there are generally two kinds of injuries – economic and non-economic:
- Economic damages. These are lost wages and medical bills. The second is non- economic damages. Those are awarded for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of the enjoyment of life, inconvenience and those types of things.
- Non-economic damages. In the State of Florida, you are not entitled to non-economic damages unless you have suffered a permanent injury – meaning that you've gone through the healing process, you've gotten as good as you're going to get and you're still not back to where you were. That only applies in motor vehicle cases and is called a permanency requirement. There is no permanency requirement in a slip and fall case or in a motorcycle case. However, when someone is injured in a car accident, they're entitled to their wage loss and medical bills caused by that injury. But, unless there's a permanent injury which is proven by doctors, they're not entitled to non-economic damages.
Block says that plaintiffs do face obstacles in personal injury cases in Florida. However, he says that the real obstacles aren't so much legal obstacles as they are real life obstacles. He explained:
Juries are very, very suspicious of people bringing personal injury cases. Everybody has seen somebody on the news at one point or another that's been awarded $5 million for an injury and then they're seen waterskiing or mowing their lawn the next day. The truth of the matter is that happens very rarely. However, those are the stories that make the news and because people have seen them on the news, they're very, very suspicious of people claiming injury from car accidents or slip-and-falls.
So, one of the greatest obstacles that we have is overcoming that prejudice and showing that this particular person really is hurt, really has been injured and really does suffer every day.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, contact a Florida injury attorney to discuss your situation. The consultation is free, without obligation and strictly confidential.