Tort Personal Injury in Florida General Overview
Law Offices of Michael D. Stewart
In bringing a legal action in Florida for Personal Injury, four factors must be proven. The first factor is that the defendant owed a legal duty to conform to a certain standard to not harm the plaintiff. The second factor is that the defendant breached that legal duty. The third factor is that the plaintiff was injured due to this breach of duty. The fourth and final factor is that the breach of the duty caused injury to the plaintiff.
Not all persons who cause injury will be liable under a personal injury action. For instance, there are exemptions under the Florida Statutes for persons such as Good Samaritans acting to aid another – See Florida Statute Section 768.13. Further, just because one is injured by the actions of another does not mean that the one causing injury should be liable in tort for the injury. For example, a doctor may make the reasonable decision to perform an operation, after explaining the risks to the patient (informed consent), which in the end could cause injury to the patient, though the operation was deemed to have the potential for the greater good.
In Florida, an injured person can also be partially liable for their own injuries. This is referred to as comparative negligence. The injured person’s monetary recovery against a defendant will be reduced by that percentage that the injured person was responsible for the injury. Further, an injured person may have assumed the risk to themselves in an activity and cannot successfully sue another for the injury. This would be the case in, for example, a sport where the injured was deemed to know the risk of being hit with a baseball but participated anyway. Thus it is deemed reasonably foreseeable that this type of injury would occur and the injured individual assumed this risk.
Employers are often responsible for the injuries caused by their employees under a theory of respondeat superior, or vicarious liability. This is referred to as joint and several liability. Further, businesses can be liable for the injuries caused by their independent contractors when the business was negligent in the hiring of the contractor, negligent in the supervision of the contractor, or negligent in the training of the contractor. The business can also be liable for its contractors on certain types of dangerous jobs that it is deemed to dangerous to allow the contractor to pass off legal responsibility to a third party. This is similar to strict liability which holds that regardless of how much care one takes, the undertaking of the activity will impose liability no matter who is at fault for the injury.