4 Things You Need to Know About Your Legal Rights in Florida
Personal injury laws differ from state to state, and it is important to always be aware of your rights before filing a claim or personal injury lawsuit. In Florida, there are a number of different state laws that could come into play when it comes to a personal injury case. If you have been hurt in an accident that was caused by another person, it is important to become familiar with the various state laws that could potentially affect your claim. Read on to discover 4 things everyone should know about their personal injury rights in Florida.
1. Florida Uses Comparative Negligence Rules
While different states may have their own version of the comparative negligence rule, Florida is known to recognize pure comparative negligence. This means that if you are partially responsible for the incident that caused your injuries, then your verdict at trial is reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, say a plaintiff has been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who was texting and ran a red light. Once the plaintiff files a claim, the defendant then raises the issue of comparative fault, alleging that the plaintiff is partially at fault because they were driving over the speed limit. The court or jury will then decide the plaintiff’s percentage of fault which will ultimately decrease the plaintiff’s recovery.
2. Florida Will Recognize Your Claim for Up to 4 Years
A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time that parties have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of the offense. In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is limited to 4 years from the date of injury. This is why it is always critical to seek legal assistance soon after an accident in a personal injury case. However, these limitations do have a few exceptions.
If an accident victim has acquired injuries that can be directly associated with the incident but may not have surfaced for some time following the accident, the injured party could have some leeway on the Florida statute of limitations. There have been cases where certain injuries do not show serious complications until months or years after the wreck. In this scenario, the statute of limitations for the injured party could be extended up to 2 years from the date the injury was discovered.
The statue may also be paused in certain situations, such as if the defendant left the state after the accident or an injured party has suffered from mental incapacitation as a result of the accident.
3. Florida Has Strict Liability Laws for Dog Bites / Canine Attack Cases
Many states (including Georgia) follow the “one bite rule” which protects dog owners from injury liability the first time their dog injures a person. However, the state of Florida is much stricter when it comes to dog bites.
In Florida, dog owners who have no knowledge of past aggressive behavior of the animal will still be held liable. Additionally, Florida dog bite laws do not require the victim to prove the injuries were a result of the dog owner’s negligence. Therefore, a dog owner will generally be held liable for injuries if it can be proven that the dog bit the victim and that both parties were in a public space or lawfully on private property.
4. Florida Has a Punitive Damages Cap
Punitive damages, also known as “exemplary damages”, are sometimes assessed to punish a defendant for acts of negligence. They are designed to prevent others from being hurt by the same or similar actions. Punitive damages are most common when the defendant is a large company or entity – such as medical malpractice cases. However, individuals can also be ordered to pay punitive damages for gross negligence that injures someone else, such as reckless driving or driving under the influence.
The Florida punitive statute allows an award of up to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000, whichever is higher.
Choose Barnes & Cohen for Your Personal Injury Case
Barnes & Cohen is recognized as a leading Personal Injury Firm in Northeast Florida with an office in Jacksonville. We also have an office in Kingsland to serve injured victims in Georgia. For over 35 years, our personal injury attorneys have fought for full compensation, medical costs, lost income, and other damages for victims of accidents and personal injuries. Our team has earned a reputation for excellence and consistently successful outcomes in personal injury cases in both Florida and Georgia. If you have been involved in an accident and are seeking legal help, we encourage you to contact our offices today for a free consultation.