Four Key Elements In A Florida Keys Personal Injury Case
In Florida, accident victims can sue at-fault parties under certain circumstances. With regards to car accidents, a motorist can sue another motorist not only for economic damages (i.e. medical bills), but also non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering), if they sustained a permanent injury. To win at a trial, the Plaintiff must prove it was more likely than not the defendant was negligent. To prove negligence, the Plaintiff must prove the following four key elements:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Duty of Care
To prove negligence, you must first prove that a defendant owed you (the plaintiff) an obligation of care. Duty of care is simply a party’s legal obligation to act with reasonable care to avoid causing harm/injury to others. A common duty of care example involves motorists. When it comes to driving, Florida law cites specific rules that motorists need to adhere to. For instance, in Florida motorists are required to drive in a reasonably safe manner and obey all traffic signals. If a Defendant violates a traffic statute (i.e. illegal left turn), they breached their duty of care.
Breach of Duty
After establishing a duty of care, it must be shown that the defendant breached that duty of care. Continuing with the example of Florida motorists, a breach of duty may be established in a case where a driver failed to stop at a stop sign or ran a red light.
Causation involves you (the plaintiff) showing a direct link between the breach of duty and your injury. As an example, you can prove causation if the driver that failed to stop at a stop sign t-boned your vehicle causing your injuries.
In car accidents, it is common for the defendant to contest whether the Defendant’s actions caused the Plaintiff’s injuries. For example, the Defendant may admit that they were negligent in t-boning the Plaintiff, but that the Plaintiff’s injury “pre-dated” the accident so they are not responsible for those damages.
Once the above three elements have been established, a Plaintiff must prove the plaintiff suffered damages/losses because of their injuries. Damages may include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Economic damages (i.e. medical expenses) are oftentimes easier to prove then non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering).
Burden of Proof
In Florida, it is the Plaintiff’s burden to prove his/her case by a preponderance of the evidence (more than 50%). Our Florida Keys personal injury attorney start building your case from day 1 so you can prove the four elements of negligence – duty, breach, causation and hard – by a preponderance of the evidence.
Contact a Florida Keys Personal Injury Attorney
If you have suffered injuries and losses in a Florida Keys accident due to another party’s negligence, contact Lyons & Snyder Trial Attorneys to find out how our Key West & Marathon car accident attorneys can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.