No two states in the US have the same personal injury laws. Florida has its own set of unique laws. I am going to talk about Florida’s personal injury laws that affect that most people, and which may be different from other states’ laws. Laws constantly change.
Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida
The time limitations to sue in Florida are found in Florida Statute 95.11.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Liability Claim (Breach of contract)
You have five (5) years to sue an uninsured motorist (UM) coverage liability insurer.
If someone’s negligence caused your injury in Florida, you generally have four (4) years to sue for your damages. This is great for injured people.
In a negligence lawsuit against a city, county or the State of Florida, you must give written notice of the claim within three (3) years of the accident. There are very specific notice requirements.
If you miss one of the requirements, you will lose your right to sue.
Negligence Against the United States Government
If the United States government’s negligence caused your injury, you have two years to sue them for your damages. There are specific notice requirements that you must follow.
In Florida, a lawsuit for wrongful death caused by someone else must be filed within two (2) years of the decedent’s death.
In Florida, you have two (2) years from the date that you knew or should have known of the medical malpractice. Florida Statute 95.11(4)(b).
Florida Motor Vehicle Accident Law
Florida motor vehicle accident law is unique. Florida has a No-Fault System.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits
Florida law requires most motor vehicle insurance policies to have personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. Florida Statute 627.736. Learn who is covered by Florida PIP auto coverage.
PIP pays for the insured’s medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses, and a death benefit regardless of fault.
Insurers are allowed to exclude PIP benefits in certain situations.
Insured’s Right to Recover Special Damages in Tort Claims
In many Florida motor vehicle accident cases, the victim can still sue the negligent defendant(s) for compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are special damages, which are economic losses such as loss of earnings, and medical expenses, and general damages, which are non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
In most Florida car accident claims, you have to meet the tort threshold in order to recover pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and inconvenience.
The tort threshold consists of one or more of the following:
(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
(b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
(c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Whether or not you will need to satisfy the tort threshold may depend on the type of vehicle of which you were an occupant. It may also depend on the type of vehicle that hit you.
For example, if a vehicle hits you while you an occupant of a motorcycle, you do not have to meet the tort threshold in order to recover pain and suffering damages. The same is true if you are a nonresident pedestrian who does not have PIP.
Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine: Liability of the Owner for Negligence of the Driver
Florida applies the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. It imposes strict vicarious liability on the owner of a motor vehicle who voluntarily entrusts it to another. Hertz Corp. v. Jackson, 617 So.2d 1051, 1053 (Fla.1993).
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance Coverage for Florida Motor Vehicles
Bodily injury (BI) liability coverage helps pay for another person’s physical injury as a result of an accident for which you are liable. This includes out of pocket medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Learn if BI liability coverage is required on a Florida motor vehicle insurance policy.
Premises Liability Injury Claims in Florida
Premises liability claims generally arise from slip, trip and falls, negligent security and more. In Florida, your status on the property will determine the duties that a landowner owes you.
Standard of Care Owed to Invitees
If you are an invitee, the landowner and occupier owe you two duties. They are the duties to:
1. Maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and correct a dangerous condition which is either known to the owner or should be known to him by the use of reasonable care; and
2. Warn of a dangerous condition about which the property owner had or should have had knowledge greater than the invitee
Florida Statute 768.0755 applies to premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.
Florida Statute 768.0755 states:
Constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:
A transitory foreign substance is any liquid or solid substance, item or object located where it does not belong. A business establishment is a location where business is conducted, goods are made or stored or processed or where services are rendered.
Business establishments include, but are not limited to:
- Supermarkets such as Publix, Winn-Dixie, Sedano’s and Whole Foods.
- Stores like Walmart, Target, Costco, and Petsmart and Petco
- Retail outlets
- Shopping malls and strip malls
- Day spas, salons or barber shops
- Golf and country clubs
- Hotels, resorts and motels
- Day cares or community centers
- Theme Parks like Walt Disney World, Epcot and Universal Studios
- Universities or colleges. “Services are rendered” for a fee. McCarthy v. Broward College, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2015.
- Service-based, government-owned entities, such as Miami International Airport. (Kenz v. Miami-Dade Cnty., 116 So. 3d 461 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013).
- a U.S. Postal Service facility. Kertz v. U.S., 2013 WL 1464180 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 10, 2013)
If a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person may still be able to prove that the business establishment had a negligent mode of operation.
Joint and Several Liability
There is no joint liability in Florida. Each tortfeasor is only responsible for his share of fault.
Liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication
A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age is usually not liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person.
However, a person may be liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person if he:
- willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age; or
- knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages. Florida Statute 768.125.
Wrongful Death Cases
In Florida, a personal representative (“PR”) brings the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate and any survivors. A personal representative who has not yet been appointed can negotiate a settlement on behalf of a claimant. See Berges v. Infinity Ins. Co., 896 So.2d 665, 668 (Fla.2004).
“Survivors” means the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters. It includes the child born out of wedlock of a mother, but not the child born out of wedlock of the father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support. Florida Statute 768.18.
A spouse can recover mental pain and suffering damages for the death of a spouse.
A parent may recover mental pain and suffering damages for the loss of a minor child. Sometimes a parent may recover pain and suffering damages for the loss of an adult child.
Minor children may be able to recover mental pain and suffering damages if their parent is killed. “Minor children” means children under 25 years of age.
An adult child may be able to recover mental pain and suffering damages for a parent’s wrongful death if the parent was not married at the time of death.
Adult children cannot recover pain and suffering damages for a parent’s death due to medical malpractice.
Injuries to Minors in Florida
Find out when child injury settlements need court approval in Florida.
Cases if you are injured by a Dog in Florida
In Florida, a dog owner is liable for any damage caused by their dog to any person. Florida Statute 767.01. The dog owner does not have to have notice of the dog’s viciousness for the dog owner to be liable.
This is a good law for people who are injured by dogs.
Any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.
However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words “Bad Dog.”
The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act provides disability and medical benefits to workers injured during the course of their employment. Employees who fall within the Act’s scope are generally paid regardless of the employer’s fault in causing their injuries.
Employers who comply with the Act are given immunity from civil suit by the employee, except in rare circumstances.
Workers Compensation: Compensation for injuries when third persons are liable.
If an employee, subject to the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Law, is injured or killed in the course of his or her employment by the negligence or wrongful act of a third-party tortfeasor, the injured employee or, in the case of his or her death, the employee’s dependents may accept compensation benefits under the provisions of this law, and the injured employee or his or her dependents or personal representatives may pursue a claim against such third-party tortfeasor.
Cruise Ship Accident Claims
The most common personal injury claim against a cruise line is a slip and fall accident. Learn about:
- Slip and fall accident claims against Carnival Cruise Lines
- Slip and fall accident claims against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
- Slip and fall accident claims against Disney Cruise Lines
Several cruise lines require that your lawsuit be brought in federal court Miami, Florida within one (1) year of the accident. This is true regardless of the city in the US that the ship sailed from.
These cruise lines include Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.
Disney Cruise Line must be sued in any court in Brevard County, Florida, or Federal Court in Orlando, Florida.
MSC cruise lines require that you sue them in Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida.
Costa must be sued in Broward County, Florida.
You also need to give the above cruise lines a notice (of particulars) within six months of the date of injury.
Hire a Miami cruise accident lawyer for your case. Make sure that your attorney is licensed in Florida’s southern federal court. We are.
Florida’s Comparative Negligence Laws
You need to show that someone’s negligence caused your injury in order to recover your damages. In Florida, the negligent party can assert an affirmative defense that you were comparatively negligent.
Florida Statute 768.81 calls comparative negligence “contributory negligence.” Comparative negligence is also known as comparative fault.
In a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery. Fla. Stat. § 768.81(2); Hoffman v. Jones, 280 So.2d 431 (Fla.1973).
Example of Comparative Fault
Jorge is riding a motorcycle in Hialeah, Miami-Dade County, Florida. A 18 wheeler truck driver makes a left hand turn in front of Jorge.
The tractor trailer driver violates Jorge’s right of way. Let’s assume that the tractor trailer driver says that Jorge was speeding.
Jorge files a lawsuit that claims that the 18 wheeler driver’s negligence caused his Jorge’s damages.
If the jury finds that the 18 wheeler driver was negligent, it will then be asked whether Jorge was negligent. Assume that they assign 25% negligence to Jorge for speeding.
Let’s assume that Jorge’s only economic damages are $100,000 in out of pocket medical bills. Assume that a Florida jury awards Jorge $400,000 in pain and suffering.
The jury awards Jorge $500,000 in damages. These damages are reduced proportionately by Jorge’s comparative fault, which is 25%.
Jorge comparative negligence reduces the $500,000 by 25%. This brings the judgment to $375,000. The truck driver would owe Jorge $375,000.
Comparative Fault does not bar recovery
Even if you are 49% at fault, you can still recover 51% of your total damages. This is great for injured people.
Damage Caps in Florida
Florida generally does not have damage caps on economic damages, or pain and suffering damages.
However, in any negligence lawsuit where the jury decides that the defendant is liable and enters an award of damages for the injured party, the court may review the amount of the award to determine if such amount is excessive or inadequate in light of the facts and circumstances which were presented to jury. Florida Statute 768.74.
Natural person who lends a car to someone
A natural person who owns a motor vehicle and lends it to a permissive user has some limited liability. Florida Statute 324.021(9)(b)3.
However, if a drunk driver’s negligence caused your injury, then F.S. §768.73 does not limit any punitive damage award. This is good for injured people.
Negligence Cases Against city, county or the State of Florida
Learn the limits of compensation that you can get for a personal injury claims against a County or City in Florida, or the State of Florida.
Negligence Against the United States Government
No cap on damages.
Medical Malpractice Cases
There are no caps on medical malpractice wrongful death cases. North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2015. There are no caps on all Florida medical malpractice cases as well. Estate of McCall v. US, 134 So. 3d 894 – Fla: Supreme Court 2014.
Many Factors Affect a Florida Personal Injury Case
Over 87 factors may affect whether you have a Florida personal injury claim. This article just touched on some basic Florida personal injury law. Check out hundreds of other Florida personal injury articles.
Florida has limitations on the amount of fees a lawyer may charge. The fee cap depends on the type of defendant and, in some cases, whether the case settles before a lawsuit.
Personal injury claims against a private individual or business.
A brief summary of contingency fees in Florida personal injury cases is below.
An attorney may not charge a contingent fee of more than:
- 33 1/3% of any recovery up to $1 million before a defendant files (or should) file an answer to a lawsuit. Florida Bar Rule 4-1.5(f)(4)(B).
- 40% of any recovery up to $1 million after the filing of an answer to a lawsuit.
In negligence cases against a city, county or the state of Florida, an attorney’s fee cannot charge a fee in excess of 25 percent of any settlement.
In negligence cases against the federal government, an attorney cannot charge in excess of 25 percent of any settlement after a lawsuit is filed, or in excess of 20 percent of a settlement before a lawsuit is filed. US Code 1346 (b) section 2672.
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