Personal injury cases are legal claims brought by those who are alleging injuries from an accident due to the wrongful or negligent conduct of another person or entity. A viable personal injury claim claim involves proving that the other party had a legal duty to exercise reasonable care and the duty was breached. Typical types of personal injury actions include slip and fall incidents, medical or professional negligence or malpractice, product defect, toxic tort and auto accidents.
In What Jurisdiction Should I File My Claim?
If you need to file an injury claim, Florida requires that you do so in the county where the accident occurred or where one of the defendants resides. If you allege that your damages are valued at less than $15,000, you can file in the county court. Florida’s circuit courts retain jurisdiction over injury claims valued at more than $15,000. If you file in county court, you risk not recovering more than $15,000, even if a jury verdict awards you more than the court’s limit.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations
All injury cases are subject to Florida’s statute of limitations, a specific time during which you must either settle your injury case or file it in the appropriate court. If you do not do so, you could lose your right to recover any monetary damages. Most Florida injury claims have a four year statute of limitations, although medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of the negligent act that led to the injury or when the injury should have been detected. If children have been injured by malpractice, an action must be brought by their eighth birthday or within two years, whichever occurs later.
Public entities such as state and county governments or agencies and local municipalities have shorter limitation periods. You must follow strict statutory procedures if you are pursuing a claim against these entities.
Florida’s Comparative Negligence Laws
If you are found to have partially contributed to the accident in which you were injured, you can still collect a portion of your damages. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. A jury or judge assigns a percentage of fault to each party, then apportions damages accordingly. For example, if you are 60 percent at fault, your financial recovery is limited to 40 percent of the damages.
What is the Discovery Process?
Discovery is a pretrial procedure in which the parties request and disclose records, information, and documents related to the accident. Both parties can demand answers to interrogatories, which are a series of written questions. You must respond to the questions, or you can object to any that your attorney thinks are improper. Documents might also be requested, such as records of your medical care and expenses, lost income, property damage, photographs, police reports, insurance policies, and other relevant records. You may also be deposed, where you would have to orally answer under oath questions posed by the opposing attorney. The questions can address all aspects of your claim. Your attorney will accompany you and advise you during this process. In many cases, you will have to submit to a medical examination by a doctor of the other attorney’s choice.
During discovery, both attorneys can agree to mediation. Mediation involves a disinterested third party who attempts to help litigants arrive at a resolution of claims without a costly trial.
Do I Have a Legitimate Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury laws differ in each state, and state courts have their own unique procedures and rules. To find out if you have a legitimate injury claim and how to prosecute your case, talk to a Florida personal injury attorney.