Legal Liability: How Liability is Established After an Accident
When you want to file a personal injury claim against someone, you will be accusing them of some form of negligence that caused you some form of injury or damage. However, for your claim to stand up to legal scrutiny, it needs to establish legal liability.
Legal liability is divided into four basic concepts.
#1: Duty of Care
To bring a claim against another party, that party must have owed you a duty of care at the time of your accident. Basically, the person you are filing a claim against had a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety. For example, if you invite someone over to your house, then you can be held liable if they trip on a loose bit of carpeting, fall, and get hurt.
On the other hand, you likely do not have any duty of care to protect trespassers from that same bit of carpeting because they were never permitted to be in your home.
#2: Violation of Duty
In Florida and most other states, the duty of care is measured on reasonableness, as in what would the average, reasonable person do to prevent an accident. If a person acts in a way that is not reasonable to the average person, then they are violating their duty of care. For example, a person who drives while intoxicated is not being reasonable, and so they have violated their obligated duty of care.
There has to be a link between (1) a violation of a duty of care, and (2) harm done to another party. For example, a truck driver speeds, crashes into a car stopped at a red light, and causes a serious spinal cord injury. The act of speeding is the violation that causes the injury (also called “damages”).
Lastly, there must be real damages caused as a result of someone’s violation of duty of care. That is to say, you cannot seek damages in Florida if no real, measurable damages occur. For example, you are driving by a construction site, and a loose bit of rehab breaks off the building above and slams onto the pavement right next to your car. You are unscathed, and there are no scratches on your car. As frightful as this moment might be since you did not incur any damages or suffer any injury, you would not have a valid claim in Florida.
Do you have more questions about legal liability rules in Florida? Think you have a valid personal injury claim to file but are not sure where to begin? Call 561-899-2100 to connect with Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin and our personal injury attorneys in West Palm Beach. We bring more than 200 years of combined legal experience to every case we manage. Learn how to get a legal team of our caliber on your side by contacting us and requesting a free consultation today.