Accidents happen every day, and even the minor ones can cause serious, life-altering injuries. Depending on the type of injury, you may need expensive medical treatments and ongoing care. You may be left unable to do your job or to take care of your home or family in the ways you did before you were injured. In some cases, you may even be unable to care for yourself without assistance. In addition to the physical trauma, this can be devastating mentally, emotionally, and financially.
If someone else’s negligence caused the accident in which you or a loved one were injured, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced Sarasota personal injury lawyer like those at the Gerber Law Group can help.
Can any personal injury lead to a lawsuit in Sarasota, Florida?
If you or a loved one was injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Any injury can lead to a lawsuit if the injury was caused by the negligence of another person or entity, and:
- Causes you to lose earnings, including a short-term loss of wages
- Requires medical treatment (either immediate, ongoing, or both)
- Results in long-term physical or mental injuries
- Significantly alters your way of life
This includes, but is not limited to, injuries such as:
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
These injuries may be the result of a range of accidents and incidents, such as:
- Boating accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Defective products
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Motor vehicle crashes such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents, or truck accidents
- Nursing home injuries
- Slips and falls
What types of damages will a personal injury lawyer help me claim?
The type of damages you may be entitled to in your personal injury claim depends on various factors related to the specifics of your case. This includes the nature and severity of your injury or injuries, such as the type and amount of medical treatment and other care you may require, and the impact the injury or injuries has had on your life and future.
If your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence – be it an individual or a person or other entity – you may be entitled to compensation for economic damages such as:
- Medical bills – Even a minor injury may require costly medical treatment. If your injuries are more serious, you can rack up a huge stack of medical bills in a short amount of time – even if you have good health insurance. Injuries that require ongoing treatment only add to the expense.
- Lost wages – When an injury sidelines you from your job, even temporarily, your finances can take a real hit. However, some injuries take longer to recover from, and some may leave you unable to perform your job duties as you did before your accident. In either case, your bank account may suffer from the loss of wages. You may even need to find a new line of work.
You may also be awarded compensation for non-economic damages:
- Intangible losses – Not all injuries are physical. A serious injury can cause mental and emotional distress and pain and suffering. The stress of medical treatments and expenses, as well as changes to the way you live and work, may cause you to lose your enjoyment of life. While it is hard to put a number on these damages, they must be considered when filing your personal injury claim.
Florida law also allows for punitive damages. These damages are determined by the court and are based on the role the negligent party played in causing your injuries. If your injuries were the result of someone else’s gross negligence, or purposeful or intentional misconduct, a jury may award you damages as a punishment to the negligent party.
- Gross negligence – The other party’s actions display a blatant disregard for human life
- Purposeful misconduct – The other party intentionally injured you
Under Florida law, punitive damages are capped at $500,000 or three times your total compensatory damages.
What is my personal injury case worth?
Every personal injury case is unique and determining the dollar amount that your case is worth can be difficult, but at a minimum it should cover your economic losses. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Sarasota will begin by considering the medical bills you have already accrued and the amount of income you have lost to-date due to your injuries. Then they will attempt to estimate the costs for any ongoing medical treatment and care you may require in the future, as well as your diminished earning capacity. Finally, they will attempt to calculate the value of your non-economic losses. This will depend on the type of injuries you suffered, the severity of the injuries, and how those injuries will affect your quality of life in the future.
The amount of compensation you are able to recover may also depend on your role in the case. For instance, do you share any fault in the accident? Did you fail to mitigate damages? Either of these scenarios may reduce your monetary award in a personal injury case. Even if they are unable to prove that you are fully to blame for your accident and injuries, the defendant’s lawyers and insurance company will do their best to shift at least partial blame on to you. This is their way of reducing the amount of compensation they have to pay, and it can be an effective tactic.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida?
Under Florida law, there are time limits for filing lawsuits based on negligence. The statute of limitations is typically four years but varies based on the type of negligence involved. Claims against government entities, for instance, often have much shorter statutes of limitations. These vary by county or municipality and may be as short as 30, 60, 90, or 120 days after your injury occurs.
Wrongful death cases, on the other hand, have a two-year statute of limitations. Most medical malpractice cases also have a two-year statute of limitations in Florida, which requires plaintiffs to file suit within two years of the date the medical malpractice was discovered or should have been discovered by the plaintiff.
Florida law also applies a four-year statute of repose to medical malpractice cases. Under this law, a medical malpractice claim must be brought within four years of the date on which the medical malpractice or negligence occurred. There are only two exceptions to this law: cases involving fraud, which must be filed within seven years, and cases involving a child under the age of eight. Parents or legal guardians have until the child’s eighth birthday to file a medical malpractice claim on the child’s behalf.
It is imperative that you speak with an experienced Sarasota personal injury lawyer to ensure you do not miss the deadline to file your lawsuit. If you miss the deadline to file, your case will be dismissed.
What is negligence? How does negligence affect my personal injury case?
In legal terms, negligence is a failure to exercise the same level of care toward others that a reasonable person would have used under the same circumstances or taking action that a reasonable person would not take. For legal purposes, negligence is considered accidental rather than intentional, although certain crimes such as reckless driving can be considered negligence.
In order to prove negligence in your Sarasota personal injury case, you must prove all elements of negligence regarding the defendant, including that they:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Breached that duty of care
You must also show that you suffered damages as a result of their negligence. This will likely involve sharing your medical records, calculating your financial and professional losses, and detailing the non-economic damages such as the pain and suffering that you and your loved ones have endured.
It is important to note that as the plaintiff, you must prove negligence and causation (the relationship between the defendant’s negligence and your injuries), by a “preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, you must prove it is more likely than not that the defendant was negligent, and their negligence caused your accident.
Contact the Gerber Law Group today
Having an experienced personal injury attorney fighting on your behalf can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case. Attorney Maria Gerber of the Gerber Law Group has spent more than two decades advocating for accident victims and fighting to secure fair monetary compensation on their behalf. She can do the same for you. Call us today at 1-866-233-4529 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so if we do not successfully recover compensation for you, you will not be charged.