Motor vehicle accidents in Florida are unfortunately common. In 2011, there were 227,998 crashes on the road, some of them involving pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicycles. Of these 2214 were fatal. At Dean Law Firm, our Ocala vehicle accident attorneys handle a substantial number of car accident cases in Marion, Sumter, Lake, Citrus, and Levy Counties. We also handle cases on behalf of those who are hurt in truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, ATV or other recreational vehicle accidents, boating and aircraft accidents. We represent pedestrians and bicyclists who have been harmed by a vehicle accident, as well.Principles of Florida Negligence in Vehicle Accident Cases
Many vehicle accidents are preventable. They happen because somebody or multiple people failed to use reasonable care in driving. The most common vehicle accident cases are those based in theories of negligence. In these cases, plaintiffs must prove: (1) the defendant owed a duty, (2) the defendant breached a duty, (3) the breach was the "proximate" and actual cause of an injury or loss and (4) damages. When a plaintiff is able to show evidence of all four, he or she may be able to recover past, present and future medical expenses; out-of-pocket expenses; past, present and future wage loss; loss of enjoyment and pain and suffering.
Florida follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. A defendant may raise as a defense the plaintiff's own culpability in the accident. For example, a plaintiff who is talking on her phone and speeding many miles above the speed limit might be partially responsible for her injuries, even where one defendant runs a red light and another is also speeding.
After hearing the evidence, the jury will assign percentages of fault to the parties. If a jury finds the plaintiff partially responsible, it will reduce her recovery by her percentage of fault. In Florida, a plaintiff can recover from a defendant even if a plaintiff is 90% at fault and the defendant is 10% at fault. Unlike some other states, Florida does not follow the doctrine of joint and several liability for actions based in negligence; as a plaintiff, you can only recover from each responsible party an amount based on that particular party's percentage of fault.
These basic principles of law can be more complicated in a truck or boat accident. Federal law regulates tractor-trailer drivers and those who drive boats in the ocean. If somebody fails to follow those laws while on the job and harms you, you may have a claim not only against the driver, but also his employer under theories of vicarious liability and negligent hire or supervision. These theories can be helpful to ensuring recovery because an employer who owns the vehicle and controls the employee's activities usually has greater financial resources than its employee.Retain a Trustworthy Personal Injury Attorney
Typically the timeframe in which to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida is four years. However, certain types of accidents, such as boating accidents, have a shorter time frame. In all cases, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney immediately after a vehicle accident in which you are hurt. Evidence fades with time and memories lose their potency and accuracy. Usually the other parties' insurers will investigate the accident, but they don't owe you any duty to uncover evidence that could help your case or not to use your statements against you.