Personal injury and wrongful death disputes often seem straightforward at first glance, but they can get complicated if the defendant is aggressive or hostile, and puts forth one of many different potential defenses.
If you would like to speak to an experienced Fort Walton personal injury lawyer about your case, we encourage you to contact our team here at Powell Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.
Powell Law Firm is a Florida personal injury firm with decades of experience helping plaintiffs secure the damages they deserve. Over the years, we have handled a wide range of injury disputes, from truck accidents to slip-and-falls, and more. We are committed to working closely with the client, ensuring that their goals and priorities remain a focus throughout the litigation process.
Call us at 850-682-2757 or send us a message online today.
Before you get in touch, perhaps you’d like to learn more about personal injury disputes, and what sort of defenses that you’re likely to encounter as you pursue litigation. For now, let’s take a quick look at some common defenses.
Consider the following.
Statute of Limitations Deadline Already Passed
The statute of limitations operates as a hard deadline, by which point the plaintiff’s claims must be filed. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a negligence-based injury claim is four years from the date of the accident.
Failure to meet this deadline will result in the plaintiff being precluded from pursuing litigation in a Florida court of law — in other words, their case will be dismissed by the court. Given these strict requirements, it’s important that injured plaintiffs seek legal assistance from a Fort Walton personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so that their claims can be pursued in a timely manner.
Comparative Fault Doctrine Applies in Florida
Florida implements the doctrine of pure comparative fault. What this means is that fault will be apportioned to all parties (based on the facts of the case), and damages will be reduced accordingly.
Confusing? Let’s explore a quick example.
Suppose that you suffer minor injuries in a car accident, but you delay seeing a physician for a few weeks. As a result, your injuries worsen due to a lack of treatment. Under these circumstances, the defendant could argue that you failed to take steps to mitigate your injuries and that you, therefore, contributed to the severity of your own injuries.
The court may evaluate the “percentage fault contribution” of each party, and determine that you are 50 percent at-fault and that the defendant is 50 percent at-fault. If the total damages would have been $100,000, then you would be entitled to a maximum recovery of $50,000 under the comparative fault doctrine.
Injury is Not New and Distinct
If you have a pre-existing injury, then the defendant may argue that the injury you claim to suffer from the accident is the same one that you were already suffering from. Unless the injury is new and distinct, you cannot impose liability on the defendant — after all, a defendant can only be held responsible if their conduct gave rise to your injury.
In Florida, however, there is a way around this. If you can show that your pre-existing injury was “exacerbated” or worsened by the accident, then you will be entitled to recover damages that account for that.
Defendants may only be held liable if their negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct causes you to suffer injury. If there is some intervening cause that severs the “chain of causation” between the defendant’s conduct and your injuries, then they can escape liability under Florida law. For example, if you are struck by lightning after being forced off the sidewalk by a reckless bicyclist, that bicyclist cannot be held liable for the injuries suffered due to the lightning strike — it was simply not a foreseeable result of their actions.
Have Questions? Our Fort Walton Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you're involved in a personal injury dispute, let our Fort Walton personal injury lawyer assist you with your case. Contact our office today to learn more about your options.