A catastrophic injury is a severe life-changing event. Florida law defines a catastrophic injury as a permanent impairment. These injuries include brain damage, spinal cord damage, severe burns, blindness, and amputations. Beyond the extensive physical damage, victims can dive into depression coiled by anger, and the related expenses can cause financial ruin.
If someone else or an entity caused the injury, the law provides the way to become financially whole again. To access the justice system, contact a Stuart catastrophic injury lawyer for a free consultation without any obligation.
An experienced personal injury attorney can assess the strength of the case and advise how best to proceed.
Comparative Negligence in Florida
Florida has adopted the modified comparative negligence standard in assessing who is at fault in an accident. Under this standard, a person who is at fault, or partially at fault, cannot claim all of the damages incurred. Lawmakers’ rationale is that a person who is in any way responsible for causing an accident should be held financially accountable.
In situations when more than one person was at fault, the blame is assigned by a jury based on the facts. If the plaintiff is found 50% or less at fault, their overall recovery is reduced in proportion to their fault. If they are found 51% or more at fault, they are prohibited from recovering entirely. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 30% at fault for their injuries, they will recover 70% of their damages. Conversely, if a plaintiff is found to be 70 percent at fault, they can’t recover. Damages are proven by evidence and determined by a judge or jury.
To prove fault, the law has elements that must be met.
- Duty of care: This is a legal obligation requiring a person to act with the prudence toward others that a reasonable person would. A judge decides if a duty of care is owed
- Breach: A person commits an act, or fails to act reasonably, violating the duty of care
- Cause in fact: “But for” the breaching act or lack of action, the accident would not have occurred
- Proximate cause: The act or inaction had a foreseeable result in causing harm or property damage
- Damages: A person incurred a monetary loss or injury
Potential Compensation After a Catastrophic Injury
A person harmed by the negligent act of another may sue for damages. These include:
- Medical and therapy treatments and equipment for immediate and long-term care
- Current and future lost income and retraining if the injury prevents the victim from returning to previous employment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Punitive damages, which are imposed if the negligent act was egregious
- Property damage
Role of a Catastrophic Injury Attorney
Memories of witnesses and those involved in an accident are still fresh soon after the event, so it is best to hire a Stuart catastrophic injury lawyer promptly to help build a strong case. An attorney will gather physical evidence from the scene to help reconstruct the accident, collect medical documents and other pertinent records to prove present and future damages, and calculate the amount of damages to be claimed.
A Stuart catastrophic injury lawyer will interview the parties involved and witnesses under penalty of perjury to present testimonial evidence.
The attorney will build a lawsuit that details the accident, alleges fault, and supports the amount of damages claimed. Once the lawsuit is filed with the court, the legal process continues with various motions from both sides requiring responses from the attorneys. In court, the catastrophic injury lawyer will strategically select jurors and aggressively present the evidence at trial.
Many civil cases never go to trial. In that situation, the attorney will negotiate with the insurance carrier (which tries to limit the amount of damages) to achieve a fair personal injury settlement that the client will accept.