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What Does Liability Mean?

Liability is a legally enforceable claim against another person or entity. When a party is liable for a personal injury, that party can be held financially responsible for an accident victim’s damages. Liability is a crucial element required to recover compensation for personal injury claims. 

Negligence and Liability for Personal Injuries

Most personal injury cases are based on negligence claims, including motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and slip and fall accidents. 

The injured party has the burden of proving the four legal elements of negligence:

  • The other party owed the victim  a duty of care
  • The other party breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty of care was the direct and proximate cause of the victim’s injury
  • The victim incurred damages because of the at-fault party’s conduct

A party cannot be forced to pay your damages if the party did not intentionally or negligently cause your injury. In other words, they aren’t liable for your injuries.

Proving Liability in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In a personal injury lawsuit, the jury decides whether the defendant was negligent based on the evidence presented in court. The plaintiff must form a chain of causation to prove negligence to establish liability. 

Negligence is the failure to act with the same level of care that a person of reasonable prudence would use in a similar situation. The jury members are tasked with deciding what a reasonable person would have done in the defendant’s situation.

First, your attorney presents an argument of what a reasonable person would do in a situation. Then, the attorney uses the evidence to argue that the defendant’s conduct fell short of this standard, thereby causing the accident that resulted in your injury.

For example, evidence proving negligence for a car accident may include video of the collision, statements from eyewitnesses, testimony from expert witnesses, and other evidence of fault. 

If the jury verdict is guilty, the jury determines how much money the defendant must pay to the plaintiff for damages.

Most personal injury cases settle through negotiations with the party’s liability insurance carrier. The parties negotiate a settlement of the claim without filing a lawsuit. Even if you file a lawsuit, the case may be settled before a trial. 

Strict Liability for a Personal Injury

In a few personal injury cases, a party may be held strictly liable for damages. Strict liability does not involve negligence or intention. You do not need to prove that the party was negligent or intended to hurt you.

All you need to prove is that the party was responsible for your injury, and you sustained damages. Strict liability is often used in product liability cases. For example, if you prove that a product was defective and you were injured, you could recover compensation for your damages without proving negligence or intent. 

What Types of Damages Can You Recover for an Accident Case?

When you file a personal injury claim, the person who caused your injury could be liable for economic and non-economic damages. 

The types of damages included in most personal injury claims are:

  • Medical bills 
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Cost of health care and personal care
  • Reduced future earning potential
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Property Damage

The value of your claim depends on the severity of your injury, your financial losses, and the strength of your evidence proving liability and damages.

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

Even though you have proof of liability, you must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires to pursue your claim. If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline, you lose the right to hold the person liable for your damages. It will not matter how strong the evidence is against the person if you do not file your lawsuit before time runs out.

Florida’s statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is four years from the date of injury. However, the deadline for filing wrongful death is two years from the date of death. Likewise, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years from the date of the malpractice. There may also be exceptions for other types of cases and claims. 

It is best to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to determine the deadline for filing an injury claim. 

Contact Our Miami Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation 

Our accident lawyers handle personal injury claims related to numerous accidents and situations. We accept most cases on a contingency fee basis.

Contact our law firm today to request your free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers in Miami, Florida.