Boca Raton General Negligence Lawyers
When people fail to exercise ordinary care for the safety of others, the consequences can be life-altering injuries and even wrongful death. Although injury claims can be caused by many forms of conduct, liability for damages usually will be based on the negligence of the at-fault party. Whether a tractor-trailer strikes your vehicle or your elderly loved one receives inadequate care in a nursing home, financial recovery will depend on your ability to prove that unreasonably unsafe conduct caused foreseeable injury. If the at-fault party is insured, the insurance carrier usually will handle the claim for the insured. Insurance companies handle so many personal injury and wrongful death claims that they are skilled and prepared to defend these cases.
Our experienced negligence lawyers have been taking on large national insurance companies while representing injury victims and their families since our law firm was founded fifteen (15) years ago. Our law firm has garnered many accolades during our time recovering millions of dollars for our clients. Some of these honors include:
- Dozens of five-star reviews from former clients
- Designation as a “Superb” law firm by AVVO
- Highest “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell
- Inclusion in Superlawyers® and Best Lawyers® in America
- Perfect 10.0 rating by AVVO
These awards and achievements are a reflection of our firm commitment to the tenacious pursuit of the fullest recovery for our clients with an emphasis on providing personalized attention to our clients. Our lawyers recognize the most common complaint about attorneys involves a lack of communication. We offer the sophisticated legal representation of a large national law firm while delivering the personalized services typically associated with a smaller law firm. Our attorneys focus exclusively on personal injury and wrongful death actions, so we have the experience, litigation resources, network of experts, and legal acumen to fight large insurance companies. Our law firm has a policy of striving to return client calls the same day. We also keep our clients informed about the progress of their legal claim from the initial investigation stage through the resolution of the case.
Understanding Negligence Law under Florida Law
Most personal injury and wrongful death claims involve the negligence of one or more parties. The term “negligence” basically refers to the failure of an individual, business, or government entity to exercise reasonable care which causes foreseeable injury to another. Negligent conduct can take various forms depending on the situation. While the violation of traffic safety laws and distracted driving constitute common forms of negligent conduct committed by motorists, negligent conduct in a nursing home might include failing to adequately staff the facility or provide for a resident’s basic needs. Our law firm represents victims of negligent conduct that cause injuries or fatalities. Some types of negligence cases we handle include the following:
- Car accidents
- Nursing home neglect
- Slip and falls
- Premises liability
- Construction accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle crashes
- Pedestrian accidents
- Tractor-trailer accidents
- Industrial accidents
- Amusement park injuries
- Resort accidents
- Cruise accidents
- Pharmacy errors
- Negligent pool supervision
These are just a few examples of the types of negligence that can cause injury. However, general negligence accidents can occur anytime a victim is injured because of the carelessness of another. Florida’s “tort” law provides protection for those who have been hurt by the negligence of others. Because unreasonably careless conduct can take a limitless number of forms and occur in virtually any setting, our Boca Raton negligence lawyers are prepared to represent injury victims in the full range of personal injury and wrongful death claims.
The challenge of proving negligent conduct vary depending on the circumstances. In a medical malpractice lawsuit involving the failure to diagnose cancer, medical malpractice carriers often dispute whether the doctor’s conduct deviated from appropriate medical practices or whether the delayed diagnosis impacted the medical outcome. When a person slips on a wet spot on the floor in a grocery store, the insurance company might dispute whether the conduct of the store personnel was unreasonably careless. If you trip on a broken step while visiting a neighbor, the homeowner’s insurance carrier might even dispute whether the property owner owed you a duty of care.
Florida law also imposes a duty on injury victims to exercise reasonable care for their own safety, which is referred to as “comparative negligence.” Our state observes the legal doctrine of pure comparative negligence. Under this legal principle, the amount of damages the injury victim would be entitled to receive is reduced by the percentage of fault allocated to the plaintiff. Depending on the specific circumstances of the legal claim, a lawsuit might still be financially feasible even if the plaintiff is more than fifty (50) percent liable for causing his or her injuries. Our personal injury attorneys are prepared to respond to insurance company attempts to shift blame to our client based on allegations of comparative fault.
Frequently Asked Questions about Negligence Claims
Our negligence lawyers recognize that the process of pursuing a legal claim is complicated and potentially confusing. We recognize that dealing with insurance companies and the litigation process is both overwhelming and filled with traps for the unwary. Navigation of a personal injury or wrongful death claim can be less intimidating if you understand more about the process. Our negligence attorneys have provided answers to frequently asked questions about negligence claims.
If someone violates the law, such as running a red light, can I pursue a claim for negligence?
The general standard for negligence involves a failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances. Although a violation of law does not necessarily constitute negligence, there are situations where an unlawful act can ease the challenge of proving the negligence of the other party. When a party violates a public safety statute, this unlawful conduct can provide the basis for finding the offender negligent. This principle is referred to as “negligence per se.” When a person violates a public safety law and causes injury to someone the law was designed to protect, this violation of the law can eliminate the need to prove the conduct was unreasonably unsafe. Although the plaintiff must still prove that the unlawful conduct caused the injury, unreasonably unsafe conduct can be based on the illegal act.
Can I still recover damages if I am partially at-fault for the accident resulting in my injuries?
If the plaintiff is allocated a percentage of fault for causing his own injuries, any recovery will be reduced in proportion to the degree of fault assigned to the plaintiff. The jury might decide the damages of the plaintiff are $300,00, for example, but the plaintiff is twenty percent at fault for his own injuries. The actual recovery in the case will be -reduced based on the plaintiff’s fault to $240,000 ($300,000 – $60,000 (i.e. 30 percent). Injury victims can recover damages even when they are determined to be more at-fault than the defendant, but it will not always be feasible to pursue such a lawsuit. The strength of the evidence of liability of the defendant, the amount of a potential recovery, and the complexity and cost of litigation all can impact the feasibility of pursuing a claim where the plaintiff has substantially contributed to his own injuries. While some injury victims presume they have no legal claim for damages because they received a traffic citation or were identified as being at-fault in a law enforcement accident report, our general negligence lawyers still might be able to pursue a legal claim. We analyze the evidence when considering the responsible party for causing an accident rather than relying on the fallible opinion of the officer who issued the citation or prepared the report.
Can I handle my car accident or slip and fall claim because I have heard that these types of cases are not complicated?
While legal claims involving motor vehicle accidents or falls might vary in complexity, the notion that any personal injury claim can be handled without a skilled attorney is mistaken. If the defendant in your negligence claim has insurance carrier, the insurer for the responsible party typically will handle the claim. Insurers handle many liability claims and have access to insurance defense attorneys, private investigators, experts with specialized knowledge, adjusters, and virtually limitless financial resources. Insurance companies also have extensive experience handling thousands of claims and a plethora of strategies for taking advantage of unrepresented parties. The civil litigation process involves complex procedural requirements, unforgiving deadlines, and ambiguous legal standards. Without a knowledgeable and proven attorney who handles negligence lawsuits, the insurance company has an enormous advantage.
Should I seek a second opinion if an attorney says I do not have a good case?
While it might be discouraging to be told that you do not have a strong legal claim, the process of determining if you have a viable lawsuit is not an exact science.
Attorneys must use their professional judgment based on an analysis of the facts and law in light of a broad range of legal standards, factors, and circumstances. This evaluation also might require consultation with experts. The best option is to seek at least a second opinion.
What types of damages can be recovered in a negligence case?
The specific damages that can be recovered in a personal injury case will depend on the facts and circumstances, but the types of damages that might be recoverable can be classified into special and general damages. Special damages include tangible financial losses and expenses that include:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical bills
- Cost of vehicle repair or replacement
- Lost earnings from time off work
- Diminished future earning potential
While special damages are specific, quantifiable losses, special damages generally include more abstract more difficult to quantify damages, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Punitive damages (to punish or deter especially egregious conduct)
What deadlines govern when I can pursue a negligence lawsuit?
The “statute of limitations” is a critical deadline that must be met because failure to file a lawsuit before this period expires will forever bar the right of an injury victim to pursue a lawsuit. While the statute of limitations for injury to a person is four (4) years in Florida, there are special situations that might impact commencement of the limitations period. Because determining the statute of limitations (SOL) can be complicated, injury victims should always seek prompt legal advice regarding this important legal deadline. The law does not provide any form of hardship exception for failing to comply with the SOL. Non-compliance almost always results in an injury victim being left with no financial compensation to pay medical bills or cover lost wages.
While the SOL is the most critical deadline in the litigation of most personal injury claims, the entire litigation process is governed by important timing requirements. Failure to comply with these deadlines can have a devastating impact on the outcome of your personal injury claim. If you are struck by a city employee who blows through a red light while performing his job, a lawsuit against the city requires compliance with the Florida Tort Claims Act, which includes providing notice of the claim. If you fail to provide timely notice and comply with other procedure requirements, you will be barred from suing the public entity. Failure to satisfy these requirements can be financially devastating when there is not another viable defendant. The entire civil litigation process involves these types of important procedures and deadlines, and our experienced negligence lawyers assist our clients through the litigation process.
Can I use an attorney who handled my contract dispute or divorce?
While it might be appealing to work with an attorney who you have used before, an attorney who did a great job drafting a contract is not necessarily the right attorney for a personal injury claim. Each area of law is made up of volumes of statutes and libraries full of court decisions that interpret these statutes. An attorney who focuses his entire practice on personal injury law will be more likely to have the thorough knowledge and expertise required for effective litigation in injury cases. Patients do not go to an orthopedic doctor if they have a cardiac problem, and the use of divorce lawyer to litigate a personal injury claim makes no more sense. The breadth of knowledge needed to effectively handle cases in one area of law is massive, so an attorney attempting to handle several areas of law faces a major disadvantage against a firm like ours that focuses on personal injury cases.
Am I out of luck if I am injured by a party who is uninsured?
While the insurance coverage available to an at-fault party often will be the source of funds to pay a judgment or settlement, our attorneys recognize the importance of identifying all potential defendants and resources available to satisfy a damage award or settlement. If you are involved in a collision involving an auto accident, for example, we will conduct an investigation designed to reveal the insurance coverage for the responsible driver who caused the crash. However, we also might explore the liability of other parties, such as:
- Unsafe drivers who partially caused the crash
- The owner of the other vehicle
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle or component
- The employer of the negligent driver performing job-related tasks
- Repair shop for faulty maintenance that causes a crash
- The injured parties own uninsured motorist coverage
- Public entities for poorly designed, constructed, or maintained roadways
Our lawyers also run asset searches to identify whether an uninsured driver owns a home or other property that might be available to pay a settlement or judgment. This diligence can be extremely important if you are injured by a party who is uninsured or in an incident that is not covered by the at-fault party’s insurance policies.
Can I pursue a liability claim against a company if an employee of the business caused me to suffer an injury?
The negligence of an employee can be imputed to the employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior. This legal doctrine provides that an employer can be vicariously liable for the act of an employee committed (1) within the scope of employment, or (2) during the course of employment and to further a purpose or interest of the employer. The process of determining whether the activities of an employee meets this test can be extremely complex, so the best option is to seek legal advice regarding this issue. An employer can also be liable for his personal negligence, such as selecting an unlicensed driver to perform deliveries.
What if I cannot afford the costs associated with pursuing a personal injury lawsuit?
Our personal injury law firm handles cases on a contingency fee basis. This form of billing means that our lawyers do not charge an hourly rate or fixed fee for their services. The lawyers receive a percentage of any verdict or settlement. In many cases, our personal injury attorneys also agree to pay case development expenses (like deposition expenses and expert witness fees) with an understanding that these costs will be recouped from any recovery. This arrangement often enables clients to secure legal representation without having to pay any attorney fees or litigation expenses out of their pocket.
What about the fact the insurance adjuster indicated I would be better off not retaining an attorney because the attorney fees would reduce the money I receive?
The insurance adjuster for an at-fault party might seem cooperative and friendly, but the adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount of money the insurance company pays you. This financial relationship between the insurer and its employee makes the adjuster a very poor source of information about your legal rights and options. Although you might have to pay attorney fees, our negligence attorneys usually handle personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement means that any attorney fees paid are a percentage of any recovery. The amount a person pays in attorney fees will usually pale in comparison to the increased recovery an experienced personal injury lawyer can obtain when compared to an unrepresented injury victim.
Speak with a Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury or you have lost a loved one, we welcome you to contact our experienced legal team so that we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights and options. We are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need to reclaim their financial security after a tragic accident, so call us 24/7 at 561-777-7700 or online for a free case review to see how we can help.