What Types of Damages Can I Recover in Florida?

Grasping the consequences of an accident can be challenging, and knowing your rights regarding compensation is vital. In Florida, you can seek damages if you’ve sustained injuries because of someone else’s carelessness. We will explore the different kinds of compensation available in a personal injury case.

Economic Damages

Financial repercussions are often the first concern after an accident. Economic damages cover your monetary losses. If your injury affects your earning capacity, that should also be accounted for. Here’s a detailed look:

  1. Medical Expenses: This includes all the costs for medical care related to your injury, from the initial treatment to ongoing therapies or rehabilitation. It covers hospital bills, medication costs, physical therapy, and future medical expenses linked to the injury.
  2. Lost Wages: If your injury prevents you from working, you can claim compensation for lost income. This includes wages you’ve lost to date and potential future earnings if your injury affects your ability to work long-term.
  3. Property Damage: If personal property was damaged as a result of the incident (like your car in an auto accident), you can be compensated for repair or replacement costs.

Non-Economic Damages

In Florida, personal injury cases also recognize that not all injuries are to your wallet. Non-economic damages compensate for the pain and suffering you’ve endured because of your injury. Here’s a detailed look:

  1. Pain and Suffering: These damages compensate for the physical pain and emotional distress you’ve endured due to the injury. This can include compensation for chronic pain, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible losses.
  2. Loss of Consortium: If your injury adversely affects your relationship with your spouse, you may be entitled to these damages. They compensate for the loss of companionship, affection, and other elements of the marital relationship.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages also play a unique role in the legal system. Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to reimburse the victim for losses (like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering), punitive damages serve a different purpose. Here’s a detailed explanation:

Purpose of Punitive Damages:

  1. Punishment: Punitive damages are primarily designed to punish the defendant for particularly harmful behavior. This differs from most civil damages, which focus on the victim’s loss rather than penalizing the wrongdoer.
  2. Deterrence: The purpose of the penalties is to deter the defendant and others, discouraging similar misconduct in the future. The idea is to make the cost of wrongful behavior so high that it dissuades similar actions by the defendant and others.

Florida’s Comparative Negligence Rule

Florida’s Comparative Negligence Rule is a legal standard used in personal injury cases to determine how compensation is awarded when multiple parties are at fault. Here are the critical aspects of this rule:

  1. Definition of Comparative Negligence: This rule allocates fault among all parties involved in an incident. 
  2. Determining Fault Percentage: In Florida, each party involved in an incident, such as a car accident or a slip-and-fall case, is assigned a percentage of fault. This percentage is determined based on evidence, witness statements, expert testimony, and other factors indicating how each party’s actions contributed to the incident.
  3. Impact on Compensation: The total amount of compensation that a plaintiff can receive is adjusted based on their percentage of fault. 
  4. Fair Compensation: This rule ensures that compensation is fair and proportionate to each party’s responsibility for an incident. 
  5. Application in Lawsuits: The comparative negligence rule is applied during the damages phase of a lawsuit. After establishing liability, the jury (or the judge in a bench trial) decides each party’s percentage of fault.
  6. Negotiations and Settlements: This rule also influences negotiations and settlements outside the courtroom. Insurance companies and lawyers often use the comparative negligence standard to estimate the likely outcome of a trial and base their settlement offers on these estimations.
  7. Variations in States: It is important to note that different states have different rules when it comes to fault. Florida’s law recently changed from a pure comparative fault state – meaning that you could be 99% at fault and still recover 1% of your damages – to a modified comparative fault state – where now if you are more than 50% at fault, you get nothing.  But don’t let this dissuade you from pursuing a claim until all facts are investigated. You may think you were at fault, but after a full investigation, it could be found otherwise.  

Statute of Limitations

Remember, in Florida, you have a limited window to file a personal injury lawsuit—specifically, two years from the date of the injury. So, it’s essential to act swiftly to protect your rights.

We’re Here to Help Every Step of the Way

Whether you’re dealing with a minor injury or severe disfigurement resulting from someone else’s negligence, our team is here for you. Get in touch with a Florida injury firm that can help. Contact Zweben Law Group, based in Stuart, Florida, and serving all of Florida. Call us at 772-223-5454 today to schedule a FREE initial consultation.