Because injuries can occur in so many different ways, the specific legal claims in a personal injury case can vary. Cases may involve different legal principles, duties of care, and other circumstances that can vastly change how an attorney will approach the case. The following are only some examples of different types of personal injury cases.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
When many people think of personal injury cases, they think of motor vehicle accidents. Accidents involving commercial trucks, motorcycles, and cars can cause serious injury not only to vehicle occupants but also to bicyclists and pedestrians in the vicinity. Because of Florida’s no-fault insurance statutes, the right to file a lawsuit against a negligent driver is reserved only for accident victims who sustain particularly serious injuries with long-lasting effects. Otherwise, claims and negotiations will be directly with insurance companies.
Premises liability cases involve injuries that occur on someone else’s private property. Property involved in these cases can be a home, an apartment or condo complex, a hotel, a retail establishment, a restaurant, or any other location that has visitors or customers. A property owner has the duty to keep the premises in safe condition and to repair any possible hazards as soon as possible. If a guest encounters a hazard and suffers injury in a fall or similar accident, they can hold the property owner liable under premises liability principles. A property owner cannot avoid liability by simply claiming they were not aware of the hazard and they can still be found negligent if they should have known about the dangerous condition through regular inspection. Finally, if a hazard cannot be fixed, an owner has the duty to adequately warn visitors.
There are countless products on the market that consumers purchase and use on a daily basis. Consumers should be able to trust that these products are safe for their intended use and, therefore, the companies that make them have the duty to ensure the product is not defective and includes warnings of any possible risks of using the product. If a product is defective or if consumers are not properly warned of potential dangers and an injury occurs, the injured consumer can file a claim for products liability. Products liability cases can involve many different types of products, from motor vehicles to pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment to products meant for babies and children.
Doctors and other medical professionals also have a legal duty to uphold and they are expected to provide the standard of care that another medical professional would provide under similar circumstances. When a doctor falls below this standard of care and a patient suffers unnecessary injury, the doctor can be held liable via a claim for medical malpractice. Not every mistake that a medical professional makes will rise to the level of medical malpractice and, instead, a victim must demonstrate that the doctor acted with medical negligence. Such negligence can include:
- Failure to diagnose an illness or injury;
- Sending a patient home without the necessary treatment;
- Medication errors;
- Surgical mistakes; and/or
- Unsanitary conditions that lead to nosocomial infections.
Some personal injury cases do not involve negligence but instead involve an intentional act committed by the defendant. In most cases, the injury will arise from a violent act such as an assault, sexual assault, or a homicide. Instead of proving negligence in this type of case, an injured victim will have to prove the individual intentionally caused them injury. These cases are often conducted parallel to a criminal case and any criminal convictions may be used as evidence of the party’s actions.
Strict Liability Torts
In other types of personal injury cases, a party may be held liable for injuries even in the absences of negligence. For example, Florida law makes dog owners strictly liable for any injuries caused by dog bites, even if the owner had no idea that the dog could be vicious. In addition, other inherently dangerous activities may lead to a strict liability claim, including blasting, explosions, demolition, and other dangerous activities that have a high risk of injury.
The legal strategy employed in a personal injury case will depend on the particular type of claim being asserted. An experienced Tampa attorney will be able to identify the claim that is appropriate in a specific case and will build an effective case strategy in that way.