Guide on how to prove a personal injury case in Florida
Proving Negligence in a Florida Personal Injury Cases
To establish a prima facie case of negligence, the plaintiff must establish: (1) the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant breached the duty; (3) the breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) as a result the plaintiff suffered damages. Negligence is conduct (the commission of an act or failure to act), without wrongful intent, that falls below the minimum degree of ordinary care imposed by law to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm. A prima facie case of negligence consists of four elements: i) Duty, the obligation to protect another against unreasonable risk of injury; ii) Breach, the failure to meet that obligation; iii) Causation, a close causal connection between the action and the injury; and iv) Damages, the loss suffered. To establish a prima facie case of negligence, the plaintiff must establish: (1) the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant breached the duty; (3) the breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) as a result the plaintiff suffered damages. The plaintiff must establish all four elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence.
A duty is the obligation to protect another against unreasonable risk of injury. A duty is of care is owed to all foreseeable persons who may foreseeably be injured by the defendant’s failure to act as a reasonable prudent person under the circumstances. In Florida, if the defendant conduct creates a foreseeable zone of danger, the defendant owes a duty of care to persons within that zone. It is not necessary for defendant to foresee the actual injury that occurs. A duty is breached when the defendant fails to meet such obligation.
A breach of duty occurs when the defendant departs from the required standards of care, or under res ipsa loquitur. Res Ipsa Loquitor allows a plaintiff to recover on a negligence claim even if he failed to prove an element of negligence, if he can show that (1) the injury does not normally occur in the absence of negligence; (2) the defendant had exclusive control of the instrumentality or premises; and (3) that the injury was a result of any action on the part of plaintiff. If the plaintiff establishes all the elements, it will create an inference of negligence to the jury.
CAUSATION (Actual & Proximate)
There are 2 types of causation, which is a close causal connection between the action and the injury. The plaintiff must prove the defendant’s actions were both the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Damages to the plaintiff are the loss suffered. A duty is owed to all foreseeable plaintiffs. The plaintiff must show that but for the defendant’s breach (actual cause) the plaintiff would not have been injured, and the defendant’s actions were the proximate (or legal) cause of the injuries, and that such injuries were a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions. The plaintiff must prove the defendant’s breach of duty was a proximate cause of her harm. In Florida, the injury must be a foreseeable outcome, a prudent human must be able to expect that similar harm is likely to be substantially caused by the act or omission at issue. A plaintiff can recover when the defendant’s acts are the direct cause of the plaintiff’s harm. An indirect cause is a result from an act occurring after the defendant’s act but before plaintiff’s injury. A superseding cause is an intervening event that breaks the chain of proximate cause between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s harm. In Florida, to be superseding, an intervening cause must not be foreseeable nor set in motion by the defendant’s negligence. Foreseeable intervening acts do not generally remove the liability from the defendant. Unforeseeable intervening acts, however, break the chain of causation and remove the liability from the defendant.
In Florida, a plaintiff must prove actual harm, such as personal injury or property damage. A plaintiff who suffers economic loss can only recover if the plaintiff has proven non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. As for compensatory damages, a Defendant must compensate a plaintiff for all damages, including past, present, and prospective damages, as well as economic (medical expenses, etc.) and non-economic (pain and suffering). However, Plaintiff must take reasonable steps to mitigate their damages.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on
their profile in addition to the information we collect from state
bar associations and other organizations that license legal
professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo
with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do
What determines Avvo Rating?
Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, education
Legal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awards
Legal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagements
This lawyer was disciplined by a state licensing authority in .
Disciplinary information may not be comprehensive, or updated. We recommend that you always check a lawyer's disciplinary status with their respective state bar association before hiring them.