What is the Standard of Care in Florida Personal Injury Cases?
In order to prove liability in a personal injury case, a victim must prove that the at-fault individual acted negligently. Negligence is any behavior that falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and causes harm to another person.
General OverviewIn order to prove liability in a personal injury case, a victim must prove that the at-fault individual acted negligently. Negligence is any behavior that falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and causes harm to another person. A claim of negligence requires four elements to be proven by the injured party. The plaintiff must first demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty, or obligation, recognized by the law, requiring the defendant to conform to a certain standard of conduct, for the protection of others against unreasonable risks. Second, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant failed to conform to that duty. Third, there must be a reasonably close causal connection between the nonconforming conduct and the resulting injury to the plaintiff. Fourth, the plaintiff must demonstrate some actual harm.
What is the Standard of Care?An essential element of a cause of action based on negligence is the breach of a minimum standard of care. If a defendant falls below this standard of care and causes injury to another, he may be liable for his negligent conduct. Once a duty of care has been established, the standard that the person owing the duty must have met in the case to avoid liability must be determined. Generally, the standard is always that care which a reasonably prudent person should use under like circumstances, which is, ordinary and reasonable care. If a person exercised reasonable and ordinary care to protect another from harm or acted with the degree of care and caution that an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances and surroundings, then the person has not violated any duty to another.
What about Negligence Per Se?Violations of statutes or ordinances may be either negligence per se or evidence of negligence. A negligence per se claim is appropriate under Florida law when there is a violation of a statute which establishes a duty to take precautions to protect a particular class of persons from a particular injury or type of injury; however, the plaintiff must establish that she is of the class the statute was intended to protect, that she suffered injury of the type the statute was designed to prevent, and that the violation of the statute was the proximate cause of her injury. However, not every violation of a statute or rule establishes negligence per se under Florida law; if a statute only protects the public at large, a violation may be used only as evidence of negligence.