Every Injury Lawsuit Has Two Phases
In every personal injury lawsuit, there are two phases that a plaintiff must navigate. The first involves allegations related to negligence. The second involves allegations related to damages. In this article, we’ll describe how these two phases work together to produce a fair verdict.
The negligence phase
First, a plaintiff must establish that the other party is negligent. While Florida rules used to permit lawsuits to go forward even if the plaintiff was more negligent than the defendant, recent legislation has closed the gap. Today, a plaintiff must establish that the other party was at least 50% liable for the accident for the case to move forward. This will weed out numerous claims that otherwise would have passed to a jury. The general sense of passing this legislation is that it reduces insurance costs for businesses, reduces the cost of fighting lawsuits, and otherwise protects their monetary interests from weak claims.
In the negligence phase, the plaintiff needs to establish a theory that holds the defendant liable for their injuries. Theories of negligence run the gamut depending on what sort of accident caused your injury.
In the case of a slip-and-fall accident, the plaintiff must establish that the dangerous condition on-premises was foreseeable. If so, they can establish that the defendant is liable. In a traffic accident lawsuit, they must establish that the other party violated some rule of the road and this led to their injury. Other types of lawsuits, like product liability or medical malpractice, have other theories of negligence. So, the theory of negligence that applies to your case will depend on how you were injured.
The damages phase
For defendants, it becomes a wise strategy to admit negligence instead of fighting the claim in front of the jury when it seems likely that they’ll lose. The reason is: They don’t want the jury to rule against them and then assess damages after they’ve ruled against them. Losing during the negligence phase damages the defendant’s credibility and could result in a higher damages award for the plaintiff. So, in some cases, the defendant will admit negligence and then the case will either head to an arbitrator or be tried before a jury just on damages alone.
In these cases, the plaintiff must establish that their injuries are directly related to the accident. While the aggravation of a pre-existing condition is actionable, it isn’t as strong of an argument as saying that the plaintiff’s injuries were wholly caused by the defendant’s negligence.
In most cases, personal injury attorneys try cases against insurance company attorneys who defend or indemnify a policyholder that is either an individual or a business. The insurance company’s job is to limit damages as much as possible, while your personal injury attorney’s job is to ensure you’re compensated fully for all of your injuries.
Talk to a Port St. Lucie or Stuart, FL Injury Lawyer Today
Eighmie Law Firm represents the interests of plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. Call our Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your road to recovery immediately.