What Is Liability?

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What Is Liability?

Liability in a personal injury case means a party is held financially responsible for the damages and injuries they cause. However, before you can hold a party liable for your damages, you must prove the legal elements of a tort claim.

A tort is conduct that causes harm or injury to another person. Therefore, you must prove that the other party caused your injury before you can hold that party financially liable for your damages. Most personal injury cases in Florida are based on one of three types of torts:

Negligence

Negligence

Most personal injury and accident claims are based on negligence. Negligence is the failure to act with sufficient care to avoid causing harm or injury to someone. The legal elements of a negligence claim are:

  • Duty of Care – The person owed you a legal duty of care
  • Breach of Duty – The person breached the duty of care through their acts or omissions
  • Causation – The person’s breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries
  • Damages – The breach of duty caused you to sustain injuries and damages

Examples of negligence claims include slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, car accidents, and premises liability claims. The person does not need to intend to cause harm; mistakes and errors can lead to negligence claims.

Intentional Torts

A person commits an intentional tort if they act with the intent of hurting or causing harm to another person or a person’s property. Examples of intentional torts include:

  • Assault and/or battery
  • Trespass
  • Sexual assault 
  • Fraud
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Manslaughter and homicide

An intentional tort often involves a criminal act. However, the criminal charge is separate from a personal injury claim. The person does not need to be arrested or convicted of a crime for the injured person to recover compensation for a personal injury claim.

Strict Liability 

Strict liability holds a party responsible for damages, regardless of the party’s intent or fault. In other words, a party does not need to be negligent or intend to hurt someone to be responsible for their damages. All the party needs to do is be responsible for the act or item that causes the injury.

For example, Florida is a strict liability state for dog bites. Florida Statute §767.01 states that the owner of a dog is liable for any damages caused by the dog. 

Likewise, activities that are abnormally dangerous create strict liability. Even if the party takes the highest level of care, there is still an inherent danger that the activity will cause harm. Examples include transporting hazardous materials and demolition. 

Many product liability cases are based on strict negligence. Manufacturers, designers, distributors, sellers, and other parties can be held strictly liable if they create, make, and sell a product that is unsafe to use because of a defect.

There are some defenses to strict liability claims. If you contributed to the cause of your injury, your compensation could be reduced by your level of fault. 

What Damages Is the Party Liable for in a Personal Injury Case?

When a party intentionally causes harm, causes harm because of negligence, or is strictly liable for harm, they can be financially responsible for damages. Damages are primarily compensatory. The damages compensate the person for losses or harm.

The two types of compensatory damages are economic damages and non-economic damages. Examples of economic damages for a personal injury include:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Cost of in-home or long-term nursing care
  • Physical, vocational, and occupational therapies
  • Counseling and psychotherapy
  • Out-of-pocket expenses 
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Assistance with household chores and personal care
  • Diminished earning potential

Non-economic damages represent pain and suffering. They also include compensation for permanent impairments and disabilities. Non-economic damages include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical discomfort and pain
  • Mental anguish
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement

Some injured parties might be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages do not compensate the injured party for damages. Instead, they “punish” a defendant for intentional misconduct and gross negligence. 

What Is Vicarious Liability? 

In most cases, only the person who directly and proximately caused your injury is liable for damages. However, there are situations in which you could hold another party liable too.

Vicarious liability holds a supervisory party liable for the conduct of an associate or subordinate. Vicarious liability can be used to hold an employer liable for damages caused by an employee. For example, holding a restaurant owner responsible for a waiter spilling hot soup in your lap or a trucking company responsible for a truck accident caused by a truck driver.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Personal Injury Lawyers

Our lawyers from Winters and Yonker, P.A. have extensive experience investigating and pursuing personal injury claims. We take care of proving liability so you can receive the money you deserve for a personal injury or accident. Contact our experienced injury law firm in Tampa today to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

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