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Understanding negligence in Florida personal injury cases

A typical personal injury case has two major components: negligence and damages. To prevail and receive compensation, you must show you suffered certain types of tangible losses. You must also show the losses happened because the defendant acted negligently.

This differs from saying the defendant caused the injury. Sometimes, a person may act perfectly reasonably, yet another person still suffers injury. In most cases, excepting those where strict liability applies, the law requires the defendant to do something wrong and for that wrongdoing to cause the accident.

Duty of care

How can we determine whether someone acted negligently or reasonably? The general rule defines negligence as failing to meet a duty of care one owes to the person who sustains an injury as a result. Duty of care can mean many different things, depending on factors such as the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff, as well as the defendant's role and qualifications.

Duty depends on context

For example, if your doctor gives you medical advice that ends up harming you, you likely have a cause of action, as doctors owe their patients a duty to provide adequate care in keeping with generally accepted standards in the field. On the other hand, if you come to harm because you follow a random neighbor's suggestion, you may have a hard time proving the neighbor had a duty to give you competent medical advice.

When it comes to car accidents, Florida drivers generally have a duty to drive with reasonable care. This means obeying traffic rules, so an action such as speeding or running a red light can provide strong evidence of negligence. A driver can also be negligent by failing to exercise common sense and a normal amount of caution, which can depend a great deal on circumstances. Actions that would be prudent under normal conditions can be negligent, and even reckless, in extreme weather.

As with other legal concepts, the definition of negligence can depend on very many legal and factual issues. The best way to determine if you have a strong case is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.

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