A picture of a woman with neck injury in a wheelchair and a man in a desk with the title "Personal Injury Defense Arguments

Personal Injury Defense Arguments

When you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Florida, you may expect to receive fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, corporations, property owners, and insurance companies will go to great lengths to minimize their liability. Personal injury defense arguments are employed by teams of lawyers to take advantage of any complicating circumstances surrounding your case.  

Some common factors that can undermine a personal injury claim include shared fault, failure to mitigate damages, pre-existing medical conditions, and statutes of limitations among others. Defendants and their insurance providers will leverage the advice of their experienced legal counsel to scrutinize every detail and identify potential loopholes that could reduce their financial responsibility.

Accident victims are strongly advised to level the playing field by seeking out the strategic advice of a Florida-licensed personal injury attorney with a proven track record of success. A skilled personal injury lawyer knows how to gather evidence, navigate complex laws, negotiate with deep-pocketed opponents, and if needed, present a compelling case to a jury. While corporations have legal teams on their payroll, plaintiffs can engage their own tenacious advocates to fight for maximum compensation. Entering settlement negotiations alone puts you at a significant disadvantage against well-funded adversaries determined to pay out as little as possible.

The following arguments form a large portion of the legal strategies used by defendants in Florida personal injury cases:

Assumption of Risk

In this legal argument, defendants show that a victim was aware of the hazards involved with visiting a location or participating in an activity. For example, an argument can be made that anyone who participates in a martial arts competition would be aware of the dangers of being kicked, punched or caused to lose balance and fall. If these situations do occur in the competition, the defense would argue, then the victim’s claim for compensation would be diminished or nullified by their decision to participate despite previous knowledge of the danger they were getting into.

Comparative Fault

Florida Statute Chapter 768 states that if the victim of an accident can be found to be 50% or more at fault either through their own negligence or by contributing to the accident in some way, then no damages can be recovered. Defendants and their attorneys can also use this argument to mitigate their liability if they cannot completely prevent having to pay damages.  They can do this because the law states that if the victim can be found to be less than 50% at fault that they can only recover proportionate damages. 

Therefore, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault as the victim of an accident in which they were injured and total damages are determined to be $10,000,000, then the victim may be awarded damages of no more than $8,000,000 or 80% of the total damages. However, if they were determined to be 50% or more at fault, then they would receive nothing. 

Florida’s Statute of Limitations

In Florida, there is a strict time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a slip and fall accident. The statute of limitations, which was recently reduced from four years to two years, sets a deadline for legal action. If you fail to file your lawsuit within this two-year window, the property owner may have a valid defense, and your case could be dismissed. It’s crucial to act promptly because the clock starts ticking on the date of the incident. Delaying legal action could potentially forfeit your right to seek compensation.

For example, if you tripped and fell at a Florida-based grocery store on June 1, 2023, you would have until June 1, 2025, to file a lawsuit against the property owner. If you miss this deadline, the court may refuse to hear your case, regardless of the merits or the severity of your injuries.

Posted Warning Signs

Property owners may attempt to avoid liability by claiming that they had posted warning signs alerting visitors to the hazardous conditions. In some instances, this could serve as a valid defense, as the injured party may be considered negligent for disregarding the warning. However, the placement of warning signs alone does not absolve the property owner of their duty to take reasonable efforts to maintain a safe premises.

For example, if a store had a spill on the floor and simply placed a “wet floor” sign without promptly cleaning up the hazard, the owner could still be held liable for any resulting injuries. The law requires property owners to take reasonable steps to address known dangers in a timely manner, not merely provide warnings.

On the other hand, if a construction site had clearly posted signs indicating an active work zone with potential falling debris, and the accident victim chose to enter the area despite the warnings, the property owner may have a stronger case for avoiding liability, as the visitor assumed the risk by ignoring the posted alerts.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of a warning sign defense depends on the specific circumstances of the case, including the clarity and visibility of the signage, the nature of the hazard, and whether the property owner took appropriate action to mitigate the risk within a reasonable timeframe.

The Importance of an Attorney 

When you’ve been injured in a Florida-based accident, time is of the essence to engage an experienced personal injury attorney. This is because the state’s statute of limitations places a strict deadline of just two years to file a lawsuit in most cases. Missing this window could permanently forfeit your legal right to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Many accident victims hesitate to exercise their right to legal representation due to concerns over upfront costs. However, a competent Florida personal injury lawyer with the resources to handle a potentially complex and time-consuming case will charge on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay no fees until and unless your attorney succeeds in recovering compensation for you. 

With a contingency fee arrangement, victims incur no hourly legal charges or expensive retainer fees up front. Instead, payment to your attorney comes as a percentage of the final settlement or court award obtained on your behalf. If for some reason your case is unsuccessful and you receive no money, you walk away owing no attorney fees whatsoever.

This levels the playing field by allowing injury victims to secure top legal talent right away without worrying about the financial strain of costly legal bills. Your lawyer then has great incentive to maximize your compensation, as their pay depends on delivering a positive outcome for you as quickly as possible.  

While it may be tempting to battle the insurance companies alone to avoid legal costs, having skilled legal representation from the start gives you the best chance at a full and fair recovery. The other side will certainly have teams of lawyers working aggressively to minimize what they pay out. An experienced contingency fee attorney serves as your battle-tested advocate to protect your rights and interests every step of the way.

South Florida Law

Having your own legal team helps avoid pitfalls set by the legal teams of negligent corporations and bad-faith insurance companies.

South Florida Law is a Florida law firm with a strong personal injury practice and extensive experience in dealing with complex cases. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, experienced personal injury attorneys from South Florida Law first identify if you have a case for compensation. If you do, the firm can agree to bring you on for a contingency fee, which means you don’t pay a dime unless we win your case.

Have you or a loved one been injured due to the negligence or actions of others? Reach out to South Florida Law today for a free consultation at (954) 900-8885 or through our contact form.

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