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I was injured in Illinois. Can I file a lawsuit against the party that caused my injury?

You can make a claim against another party or parties if they are at least partially at fault for your injuries. In general, when a person is injured as a result of another person's negligence, the injured party may pursue a claim against the party or parties that caused the injuries. Any personal injury case depends on liability, damages, and whether or not you can collect from the negligent party or parties. Florida follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. Under this doctrine, a claimant's recovery is diminished in proportion to his degree of fault, but the claimant's fault, no matter how great, will not act as a bar to recovery.
Personal injury law attempts to cover all areas and types of injuries suffered by individuals. Some of the most common areas are automobile accidents, premise liability, medical malpractice, and product liability, among others. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.

In Florida, automobile accident liability law is based on a no-fault system. Generally, for all four­ wheel passenger motor vehicles (excluding taxis and limousines), the only required insurance coverage includes $10,000 in coverage for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in coverage for property damage liability. If you were in an automobile accident in Florida, you would have a personal injury protection claim (PIP) to your own insurance company, regardless of fault. This would cover losses to include 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages, less any deductible, up to a maximum of $10,000. It also provides for a $5000 death benefit. PIP benefits cover the named insured, relatives residing in the same household, persons operating the insured motor vehicle, passengers in the motor vehicle, and pedestrians or bicyclists struck by the vehicle. If the other driver is at fault, you also have a property damage claim against their property damage liability insurance coverage. Bodily injury liability coverage is not required in Florida, but if purchased will provide you with insurance if you injure someone else. If you have suffered permanent injuries, you may make a claim against the at fault driver's bodily injury policy for the damages not covered by no-­fault. These damages may include your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and any additional future wage loss or medical expenses.

In order to make a claim against an at­ fault driver, your injury must meet certain criteria called “thresholds.” These thresholds are: significant or permanent loss of an important bodily function; injury that is permanent within a reasonable degree of medical certainty; significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or death. Uninsured motorist coverage is optional and would provide coverage for personal injuries to you if an at­ fault driver was not covered by bodily injury coverage or if their coverage was not enough to cover your damages.

Liability claims are usually the subject of negotiation between your lawyer and the liability insurer for the negligent party. Lawsuits are generally filed when negotiations are unable to reach a settlement.  If you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver, your attorney will need to prove that the other party was negligent and that the other party's negligence caused injuries that resulted in compensable damages.

If you were injured at someone else's home or at a commercial establishment, the person responsible for the premises may be found liable. This can cover a variety of situations including slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, among others. In Florida, the duty of a landowner to the injured person varies depending on the status of the person at the time of the injury. The standard of care owed to a trespasser is usually less than that owed to a person who has permission to be on the property. It is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the premises and to warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known, or should be known to him, if the conditions are not likely to be perceived by the visitor. The owner or operator of the property must have notice of the defect or circumstances that caused your injury prior to the injury having occurred. The notice can either be actual notice or implied notice, meaning the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition given all of the surrounding facts and circumstances. The person liable for your damages is the party in control of the property. That party is responsible for the care, maintenance and inspection of the property. For example, an owner may not be held liable if he or she has leased the property to another party who actually has control over the premises.

Product Liability concerns recovery for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of a product. An action can be based on negligence, breach of implied or express warranty, strict liability, or misrepresentation. When a company designs and manufactures a product, they have a responsibility to ensure that anyone exercising reasonable care within the expected parameters of usage expected for the product will not be injured. Under the newest theory of strict liability, you do not have to prove the manufacturer or designer was negligent. You only have to prove that the product was defective due to faulty design, error in manufacturing, or that the manufacturer did not provide sufficient warning of potential risks or failed to provide adequate instructions. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, including the manufacturer, designer, or the retail store. There are limits to product liability law such as when the product is too old or if the consumer was careless in using the product.

When a health care provider causes injury due to his or her failure to meet the accepted standards of care for that particular field of expertise, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. A claim can be brought against physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and pharmacists among others. Some examples of medical malpractice include incorrect diagnosis, failure to treat, improper treatment, delay in treatment, prescription errors, surgical errors, rendition of services without informed consent, etc. Medical malpractice claims are some of the most difficult to prevail in and are quite costly due to the need for qualified expert review and testimony.


Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.

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