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Defining Negligence in Florida

If you have been involved in any sort of accident, you have likely heard the term "negligence." You may understand that in order for your Miami personal injury lawyer to prevail on your personal injury or wrongful death action, she needs to prove the defendant acted in a negligent manner. Many accident victims, however, lack a full understanding of the important term negligence.

The following is a look at negligence, what it means, and how it is proven.

What is Negligence?

Negligent conduct is conduct that falls short of what a reasonable person would do to prevent a foreseeable risk of harm. In personal injury cases, a defendant can generally be held accountable for injuries and property damage that occur if their conduct falls short of reasonable standards.

What is Reasonable Conduct?

Reasonable conduct will require an examination of the circumstances leading to the injury. The court will analyze what a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances, and compare that to the actual actions taken.

There is no one formula for negligence. Opinions as to the reasonableness of conduct will vary from person to person and are influenced by the self-interest of others. At times, negligence will be so clear there is hardly an argument against it. Other times, negligence will be hotly contested and opinions may vary if a variety of individuals were polled.

Determining Negligent Conduct

To uncover what behavior is negligent, you will need to consider whether, under specific circumstances, a person's conduct was reasonable. Courts will look to the totality of the circumstances to assess negligence. A close review of the circumstances surrounding the accident will usually reveal useful evidence for or against a finding of negligence.

For instance, take the following car accident scenario: Brian was driving to work as he does every weekday morning. It was foggy, so he turned his fog lights and slowed his speed to about 40 mph, as did the other vehicles on the highway. As he exited the roadway, he ran suddenly into the back of a pickup truck driven by Alice. Alice did not have her lights turned on at the time of the accident. Alice and her passengers were injured. They sued Brian claiming he was negligent for following too closely.

Most rear-end accidents involve negligence on the part of the second or following vehicle. However, in this scenario, negligence is not so clear. Brian had his lights safely on and was traveling at a reasonable speed. He did not see the pickup's lights, indicating they were not on. The court in this case would consider:

  • How would a reasonable driver have acted under the circumstances?
  • What would have been reasonable conduct?
  • Was Brian's conduct negligent?

It is likely in this case that Brian would not be found negligent. Looking to the totality of the circumstances, he acted reasonably by slowing down. Due to the fog, he could not and should not have known a vehicle was in front of him because Alice did not have her lights on.

Each accident will require such a thorough analysis of negligence. Your attorney will assess the accident and assist in determining negligence.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Award Winning Miami Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in any sort of accident involving potential negligence, the Miami Personal Injury Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. For over 130 collective years, our firm has handled a wide variety of personal injury claims across South Florida. We will fight for your full compensation from the negligent party, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our dedication and talent has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida's top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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