What is the difference between fault and damages in a Florida personal injury case?

Leesburg Florida trial lawyer discusses the difference between fault and damages in a personal injury case.

This is how the story begins.  A client is injured in an accident where the defendant acted like a fool.  Maybe the other driver was driving 100 miles per hour or driving drunk. The other person’s behavior was really bad.  The other person is hurt in the accident but the injuries do not equal the facts of the accident.  For instance, if you look were to look at the car – you wouldn’t think the person in the car survived; however, the person in the vehicle only received a whiplash.  The injured person is pissed about how the defendant acted and he/she wants the defendant to pay – partly because of how bad the defendant’s behavior was.

The injured person sends a demand to the other person’s insurance company.  The insurance companies responds with an offer that the injured person doesn’t believe fits the facts of the cases.  The offer could be $10,000 or $50,000 but the injured person gets really mad.

The injured person will usually start the sentence – “I could have died because of….” And they are certainly right.  However, the injured person is blending two significant elements of a personal injury claim – Liability (fault) and Damages (injury).  With statements like I “could have died” or “the other person did so and so”, the injured person is talking about the facts of the accident, which goes to the element of liability (fault).  The insurance company is already accepting liability or responsibility for the accident that is why they are offering money. The insurance company knows that if the matter has to go to court – a jury will never learn about most of the defendant’s behavior because they will admit responsibility for the accident.  Odds are that if the defendant admits responsibility (liability) a Martin or St. Lucie County judge is not going to allow the injured person’s lawyer to discuss the bad behavior – the judge will take the position that testimony about the behavior is not relevant because the defendant admitted “fault.”

The damages element of a personal injury case takes into account the injured person’s losses, including medical bills, hospital bills, lost wages, and if the person has a permanent injury, pain and suffering. Damages and liability are two different things the injured person has to prove and most of the time, the elements do not overlap.  So, even though the injured person is pissed off about the defendant’s behavior, and they should be because the defendant was a jerk and the injuries could have been much worse, an insurance will not put more money on the file.

These are some of the complexities in dealing with personal injury cases, which sometimes are difficult to understand.  If you have any questions about a Leesburg Florida accident case, you can always call me directly on my cell phone at (352) 267-9168to discuss your questions.