Speculation Versus Proof in Florida Personal Injury Cases

In order to prove a Florida personal injury claim, a plaintiff has the burden to prove all of the elements of a negligence claim. Negligence cannot be presumed. This means that there must be at least some evidence to prove each element of negligence. In proving causation, Florida courts have held that the plaintiff must show that the accident was “more likely than not” caused by the defendant’s negligence. Evidence of negligence cannot be based on pure speculation. This is true of proving damages as well, which generally are not presumed either.

A recent state appellate decision illustrates this principle. In that case, the appeals court considered whether there was evidence of negligence when a driver claimed he did not see a pedestrian before he hit him on a highway. The defendant left home early in the morning to go to work about an hour away. He was on his way there, driving along the highway, at or under the speed limit. He was shifting to another lane, looking in his rearview mirror, when “his vehicle vibrated and jerked, and his windshield shattered,” and he realized he had hit something.

Glass flew into the defendant’s face, so he continued until he could pull over along the side of the road. He then walked back to the crash and saw a man in the road, who was later identified as the plaintiff’s husband. The husband died as a result of his injuries. The crash happened at about 5:30 in the morning, it was dark out, and the street was dimly lit. The defendant was driving with his headlights on.

The victim’s wife sued the defendant, claiming that the driver was at fault because he failed to exercise due care while driving, which caused him to hit her husband. The appeals court found the plaintiff failed to show the driver was negligent. There was no evidence that the defendant was driving in an unsafe manner. He was not speeding and had his headlights on, and there was no evidence he was not paying attention to the road. In addition, the husband was crossing in the middle of the street, where there were no crosswalks. Therefore, there was no evidence the defendant was negligent in any way. Although an accident reconstructionist testified that if the defendant had been properly watching the road, he would not have hit the husband, that was mere speculation. As a result, the court dismissed the case for lack of evidence of negligence.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?

If you have been injured due to another person’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct, you may be able to recover financial compensation by filing a Florida personal injury lawsuit. Retaining an experienced attorney with a strong reputation increases your chances of obtaining a favorable settlement or winning at trial. The law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank provides clients with the resources of a large firm but with the personalized attention of a smaller firm. Our Miami car accident lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of accident victims. Call us at 877-448-8585 or use our online form for an appointment.

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