In the State of Florida, general negligence is defined as a “failure to use reasonable care,” according to Civil Jury Instructions 401.4. Reasonable care refers to the level of care that an average, hypothetical person of reasonable caution and competence would use under a particular set of circumstances. For example, in a car, an average reasonably careful driver would obey driving laws and drive in a safe way to avoid a collision. If a driver falls short of exercising the same level of care that this hypothetical reasonable driver would have exhibited, the driver is said to be negligent.
There are also other types of negligence under Florida law. For example, professionals like doctors and lawyers are expected to show more confidence than the average hypothetical reasonable person when these professionals are engaged in their official business. If these professionals fail to provide a competent level of services in accordance with what a reasonable professional with a similar background would have provided, they may be said to be guilty of professional negligence.
Negligence can give rise to a civil case. If a victim of an injury can prove that someone was negligent, and that this negligence was the direct cause of harm, the negligent party could be held legally liable for financial loss in a personal injury claim. A wrongful death claim could also arise if it is proved by surviving family members that negligence caused someone’s death to occur.
Negligence can also be a criminal matter. For example, Florida Statute 784.05 explains that a person who exposes another to injury through culpable negligence could be convicted of a second degree misdemeanor. The same statute makes it a first degree misdemeanor to inflict actual personal injury through culpable negligence.
When negligence occurs, consequences to victims can be substantial. Those harmed due to negligent driving, medical malpractice, negligent property maintenance or other safety failures should determine how best to pursue a civil case for damages.