According to Florida case law as of the date of this article, a claim for negligence requires (1) a legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) breach of that duty by the defendant, (3) injury to the plaintiff which was legally caused by defendant’s breach, and (4) damages as a result of that injury. The key here is finding the existence of a duty:
“We have long held that to succeed on a claim of negligence, a plaintiff must establish the four elements of duty, breach, proximate causation, and damages. See, e.g., U.S. v. Stevens, 994 So.2d 1062, 1065–66 (Fla.2008). Of these elements, only the existence of a duty is a legal question because duty is the standard to which the jury compares the conduct of the defendant. McCain, 593 So.2d at 503. Florida law recognizes the following four sources of duty: (1) statutes or regulations; (2) common law interpretations of those statutes or regulations; (3) other sources in the common law; and (4) the general facts of the case. Id. at 503 n. 2. As in this case, when the source of the duty falls within the first three sources, the factual inquiry necessary to establish a duty is limited.4 The court must simply determine whether a statute, regulation, or the common law imposes a duty of care upon the defendant. The judicial determination of the existence of a duty is a minimal threshold that merely opens the courthouse doors. Id. at 502. Once a court has concluded that a duty exists, Florida law neither requires nor allows the court to further expand its consideration into how a reasonably prudent person would or should act under the circumstances as a matter of law.5 We have clearly stated that the remaining elements of negligence—breach, proximate causation, and damages—are to be resolved by the fact-finder. See Dorsey v. Reider, 139 So.3d 860, 866 (Fla.2014); Williams v. Davis, 974 So.2d 1052, 1056 n. 2 (Fla.2007) (citing McCain, 593 So.2d at 504); see also Orlando Exec. Park, Inc. v. Robbins, 433 So.2d 491, 493 (Fla.1983) (“[I]t is peculiarly a jury function to determine what precautions are reasonably required in the exercise of a particular duty of due care.” (citation omitted)), receded from on other grounds by Mobil Oil Corp. v. Bransford, 648 So.2d 119, 121 (Fla.1995)..”
Related (From Alan’s injury blog):
- Negligence Lawsuits in Florida
- What is Pain and Suffering under Florida Law?
- What are economic and non-economic damages?
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