A limb from your neighbor's tree falls and damages your car. You slip and fall on a crack in the sidewalk outside the grocery store. Someone takes property belonging to you and refuses to return it. We know instinctively that these situations are unfair. What does the law say about them? A tort is a technical legal term, but essentially it just means something careless or intentionally wrongful that a person or business did that harmed someone else. It can injure someone physically, damage their property, cause them to lose money, inflict intangible damage on their reputation, or do more than one of these things at once. Tort cases are litigated in civil court, like contract cases, and generally the relief sought is monetary damages. Pursuing a lawsuit or defending against it is complicated and sometimes risky, so you should get knowledgeable legal counsel on your side. Pensacola torts lawyer Ryan M. Cardoso can personally evaluate your case and aggressively pursue a claim for damages.Negligence
Negligence is the most common cause of action for accidental harm to a person or property. There are four elements that must be proven to sustain a claim for damages due to negligence. There must be a duty on the part of the defendant to protect others from unreasonable risks. (This is also known as the duty of due care.) There must be a failure to protect others from an unreasonable risk. (This is also known as a breach.) There must be a direct causal connection between the failure to act with due care and the resulting harm. Finally, there must be actual damages sustained by the plaintiff.
When people are engaged in any activity that might affect others, such as driving, maintaining property, or performing their job duties, they owe a certain duty of due care. Florida employers may also be liable for the negligent acts of their employees through what is called vicarious liability, simply based on the employment relationship. Employers can also be liable directly for failing to hire, supervise, or train employees with the appropriate care.Slip and Fall
Many cases are litigated each year in which a victim slipped and fell on a defendant's property. A plaintiff needs to show that they were lawfully present on the defendant's property, that the defendant failed to reasonably maintain the condition of the property, and that this lapse caused an unreasonable risk that resulted in the injury to the plaintiff. Wet floors, uneven pavement, broken steps, and many other conditions can substantiate a claim for damages following a slip and fall.Tortious Interference with Contracts and Business Relationships
People have a right to execute contracts and maintain business relationships without interference. In cases of interference with contracts or business relationships, there must be knowledge of the contract or business relationship, an intent to interfere with the contract or relationship, and resulting harm in order for a plaintiff to be awarded monetary damages.Assault and Battery
It is illegal to intentionally cause harmful or offensive contact to someone else; this is battery. Intentionally causing apprehension of a harmful or offensive touching is assault. Assault and battery commonly, but not always, arise from the same set of circumstances. For example, it is an assault when a fist is swung, and it is a battery when the fist comes into contact with the plaintiff's body. Assault and battery can be prosecuted as crimes with criminal penalties, but a torts attorney in Pensacola can help victims bring a civil claim for damages based on the same conduct.Fraud
False statements that are made knowingly or without regard to the truth, regarding material facts, can give rise to a claim for fraud if the plaintiff relied on the false statement and sustained damages as a result. Examples of fraud include misrepresenting the condition of a home in order to induce a buyer to purchase it or misrepresenting the viability of a business in order to induce someone to purchase it.Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Sometimes tortious conduct harms the mind rather than the body or the bank account. Peace of mind does have legal protection, but the evidence to sustain a claim for emotional distress must be compelling. The egregious conduct must go beyond mere insults, indignity, annoyance, or wounded feelings. The action giving rise to the claim must be extreme and outrageous, and there must be some evidence of genuine mental disturbance. Sexual harassment claims arising at a workplace when a Florida employer is not covered by federal or state employment laws can be litigated as torts under a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. A Pensacola torts attorney can advise you on whether you have a claim in your specific situation.Defamation
Communications that tend to injure the reputation of someone else are broadly known as defamation. Slander is when the communication is spoken, while libel is a written communication. There must be proof of damages or an actual injury to prevail in an action for defamation in civil court.Malicious Prosecution
Someone who is wrongfully prosecuted may bring a civil action against the private citizen who made the initial criminal complaint, as well as the police officers who acted on it. Florida prosecutors are generally immune from liability when performing their prosecutorial duties. Four elements must be established to support a claim for malicious prosecution. There must be a criminal proceeding against the plaintiff, brought or continued by the defendant. The plaintiff must have been acquitted, there must have been no probable cause for the criminal charge, and it must have been based on a malicious intent, or a primary purpose other than serving justice.Conversion
An intent to exercise control or dominion over another person’s personal goods, which interferes with that person's rights over the property, constitutes conversion. The converted property could be moved, transferred, withheld, used, or even destroyed. The conversion is complete when the property is taken, held, or disposed of. A plaintiff in an action for conversion can force the defendant to pay the value of the property, or if the property is returned, the returned property will only go toward a reduction of the damages owed.Civil Theft
The State of Florida protects its elderly from theft and financial exploitation under the Civil Theft Statute. In order to prevail on a claim for civil theft, a plaintiff must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant, with a felonious intent to deprive the plaintiff of the use of their property, knowingly obtained or used or endeavored to obtain or use the plaintiff’s property. This cause of action can result in treble damages, but it must be prepared and filed in strict compliance with the requirements of the statute. For example, the statute requires that a demand letter be sent to the defendant prior to filing the lawsuit.
In this or in any other tort matter, you should consult an accomplished torts lawyer in the Pensacola area. Ryan M. Cardoso is ready to vindicate your rights and pursue your damages. Call our office at (850) 466-2073 or request a consultation online. Ryan M. Cardoso also serves residents of Cantonment, Brent, Bellview, Ferry Pass, Century, Gulf Breeze, Navarre, Jay, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, West Pensacola, Milton, and Niceville, as well as other communities in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties.