Overview of Florida’s Court System
It’s important for personal injury and wrongful death litigants to understand how the Florida court system works. The more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to navigate the litigation process.
For example, you need to know the difference between Florida’s courts. There are three distinct judicial layers: trial courts, appellate courts, and the Florida Supreme Court.
Florida Trial Courts
Florida divides its trial courts into county courts and circuit courts.
Florida has 67 counties, each of which has one county court. The county courts have jurisdiction over personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involving less than $15,000 (among other disputes). There are 20 circuit courts, which have jurisdiction over citizen disputes involving more than $15,000. Circuit courts also hear appeals from the county court cases.
Florida Appeals Courts
There are five district courts of appeal, which review decisions made by the trial courts. In fact, in most cases the courts of appeal have the final say. Very few lawsuits make it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.
A panel of three judges reviews the trial court decision and make sure there was no harmful error. However, appeals do not happen automatically. Plaintiffs and defendants must actively pursue their appeal.
Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the state. There are seven justices on the court (unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, which has nine justices.) There are certain cases that the court must review, and other cases that it may review. But the high court doesn’t grant review in many cases, so it’s unlikely that your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit will be heard.
Filing a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The first step after an accident is seeking medical attention. It also helps if you’re able to write down details about the accident and contact information for witnesses. Then reach out to an experienced attorney for help filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Remember that the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit is four years from the date of the injury, and the deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the death.
Keep in mind that Florida is a comparative fault state, which means that the amount of damages plaintiffs receive is reduced by their own percentage of fault.
There are different rules for filing an appeal, whether to a district court of appeal or the Florida Supreme Court. You don’t want to miss a filing deadline, so make sure you request help from an experienced attorney.
Contact Us Today
Contact a Miami personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you are injured or a loved one is killed because of another person’s negligence. We will guide you through the litigation process and help recover compensation for your injuries.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Jacksonville, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.