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Pursuing a negligence claim in Florida

In the context of a car accident, in order to say that a negligent driver caused the crash and should be held responsible, a plaintiff, the accident victim, must show five distinct things.

The first thing a plaintiff must show is that the defendant, the allegedly negligent driver, owed the plaintiff a legal obligation or duty. Drivers, for example, have a duty to act reasonably under the conditions and to not break laws or act in a way that might injure other motorists. The plaintiff then needs to demonstrate that, not only did the defendant owe them a duty, but that the defendant’s actions breached that duty. For example, the defendant had a legal duty not to text on his cellphone while driving, and by doing so, he breached the duty owed to the plaintiff.

The third thing a plaintiff must show is that the defendant’s actions actually caused the plaintiff’s injuries or property damage. This is usually done using a “but-for” analysis: But for defendant’s distracted driving, plaintiff would not have been hurt. Fourth, the defendant’s act must also have been the “proximate cause” of the plaintiff’s injuries or damage. To show this, it must be demonstrated that it was reasonably foreseeable that defendant’s actions would result in the injuries that can occur in a car accident.

Finally, if the first four elements have been met, a plaintiff must show that they suffered damages – physical or monetary injuries, pain and suffering and property damage are all types of legal damages. However, without damages, a plaintiff usually will not have a case.

Source:, “Elements of a negligence case,” accessed Apr. 1, 2018