As most people seem to know, has one of the most protective stand-your-ground laws in the country. Under Florida’s law, a person who is under attack or who witnesses an attack on someone else is justified in using force – even deadly force – to prevent death or “great bodily harm.”
But, what most people don’t know is how ’s stand-your-ground law affects claims for personal injuries or wrongful death. The stand-your-ground law provides a defense to criminal charges, but this does not necessarily mean that it applies in civil injury cases as well. So, what are your rights if you were injured by someone who believed that they were “standing their ground”?
Stand-Your-Ground and Personal Injury Claims
Consider the following scenario: You are walking in downtown West Palm Beach and suddenly someone assaults the person next to you. Out of self-defense, the victim fights back. But, it all happens so fast, and you don’t have time to get out of the way before the victim accidentally hits you. Now, your nose is broken and you need surgery. You miss extensive time from work during your recovery, and your face is permanently disfigured.
In a typical situation, you may very well have a personal injury claim against the person who hit you. Swinging punches on a crowded street seems pretty negligent, and you directly suffered losses, as a result. But, the person who hit you was standing their ground. Does this fact affect your right to seek financial compensation?
Potentially, yes. Section 776.032 of the Statutes states:
“A person who uses or threatens to use force as permitted [by the stand-your-ground law] is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use or threatened use of such force by the person, personal representative, or heirs of the person against whom the force was used or threatened, unless the person against whom force was used or threatened is a law enforcement officer . . . .”
However, the situation described above (like most other situations that potentially involve the stand-your-ground law) raises lots of questions. Was the use of force truly necessary? What the fact that you were a bystander and not an assailant? These and other questions will all come into play in assessing your right to recover for losses.
In any event, it is important to note that the stand-your-ground law’s protections mean that personal injury plaintiffs can end up being liable for defendants’ costs, attorneys’ fees, and lost income. As a result, before pursuing a claim in a potential stand-your-ground situation, it is crucial to speak with an experienced attorney your legal rights.
Brian D. Guralnick, Injury Lawyers
At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, we provide experienced legal representation for injury victims throughout Palm Beach County. If you have questions your right to financial compensation, call me, Brian, personally to discuss your case. We have offices conveniently located in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, and Jupiter. If you have a claim, you can count on our experienced legal team to help you Demand More® for your losses.
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