A sunbather was run over on the beach near Lenox Avenue in Daytona Beach on Wednesday. As a result of the accident, the sunbather, Carole Dalton, suffered a broken leg which required surgery. The driver of the vehicle was John Dowling, a Volusia County Beach Patrol Officer.
If Mrs. Dalton pursues an action against Volusia County, her recovery may be limited to $100,000. With some exceptions, an individual who has been injured as the result of negligence by the State of Florida and/or its employees is limited to a recovery of $100,000 for each person and $200,000 for each incident. Normally, the governmental employee responsible for causing the injuries cannot be sued individually. In addition to the State of Florida, the caps also apply to:
1) the executive department;
2) the legislature;
3) the judicial branch including public defenders;
4) the independent establishments of the State;
6) cities; and
7) corporations acting as agencies of the state.
Florida Statute 768.28 does provide a mechanism for an injured person who has incurred damages from governmental negligence in excess of $100,000 to recover the full amount of his or her damages. A "claims bill" can be introduced by a member of the Florida Legislature seeking to fully compensate the injured party. If the bill passes both legislative bodies and is signed by the governor, the claimant/plaintiff may be fully compensated. It is important to note that successful claims bills are extremely rare.
In April, Governor Charlie Crist signed SB 2060 into law. The law increases the limits of liability for the State and its agencies under Florida Statute 768.28. The new caps, which apply to all claims accruing on or after October 1, 2011, will increase to $200,000 for any one person and $300,000 collectively arising out of the same incident or occurrence.
Corey A. Bundza is a partner at the Law Office of Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A. in Daytona Beach, Florida. Mr. Bundza practices in the personal injury section of the firm.