Can You Sue a Corporation in Florida?

Can You Sue a Corporation in Florida?

Just about everyone knows that you can sue an individual who injures you through negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. But can you sue a corporation? Yes, you can, under certain circumstances. 

If you have the option to issue a corporation or sue an individual, it’s usually best to sue the corporation. That’s because corporations typically have more money available than individuals do. 

Is the Defendant Even a Corporation?

Is the Defendant Even a Corporation?

It’s not enough to know how to sue a company. You need to know how to sue a corporation. Get on the internet and navigate to the Florida Division of Corporations to find out if the company you’re planning to sue is actually a corporation. Special considerations apply if the company you plan to sue is not a corporation.

What is a natural person? A natural person is someone made out of flesh and bones. A legal person, on the other hand, is a fictional legal entity. 

Microsoft, for example, doesn’t actually exist; it’s just the name we give a fluid group of people who have decided to do business in a certain matter. Microsoft counts as a “person” by legal standard, in part because you can sue it. 

Corporate Liability for Personal Injury

Since a corporation does not exist in a physical sense, it is impossible for a corporation to injure you. A corporation can, however, bear liability for your injuries under the following circumstances:

Respondeat Superior 

Respondeat superior is an ancient legal principle that holds a corporation or other employer liable for the consequences of the misconduct of their employee. 

For the corporation to bear liability, the employee must have been acting within the scope of their employment duties. This is a matter for a court to decide.

Negligent Hiring, Supervision, or Retention

Suppose a corporation hires a subcontractor (as opposed to an employee), and the subcontractor injures someone through misconduct. In that case, the corporation is not necessarily liable, as the subcontractor enjoys enough independence of action to relieve the corporation from liability. 

A corporation that hires a trucker, for example, normally does not bear liability if the trucker negligently causes a traffic accident.

However, there is an important exception for negligent hiring. For example, this might apply if a corporation hires a subcontractor truck driver without checking their driving record. Suppose the driver had two previous DUIs, and suppose the driver causes an on-duty DUI accident while working for the corporation. 

In this case, the corporation can bear liability for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent retention.

Premises Liability

Premises liability applies when you suffer an injury caused by unsafe conditions on a corporation’s property. You might have suffered an injury due to a wet floor at the grocery store, for example. 

If the corporation fails to maintain safe premises or warn of dangerous conditions, you can hold it directly liable for any resulting injuries.

Product Liability

If a corporation manufactures or distributes a product that injures you due to a product defect, you can sue the corporation under product liability law. You can sue a manufacturer or distributor of the product, and you do not even have to prove that the corporation was at fault.

Corporate Policies or Decisions

You can sue a corporation directly if a corporate policy or decision (a resolution, for example) causes you injury. The corporate decision might have resulted in unsafe working conditions, environmental harm, or other dangerous conditions.

How To Sue a Florida Corporation

To sue a Florida corporation, take the following steps:

  1. Identify the legal basis for the lawsuit. In a personal injury lawsuit, this basis is typically negligence, although it might not be.
  2. Determining the appropriate court. The appropriate court might be small claims court, the Florida Circuit Court, or even federal court.
  3. Draft and file a formal lawsuit complaint. Unless you are filing your complaint in small claims court (up to $8.000), you’ll probably need a lawyer to draft your claim for you. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee.
  4. Complete “service of process” procedures with the corporation’s registered agent. 
  5. Wait for the corporation to file a formal answer or file some other response. If it doesn’t, you win a default judgment.
  6. Participate in the pretrial discovery evidence-gathering process. This is a great way to gather evidence for your claim.
  7. File any appropriate motions, such as a motion to suppress evidence.
  8. Try to negotiate your claim. You might consider resorting to mediation.
  9. Pursue your case at trial. Most personal injury trials last only a day.
  10. Appeal the verdict if you are dissatisfied with it.

It’s almost certainly not a good idea to go through with a lawsuit without a lawyer. The only likely exception would be an action in small claims court with an especially small claim at stake.

The Pretrial Discovery Process

Pretrial discovery is the stage of litigation where each party demands evidence that is in the possession of the other party. The four main legal tools are:

  • Depositions: Out-of-court, under-oath cross-examination of a hostile witness.
  • Interrogatories: Written questions that the other side must answer in writing and under oath.
  • Demands for the production of physical evidence: The other side might even demand that you submit your body to an examination by their doctor.
  • Demands for access to documents. You might, for example, want to copy a waiver of liability that the other side will use against you.

If the other side refuses to cooperate, you can ask the court to sanction them

Workplace Injuries

You can sue a corporation for workplace injuries under certain circumstances. Please see below for details.

If You Are an Employee

You normally cannot sue your corporate employer for a workplace injury. Instead, you must file a workers’ compensation claim. There are limited exceptions, however, such as intentional misconduct attributable to your employer.

If You Are a Third Party

If a third-party corporation caused your workplace injury, you can sue the third party without worrying about workers’ compensation limitations. You can sue the manufacturer or factory equipment under product liability law, for example.

Additional Considerations

The following additional considerations might apply to your lawsuit:

  • The statute of limitations: In Florida, you have two years after an injury to file a lawsuit. There are a few exceptions to this rule.
  • Contributory fault: Florida allows the defendant to reduce or even eliminate their liability, depending on the extent to which you shared fault for your own injury.
  • Non-economic damages: Florida allows you to recover compensation for intangible non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

Speak to a lawyer if you are unsure about the implications of any of these considerations.

Suing a Corporation Is a Complex Matter That Requires the Assistance of a Gainesville Personal Injury Attorney

As you might have guessed by now, suing a corporation involves more complexities than suing an individual. It’s one of those red flags that should tell you it’s time to look for a lawyer.

What’s good about hiring a lawyer is that under the contingency fee system, you don’t have to pay a dime in attorney’s fees unless you win compensation. Schedule a free case evaluation at (877) 255-3652, with an experienced Gainesville personal injury attorney at Allen Law Firm, P.A., to discuss your claim and protect your legal rights to compensation.