Articles Posted in Florida Personal Injury Caselaw

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scalesCareless conduct causes injuries and even deaths in Florida and across the United States on a daily basis. If you or your loved one has been hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need to reach out to a seasoned Miami accident attorney who can assess the merits of your case. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we have years of experience and know how to establish fault in personal injury cases. You can trust that we can uncover the facts of your case and determine the viability of your claim.

Most personal injury cases are rooted in the theory of negligence. Negligence occurs when a person is injured or killed due to another party’s failure to use reasonable care. Reasonable care is defined as how a prudent person would act in the same or similar circumstances. In order to establish negligence, the injured party has to demonstrate the following elements:  i) the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the accident victim; ii) the at-fault party breached the duty of care owed to the accident victim; and iii) the at-fault party’s breach was a direct and proximate cause of the accident victim’s injuries. In some cases, negligence takes place when a person fails to act when there is a duty to do so.

The burden of proof in negligence cases falls on the plaintiff, who must show negligence by a ‘preponderance of the evidence.’ Under this standard, also known as the ‘greater weight of the evidence’ standard, the party who has the more persuasive and convincing force and effect of the evidence in the case will prevail. Another way to think about this standard is to think about the scales of justice – if the plaintiff’s evidence outweighs the defendant’s evidence, even by a marginal amount, the plaintiff will win the case. Essentially, the plaintiff must prove that their assertions are more likely true than not. If they have proven the case to a 50.1 percent degree of certainty, they will succeed. However, if the plaintiff cannot reach this threshold, the defendant will win.

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stethoscopeIf you or someone close to you has been hurt by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our seasoned Miami injury attorneys can help you navigate a personal injury lawsuit from start to finish. When you file a personal injury claim, the defense has a number of tools and strategies they can use to try to minimize the amount of money they will eventually have to pay. Having a deep understanding of Florida injury law, we can often anticipate what the defense will likely try to do and advise you accordingly.

In Florida personal injury litigation, specifically under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360, a defendant can require that the plaintiff attend a compulsory medical examination (CME) by a doctor of the defendant’s choosing. Put another way, a CME is when the defense hires a doctor to evaluate the plaintiff. This typically means that an insurance company is paying for the doctor. It is important to note that each insurance carrier usually has a handful of doctors that they routinely retain to conduct CMEs. In some cases, a particular doctor will work for a number of insurance companies in the area.

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parking lotIn Anderson v. Hilton Hotels Corps., the plaintiff was seriously injured when a gunman in a Florida hotel parking lot attacked him. Specifically, the plaintiff was shot during an armed robbery, carjacking, and shooting that took place in the parking lot of a Central Florida Embassy Suites hotel. He subsequently filed a claim against the hotel, the hotel management company, the hotel investment firm, and the hotel security contractor for $1.7 million.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit was a premises liability claim, arguing that the defendants had not provided adequate security for the property, even though there was a foreseeable risk of harm to hotel guests. The plaintiff pointed to the fact that the guard on duty mainly worked inside the hotel and did not patrol the outside of the hotel. Additionally, lights that would have illuminated the parking lot were burnt out and had not been replaced for a number of months. The hotel staff had instructed the plaintiff to park in this lot despite its being poorly lit.

The statute permits that if a settlement offer is made by either side and is not accepted within a 30-day time frame, and the issue ends up going to trial and is decided in favor of the opposing party with a judgment that is an amount in excess or less of the original offer by 25 percent or more, the losing party must cover the lawyer’s fees of the other party.

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broken carJury duty may seem like an inconvenience, but it is an important civic duty. One vital component of jury duty is the obligation to keep information about the case confidential. As a practical matter, this means not discussing, emailing, texting, blogging, tweeting, or otherwise posting on social media about the case.

Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently dealt with a case in which jurors were explicitly told not to communicate with anyone about the case (including via social media), but one juror posted a number of tweets on Twitter during the days of jury selection and trial. While the juror did not name the case or give specific details, he did mention his discontent with being selected for jury duty and his general dismay at being at the courthouse all day. The juror also implied that he may have given partial or careless answers to some questions. He also expressed his thoughts about the perceived greed of “everyone” trying “anything” for money.

The case is Murphy v. Roth, and it began when the plaintiff sued the defendant for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The plaintiff alleged that she was rear-ended by a ‘phantom vehicle’ that was never found, and she then began to turn and was hit by the defendant.

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car wreckPersonal injury cases depend heavily on the facts of the case. These facts are typically established through witnesses, expert testimony, and documentation that supports one side’s position. If you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident that was caused by the recklessness of another driver, we can help. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our Miami injury attorneys have the skill and experience to handle your claim. We can gather the relevant information and aggressively pursue your case at every step of the way.

In Finkel v. Batista, a Florida court of appeal affirmed a lower court’s verdict of $0 for a plaintiff who was involved in a car wreck with the defendant, even though the jury determined that the defendant was 100 percent liable for the accident.

The defendant claimed that the damage to the plaintiff’s car was minor. An expert for the defense also stated that a minor accident of this nature could not have caused any injury to the plaintiff. The plaintiff consulted her own physician, who opined that the wreck caused the plaintiff to suffer permanent injuries.

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delivery vanIn Boyles v. Dillard’s, Inc., the plaintiff was involved in an automobile accident with a Dillard’s delivery van. The defendant, a Dillard’s employee, was driving directly behind the plaintiff in the same lane of a two-lane highway and collided with the back of the plaintiff’s car as she was making a right turn into her driveway. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant for injuries that she allegedly sustained to her shoulder, neck, and back.

At trial, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff veered from the lane in which she was driving to merge into an area on the left of the lane in which both the vehicles were traveling. The defendant went on to explain that the plaintiff then suddenly moved her vehicle back into the lane in which they were both driving, so he (the defendant) did not have enough time to avoid crashing into her car.

The defendant presented an expert witness to help reconstruct the scene of the accident for the jury. The plaintiff argued that it was a mistake to allow the expert witness’ testimony because the only relevance it could have was to imply that the plaintiff could not have suffered the degree of the injury she claimed, and the expert witness was not qualified to present testimony that would lead to such a determination.

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stairs

Each year, many people in Florida and throughout the United States are injured in slip and fall accidents due to dangerous conditions. Evidence in slip and fall cases can be difficult to gather. This is because the last thing an injured victim is thinking about right after a fall is the legal process. Instead, the injured victim is typically trying to recover from the injuries. A decision from an appeals court in Florida recently addressed the issue of what happens when a plaintiff cannot testify with certainty regarding the cause of the fall. The court held that, in such instances, photographs of where the accident took place that show a hazardous condition will allow a case to come before a jury.

In Christakis v. Tivoli Terrace, LLC, the plaintiff alleged that she fell on steps at Terrace Apartments in Broward County in 2012. As a result, the plaintiff sustained injuries, including fracturing her right ankle. The plaintiff sued Tivoli Terrace LLC for negligence, claiming that the establishment was aware that the stairs had divots but failed to repair them.

The defendant stated that the plaintiff, who was a resident of the apartment complex, must have fallen because of her own carelessness. The defense introduced testimony by an accident reconstruction expert who said there was nothing faulty about the stairs. In addition, the defense claimed that the plaintiff was not able to point out the specific step on which she fell. The jury agreed with the defendants and found the plaintiff to be 90 percent liable for the incident.

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parking lotProperty owners have a legal obligation to maintain their premises in sensibly safe conditions in order not to injure those who enter the land. Invitees are individuals who enter the land for business purposes, such as customers, and they are owed the highest duty of care. Property owners have a duty to warn invitees of hidden hazards of which the property owner knows or should know and that are unknown to the invitee and would not be discovered through the invitee’s use of reasonable care.

In Grimes v. Family Dollar Stores of Florida, the plaintiff filed a premises liability claim against a shopping center after suffering injuries in the parking lot. The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff arrived at the mall to go to the Family Dollar when she tripped and tumbled in the parking lot. The rows of parking spaces were divided by landscaped areas that had trees with re-bar tie-downs. As the plaintiff crossed the landscaped area, she fell over a steel re-bar that was sticking several inches out of the ground. The bar was not being used to secure any of the nearby trees or bushes. Due to the fall, the plaintiff sustained a knee injury.

The plaintiff subsequently filed a negligence claim against Family Dollar, the landowner, and the lessee. The claim alleged a failure to warn, failure to maintain the premises, and failure to correct a dangerous condition. Furthermore, the plaintiff stated that the defendants permitted the re-bar to stick out as a latent hazard in a path used by invitees to the store.

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contractFlorida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal recently ruled on a case involving an arbitration clause and a cap on damages. Specifically, the court struck an arbitration agreement due to an unenforceable damages cap within the document that was central to the agreement.

In Estate of Novosett v. Arc Villages, the court determined that an entire arbitration agreement was unenforceable due to the fact that a clause in the contract was not enforceable. The decision ultimately allows the plaintiff to pursue a remedy through a lawsuit, rather than being forced to go through arbitration.

Here, the plaintiffs were surviving relatives of a nursing home resident who had died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. People living in the nursing home had to sign admissions documents, including an arbitration agreement. When the plaintiffs tried to pursue a negligence lawsuit, the defendants tried to compel arbitration due to the arbitration clause in the agreement.

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car wreck in suranceIt is not uncommon for insurance companies to offer low payments or deny legitimate claims to customers. In Fridman v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Ill., Florida’s highest court recently decided that an auto insurance company could not file a last minute reversal of a denial to avoid a bad faith insurance claim. The issue in the case was whether the insured individual was eligible for a liability determination and the full extent of damages in an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) claim prior to being forced to file a bad faith claim.

Here, the insurance company denied the plaintiff’s claims for four years. The plaintiff then filed a Civil Remedy Notice (CRN), alleging violations of Fla. Stat. 624.155(1)(b)(1) for “failure to pay UM policy limits of $50,000 in a clear liability crash with over $12,000.00 of property damage to insured’s vehicle” and in excess of $24,000 of medical expenses and significant injuries that needed future medical attention.

When the insurance company failed to respond in a timely manner, the plaintiff went ahead and filed the lawsuit. The insurance company failed to answer. The plaintiff then offered to settle for the amount of the policy limits of $50,000 – but there was still no answer. Shortly before trial, the insurance company tendered a check for $50,000 and filed “a confession of judgment.”

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