Articles Posted in Florida Personal Injury Caselaw

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Jury 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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Personal 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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In 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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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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Property 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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It 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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Property owners in Florida have a duty ensure that their property is in reasonably safe condition for visitors. If you or someone close to you has been injured on someone else’s land, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the property owner. This area of law is known as premises liability law and it applies to homeowners, small business owners, commercial business owners, and others.

In Dominguez v. Publix Super Markets, Inc., the plaintiff sustained injuries when she slipped and fell on detergent that had spilled on the floor from an overturned bottle. The defendant’s video surveillance caught a visual of the incident. The footage showed a Publix employee running to the spill where he picked up the bottle, placed it upright, and started to clean up the mess. The employee’s back was to the plaintiff when she came around the corner and slipped in the spilled detergent. The total time between when the bottle fell and the woman’s fall amounted to thirteen seconds.

Under Florida law, a property owner also owes differing levels of care based on the status of their visitor. A customer in a store is classified as an “invitee” and is owed the highest duty of care by the storeowner. When it comes to invitees, storeowners have an obligation to warn of hidden dangers that the storeowner knows about or should have known about, but that the invitee could not discern through the use of reasonable care. The storeowner also owes invitees a duty to keep the property reasonably safe.

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In Manfre v. Shinkle, Kathleen Shinkle was injured when her automobile crashed after striking a dead horse lying on the roadway. The collision with the horse caused her vehicle to flip over and land on its roof. Shinkle sustained serious injuries.

An estimated hour and a half before Shinkle’s accident, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office had been called to report that two horses were roaming the side of the road. When the deputy arrived on the scene, the horses were scared by the lights on the deputy’s car and returned to the pasture. The deputy did not try to get in touch with the property owner.

Some time later, one of the horses came back onto the road from the pasture. At this time, the horse was hit and killed by a motorist. This is the background story regarding how the dead horse came to be on the street.

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In Go v. Normil, a child was admitted to Bethesda Hospital with a high fever, vomiting, and a stiff neck. After two weeks of treatment, the child’s condition got worse, not better. As a result, he was transferred to Miami Children’s Hospital. When the child arrived there, it was discovered that he had suffered a stroke. The hospital ran additional tests and found the presences of both herpes and Epstein-Bar viruses.

The child’s mother filed a lawsuit against the hospital, the two physicians in charge of the child’s care at the hospital, and another health care organization.

An expert at trial concluded that if the child’s infections had been treated earlier, he would likely not have suffered a stroke that caused him permanent neurological and behavioral injuries. There was also testimony at trial stating that the child is not able to communicate or follow directions, takes part in self-injurious behavior, suffers from morbid obesity and a limitless appetite, and has little or no understanding for his own safety. As a result, he requires around the clock supervision. In the expert’s opinion, the child will never be able to live independently.

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Losing a loved one is devastating in any circumstances, but it can be even worse when the loss occurs due to someone else’s negligence. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our skilled Miami wrongful death attorneys understand how to navigate these cases with the utmost compassion and competence. You can rest assured we will fight vigorously to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

In Shoemaker v. Sliger, a Florida appellate court recently reversed a trial court’s ruling that when the amount of judgment is modified on appeal, Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.340(c) mandates post-trial interest to accrue from the date of the verdict, rather than from the date of the original judgment.

In 2011, a jury returned a verdict of over $7 million in a medical malpractice claim, concluding that Dr. James R. Shoemaker was 40 percent at fault for Stephen Sliger’s death. Shoemaker filed a motion to limit the non-economic damages in the case, arguing that under 766.118(2) of the Florida Statutes (2011), it would be appropriate to limit the non-economic damages to a total of $500,000. Sliger’s estate responded by claiming that the statute in question violated clauses of both the Florida and the U.S. constitutions, and thus it could not be enforced.

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