Articles Posted in Florida Personal Injury Caselaw

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Although most drivers do their best to drive carefully and safely to avoid accidents, automobile collisions are still unfortunately quite common. These accidents can cause incredibly costly injuries, and many times drivers rely on insurance companies to cover these costs. In Florida, drivers have the option to buy uninsured motorist coverage from their insurance provider. This coverage specifically protects drivers if they get into an accident with an uninsured driver who, because of their lack of insurance, does not have the funds to cover the resulting injuries. This coverage is optional in Florida, but many drivers choose to purchase it to protect themselves and their loved ones in the case of an accident with an uninsured driver.

In a recent case, a Florida Appellate court considered whether or not an accident occurring in a mobile gym located in the back of a truck is covered under an auto insurance policy that includes this type of uninsured motorist coverage. According to the court’s written opinion, the client was injured when she was training in a mobile gym. The owners of the gym installed workout equipment in the back of a truck, which they would drive to various locations and then use in training sessions with clients while parked. The plaintiff was training in the gym when she suffered permanent injuries, allegedly from her trainer’s negligence. She brought suit against the trainer and the gym owners, and those suits were settled.

However, the plaintiff also brought suit against her insurance company, arguing that the mobile gym was an “uninsured auto” under her policy, which provided coverage for injuries caused by accidents with the owner or operator of “an uninsured auto arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of that auto.” Her insurance company filed for summary judgment, which was granted in the lower court. The plaintiff then appealed.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case, centered around an insurance dispute. Technically, the case was between two insurance companies, however, the issue before the court is relevant to accident victims. Specifically, the case required the court determine if the accident victim was covered under his parents’ underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) protection policy.

According to the court’s opinion, a young man was injured in a Florida car accident. At the time of the crash, the man lived with his mother and step-father, who had an insurance policy with Owners Insurance Company. The Owners policy provided coverage to resident relatives who did not own their own automobile.

Another insurance company, Allstate, sought a declaratory judgment clarifying that the young man was covered under the Owners policy. Allstate hoped to establish that Owners provided coverage so that an unrelated Allstate policy would not be involved in the claim. The trial court agreed with Allstate, holding that the young man was covered under his parents’ policy.

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Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion stemming from a wrongful death lawsuit against a power company. The lawsuit arose after the tragic death of a teenager who was climbing bamboo in a neighbor’s backyard. The bamboo stalk bent over into a power line, causing the young man’s electrocution and death. His mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the power company that owned and monitored the power line. The woman alleged that her son’s death was the result of the company’s negligence. She claimed that the company created a dangerous hazard because it knew of the fast-growing bamboo near the power line and failed to clear it. The trial jury awarded the woman $12.5 million in non-economic damages and $15 million in punitive damages. The power company appealed the damages award.

Florida injury victims are entitled to compensation if they suffer injuries because of another’s negligence. There are two main types of damages that Florida plaintiffs may claim in their lawsuit, compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are tangible monetary losses that a plaintiff or their representative has incurred or may face in the future. Typically, these damages are easy to prove because they include quantifiable losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are intangible losses that a Florida injury victim or their family suffered because of the other party’s negligence. Non-economic damages are losses such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Although most states have various damage caps on negligence lawsuits, there is no cap on economic or non-economic damages in Florida.

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Recently, the District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion stemming from a personal injury lawsuit filed by a construction worker after he sustained injuries climbing an attic ladder. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a residential development company after a ladder he was climbing to repair a leak collapsed. The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s ruling, which granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the ten-year statute of repose.

In Florida, injury victims are entitled to file personal injury lawsuits based on construction defects. Victims who suffered injuries because of these defects can try to recover damages from contractors, owners, builders, and developers. However, there are specific procedural requirements that injury victims should comply with to ensure that their lawsuit can proceed.

Plaintiffs must file lawsuits based on negligent construction, improvement, or design within four years of either the completion of the property or discovery of a hidden defect. Moreover, Florida’s statute of repose provides that plaintiffs must commence lawsuits based on latent defects within ten-years of a specific event. Plaintiffs can face challenges with these types of Florida accidents because the statue of repose may bar a lawsuit before the plaintiff even becomes aware of the issue.

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If you have been injured in an accident, the last thing you want to worry about is evidence not being preserved properly. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our highly reputable Miami injury attorneys understand the specific laws surrounding preservation of evidence in Florida personal injury cases and will make sure that your rights are protected. Personal injury cases are complicated, which is why it is imperative that you work with an attorney who understands this area of law.

A very important aspect of any Florida personal injury claim is the pre-trial discovery phase. During this process, parties can ask for relevant information from the other side. If the court approves a request for discovery, it will order that the evidence is shared with the opposing party. Preserving all relevant evidence, even if it is unfavorable to you, is critical.

The Florida Supreme Court has held that all parties have a duty to preserve evidence as soon as litigation is “reasonably anticipated.” Therefore, the duty to preserve evidence may kick in prior to a lawsuit is even filed. In all Florida personal injury cases, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving each and every element of the personal injury claim by a preponderance of the evidence.  As such, failing to preserve evidence can seriously jeopardize a plaintiff’s ability to effectively prove his or her case.

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Serious slip and fall injuries can take months to recover from and, in some cases, a full recovery may not even be possible. In the event that you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, is it vital to reach out to a seasoned Miami injury attorney as soon as possible. The question of fault in these cases can be confusing but, with years of experience, you can trust that we know how to handle even the most complicated Florida personal injury claims.

In a recent case, a Florida appeals court recently issued an opinion in a personal injury claim deciding whether the lower court properly permitted the plaintiff to leave to amend her claim to pursue punitive damages from the defendant. Eventually, the court held that it did not have the power to examine the lower court’s decision.

The facts of the case are as follows. In 2011, a minor child was injured when she fell from an amusement ride known as the “Psycho Swing”at a park in Hollywood. The parents of the child sued those who manufactured, owned and operated the ride for strict negligence. In such cases, the defendant is liable for harm even though he or she did not intend to cause the harm and did not cause it by being reckless or negligent. Among other defendants named in the lawsuit, the company that owned and rented out the swing was named.

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Damages are a crucial — yet often overlooked — element of a personal injury lawsuit. Florida personal injury victims must specifically plead and prove the damages they hope to obtain, and a failure to do so may result in a reduced verdict; even if the defendant was found to be at fault.

In a recent case, a Florida car accident victim successfully appealed a jury’s zero-dollar verdict for past non-economic damages. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was involved in an accident when a pickup truck made an illegal left turn and hit a car that collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff did not receive medical treatment or go to the hospital.

Several years later, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and owner of the pickup truck. Pretrial proceedings resolved all issues in favor of the plaintiff, and the trial jury only needed to determine damages. The jury awarded the plaintiff $50,000 for past medical bills, $200,000 for future medical expenses, and nothing for past or future non-economic damages.

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In a recent appellate opinion, the court reversed a trial court’s ruling in a Florida personal injury lawsuit filed by a tenant against her landlord. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit after she fell while walking on a pathway to her condominium. The plaintiff based her claim on the landlord’s failure to warn of the known danger and maintain the premises in a safe condition. The plaintiff argued that although she too was aware of the dangerous condition, she had notified the landlord on several occasions and offered to fix the pathway herself.

Evidently, the landlord did not repair the broken path and did not allow the plaintiff to do so. The landlord moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was not liable because the woman knew the fractured pathway, the danger was open and obvious, and she assumed the risk by not avoiding the path when she knew it to be damaged. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the damaged pathway was open and obvious, along with the landlord’s failure to maintain the premises.

Under Florida law, landowners or occupiers owe invitees two separate duties. First, the landowner or occupier must maintain the property, ensuring that the premises are reasonably safe. Second, property owners must warn guests of any concealed dangers. Landowners may avoid liability if they establish that the dangerous condition was “open and obvious.” In these cases, a landowner will not be liable for injuries if the guest knew of the hazardous condition. However, Florida slip and fall victims can recover damages for their injuries based on a landowner’s failure to maintain their premises.

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An appellate court recently issued an opinion regarding punitive damages in a Florida nursing home abuse case. The appeal arose from a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit filed by a nursing home resident’s family. The family amended their lawsuit to include a claim of punitive damages against the facility. The nursing home claimed that it was not liable for punitive damages under Florida law.

There are two main types of damages that Florida personal injury victims can obtain, compensatory and punitive. As the name suggests, compensatory damages are awarded to a plaintiff to compensate them for losses that they suffered because of their injuries. Typically, this includes compensation amounts for medical bills, losses related to changed plans, lost wages, losses of support, and pain and suffering. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded solely to punish the defendant’s reprehensible behavior.

Plaintiffs often seek punitive damages after they suffered injuries because of a defendant’s egregious behavior. In response to the growing number of nursing home abuse cases, Florida enacted a specific provision for punitive damages in nursing home negligence lawsuits. Under Florida law, plaintiffs must establish that the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent. Gross negligence occurs when a defendant’s conduct was so reckless or lacking in care that it amounted to a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of individuals that are exposed to their conduct.

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A Florida appellate court recently issued a ruling in favor of a plaintiff in her premises liability lawsuit against the Orange County Public Library System (the “Library”). The plaintiff filed strict liability and negligence claims against the Library after she suffered injuries when a bottom drawer of a copier unexpectedly popped out and caused her to trip. The plaintiff claimed that the Library was strictly liable based on their ownership of the defective copier. She also claimed the Library was negligent under premises liability. She filed an appeal after the trial court dismissed her claims based on her failure to state a cause of action. The appellate court addressed Florida’s pleading requirements in negligence lawsuits and concluded that the plaintiff met the state’s requirements, allowing her case to proceed towards trial.

When a Florida slip and fall victim files a premises liability lawsuit against a business owner, the plaintiff must provide the factual basis of their claim in their complaint. There are two pleading systems in the United States, fact and notice. While federal claims follow the notice pleading system, Florida state claims require fact pleadings. A plaintiff’s complaint must comply with the state’s fact-pleading requirement and include a “short and plain” statement of the facts that show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.

In Florida negligence lawsuits, the complaint must allege:

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