Articles Posted in Settlements

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carIf you have been injured in an automobile accident in Florida, you will probably need to deal with your insurance company at some point. This can be a confusing and sometimes daunting process, which is why it is imperative to have a skilled Miami injury attorney on your side. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we can meticulously analyze the facts of your case, determine a legal strategy suited to your situation, and inform you of all your legal rights and options. With years of experience, we know how to handle personal injury claims, including advising our clients on all matters related to insurance companies.

In Government Employees Insurance Company v. Macedo, the plaintiff made a $50,000 settlement proposal in accordance with Florida Statute §768.79. The Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) rejected the proposal on behalf of its insured client. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, awarding more than four times the amount requested in the original proposal. GEICO appealed the final judgment, which required it to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs.

In Florida, many lawyers use the “Proposal for Settlement” (PFS), a document submitted by one party to the opposing party that outlines the amount of money the serving party wants in order to finalize a settlement. Rule 1.442 lists a number of requirements that must be met for the PFS. Florida Statute §768.79 should be read in conjunction with Rule 1.442. Under §768.79, if a judgment obtained by a plaintiff is at least 25 percent more than the amount of the PFS served to the defendant, the plaintiff may move the court for attorney’s fees and costs. In the case at hand, the court had to decide whether GEICO could be liable for the attorney’s fees and costs, since it was not the defendant or a party to the lawsuit. Instead, GEICO was only involved because it was defending its insured.

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car accident2In Wallen v. Tyson, a Florida man was killed in a car accident. After the incident, the other motor vehicle driver filed a lawsuit against the decedent’s estate. The estate offered the driver a $12,000 settlement, which included a release of liability for all claims arising out of the accident. The document stated that it was not a ‘general’ release and indicated that the driver could seek damages from any person except for the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The driver supposedly ignored the settlement proposal and went straight to trial.

At trial, the driver was awarded an amount of $13,000. The court reduced this amount by approximately $3,800 for payments that were made beforehand by his insurer.

The plaintiff moved to strike the settlement proposal, alleging it was vague and unenforceable. The trial court struck the proposal, stating that the language pertaining to the release was too vague and ambiguous. The clause at issue was one that stated that the plaintiff was open to any suggested changes to the release. The trial court reasoned that by having a release clause but saying that the clause was negotiable, the clause essentially failed to inform the plaintiff of “any of the release terms.”

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PFSEvery year, a number of people in Florida and throughout the United States are injured in a variety of accidents. Injured parties often file personal injury lawsuits against the at-fault party. Personal injury litigation is governed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Most personal injury cases never make it to trial. In fact, more than 90 percent are settled before a jury verdict.

Proposals for settlements (PFS) are creations of the Florida legislature.  Rule 1.442 creates the guidelines and parameters for the service of a PFS. A PFS must be made in writing and include:

  1. The party or parties making the proposal as well as the party or parties to whom the proposal is being made;
  2. A clause that states that the proposal decides all damages that would otherwise be awarded in a final judgment in the action in which the proposal is served;
  3. Any conditions;
  4. The entire amount of the proposal, as well as all non-monetary terms of the proposal;
  5. The amount proposed to settle a claim for punitive damages (if any);
  6. Whether the proposal includes attorneys’ fees and whether these fees are part of a legal claim; and
  7. A certificate of service in the form, as mandated by rule 1.080.

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penAuto accidents happen every day in the state of Florida and throughout the United States. Dealing with the aftermath of an accident isn’t easy, and a number of things need to be considered, such as medical expenses, legal bills, property damage, and more. While our skilled Miami injury attorneys are prepared to zealously advocate for our clients in the courtroom, the reality is that most accident cases end in a settlement agreement before the matter ever reaches trial. It is vital that each settlement agreement be carefully read and understood before it is signed.

A settlement agreement is a legal document that contains the terms of a settlement made outside court. Most agreements include terms on release of liability for present and future claims, confidentiality clauses, and more. A settlement agreement should be reviewed diligently. If any terms of the agreement are not clear or satisfactory, they should be addressed prior to the agreement being codified.

In Cline v. Homuth, the plaintiff was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by a teenager driving his parents’ vehicle on a provisional license. The provisional license required the teenager to have a licensed driver in the vehicle with him at the time he was driving. The teenager’s grandmother was in the passenger seat at the time of the accident. The authorities determined it was the teenager’s fault.

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walkingEvery year, a number of people in Florida get into various types of accidents and suffer personal injuries. Under state law, an injured party may seek compensation for his or her injuries from the at-fault party by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury claims are rooted in the legal principle of negligence, which denotes the failure to take proper care when doing something, which leads to foreseeable harm. Put another way, negligence law is designed to hold people responsible for their careless or reckless actions that cause injury to another.

While some cases go to trial, most cases settle out of court. Laws surrounding settlements, however, can be complex and nuanced, which is why it is always important to consult a qualified attorney who can help you understand and comply with all the procedural requirements that may come into play.

In Design Home Remodeling Corp. v. Santana, an individual was injured in a slip and fall accident while on premises owned by a condominium association. Some time later, the man and his spouse filed a lawsuit against the association, alleging negligent maintenance of the premises. The association answered by saying that another company was accountable for any negligent maintenance. As a result, the plaintiffs amended their original complaint to add the other company as a defendant, claiming that the company did not adequately warn the individual of a slippery liquid on the ground, which ultimately led to his fall. Continue reading →

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texting and drivingSettlement is often a quick and efficient method of resolving personal injury claims. The option lets parties negotiate an agreement that works for them without spending the time and money that is typically required in a lawsuit setting. While settlements seem like the easy option, it is important to remember that settlement offers must be clear and unambiguous to be valid. In some cases, a party who rejects a settlement agreement and then subsequently loses his or her case may be responsible for some of the opposing party’s costs and fees.

In Alamo Financing v. Mazoff, the plaintiff Mazoff filed a lawsuit seeking damages from Alamo Financing and Paola Alvarado-Fernandez. Alamo Financing was the owner of the vehicle that was being rented by Alvarado-Fernandez at the time of the accident. She hit an overturned car that subsequently hit Mazoff. Mazoff had gotten out of the car to help the occupants of the overturned vehicle when he was hit, and he suffered injuries as a result.

To end the matter, Alamo extended a settlement offer to Mazoff for a monetary amount in order to resolve “all claims made in the present action by the party to whom this proposal is made including any claims that could be made against [Alamo] which arise out of the same occurrence or event set forth in this action.” Mazoff failed to respond for over a month, at which point Alamo assumed he rejected the settlement offer. Continue reading →

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moneyPersonal injury claims by individuals under the age of 18 can be tricky because they require the attorney to be vigilant of special procedural requirements in cases involving minors. To begin with, minors in Florida cannot pursue their own legal claims because they are not of age. Thus, a minor must pursue his or her personal injury claim through a legal guardian or a parent. In certain cases, parents and guardians must seek court approval when it comes to settlement agreements on behalf of their minor children. The Florida law is intended to provide judicial oversight so that minors have some degree of protection when it comes to such legal matters.

Under Florida statute 744.387, a parent or guardian can settle a claim on behalf of his or her minor child without court approval as long as the monetary amount of the settlement does not exceed $15,000. However, if a lawsuit has been filed, court approval is needed. While court approval is not necessary to have a valid settlement agreement, insurance companies often require court approval before making payments for a settlement on behalf of a child.

When the gross amount of the settlement exceeds $15,000, the parent or guardian must seek court approval for the settlement. Specifically, the parent or guardian must file a Petition for Approval of Settlement. The petition contains details of the facts of the case, the issues of liability, the monetary amount of damages, and the settlement amount sought, as well as attorney’s fees and costs. A judge then evaluates the settlement terms to assess whether they are in the best interests of the minor. It is important to note that the parent or guardian is obligated under the law to act in the best interests of the child. Continue reading →