Several years ago, changes to Florida’s slip-and-fall law made it more difficult for plaintiffs to win such cases. But as a recent six-figure verdict revealed, they continue to be worth pursuing, particularly when injuries are serious and your lawyer is experienced. Palm Beach slip and fall lawyer

“Successful Florida slip-and-fall cases are those that involve injuries that were clearly preventable,” said West Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Ryan Fogg. “Often times, corporations will create safety rules to prevent accidents like these. But if the management and staff fails to follow through and abide by those rules, serious injuries can result, and the corporation can be held accountable.”

Florida’s slip-and-fall statute is F.S. 768.0755. It refers to “premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment.” This is just a fancy way of saying legal responsibility for a slippery substance on the floor of a business that’s open to the public. In order to prevail in these cases, one must prove the property owner/controller had either actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused the fall. Actual knowledge would be if the property owner created the condition or was clearly informed about its existence. Constructive knowledge can be established when the condition:

  • Existed for a substantial enough length of time that the business would/should have discovered it in the exercise of ordinary care.
  • Occurred with regularity, and thus was foreseeable.

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Delay in timely treatment and/or diagnosis that results in patient harm can be legal grounds to pursue a Florida medical malpractice claim against a healthcare provider. As our Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys can explain, building cases like these requires using expert witness testimony to establish that the defendant health care providers failed under the circumstances to abide the applicable standard of care for their medical specialty.Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

Recently, a Florida jury awarded $2.6 million to the family of a man who died of a stroke – an occurrence the jury found was preventable had he been properly treated by the physicians and hospital.

As reported by Law.com, the 62-year-old decedent was seen by a vascular surgeon in the early summer of 2016. This was on the recommendation from his primary care doctor, who believed the patient’s carotid arteries (which supply blood to the brain, neck, and face) were “occluded,” or blocked. Upon examination, the surgeon diagnosed the patient with severe atherosclerosis. The man’s carotid arteries were 90 percent blocked. The surgeon recommended a procedure called an endarterectomy to remove the buildup. But it wasn’t necessary to act right away, the surgeon said, because the man had no symptoms. Instead, the procedure was scheduled for 18 days later. If the patient did become symptomatic, he was to go immediately to a hospital.

One week before the scheduled procedure, the patient became dizzy and weak. He rushed to a local hospital and was promptly admitted. The hospital contacted the office of the vascular surgeon, who was on vacation. Ultimately, they did obtain records of the scheduled surgery from the vascular surgeon’s office. Two other surgeons did not come to treat the patient immediately, but they did bump up the surgery to the following morning. However, the patient deteriorated overnight. He fatal stroke hours before the scheduled surgery.

The man’s widow, as representative of his estate, filed a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against the first vascular surgeon, his practice, and the hospital. Continue reading

Sexual cyberhassment, more commonly known as revenge porn, is when someone posts or distributes intimate videos, photos, or images of another person online without their consent and with the intention to harass or upset that person. In general, when a person gives consent for a depiction of themselves in a sexually explicit image, the reasonable presumption is that they expect that image is going to remain private – even if they share it with someone else, such as an intimate partner. Violation of that trust is cyber sexual harassment.West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyer

As a crime, sexual cyberharassment in Florida is a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, per F.S. 784.049. Identifying information of the person depicted is a key element in the charge, as is the intent to cause emotional distress.

In addition to seeing justice through criminal charges and penalties, victims are within their rights to pursue monetary damages against the offender. As our Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, the statute explicitly grants victims of this crime the right to initiate a civil action against the person who broke the law for various remedies, which may include:

  • Injunctive relief. This is an order to prevent, stop, or command certain behaviors.
  • Monetary damages of up to $5,000 or actual damages incurred as a result of violation of the law – whichever is greater. Damages can include things such as medical bills, lost wages or employment, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
  • Reasonable attorney fees and costs.

There may be additional avenues  in civil court to pursue for compensation in a case of sexual cyberharassment, but it will depend on the exact facts of the case and whether other entities had any degree of control over the offender. In particular, we’d be interested in analyzing whether the incidents occurred to any extent in the course and scope of employment. If an employer ignored a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace, there could be liability. Businesses have a responsibility to hold employees accountable for sexual harassment once it’s been reported. Schools, too, may be liable if they were made aware of a problem and failed to address it. Continue reading

Since 1988, parents of children who suffered a specific type of Florida birth injury – profound brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation or spinal impairment – could file no-fault claims with the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA. Such conditions occur at birth, impact the child for life, and are frequently the result of medical malpractice.West Palm Beach birth injury lawyer

Obstetricians had lobbied the state for a program like this decades ago arguing high insurance premiums would push them out of the state. The program might have seemed a win-win – had parents not been forced to fight for coverage of every expense. While parents were prevented from suing doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers for injuries caused by their negligence during labor and delivery, they were promised adequate coverage for expenses that were both necessary medically and reasonable. That’s not what they received, many now say.

Earlier this year, The Miami Herald teamed up with ProPublica to analyze the issue, finding that NICA, despite amassing billions in assets from doctors’ annual fees, often left families begging for assistance. As our West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys have learned, those findings have since been affirmed by at least two state investigations (the auditor general and Office of Insurance Regulation). Soon thereafter, state lawmakers passed a reform bill unanimously, upping parental damage awards to $250,000 (more than double what it was) and child death benefits to $50,000 – five times what it used to be. These benefits are retroactive. Another $100,000 per family has been allocated for guaranteed transport and home modifications.

The law also pledged to make the best interests of the child Priority No. 1. Also for the first time, a parent advocate and an advocate for disabled children were added to NICA;s board. There’s also now an ombudsman who will work directly with parents. The previous executive director of the agency resigned, and a new interim ED has been assigned.

Parents say they are still hoping lawmakers will approve increased benefits for those who set aside their careers to remain at home and become caregivers for their severely disabled children. Continue reading

Most people assume that Florida slip-and-fall lawsuits are fairly straightforward. However, as our Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, the truth of the matter is that South Florida slip-and-fall claims, which involve an area of law called premises liability, can quickly become quite complicated.

Some of the factors that are going to come into play as to how thorny a case can get:Palm Beach injury lawyer

  • How long did the hazard existed in the area where you fell (or how long you can prove it was there)?
  • Was the hazard something that occurred regularly at that location?
  • Who was responsible for maintaining safe walking surfaces at that location? (Were there multiple responsible parties?)
  • How open/obvious was the hazard that caused the fall?
  • What was your purpose on site? (Were you a business invitee? A social invitee? A trespasser? All of this will matter in a Florida premises liability claim.)
  • How badly were you hurt? Did you incur medical bills? Did the injury leave you unable to work for a time?

All of this is going to factor into the viability and value of your Florida slip-and-fall claim and how much it’s worth. This is why you’ll want to discuss your case with an injury lawyer.

That said, here are five questions that we’re frequently asked when approached about a Palm Beach slip-and-fall injury claim: Continue reading

Thanksgiving is all about gathering and good eats. Lots of folks are especially excited about this year’s festivities, as pandemic-related restrictions have increasingly eased. However, many holiday safety concerns persist year after year.Palm Beach injury lawyer

As longtime South Florida injury lawyers, the cases we handle almost all involve preventable injuries resulting from the failure of someone else to use reasonable care – not necessarily because they meant to cause harm, but simply because they weren’t careful. If at all possible, we want people to avoid associating joyful holidays like Thanksgiving with sadness or regret. That’s why we urge everyone to take a few minutes to ensure they’re being as safe as possible – behind the wheel, in front of the stove, through the stores, and at the table.

Driving Dangers on Thanksgiving

There are an estimated 39 million survivors of child sexual assault in the U.S. today. Of those, nearly one-third never tell a soul what happened to them. For many others, the truth isn’t revealed until many years later, often when they are adults who more fully understand what was done to them. Unfortunately, not all of our laws have caught up with this reality.

In Florida, survivors of sexual assault typically have a 4-year window in which to pursue a civil claim against the institutions whose negligence allowed the abuse to occur. After four years, the statute of limitations time-bars the claim. If the abuse was ongoing, the statute of limitations clock wouldn’t start until the last instance of abuse. There are a few exceptions, though, which is why it’s important if you’ve been sexually molested, abused, or assaulted – even if it was many years ago – that you discuss your legal options with an attorney.Palm Beach sexual assault lawyer

(Note that the statute of limitations in criminal sexual assault cases is longer: Within 7 years after the victim turns 18; within 4 years of the time a victim discovers the link between a related injury and the abuse; within 4 years of the time a victim abandons/stops depending on the abuser. In 2020, lawmakers passed “Donna’s Law,” which removes the statute of limitations for criminally prosecuting acts of sexual battery against children under 18. However, the law isn’t retroactive, and is only applicable to crimes committed on or after July 1, 2020.) 

The strict nature of the statute of limitations on civil sexual assault cases was underscored in a case before the Florida Supreme Court last year, R.R. v. New Life Community Church of CMA. In that case, the Florida Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations time-barred two women from pursuing a sexual assault civil lawsuit against a Florida church and other defendants over allegations the women were sexually abused as children by a church employee.

The trial and appellate courts had already ruled against the two plaintiffs, who reported they were molested as young children by the church worker between 1996 and 2005. The worker, currently in prison on unrelated child porn charges, isn’t a party to the case. Instead, the defendants include the church, the man’s parents (also church employees) and others. One of the women said she was molested between the ages of 4 and 11. Her attorney would later say she didn’t recognize abuse had occurred because she thought she was being punished for bad behavior. She therefore didn’t tell her parents until after she was an adult. The other woman alleged she was molested once when she was 4. She told her parents about it shortly after it happened.

Both the trial court and the 5th District Court of Appeal held that the statute of limitations on their claims had already passed. However, the Florida Supreme Court took up the matter because, as our Palm Beach sexual abuse attorneys can explain, other appellate courts ruling on similar cases had reached different conclusions. Specifically, the 3rd and 4th District Courts of Appeal had held that civil sexual abuse lawsuits filed by those who were minors at the time of the abuse don’t accrue until the minor reaches the age of majority OR “until a proper representative knew or should have known of the minor’s claims.” Continue reading

In Florida, property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their properties reasonably safe, and to warn visitors of any dangerous conditions. This duty, which falls under the umbrella of premises liability law, is applicable to hazards about which the owner knows (or reasonably should know), but which a visitor couldn’t have discovered using reasonable care.Palm Beach injury lawyer

Defendant property owners can sometimes win these types of cases by raising the “open and obvious” defense. This defense asserts that the danger was so open and obvious there was no need to warn guests of it.

As our Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, though, this is not a complete defense. That is, a property owner isn’t going to win their case solely based on the fact that the danger was open and obvious. Rather, it’s considered a factor in deciding who is at fault. In Florida, plaintiffs may share a percentage of the fault (referred to as comparative fault) and still collect a percentage of the damages.

Recently in the case of Pratus v. Marzucco’s Construction & Coatings, Inc., an employee of an electrical subcontractor was hurt when stepping into an uncovered drain at a South Florida construction site. He conceded he’d seen the drain uncovered numerous times at work, but argued the general contractor was still liable for the dangerous condition on site. A trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant general contractor, on the grounds that the dangerous condition was open and obvious. But in its reversal, the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal underscored two significant points:

  • It is the danger, not the condition, that is obvious to the visitor. You might be aware that a dangerous condition exists on site, but you might mistakenly (and reasonably) think the landowner put some safeguards in place to protect against the danger. In the case recently before the 2nd DCA, the drain in question was covered and uncovered at various times. Sometimes the door that led to it was marked with caution tape. On the day of the incident, there was no tape over the door, despite the fact that the drain was uncovered that day.
  • Owners have a legal responsibility to anticipate the actions of those who enter the property. That’s not to say they need a crystal ball, but they need to consider the potential actions of reasonable and prudent persons on site. Construction sites can have SO many dangers. Those working at the site might need to get to a certain location, but the path they took, with its inherent dangers, may be the only option. In that case, even if they knew about the risk and it was open and obvious, they might be partially excused for failing to avoid it.

The bottom line is that where a property owner expects or should have known that a danger – however open or obvious – might pose a realistic threat to invitees, the jury can still hold the property owner responsible, even if the visitor/plaintiff shares some of the blame too. This is especially true if there is evidence of negligence per se, which would involve violation of a health or safety statute. Continue reading

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing, the first step in pursuing civil damages is a demand letter. Palm Beach injury lawyer

Demand letters are the initial correspondence made by the plaintiff (person who was hurt) to the insurance company that provides coverage on behalf of at-fault or negligent parties. South Florida injury attorneys draft demand letters for cases involving car accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and other claims.

A well-drafted demand letter can potentially help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries while avoiding a personal injury lawsuit altogether. This is why it’s imperative that you work with an experienced Palm Beach injury attorney. It is inadvisable for personal injury plaintiffs to write their own demand letters because often these cases are more complicated than they appear at first blush. A poorly-written demand letter can significantly damage your case potential.

An injury attorney will help you apply the law to your case, determine the full extent of your damages, identify all potential defendants/at-fault parties, ascertain causes of action for your claim, advise you of your case value and viability and draft the demand letter to insurers. Continue reading

A recent expose by reporters at The Palm Beach Post detailed the many alleged medical mistakes and lawsuits peppered throughout the 30-year career of a Palm Beach OB-GYN who retained his medical license until only recently. The watchdog reporting raises questions not only about how he was able to continue practicing with his track record, but also why obstetrics and gynecology specialists have higher rates of medical malpractice claims compared to other medical experts. Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

According to a survey of more than 4,000 physicians by Medscape, nearly 60 percent had been involved in one or more medical malpractice lawsuits during their career. For OB-GYN practitioners specializing in women’s health, that rate was 83 percent. On average, OB-GYN practitioners are involved in 2 to 3 medical malpractice claims over the course of their careers.

The OB-GYN featured in the Post article was reportedly:

  • Linked to at least 14 serious injuries of women and children, including six deaths.
  • Named in four disciplinary cases.
  • Named as a defendant in nine medical malpractice lawsuits.

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