If you’re thinking about filing a South Florida personal injury lawsuit, chances are you’re also still reeling from the incident. Our West Palm Beach injury lawyers recognize that litigation can seem like a daunting prospect. One of our goals is ensuring prospective clients understand the basics of the personal injury law in Florida, and how that might play out in their case.South Florida personal injury lawyer

Here, we outline five key facts Florida personal injury clients should know.

  1. You may not even have to file a lawsuit. A fair percentage of the time, your lawyer may be able to resolve the matter by filing a personal injury claim directly with the defendant/insurer and negotiating with them. Everyone knows the costs – and risks – associated with going to court. If it’s at all possible to settle the matter out-of-court, that’s usually in everyone’s best interests. A lawsuit really only needs to be filed when the other party is denying any wrongdoing or refuses to pay fair compensation for your losses. Even if you file a lawsuit, cases rarely make it all the way to trial. They’re either dismissed or settled before it gets to that point. (Most cases settle because, as injury lawyers, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we aren’t paid unless you win. That gives your lawyer strong incentive to shoot straight about your odds at the outset.) Often, when a case does make it to trial, it’s only one or two issues of contention. Of course, those issues may be substantial and still require significant research, expert analysis, and time, but it’s better where possible to narrow down issues of contention to as few points as possible.

Liability for Florida amputation injuries may be imputed to negligent doctor/hospital (medical malpractice), property owner who failed to correct an unsafe condition (premises liability), careless motor vehicle driver (auto accident claim), or product manufacturer/distributor who designed/manufactured/sold a defective product (product liability). There could be other liable parties too, depending on the facts of the case. Given the severity of amputation injuries and the extent to which one can impact the rest of your life, it’s imperative to discuss your legal options with an experienced Palm Beach injury lawyer to determine whether you may have grounds for a South Florida injury lawsuit.Florida amputation injury lawyer

Recently, a doctor and urgent care center were ordered to pay $7.6 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit for Florida amputation injuries suffered by a patient whose bacterial infection was initially misdiagnosed as an ankle sprain. According to the Pensacola News Journal, the case involved a retired firefighter, whose right leg had to be amputated after a medical mistake. Specifically, the patient’s leg became infected after he was exposed to contaminated water in the Pensacola Bay. The leg began to ache and turned blue. When the pain worsened, he went to the urgent care center. Blisters began to develop as he waited in the lobby. Despite these symptoms, he was diagnosed with a sprained ankle, given crutches, and instructed to ice and elevate the leg. The following day, the man saw a podiatrist, who immediately recognized what was happening, and correctly diagnosed the patient as battling an aggressive bacterial infection. He was rushed to the hospital and treated with powerful antibiotics. However, by then it was too late, and the leg had to be amputated to save the patient’s life. The urgent care facility and employee doctor denied liability. However, following an eight-day civil trial, jurors awarded plaintiff $6.8 million and his wife $787,000.

Florida Amputation Injury Cases are High Stakes

Amputation is when any piece of limb of the body is severed. They can be part of planned surgeries, but they may also be the result of an accident or medical mistake.

Losing fingers or toes, while seemingly minor, can be traumatic, resulting in unique challenges for the tasks of everyday life. When someone suffers the partial or total loss of a limb, the consequences can be profound. Continue reading

A fatal Florida parasailing accident involving a vacationer in the Florida Keys has raised questions about the enforceability of liability waivers. Florida parasailing injury lawyer

Liability waivers are standard operating procedure for companies that offer inherently risky excursions and activities, including those that rent out/offer charter boats, parasailing, wakeboarding/tubing, jet skis, scuba diving, sky diving, etc.

But as our Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, although Florida courts have upheld the viability of these waivers, they aren’t necessarily a catch-all for every scenario. There are situations where a liability waiver can be successfully challenged. This is particularly true when gross negligence is at issue. Gross negligence is a lack of care that is so egregious, it demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others. It amounts to a conscious violation of other people’s right to safety.

In the most recent case, a 33-year-old Illinois woman died Memorial Day weekend while parasailing with her two kids. Police reported the boat’s captain cut the cable that tethered the woman and her kids to the boat. They plunged into the water, and then were dragged along the surface until they slammed into a bridge. The mother died and her two kids were injured.

For legal experts specializing in catastrophic injury cases, there is a strong argument to be made that people who do not know how parasails are operated shouldn’t be compelled to sign waivers of liability allowing parasailing companies to profit handsomely from these ventures while evading responsibility for skirting basic safety measures. In terms of legal enforceability, much of it is going to come down to the exact language in the waiver and the details of what happened. There’s also still an open question about whether a parent can waive a child’s rights in a liability waiver.

Are There Florida Parasailing Safety Laws?

There are safety laws in Florida that pertain specifically to parasailing – and they came about after several previous tragedies.

The White-Miskell Act, named after two tourists who died in Florida parasailing accidents, requires: Continue reading

A bombshell 300-page report detailing two decades of sex abuse and systematic cover-ups within Southern Baptist churches across the country has rocked the faith community. Revelations are that church leadership not only mishandled and suppressed abuse claims, but that they belittled victims and their families and resisted reforms at every turn. Palm Beach sex abuse lawyer

Southern Baptists are the largest national denomination of Protestants in the U.S. The third-party investigation was commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at the insistence of church members, was made public in late May. (The SBC is not its own church, but rather a network of churches.)

As our Palm Beach sex abuse lawyers can explain, this is far from the first inkling the public has had that such problems were legion. Three years ago, reporters from two Texas newspapers collaborated on an investigation into church sex abuse of children and other vulnerable parishioners. Their report, Abuse of Faith, revealed that some 400 Southern Baptist leaders – top ministers, youth pastors, etc. – had been convicted or pleaded guilty to sex crimes against more than 700 victims over the last 20 years. Top leadership commented at the time that it was “an apocalypse,” far worse and systemic than they imagined it could be.

Immediate response to the latest report from ultraconservative branches of the denomination were relatively quiet. A few regional leaders released brief statements indicating they were “grieving,” but also that they disagreed with certain aspects of the findings. A few individual pastors offered public comment condemning both the abuse and the church’s inaction, calling it all “heartbreaking” and “horrifying.” The current SBC president issued a statement saying there were not adequate words to express his sorrow at the things the report revealed, and vowed there would be changes.

Cases of Sex Abuse Brought to Light

Among the cases of “credible” reports of sexual abuse brought to light: Continue reading

Is a claim involving a Florida hospital fall one of negligence – or medical malpractice? Florida medical malpractice lawyer

Our West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers recognize this as an important distinction because on the one hand, negligence cases have a four-year statute of limitations and a lower proof burden. Most medical malpractice claims, on the other hand, have a two-year statute of limitations and require expert witness testimony at the outset. These elements can make a major difference in whether a claim survives initial hurdles necessary to overcome summary judgment or outright dismissal. Failure at the outset of the case to correctly determine which category the claim falls into can result in its being tossed on procedural grounds before it really gets started, as opposed to being decided on its merits.

That’s precisely what happened in Gorham v. Martin Memorial Health System, a recent case before Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal.

According to court records, the case involves an elderly woman who died of a fall while she was a patient at a hospital in Martin County, FL. Her adult children brought her to the facility because she was ill. When she arrived at the hospital, she brought her walker, a walking frame device that provides additional support to maintain balance or stability while walking. It’s a common mobility device for the elderly. The complaint indicates hospital staffers refused to allow her to use her own walker. On more than one occasion, she and her children told the nursing staff that she needed a walker for mobility purposes. Yet time and again, she was told either that one would be provided or that it would be “taken care of.” One nurse also assured her children that if she tried to get off the bed, an alarm would sound, summoning care staff.

The night after she was first admitted, the patient fell while attempting to get out of bed to use the restroom. Nursing staff contacted her daughter, informing her of the fall and telling them she had suffered a “slight fracture.”

Several weeks later, an orthopedic surgeon discovered the patient had actually sustained three serious fractures to her pelvis. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff died. Her family, as representatives of her estate, filed a subsequent claim alleging the injuries sustained from her fall were a substantial cause of her death.

Pre-Suit Requirements for Florida Medical Malpractice Claims

Florida law – specifically F.S. 766.104(1) – holds that no action should be filed for personal injury or wrongful death arising out of medical negligence unless the plaintiff’s attorney makes a reasonable investigation (circumstances permitting) and determines there is grounds for a good faith belief of negligent treatment. Continue reading

Florida motorcycle accidents differ from other types of vehicle crashes for a number of reasons – not the least of which being how civil claim attorneys pursue damages for injuries. motorcycle accident lawyer

In educating motorcyclists and passengers about these differences, our hope is they can make smart choices about insurance coverage – as well as what to do after a Palm Beach motorcycle accident to protect their best interests.

Florida is among the most popular – and deadliest – states for motorcycle enthusiasts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports more than 5,000 motorcyclists nationally lost their lives in crashes in a single recent year. Of those, nearly 600 died in Florida. While this is one of the largest states with a rapidly-growing population, that’s not the sole explanation. There are far more motorcycle accidents in Florida than in California or Texas – both of which are bigger and have much larger populations.

How Florida Motorcycle Accidents Are Different Than Other Crashes

In truth, any auto accident has the potential to upend your life. Motorcycle accidents, however, are uniquely hazardous.

In one recent analysis published in the medical journal CMAJ, researchers examined data on 27,000 motorcycle accident patients and 282,000 car accident patients. What they found was the injury rate for those in motorcycle crashes was triple the rate of injury for those in car crashes. Severe injuries were 10 times more likely in motorcycle accidents. The cost of treatment for those involved in motorcycle crashes was double that of car accident survivors.

One explanation for this is that motor vehicle safety has improved substantially over the last two decades. As the NHTSA notes, newer cars are safer cars, with standard three-point seat belts, reengineered air bags (and the addition of side airbags), electronic stability control to reduce spinouts and plow-outs, rearview backup cameras to prevent back-over crashes, blind spot detection, and driver assistance. Motorcycles, however, have remained largely unchanged.

Meanwhile, driver distraction has become increasingly common, putting motorcyclists at even higher risk of drivers who often overlooked them even before smartphones and dashboard systems became ubiquitous.

The greater severity of injuries in South Florida motorcycle accidents means these are going to be higher-stakes civil claims. Insurers know this. They’re often eager to settle these cases quickly, for as little as possible – if they don’t deny them outright. This is where working with an experienced Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyer is to your benefit. We recognize right off the bat what these cases are worth. When we commit to advocating on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled, we do not allow insurers to bully our clients into an unfavorable settlement.

It’s worth noting that compensation in motorcycle crashes is not going to include PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. That’s another major difference compared to car crashes. Continue reading

The process of pursuing a South Florida personal injury lawsuit can seem convoluted. If your injuries are serious, you really should be working with a dedicated personal injury attorney to help guide you through the steps and ensure you aren’t being taken advantage of by other stakeholders. In any case, having a base knowledge of the legal jargon you’re likely to encounter is important. One phrase you may hear frequently is “burden of proof.”South Florida injury lawyer

What is a Proof Burden?

The burden of proof is, at its core, a responsibility. It refers to the legal requirement that determines the viability of a claim based on the factual evidence produced.

A proof burden is indicative of both production AND persuasion. In other words, it identifies who bears the greater responsibility to produce the evidence, as well as the minimum standard one must meet in order for the court to consider a fact (or set of facts) to be legally proven. The difficulty of one’s proof burden depends on the type of case.

In criminal defense cases, the prosecution must prove their allegations of a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is recognized as the most stringent proof burden in the legal system. The judge or jury must be convinced there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence at trial. The intention is for jurors to be virtually certain of the defendant’s guilt before rendering a guilty verdict.

In South Florida personal injury cases (handled in civil court), the plaintiff, or person who experienced the harm at the hands of the other, bears the proof burden. That means they, rather than prosecutors, must establish the truth of their claims, and they must do so by a preponderance of the evidence standard. This requires that the court find there is a greater than 50 percent chance the plaintiff’s claim is true. In tort matters (like injury lawsuits), prevailing will compel the defendant to pay fair compensation. Continue reading

One of 10 survivors of reported South Florida sexual abuse involving a former Miami teacher has been awarded $6 million in a federal civil lawsuit against the school district. The teacher, who taught English and Creative Writing for 14 years in Miami-Dade, is also still awaiting a criminal trial, which has been repeatedly delayed due to the pandemic. South Florida sexual abuse attorney

The plaintiff, now an adult, was a minor high school student when she was reportedly sexually assaulted in 2016. She was one many students the teacher allegedly exploited in his years as a Florida educator, using poetry and prose journal prompts to prey on and groom students into relationships. For her, the plaintiff said each incident occurred in the classroom.

The teacher’s arrest for the offenses against this survivor happened eight years after another student reported sexual misconduct by the same teacher with multiple students at a different high school in the same school district. Additionally, a school resource officer reportedly saw the teacher engaging with/leaning over students in a “very personal” and “intimate” fashion – but never reported the suspicious behavior, according to The Miami Herald.

After the earlier incidents, the teacher was moved to a different school, but not fired or even reported to authorities. According to the lawsuit, the school board and administrators failed to conduct an adequate, thorough, and reasonable investigations into prior reports of alleged abuse. Further, when the school did launch an investigation, it reportedly failed to protect female students in his classes as he continued to teach. Jurors agreed, awarding the plaintiff survivor $3 million in prior damages and $3 million in future damages.

The details of this case are deeply disturbing, especially because they appear to be part of a bigger problem. In recent years, there have been numerous South Florida sexual abuse allegations against teachers – and school districts failing to protect students. Given that sexual abuse is a widely under-reported crime to begin with, the fact of so many high-profile cases is all the more troubling.

Among recent cases: Continue reading

If you’re considering hiring a West Palm Beach injury lawyer, one of the primary factors to weigh is the attorney’s track record of success in similar claims. That said, you should know that when personal injury lawyers agree to take on a case – whether it be following a car accident, medical malpractice incident, or some other injury – they’re often successful. There are a few reasons for this. West Palm Beach injury lawyer

First off, not many cases actually go to trial. Of course, movies and television shows may make it appear as if courtroom trials are the norm. They are not. Trials are incredibly taxing – emotionally, financially, and time-wise. They’re also unpredictable, so they can be a risk for both sides. Almost everyone involved, at least at the outset, is usually committed to resolving the matter without going to trial. Sometimes, claims can be settled without even filing a lawsuit. However, a good injury lawyer won’t shy away from proceeding to trial if it’s your best bet. Still, it’s generally considered a last resort when fair resolution through skilled, determined negotiation has failed. (Failure of either side to accept a fair, pre-trial settlement offer from the other can actually have financial consequences, per Florida law.)

Secondly, while no attorney can promise you a favorable outcome, the contingency fee arrangement through which injury lawyers are paid allows you to have greater confidence in the strength of your case. As outlined in F.S. 16.0155, contingency fee arrangements mean that the plaintiff’s attorney is not paid their attorney’s fees unless and until you win. If you are successful, your attorney’s fees are deducted as a pre-agreed-upon portion from the overall damages awarded in a final settlement or verdict.

To be blunt about it, Florida injury lawyers are not likely to take on cases with very long odds of actually winning. But this ends up having several key benefits for injury case claimants. Continue reading

The Hyatt Hotel corporation is facing a federal lawsuit in Florida for the alleged sexual assault of a minor at one of its resorts in the Bahamas.

As our West Palm Beach sexual assault attorneys can explain, thousands of people are attacked at hotels, motels, casinos, and resorts in the U.S. every year. Survivors of sexual violence have the right to pursue justice in criminal courts, but they can also file claims for monetary damages in civil court. Civil claims aren’t always (or even mostly) filed against the attacker. More often than not, Florida civil sexual assault claims target businesses or organizations that failed in their duty to protect the victim.Hotel sexual assault South Florida

This case against the Hyatt isn’t even all that unique. Our legal team is aware of a similar civil claim filed against the same hotel chain in an Illinois federal court following a sexual assault in Turkey. The hotel tried to get that claim tossed, arguing Illinois was an inconvenient forum to resolve the matter. However, the trial and appellate courts declined requests to remove the claim for jurisdictional reasons, and the matter proceeded.

In the more recent matter, V.H. v. Hyatt Hotels Corporation, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, the plaintiff is the father of a minor who was staying at the hotel as a guest with her family. According to court records, the victim briefly left her hotel room in the early morning hours to call a friend. She left barefoot, fully anticipating returning to her room within a few minutes. However, she was approached by a 58-year-old Bahamian local, who struck up a conversation and then lured her to a closed poolside cabana. There, according to the complaint, he overpowered and raped her.

By this time, her father had already gone looking for his daughter. He was able to locate her using the pinpoint technology on her cell phone. He entered the cabana to find the sexual assault in progress. The father ripped the attacker off his daughter, who was disheveled, curled up on the ground, and crying. The rape was immediately reported to authorities, and the attacker was arrested and charged with statutory rape. He is awaiting trial in the Bahamas, set for May.

According to the civil complaint, the attacker should never have been at the resort at that hour to begin with. The rape occurred at a time when restaurants and bars were closed. The casinos were still open, but the attacker, under Bahamian law, was not allowed to gamble. Further, he was also known to be a small-time drug dealer. There was no legitimate reason, the plaintiff argued, for the assailant to be on the property when he was.

Plaintiffs allege the assailant was likely there for the purpose of targeting a young victim. The hotel chain knew or should have known he may have nefarious motives, plaintiffs allege. The company advertises itself to families as a purveyor of fun, safe family vacations. And yet, when this incident occurred, there were no security personnel present to prevent or intervene in the rape of a minor on its property. Plaintiffs allege the hotel chain failed to take both reasonable and necessary precautions to protect guests, causing this child to suffer an event that was painful, traumatizing, and permanently life-altering. Continue reading

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