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

As longtime South Florida medical malpractice attorneys, one of the most heartbreaking things over the years has been telling parents of adult patients – and adult children of unmarried patients – that they have no legal recourse after their loved one has died due to medical negligence. That’s because the Florida’s medical malpractice and wrongful death laws protect negligent doctors and insurers at the expense of trusting patients and bereaved families. State law specifies that if an adult over the age of 25 dies as a result of medical practice and they did not have a surviving spouse or minor children (under the age of 25), no other family member can recover damages for pain and suffering. West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

Put another way: If an adult over the age of 25 dies of medical malpractice in Florida, the only people allowed to pursue a legal claim would be a surviving spouse and/or minor children (under 25).

Unfortunately, most people don’t learn about this until after their loved one has died. Some scenarios that have resulted:

  • The mother and longtime girlfriend of a 51-year-old man who died following mistakes during an open heart operation could not find an attorney to take their case.
  • The three adult children of a 59-year-old divorced woman who died following a botched bowel surgery learned they had no legal claim.
  • The parents of a 34-year-old unmarried woman with no children had no recourse when doctors failed to diagnose breast cancer until it had advanced to the final stages, leading to her early death.

Florida is the only state in the country with such a law. Not only that, but we have a sizable population of widowed seniors, unmarried college students, and middle-aged single and divorce people whose kids are over 25 or who don’t have any kids at all. If they died in a car accident or because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, their loved ones could pursue damages for pain and suffering. But if they die as a result of medical malpractice, their loved ones are left with no means to hold accountable negligent doctors, surgeons, nurses, and hospitals.

“No one should be valued less just because they are unmarried, over the age of 25, or have grown children,” said West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer David Halberg. Continue reading

Following a serious injury in South Florida, you may recognize the value of talking to a personal injury lawyer about a potential case. But how will a West Palm Beach injury lawyer evaluate your claim? More often than not, folks have no idea what to expect.

Here, we offer a bit of insight into how injury lawyers will review your case, what points will be most relevant, and what information/documentation you can have on hand to get the most out of your first meeting. West Palm Beach injury lawyer

What is an Initial Consultation?

First thing’s first: Explaining the initial consult. This can happen in-office. In some cases, we come to you. More typically, we begin our discussions over the phone or in a video conference, for everyone’s convenience.

Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations. It’s a risk-free opportunity for you to ask questions, get a sense of whether you have a case (and what it might be worth), and obtain an outline of possible challenges you may encounter. It’s also a chance for the attorney to determine whether they have the skills and the resources to take on your case. In a sense, you’re both interviewing each other.

Personal injury cases in Florida are accepted by lawyers on a contingency fee basis. That means you do not pay attorney’s fees unless and until you win. If you win (usually in settlement negotiations, but sometimes at trial), the attorney will be paid a pre-agreed-upon percentage of what you won (somewhere between 25-40 percent, depending on case complexity, attorney experience, etc.). If you do not win, the attorney does not collect payment. For this reason, injury lawyers must be careful about which cases they accept.

The good news for prospective clients is that your lack of upfront payment will not deter you from pursuing a strong claim. You also get the benefit of a straightforward answer about the viability and value of your claim from the beginning.

Examining Fault

One of the most fundamental elements of any tort claim rooted in negligence is that of fault. When we get the rundown of events, we’re looking for evidence of which parties may be at fault, and to what extent.

That might sound fairly simple. But looking at your case through the lens of a personal injury lawyer means we’re considering how it looks to the insurers, as well as a potential judge/jury.

For example, if you were hit by a vehicle whose driver was drunk, you’re going to presume the driver is at-fault. And that could be. However, an injury lawyer will want to know more. Was the driver underage or known to be an alcoholic? If so, the bar that served him/her could be held legally liable under the state’s dram shop laws. If the driver was operating a vehicle that was owned by someone else, the vehicle owner could be held vicariously liable because Florida considers motor vehicles to be dangerous instrumentalities, per a 1920’s-era Florida Supreme Court case.

If you’re pursuing a medical malpractice claim, you might think clearly the doctor is at-fault. But we’ll be looking at who actually employed the doctor (and it isn’t always the hospital), as they may be vicariously liable under the legal doctrine respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “let the master answer.” Traveling nurse agencies may have some degree of liability. And facilities may have some responsibility if their processes and protocols fell short of the applicable standard of care.

It’s important to properly determine fault at the outset so that we can identify those responsible in the claim. Continue reading

Jurors awarded nearly $300,000 to a woman who suffered a broken leg and shoulder in a South Florida slip-and-fall injury that occurred on a cruise ship seven years ago. As our Palm Beach premises liability lawyers can explain, proving legal responsibility in such cases is rarely a cakewalk, particularly in a higher-value claim. Slip-and-fall cases especially have a high proof burden, as outlined in F.S. 768.0755.Cruise ship injury lawyer Florida

In this case, according to Daily Business Review, the 64-year-old passenger was reportedly walking across an exterior passageway of the ship when she fell. The ship, which departed from Tampa, was in the Caribbean Sea at the time of her fall. As a result of the fall, she sustained serious injuries to both her leg and shoulder (a fractured left femur and a displacement fracture of her right shoulder).

The day after the accident, she disembarked the ship and was treated in Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Hospital Medical Center, where she had a rod placed in her leg and plates and screws placed in her shoulder. She endured nearly two weeks in the hospital, followed by nearly a month of inpatient rehabilitation therapy. There were also numerous follow-up orthopedic evaluations, with treatment concluding about five months after the trip. Ongoing health issues stemming from the fall include residual pain and certain limitations. She cannot easily raise her right arm anymore, and long periods of walking leave her in great pain. Despite reaching maximum medical improvement, these problems persist and may never go away.

In her subsequent South Florida slip-and-fall injury lawsuit (filed in federal court), she alleged the owner/operator of the ship was negligent in creating a dangerous condition that resulted in her fall. Specifically, she said her leg caught on a lounge chair, one of many chairs aligned in a row on a narrow, curved passageway next to a restaurant. The woman was walking behind her husband at the time because the walkway wasn’t wide enough for them to walk side-by-side. Her husband walking in front of her, she said, obscured her view of the chair. At trial, a cruise ship safety expert for the plaintiff testified that the chairs presented a walking hazard in that they substantially reduced the amount of space pedestrians had while traversing the walkway. Continue reading

Recently, a 29-year-old car accident victim was awarded $16 million+ following a protracted Florida legal battle against her own auto insurance company. Although multi-million dollar verdicts are not the norm for most Florida crash cases, our Palm Beach car accident attorneys are sometimes asked about what type of damages one can expect in a typical crash case.Palm Beach car accident lawyer

It’s important to note that every auto accident case is different. Still, factors that can play into the amount a person expects to receive can include:

  • The severity of injuries involved.
  • Who was at-fault (and to what extent – if at all – the plaintiff/injured person shares fault).
  • Whether the at-fault parties are adequately insured.
  • How many victims there were (the more victims, typically the less money available per victim).
  • Whether the injured parties are covered by uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Now let’s look at the facts of the recent $16 million car accident verdict, as detailed by The Florida Times-Union. Continue reading

Massage parlors are places with dark rooms, closed doors, and skin-to-skin contact with virtual strangers. Industry ethics codes and state laws are supposed to protect both clients and employees from predatory behavior, but allegations of Florida sexual abuse during massages or at massage parlors have been prevalent in recent years. In addition to busts for human trafficking and prostitution at some operations, there have been numerous civil lawsuits filed against spa owners.West Palm Beach sexual assault

A few years ago, Buzzfeed reported there were dozens of complaints in Florida, California, and other states stemming from alleged sexual assaults at the Massage Envy chain, which has more than 1,200 locations across the country. As our West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, journalists uncovered more than 180 individuals who had filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and/or state board complaints against Massage Envy spas, their employees, and the national company. Many of those claims were allegedly mishandled by the chain. In some cases, managers reportedly dismissed claims for lack of merit based on alleged victims’ refusals to return to the site of the alleged assaults to provide a statement.

In 2018, nearly a dozen female customers in Palm Beach County accused Massage Envy of sexual assault at nine separate Florida locations. Most of those cases involved allegations that massage therapists had touched women in their private areas without consent. Plaintiffs alleged that the company failed to protect clients in a vulnerable setting by systematically and intentionally concealing a “rampant problem” of massage therapists accused of sexually assaulting customers. The company allegedly had an internal policy of urging staff to avoid calling police in cases of reported sexual assault – a practice that purportedly protected both the brand and profit of the company, not the safety and well-being of customers who had no reason to suspect they may be in danger. The women alleged they sought treatment for conditions like painful spinal injuries, and instead were sexually assaulted and exploited.

The company denied liability, but said it was partnering with an outside agency to review policies, improve training, and ensure sexual assault allegations were properly reported to local law enforcement. Continue reading

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