Sexual assault is traumatic under any circumstance. When it happens at work, it can upend your entire life.Florida workplace sexual assault

Survivors lose not only their peace, sense of safety, and restful nights – they often also lose their jobs. Sometimes that’s because of retaliation. Other times, it’s because the survivor can’t bear to be in the same space where they were violated. Coping with rape trauma syndrome is a misery on its own, let alone having to slog through it while struggling financially, trying to land a new job, and perhaps forgoing work they once found meaningful.

Research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reveals approximately 5.6 percent of women (about 7 million) in the U.S. have reported sexual violence by a workplace-related perpetrator at some point in their lives. Of those, about 1 million reported being raped. Another 1 million said they were sexually coerced. Some were just teenagers. Only about 2 percent reported what happened to police. Given that rape is a hugely underreported crime, we can reasonably presume the actual impact of this issue is even more staggering.

Employers aren’t expected to have crystal balls and anticipate every scenario. However, they are expected to use diligence in hiring. They are expected to provide adequate supervision and security for employees. They’re expected to ensure their facilities are reasonably safe. They should have written sexual harassment policies – provided to workers – clearly explaining what to do if they are a victim of sexual harassment or assault. They are expected to take prompt, effective action if harassment, assault, or abuse is reported. They are expected to refrain from retaliating against the victim for reporting what happened. Unfortunately, some employers fail to take the bare minimum steps needed to protect potentially vulnerable workers.

Workplace Sexual Violence is an Ongoing, Serious Problem

Among just a few of the more recent, high-profile workplace sexual assault claims: Continue reading

The U.S. 11th District Court of Appeals recently affirmed a $1 million+ damage award for Florida bad faith insurance against a workers’ compensation insurer that refused to pay the policy limit for a construction accident injury that left the worker permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The case underscores the recourse available when insurers shirk their duties in an attempt to avoid paying rightful claims.Florida bad faith insurance

What is Florida Bad Faith Insurance?

Insurance companies – auto, health, workers’ compensation, homeowners’, property, life, disability, etc. – owe a duty to those they insure to act in good faith. That doesn’t mean they issue a payout for every claim. Rather, it means they can’t renege on their contractual obligations by engaging in dishonest practices to try to lowball or refuse to pay legitimate claims – or frustrate claimants so much with unnecessary red tape that they give up. Florida bad faith insurance claims can be made when an insurer fails to initiate a proper, timely investigation, tampers with witnesses, withholds evidence, makes unreasonable demands of claimants, fails to promptly settle meritorious claims, refuses to pay at all, offers to settle for far less than what the case is clearly worth, or drags their feet on payments.

As outlined in F.S. 624.155, Florida bad faith insurance encompasses a host of unethical practices, but it all comes down to this: The insurer did not attempt in good faith to settle claims when it could and should have done so had it been acting honestly and fairly toward the insured or other claimants.

As our Palm Beach bad faith insurance lawyers can explain, insurers can be maddening to deal with – and they’re clearly interested more in their own bottom line than much else. But whether their tactics fall under the umbrella of bad faith is a question for a lawyer.

Insurers tend to walk a fine line because while they aren’t eager to pay up, they also recognize that a proven bad faith insurance claim could result in them paying much more – possibly triple damages plus interest, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.

If you think an insurance company is treating you unfairly, it’s best to talk to a lawyer first. Sometimes simply involving a legal advocate who fully understands the law, the insurer’s obligations, and the claimant’s rights, is enough for the insurer to straighten up and fly right. But if it’s not, you will get the benefit of a legal expert confirming it for you – and helping you to strategically gather evidence to make a case for bad faith if it comes down to that. Continue reading

In many ways, the true impact of Florida car accident losses is immeasurable. After all, how can one possibly quantify the death of a loved one? Or the crushing reality that permanent injuries have forever foreclosed on the possibility of doing things that once gave you so much joy? Palm Beach car accident lawyer

But when we do look strictly at those black-and-white numbers, the staggering ripple effect of Florida car accident losses is thrown into stark relief.

Almost 3,400 people die in Florida car accidents annually, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Another 250,000 are injured. If we’re solely focused on medical costs incurred as a direct result of Florida car accidents, it’s a $46 million price tag every year (per the CDC). Work loss costs? $4.35 billion.

Broadening that scope, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just released a new 300-page report that examined the full scope of costs for traffic crashes across the U.S. in a single year.

Among their findings:

  • 36,500+ people died.
  • 4.5 million+ people were injured.
  • 23 million+ vehicles were damaged.
  • $340 billion+ is the cost America as a whole pays for motor vehicle crashes. This includes medical bills and work loss, but also taxes, congestion-related costs, excess fuel consumption, insurance premiums, emergency services costs, legal and court costs, lost productivity. $55 billion of that is in medical bills and lost wages alone.
  • That $340 billion breaks down to $1,035 for every person currently living in this country.
  • $1.4 trillion+ is the cost America pays for motor vehicle crashes when quality of life valuations are considered.

Quality of life valuations are the consideration of the cost when a serious injury or death means that no amount of medical care is going to fully restore the victim. Those who have died – they’re robbed of the entire rest of their lives. Their surviving loved ones will be impacted the rest of their lives as well. Even for those who survive, sometimes there can be lifelong disabilities, physical pain, disfigurement that sometimes prevents them from being independent in even the most basic life functions. Continue reading

When it comes to filing a Florida personal injury lawsuit, the “when” sometimes matters just as much as the “what.” That’s because with very few exceptions, there are strict time limits – known as the “statute of limitations” – in which claims can be filed.Florida injury lawsuit statute of limitations

If the events that gave rise to a claim occurred too long ago, we say that the case is “time-barred.” In Florida, time limits on filing a personal injury lawsuit are outlined in F.S. 95.11. The time window for filing a lawsuit may be longer or shorter depending on the:

  • Type of tort claim. Most Florida personal injury claims (those involving bodily injury resulting from some type of accident) have a 4-year statute of limitations. However, claims for medical malpractice and wrongful death must be filed within 2 years. In some instances, an administrative notice of intent to file a claim might be required much sooner. Florida civil claims for sexual abuse have a 4-year statute of limitations, though the clock doesn’t begin ticking until the last alleged incident of abuse.

A CT scan showed you had cancer, but the doctor failed to diagnose it. An OBGYN error during labor and delivery deprived a fetus of adequate oxygen during birth, leading to permanent brain damage and disabilities. Hospital staffers gave your mother the wrong dose of a powerful medication, resulting in her death. These are just a few examples of scenarios that can spur South Florida medical malpractice lawsuits.South Florida medical malpractice lawyer

Actually winning, though, is another matter.

In a recent analysis by NiceRx, Florida ranked No. 3 in the country over the last decade for the most reported incidents of medical malpractice. Yet it ranked 43 out of 50 for medical malpractice payout totals. The actual number of Florida medical malpractice incidents is almost certainly much higher than what’s reflected on court dockets – a direct result of Florida lawmakers’ efforts to make it inherently tougher to pursue these cases compared to other kinds of personal injury and wrongful death claims. The proof burden is higher, the filing deadlines are shorter, and there are tighter restrictions on who has standing to file and how much money can be awarded. It’s an awful shock for some families when they learn that neither a tragic outcome nor even proof of a medical mistake necessarily guarantees a successful medical malpractice claim. In fact, those truths may not even get your foot in the door of the courtroom.

Patients should have every confidence when they see a doctor, dentist, surgeon, or other health care provider that they’ll be treated with professionalism, respect, and dignity. If a patient is sexually assaulted by a healthcare provider, it’s more than a violation of one’s body, the provider’s professional ethics, or even the law. It’s a major breach of the significant trust central to the patient-provider relationship.Florida sexual assault lawyer

It is important for victimized patients to understand: It is NOT your fault. Even in cases where some degree of attraction may be mutual, the power imbalance between patients and providers puts the onus firmly on the health care provider to draw clear personal boundaries. If those lines are crossed, the provider may be held to account by their employer, professional licensing board, and (where applicable) criminal prosecutors. Impacted patients can also seek accountability through the civil court system. There may be potential claims made directly against the provider as well as their employer and/or the facility where the assault or abuse occurred.

As longtime advocates for Florida victims of sexual assault, our West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers provide survivors with insight on their legal options. It’s worth noting that civil cases can be pursued regardless of whether the state or federal government decides to pursue criminal charges.

Anyone who’s ever filed a Florida personal injury lawsuit probably understands the unpredictability of life – and death – better than most. But what happens when the defendant in your pending personal injury lawsuit dies suddenly? In short, it will inevitably impact the case, but the claim doesn’t die with them. That said, there are certain steps you may need to take to preserve your claim.Florida personal injury lawsuit

Florida’s survival statute, F.S. 46.201, states that no cause of action (the reason for the lawsuit) dies with the person. Lawsuits can be initiated, prosecuted, and defended in the name of the person who has died. In other words, if the defendant in your Florida personal injury lawsuit dies while the case is pending, you can continue to pursue the claim against their estate. Further, if you have a valid cause of action but haven’t yet filed your lawsuit by the time the would-be defendant dies, can still pursue that case against the defendant’s estate – assuming the statute of limitations hasn’t expired.

What if the situation is reversed, and it’s the plaintiff who dies? Personal injury lawsuits aren’t extinguished because a plaintiff dies.  The decedent’s personal representative would have to take over the case. From there, the only thing that really changes is the type and amount of damages that can be recovered. For example, damages for future medical expenses, lost wages, and mental anguish are no longer on the table if the plaintiff is dead.

Additionally, per F.S. 733.104(1), if a potential plaintiff had grounds to file a civil injury lawsuit but died before they could do so, the personal representative of their estate can initiate the claim, so long as they do so either before the statute of limitations runs out OR within 12 months of the decedent’s death – whichever is longer. In some cases, because it can take months for a personal representative to even be appointed, personal injury claims can also be commenced by either a curator or an administrator ad litem. The absence of a known personal representative is not a valid excuse for not filing a timely motion to substitute.

All this said, our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers must stress that if any party to a lawsuit dies, it is imperative to take proper steps to preserve the claim. Continue reading

A Florida medical malpractice lawsuit could reopen a contentious debate over Amendment 7, a 2004 constitutional amendment that aims for transparency in health care by requiring providers to disclose certain medical error records.Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

As our Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers can explain, the health care industry has had it out for Amendment 7 pretty much since the moment it passed by popular vote nearly two decades ago. It’s withstood several challenges, but that doesn’t mean it’s invincible – particularly with four new faces on the Florida Supreme Court since the last major ruling on it. If the state high court is persuaded by an appellate court panel to reconsider – and ultimately change – its position, it will mean plaintiffs in Florida medical malpractice cases will have a tougher time gathering pertinent information on the defendant provider’s medical mistakes.

What is Amendment 7, Florida’s Patients’ Right to Know?

Florida’s “Patients’ Right to Know” amendment (Article X, Section 25 of the Florida Constitution) gives patients the right to access medical records made or received in the course of business by a health care provider or facility relating to any adverse medical incident.

As explained by the U.S. Department of health & Human Services Office of Inspector General, an “adverse medical incident” is one in which a patient’s care results in an undesirable outcome, such as a prolonged patient stay, permanent patient harm, life-saving intervention necessity, or death. This would not be a patient succumbing to an underlying disease, but rather the result of errors, known side effects, substandard care, or complications that were unexpected but possibly unavoidable. Not every adverse medical incident is the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit, but most medical malpractice lawsuits are the result of an adverse medical incident. Patients or surviving loved ones who are weighing legal action against a health care facility or provider may cite this amendment when requesting relevant incident reports and other records.

Obviously, health care facilities and insurers were opposed to this from the beginning, but state constitutional amendments are tough to change. Recently though, the First District Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 against a medical malpractice plaintiff who sought relevant records under Amendment 7. The appellate panel majority then took it a step further and implored the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider the 2005 amendment, saying:

  • Years of court decisions on the issue have resulted in expanding Amendment 7 beyond what voters intended, in turn “radically transforming” medical malpractice litigation ion Florida.
  • Adverse medical records created for submission to a peer review organization under the federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (PSQIA) should be shielded from mandated disclosures under Amendment 7.

For context, the PSQIA was passed in 2005 – just one year after Amendment 7 – with the goal of improving patient safety and care quality with the creation of a voluntary, confidential, and non-punitive system through which health care providers could freely report medical mistakes and near-misses. The idea was that by facilitating a free flow of information – unincumbered by legal risks – health care facilities and researchers would be able to more accurately scrutinize problematic trends and policies. The ultimate goal is minimizing medical risk to patients. The PSQIA shields health care providers who voluntarily collect data on medical mistakes for the purpose of turning it over to this federal program by classifying those records as “privileged.” They are labeled as “patient safety work product,” and protected from public disclosure.

Is There a Conflict With Federal Law?

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If you’re considering legal action following a Florida personal injury, one of the first things to figure out is: “Do I have a case?”Palm Beach personal injury lawyer

This sometimes ends up being a more complex question than you might think. Among the reasons would-be Florida injury claims falter:

  • Not every wrongdoing or injury can be remedied with legal action.

As longtime Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers advocating for Florida victims and survivors in civil litigation, it’s sadly no surprise when prominent businesses, organizations, government agencies, or institutions fail in their duty to protect those most vulnerable to sexual predators. Time and again, these entities allow basic safety protocols, oversight, security, and reporting take a back seat to profits and prestige. The result is victims suffer in silence while predators carry on – sometimes entirely unfettered.Florida sexual abuse lawyer

This is why when survivors of sexual abuse within an organization (school, workplace, sports club, church, etc.) come forward, civil case attorneys prioritize a deep dive into that organization’s history, policies, practices, and protections. Rarely are such occurrences isolated.

We saw yet another example of this recently with the three Florida sexual abuse lawsuits filed by former youth athletes against several cheerleading organizations, gyms, and investors. The plaintiffs were competitive cheerleaders, coached at the same Daytona Beach gym by the same man, who is now facing felony sexual abuse charges. But as noted in the complaints, the blame doesn’t rest solely on the coach. Rather, plaintiffs say, fault also lies with business and athletic organizations that established operational models with lax oversight policies that allowed young athletes to be taken advantage of by sexual predators.

What’s more: This is far from the first time some of these cheer organization defendants have been named in civil sexual abuse lawsuits for similar lapses in other states.

Report: Cheer Coaches Across the Country Kept Working Despite Sex Abuse Allegations

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