Every year, about 50 million Americans visit hospital emergency rooms and doctor’s offices to treat unintentional injuries. About 6% of all adults in the U.S. suffer an activity-limiting injury every 3 months. So it’s more common than many people realize for one who has already been injured to endure another that exacerbates the first.Palm Beach injury lawyer

Such prior injuries can complicate matters if you decide to pursue legal action for those injuries – but it does not eliminate your chances, particularly if you’re working with skilled West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers.

When Prior Injuries Pose Problems in Personal Injury Cases

Sometimes prior injuries and ailments have no bearing on a prospective personal injury case. For example, if the prior injury was a shoulder rotator cuff issue from repetitive motion at work but the new injury mostly impacted your knee, leg, and foot, it may not be an issue at all. It could be mentioned, but likely will have little bearing on the outcome of your case.

However, if the new injury is in the same area as the old one, your West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers will be asking the extent to which the new injury made the old one worse. Continue reading

For survivors of sexual assault, true justice can feel elusive. No matter what penalty is ultimately imposed (if it is imposed), there is no erasing the trauma and physical violation. You may be healing the rest of your life. Despite the long-term impact, you do not have unlimited time to pursue justice for sexual assault in the civil courts. Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyer

In Florida, civil sexual assault cases should be initiated as soon as possible. Most torts (legal action against others for negligence or wrongdoing) must be filed within 2 years of the incident (or last incident, as may be the case with sexual assault). However, as our West Palm Beach sexual assault lawyers can explain, there are a few caveats for sexual abuse survivors.

As outlined in F.S. 95.11(7), a civil claim for intentional torts based on abuse can be filed at any time within:

  • 7 years after the victim reaches the age of majority
  • Within 4 years after the person leaves the dependency of the abuser
  • Within 4 years from the time of discover by the injured party of both the injury and the relationship between the injury and abuse (whichever occurs later)

Civil claims against abusers for sexual battery and/or human trafficking of a child under 16 can be filed at any time. Approximately 22% of rape victims were under the age of 12 when it first happened. Approximately 32% were between the ages of 12 and 17, according to RAINN.

No arrest or criminal conviction is required to file or win a civil case against an abuser for sexual assault or abuse. Continue reading

Florida is one of the deadliest places in the U.S. to travel by foot. In a single recent year, there were more than 10,000 pedestrian accidents in Florida – 765 of those fatal. Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer

In a recent national analysis of pedestrian accidents by the Governors Highway Safety Commission, researchers reported that among pedestrians 16 or older killed in crashes involving a motor vehicle, nearly one-third of the pedestrians had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater. By comparison, 19% of pedestrian accident fatalities involved a driver who was drunk.

To be clear: Only one of those is against the law. As long as someone isn’t underage or disorderly, it’s not  illegal to walk in public while impaired. In fact, walking home (versus driving) is considered a smart choice for those who have been out imbibing.

It’s true that drunk pedestrians may be more prone to violating certain traffic safety rules. But their impairment alone is not evidence of negligence. Even if they did err, they’re unlikely to hurt anyone but themselves. That’s why drivers still bear the brunt of the responsibility. Even if pedestrians do make a make a misstep, that does not mean they cannot file a Florida pedestrian accident lawsuit (or that their survivors cannot file a wrongful death pedestrian lawsuit).

As our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can explain, the impairment of a plaintiff pedestrian can be used by the defense as evidence of comparative fault in a lawsuit. However, it doesn’t absolve the driver of liability for their own negligence.

Unfortunately, the issue of comparative fault in Florida injury cases has become a much bigger sticking point in recent years, thanks to recent legislative changes. So if you are a pedestrian who was injured while impaired, it is important to hire a personal injury lawyer who knows the proof burden you’re facing — and how to effectively push back on those claims of comparative fault.

Changes in Florida’s Comparative Fault Law

Up until fairly recently, Florida was a pure comparative fault state with respect to negligence claims. Continue reading

Florida religious institutions and leaders enjoy broad legal protections under both the state and U.S. Constitutions. And while there is nothing in law that expressly protects clergy, churches, temples, mosques, or religious schools from civil sexual abuse lawsuits, some have argued – with mixed success – that the First Amendment protects them from liability when the failures analyzed are decisions rooted in religious doctrine.suing church for sexual abuse in Florida

As a South Florida sexual abuse lawyer can explain, sexual assault and molestation are not protected under the umbrella of free religious practice or free speech. However, churches have argued that they cannot be held accountable by the government/courts for negligence in carrying out certain functions – such as hiring and retention – because those functions stem directly from church doctrine – and are therefore protected by the First Amendment.

That was the argument before the Florida Supreme Court in the case of Malicki v. Doe. At the time, the Florida Supreme Court rejected this argument from a church accused of protecting an alleged abuser – though the ruling was split and somewhat controversial in the legal community. Churches will still try to cite the First Amendment in their efforts to sidestep responsibility for failure to protect vulnerable congregants from predatory leaders and members. That makes it all the more important to hire a civil trial lawyer who knows what to expect and how to counter such assertions.

Challenges to Florida Sexual Assault Claims Against Churches

But even with a growing chorus of successful cases, one should not assume that suing a church for sexual abuse in Florida will be easy. Some of the most significant hurdles in church sexual abuse lawsuits are:

  • Statute of limitations. Florida has a 2-year statute of limitations for most all tort claims rooted in negligence, per F.S. 95.11. (It used to be 4 years, but the law recently changed to shorten that window.) That includes potential causes of action in a sex abuse case against an institution. That said, if the abuse was ongoing, the statute of limitations clock wouldn’t start until the last instance of abuse. However, there may be some exceptions, particularly if you suffered sexual molestation or abuse years ago, but you were a child. Intentional tort claims – filed directly against the abuser – in cases involving child sexual abuse can be filed at any point.
  • Comparative fault. This is less an issue when the victim is a child, but in cases involving adult or even older teen victims, church defendants may argue there was “consent” between the parties, and thus the accuser was comparatively at-fault for the relationship. They may even bring up the sexual history of the plaintiff. It holds less water when we outline the power imbalance between both parties, but it’s a potential obstacle nonetheless.
  • Lack of evidence. There are often few if any witnesses to what happened beyond the people involved. Even if it can be proven the abuse occurred, establishing that the church or its leaders were negligent can be difficult. It’s imperative that such claims only be handled by experienced civil sexual assault attorneys.

Holding Abusers – and Their Protectors – Accountable

As staunch advocates for sexual abuse survivors, we are committed to giving prospective clients all the information they need to decide if and how they want to go forward. Continue reading

Doctors who have a poor history of patient care – particularly with prior accusations of medical malpractice – may pose a risk to their patient’s safety. Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

In a study published last year in the JAMA Health Forum, researchers conducted a case-control study of nearly 900,000 licensed physicians in the U.S. with at least 1 paid claim for medical malpractice. What they found was that those doctors, regardless of specialty, were almost 4 times more likely to have at least one more paid claim for medical malpractice within 5 years, compared to doctors who had no previous paid claims. The likelihood of future claims rose with the number of previous claims – regardless of whether those paid claims were publicly disclosed or not.

Florida Medical Malpractice Claims Aren’t Random Events

Researchers noted (and our Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers would concur) that this demonstrates that paid medical malpractice claims aren’t just random events. This is a common refrain we hear from doctor liability insurers and tort reform advocates. It’s simply not true.

The American Medical Association reports roughly 1 in 3 doctors “has been sued at some point in their careers.” But that analysis did not include paid claims. Researchers also admittedly used the terms “claims” and “lawsuits” interchangeably in a self-reported survey given to 14,000 doctors. Problem is, “claims” are unequivocally not the same as “lawsuits.”

As a Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer can explain, Florida (and most other states) have significant pre-suit hurdles that must be cleared to even make it to the early stages of a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. So the assertion that “1 in 3 doctors is sued” is a clear misrepresentation.

Actually, medical malpractice is fairly underreported. One of the many studies to support that claim was published in 2015 in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine. This was a cross-sectional study conducted over a few months at a handful of hospitals. Researchers found more than 50% of subjects (doctors, nurses, midwives, residents, interns, lab staff, etc.), had committed medical errors, but did not report them.

Another analysis published in the Scientific World Journal reviewed some 30 studies on medical practice, noting medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 200,000 patients in the U.S. die every year due to medical errors. Barriers to reporting medical mistakes included:

  • Fear of consequence
  • Lack of feedback
  • Poor work climate/culture

And while there are insurance lobbyists who would argue that its coverage of medical malpractice liability coverage that drives up health care costs, research shows that medical errors – even those unreported – actually cost the healthcare system some $17 billion annually. (And that was in 2008 and only included “measurable medical errors,” such as pressure ulcers, postoperative infections, and missed diagnoses. The cost today is likely a whole lot higher.)

Evidence of Prior Claims May Not Be Admissible in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases

Continue reading

Most Palm Beach car accident injury claims do not go to trial. Palm Beach car accident lawyer

Of course, every case is different. If your Palm Beach car accident lawyer has taken the step of filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf, there’s always a chance it will wind up before a jury. But even then, it’s unlikely.

Most Florida car accident cases are actually resolved without the need for litigation (filing a lawsuit) at all. Hiring a South Florida personal injury lawyer doesn’t make the prospect of a lawsuit or trial any more likely. Actually, we may be able to minimize the chance of a courtroom confrontation because we’re adept at negotiating effectively with insurance companies to fight for fair outcomes for our clients. Often the sooner we are brought onto a car accident case, the better the odds we can resolve it without going to court.

Still, we approach every case as if that’s a possibility. From the very outset, we’re meticulous in our investigation, evidence-gathering, researching, interviewing eyewitnesses and consulting with expert witnesses. We’re never bluffing to insurers about our preparedness to escalate to the next level if necessary. But trial is not a common – or even preferable – outcome for most parties involved, usually. If we can settle car accident claims fairly without filing a lawsuit – and especially without going to trial – that’s typically our aim.

Why Palm Beach Car Accident Cases So Rarely Make it to Trial

Some of the reasons why your Palm Beach car accident case is unlikely to go before a judge and jury: Continue reading

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in Florida, and the Sunshine State has an unintentional injury rate that’s 13% higher than the national average according to the Florida Department of Health. Top causes include car accidents, falls (particularly among older folks), pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and violence. Palm Beach personal injury lawyer

But as far as whether such injuries are grounds to take legal action, such as filing a Palm Beach personal injury claim, there’s a lot of factors that must be considered. In our experience as longtime Palm Beach injury attorneys, there are major misconceptions about when someone can file a lawsuit, how easy it’s going to be, how much they’re going to win (if they win), how fast it will happen, and what sort of stakes personal injury lawyers have in all of it.

So here, we’re busting the top Palm Beach personal injury claim myths we hear most frequently as plaintiff attorneys in South Florida civil tort cases.

Myth No. 1 – I was seriously hurt, so I can sue.

Just because you were hurt does not mean you automatically have grounds for a personal injury claim. First, we have to establish that someone else was at fault in causing that injury, and second that they owed you a duty to use greater care or do things differently. A person injured in a car accident can only sue if the other person was negligent in causing that crash or exacerbating their injuries. And thanks to recent updates to Florida statutes, an injured plaintiff can only collect financially if they can prove they weren’t more than half responsible for their own injuries. T

They also need to make sure there’s actually money to collect. If there’s no insurance coverage and the at-fault person doesn’t personally have substantial assets, you may not have a viable claim.

Another point worth making here is that not every case requires a lawsuit. It is very possible (common, even) to successfully collect fair financial damages without ever setting foot in a courtroom. The key to ensuring what you collect is fair is consulting with a skilled personal injury lawyer. Continue reading

Every year, there are more than 33,000 violent crimes reported in Florida. (The actual number is probably higher, as some violent crimes – particularly sexual assaults – go unreported.) Only a fraction of these cases will be prosecuted in a criminal court. But that may not be the only avenue for survivors to seek justice. Some crime victims may have grounds to sue the property owner where the attack occurred. Palm Beach injury lawyer premises liability dangerous property breakin

At first blush, that notion might seem a bit nonsensical. After all, the only person who is “guilty” is the one who actually carried out the attack, right?

Yes and no.

As our Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, it’s true that the only person(s) who will be held criminally responsible (i.e., “guilty”) for a criminal act are those who were directly involved. However, civil claim liability can extend beyond that individual. In fact, most civil claims that stem from a criminal attack are filed against third parties – very often the property owner where the incident occurred.

Liability in these cases stems not from the act itself, but from the failure to protect lawful guests from risks that were reasonably foreseeable by the property owner. This is particularly true if those lawful guests are invited onsite by the property owner for the purpose of financial benefit to the property owner. (Ex: A paying hotel guest would be a “public invitee” who would be owed the highest duty of care and protection by that hotel/property manager.) Continue reading

A recent sexual civil assault filed by a Florida woman centered on her alleged rape and resulting pregnancy involving a rideshare driver 5 years ago.Florida sexual assault lawsuit

Sexual assault civil tort claims in Florida are typically time-barred after 2 years, thanks to Florida’s statute of limitations, F.S. 95.11 (with some exceptions if the victim was a minor at the time or within the dependency of an abuser). However, this was filed as a federal claim in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, where the rideshare company is based. That state has a 10-year statute of limitations for civil sexual assault claims, which may be tolled beyond that if the individual didn’t immediately realize they’d been assaulted.

As West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers, we work with survivors of sexual assault and abuse to scour all possible means of recovery available through the civil claims process. Sometimes, that can involve claims directly against the attacker/abuser. More often though, just like in this case, claims are against a third-party, such as a property owner that failed to secure the site, an organization that failed to protect vulnerable populations, or an employer who was careless in hiring and/or employing dangerous individuals.

Florida civil sexual abuse lawsuits are entirely separate from criminal cases. It is not necessary to secure a criminal conviction to pursue a civil claim, and the proof burden is lower for civil cases than criminal matters.

Here, the defendant was the former employer of the driver accused in the attack. According to the complaint, the plaintiff is alleging the company is vicariously liable for the acts of its driver, but also directly negligent for failure to warn, breach of contract, product liability failure to warn (i.e., alleging the app was unreasonably dangerous for users), and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision. In addition to financial damages, she wants the rideshare platform to expand its safety features to include better background checks and driver monitoring. Continue reading

The parents of a young woman who died of septic shock recently won a $30 million judgment in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors they alleged were negligent in treating an ulcer. West Palm Beach Florida medical malpractice lawsuit

While such sizable damage awards are the exception in the Florida medical malpractice lawsuit landscape, part of what this case came down to was the fact that this young woman’s condition went untreated for so long – despite being known.

We understand as West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys that nothing is going to bring back a loved one who’s been lost as a result of medical negligence. But we are committed to fighting tirelessly for accountability on behalf of our clients – even if it takes nearly a decade, as this case did.

According to court records and media reports, this young woman was admitted to a hospital in Tampa with severe pain, stemming from an ulcer in her small intestine. She was discharged to a long-term care facility shortly thereafter, with orders that she was to undergo an endoscopy for that ulcer within a couple weeks. But the doctors at the long-term acute care facility never followed through with those orders. The patient continued to be treated for pain, constipation, nausea, and vomiting — symptoms that were at least partially caused by a drug she was prescribed, according to plaintiffs. The source of that pain, however, went untreated. Eventually, after two months, the ulcer perforated the wall of the small intestine, resulting in sepsis, a blood infection. At one point, she was sent to a nearby hospital for a brain scan, but that imaging result turned up no results – because the issue was the intestine perforation and sepsis. After days enduring what her parents described as agonizing pain, she died of septic shock. She was just 23-years-old.

It’s worth noting that had this woman been just 2 years older, Florida’s so-called “free kill” law would have barred her parents from any legal action at all. As it stands, if a patient is over the age of 25, unmarried, and without minor children under the age of 25, there is no survivor qualified to sue if they die as a result of medical malpractice. There have been efforts to repeal this law as recently as this year, but so far, they’ve been unsuccessful.

No parent should have to bury a child. A sudden death is made all the more painful when you know it didn’t have to happen this way.

As a West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorney can explain, the question in these cases is not simply whether a patient suffered a poor outcome. Instead, we must examine whether the health care professional and their team fell short of the “standard of care.” Continue reading

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