Articles Posted in Personal Injury

As Palm Beach personal injury lawyers, our clients are those who have been impacted by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. However, we have occasionally heard of incredulous third-party defendants who wonder how they could possibly be held liable for someone else’s misdeeds. But there are quite a few instances in Florida injury law wherein statute allows for vicarious and third-party liability. Car accident cases may be among these. West Palm Beach injury lawyer

In general, there are three ways third parties can be liable for Florida car accidents:

  • Drunk driving accidents. In drunk driving accidents, third parties, such as bars or social hosts, can be held legally responsible per F.S. 768.125, if they either served alcohol to the impaired driver prior to the crash – knowing they were either under the age of 21 or habitually addicted to alcohol. This is called “dram shop liability.”
  • Employers of negligent drivers. If a tow truck driver is on the job and runs a red light, crashing into another car and causing serious injuries, the tow truck driver’s employer may be held liable – even if the company technically did nothing wrong. Employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees if the workers were acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the incident. This is based on a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer.”
  • Vehicle owners. This is where we sometimes hear the question, “Can I be sued in South Florida if someone else wrecks my car?” And the answer is: Yes. Florida is a little unique in this because of its recognition of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Basically, it was established in the 1920s by the Florida Supreme Court that motor vehicles are recognized as inherently dangerous instruments. As such, if you own one and you allow someone to use it (with express or implied permission) and that person goes on to operate it in a way that is negligent and causes harm to others, YOU can be held legally responsible. This is another example of vicarious liability for someone else’s negligence. However, it only applies if you have given that driver permission. If someone steals your car and then wrecks it, you would not be vicariously liable in that instance.

Sometimes, vehicle owners can be found directly negligent too – even if they weren’t operating the vehicle. As our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can explain, there may also be grounds for negligence as well. Continue reading

Electric scooters, or e-scooters, have become increasingly popular throughout South Florida, where they were legalized statewide by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019. They’re touted in college towns and cities as convenient, cost-effective, and clean. However, as the number of e-scooters has increased, so too have the number of crashes and accidents associated with them.e-scooter injury Florida personal injury lawyer

Data collected from U.S. emergency departments revealed there were nearly 40,000 people hurt nationally while riding e-scooters between 2014 and 2018. Those numbers have only grown along with the pervasiveness of e-scooters. The scooter injury rate in the U.S. rose from 6 per 100,000 to 19 per 100,000, with most injured being between the ages of 18 and 34. Stand up electric scooters have been associated with dozens of deaths over the last few years. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that emergency department visits from e-scooter injuries tripled between 2017 and 2020, the most common injury being to the upper and lower limbs, as well as the head and neck. In Los Angeles, the injury rate for e-scooters has surpassed that of motorcycles (though the injuries overall tend to be somewhat less severe).

Recently in Florida, a South Florida personal injury lawsuit against Bird Rides, an electric scooter rental company, was moved from the state circuit court in Broward County to the federal Florida Southern District Court, citing the foreign status of the company (headquartered in Delaware) and the amount of damages being sought (more than $75,000). Plaintiff in Bronson v. Bird Rides alleges he suffered severe injuries that are permanent or continuing in nature. We don’t know many further details about the alleged incident, other than that the injuries are alleged to have occurred when the plaintiff fell off the scooter he was riding in Palm Beach, and that he claims the injuries were caused by the scooter company’s negligence.

It may be some time before that case is either settled or goes to trial. In the meantime, numerous other e-scooter injury cases have garnered headlines. Among those: Continue reading

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.

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

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

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

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

Good Samaritan laws have been enacted throughout the country with the initial intention of protecting medical personnel from legal liability for rendering aid to someone in a medical emergency outside a traditional hospital setting. Here in Florida, F.S. 768.13 protects not only health care providers and those licensed to practice medicine but any person from liability when they gratuitously and in good faith rendered emergency medical care or treatment either in direct response to an emergency situation or arising out of a declared public health emergency. West Palm Beach injury lawyers

While a health care professional’s code of ethics might compel them to offer medical assistance in an emergency situation, the state’s Good Samaritan law does not require anyone to help others in an emergency situation. However if they choose to do so, they must exercise reasonable care. The law will impose liability when someone’s failure to exercise reasonable care exacerbates the risk of injury to another person. It doesn’t apply in cases where the victim rejects help or when the volunteer is somehow compensated for their help.

But what happens when the Good Samaritan is the one injured?

As South Florida car accident lawyers, we’ve come across this scenario more than once. Recently in Riverview, Florida, a Good Samaritan in his 20s was killed while assisting others just after a multiple vehicle crash on I-75 just before 3 a.m. Local news outlets reported a 19-year-old in a Toyota swerved out of his lane, striking the back of a semi-truck before overturning in the outside lane of the highway. The semi truck driver, who was not hurt, stopped and pulled over on the shoulder to assist. The driver of a third vehicle then slowed down to pull over onto the shoulder when a fourth vehicle failed to slow down and rear-ended the third vehicle. Then the Good Samaritan approached and pulled over to help the other motorists. Just then, a semi truck carrying plywood approached, struck the first vehicle that was turned over on its side, then the back of the next car which was shoved into the next car. The Good Samaritan was struck by that third vehicle. The semi truck pulling the plywood crashed into a guardrail, where the load separated and fell into a ravine. The Good Samaritan was the only one killed. Continue reading

Florida personal injury lawsuits are efforts to compel a negligent party (defendant) to pay monetary compensation for causing some preventable harm to the person who was hurt (plaintiff). There are, however, a number of legal defenses that can be raised to either prevent the defendant from being found legally responsible (liable) or reduce the amount of money they have to pay. One example is called the “alcohol defense.” It was recently raised in the case of Mainstreet Entertainment Inc. v. Guardianship of Jacquelyn Faircloth before Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal. The court tossed a $28 million+ verdict against two bars because the lower court improperly prohibited one of them from asserting the alcohol defense.Florida injury lawsuits

As West Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, the alcohol defense is outlined in F.S. 768.36. It states that in civil actions, a plaintiff can’t recover for any damages for loss or injury if the court finds that at the time the plaintiff was injured:

  • They were under the influence of any alcohol or drug to the extent their normal faculties were impaired OR their blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or higher AND
  • As a result of that intoxication, the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at-fault for their own injuries.

This is especially noteworthy in Florida because our courts otherwise abide by a system of pure comparative fault, per F.S. 768.81. What that means is a plaintiff’s financial damages will be reduced by whatever percentage of the fault they shared – up to 99 percent. So if you’re 75 percent liable, you can still collect damages for the other 25 percent that is someone else’s fault. Many other states won’t let a person recover any damages at all if they are more than 49-51 percent liable for their own injuries. A few states won’t let you recover anything at all if you are even 1 percent at-fault. In Florida, you can theoretically be 99 percent at-fault and still recover on that 1 percent of damages (though that scenario isn’t ideal).

The alcohol defense, however, can eliminate your right to compensation entirely if you 51 percent or more at-fault for what happened because of alcohol or drug intoxication.

So that brings us to the Mainstreet Entertainment case. This was a drunk driving tragedy involving two young people – one a pedestrian and one behind the wheel – both allegedly intoxicated. The question was apportionment of liability. Continue reading

Contact Information