Articles Tagged with personal injury lawyer

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

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

The vast majority of Florida personal injury lawsuits – whether they stem from car accidents, slip-and-falls, medical malpractice, or product liability – will be settled before they go to trial. This is because trials are expensive, arduous, drawn-out affairs that are a gamble for both sides. That doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to settle and never a good idea to go to court. However, it does mean that you should be in regular communication with your lawyer, carefully weighing all the options on the table in your Palm Beach personal injury lawsuit.  Palm Beach personal injury lawyer

Understanding what recourse you have, the viability and value of your claim, is essential to making wise decisions. To do that, you must have an experienced personal injury lawyer – one who is prepared and capable of taking your case to trial if it comes down to it.

The primary reason to take a case to trial instead of settle is when the defendant and/or insurer refuses to pay fair compensation for your losses. Continue reading

If you’re considering hiring a personal injury lawyer in Florida, understanding the basics of attorney-client privilege is important. Your lawyer, or even one with whom you are consulting to possibly hire, is legally obligated to keep conversations about your case private. However, to ensure privacy is maintained, it’s necessary to know when and how to communicate and what kind of communications might not be shielded. Palm Beach injury lawyers

Privileged communication is a legal principle applicable in both civil and criminal cases. It involves interactions between two parties that the law deems protected because of the relationship between the two. Whatever is said or otherwise communicated between them is confidential, and neither can’t be forced or compelled to share it with anyone – including the courts or law enforcement.

Privileged relationships recognized by the law include:

  • Attorney-client
  • Doctor-patient
  • Therapist-patient
  • Clergy-congregant
  • Accountant-client
  • Spouses
  • Reporters (only applicable in some states and in some situations)

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Do-it-yourself projects and repairs are common when you have the basic skills and would rather not pay a professional service fee. Still, very few of us have all the equipment and tools we need to get every job done. But some of these tools are expensive, and you don’t need them but maybe a few times. This is why many home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, U-Haul, etc.) here in West Palm Beach offer tool and equipment rentals.
tool rental injury lawsuit

Some examples of tool, equipment or special event items that may be rented for single-use or short-term use include: Bucket lifts, floor cleaners, floor strippers, saws, backhoes, scissor lifts, forklifts, air compressors, tree-trimming equipment, scaffolding equipment, wallpaper steamers, stump grinders, generators, drills & drivers, pressure watches, hitches, trailers, tents, flooring/staging, inflatables, tables/chairs, tents, food equipment (popcorn machines, cotton candy machines, grills, etc.) and more.

Consumers rely on these companies to provide them with tools and machines that are safe for use. If those products prove defective, the consequences can be serious, including broken bones, abrasions, lacerations, spinal cord injuries, electrocution, head injuries, amputation, etc. In these instances, it may be possible for the injured to hold the rental store as well as the product manufacturer liable for those damages.

In such circumstances, it is imperative to speak with a Florida personal injury lawyer to weigh your legal options.

Recently, a federal appeals court ruled that a broad liability release in a rental agreement signed by a Home Depot customer doesn’t make the store immune from claims that a defective machine rental cost a man his finger. Continue reading

If you’re thinking of allowing someone to borrow your car, you may want to think twice. Florida’s longstanding dangerous instrumentality doctrine allows vehicle owners to be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of those permitted to operate their vehicle. It can even apply to Florida vehicle owners when crashes occur in other states (more on that later).Palm Beach car accident lawyer

The dangerous instrumentality doctrine holds that an owner of an inherently dangerous tool can be legally responsible for any injuries that result from operation of that tool. Most people don’t consider cars to be “tools,” but they were established as such by the Florida Supreme Court in the 1920 decision of Southern Cotton Oil v. Anderson. The effect of that ruling was that vehicle owners could be subject to strict vicarious liability, meaning that basically the owner – and everyone whose name is listed on the title – could be held financially responsible for a crash as if they themselves were in the driver’s seat. Continue reading

One question our West Palm Beach injury attorneys often field from prospective clients is, “How long will my Florida personal injury lawsuit take?” The only accurate way to answer that question is the one people least like to hear: It depends.Florida injury lawsuit

The timing depends on a long list of factors, including:

  • The type of claim (car accident, slip-and-fall, sexual assault, medical malpractice, etc.).
  • The strength of your claim (available evidence you have to prove it).
  • The severity of your injuries and length of recovery time.
  • How many defendants are involved.
  • The defendant’s willingness to settle or resolve to fight.
  • The skill of your civil injury lawyer.

Of course, it may be possible to settle a case for quickly, but it’s important not to do so for an unreasonably low sum. Reaching a fair settlement can take some patience. A trial will inevitably take longer – sometimes years – but that isn’t how most Florida injury claims are resolved. Even those cases that do go to trial often are about either liability or damages, but not both. The more issues that can be resolved prior to trial, the faster the case may conclude.

The statute of limitations on most Florida personal injury claims is four years, per F.S. 95.11. That means you have four years from the cause of action (time you were injured) in which to file your claim. However, if your injury claim involves medical malpractice, you only have two years (except in some rare circumstances). It’s also two years if you are filing a claim for wrongful death.

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With more children and families sticking closer to home this summer, the risk of a Palm Beach bicycle accident resulting in severe injuries is higher than ever. Safe Kids Palm Beach County reports that traumatic injuries suffered by children in Palm Beach County bicycle accidents has shot up nearly 170 percent in recent months. Eight kids were treated locally for serious bike crash injuries in just five weeks.Palm Beach injury lawyer

The non-profit kids’ safety organization indicated most of the bicycle accidents involved collisions with cars. More than 90 percent of riders treated at local hospitals weren’t wearing helmets and suffered some type of brain injury.

“Kids think they’re invincible,” the SKPBC director told WPTV recently.

That may be true, but our Palm Beach County injury attorneys want to stress it doesn’t give a free pass to drivers who are distracted, speeding or otherwise careless – particularly in residential neighborhoods where one would expect to see more children on bicycles right now. The failure of a child to wear a helmet won’t excuse a negligent motorist from liability either. Continue reading

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