Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Anytime you purchase property in Florida, an inspection by a licensed, certified home inspector is typically part of the process. F.S. 468 Part XV covers home inspector requirements.  Home inspectors are called upon to closely examine the structure and property and identify potential material defects. But what if they miss something that ends up resulting in personal injury? Will you have a claim?personal injury lawyer

The answer is not a simple one, and will depend on the language on the home inspector contract (whether the contractor limited his/ her own liability), as well as the duty of care owed to the person filing the claim.

The question in a recent premises liability lawsuit out of Tennessee was whether a home inspector was liable to a third party who suffered personal injury on a someone else’s property due to a construction defect.  Continue reading →

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It seems every other week, another mass shooting is in the headlines. No matter where you stand on the contentious gun control issue, pretty much everyone can agree these incidents are tragic. They leave families not only bereft, but often drowning financially. Those we lose are often people in their prime, wage-earners who help support their families. Those who survive may incur astronomical medical bills and endure months-long recovery or lifelong disability. wrongful death lawyer

But aside from the shooters in these incidents, is there anyone really to blame? The gunmen in these cases (and they are almost always men) often commit suicide or are killed. If they do survive, their punishment will be handled within the criminal justice system. That case could be accompanied with an order of restitution, but it’s often not nearly enough to cover the damages of so many – and that assumes defendant would ever be able to pay it. Unlike a car accident or a dog bite or slip-and-fall at a store, intentional acts of violence are generally not covered by insurance companies. It’s an almost universal exclusion.

Pretty much the only way victims of crime can seek compensation is through third-party liability, usually on the theory of premises liability. This theory holds that property owners knew or should have reasonably foreseen the risk of such a violent act and taken reasonable steps to prevent it.  Continue reading →

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In a legal battle stemming from a barroom brawl in South Florida, the Florida Supreme Court marked a clear line between using the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense statute in criminal cases versus in civil trials.injury attorney

The court ruled that while state law does allow stand your ground immunity in both criminal and civil cases, the determination of of immunity in a criminal case doesn’t automatically transfer over to a civil case. That means someone could be deemed immune in a criminal trial, yet still be held liable for damages in a separate civil trial.

Back in 2008 at a nightclub in Tampa, defendant struck plaintiff with a cocktail glass after plaintiff allegedly attacked defendant without provocation. Permanent damage was done to plaintiff’s eye. When criminal charges were filed defendant, he was able to successfully shield himself from conviction on a felony battery charge with an argument of self-defense under stand your ground. However, plaintiff then filed a civil lawsuit against defendant.  Continue reading →

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Two recent Florida court cases have affirmed punitive damages awarded in product liability litigation. One of those involved a $12.3 million punitive damage award against a tobacco company in a smoking-related death (that was a decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal) and another involves $22.5 million punitive damage award against the same company in a different smoking-related death (about which the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear defendant’s appeal on a claim of the award being unconstitutionally excessive). injury lawyer

Punitive damages, as outlined in F.S. 768.73, are those that are awarded to punish the defendant, rather than simply compensate the victim for losses (which the purpose of compensatory damages). Punitive damages are awarded in addition to one’s actual damages, but only in certain circumstances. It is by no means a given.

According to a 2002 study by researchers at Cornell University, punitive damages are awarded at 3.5 percent of jury trials won by plaintiffs and 5.3 percent of bench trials (before a judge) won by plaintiffs. The highest rate of punitive damage awards occurs (as in these tobacco litigation cases), where an individual sues a large corporation in a bench trial. Under those circumstances, 6.7 percent of plaintiffs are awarded punitive damages. Cases involving fraud and intentional tort were the most likely to result in an award of punitive damages.  Continue reading →

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The bankruptcy of a negligent driver who caused injury to a husband and wife may prevent plaintiffs from actually seeking damages against the defendant, but it doesn’t shield the auto insurer from having to pay out.car accident attorney

That was the ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court in a recent case involving two car accident claimants. Although this is an out-of-state case, it deals with matters that could just as easily arise in Florida, and justices often consider rulings by sister courts that have weighed similar issues.

To understand the court’s ruling, we must first explain a bit about U.S. Bankruptcy Code and how it impacts personal injury claims. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in particular involves a trustee who gathers and sells a debtor’s nonexempt assets and uses the proceeds to pay creditors in accordance with the provisions of bankruptcy law. Part of the debtor’s property may be subject to liens that can be paid to creditors. Continue reading →

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Your personal injury attorney must carefully consider any offer of pre-trial settlement by the defense in a civil case to better your chances you won’t run afoul of F.S. 768.79 at the conclusion of trial. The very first section of this statute stipulates that if a defendant files an offer of settlement that is not accepted by plaintiff within 30 days, defendant is entitled to “reasonable costs and attorney’s fees” incurred if the final judgment is that defendant was not liable OR the judgment obtained is at least 25 percent less than the original pre-trial settlement offer. car accident attorney

Obviously, there is no way to know for sure how a case is going to be decided or how much a plaintiff may be awarded in a successful case. That makes turning down settlement offers a risk. This is why having a personal injury lawyer with extensive local pre-trial negotiation and trial experience is invaluable. Knowing how such cases have gone in this same jurisdiction or in front of this same judge in the past is important to your case.

An example of this was recently weighed by the Alaska Supreme Court in Whittenton v. Peter Pan Seafoods, Inc. This was a truck accident case alleging vicarious liability of the negligent truck driver’s employer. The question was whether defendant’s offer of settlement prior to trial entitled defendant to collect attorney’s fees – even though plaintiff had won.  Continue reading →

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There are three basic types of civil liability (legal responsibility) in Florida personal injury cases:

  • Negligence
  • Intentional Torts
  • Strict Liabilitypersonal injury lawyer

Intentional torts are those that involve actions like assault and battery – some kind of intentional action that caused physical harm to someone else. Strict liability most typically arises in product liability cases, and involves a legal responsibility – even though there was no actual negligence or intent to do harm. Rather, it is simply by the design/ production/ distribution of a defective product that caused harm that a defendant can be liable.

By far, most personal injury claims and lawsuits involve a claim of negligence. This is usually what is alleged in cases involving car accidents, slip-and-falls and medical malpractice. Negligence is an unintentional act or inaction (by someone who had a duty or obligation to conform to a certain standard of conduct) that resulted in injury to another person.  Continue reading →

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When a personal injury occurs in the course of an activity the injured person knew was dangerous, the court may shoot down claims of liability, citing the assumption of risk doctrine. However, Florida courts (specifically within the 1983 ruling of Kuehner v. Green) have historically limited successful use of the assumption of risk doctrine to cases involving:

  • Contracts not to sue (i.e., liability waivers);
  • Injuries arising out of contact sports.injury lawyer

Florida courts have held that rather than preventing a plaintiff from proceeding with a lawsuit at the outset, jurors should be allowed to decide whether plaintiff’s assumption of the risks should be factored into whether plaintiff was fully or partially at-fault for the the accident that resulted in injuries. Continue reading →

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The potential for falls and serious injuries on ladders is a very real one, as more than 20,000 people are injured and nearly 135 die annually in the U.S. due to ladder falls just in the workplace. Although construction workers are the most at risk for obvious reasons, they aren’t the only ones. Any homeowner – particularly those who prefer to do household maintenance themselves, may find themselves at risk of a fall.personal injury

Whether these incidents can be grounds for an injury lawsuit, however, will depend on a variety of factors. For instance, if you were using a ladder on a property owned by another (say, a retailer), you might have grounds for a premises liability claim if you can show the ladder presented an unsafe condition and the property owner was aware of it or should have been aware of it and failed to warn you about it. If, however, you are injured by a ladder you are using at home, you may want to look into whether the ladder itself was defective. It certainly would not be the first time.

In fact, a jury in a federal court in Florida recently awarded nearly $5 million to a plaintiff who alleged injury as a result of a defective ladder. In the case of Ore v. Tricam Industries Inc. et al., a South Florida resident filed the personal injury lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He alleged at least one of the rivets in the ladder manufactured and sold by defendants failed while in normal use. The holes were reportedly punched in the wrong place in the fiber glass. The ladder was never properly inspected before it was shipped to the hardware store for sale. The hardware store also failed to look it over before selling it. Continue reading →

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The explosive power of fireworks is an effective means to evoke strong emotions – including excitement and patriotism. That’s part of why they are so popular around the Fourth of July. fireworks

But fireworks liability is an important topic of consideration this time of year too because all too often, negligent use or reckless mishandling of firearms can lead to serious injuries.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) reports fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fireworks in the U.S., including 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires and 14,000 outside and other fires. In addition, hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks-related injuries just in a single year. The majority of those were burns. Injuries were inflicted mostly to hands and fingers, but also to head/ face/ ear and also to eyes. Arms, legs and trunks suffered the rest. Continue reading →