Articles Tagged with Fort Myers wrongful death lawyer

Punitive damages can be awarded in Florida personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in which a defendant acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct. The definitions of these terms are set forth in F.S. 768.72. carcrash9

But while punitive damages may substantially increase the amount of a certain damage award, the Fourteenth Amendment blocks these awards from being “grossly excessive.” But what does that mean? There is no dollar figure that establishes what is “grossly excessive,” which means the courts have to interpret legislative intent and rely on prior case law.

One Florida injury case where this became necessary was  State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company v. Brewer, recently before the Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals. In this case, defendant and his insurer sought review of a final judgment entered in favor of plaintiffs in an injury case arising out of an automobile accident. The court affirmed judgment in favor of plaintiffs as well as the compensatory damages awarded. However, with regard to punitive damages, the court ruled the award was excessive to the point of being unconstitutional. For this reason, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Continue reading ›

Little more than a year ago, the driver of a van full of churchgoers ran a stop sign and crashed in a shallow body of water off a Florida highway in Glades County, killing eight of the 18 passengers inside.van5

Now, authorities say the driver may have been impaired by over-the-counter antihistamines. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) weren’t able to uncover much information about the amount of sleep the driver had prior to the van crash in March 2015, so determining whether that was a factor was difficult. However, drug and alcohol testing on the driver did not reveal the presence of any other potentially impairing substances.

We do know that the passenger van lacked seat belts (only the driver and front seat passenger were belted in), the vehicle was overloaded and it was late at night. The passengers were members of the Fort Pierce Independent Haitian Assembly of God and were on their back from a Palm Sunday celebration at a sister church in Lee County, the Eglise de Dieu La Jerusalem Celeste.  Continue reading ›

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the 4th District Court of Appeals made the right call in finding damage caps on personal injury verdicts stemming from medical malpractice unconstitutional. needle1

In the case of North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan, defendant appeals finding that the $500,000 damage caps for medical malpractice injuries are unconstitutional. The appeals court based its ruling on the 2014 Florida Supreme Court decision in McCall v. U.S., which was a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from medical negligence.

In McCall, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that damage caps in wrongful death cases involving medical malpractice were arbitrary and violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to equal protection. Further, the court pointed out the stated purpose of the legislators’ action – a purported crisis with health care insurance premiums – was ill-founded. In fact, there is little evidence to suggest that imposing a cap on damages lowers health care insurance costs.  Continue reading ›

Concerns about bus and motor coach safety have increased in recent years with a number of high-profile accidents, many resulting in multiple fatalities. busdriver1

Motor coaches are widely used for a variety of trips, including school sporting events, family vacations and outings for seniors. But a number of serious crashes have prompted the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to recommend the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) work with bus operators and the trucking industry to implement improved commercial vehicle safety measures that would include:

  • Flame-resistant interiors;
  • Data recorders;
  • A second door for emergency evacuations;
  • Pre-trip safety briefings for passengers;
  • Windows that can stay open during evacuation.

Continue reading ›

Homeowners’ insurance is intended to provide compensation to those injured by members of the household. Usually, this coverage extends to incidents that occur in the home, on the property and sometimes out on the street (though incidents involving motor vehicles are generally excluded).handcuffs3

However, almost all homeowners’ insurance policies have some provision that excludes coverage for intentional acts. That is, if an insured acted with some specific intent to injure the victim, the resulting injury will not be covered under the policy. Many courts have held the intention of the insured is a question of fact for a jury, though sometimes there is substantial evidence and intent to harm (or lack thereof) is clear.

There may be some cases, however, where even intentional criminal acts could be covered. For example, if the perpetrator was acting in self-defense and used more force than was actually needed, coverage might be extended. Same for actions for which the accused lacks the mental capacity to act rationally. But it will all depend on the specific language in the policy. Continue reading ›

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