Florida experiences a high level of hit-and-run accidents on a yearly basis. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), Florida has seen the number of hit-and-run crashes remain steady, with nearly 25 percent of all crashes involving a hit-and-run. The FLHSMV notes that in 2023, there were 104,273 hit-and-run crashes in Florida, a decrease of less than 1% from 2022. Hit-and-run crashes in 2023 resulted in 271 fatalities and 871 serious bodily injuries. Vulnerable road users are particularly at risk. Of the 271 hit-and-run fatalities in 2023, 159 were pedestrians and 47 were bicyclists (76% of hit-and-run fatalities). Of Florida’s 104,273 hit-and-run crashes last year, 86,987 involved property damage only. In 2023 alone over 81% of hit-and-run fatalities occurred during dawn, dusk, or nighttime conditions. Under Florida law, a driver MUST stop immediately at the scene of a crash on public or private property which results in property damage, injury, or death.

There are many reasons why a driver may flee the scene after an accident. The primary motivating factor is likely that the driver wants to avoid the legal or financial consequences of the accident. Depending on the cause of the crash, drugs, alcohol, outstanding warrants, texting, or distracted driving, there could be serious legal ramifications, leading to the driver leaving the scene. Other reasons, such as lacking proper insurance, holding a commercial driver’s license, or driving the vehicle without permission, could result in significant financial consequences for the driver, leading them to flee the scene. A recent news article described a fatal Florida hit-and-run crash.

According to the news article, police are still searching for a driver who they say ran away from a dangerous crash that left his girlfriend dead and six other people injured near Miami Shores. The man who ran away was driving down Northwest 17th Avenue with his girlfriend. He collided with a black Dodge Ram and a Mercedes-Benz that was going east on Northwest 95th Street. After the crash, the driver ran away — not stopping to help the injured or report the crash, police said. His girlfriend died from the collision, and six others were taken to hospitals in various conditions, from minor to critical.

Unfortunately, Florida consistently ranks highly on the list of states with the most traffic accidents each year. One of the most accurate ways to measure risks of fatal car accidents given disparities in populations of states is to measure deaths per 100 million miles traveled in a state. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Florida has a rate of 1.60 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, placing Florida behind only a handful of other states when it comes to the risk of drivers and passengers being killed in crashes. In Florida, roughly 40% of all crashes result in injuries, but most notably, fatalities stemming from car crashes have been on the rise since 2018. In particular, highway crashes can result in a higher fatality rate. Due to the higher speed limits, accidents on the highway can have more serious implications than slower-speed crashes.

When it comes to crashes and accidents, Florida drivers and passengers should be aware of the factors that can be used to calculate pain and suffering damages after a crash. These elements include but are not limited to the type of injury, recovery time required, necessary treatment, and the severity of the accident. These different factors can help determine the value and compensation in court after an auto accident. Many of these elements are tied together, as the more serious the accident, the more likely the recovery time will be longer. A recent news article discussed a fatal Florida car accident.

According to the news article, a 15-year-old unlicensed driver has been arrested and charged in the fatal Florida crash that killed 2 women and severely injured another. Police said the teen was read his rights on the night of the crash and “Post-Miranda, during a video-recorded interview, the defendant confirmed he was the driver of the Nissan Murano at the time of the traffic crash and that he has never been issued a driver’s license, and that he obtained the keys of the vehicle without the permission from the owner.” Authorities said that through investigative means the Nissan Murano reached speeds of 83 miles per hour, two seconds before impact. Police said the teen, who is not being identified because of his age, has been arrested and charged accordingly. The crash happened Tuesday evening in the 400 block of Southeast 5th Street in Hialeah.

In a recent case, the District Court of Appeals of the State of Florida Fifth District issued an opinion in an appeal involving a premises liability action arising from a slip-and-fall incident at Joe’s Crab Shack, the defendant. The plaintiff, Jose Duran, dined at Joe’s Crab Shack, and on his way out, slipped and fell. Duran filed suit seeking damages for the injuries sustained from the fall that he claimed resulted from Joe’s Crab Shack’s negligence.

Facts of the Case

Duran and two out-of-town friends went to lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack in Daytona Beach, Florida on March 11, 2018, a busy Sunday afternoon at the restaurant. As Duran was leaving, he slipped and fell in something wet, which he believed to be a “brownish” liquid. Duran fell several feet away from the kitchen door where servers bring drinks on a tray to be served to patrons. John Calo, a regional director for Joe’s Crab Shack who noticed Duran as he entered the restaurant because Duran had a “labored” and “extreme” gait, estimated Duran fell approximately twelve feet from the kitchen door, in the general walkway “in the dining room” area. The record makes clear this location is a high-traffic area heavily traversed by both customers and employees alike because it is a main pathway for customers entering and exiting the dining area of the restaurant.

Duran filed suit seeking damages for the injuries sustained from the fall that he claimed resulted from Joe’s Crab Shack’s negligence. Ultimately, the restaurant moved for summary
judgment, arguing Duran was unable to meet his burden of establishing that the restaurant had actual or constructive knowledge of the presence of the substance that caused his fall.
Following a hearing, the trial court granted the motion and entered final summary judgment in favor of Joe’s Crab Shack. Duran then filed a timely appeal.

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In a recent case, the Third District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion in an appeal involving a tort lawsuit filed by the appellee-plaintiff, Giovanni Bastien, against the appellant-defendant, Bottling Group, LLC. Bottling Group appealed from a nonfinal order denying its motion for partial summary judgment in the tort lawsuit filed by Bastien. In their appeal, Bottling Group contends that the trial court erred in finding it was equitably estopped from presenting its workers’ compensation immunity defense. The appellate court was unconvinced, rejecting Bottling Group’s argument and affirming the trial court decision.

Bastien was employed by Bottling Group at a Pepsi packaging and distribution facility in Medley, Florida. He was seriously injured when a coworker, purportedly disgruntled over union activities, shot him several times. While Bastien was recovering in the hospital, he notified his manager that he intended to file a workers’ compensation claim. Bastien was informed that he was not entitled to benefits, and Bottling Group subsequently emailed the compensation carrier, Sedgwick, to oppose his claim. Bastien then received a notice of denial of benefits from the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Workers’ Compensation. The notice stated that his “claim is denied in its entirety, as not a compensable accident or injury. Injury did not occur in the course or scope of employment. Accident/Injury occurred off premises . . .” Bastien then filed a tort lawsuit in the circuit court against Bottling Group’s parent company, PepsiCo, Inc. PepsiCo moved to dismiss, contending it was entitled to workers’ compensation immunity. Bastien argued that PepsiCo was equitably estopped from asserting immunity. Before the court rendered a ruling on the motion, the parties agreed to the filing of an amended complaint substituting PepsiCo with Bottling Group.

At trial, Bottling Group moved for partial summary judgment on the basis it was entitled to workers’ compensation immunity. Bastien opposed the motion, asserting that estoppel and the international tort exception precluded the operation of immunity. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court entered a reasoned order denying summary judgment and prohibiting Bottling Group from raising its immunity defense at trial. Bottling Group appealed shortly thereafter.

In a recent case, the District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida Third District issued an opinion in an appeal in a premise liability case between a worker, Raul Arias, who was injured at his place of employment, Excel Converting, Inc., and Codealtex, LLC, the company that leases the property to Excel. Appellant Raul Arias was injured while operating machinery at Excel and subsequently sued Codealtex, alleging it had a duty to maintain the premises and the machinery that he was injured by.

Excel leased the premises where Arias was injured from Codealtex. Arias sued Codealtex, alleging it had a duty to maintain the premises and specifically the machinery on which he was injured. Codealtex moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Arias timely appealed. The appeals court decision emphasized control of the property, finding that “once a landlord delivers possession and control of the leased premises . . . to the tenant, the landlord is not liable for injury to the property or person of the tenant or those on the premises with the permission of the tenant.” As a result, the appellate court affirmed the lower court decision, upholding the summary judgment ruling.

While the open and obvious doctrine can prevent plaintiffs from successfully holding landowners fully accountable for injuries in Florida, there are other ways to make sure injured parties are properly compensated. Florida landowners are still required to maintain their land and the premises in a safe condition. The courts of Florida have ruled that landowners can still be at fault for failing to maintain safe premises, even if an obvious or open danger means they do not need to warn others. Specifically, even in circumstances that are open or obvious, property owners should anticipate that people on the property will encounter the hazard, and subsequently can be found negligent for failing to maintain the premises safely. In such a situation, the plaintiff may be found to have contributed to their own injury, but the landowner can still be apportioned blame.

Unfortunately, Florida is often ranked very high on the list of states with the highest number of hit-and-run accidents each year. Through August of 2022, Florida had already reported 52,791 hit-and-run car accidents throughout the state. Additionally, hit-and-run accidents resulted in 11,494 reported injuries and 119 fatalities in Florida in 2022. There are many reasons why a driver may flee the scene after an accident. The primary motivating factor is likely that the driver wants to avoid the legal or financial consequences of the accident. Depending on the cause of the crash, drugs, alcohol, outstanding warrants, texting, or distracted driving, there could be serious legal ramifications, leading to the driver leaving the scene. Other reasons, such as lacking proper insurance, holding a commercial driver’s license, or driving the vehicle without permission, could result in significant financial consequences for the driver, leading them to flee the scene.

Florida drivers and pedestrians should be aware of some of the elements involved in calculating pain and suffering damages after an accident. Such factors can be used to determine the value and compensation in court after a crash or auto accident. (1) the type of injury and seriousness of the harm, (2) the amount of recovery time required, and (3) the necessary treatment required by the injury. These issues are related to each other. For example, generally speaking, if your injury is more serious, the recovery time and treatment required will be more elaborate, and will often result in greater compensation. Subsequently, if your injury is relatively minor and there is not a ton of pain associated with it, any damages awarded may be on the lower end. A recent news article discussed a fatal Miami hit-and-run crash.

According to the news article, Miami police are investigating a fatal hit-and-run crash that occurred on the evening of Tuesday, March, 12, around 8:39 pm. According to police, the crash involved a car and a pedestrian in the area of Southwest Eighth Avenue and Eighth Street in the city’s Little Havana neighborhood. Police said officers arrived at the scene and found a man who had been struck by a car. Miami Fire Rescue personnel transported him to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where he later died. According to authorities, the victim was crossing Eighth Street, from north to south, at Eighth Court. Police said the driver would not have been cited since the victim wasn’t supposed to be crossing in that area, but the driver chose to flee the scene and will be criminally charged if found.

In a recent case, the Second District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion in an appeal involving a dispute between a patient, Michael Barber, and a hospital, Manatee Memorial Hospital. Barber challenged the trial court’s final summary judgment entered in favor of Manatee Memorial Hospital in Barber’s medical negligence action against the hospital. Barber sustained bilateral hip fractures while unconscious in the Manatee Memorial intensive care unit (ICU), where he was being treated for a drug overdose. Barber’s appeal involved the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to his medical negligence action. The appellate court concluded based on the facts of the case that Barber was entitled to assert res ipsa loquitur in his case and that the application of the doctrine created a genuine dispute of material facts as to whether Barber’s unexplained bilateral hip fractures were the result of Manatee Memorial’s negligence.

Facts of the Case

On September 23, 2017, Barber, who was thirty-six years old at the time, attempted to end his life by taking four different prescription medications while at home. Fortunately, he had a change of heart and called 911. When emergency medical technicians (EMTs) responded, they found Barber in his garage pacing back and forth and smoking a cigarette. During the EMTs’ assessment, Barber began to have “seizure like activity,” but according to the Manatee County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) patient record, the seizure activity lasted less than thirty seconds and Barber had “purposeful movement during [the] event.” Barber was taken to the emergency department at Manatee Memorial. While there, Barber submitted to a psychiatric consultation. The notes from that consultation indicate that “[patient] walked from stretcher to ER stretcher.” Dr. Ghobrial’s Hospital History and Physical Report repeats that fact. The emergency department notes do not contain any indication that Barber complained of pain of any kind but do specifically state that the results of a musculoskeletal exam showed a normal range of motion, which a Manatee Memorial nurse testified at deposition referred to both upper and lower extremities.

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In a recent case, the District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida Fifth District issued an opinion in an appeal in a slip and fall case between Dollar General, the defendant, and Kimberly Doty, the plaintiff and customer of the store. The suit resulted from an incident where the plaintiff slipped and fell as she entered the Dollar General store.

On July 3, 2017, a Dollar General store in Port Orange displayed seasonal merchandise in two “U-boats”—carts shaped like hotel baggage carriers—outside the store’s entrance. When it started raining that afternoon, Dollar General employee Barbara Ralph moved the U-boats indoors and placed a wet floor sign nearby. When the rain stopped, Dollar General employee Robert Boarder put the U-boats back outside and moved the wet floor sign. Moments later, Kimberly Doty entered the store. She made it a few steps inside before she slipped and fell. She later sued Dollar General for negligence, alleging that “a puddle of water near the main entrance” caused her to fall.

At trial, Dollar General moved for a directed verdict, claiming there was no evidence that it knew about the water on the floor that Doty slipped on. The trial court denied the motion. The court suggested that Dollar General’s arguments were aimed at the weight rather than the sufficiency of the evidence presented and reasoned that it is the role of the jury to weigh the incident report collectively with all the other case evidence. Ultimately, the jury found Dollar General liable for Doty’s fall. Dollar General moved to set aside the verdict and enter judgment for Dollar General, claiming again that there was no evidence showing that it knew about the water on the floor. The trial court denied the motion, and Dollar General appealed, again maintaining the evidence warranted a directed defense verdict.

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Recently, the district court of appeals for the State of Florida Fifth District issued an opinion in an appeal involving a claim by the Appellant, Nekeisha Wilson, who petitioned for benefits from the Appellee, the Florida Birth Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (“NICA”). Ms. Wilson and NICA agreed that the Appellant’s daughter experienced “some degree of birth-related oxygen deprivation,” but disagreed about whether the oxygen deprivation caused a brain injury that rendered the child permanently and substantially impaired. The parties stipulated that the sole legal issue for the Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) adjudication was whether the child “suffered a birth-related neurological injury” as defined by section 766.302(2), Florida Statutes.

Facts of the Case

The Appellant petitioned for benefits from NICA. NICA determined that the Appellant’s claim was not compensable, and the case proceeded to a hearing before ALJ. Each side presented expert deposition testimony concerning the disputed facts before an ALJ. The ALJ’s final order evaluated this testimony and the rest of the evidence, including the child’s medical records, in detail. Based on her evaluation of the evidence, the ALJ found that the child “suffered oxygen deprivation during the course of labor, delivery, and the post-delivery period.” However, the ALJ did not find that this oxygen deprivation caused a brain injury—let alone one that resulted in the child’s permanent and substantial impairment. Because the ALJ did not find the existence of a “birth related neurological injury,” the ALJ dismissed the Appellant’s petition for NICA benefits with prejudice. The Appellant appealed to the Fifth District court of appeals.

Recently, the district court of appeals for the State of Florida Sixth District issued an opinion in an appeal involving an insurance claim between Rosemary Arway and the Progressive American Insurance Company (Progressive). The trial court entered summary judgment against Arway on the grounds that her claim for underinsured motorist (UM) benefits under an insurance policy issued by Progressive was time-barred by a five-year statute of limitations running from the date of Arway’s collision with an underinsured, third-party tortfeasor. Progressive’s insurance contract with Arway, however, tolled
the statute of limitations until the tortfeasor’s bodily injury (BI) liability insurance benefits were fully paid to Arway. Accordingly, Arway timely filed her UM claim against Progressive, and the appellate court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Facts of the Case

On August 25, 2015, Arway was seriously injured in an automobile collision with an underinsured motorist. At the time of the collision, Arway was covered under a Florida automobile insurance policy issued by Progressive, which included UM benefits coverage. The UM coverage section of the policy (Part III) included an exhaustion provision, conditioning Progressive’s payment of UM benefits on the payment of all BI liability benefits by the underinsured motorist’s insurer, and the policy’s “General Provisions” section (Part VII) included a no-action provision, conditioning suit against Progressive on compliance with all policy terms.

On November 27, 2018, in accordance with the policy, Arway notified Progressive that the underinsured motorist’s insurer had tendered its BI coverage limits of $50,000 to settle Arway’s claims against the motorist, and Arway requested that Progressive approve the settlement and release of Arway’s claims against the motorist. On December 26, 2018 (three years, four months after the collision), Progressive approved the settlement and offered to pay Arway $1,000 to resolve her claim for UM benefits under the Progressive policy. Arway and Progressive traded several additional demands and counteroffers, and on December 21, 2020 (five years, four months after the collision), Arway demanded $150,000 from Progressive to resolve her UM claim. On January 15, 2021, Progressive denied Arway’s UM claim on the ground that the statute of limitations had run on August 25, 2020—five years after Arway’s collision with the underinsured motorist.

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