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Florida leads the country in one of the highest rates of serious car accidents. Recent reports by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) indicated nearly 400,000 Florida motor vehicle accidents occurred in one year. In addition to about 3,000 fatal injuries, over 40% of the accidents resulted in non-deadly severe injuries. These injuries and fatalities often leave the victim and their families with high medical costs. The financial repercussions of these accidents can present lifelong burdens for victims. Car accident victims can recover compensation from different avenues.

Under Florida’s no-fault insurance rules, all insured drivers may recover damages for medical bills regardless of fault. The law requires motorists to obtain at least 10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP is intended to compensate injury victims for their medical expenses after an accident. However, this coverage typically only covers 80% of a victim’s medical costs. Further, injury victims must meet the strictest rules regarding medical treatment. Victims must receive treatment from a qualified medical professional within 14 days of the collision. If a victim’s injuries or medical conditions do not meet a qualifying condition, the insured may not be able to draw the entire amount of coverage.

In situations where a victim does not maintain PIP coverage or exhausts the limits, they must make a claim through their private insurer. However, patients must still pay their co-pays and deductibles. These amounts may be high in many cases, especially if the victim requires significant inpatient or recurring outpatient treatment.

Motorists in Florida rarely encounter winter-weather driving conditions; however, the current weather episodes throughout the southern United States highlight the importance of being prepared for all driving conditions. Florida leads the nation with one of the highest rates of car accidents in the country. These accidents can result in serious and fatal injuries to drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Drivers should take steps to understand how weather can affect road and driving conditions.

Ice storms and accumulation presents drivers with some of the worst driving conditions. Icy roads tend to occur after snow accumulation or freezing rain. The snow that is not cleared can melt and refreeze, resulting in patches of black ice. Motorists approaching ice or potential black ice should refrain from slamming on their brakes. Instead, if a driver finds themselves skidding or sliding on ice, they should steer in the same direction as their front tires. After regaining control, the driver can slowly steer the car in the direction they want to go in. Quickly jerking the steering wheel can cause the vehicle to spin and veer off the road.

Snow and slush can also cause drivers to experience dangerous road conditions. The dangers are heightened when city officials have not cleared and treated the road. Many southern states, including Florida, are not equipped with proper snow removal equipment. The lack of prompt removal can cause the snow to become heavy and wet, causing drivers to experience additional hazards.

A district court of appeal recently issued an opinion in a Florida car accident lawsuit against a driver and his employer. The case stems from injuries the plaintiff suffered when the defendant rear-ended him at a red light. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the driver and a vicarious liability claim against the driver’s employer. The trial court bifurcated the defendant’s trials and declined to exclude evidence of the employee’s intoxication during the compensatory damages phase. As such, the plaintiff’s attorney addressed the employee’s intoxication during his opening and closing statements. Further, during the trial, the plaintiff presented several medical experts.

At issue is the plaintiff’s attorney’s friendship with one of the medical experts he presented. On appeal, the defendants allege that the trial court erred in allowing the employee’s intoxication and the court’s limitation on their cross-examination of the relationship between the medical expert and attorney. The court ordered a new trial based on the trial court’s error in allowing evidence of the defendant’s intoxication. They found that the inquiry was substantially prejudicial and lacked relevancy. As such, they addressed the trial court’s decision to limit the defense’s examination of the plaintiff’s experts.

The trial court did not permit the presentation of some of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses because of an untimely designation issue. However, the issue occurred because the plaintiff waited until the day before the trial to make the expert’s initial designations. The appeals court reasoned that this action placed the defendant at a disadvantage because they could not present certain parts of the deposition. Further, the court found that in situations where attorneys elect to use their personal friends as experts, they should expect inquiries into their relationship. Therefore, the court should permit the defense to question the relationship and address any issues of bias.

Recently, a medical malpractice plaintiff appealed a trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of a hospital system. The case arose when the plaintiff visited a Florida hospital for appendicitis and an abscess. An on-call surgeon met with the plaintiff; however, the plaintiff felt uneasy with the surgeon and requested another doctor. The next doctor was not available until the next morning, so the plaintiff proceeded with the surgeon. The plaintiff requested antibiotics after the surgery, but the surgeon explained that they were unnecessary. However, the plaintiff suffered a serious postoperative infection. He filed a lawsuit against the doctor and the hospital. The hospital argued that the doctor was an independent contractor, and not an employee or agent of the hospital.

Under Florida’s vicarious liability laws, an employer may be liable for the negligence of the employees committed within their employment scope. In cases involving hospitals and independent contractor physicians, a hospital may still be liable if the hospital “cloaked her with apparent authority to act on its behalf.” Apparent agency exists if the plaintiff can establish three elements.

The three elements of an apparent agency inquiry are:

Trains provide commuters and leisure travelers with an efficient and convenient way to travel to their destinations. However, traveling on railroads or through train tracks can present significant dangers to passengers and road users. Those who suffer injuries in a Florida train accident, should contact an experienced attorney to parse out the complex issues that these cases present.

Railroads pose serious public safety issues, which can lead to severe injuries or death. There are many reasons that railroad accidents occur, and many involve systemic negligence or operator error. Despite the prevalence of safety issues, many large train companies have implemented barriers to recovery. For instance, Amtrak, imposes mandatory arbitration agreements on ticket holders who claim negligence against the company. The unique structure of many train companies makes recovery difficult.

There are many reasons that a train accident may occur. The most common causes of Florida train accidents are operator error, distraction, track defects, train malfunctions, defective equipment, and rail-crossing errors. However, in some instances, the exact cause of the accident may be confounding. For example, a recent news report described a fatal Florida train accident. Deputies reported that an Amtrak train hit a truck in Plant City, Florida. The train crew told investigators that when they noticed the truck, they blew the train’s horn several times to indicate that the train could not slow down. However, the truck did not clear the railway in time. The truck driver was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), recently provided an update on traffic safety during the national health crisis. The research team collected data from five locations, including Jacksonville, Florida, and Miami, Florida. The findings reported first-quarter data regarding Florida motor vehicle fatality rates. The data found that car accident fatality rates increased, even though the overall number of traffic accidents decreased during the past several years. Additionally, statistics showed an increased prevalence of drug and alcohol use among those who suffered serious or fatal injuries in accidents.

During the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency, driving patterns changed drastically, as many people lost their jobs or began working from home. The figures demonstrated that those who remained on the road during the crisis were engaged in riskier behavior. Some of the behavior included speeding, failure to wear seat belts, and driving while impaired. Compared to the previous six months, the proportion of those who tested positive for opioids or marijuana significantly increased during this time.

The NHTSA stressed the importance of seat belt use, as seat belts are one of the most critical safety features in vehicles. Ejection data shows that seat-belted occupants are far less likely to be thrown from a vehicle. The study indicated a decrease in seat belt use during the first period of the public health crisis. Although seat belt use increased slightly later on during the crisis, the overall number was below the level before the emergency.

Personal injury lawsuits, especially those involving trucks, often entail various complex issues and multiple parties. Those injured in a Florida trucking accident, should seek representation from an attorney to protect their rights and help pursue their remedies.

Trucking accidents tend to result in the most severe injuries and significant damages. Although some accidents are unavoidable, most Florida trucking accidents are due to one or more parties’ negligence or recklessness.

Truck manufacturers, trucking companies, loaders, and drivers, all maintain a duty to ensure that they act safely in the manufacture, training, securing, loading, and operation of their vehicles. A failure at any of these steps may result in serious dangers to anyone in the vicinity of the truck. People often attribute accidents to a defect in the truck itself or truck driver operation error; however, many Florida trucking accidents occur because of insecure cargo that becomes detached while the truck is in motion.

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Although people are generally familiar with the stages of a criminal lawsuit, there tends to be an extraordinary amount of misinformation and confusion regarding Florida civil lawsuits. There are many critical stages of a civil lawsuit that can significantly impact a plaintiff’s avenue for recovery after an accident. Individuals should contact an attorney at the onset of their lawsuit to ensure that they maintain the ability to recover for their damages.

Pleadings are the first stage of a Florida personal injury lawsuit. Although the term is often conflated with “all documents” in a case, the term is much narrower in scope. Pleadings are only documents and filings that set forth allegations, causes of actions, and the defending entity’s responses and defenses. This stage includes the complaint, answers, responses, counter and cross-claims, and relevant amendments.

Florida personal injury lawsuits commence when a party files a complaint or petition. The victim or complaining party should include factual assertions and the associated legal claims. In some situations, the pleadings must conform to special rules, such as claims arising out of medical malpractice or governmental entities. Florida Rules of Civil Procedure allow plaintiffs to proceed under inconsistent theories; however, the rule extends to defenses as well. Courts may rule in favor of a defendant and grant summary judgment if the complaint is insufficient. For example, a Florida appeals court recently dismissed at plaintiff’s claims based on a pleading deficit. In that case, the plaintiff asserted a negligence claim against his neighbor for a fire that a third-party contractor started. The plaintiff failed to address the third party in the complaint. The court found that both parties agreed that the defendant was not negligent and, therefore, only a vicarious liability claim would be viable against the defendant. However, the court dismissed the complaint because the plaintiff failed to allege vicarious liability in their pleading.

Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law provides workers with benefits if they suffer injuries at work or while in the scope of their employment duties. At first glance, the system appears as a quick and efficient way for Florida employees to obtain benefits for their injuries and return to work. However, the system inherently favors employers because, barring certain exceptions, employees lose their right to bring a common-law personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Exceptions to this rule exist in certain situations, such as if the employer did not maintain appropriate worker’s compensation insurance. Further, an exception applies if the employee suffered injuries because of their employer’s particularly egregious wanton gross negligence or intentional conduct. Finally, workers’ compensation does not protect employers from assaults against their employees.

In many cases, workers’ compensation insurance does not adequately cover all of an employee’s injuries and damages. Although employees may not assert personal injury claims against their employer, they may recover damages from other responsible third-parties. To succeed on a third-party claim, plaintiffs must be able to prove that they had a work-related accident, the third-party owed them a duty of care, they breached that duty, and the plaintiff suffered injuries because of the work-related incident.

For example, a Florida news report recently described a tragic accident at a St. Petersburg Home Depot. A delivery driver suffered fatal injuries when construction materials fell on him at the store. The driver was working as a third-party carrier for a building material company. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal entity that ensures safe and healthy working conditions, reported that the incident is under investigation. Additionally, Home Depot commented that they were working with authorities to investigate the accident.

Whether you work in an office building or in a manufacturing plant, you go to work every day with a reasonable expectation that your workplace will be safe. In the event that something is unsafe or potentially dangerous, employers will typically mark or block off the space. For example, wet floor signs indicate when a corridor may be slippery, and construction tape can block off areas undergoing renovation. If you are injured while on the job because of a workplace hazard in Florida, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.

In a recent District Court of Appeal of Florida decision, the court considered the obvious danger doctrine in a premises liability claim. The plaintiff, an employee of the defendant, was injured when he stepped into an uncovered drain on a construction site. At various times, the drain that injured the plaintiff was covered and uncovered, depending on the phase of construction. When the plaintiff was last at the site, the door he stepped through before being injured by the drain was marked off and closed with tape. On the day of the accident, however, the door was not blocked off by tape. Because of especially bright conditions and a mixture of sunlight and dust from the construction, the plaintiff was blinded temporarily when he opened the door to a landing and stepped into the drain. Following the accident, the plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence, arguing that the defendant breached its duty to maintain safe premises. The trial court ruled in favor of the defendant, concluding that they had no duty to warn the plaintiff of “an open and obvious drain” and that the plaintiff should have taken steps to avoid the accident.

On appeal, the court reversed and sided with the plaintiff. According to the appellate court, the lower court was incorrect when it held that the defendant was not liable because the drain was open and obvious. Although the drain may have been obviously uncovered, the defendant failed to dispute whether its dangerous condition was obvious. Further, the court reasoned that even if the drain’s danger was open and obvious, the defendant still had a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises for its employees.

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