Recently, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion unanimously ruling against Ford in a product liability lawsuit. The ruling will significantly impact a Florida product liability accident victim’s ability to file a lawsuit in the state. The case arose when a woman died when her vehicle’s tread separated, and the car spun and rolled into a ditch. The other claim involved a passenger who suffered brain damage when the vehicle’s airbag failed to deploy. In response to the plaintiffs’ lawsuits, Ford argued that the states hearing the cases did not maintain jurisdiction because the cars in the incident were not designed, manufactured or initially sold in the state. The auto manufacturer maintained that allowing the cases to be heard in those forums upended their ability to know where and under what circumstances accident victims may sue them.

Historically, Florida product liability accident victims face challenges in establishing where to sue. Generally, Florida plaintiffs cannot sue a negligent company in any state that the plaintiff chooses. The law provides that plaintiffs must establish that the Court has jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction inquiries typically involve examining whether the company maintains “minimum contacts” with Florida and if they “purposefully availed” themselves of the state’s privileges. Courts will also look to whether hearing a lawsuit in the state comports with theories of “fair play and substantial justice.” These analyses are fact-specific and require the experience of an attorney well-versed in these complex jurisdictional issues.

In the recent case, the Supreme Court Justices opined that Ford purposefully availed itself of the privileges of conducting activities in both states involved in the lawsuit. The law does not require plaintiffs to establish a causal link between where the company sold the car and where they designed or manufactured it. Specific jurisdiction occurs in situations when a company encourages a market for a product in the forum state. In this case, the automaker advertises and markets its products in the forum states and cultivates relationships between the vehicle owners. The Court found that the defendant systemically fostered a relationship between consumers and the vehicles involved in the accidents. As such, there is a relationship between Ford, the states, and the litigation. This finding will undoubtedly result in a drastic change in the legal landscape regarding product liability lawsuits involving vehicles.

Contraceptives, such as intrauterine devices (IUD), undoubtedly provide women and families with life-changing benefits. However, in some cases, users may suffer severe and adverse side effects from these devices. Those who suffer injuries because of a defective medical device should contact a Florida products liability attorney to discuss their rights and remedies. In some cases, a person’s unique biological makeup may make them susceptible to side effects. However, in other cases, a manufacturing or design defect may make these medical devices unreasonably dangerous.

IUDs were introduced into the market in the 1950s, when the demand for effective birth control became more apparent. While there have been many advances to these devices since that time, there have also been significant injuries and lawsuits linked to these products. The most recent IUD lawsuit involves the Paraguard. According to consumers and medical providers, the plastic prongs at the end of the device become brittle over time and may snap off and become embedded and pierce the uterus. The design flaw has resulted in a wave of new IUD lawsuits throughout the country.

The majority of lawsuits associated with the Paraguard allege design defects, manufacturing defects, failure to warn claims, and negligence on the part of the manufacturers. Claimants argue that they had to undergo an invasive procedure to remove the arms of the device. Some women had to undergo hysteroscopies, laparoscopies, and even hysterectomies. In cases where surgeons could not retrieve the pieces, women suffered severe bleeding, spotting, pelvic inflammatory disease, infections, organ damage, and infertility. Despite these incidents and lawsuits, the device remains on the market. The manufacturers recalled one batch of devices related to sterility and not the design defect.

After an accident, the at-fault party may be held liable for their role in the victim’s damages and losses. In many cases, these claims do not proceed to trial and instead get resolved through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. Some common forms of ADR are arbitration, mediation, and settlement discussions. Although similar to a trial, victims can proceed without counsel, the results in these situations tend to be less favorable towards claimants. Attorneys play a critical role during every stage of a Florida personal injury lawsuit and can help claimants recover the damages they deserve.

Settlement agreements occur when the claimant and opposing party agree to settle the claims for payment. These agreements usually require the claimant to halt all legal proceedings related to the incident in exchange for the opposing party’s payment. These agreements release the opposing party without the requirement that they admit fault. However, it is essential to note that a court may overturn the settlement agreement if it is defective. A defective settlement agreement is made under duress, fraud, mutual mistake, or misrepresentation. Further, in some situations, a judge may not accept a settlement agreement.

The binding and complex nature of these agreements elucidates the importance of a skilled and experienced attorney during settlement proceedings. In many situations, insurance companies draft and present settlement agreements. As such, these agreements inherently protect the opposing party or insurance company over the claimant. Additionally, the terms of the agreement may include clauses that prohibit the claimant from pursuing claims against third-parties. Settlement agreements require a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the interplay between various areas of the law.

Whether it’s just a small fender bender or a serious crash that stops traffic for hours, car accidents are usually an extremely stressful event for everyone involved. When car accidents involve multiple vehicles and a series of collisions, however, the stress and danger of the situation are amplified. These types of collisions, otherwise known as Florida chain-reaction car accidents, occur when they involve three or more vehicles and can often have devastating consequences.

In a recent news article, a deadly multi-vehicle truck accident shut down a major Florida highway. The collision involved a rolled-over cement truck and several other trucks along a significant stretch of the road. According to local authorities, there is at least one confirmed death following the accident.

In Florida, chain reaction accidents are all too common. Following these collisions, figuring out how the accident actually took place is rarely simple or straightforward. If there were multiple drivers involved, it immediately becomes complicated as parties try to determine who hit who and what was the actual cause of the accident. These determinations are often messy and may require a professional accident reconstruction expert or team to assess the issue or conduct an investigation before moving forward.

After a Florida insurance claim, policyholders may file a first-party claim with their insurance company seeking benefits under the terms of the policy. First-party bad-faith claims occur when a policyholder sues their own insurance provider for unlawful and improper denial or settlement of a claim. Third-party bad faith actions have long been recognized; however, the Legislature enacted Florida Statute §624.155, to address first-party causes of action. Courts will evaluate the totality of the circumstances to determine whether an insurance provider has acted in good faith. Some of the common factors they evaluate are whether the insurance company investigated the facts, gave fair consideration to the circumstances, and settled the claim where possible. In cases where the insurance company did not engage in these steps, they may be held liable for their statutory breach.

A claimant may only recover against an insurance company if they meet the statute’s condition precedent. One of the condition precedents is filing a Civil Remedy Notice (CRN) with the Department of Financial Services (DFS). The failure to do meet this requirement may lead to a dismissal of a claimant’s case. For example, recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida homeowner’s claim against his insurance company. In that case, the insurance company disputed a property owner’s claim regarding water damage to his home. After filing a CRN, the property owner moved forward with a bad faith claim against the insurer. The court dismissed the complaint, reasoning that the plaintiff did not meet the requirements of the CRN.

The CRN statute outlines the specific information that a claimant must include in their notice. In sum, the notice must essentially specifically state the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, and the specific relevant policy language that the insurer is alleged to have breached. In this case, the court found that the plaintiff cited every provision in the insurance claim to meet the specificity requirement. The court found that citing every provision does not meet the specificity standard. The plaintiff argued that the insurance company’s failure to allow him to correct the defect meant that the CRN was sufficient. However, the court ruled that the insurer’s option to return a defective notice is discretionary. Therefore, because he did not meet the specificity standard, the court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal with prejudice.

Sometimes, when you are in a rush, you may find yourself impatiently following the car ahead of you closer than what you know is safe. In some states, such as Florida, this could get you a traffic citation if an accident takes place or you disrupt traffic. In Florida, it is recommended that drivers keep at least a two-vehicle length between their car and the vehicles ahead of them. This is to ensure that should the vehicles ahead of you stop suddenly or if debris falls onto the roadway and obscures your path, that you have ample time to avoid an auto accident.

For a somewhat harsh application of this rule, consider a recent article in which a couple who barely survived a terrifying accident on the freeway was issued a traffic ticket following the incident. While driving down the freeway, the couple was behind a truck when a couch fell off the truck and tumbled into their lane. When the couple swerved to avoid hitting the couch, they crashed into the median and their car flipped over. The vehicle was totaled and both individuals were transported to a local hospital. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper showed up to present them with a $166 traffic ticket for “failing to drive in a single lane.” Although it was a tough break for the couple, the Florida Highway Patrol claimed that troopers have discretion when issuing traffic citations. Fortunately, the couple walked away with only minor injuries, and a ticket—which some would argue is a small price to pay for surviving what could have been a tragic accident.

In Florida, the “Following Too Closely” statute states that drivers cannot follow vehicles ahead of them more closely than is “reasonable and prudent” and must keep the speed of other vehicles and the traffic and conditions of the highway in mind while operating their vehicles.

To many people, even the thought of dealing with your insurance company is a headache. Unfortunately, insurance coverage is an important part of our lives, especially in areas such as home ownership, renter’s coverage, and auto insurance. When an insurance company in Florida acts in bad faith or causes damage to a policyholder because of their conduct, holding them accountable can be challenging without proper representation.

In a recent Florida District Court of Appeal case, the court considered whether a homeowner’s insurance claim was filed properly. According to the court’s opinion, the homeowner initially filed a claim with his homeowner’s insurance company for damages to his home that was caused by a fire.

The insurance company’s investigation revealed that the homeowner previously filed two plumbing claims and another claim for fire damage with a different insurance company. In addition, the insurance company discovered that after the homeowner received the insurance payout from one of the previous claims, he did not repair the damage. The company believed that earlier damage overlapped with damage from the current claim.

Currently, Florida follows the no-fault insurance system, requiring motorists to maintain personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. However, Florida lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 54, which would eliminate the state’s no-fault insurance requirement. The current system allows a claimant’s insurance company to pay the insured’s bills, regardless of their fault. Critics of the no-fault system argue that the current framework evokes many fraudulent claims and the coverage limit is insufficient. On the other hand, critics of the change contend that the new system may leave injury victims in a precarious financial position, as insurance companies will not automatically pay out claims.

The new law would require motorists to carry bodily injury liability coverage, which would allow insurance companies to pay up to $25,000 for collision-related injuries or death or up to $50,000 for crashes involving two or more individuals. The new system would retain the current $10,000 financial responsibility requirement for property damage. However, it modifies the coverage limits for commercial motor vehicle coverage and garage liability. A critical change that may impact injury victims is that the repeal will eliminate the pain and suffering damage limitations.

In many cases, Florida accident victims need to seek compensation outside of the no-fault insurance system because their damages exceed policy limits. The change will have a more considerable impact on bad faith claims against Florida insurance companies. The new framework will include best practices standards for insurance companies to settle disputes. However, the bill also includes the condition precedents an insured must meet before asserting a claim.

Many people purchase insurance to protect against economic losses stemming from personal injury or property damage. In exchange for premiums, the insurance company must uphold its duties to the policyholder. The duties include providing coverage, paying valid claims, and adhering to the policy’s terms. Policyholders who believe their insurance company is violating their agreement may file a Florida bad faith claim against their insurer.

Insurance bad faith claims fall under first-party and third-party claims. Third-party bad faith insurance claims typically involve liability insurance. Bad faith claims occur when an insurer breached their duty to defend their policyholder and pay costs. Common examples of third-party insurance include, liability insurance, malpractice insurance, and commercial liability insurance. First-party insurance is a claim against a policyholder’s insurance company. Bad faith claims arise when a policyholder’s insurance company fails to pay a claim without an appropriate investigation or basis for a denial. This often includes claims against a health or homeowner’s insurance provider, but also in claims involving an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Under Florida law, a policyholder may file a first-party bad faith claim against their insurance provider. A lawsuit is appropriate if the insurer failed to engage in good faith by acting fairly and honestly towards its policyholder. For example, an appellate court recently issued an opinion in a homeowner’s appeal of a judgment in favor of their insurance company. In that case, a water supply line burst in the homeowners’ home. Following the burst, the homeowners’ filed a claim under their insurance policy. Their insurance company investigated the claim and tendered a payment the homeowners thought was insufficient. In response, the owners filed a civil remedy notice (CRN) alleging bad faith violations. They also asserted an amount that could cure the violations. The insurance company acknowledged the CRN, and the matter proceeded to appraisal. Following the appraisal, the company paid an amount less than the homeowners’ requested.

Federal and state laws mandate that car and SUV manufacturers equip their vehicles with safety features to prevent serious injuries. However, despite the heightened dangers of large commercial trucks, many of these vehicles do not have the same safety features. Further, the safety standards do not always address the scope of the vehicle’s dangers. As such, Florida accidents involving large trucks often result in serious and fatal injuries.

For example, a recent Florida news report described a disturbing underride accident involving a minivan and tractor-trailer. The accident occurred when the semi-truck was turning onto a roadway near State Road 520. The minivan was turning at the same time and went underneath the truck. Emergency personnel immediately removed two of the minivan occupants and transported them to a hospital. The minivan driver required assistance from firefighters to extricate her from her vehicle. State Police reported that the accident is still under investigation.

Many Florida trucking collisions involve underride accidents. An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle slams into the side or backend of a truck’s trailer and slides underneath. The shape and design of the back of a truck often cause a smaller vehicle to become trapped underneath. The sheer impact of these accidents may result in the top of the car ripping off or becoming crushed. As a result, the car’s occupants often suffer the brunt of the initial impact. Underride accident victims rarely leave the accident unscathed. These accidents typically result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, sprained and broken bones, paralysis, and disfigurement.

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