Florida residents and homeowners know very well that they and their properties exist comfortably at the whim of Mother Nature, whose destructive forces can cause problems on short notice. As the 2022 hurricane season comes to a close, many Florida residents are addressing maintenance and repair needs caused by the tropical weather. Floridians may purchase homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, and federal flood insurance to protect themselves and their properties in the event of a weather-related disaster. The Florida Court of Appeal recently addressed a plaintiff’s water damage claim with their homeowner’s insurance company, which was previously rejected based on alleged fraud.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published opinion, the plaintiff purchased a homeowner’s insurance policy for her Orlando home from the defendant in May 2016. In April 2017, the plaintiff’s home was damaged in a storm, and she made a claim with the defendant to cover the damages. The plaintiff was offered a settlement of her claim that was not sufficient to cover her losses, and she pursued a breach of contract claim against the defendant to cover all of her losses. In investigating the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant discovered that a home inspection was completed in 2015, and the plaintiff did not disclose that the inspection found roof damage and water damage in the home before the plaintiff purchased the policy.

After discovering the inspection report, the defendant sought to deny the plaintiff’s claim and responded as such to the court. The trial court agreed that the plaintiff materially misrepresented the condition of the home when purchasing the policy, ruling that such misrepresentation invalidated the plaintiff’s claim of new water damage. The court threw out the plaintiff’s claim before a jury was even selected for trial. The plaintiff appealed the case resolution to the Florida Court of Appeal. The appellate court agreed with the plaintiff that for a homeowners insurance policy to be invalidated based on misrepresentation or fraud, the insured must intend to mislead the insurance company. Such intent is a fact judgment, that should be determined by the jury at trial. As a result of this finding, the court ruled that the trial court was not justified in disposing of the plaintiff’s claim. The trial court ruling was reversed, and the case will be remanded to proceed toward settlement or a trial on the plaintiff’s claims.

At any second, a small fender-bender can happen, disrupting the commute of those involved in the accident, and sometimes, disrupting the commute of those who are not directly involved. In these smaller fender-bender accidents, it can cause you the inconvenience of having to make an insurance claim and deal with car damage, and in some cases, caring for any injuries. In much scarier situations, automobile accidents can cause a lot of damage, including when it involves a head-on collision. You’ve probably seen an action movie where a high-speed chase is occurring, and a driver chooses to drive in the wrong direction for some period of time. But it’s not on an everyday basis that you see such wrong-way driving in real life. Wrong-way driving can lead to scary head-on collisions, and in the case that you observe a driver driving in the wrong direction, it can be extremely important to safely move off the road if possible and report local authorities.

According to a recent news report, a deadly multi-vehicle accident occurred in Leon County. Florida Highway Patrol received calls of a wrong-way driver, to which troopers responded and arrived moments after the initial calls. The troopers located a sedan that was facing eastbound in the westbound lane, and the vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with another sedan. Unfortunately, both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene. The Fire Department put out fires at the scene of the accident.

What are Common Causes of Head-On Collisions?

Head-on collisions, although less common than the everyday fender-bender, can happen for a variety of reasons. These types of collisions may occur because of a mistake, where one driver confuses the direction of traffic, for example. The collision may occur because of mechanical issues with a vehicle, such as a vehicle being unable to brake or turn properly. In other situations, head-on collisions may occur because of distracted driving or driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

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Florida residents who intentionally or recklessly injure another by their conduct may be held criminally accountable by the government for their conduct with the filing of assault or criminal battery charges. In addition to this criminal liability, a person guilty of an assault that caused an injury can be held accountable for financial and other damages in civil court. A former middle school student’s lawsuit against a school security officer who allegedly assaulted him on school property has recently been addressed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, where the defendant’s claim of qualified immunity was ultimately rejected.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff was a 13-year-old boy at the time of the incident. The plaintiff and his mother were checking in with the office at the plaintiff’s school when the security officer was called to address the plaintiff’s behavior. After speaking with the plaintiff for about 2 minutes, the defendant inexplicably grabbed the plaintiff’s face and tackled him to the ground, causing injuries. After the incident, the defendant was fired from his job at the school and ultimately criminally charged with assault for his behavior.

Aside from the criminal proceedings, the plaintiff pursued a civil assault claim against the defendant in federal court. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant acted illegally under his supposed authority as a school security officer, and had no right to detain him with the force applied. Before trial, the defendant successfully argued to the court that he had “qualified immunity” from the charges. The trial court found that the defendant was working within the scope of his authority as a security officer and that the force used was not excessive. The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Crosswalks and roadsides can be some of the most dangerous areas in Florida cities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike. Traffic equipment failure, visibility obstructions, and negligent driving all contribute to the dangers that pedestrians face when walking near a roadway or crossing at a crosswalk. A crash that occurred late last month in Nassau county involving two vehicles and two pedestrians has left one 73-year-old St. Petersburg man dead, and another woman in critical condition.

According to the facts discussed in a local news report, two pedestrians were walking along the roadside when another vehicle approached from behind, striking the pedestrians and then crashing into a parked car. It is unclear from the article if speed or intoxication were at issue, although the article does not mention charges being filed against the driver.

Drivers must be attentive at all times while driving and keep on the lookout for pedestrians and other vehicles. During early mornings and late nights, it can be hard to see pedestrians along the roadside, however, it is especially important for drivers to maintain their attention on the road. Parked cars along a roadside, especially near an intersection, can obstruct both drivers’ and pedestrians’ views of the roadway, and increase the risk of an accident. Florida’s auto and pedestrian infrastructure is also in need of maintenance and improvement, and some intersections do not have properly functioning signage or traffic control devices.

In a recent decision, the First District Court of Appeal in Florida addressed a worker’s compensation claim revolving around one individual’s heart disease. On appeal, the court had to decide whether the individual qualified for benefits based on a Florida statute stating that if a plaintiff departs from his doctor’s prescribed course of treatment, he may not be eligible for compensation. According to the court, the individual here did not significantly depart from his doctor’s prescribed course of treatment, and thus he was entitled to the benefits he requested.

The court began by examining the facts of the case: the plaintiff here was a deputy sheriff who suffered shortness of breath and chest pain on an overnight shift in February 2019. He was admitted to the hospital for a heart attack and immediately underwent an arterial stent implant procedure.

The plaintiff sought compensation for the injury, and his employer argued that he should not be entitled to compensation because he failed to follow his doctor’s prescribed course of treatment. Under Florida law, if a plaintiff in a worker’s compensation case significantly departs from the physician’s course of prescribed treatment, that plaintiff’s employer may not be responsible for compensating him after an injury.

When negligent or reckless driving is at play, the consequences can be severe, as is evident from a recent fatal collision that took place near Miami. A popular news site recently published information on the accident, revealing details about the driver as well as the victims of the devastating crash.

According to the article, a Florida driver was driving the wrong way on an expressway around 4:30am one recent Saturday. His Nissan Infiniti was going eastbound in the westbound lane, and he encountered a Honda sedan going the correct way on the road. Neither the Infiniti nor the sedan had an opportunity to swerve, and the cars crashed into each other head-on. There were four women and one man inside the sedan, and all five of them were killed upon impact. The driver of the Infiniti was taken to the hospital, where he is still being treated for his injuries.

Investigations revealed that the driver has not possessed a valid driver’s license for eight years, since he was arrested in 2014 for speeding. According to one report, the driver had been arrested for driving 109 miles per hour, which is significantly above any speed limit on Florida’s expressways. The driver’s license had not been reinstated; thus, he was operating his vehicle illegally when he crashed into the five victims. It is unclear whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident, and at the moment, no foul play is suspected.

Florida workers’ compensation law is designed to allow for workplace injuries to be addressed and relieved efficiently and without undue difficulty for the injured employee who seeks treatment. In reality, offering functional workers’ compensation coverage costs employers and providers money, and they will often delay or deny coverage to prop up their bottom line and save money. The Florida Court of Appeals recently addressed a claim by an employee that their employer willfully ignored the legal requirements of state law in order to delay offering the plaintiff the care they were entitled to.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case was an employee of the defendant, a Florida car dealership when she was injured on the job. Under her employment contract, she was directed to seek treatment using her employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. After her initial care, the woman’s doctor prescribed a home health aide to assist her with everyday duties during her recovery. Although the plaintiff was prescribed a home health care assistant, the defendant repeatedly notified her that the prescription was not detailed or accurate enough, and refused to pay for the care.

Pursuant to Florida workers’ compensation claim procedure, the plaintiff brought her request for coverage to a Florida Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC), who agreed with her employer that the prescription was not detailed enough to warrant coverage for the home health assistant. After the procedural rejection, the plaintiff brought the case to the Florida Court of appeals. The plaintiff argued that the doctor prescribing the care to her was clear and specific that she needed home health assistance, and the only ambiguity was the amount of care she would need, which could be determined based on an evaluation by the provider.

Workers’ compensation, sometimes known as workers’ comp, is a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to qualifying Florida employees who suffered injuries or illness in the course of their employment. Employers offer this benefit in exchange for the employee’s relinquishment of their right to sue the employer for civil negligence.

Although the legislative intent of workers’ compensation appears as an employee benefit, in practice, workers’ compensation often benefits employers, specifically those employers who have particularly hazardous work environments. Those who have suffered injuries at the workplace should consult with an attorney to determine the steps to take to preserve their rights to workers’ compensation benefits and potential third-party claims.

Steps to Take After a Workplace Injury

After a workplace injury, employees should report the accident or illness to their employer as soon as possible, but no later than thirty days after the incident. Then, the employer should report the injury to the insurance company no later than seven days after their knowledge. If they fail to do so, the employee has the right to report the injury to their insurance company. Employees should always seek medical treatment authorized by their employer or insurance company.

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Although every motor vehicle crash has its own complex dynamics, most of these incidents are preventable events. While weather or road design and condition may impact the likelihood and severity of an accident, the human factor stills play a predominant role in Florida accidents. This is especially true in T-bone accidents.

T-bone or side-impact collisions refer to situations when the front of one vehicle slams into the side of another. These accidents can lead to serious life-altering injuries and even death. According to some studies, T-bone collisions are the primary reason for 60% of all deaths in economic cooperation and development (OECD) member countries. Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that these intersection collisions contribute to nearly half of all collisions in the nation.

Who is Liable in Florida T-Bone Accident?

Many situations can lead to T-bone or side-impact collisions. Some common liable parties in a Florida T-bone accident include:

  • Drivers: Negligent drivers speeding through a yellow light or stop sign and slamming into another driver are often responsible for these accidents.
  • Vehicle Manufacturers: These accidents may also result from defective brakes or other car parts.
  • Government Entities: Poorly designed roadways or roads without appropriate signage may increase the likelihood of a T-bone accident.
  • Businesses: Businesses who maintain control over a parking lot with inadequate signage or broken direction signals may be liable for these accidents.

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Driving or riding in the front seat of a car without a seatbelt can increase your risk of moderate to fatal injury by 50% and of dying by 45%, and each year thousands of people experience more severe injury or death in Florida car accidents due to their failure to wear seatbelts. Car drivers and passengers should always wear their seatbelts while the car is in motion. While occupants of cars might be tempted to unbuckle their seatbelts, either because they are driving a short distance or because they are driving at low speeds, doing so could have a significant impact on a victim’s recovery in the event of a car accident.

Given the substantial risk of dangerous car accidents in Florida, drivers should be aware that in Florida, pure comparative negligence in a car accident can have a significant impact on a victim’s recovery. A skillful plaintiffs’ attorney can use pure comparative negligence to advocate for a larger recovery for a victim and navigate past strong legal defenses. A recent local news article discussed a fatal Florida car accident that occurred in July 2022.

According to the news article, the accident occurred when a 23-year-old, driving a jeep with two passengers, lost control and veered off of I-95 South and collided with the guardrail. The force of the collision with the guardrail caused the car to cross over into the center median. During the crash, the front passenger was ejected from the vehicle, landing in the left lane of I-95 North. He was subsequently struck by an oncoming vehicle and killed. The accident occurred around 2:45 a.m. on Sunday approximately 1.5 miles north of County Road 210. The driver and the third passenger in the jeep received minor injuries and nobody in the second car was hurt. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, none of the three individuals in the jeep were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash.

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