Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving an interesting insurance issue that can come up in many Florida car accident cases. The case required the court to determine if the defendant insurance company was proper to deny the plaintiffs’ claims arising from a rear-end accident involving a horse-drawn carriage.

Horse-Drawn CarriageUltimately, the court concluded that one plaintiff’s claims could proceed to trial for a determination of whether coverage existed, while the other plaintiff’s claims were insufficient as a matter of law.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the driver and passenger of a horse-drawn carriage that was rear-ended after participating in a Christmas parade. The passenger-plaintiff was injured in the collision and filed a claim against the driver-plaintiff. That claim is not the subject of this case.

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As a general rule, landowners have a duty to make sure that their property is safe for those whom they invite onto their land. If someone is injured due to a landowner’s negligence, the injured party can pursue a Florida premises liability lawsuit against the landowner.

Bike TrailHowever, Florida lawmakers have established certain exceptions to this general rule. One such exception is contained in Florida Statutes section 375.251, also known as Florida’s recreational-use statute. The recreational-use statute grants immunity to certain landowners who open up their land for the free recreational use of the public. Specifically, the statute explains that qualifying landowners do not make any assurances that the land is safe, do not incur a duty of care to those who use the land, and will not be liable to anyone for injuries caused by their own negligence while on the land.

That being said, even a qualifying landowner is not immune from liability for deliberate, willful, or malicious actions that result in injuries.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises interesting and important issues for Florida slip-and-fall accident victims. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against Walmart should proceed toward trial when there was no actual evidence that the store was aware of the puddle that caused the plaintiff’s fall. Ultimately, the court concluded that Walmart’s “failure to educate” itself regarding a third party’s rental display gave rise to a potential theory of liability, and the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial.

Grocery AisleThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell in a Walmart store near a Rug Doctor rental station. The rental station contained several carpet cleaning machines that Walmart shoppers could rent for the day. Pursuant to the agreement between Rug Doctor and Walmart, the rental kiosk was entirely self-sufficient, and no Walmart employees were trained on how to operate the kiosk or the machines.

A video of the period shortly before the plaintiff’s fall showed another customer rent a machine and struggle to get the machine into her cart. The video showed the customer tipping the machine back and forth, potentially causing water to spill; however, due to the quality of the video, no water can actually be seen. After the customer leaves, at least one Walmart employee is seen walking by the rental kiosk. A few minutes later, the plaintiff approaches the area and slips.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion dismissing a plaintiff’s complaint against the defendant, based on the fact that the plaintiff concealed prior injuries that he had suffered. The case is important for Florida car accident victims because it illustrates the importance of being truthful in all statements to the court.

Doc Holding X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident that he alleged was caused by the defendant. After the accident, the plaintiff claimed that he suffered injuries to his head, lower back, and shoulder. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for his injuries.

The case proceeded to the discovery phase, at which the parties were to exchange relevant requested information. As a part of discovery, the plaintiff was asked about his prior medical conditions in a set of written questions. In these questions, the plaintiff indicated that he had no prior back, neck, or shoulder injuries. However, when the defendant asked the plaintiff to sign a release to obtain his medical records, the plaintiff refused.

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Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit regarding an issue that often arises in Florida slip-and-fall cases. Specifically, the case deals with the quantum of evidence a plaintiff must provide in order to present a legally sufficient case. Here, the court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit, finding that the plaintiff did not provide sufficient notice of the location of her injury.

Cracked PavementThe Facts of the Case

The case stemmed from an accident that the then-79-year-old plaintiff suffered when she was walking and tripped on a crack in the cement. Shortly after her accident, the woman filed a notice of lawsuit with the state’s city council. About two years after her notice of lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging the city’s negligence for failing to properly maintain its sidewalk. In the lawsuit, she noted the location was “on or near” an off ramp. The city filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the location the plaintiff provided was insufficient to put the city on notice, and since the statute of limitations had passed, the plaintiff should not be granted leave to amend her lawsuit.

Procedural History

In the motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff argued that the city is a “sophisticated entity” and could have found the location of her injury by looking at a map. However, the trial judge granted the motion for summary judgment and agreed that, although the decision was harsh, the plaintiff’s notice was inadequate.

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In some Florida personal injury lawsuits, the defendant can claim that the plaintiff should not be able to pursue a claim for compensation based on the fact that the plaintiff assumed the risks involved in participating in the activity that ultimately caused their injuries. This type of defense is common in cases involving skiing, sky diving, jet-skiing, and bungee jumping.

Skiing the PowIn Florida, there are two types of assumption of the risk:  express and implied. Express assumption of the risk generally involves a party’s acknowledgement of the risks involved prior to participating in the activity, usually through a release waiver or some other contract. Implied assumption of the risk, however, does not require a signed release waiver, and it can be established through risks that were either known at the time or should have been known.

A recent case illustrates how one federal court of appeals applied the assumption of the risk doctrine to preclude an accident victim’s ability to recover compensation for his injuries.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a case discussing an important issue that often arises in Florida personal injury cases. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the concept of proximate cause, and in which situations a defendant’s negligent actions may be too distant from a plaintiff’s injuries to constitute legal causation.

ScooterThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the daughter of a man who was killed in a traffic accident as he was crossing the street at a crosswalk on an electric scooter. Six years prior to the fatal accident, the plaintiff’s father was involved in another accident when he was the passenger in a vehicle. That accident occurred when a tire in the vehicle blew out, causing the vehicle to crash into a nearby telephone pole. As a result of the 2005 accident, the man’s mobility was severely limited, and he required an electric scooter to get around.

Prior to the 2011 accident, the man filed a lawsuit against the tire manufacturer. That lawsuit resulted in a defense verdict. However, prior to 2011, the verdict was overturned. The plaintiff’s father, however, never re-filed the case, although he could have done so.

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In an effort to curb the increasing number of Florida drunk driving accidents, Florida lawmakers have passed a law that allows for the victims of a drunk driving accident to hold the person who sold alcohol to the intoxicated person liable for their injuries. The law, called the Dram Shop Law, is actually an old vestige of the Temperance Movement from back in the early 19th century.

Pouring a PintUnder Florida’s Dram Shop Law, contained in Florida Statutes section 768.125, anyone who serves alcohol “willfully and unlawfully” to either a minor or a person who is “habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages” can be held liable. Florida’s Dram Shop Law is more limited than other states’, many of which provide for liability when someone serves a visibly intoxicated person.

A recent case illustrates how courts apply Dram Shop Laws, as well as the quantum of evidence that must be presented in order for a plaintiff to successfully establish liability.

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Recently, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a case overturning a verdict that initially favored a surgical patient’s medical malpractice case. The reversal of this verdict highlights a primary element that is necessary for Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs. Here, the Supreme Court held that without sufficient evidence to show that a plaintiff’s injury was directly due to a preventable error, there is no way to ascertain causation.

SurgeryPreventable Injuries in Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical errors are now one of the leading causes of death in the United States and contribute significantly to non-fatal medical injuries as well. Although some differences exist among state-specific medical malpractice laws, the overriding definition is similar among all states.

In Florida, for a plaintiff to have a favorable outcome in a medical malpractice case, the first requirement is evidence that a medical professional was providing services to the patient. Following this, there must be testimony from a medical expert that the medical negligence was a result of a divergence from the standard of care. Most importantly, in Florida, it is necessary to illustrate that this medical negligence was the direct cause of the injury to the patient. If the plaintiff cannot illustrate that the prevention of this medical negligence would have also prevented their injury, the claim remains speculative at best.

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Florida is known for its picturesque terrain and numerous options for outdoor recreational activities. Some common activities are water sports, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, hiking, and biking. Although these activities are often advertised as “guided” and “safe,” there are always some inherent risks involved in participating in them. Prior to participating in one of these activities, companies that provide these experiences will almost always have the patron sign a waiver of liability in the event that an accident does occur.

HorseLiability Waivers in Florida

Although Florida recreation companies cannot waive away all of their liability, there is a fair amount that they can avoid. Florida has various statutes that limit the applicability of waivers for specific activities, but this does not apply to all activities. These waivers essentially require the patron to affirm that they are aware of the risks involved in participating in the specific activity for which they are signing up.

Inherent risks are generally considered those that are common to the activity in which one is participating. For example, an inherent risk of horseback riding session would likely be falling off the horse.

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