In March 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a golf cart accident that occurred on the defendant’s property. The case required the court to determine whether the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant was more appropriately characterized as a premises liability case or a motor vehicle accident.

The case is important for Florida personal injury victims because it illustrates that there are often multiple theories of liability a plaintiff may be able to pursue against a defendant. In addition, the case shows that the outcome of a plaintiff’s claim may depend on the theory of liability they choose to pursue.

According to the facts section of the appellate court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in a golf cart accident. At the time of the crash, the defendant was driving the golf cart, and the accident occurred on the defendant’s land. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, and filed a personal injury case against the defendant. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant negligently operated the golf cart, resulting in her injuries.

In April 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida personal injury lawsuit determining whether the lower court properly allowed the plaintiff leave to amend her complaint to add punitive damages in her claim against the defendant. Ultimately, the court determined that it did not have the authority to review the lower court’s decision.

According to the court’s opinion, a minor child was injured while on a ride called the “Psycho Swing.” The defendant owned the ride. The girl’s parents filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant and several other parties, including the employees operating the ride at the time of their daughter’s injury. The plaintiffs claimed that the ride was missing “crucial safety equipment, safety instructions, etc.” Specifically, the plaintiff contended that the defendant was negligent in renting out the ride without a safety harness or instructions.

Initially, the plaintiffs claim only included a request for compensatory damages. However, after obtaining additional information, the plaintiff’s sought to amend their complaint to seek punitive damages. The court granted the plaintiff’s request, and the defendant appealed the court’s decision immediately.

When a patient is injured after receiving negligent medical care, they may be able to pursue a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical professionals they believe to be responsible for their injuries. Florida medical malpractice lawsuits, however, are subject to several additional requirements that can be burdensome for many prospective plaintiffs. For example, before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff must determine that there are “reasonable grounds” for their claim by conducting a pre-suit investigation.

There are several other differences between medical malpractice cases and traditional negligence cases. For example, due to Florida’s medical malpractice damages cap, the number of damages available to medical malpractice plaintiffs are capped at a lower amount than damages in traditional negligence claims. Finally, the stature of limitations in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit is just two years, whereas the statute of limitations for traditional personal injury cases is four years.

That being said, most Florida injury victims would prefer that their case be classified as one of traditional negligence. However, when a case arises in a quasi-medical setting, defendants routinely try to categorize a plaintiff’s claim as a medical malpractice claim. Depending on the nature of the claim, the stage of litigation, and the amount of time that has passed, this could completely defeat a plaintiff’s chance at recovering for their injuries. A recent case illustrates the types of arguments defendants make in hopes of successfully categorizing the plaintiff’s claim as one of medical malpractice.

Under general Florida premises liability law, a landowner has an obligation to ensure that their property is safe for those whom they allow onto their land. In Florida, as is the case in many states, the duty owed to a guest depends mainly on the reason for the guest’s visit. (Note: while trespassers may also be owed a duty under certain situations, that duty is limited and not discussed in this post.)

In general, there are two categories of welcome guests under Florida premises liability law. First, a licensee is someone who enters the landowner’s property for mutual benefit. Typically, these are family members, friends, and social guests. Licensees must be warned about any hazards that are known to the property owner but not obviously visible. The second category of visitor is an invitee. An invitee is someone who enters another’s property for the benefit of the landowner. Historically, invitees were limited to customers or those who entered another’s land for business purposes.

Of course, there are exceptions to these general principles. One of these exceptions is called the “firefighter’s rule.” Over the years, courts developed a rule that firefighter’s and other emergency responders could not hold a property owner liable for injuries they sustained while on the landowner’s property. The firefighter’s rule was based on the principle of “assumption of the risk,” meaning that a firefighter should be aware that her profession is a dangerous one and, by agreeing to serve in that capacity, she accepts and adopts those risks. Of course, this severely limits a firefighter’s ability to recover for her injuries when they are injured on the job, even when their injuries are the result of a landowner’s negligence.

While insurance is supposed to provide a motorist with peace of mind after a Florida car accident, in reality, the opposite is often true. Because insurance companies are for-profit corporations, they rely on taking in more money each month in premiums than they pay out in claims. Thus, insurance companies approach each claim with the same goal: expending as little money as possible to resolve the claim.

In some cases, insurance adjusters will offer low-ball settlement agreements knowing the claim is worth much more in hopes of catching an accident victim in a moment of desperation. In other situations, insurance companies will outright deny a claim based on their interpretation of the policy language. For this reason, it is critical that Florida motorists take care to ensure that they understand their insurance coverage and that it meets their needs. A recent opinion issued by a state appellate court illustrates just one type of issue that may arise after a Florida car accident.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was killed in a traffic accident when he was struck while riding a moped. The moped was powered by a small 49cc motor, similar to that which would power a scooter. The motorist’s family initially filed a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, because that policy only provided $100,000 in benefits, the family then filed a claim with their insurance company under the underinsured motorist (UIM) provision of the policy.

Given the beautiful weather in the Sunshine State, it is no surprise that swimming pools are common across Florida. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 1.1 million swimming pools in Florida. While the majority of property owners include the necessary safety features when putting in a swimming pool. Swimming pools still present a significant hazard, especially to children.

Because swimming pools are so popular, there are a correspondingly high number of Florida personal injury and wrongful death claims based on Florida swimming pool accidents. Realizing that drowning is the leading cause of death among Florida children, lawmakers passed the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (RSPSA).

The RSPSA acknowledges that the most effective way to avoid a drowning death is supervision by a responsible adult. Of course, many Florida swimming pool accidents occur without an adult being present. This often occurs when a child is able to make their way to the pool unbeknownst to adults. Thus, the RSPSA requires that all Florida swimming pools contain at least one of the following safety features:

Earlier this month, a jury returned a substantial verdict in favor of two families, each of which lost a teenage child in a fatal 2018 Florida car accident. According to a recent news report covering both the tragic accident as well as the jury’s recent verdict, the collision occurred in the evening hours when the at-fault driver crashed head-on into the teens’ vehicle.

Evidently, a 99-year-old man was operating an RV that was traveling the wrong way on a divided highway in Fort Pierce. The teens were also traveling on the divided highway, and were unable to avoid a collision with the RV. The two vehicles collided head-on. As it turns out, the RV was being operated without headlights, although it was dark outside at the time of the accident.

Both teens were killed in the accident, and the driver of the RV died a few days later. There was some evidence suggesting that the at-fault driver had previously been determined to be incompetent to drive in Michigan. However, it also appears that the man had also recently taken and passed the Michigan driver’s exam.

Like most other personal injury cases, Florida slip-and-fall claims are brought under the theory of negligence. Thus, to succeed in a slip-and-fall case, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the owner or lessee of the property where their fall occurred had knowledge that the hazard existed. A recent state appellate decision illustrates this requirement.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff and her daughter were visiting her daughter’s friend’s home so that the girls could get ready for a school dance. The day before, there was a light snowfall, however, it was undisputed that there was no snow on the ground at the time the plaintiff arrived. As the plaintiff exited her car and approached the front door, she slipped on some ice, but did not get hurt. When the plaintiff got inside, she told her daughter’s friend’s father (the defendant) that the front steps were icy.

As the plaintiff was getting ready to leave, she again told the defendant that the front steps were icy, and the defendant asked them to leave through the garage door. The plaintiff and the girls left through the garage door, and the plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of ice next to the front driver’s side door of her car. The plaintiff broke her ankle in the fall. She later filed a premises liability case against the defendant.

When someone is injured on the job, they can typically file a claim for compensation based on the injuries they sustained. There are two types of claims, Florida workers’ compensation claims and Florida personal injury claims. A workers’ compensation claim does not require an employee establish another party was at fault for their injuries. However, Florida workers’ compensation claims provide only for the recovery of medical expenses/disability benefits, meaning that an injured employee cannot recover for the pain and suffering the accident caused.

Alternatively, Florida personal injury cases allow accident victims to more fully recover for their injuries, including for non-economic losses. However, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant was negligent to recover these losses. In many Florida workplace accidents, the first question that arises is which type of claim should an injured employee pursue. In reality, it is less a question of “should” and more a question of “can.”

One way of thinking about this question is to consider who was at fault for the accident. In short, if an accident is caused by the negligence of the employer or the employee, an employee’s only remedy may be through a Florida workers’ compensation claim. This is because under Florida statutes section 440.11, while a qualifying employer is responsible for an employee’s injuries, a workers’ compensation claim is usually the injured employee’s “sole remedy.” This means that an employee whose injuries are the result of a covered accident may only be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. Section 440.11 extends this “sole remedy” provision to situations where an employee’s injuries are caused by a co-worker’s negligence.

Workers’ compensation cases do not necessarily end when a claimant receives a decision in the case. Employers that originally agreed to pay for treatment may try to stop paying for treatment at some point. In a recent case before a Florida appeals court, the court rejected an employer’s termination of benefits after paying for benefits for 15 years.

According to the court’s opinion, the claimant had worked in a building in Orlando from 1995 to 1997. Employees in the building experienced breathing problems, and after asbestos was discovered, employees were removed from all floors except the claimant’s floor. The claimant was not provided any protective gear and later developed breathing problems. The employer subsequently accepted compensability of the injury under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and accepted liability for the claimant’s illness due to air quality problems.

The employer paid for the claimant’s treatment, until 15 years later when the employer terminated treatment to the claimant. The employer argued that the work accident was no longer a major contributing cause of the need for medical treatment and that the treatment was not medically necessary. A workers’ compensation judge found the treatment was not medically necessary, and the claimant appealed.

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