Earlier this month, Hurricane Irma ripped through South Florida, leaving behind a disaster area in some locations. Hurricane Irma may not have been as bad as some had forecasted, but hundreds of thousands of Floridians were left without power in the wake of the storm. While a power outage may be a minor annoyance to most, outages can be deadly to a nursing home resident who relies on medical equipment.

Blowing TreeAccording to a recent news report, one South Florida nursing home is facing at least one lawsuit stemming from the deaths of eight residents following Hurricane Irma. The report details the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint, which claim that the nursing home’s failure to take adequate precautions to protect residents leading up to the storm showed “negligence and reckless indifference.”

The plaintiff points to several alleged failures on the part of the nursing home, including the home’s failure to secure a generator in the event of a power outage despite ample warning that the facility was likely going to lose power. Indeed, there were reports that the temperature inside the nursing home reached as high as 106 Fahrenheit at times due to the lack of air conditioning.

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After someone is involved in a Florida car accident, they may seek compensation through a South Florida personal injury lawsuit. In order to successfully bring a case against an allegedly negligent driver, a personal injury plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s actions resulted in their injuries.

PedestrianOnce a plaintiff establishes that a defendant violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, the next step is to determine the damages that the plaintiff is owed. The calculation of damages in a Florida car accident case can be a very contentious and complex issue, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Some types of damages are fairly easy to calculate. For example, determining the amount of past medical expenses may be as easy as reviewing medical bills. However, figuring out the exact amount of damages is not always straightforward, especially when there are subsequent injuries sustained by the plaintiff.

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Establishing the breach of a duty is one of the most contested issues in South Florida premises liability lawsuits. Essentially, in order to establish this element, a plaintiff must point to some negligent act or omission of the defendant that violated a duty owed to the plaintiff.

Florida SunsetEarlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit filed by the father of a young boy who drowned while swimming in a pool at a condominium complex. The appellate court was tasked with determining if the trial court was proper to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the plaintiff’s failure to establish that the defendant was negligent. After reviewing each of the plaintiff’s claims, the court determined that the condo association was not negligent in any way and affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s son was swimming in a pool that was located inside a condominium complex operated by the defendant condo association. The boy was accompanied by several family members, none of whom lived in the condo complex. While the boy’s aunt did live in the complex, she was not present while the group was using the pool.

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When a plaintiff files a Florida personal injury claim, it is imperative that they name all of the potentially liable parties and include all of the relevant theories of liability as soon as practicable. This often means conducting a thorough investigation prior to filing the lawsuit in order to make sure that a plaintiff has all of the information to properly file a case. Of course, it is possible to amend a complaint after it is initially filed for a short time; however, if a plaintiff waits too long to amend a complaint, they will be stuck with what was initially pleaded.

Empty Swimming PoolThis can create several problems for Florida personal injury plaintiffs. For example, the trial judge can only instruct the jury on the allegations contained in the plaintiff’s complaint. Thus, even if a plaintiff uncovers evidence during the trial that may help them prove liability through an unpleaded theory, they may be prevented from doing so. A recent premises liability case issued by a state appellate court illustrates how exacting appellate courts can be when interpreting the allegations of a plaintiff’s initial complaint.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an investor looking to buy a rental property through the defendant realtor. One of the defendant’s listings was a home that had a pool in the back yard. The defendant contacted a pool maintenance company and performed the necessary maintenance to the pool prior to listing the home.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that will be of interest to South Florida car accident victims because it illustrates the limits of the doctrine of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that allows a plaintiff to hold a third party responsible for the negligent acts of another party. The classic example of vicarious liability is when an employee causes an accident while working for his employer, and the accident victim seeks to hold the employer liable for the employee’s negligence.

CollisionIn some cases, if an employee negligently causes an accident while acting within the scope of his employment, anyone injured in that accident may seek compensation not just from the employee but also from the employer. However, the burden rests with the accident victim to prove that the relationship between the parties is sufficient to establish legal liability. Generally speaking, this means showing that the person who caused the accident was actually an employee and was acting within the scope of their employment. The case mentioned above illustrates how courts analyze these claims and which types of evidence courts may consider when determining if a person is an employee.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a delivery driver who was working for the defendant. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the driver of the vehicle as well as the company that hired him.

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When someone is injured due to the negligence of a Florida government employee or entity, they may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. However, lawsuits that are filed against government defendants in Florida have certain additional requirements that must be met, or the accident victim risks the court dismissing their case before it is heard.

Drain CoverIn Florida, accident victims must file a pre-suit notice to the government agency that they are naming as a defendant. According to Florida Statutes section 768.28, state and local governments in Florida must be served with a pre-suit notice of a claim within three years of the accident. This notice must contain information about the accident, such as where it occurred, who was involved, the alleged acts of negligence, and what is being requested. If a pre-suit notice is not filed or is insufficient, a court may dismiss any subsequent lawsuit. A recent appellate court opinion out of Georgia details one plaintiff’s experience with an inaccurately drafted pre-suit notice.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when he stepped in an uncovered manhole while walking on a paved street in the defendant city. Initially, the plaintiff reported the hazard to the police department and provided the department with the address of 425 Chappell Road. The plaintiff explained to the police that the uncovered manhole was at the intersection of Chappell Road and Mayson Turner Road.

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Florida has long had a reputation for being a state with a large number of “bad drivers.” Indeed, Florida drivers are involved in over 250,000 auto accidents each year, with over 100,000 of those accidents resulting in serious injuries. In all, Florida car accidents are responsible for approximately 1,800 fatalities each year.

Smashed CarIt may come as no surprise, then, that according to a study released earlier this month, Florida ranks among the states with the worst drivers in the country. The study took various variables into account, including the total number of drivers, the number of DUI accidents, the number of traffic tickets issued, the total number of traffic fatalities, and the number of uninsured drivers. After all of the data was analyzed, Florida was ranked as the state with the worst drivers.

Interestingly, one key variable that stuck out when looking at Florida driver data was the unusual number of internet searches for “speeding tickets” and “traffic tickets.” Presumably, if a motorist is researching traffic tickets, they have recently been issued a ticket or warning by a police officer. Florida also had the second-highest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation, second only to Oklahoma.

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Assumption of the risk is a common defense used by many defendants in Florida personal injury cases. When it applies, the doctrine prevents a plaintiff from pursuing a claim against a defendant if the plaintiff was engaging in a dangerous activity for which the risks were known. For example, a football player may be prevented from suing another player based on injuries received on the field because the injured player likely knew the risks involved with playing football but continued to play nonetheless.

OceanIn Florida, strict assumption of the risk is very limited. In fact, pursuant to a recent case decided earlier this year, the doctrine only applies when there is an express contract not to sue or in the context of contact sports. That being said, the doctrine of assumption of the risk can still work against a Florida personal injury plaintiff because a jury can take a plaintiff’s assumption of the risks involved in an activity into account when determining the relative fault of each party.

A recent case illustrates how courts apply the assumption of the risk doctrine. While Florida’s law is different from that applied in the case, the case is still instructive to Florida personal injury plaintiffs because the division of fault between the plaintiff and the defendant is an issue for the jury to determine.

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There are several elements that a plaintiff must establish before they are able to recover financially after a South Florida car accident. One of these key elements is causation. Simply stated, the causation element requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s conduct was the legal cause of their injuries, or, to use the legal terminology, the “proximate cause.”

Traffic JamThere is not an exact definition of the term proximate cause, and determining whether a defendant’s actions constitute proximate cause is normally left up to a jury. However, in some situations, a court may determine whether proximate cause exists as a matter of law through a summary judgment proceeding. Whether being decided by a judge or jury, the question is whether the defendant’s actions more likely than not “foreseeably and substantially contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.” Importantly, proximate cause does not need to be the only cause of an accident.

A recent personal injury case illustrates how one state court’s causation analysis resulted in the dismissal of a car accident victim’s case.

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Workplace injuries occur frequently in many professions, and this is especially the case for jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries. When a worker is injured on the job, there are several potential avenues that the worker can pursue to obtain compensation for their injuries.

Chemical PlantThe first option is a workers’ compensation claim. Florida workers’ compensation claims are filed by an injured employee against an employer for an injury that occurred on the job while they were acting within the scope of their employment. If they are successful in a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker can obtain temporary or permanent benefits while they are unable to return to work. However, once a worker is able to return to work, the benefits cease. Additionally, compensation for pain and suffering due to the accident will not be available through a Florida workers’ compensation claim. However, if a workers’ compensation claim is available to an injured worker, that will be his sole remedy, meaning that he will not be able to pursue compensation through a Florida personal injury case.

Workers who are injured due to the fault of a third party (i.e., not their employer) can seek benefits through a Florida personal injury claim against that negligent third party. If they are successful in a Florida personal injury case, an injured worker can recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering they endured as a result of the accident. A recent case illustrates how an injured employee unsuccessfully attempted to hold a third party liable for his workplace injuries.

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