Defective commercial vehicles are a serious hazard to the health and public safety of all Floridians. Although Florida trucking accidents often involve the negligence of a trucking company or its drivers, design defects and faulty parts frequently play a significant role in a trucking accident. The sheer size and mechanical complexity of these vehicles require the safe interplay of various systems. Even seemingly minor defects can cause these large vehicles to become massive safety hazards.

The majority of truck accidents involving defective parts include faulty brakes, defective steering systems, tire failures, defective hydraulics and fuel systems, and inadequate safety and cargo restraints. For instance, recently, a state court heard a case arising from a tractor trailer’s malfunctioning dump gate. In that case, the truck driver was traveling on a highway when the trailer unexpectedly released its dump gate. The uncommanded action resulted in the trailer spilling massive amounts of gravel and sand onto the highway on more than one occasion. One of the incidents resulted in several collisions, damaging cars and injuring several motorists and passengers.

Injury victims and their loved ones may file a claim against various entities. The manufacturer, designer, distributor, retailer, or any other party responsible for putting a defective truck on the road may be liable. In the case above, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against both the trucking company and the defective valve manufacturer that caused the dump gate to spontaneously open. Following a settlement with the plaintiffs, the company sought contribution from the manufacturer. The company filed cross-claims against the manufacturer alleging unreasonably dangerous and defective design of the valve. The manufacturer sought to dismiss the claims, arguing that the company discarded relevant evidence. The court ultimately found that the company acted negligently in discarding the evidence, but not willfully.

Under Florida law, employers with four or more employees must purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, construction businesses must provide this insurance for every employee. This coverage is essential to both business owners and employees, because it covers various expenses related to workplace injuries. The insurance is designed to cover injuries that an employee suffered on-the-job. It typically covers medical expenses, recovery costs, missed wages, and funeral and burial costs. Employers may obtain private or state insurance or self-insure their employees. Employees do not share in the cost of the insurance premium. However, in exchange for the coverage, in most cases, the law prevents Florida employees from suing their employers to cover expenses from their workplace injuries.

Fault is not a consideration in workers’ compensation claims; however, employers must still keep their workplaces safe. In some situations, employers do not meet this burden, and as a result, their workers may suffer exposure to dangerous conditions. In many cases, workers’ compensation does not adequately cover the extent of the employee’s damages. For instance, although the insurance covers medical bills and lost wages, it does not compensate for pain and suffering. The bar on recovery can cause serious financial hardship to employees.

There are certain exceptions to workers’ compensation laws that may allow victims to recover additional damages. Employees may file a lawsuit against employers who did not carry workers’ compensation insurance or failed to process a claim in a timely manner. Further, employees may file lawsuits for workplace injuries against negligent third parties. For example, if an employee is driving a company vehicle for work and suffers injuries in a car accident, the employee may file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. Further, employees can file a lawsuit if an employer denies a workers’ compensation claim in bad faith.

Florida’s attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges in American judicial history. The privilege protects and preserves the confidentiality of communications between attorneys and their clients. The rule provides clients with the right to refuse to divulge and prevent another person from disclosing confidential communications between the client and attorney. Although there are significant policy justifications for the privilege, at its foundation, the rule is designed to promote and encourage the free and open sharing of information between clients and their attorneys. This allows clients to provide their attorneys with accurate and complete information, allowing them to provide more precise and well-reasoned advice and representation.

The attorney-client privilege is an evidentiary rule, as it prevents lawyers from testifying about their clients’ statements. In addition to the privilege, attorneys owe their clients a duty of confidentiality. This prevents attorneys from discussing information related to their clients’ cases in any other context. They must protect all information regarding their client’s case, regardless of the information’s origin. Both of these protections have certain exceptions that may be relevant if a client dies, in cases where the client is actively engaged in fraud, or if the disclosure is necessary to prevent certain death or substantial harm.

Throughout history, courts have heard and addressed various claims involving attorney-client privilege. One recent Florida decision in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Assn., held that the attorney-client privilege protects a law firm’s referral of a client to a treating physician. In that case, a woman fell and suffered injuries in a YMCA parking lot. During pretrial proceedings, the defendants asked her to disclose whether her attorney referred her to her treating doctors. The trial court compelled her to produce the information; however, on appeal, the Florida Supreme Court held that attorney-client privilege protects a party from disclosing information of that nature.

Florida consumers rightfully expect vehicle manufacturers and dealerships to maintain integrity in their dealings and ensure that vehicles are free from defects. However, despite due diligence, in some cases, motorists end up with a defective car. These vehicles are commonly referred to as “lemons.” Fortunately, federal and state laws protect consumers in these situations.

Florida’s “Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act,” or “Lemon Law,” protects customers who purchase new or nearly new vehicles. In some instances, the law protects consumers who lease vehicles or purchase a defective recreational vehicle. The law applies to vehicles purchased for personal, family, or household use. It extends to anyone to whom the vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the statutory period. The statutory period is generally 24 months following delivery to the consumer. The law covers “nonconformities” to the vehicle, which substantially impairs the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. However, the law does not apply when the consumer’s negligence, abuse, or unauthorized alteration caused the defect.

Under the law, manufacturers that cannot adequately repair a defect, must repurchase or replace a vehicle. The law permits the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle before mandating repurchase or repair. Generally, a manufacturer will have to repurchase after they unsuccessfully resolved the problems three or more times or if the car is in a repair shop for more than 30 days.

Every driver knows that to maximize safety while operating a vehicle, you must look both ways and double-check before pulling out of a driveway or parking spot from a stationary position. When the roadway you’re pulling into is especially busy, it can be even more dangerous. Thus, in these situations, drivers must execute the highest degree of care to avoid a Florida car accident.

Sometimes, however, when operating a larger vehicle like a tow truck, it can be hard to see every angle and vantage point while backing up. Larger vehicles often need significantly more space to pull into a busy roadway or execute large turns when pulling out of spaces than regular pedestrian vehicles, so the dangers are elevated further. Unfortunately, accidents involving tow trucks and pulling out of stationary positions into a busy road can make for a deadly combination when it also involves drivers who are not fully present or paying attention to their surroundings.

According to a recent news report, a 15-year-old girl tragically died in a crash after a tow truck collided with the car she was riding in. According to Florida Highway Patrol troopers, the girl was riding as a passenger in a convertible when the tow truck reversed from a driveway into the street, and the convertible hit its flatbed. Based on reports from local authorities, the girl died at the scene, but neither driver was injured.

A Florida appellate court recently issued an opinion addressing whether a plaintiff could hold a university teaching hospital liable for medical malpractice. The main issue turned on whether sovereign immunity protects the university teaching hospital involved in the case.

In 2004, the university and healthcare system agreed to an affiliation contract that provided that the woman’s treating doctor was a university faculty member and employee. The agreement included an agreement between the doctor and the healthcare system, where the doctor would treat the system’s indigent patients. In 2011, the Florida lawmakers amended 768.28, Florida Statutes, thereby replacing the 2004 affiliation agreement. The amendment covered all patients’ care and provided that all university employees and faculty were acting as an agent of the healthcare system.

The record indicates that the woman received treatment for an illness with several doctors employed by a teaching hospital where the university provides healthcare services. She alleged that her doctors’ failure to prescribed appropriate medication resulted in her disabilities. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against several parties, including the healthcare system, the university, and her treating physician. In response to the medical malpractice lawsuit, the university contended that they were entitled to immunity under Florida’s sovereign immunity statutes.

Riding a bike is a great form of exercise and a way for family and friends to get outside in the beautiful Florida weather. However, when an individual gets into a Florida bike accident, the injuries may be fatal – especially if they were hit by a car. When an accident has resulted in death, it is very devastating and traumatic for the deceased’s loved ones. However, loved ones can file a wrongful death lawsuit to financially recover and hold the responsible party accountable.

An 11-year old boy was recently killed after being hit by a car while riding his bike with a friend. According to a local news report, the accident occurred at the intersection of two roads in Pensacola. The boy was rushed to the hospital, and after fighting for his life for a few days, he tragically passed away. In these tragic, preventable situations, nothing can bring the deceased loved one back; however, the family can often file a wrongful death lawsuit. Below are some of the commonly asked questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit and what this process entails.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit, and Who Can Bring One?

According to Florida Statutes § 768.18 – which governs wrongful death lawsuits in Florida – a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another individual. Florida created the ability for loved ones to sue the responsible party so the losses can be shifted from the loved ones to the wrongdoer – or as much as possible.

Continue Reading ›

Florida car accidents have the potential to cause long-term severe injuries and damages; however, head-on accidents tend to carry the most significant risk of serious harm. Florida head-on accidents often occur when one motorist crosses a median and enters the path of oncoming traffic. In other cases, a head-on collision occurs when a driver fails to obey traffic rules and veers into another car. The majority of these accidents happen on two-lane highways or roads or bridges. Further, these accidents tend to occur during low-visibility conditions, such as during the night or periods of heavy rain or fog. Moreover, certain poorly maintained or designed roadways make a head-on collision more likely to occur. Regardless, of the specific circumstances, individuals who suffer injuries in a head-on collision because of a negligent motorist or government entity, should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

According to state reports, Florida has one of the highest rates of accidents in the United States. Nearly 400,000 traffic accidents occur each year in Florida, and the most recent data indicates that as the population grows, so does the rate of accidents. Close to 10% of these accidents are head-on collisions. Although each accident possesses its own unique set of leading causes and circumstances, many head-on collisions share similar fact patterns. The majority of head-on collisions occur because of speeding, distracted driving, passing in a no-passing zone, a driver’s failure to modify driving during inclement weather, impaired driving, and fatigued driving. Most drivers understand that they must abide by traffic laws and operate their vehicles safely, but it is also critical to pay attention to others’ driving behavior. Although this is burdensome, it can save a person from an accident and the ensuing damages.

Although only about 1 percent of Florida accidents are fatal, non-fatal accidents can have devastating consequences. Many head-on collisions result in broken bones, fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and internal bleeding. Additionally, these accidents can cause drivers and passengers to experience psychological issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and similar mental health issues related to their injuries.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently issued an opinion in a Florida product liability lawsuit. The case arose after a meat-market manager suffered injuries while using a meat saw. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the saw’s manufacturer, arguing that the meat saw was negligently designed. The court instructed the jury that the plaintiff needed to establish that the meat saw was not designed with “reasonable care” and was not “reasonably safe” for foreseeable use. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed.

In addition to other issues, the defendant appealed the jury’s ruling arguing that the court should not have provided the jury a general negligence instruction. Rather, the defendant argued that the court should have instructed the jury on Florida’s “risk utility” test or “consumer expectations” test.

Under Florida law, the risk utility test addresses and balances six considerations to determine whether a product’s risk outweighs its utility to consumers. If it does, the product is negligently designed. The six factors are: the likelihood of potential injury balanced against its utility, the availability of safer products that meet the same need, the obviousness of the danger and the public’s expectation of that danger, the adequacy of instructions and warning, and the ability to minimize the danger without impairing the product or making it economically unfeasible. On the other hand, the consumer expectations test focuses on if the product was more dangerous than an ordinary consumer would anticipate.

Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion in an insured’s appeal of a circuit court’s final order granting her insurance company’s motion to dismiss her claim for bad faith. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a claim with her insurance company for damages to her home from a hurricane. The homeowner claims that, despite admitting the loss was covered, the insurance company “grossly undervalued the claim” and “refused to negotiate the damages.” An appraisal panel found that the damages the woman claimed were appropriate, further supporting the woman’s contentions against the company.

Abiding by the condition precedent to bringing a bad faith action, the woman filed a civil remedy notice (CRN) with the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the insurer. Within sixty days of the DFS’s acceptance of the CRN, the company did not pay damages. Thus, the homeowner argued that the company committed bad faith in adjusting her claim. The insurance company argued that the notice was ineffective because the CRN misidentified the insurer. The homeowner appealed a circuit court’s ruling in favor of the insurance company, arguing that the company waived their argument by not raising it in its response to the CRN.

On appeal, the homeowner argued that the insurance company never claimed that the incorrect identification caused it any prejudice. Instead, the plaintiff claimed that the insurance company simply denied the claim and argued that the loss did not exceed the policy’s deductible, without attempting a cure. Second, the company had actual notice of the CRN within the cure period and responded to the notice. Next, the company waived any misnomer defects by timely responding without any objections. Finally, the company’s failure to note the misnomer in its CRN response, and failure to bring the defect to her attention, warrants the application of estoppel principles. The insurance company argued that the plaintiff’s claim failed to satisfy the condition precedents because it was filed against another company, the CRN was legally insufficient, and the company could not cure the defect.

Contact Information