Boating, like any other method of transportation, has its inherent risks. While most boats are safely constructed, and most operators are knowledgeable about how to safely operate a marine vessel, accidents can happen, especially when a boat is being operated by an inexperienced or intoxicated driver.

Air BoatIn Florida, there is no special license needed to operate a boat. In fact, anyone born before 1988 does not need any certification to operate a boat. Those born after January 1, 1988 must obtain a Boating Safety Education I.D. card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. However, once obtained, this card is valid for life.

Air boat tours are popular across Florida. While air boat operators are normally experienced, in Florida, there is no requirement that these boats have any safety devices, such as seat belts, airbags, or even windshields. These boats do not have brakes and are often operated at a high rate of speed. In addition, due to the design of these boats, they are capable of suddenly stopping short if driven over dry land.

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Over the past few years, arbitration contracts in nursing homes have been a hot-bed of litigation across the country. Indeed, last year, a federal agency attempted to make it much more difficult for government-funded nursing homes to include arbitration agreements in their pre-admission contracts. However, since then, the nursing home industry has been successful in preventing the ultimate passage and enforcement of that rule.

signatureIn the most recent development, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in a nursing home case siding with the nursing home. In that case, two family members filed wrongful death lawsuits against a nursing home that had cared for two of their loved ones prior to their death. Prior to the residents’ admission into the nursing home, they executed a general power of attorney in favor of the plaintiffs, giving the plaintiffs the ability to “dispose of all matters.”

The plaintiffs later placed their loved ones in the defendant nursing home. However, prior to their loved ones’ admission, the plaintiffs had to complete the pre-admission contract. One clause in that contract agreed to submit any and all claims that may arise between the parties to binding arbitration.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion highlighting the importance of complying with all of the procedural requirements in a South Florida personal injury lawsuit. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff did effectuate proper service on the government defendant and rejected the defendant’s appeal. However, the case should serve as a warning to would-be plaintiffs that even a single misstep may result in the dismissal of an otherwise meritorious case.

Law BooksThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident with a school bus. Believing the accident to be the fault of the school bus driver, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the bus as well as the school district that employed the driver. The plaintiff claimed that the school bus driver was negligent in operating the bus and that the school district was negligent in hiring the driver.

As is required under state law, the plaintiff set out to serve the defendants. The plaintiff hired a process-server, who went to the school district’s main building and inquired where he could deliver the service documents. The front-desk attendant directed the process-server to the HR department. Once at the HR department, the process-server met with the receptionist to the Deputy Superintendent. The receptionist called her superior, who instructed her to accept the service and said that she would come by later to pick it up. The process-server left the documents with the receptionist.

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In all Florida personal injury cases, the plaintiff must prove certain facts before they will be entitled to receive compensation for their injuries. The specific elements that must be proven depend largely on the type of case, but some elements are almost universally required across all Florida personal injury cases.

Desert HighwayOne of the most common – and most contested – elements in a Florida personal injury case is the element of causation. Simply stated, the element of causation requires that a plaintiff prove that the defendant’s actions were the cause of their injuries. While this sounds simple in theory, a recent case illustrates how establishing causation may not be as straightforward as it initially seems.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle on the highway. When he rounded a curve, he approached another accident without warning, and he was unable to safely stop in time to avoid an accident. He ended up sustaining serious injuries as a result of the motorcycle accident.

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When a party files a personal injury lawsuit against a defendant, the case proceeds through several stages before ultimately going to trial. One of the most important and most contentious phases in a personal injury lawsuit is the pre-trial discovery phase.

TireDuring the pre-trial discovery phase, parties make requests for certain evidence from the opposing party. A party can only request relevant evidence or evidence that may give rise to the discovery of additional relevant evidence. Once a party makes a request for certain evidence, the judge will rule on the request. If the judge orders that the requested material be released, the party in possession of the evidence must comply. A failure to comply can result in sanctions.

Sanctions for violating pre-trial discovery vary, depending on the type and severity of the violation. It is not unheard of for a court to dismiss a plaintiff’s case if he or she withholds evidence from the defense. If a defendant withholds evidence, the court can prevent the introduction of other evidence or issue a fine. However, any fine imposed can only be for the amount of money the plaintiff had to expend due to the defendant’s bad faith. A recent U.S. Supreme Court case illustrates this principle.

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Last month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a car accident between the plaintiff and an employee with the Department of Transportation. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff’s complaint did not conform to the mandatory procedural requirements of a complaint filed against a government entity. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed by the court.

Car AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an auto accident with an employee of the Georgia Department of Transportation. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries in the accident and filed a personal injury case against the Department under the theory of vicarious liability. Essentially, the doctrine of vicarious liability allows for a plaintiff to hold an employer responsible for the negligent acts of an employee.

Since the case named a government entity as a defendant, the plaintiff’s complaint needed to meet certain additional procedural requirements not present in cases against citizens or businesses. Generally, these additional requirements involve providing the government agency named as a defendant with appropriate notice of the lawsuit. This includes specifying the amount of damages the plaintiff is seeking.

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Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case against a water company after a woman tripped on a valve owned by the company. The court ultimately determined that the water company may be held liable not just for the maintenance of the valve itself but also for the area surrounding the valve.

Cracked PavementThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking on a public street when she tripped on a water valve cover. According to the plaintiff, the valve cover had become separated from the surrounding asphalt and had risen slightly above ground level, creating a tripping hazard. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against both the city as well as the water company.

Three months after the plaintiff’s injury, the water company fixed the asphalt around the valve cover. The case proceeded toward trial, and in a pre-trial motion, the water company was successful in excluding evidence of the asphalt repairs it had made from the jury’s consideration. After that, the water company argued that the evidence presented was insufficient to show that it was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because it was not responsible for maintaining the area around the valve cover. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of the water company.

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As a general rule, people do not have a duty to assist in the rescue efforts of another party in danger. However, if a passerby does decide to assist in rescue efforts, the party who is in need of rescue has a duty of care to the person or people who have decided to help them. As a result, if a rescuer is injured in the course of helping the in-danger party, the party in need of rescue may be held liable for the rescuer’s injuries.

Police CarIn Florida, this rule broadly applies, meaning that even firefighters who are injured in the course of their employment may be able to seek financial compensation if they sustain injuries caused by a negligent homeowner. However, a recent case out of Kansas tests the limits of the rescue doctrine.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a police officer who was involved in a high-speed accident while responding to the scene of a single-vehicle accident. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff had received a call that there was an accident on the highway and that several south-bound lanes were blocked as a result. The plaintiff was given the specific location of the accident and told which lanes were blocked.

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Kids make mistakes, and as a general rule, the law does not allow people injured by a child’s negligent actions to seek compensation from the child or from the child’s parents. However, when a child causes an injury due to willful misconduct or is engaging in certain designated dangerous activities when an accident occurs, a parent or guardian may be legally responsible for any injury or property damage caused by a child’s negligent conduct. The most common example of this is when a minor causes a traffic accident.

Broken HeadlightIn Florida, a parent or guardian who verifies a minor’s driver’s license can be held financially liable for any injuries resulting from an accident caused by the minor. There is no limit on the amount of recovery. However, in order to establish that a parent or guardian is responsible for a minor’s negligent conduct, the victim must still establish that the elements of a negligence lawsuit have been met. Specifically, this requires an accident victim to show that the minor’s negligent conduct caused the accident that resulted in the accident victim’s injuries. Importantly, there is no requirement that the parent or guardian was at all negligent in supervising the minor.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a slip-and-fall case that was brought by a woman who slipped and fell while attempting to board a train. The plaintiff filed her claim against the transportation agency that operated the train and maintained the station. However, since the woman was unable to prove that the puddle of rainwater in which she slipped constituted a “dangerous condition,” the case was dismissed.

Train StationThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff arrived at the train station on a rainy day. As she approached the station, she entered a covered platform where commuters would wait to board the train. A few feet from where the entrance to the covered platform was, there was a small puddle of rainwater that had accumulated due to the day’s rain.

The plaintiff later explained that she knew it had been raining, saw the puddle of water, and slipped as she stepped in the puddle. She explained that the concrete in the area where the puddle had formed was darker, as though water had been accumulating in that area for a period of months or years.

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