Articles Posted in Car Accident

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an important issue that Florida car accident victims should consider when preparing their case. The case involved a car accident, which the defendant admitted to causing. However, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense, based on the plaintiff’s inability to establish that her damages were a result of the accident.

Rear-EndedThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident when the defendant made a left turn in front of the plaintiff’s car, resulting in a collision. Approximately two years after the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for the injuries she sustained in the accident.

Prior to the accident, the plaintiff had been suffering from back and neck problems. At trial, the defendant admitted that the accident was her fault and even agreed that the accident resulted in “some injury” to the plaintiff; however, the defendant took issue with the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s claimed damages.

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When a jury renders a verdict in a Florida car accident case, the jury’s decision regarding the defendant’s liability to the plaintiff is generally insulated from review, absent extraordinary circumstances. However, once the jury returns a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the award amount that the jury reaches can be subject to a judge’s review under certain circumstances.

Gavel and BookUnder Florida Statute section 768.74, a party can request a judge to review the jury’s award amount and ask that it be increased or decreased. If the judge agrees with the requesting party, the judge will order an additur (an increase) or a remittur (a decrease) in the award amount. Then, the party that requested the additur or remittur has the choice of accepting the revised award amount, or, if they believe the result to still be unsatisfactory, a new trial on the issue of damages will be ordered.

When a party asks a judge to order an additur or remittur, the judge will consider certain factors, which are outlined in section 768.74. Essentially, the judge will determine if the award was a product of “prejudice, passion, or corruption,” whether the jury considered evidence it should not have, and whether the award amount was supported by the evidence. A recent case illustrates a situation in which the judge agreed with a plaintiff that a jury’s award amount was insufficient.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents a valuable lesson to Florida car accident victims. The case involves an accident victim’s conflicting testimony and how courts resolve such conflicts. Ultimately, the court determined that it would be improper to credit either of the plaintiff’s statements, and it sent the case to a jury for resolution.

Rear-EndedThe Facts of the Case

In 2015, the plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was struck by another driver. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against that driver but later found out that he did not carry auto insurance. Thus, the plaintiff added the name of her father’s insurance company to the case, claiming that she was covered under the policy’s uninsured motorist protection.

After the plaintiff filed the claim, the insurance company sent the plaintiff a list of questions. When answering the questions, the plaintiff stated that she lived with her three children. She also stated that her father lived across the street.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving allegations that an insurance company acted in bad faith when it failed to settle a case that later resulted in a substantial jury verdict. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to survive the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment, and the case was ordered to proceed toward trial.

Rollover AccidentThe case is interesting and relevant to Florida accident victims because it illustrates the difficulties that Florida personal injury plaintiffs may encounter when dealing with insurance companies after an accident.

The Facts of the Case

A motorist caused a five-car collision, in which he was killed and several others were seriously injured. This case involves just two of the victims, J.A. and J.H. The attorney for J.A. and J.H. contacted the at-fault motorist’s insurance company, inquiring about settling the case. The attorney expressed the interest of his clients to settle the case for the policy limit maximum but requested that additional information be passed. The letter asked for a response within 30 days.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a case alleging that the state department of transportation was negligent in allowing an orange construction barrel to obstruct a lane of traffic. The case discusses an issue that will be relevant to many Florida accident victims, specifically, when a government entity can be held liable for the dangerous condition of a public roadway.

Construction ConeState and local governments are responsible to build and maintain public roads. While governments can rarely be held liable based on the dangerous design of a road or intersection, government entities can be held liable when they fail to safely maintain public roads. A recent case illustrates the standard courts apply when reviewing these claims.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was towing a trailer on the highway when she entered a construction zone, where orange construction barrels were placed alongside the single lane of travel that remained open. As the plaintiff continued down the highway, one of the barrels was directly in the lane of travel, and she was unable to avoid clipping the barrel with the awning of her trailer. As a result, the plaintiff’s trailer was damaged, and she could not use it for the remainder of the season.

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In the initial aftermath of a Florida car accident, everyone’s adrenaline is pumping, and people are not often thinking about the consequences of what they say. Over time, memories tend to fade, and biases may creep into a witness’ thought process. Thus, there is an argument to be made that statements made in the immediate aftermath of an accident are the most reliable. In fact, it is not uncommon for a witness’ testimony at trial to differ from the statement they provided to police in the moments after an accident.

CrosswalkNormally, hearsay evidence is prohibited during a trial. Hearsay evidence is an out-of-court statement that is being offered to prove what the statement says. For example, a witness’ statement to police describing how an accident occurred is generally considered inadmissible hearsay. The proper way to get this testimony in would be to call the witness to testify at trial. But what happens when a witness’ testimony changes from the time of the accident to trial?

The Florida Rules of Evidence address this very issue in Rule 90.614. Under Rule 90.614, a party is entitled to cross-examine a witness regarding any prior inconsistent statements they made. Rule 90.614 acts as an exception to the general prohibition on hearsay. Thus, if a witness takes the stand and testifies to something different from what they told police in an accident report, that witness can be questioned about the inconsistency. A recent car accident case illustrates this concept.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case involving an out-of-state student who was listed as a driver on her parents’ Florida insurance policy. The case required the court to determine if the insurance company’s refusal to cover the accident was proper under the insurance contract. Ultimately, the court parsed the language of the insurance policy and determined that the plaintiff should be covered under her parents’ policy.

Front-End DamageThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was originally a resident of Florida but attended college out of the state. Although she had moved away, the plaintiff remained as a listed driver on her parents’ insurance policy. The policy covered both parents as well as the parents’ relatives. As many contracts do, the policy defined the term “relative” to mean either a related person who lived with the parents or an unmarried and un-emancipated minor who is away at college.

While away at school, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident. The accident was undisputedly the fault of the other motorist. However, that motorist did not have car insurance. Thus, the plaintiff filed a claim with her parents’ insurance policy under the uninsured motorist protection clause.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case illustrating when certain types of damages are appropriate. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss a jury’s verdict that awarded a plaintiff compensation for both future medical expenses as well as lost wages. However, the court concluded that the jury’s verdict insofar as it related to the plaintiff’s lost wages was contrary to the evidence.

Broken WindowThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with the defendant. The defendant admitted that he was responsible for causing the accident, but he argued that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident. Thus, the case went to trial on the issue of damages only.

The jury heard evidence from the plaintiff’s expert witness, who testified that the plaintiff would need palliative care. The expert also recommended that the plaintiff undergo a cervical surgery to improve her quality of life. Depending on how the cervical surgery went, the plaintiff may also need a lumbar surgery, although it was too early to tell if such a surgery would be needed. The expert estimated that the costs were as follows:

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida car accident case requiring the court to determine if a jury was within its right to refuse to award future medical expenses to the plaintiff when the defendant failed to provide contradicting expert testimony. Ultimately, since the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony was “far-from-conclusive,” the court determined that the jury was free to make the decision it did.

Neck X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a Florida car accident that was caused by another driver. The at-fault driver either did not have insurance or had insufficient insurance to cover the plaintiff’s injuries, so the plaintiff filed an underinsured/uninsured motorist claim with her own insurance company. The extent of the plaintiff’s injuries were not conclusively established, but it was determined by her neurosurgeon that she suffered from degenerative disc disease.

The insurance company did not contest that the other driver caused the accident, but it claimed that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident. In support of its position, the insurance company attempted to present three expert witnesses. However, the court prevented the jury from considering the experts’ testimony.

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As a general rule, Florida landowners have an obligation to ensure that their property is safe for those whom they invite onto their property. The extent of this obligation depends on the relationship between the parties and takes into account the reason why the plaintiff was on the defendant’s property. For the most part, landowners must take action to clear known hazards or warn of the hazards that may not have been visible by the visitor’s naked eye. If a landowner fails to take the adequate precautions, they may be liable for a visitor’s injuries through a Florida premises liability lawsuit.

CrosswalkIn some cases, a landowner can be held liable for injuries that occur off their property, although this is a much rarer scenario. That is because the general rule is that landowners are not responsible to ensure a visitor’s safety before the visitor enters the property or after they leave the property. However, if the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s conduct increased the dangers involved, or if it obscured the off-site hazards, a defendant may be found liable for injuries occurring off their property.

A recent case provides an in-depth discussion of landowner liability as it pertains to off-site injuries.

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