Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Florida is known for its picturesque terrain and numerous options for outdoor recreational activities. Some common activities are water sports, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, hiking, and biking. Although these activities are often advertised as “guided” and “safe,” there are always some inherent risks involved in participating in them. Prior to participating in one of these activities, companies that provide these experiences will almost always have the patron sign a waiver of liability in the event that an accident does occur.

HorseLiability Waivers in Florida

Although Florida recreation companies cannot waive away all of their liability, there is a fair amount that they can avoid. Florida has various statutes that limit the applicability of waivers for specific activities, but this does not apply to all activities. These waivers essentially require the patron to affirm that they are aware of the risks involved in participating in the specific activity for which they are signing up.

Inherent risks are generally considered those that are common to the activity in which one is participating. For example, an inherent risk of horseback riding session would likely be falling off the horse.

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Psychological trauma can be devastating, whether it stems from being involved in a Florida car accident or witnessing a loved one suffer serious injuries themselves. Unfortunately, the legal field has been slow to come around to the idea that psychological trauma can have a lasting impact on those who suffer from it. However, with research in this area of medicine continuing to evolve, courts are beginning to accept the concept that witnessing a traumatic event can cause serious harm to an individual.

DefibrillatorThus, in 1995, the Florida Supreme Court clearly outlined the elements of a relatively new cause of action called negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). An NIED claim is based on the physical injuries sustained by witnessing a very traumatic event. In the 1995 case referenced above, the court set forth the following requirements for an NIED claim:

  1. The plaintiff must suffer some physical injury;

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, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida personal injury case involving a claim brought by a plaintiff who suffered worsening symptoms of a pre-existing condition after being treated by the defendant aesthetician. The case required the court to determine if the defendant’s expert witness was properly prohibited from testifying, and whether the plaintiff was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Finding that the lower court did not err, the court affirmed the verdict.

Spa DayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, who suffered from mild rosacea, arranged to have a chemical peel at the defendant spa. The plaintiff noted on her intake form that she had rosacea, but the defendant aesthetician failed to read the form prior to beginning the procedure. The defendant admitted that, had she read the form, she would not have performed the procedure or would have conducted a test on a small area of skin first.

After the chemical peel, the plaintiff’s skin began to scar, and her rosacea was significantly worsened. The plaintiff saw several doctors and took medication as prescribed to improve her condition, but in the end, the doctors recommended laser treatment.

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Florida has hundreds of thousands of acres of beautiful outdoor areas that are perfect for a number of recreational activities, including hiking, boating, hunting, and biking. However, much of this land is owned by various government entities or by private citizens. In the interest of persuading landowners to open up their land for the general recreational use of the public, Florida lawmakers passed Florida Statute 375.251, the Florida recreational use statute.

Stadium SeatsThe recreational use statute encourages landowners to allow members of the public to use their land by preventing anyone who is injured while using a landowner’s property from holding the landowner responsible for any injuries sustained. Importantly, the immunity conferred by the recreational use statute is not absolute, and immunity will not attach if the landowner charges a fee to use or access the land, or if the landowner engages in “deliberate, willful, or malicious” conduct.

A recent case illustrates how one court strictly interpreted a similar recreational use statute, rejecting the plaintiffs’ claim against a stadium where their daughter was seriously injured.

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Over the past decade, e-cigarette use has skyrocketed, with it being the most commonly consumed tobacco product among U.S. youth. The move toward e-cigarette use was due in large part to the fact that e-cigarettes were believed to be a safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Indeed, according to a report by the U.S. Surgeon General, a significant portion of e-cigarette users classify themselves as “former smokers” who picked up the habit again once e-cigarettes became prevalent.

E-CigaretteAccording to a recent study, however, e-cigarettes may pose a significant risk to users’ health. The study was conducted by a group of researchers at the New York University School of Medicine. The researchers exposed lab mice to a vapor that contained nicotine, similar in both content and amount to the vapor that is released by e-cigarettes.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers discovered that the DNA contained in the lungs, hearts, and bladders of the exposed lab mice suffered DNA damage. What’s more, the normal DNA repair processes were hindered. After conducting further analysis on human lung and bladder cells, the researchers confirmed that the vapor had the same halting effect on the DNA repair processes.

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Florida is known for its fantastic golf courses. Unfortunately, Florida is also known for its bad drivers. When Florida drivers get behind the wheel of a golf cart, accidents are bound to happen. This is especially the case when a golfer has a few drinks while on the links.

Golf CartFlorida golf cart accidents are more common than most believe. This is due in part to the fact that serious injuries are rare in golf cart accidents. However, golf cart accidents are very real, and a significant number of Floridians are injured in golf cart accidents each year.

A recent case brought by an injured pedestrian who was struck by a golf cart illustrates the difficulties accident victims may encounter when filing a claim after a golf cart accident.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a case that was filed by the surviving family members of a ship worker who died after he fell 50 feet when he stepped through a hole in the ship’s grating. The case presents a relevant issue to Florida boat accident plaintiffs insofar as it discusses how maritime law applies to cases against the owners and operators of large commercial vessels.

Oil RigThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a man who worked as an independent contractor for a recycling company that purchases steel structures, disassembles them, and sells the metal for scrap. The company that employed the plaintiffs’ loved one purchased a decommissioned oil rig from another company that was in charge of decommissioning the rig.

Prior to the sale, an employee for the selling company told the company buying the rig about a potential danger on the ship regarding the presence of oil in the ship’s pipes. However, no one warned the buying company that there were several holes cut in the metal grating on the rig’s deck.

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Late last month, an appellate court in Indiana issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a bicyclist who was injured while riding on a government-owned trail. The case required the court to determine if the state government was entitled to immunity under the state’s recreational use statute. Finding that the state was entitled to immunity, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Bike Trail

Although this case took place in Indiana, it is relevant to Florida bike injury victims because it illustrates the difficulties that an accident victim may face when bringing a personal injury case against a government entity or employee.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding his bike on a mixed-use trail that was owned and operated by the state park department. As the plaintiff was passing a pedestrian, the tire of the plaintiff’s bike got caught in a moderately sized crack in the pavement. This caused the plaintiff to lose control of the bike and fall to the ground. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries to his shoulder as a result of the fall and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the state government.

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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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