Articles Posted in Personal Injury

When someone is injured due to another’s negligent actions, they can pursue a claim for compensation through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. Depending on the type of accident, the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the defendant’s conduct that gave rise to plaintiff’s injuries, there are various types of damages that an injury victim may recover. These include compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, as well as for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

Many Florida personal injury accidents, however, affect more than just the accident victim. Indeed, in many accidents, a victim’s injuries can impact their marriage. Thus, the spouse of an injury victim may be able to pursue a claim against the defendant. This is referred to as a claim for the spouse’s loss of consortium.

In Florida, courts consider loss of consortium damages to include company, cooperation, and aid of the other. This consists of the sexual relationship, affection, solace, comfort, companionship, fellowship, society, and assistance that a spouse provides. While a loss of consortium claim will not result in a double recovery for any amount that the injury victim receives, a successful claim may compensate a spouse for the injured spouse’s inability to perform work they would normally do around the home, such as raise children.

Typically, when a Florida car accident victim files a case against another driver, they must establish that the defendant’s conduct was negligent and that their negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. However, under certain circumstances, the law imposes what is called a presumption of negligence. A “presumption” allows for a judge or jury to conclude a fact based on the surrounding circumstances unless it can be shown by greater evidence that the presumption should not apply.

One example of a legal presumption in Florida personal injury law is the rear-end collision presumption. In Florida rear-end collisions, without any additional showing, the rear driver is presumed to have been negligent. However, that does not necessarily mean that the rear driver’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident. A recent case illustrates how Florida courts apply the rear-end collision presumption.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant as she was driving on a Florida highway. The plaintiff and defendant offered differing versions of the events leading up to the accident; however, the defendant admitted that he could have avoided the accident had he not been following so closely.

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Bringing a successful Florida personal injury lawsuit often requires more than just proving that the defendant was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. In fact, there is a significant amount of thought that must go into a case before the case is even filed. One concept that can cause a Florida injury victim’s claim to run aground early in the process is jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction refers to a court’s power to hear a case. There are two types of jurisdiction. Subject-matter jurisdiction refers to the court’s ability to hear a certain kind of case and personal jurisdiction refers to the court’s ability to issue judgment over a specific defendant. Most Florida state courts are of general jurisdiction, meaning they can hear a variety of cases, including Florida personal injury cases.

A state always has jurisdiction over those who are domiciled in that state. However, establishing personal jurisdiction in a Florida personal injury lawsuit involving an out-of-state defendant can be tricky, depending on the type of claim. In these cases, the burden is on the plaintiff to show that the court has jurisdiction.

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All Florida personal injury cases must be brought within a certain amount of time. Florida Statutes section 95.11 provides the statutes of limitations for each cause of action. For example, most personal injury lawsuits alleging negligence must be brought within four years; however, Florida medical malpractice lawsuits must be brought within two years.

It is essential that a plaintiff is aware of the applicable statute of limitations in their case, so they know how long they have to bring their case. However, determining when a statute of limitations begins to run can be tricky. For example, the statute of limitations in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit begins when the “incident was discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.”

Recently, a federal appellate court issued an opinion interpreting a similar statute of limitations regarding a lawsuit brought against a prescription drug manufacturer.

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In general, all relevant evidence is admissible in a Florida personal injury lawsuit. The Florida Rules of Evidence define relevant evidence as any evidence “tending to prove or disprove a material fact.” Thus, under the general rule, almost all of the evidence a party would hope to use at trial would be considered relevant.

Merely because evidence is relevant, however, does not mean that it will be admissible because the evidence may be precluded under another rule of evidence. Florida Rule of Evidence 90.403, which is based on Federal Rule of Evidence 403, is among the most important rules of evidence used by parties. Florida’s Rule 90.403 states that “relevant evidence is inadmissible if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, misleading the jury, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.”

It is important to note that not all prejudice is considered to be unfair. The type of prejudice that courts are concerned with is that which will allow or encourage jurors to base their decision on something other than the issues involved in the case. A recent state appellate opinion is a good illustration of this concept.

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In a recent state appellate decision, a Florida court upheld a jury’s verdict in favor of a plaintiff who was seriously injured after being rear-ended by a van while stopped in traffic on the Buckman Bridge. The case required the court to determine whether the plaintiff’s case improperly relied upon the stacking of multiple inferences in light of the fact that the plaintiff’s evidence was circumstantial in nature. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff’s claim was not reliant upon the improper stacking of inferences and affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Circumstantial Evidence

There are two types of evidence: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence is evidence that tends to prove a conclusion without the need for any inference. For example, eyewitness testimony that a driver made a lane change without signaling would be considered direct evidence that the driver changed lanes and did not signal.

On the other hand, circumstantial evidence requires at least one inference to be made before reaching a conclusion. Circumstantial evidence is also known as “smoking gun” evidence. For example, if a man is shot and turns around only to see a woman with a smoking gun in her hand, the man’s observations are circumstantial evidence that the woman shot him. It is not direct evidence because he did not see the woman pull the trigger. However, it can be inferred that the fact the gun was smoking means that it was recently fired.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of taking all steps to properly preserve any issues a party believes a judge decided wrongly in a Florida personal injury case. In this case, the court ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal because she failed to make a timely objection.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant and subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. Before trial, the plaintiff filed several proposed jury instructions, including an instruction on the doctrine of negligence per se. The case proceeded to trial, and before sending the jury back to deliberate, the judge held a charging conference where the judge discussed how he would instruct the jury and hear arguments from counsel about proposed charges.

Evidently, the charging conference was not memorialized. At the conclusion of the conference, the judge determined the instructions would not include the plaintiff’s proposed instruction on negligence per se. The judge asked the parties if they had anything to add, to which the plaintiff’s attorney responded: “I have no issues with the charge, Your Honor.” The jury was instructed accordingly, and then returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.

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In a recent personal injury opinion, a state appellate court rejected a plaintiff’s claim against the defendant landowner that was based on the landowner’s failure to trim trees that the plaintiff claimed blocked the view of oncoming traffic. The case presents an interesting issue for Florida car accident plaintiffs because it illustrates the concept of landowner liability in a Florida personal injury case. Additionally, given the court’s unique concerns that may not apply in Florida, it is possible that the case may have been decided differently by a Florida court.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the case arose from a fatal accident that occurred at a rural intersection of two gravel roads. There were no road signs at the intersection. The plaintiff approached the intersection at the same time as another motorist, and the two vehicles collided.

Evidently, a post-accident investigation by law enforcement determined that neither of the drivers had applied the brakes or attempted to avoid the collision. Also, one law enforcement officer explained that it would have been impossible for the motorists to see the other approaching because the trees on the southeast corner of the intersection obscured the motorists’ vision.

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When a customer consumes food prepared by a restaurant or caterer, the customer is placing a significant amount of trust in those who are preparing the food. However, in many cases each year, diners are made ill by improperly stored or prepared food. These Florida food poisoning cases are brought under the theory of product liability.

In a recent state appellate opinion, a court discussed a caterer’s potential liability in a case brought by a couple who claimed that they suffered food poisoning after consuming food prepared by the defendant caterer. Specifically, the case required the court to determine the burden a food-poisoning plaintiff has to meet to survive a defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were wedding guests who were made ill after consuming food at the wedding rehearsal dinner. The plaintiffs filed a product liability lawsuit against the catering company, seeking compensation for the injuries they sustained. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the food was “defective, pathogen-contaminated, undercooked, and negligently prepared.”

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Although less common than years ago, Florida train accidents still injure a significant number of people each year. In fact, according to the most recent government statistics, there have already been roughly 350 fatalities due to train accidents so far this year.Railroad companies have a duty to ensure that they operate safely. This means that they must ensure that the train and tracks are in good condition, that crossings are well-marked and free of visual obstructions, and that train operators do what they can to avoid accidents. In a recent wrongful death case, a court affirmed a jury verdict in the amount of $10.7 million, based on a railroad company’s failure to take the necessary precautions to avoid an accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s husband and a friend were traveling across a set of railroad tracks when, unbeknownst to them, a train was immediately approaching. The train collided with the vehicle, which was being driven by the plaintiff’s husband, causing it to flip upside down. Both the plaintiff’s husband and the passenger were ejected. The plaintiff’s husband died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. The passenger survived, although he suffered serious injuries.

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