Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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The ultimate question in Florida premises liability lawsuits is whether the defendant landowner was negligent in the maintenance of their property. In order to determine if a landowner is legally negligent, courts consider a variety of factors, including the relationship between the parties, the level of duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff, the type of hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries, whether the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard, and whether the hazard was obvious to the plaintiff.

Each of these factors can come into play when a court is determining if the defendant landowner was negligent. In Florida, even if a plaintiff shares in the fault, the case will proceed to trial so long as the evidence suggests that defendant was also negligent.

That being said, plaintiffs have the burden to establish that their case is sufficient as a matter of law before the case is sent to a jury for resolution. In order to meet this burden, a plaintiff must present evidence of each element of their claim. If a plaintiff cannot prevail at a trial based on a lack of evidence regarding a required element, then the court will dismiss the plaintiff’s case. A recent case illustrates one plaintiff’s unsuccessful attempt to establish her case against a fast-food restaurant.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida pedestrian accident case involving the duty a defendant employer owes to a plaintiff employee. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the outer limits of an employer’s duty to protect an employee. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant employer owed no duty to the employee, and thus, could not be held liable for her death.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for the defendant employer, a financial services firm. The defendant maintained a bar on-site to encourage employees to socialize and stay at work longer than they may otherwise have chosen to. One day, the plaintiff visited the defendant’s bar after work. After a few drinks, the plaintiff began to get agitated at other employees, and she was eventually told to leave and subsequently escorted out. Her access into the building was revoked.

The plaintiff then began to walk toward her home, which was ten miles away. She was walking along a set of railroad tracks when she was struck by an oncoming train. She was killed instantly.

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When someone is injured due to the negligent actions of another party, the injured party may pursue compensation for their injuries through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. As a general matter, all lawsuits based on some type of injury must be filed by a certain time afterward, usually based on the time at which the injury occurred. These time requirements are outlined in the statutes of limitations.In Florida, the statutes of limitations for each cause of action are listed in Florida Statutes section 95.11. As a general matter, the statute of limitations for Florida personal injury lawsuits is four years. The statute of limitations for Florida medical malpractice lawsuits is two years. Of course, there are exceptions to these general rules.

The determination of when a statute of limitations expires is an important one in many Florida personal injury lawsuits. Thus, establishing when the statute begins is very important. As noted above, most of the time, the statute of limitations begins to run at the time the injury occurs. However, in instances in which an injury is not discovered until later, in which the plaintiff is a minor, or in which fraud or deception is involved, the statute of limitations may begin at a later date.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion dismissing a plaintiff’s complaint against the defendant, based on the fact that the plaintiff concealed prior injuries that he had suffered. The case is important for Florida car accident victims because it illustrates the importance of being truthful in all statements to the court.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident that he alleged was caused by the defendant. After the accident, the plaintiff claimed that he suffered injuries to his head, lower back, and shoulder. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for his injuries.

The case proceeded to the discovery phase, at which the parties were to exchange relevant requested information. As a part of discovery, the plaintiff was asked about his prior medical conditions in a set of written questions. In these questions, the plaintiff indicated that he had no prior back, neck, or shoulder injuries. However, when the defendant asked the plaintiff to sign a release to obtain his medical records, the plaintiff refused.

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