The judge’s primary function in a Florida personal injury case is to make sure that the trial follows all of the applicable rules, both substantive and procedural. One of the most important tasks a judge performs is determining which evidence is admissible and may be considered by the jury. Indeed, in many cases, powerful evidence that could change the outcome of a case is not admitted for a variety of reasons.

MotorcycleEvidentiary issues are normally handled in pre-trial motions, before the jury is empaneled. This way, the jury is not at risk of hearing any of the contested evidence, should the judge determine that it is not admissible. These pre-trial motion hearings can be critical to a Florida personal injury case, since they often determine the path a case will take. For example, if a plaintiff is able to get a pre-trial ruling admitting favorable evidence, the defense may consider settling the case rather than taking the chance of proceeding to trial.

In a recent Florida appellate opinion, the court discussed which evidence should have been admitted in a car accident case.

Continue reading →

Florida personal injury cases are routinely decided by a jury, unless both parties agree that a judge should hear the case. When a jury is empaneled, it should be representative of the community where the case will be heard. Almost always, juries consist of laypeople, meaning that the individual jurors have not been schooled on the law or how it applies to a given case. The judge’s job is to assist the jury by providing instructions on what the ultimate question in the case is and what the jurors should consider in making their determination.

Car AccidentIn some Florida personal injury cases, confusing scientific or medical issues arise. In such cases, an expert witness may be required to explain to the jury certain principles or concepts. An expert witness is usually a professional in the field at issue who has specialized knowledge through experience or education. In many Florida personal injury cases, each side presents their own expert witness in hopes of persuading the jury. There are complex rules regarding the admissibility of expert testimony; however, once testimony is admitted, it is up to the fact-finder to determine how convincing the testimony is. A recent case illustrates the difference between admitting evidence and assigning the evidence weight.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving along the highway, about to pass a Department of Transportation vehicle that was pulled off to the side of the road. As she passed, she heard a loud noise. The next thing she knew, her car was upside down and sliding along the roadway. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, and she filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Department of Transportation, as the employer of the driver who was alleged to have pulled out in front of her.

Continue reading →

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a tragic Florida car accident case that claimed the life of the plaintiff’s pregnant wife. The case involved the question of whether a road-side hotel had a duty to prevent traffic from a nearby road from entering the hotel’s pool area in the event of an out-of-control vehicle. Ultimately, the court concluded that the hotel did not have a duty to prevent this type of accident, and it dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Florida CoastThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and his pregnant wife were sitting poolside under a cabana while staying at the defendant hotel. While the couple was under the cabana, a drunk driver lost control of her vehicle, jumped a curb, and came careening into the hotel’s pool area. The car crashed into the cabana, killing the plaintiff’s wife and injuring the plaintiff.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the driver of the car as well as the hotel. The plaintiff presented evidence that it was common for motorists to speed on the road on which the hotel was located. An engineer testified that, due to a curve in the road, at some point, vehicles traveling along the road are directly facing the pool area. The plaintiff argued that, given these facts, the hotel should have taken additional precautions to prevent this type of accident.

Continue reading →

Most athletes know that playing sports can result in certain types of injuries. Most often, these injuries are muscle sprains or other injuries related to the overuse of specific muscle groups. However, certain sports present a higher risk of serious injuries. In some cases, those who are seriously injured while participating in a sporting activity may be able to seek compensation for their injuries from the organization that oversees the activity. Often, this is either a sports league or a school.

FootballsBoth sports leagues and schools that offer sports programs owe players a duty to ensure that the sporting event is run in a safe manner and that players are appropriately warned of the risks involved with participation. If an organization fails to warn a player who is later injured due to an undisclosed risk, the player may have a case for negligence against the organization.

Prevalence of CTE Among Football Players Much Greater than Originally Thought

Earlier this month, a neuropathological study was released, finding that football players at all levels may be at a greater risk for developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) than previously thought. CTE has frequently been in the news over the past several years, in part due to the lawsuit that several hundred former NFL players and their families have filed against the NFL.

Continue reading →

Claims of medical negligence in Florida are subject to strict rules that, if ignored, may result in a case getting prematurely dismissed before it is ever even heard by a jury. For example, Florida medical malpractice cases must be filed within a certain period of time, as outlined in the relevant statute of limitations. In addition, Florida medical malpractice claims must be accompanied by a pre-suit affidavit filled out by a medical professional, stating that the plaintiff’s case has merit in the professional’s opinion. Also, medical malpractice plaintiffs must take care to adequately allege the specific acts on which they are basing their case. A recent medical malpractice case out of Rhode Island illustrates how a plaintiff’s failure to comply with these procedural rules may result in unfavorable results.

SurgeryThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff – a breast cancer survivor – decided to undergo reconstructive breast surgery. She discussed the idea with the defendant doctor, who explained the risks involved with the procedure. Specifically, due to the radiation that the plaintiff received in her left breast to treat the cancer, she was at an elevated risk of having complications on that breast.

The plaintiff initially agreed to have surgery on both breasts, despite the risks. However, in her complaint, she claims to have changed her mind and have decided to only proceed with the surgery on her right breast. She claims to have let the defendant know of her decision. The defendant’s version of the events is different. He claimed that the plaintiff never changed her mind, or if she did, he was not made aware of her decision to do so.

Continue reading →

Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida personal injury lawsuit brought by a woman who developed lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after smoking cigarettes manufactured by the defendant. The jury was tasked with answering:  “Was [Plaintiff] addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine and, if so, was her addiction a legal cause of her lung cancer and/or COPD?”

Cigarette SmokeDuring the trial, the plaintiff called her treating pulmonologist. The plaintiff’s attorney attempted to ask the pulmonologist if the plaintiff was addicted to cigarettes; however, the defense objected. The court sustained the objection, preventing the pulmonologist from answering the question.

When it was the defendant’s turn to cross-examine the witness, the defense attorney asked the pulmonologist if he thought that the plaintiff would have been able to quit smoking once she was “sufficiently motivated to do so.” The plaintiff objected, but the court overruled the objection, and the pulmonologist was allowed to respond. He agreed that the plaintiff was able to quit when she was sufficiently motivated to do so.

Continue reading →

Florida premises liability lawsuits often hinge on the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendants. This is because any duty that a landowner may owe to a plaintiff depends on the relationship between the parties and the reason why the plaintiff is on the defendant’s property. A recent appellate decision from nearby Georgia illustrates how a plaintiff’s inability to prove that a certain relationship exists between herself and the defendants may be fatal to her claim.

Dangerous StairsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff rented a condo in the defendant’s condominium complex from the condo’s owner. However, the plaintiff did not enter into a formal written lease with the owner of the condo. Instead, the two had an oral agreement.

While the plaintiff was living in the condo, she was bothered by the fact that the staircase leading up to her unit was poorly lit and did not have a handrail. She informed the condominium association that she believed the condition of the stairs was dangerous and requested that the association take action to make the stairs safer. However, the association did nothing.

Continue reading →

Before a doctor is able to perform any kind of non-emergency medical treatment, she must first obtain the patient’s consent. However, since the medical field can be so complex and the stakes so high, courts have held that physicians must do more than simply have a patient check a box indicating consent. Generally speaking, a doctor must fully inform the patient of the risks involved with the procedure in order to obtain informed consent. In Florida medical malpractice cases, if a doctor fails to obtain informed consent, and the patient suffers an injury as a result, the doctor may be liable under a theory of medical battery.

Surgical ErrorFlorida law imposes several requirements that a plaintiff must overcome before establishing liability. For example, even if the doctor failed to obtain informed consent, if the medical procedure was one that a reasonable patient would have consented to undergo, the doctor may not be liable. A recent case from nearby Oklahoma presented an interesting issue for the court to consider:  whether the patient must be informed of who will be assisting during the surgery.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a patient of the defendant doctor. During the course of the plaintiff’s treatment, the defendant recommended that the plaintiff undergo a total laparoscopic hysterectomy. The plaintiff agreed and scheduled the surgery.

Continue reading →

Anyone who has been injured in a South Florida car accident knows how difficult it can be dealing with insurance companies. In many cases, insurance companies will seek out ways to settle claims for as little as possible or deny claims outright. Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving a passenger’s claim against the driver’s uninsured motorist protection policy. The court concluded that the insurance company improperly denied coverage because the woman was “occupying” the vehicle at the time of the accident, and her claim should have been approved.

Rear-EndedThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the passenger in a friend’s car. The two were on their way to the grocery store and had pulled into the parking lot when they began talking in the car. As they were talking, the plaintiff heard a loud bang and turned her head to see that two cars had collided on an adjacent road.

The plaintiff exited her friend’s vehicle and approached the scene of the accident. She walked around the back of one of the vehicles involved in the accident to get its license plate number. As she was looking down at the license plate, another vehicle crashed into one of the cars involved in the initial accident. The plaintiff was struck by one of the cars and was injured as a result.

Continue reading →

Last month, one state’s appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that required the court to determine if the lower court was proper in granting the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. Ultimately, the court concluded that since the plaintiff presented evidence that gave rise to a factual issue regarding the defendant’s potential negligence, the case should have been presented to a jury, rather than being decided by the trial judge.

Slipping HazardThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a tenant in an apartment complex that was owned and operated by the defendant. One winter day, the plaintiff was planning on going to the hardware store with a family member. As he exited his apartment and approached his truck, he slipped on a patch of black ice, falling on his shoulder. The fall resulted in a torn rotator cuff that required surgery to repair.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that the defendant was negligent in maintaining the common areas of the apartment complex. The plaintiff testified that prior to the day of his accident, the defendant had cleared snow from the complex parking lot to an area that was slightly above the level of the parking lot. He explained that the snow melted during the day, resulting in water running onto the parking lot surface that later re-froze as the temperature dropped overnight.

Continue reading →

Contact Information