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Workers’ compensation claims are meant to provide financial compensation to Florida workers injured on the job without having to go to court. In general, workers are able to receive benefits more quickly and are able to receive benefits without having to prove that the employer was at fault for the accident. But it also limits the amount of compensation some workers may receive, as it is often the only way workers can receive compensation after a work injury—though there are some exceptions. Employers also may deny workers benefits that they are due. In a recent case before a Florida appeals court, the court reversed a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) decision, denying her mental health benefits after a work injury.

The claimant was working in a correctional facility when an inmate placed her in a chokehold, causing her neck and throat injuries. Two weeks later, she was determined to have reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI) for her physical injury and was determined not to have a permanent physical injury. She was also referred for psychiatric and psychological treatment. She was diagnosed with acute stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and continued receiving psychological and psychiatric treatment. However, six months after she reached physical MMI, the employer stopped paying indemnity benefits, causing her to file a claim for temporary benefits from that point on for her mental injury. The JCC found that temporary indemnity benefits for mental injuries are only available for six months after a claimant reaches physical MMI, and precluded her benefits beyond that point. The JCC held that section 440.093(3) precluded her from receiving the benefits because more than six months had passed since she had reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI) for her physical injury.

The Florida appeals court reversed the JCC’s decision. The court explained that the six-month limit for temporary benefits does apply in cases where the claimant reaches physical MMI and the six-month limit on temporary benefits commences from the time a claimant reaches physical MMI. However, the court held that according to Florida law, the six-month limit did not apply to the claimant because she had not received any permanent impairment benefits. The court explained that the statute only applies to claimants who are receiving impairment benefits. Therefore, the claimant was entitled to the benefits. Thus, the appeals court found the JCC committed an error and reversed the decision denying her benefits for her mental injury.

Tour companies frequently utilize buses, trolleys, and bikes to attract customers to their guided tours. While tour buses and trolleys are a great way to see interesting sights and attractions throughout South Florida, they are often more susceptible to accidents and serious injuries. Florida tour buses often make frequent stops to show passengers specific sites. These stops can cause other drivers to make sudden stops or try to pass the tour bus. Moreover, many tour buses and trolleys do not have safety belts or require their passengers to use them. This can lead to more severe injuries and even death. Those who suffer injuries after riding on a Florida tour bus or trolley should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

In some cases, tour bus accidents are unavoidable; however, they usually involve some element of negligence. After an accident, the company, the driver, or another entity may be liable to the injury victims. The law does not impose liability on a tour bus company for the mere fact that a passenger suffered injuries. Instead, recovering compensation requires the victim to prove that the company failed to take sufficient steps to protect their customers.

Courts will look to whether the tour bus company took reasonable measures to ensure the safety of their passengers. This includes evaluating whether the company inspected the vehicle, made repairs, trained their drivers, and followed traffic rules. Companies that shirk their responsibility may be held liable for any accidents and ensuing injuries.

When most people visit a hotel, their main goal is to relax and unwind. They do not expect to be injured simply by walking about in their room. But unfortunately, hotels are one of the most common locations of Florida slip-and-fall accidents.

Of course, when hotels are sued, they come to court armed with a large corporate legal team. This reality can turn slip-and-fall cases into an uphill climb for injured guests. Working with a law firm with a proven track record in slip-and-fall cases can help increase the odds of winning your case.

A recent court decision demonstrated just how difficult it can be to win these cases in Florida.

Personal Watercrafts (PWC) such as Jet Skis, WaveRunners, and Sea-Doos, are popular on Florida’s vast coastline. However, according to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Florida PWC riders and passengers have a higher collision rate than almost any other type of watercraft. PWC accidents occur for various reasons, including operator inexperience, excessive risk-taking, and noncompliance with water safety rules.

Inexperienced operators and passengers are one of the leading causes of PWC accidents in Florida. According to the USCG, the majority of accidents involve operators between the ages of 11 to 20. Only approximately 18% of the accident claims involved owners, meaning that most injury victims do not involve an owner but instead friends or family members. Although some newer PWC models have special settings for new riders that limit the power output, many models do not have this safety function. Moreover, the USCG and National Transportation Safety Board report that over 80% of PWC accidents occur less than an hour into a ride. Nearly half of PWC injury victims reported never operating a device before the accident. As such, the majority of PWC accidents involve young, inexperienced, non-owner operators.

In addition, to rider inexperience, accident claims reveal that over 70% of PWC collisions involve another vessel, usually other PWCs. Inexperienced riders are often unfamiliar with how to control their speed and judge appropriate stopping distances. Even those who are familiar with boats and motorcycles have trouble handling PWCs. For instance, PWC’s do not have traditional brakes and can take over 300 feet to stop when the device is going around 60 mph.

A lot of legal jargon sounds as foreign as it is. In the case of “forum non-conveniens,” however, the meaning is much like it sounds. A tactical strategy to avoid litigation, the concept of forum non-conveniens allows defendants to argue that the case against them should be dismissed because the court—or “forum”—where the suit was brought is inconvenient for them.

In the past, big companies defending suits against accident victims have gotten cases dismissed on the ground of forum non-conveniens. The results can be alarming and unfair. Lacking the same resources as the typical corporation, the average accident victim—perhaps still recovering from her injuries—is often unable to bring the case in the court the company says is convenient for them. For example, for obvious reasons, a Florida resident taking on a chain retailer probably would not want to bring her case in Alaska.

In a decision earlier this month, a Florida appellate court denied a large health care company’s attempt to squash a lawsuit through forum non-conveniens. A man had sued the company several years earlier, claiming that the company’s allegedly defective medical device had injured him.

Vicarious liability, or liability imputed to another party based on its relationship to the wrongful actor, can provide another avenue for a Florida injury victim to seek compensation. A recent decision from a federal appeals court illustrated an important difference between claims based on direct liability versus vicarious liability.

In the decision, issued by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in an appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the court described the facts giving rise to the case, which took place on a cruise ship. During a ten-day cruise, a passenger fell during a dance competition on the cruise ship. The passenger claimed that her partner in the dance competition, who was a cruise ship employee, released her hands as she leaned away while doing a dance move. She claimed that as a result, she fell backward and hit her head on the deck. She was later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury because of the fall. The passenger sued the ship’s owner for negligence, alleging in part that the employee failed to act in a way that would keep the passenger safe. A federal district court originally found that the shipowner was not liable to the passenger because it did not show that the owner had notice of the employee’s allegedly negligent dancing before her injury.

However, the appeals court held that under maritime negligence law, in a claim of negligence based on vicarious liability (as opposed to direct liability), the shipowner is liable for an employee’s negligence even if the owner is not directly liable for anything that it did or did not do. The court explained that when a shipowner is alleged to be directly liable for a passenger’s injuries, such as negligently failing to properly maintain its premises, the shipowner had to have notice of the risk-creating condition. In contrast, in a negligence claim based on vicarious liability, the plaintiff does not need to prove the shipowner had notice.

While walking is an excellent way for people to get around while improving their health, it also poses many dangers, especially in South Florida. According to a recent report by a pedestrian-safety organization, Florida ranks as the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians. South Florida, in particular, ranks as the 13th most dangerous region. The agency uses its Pedestrian Death Index (PDI) to rank states and metro areas. The PDI utilizes risk by calculating the number of people hit and killed by motorists while walking. Even when pedestrian accidents don’t result in fatal injuries, pedestrians tend to face the most serious of injuries after an accident. The most severe injuries include brain trauma, spinal injuries, fractures, lacerations, paralysis, and loss of limbs.

During the last data collecting period, South Florida experienced 1,675 pedestrian deaths, about 2.8 deaths per 100,000 Florida residents. The report revealed that older adults, people of color, and those residing in lower-income neighborhoods had the highest risk of fatal pedestrian accidents. Black residents suffered fatal injuries at a rate over 80% more than White and non-Hispanic residents. Low-income individuals are more likely to suffer fatalities because their neighbors often lack sidewalks and marked crosswalks. Further, older adults may experience serious injuries and fatalities because they often face challenges in sight, hearing, and movement.

Pedestrian accidents in Florida tend to occur more frequently at night and in cities. For instance, recent Jacksonville news reports described a tragic pedestrian accident. The pedestrian was struck by a vehicle around 2:40 a.m. while she was walking northbound on 1-95. A pickup truck hit the woman, and she died at the scene of the accident.

After experiencing an injury because of another’s negligence, an accident victim may be able to collect damages for their losses. Under Florida’s negligence laws, the plaintiff must establish that the at-fault party was responsible for the incident and ensuing injuries. While this may seem straightforward, the law has many nuances that make recovery challenging for many Florida accident victims. Injury plaintiffs must meet the four primary prongs of a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages successfully. In addition, they must be able to overcome any defenses the at-fault party poses.

Broadly speaking, a defendant may be liable for negligence if they failed to use reasonable care. Reasonable care is that which a similarly situated person would use under the same circumstances. Negligence may include the failure to do something that a reasonable person would do or doing something that a reasonable person would not do. The four elements of a Florida negligence lawsuit include establishing that the defendant owed the victim a duty, they breached that duty, that breach was the cause of the plaintiff’s harm, and the plaintiff suffered compensable losses. Defendants can refute any part of a plaintiff’s claim, and if they are successful, the claim will fail. As such, it is vital that claimants contact an attorney to ensure that all elements of their claim are met.

The most critical inquiry in these cases is whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. In Florida, the duty of care is the other party’s legal responsibility to the injury victim. A person’s duty of care depends on many factors, including their age and relationship status to the victim. For instance, there are different duties of care for private citizens and their actions towards one another instead of the professional duty of care a medical provider has towards their patient. While a private citizen maintains a duty to drive safely and obey traffic rules, a nurse or doctor has a stricter duty of care to those they are treating than the average person. Similarly, the duty changes when the at-fault party is a business owner.

With more than 500 motor vehicle accidents occurring each day in Florida, these accidents make up the largest source of personal injury claims in the state. Last month, a tragic two-car accident killed a 13-year-old girl and one adult. Four others were injured in the fiery crash.

According to reports, the accident occurred when the driver of a pickup truck traveling eastbound in Volusia County failed to slow down while approaching an SUV traveling in front of him. The truck struck the SUV, which then flipped and exited the roadway before hitting a tree, where it caught fire.

The driver of the pickup truck and a 13-year-old passenger in the SUV were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, with four others in the SUV incurring minor injuries.

Public buses provide the public with a necessary form of convenient transportation throughout many cities in Florida. While buses must undergo safety inspections and drivers must complete safety training, these vehicles are often involved in serious accidents. Filing a lawsuit against a city bus in Florida can present challenges to injury victims and their families. The state maintains specific laws that apply to lawsuits against public and governmental entities. An experienced Florida personal injury attorney can help accident survivors and their family members understand their rights to financial recovery.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compiles statistics regarding the rate of bus accidents in the state. According to their most recent reports, every year, nearly 63,000 accidents involve buses. Approximately 13% of fatal bus accidents involve intercity buses, 40% involve school buses, and 35% involve transit buses. For instance, local news sources reported that a Volusia County, Florida County employee suffered fatal injuries in an accident between a Voltran bus and a County pickup truck. Officials explained that the victim was driving a county vehicle when he hit the bus. The Highway Patrol stated that a preliminary investigation revealed that the bus was preparing to let passengers off the bus moments before the collision. In addition to the County driver, 14 of the 15 passengers aboard the bus were taken to local hospitals for injuries.

FMSCA reports that the leading causes of bus accidents involve:

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