Major v. City of Hartville - Constructive Notice in Premises Liability Lawsuit

October 13, 2014

In order to sue a business or municipality for failing to address a trip-and-fall hazard, a plaintiff must first show defendant knew or should have known about the danger. If there is proof the defendant knew, that's called "actual knowledge." When the evidence shows instead the defendant should have known about it, this is called "constructive knowledge."
The latter can be established with circumstantial evidence, showing for example the condition was recurring or that it would have been discovered had defendant exercised reasonable care. If a plaintiff can't prove some form of knowledge of the danger by the defendant, he or she will have no case. It's a critical element of any premises liability lawsuit, and an experienced attorney can help determine whether there is a strong basis to prove it in your case.

It was central to the recent claim of Major v. City of Hartville, weighed by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

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Safeco Insurance Co. v. Beare - Bad Faith Claim Properly Abated, Not Dismissed

October 2, 2014

In most bad faith claims against auto insurers, the "bad faith" lawsuit is filed separately from the liability portion, lest it be deemed premature and dismissed.

However, in the recent case of Safeco Insurance Co. v. Beare, plaintiff counsel amended the original third-party complaint alleging liability for a crash to include her own insurer as a defendant for failure to pay uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits.

Injury attorneys are more frequently employing this strategy, as it saves plaintiffs the trouble of having to refile the case. The recent decision in Beare, handed down by Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal, allows that unripe bad faith claims can simply be abated (rather than dismissed) until the outcome of the liability action is determined.

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Gallon v. GEICO - Negligent Misrepresentation Claim to Proceed

September 24, 2014

An allegedly false statement by an auto insurance agent regarding stacked underinsured motorist (UM) coverage is at the center of a personal injury case before Florida's Second District Court of Appeal. carcrash4.jpg

Although other elements of the claim have been dismissed and affirmed on appeal, allowed to proceed is the question of whether this misrepresentation should mean the insured's injured son is entitled to double the UM coverage stated in the policy.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know issues of negligent misrepresentation are generally rare in these cases, so it will be interesting to see what ultimate conclusion is reached. If nothing else, the case of Gallon v. GEICO illustrates why it's not uncommon to need an attorney when dealing with auto insurance companies.

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GEICO v. Rodriguez - Insurer Must Pay Sanctions for False Testimony of Insured

September 17, 2014

A Florida appellate court has ruled an auto insurance company for an elderly man who lied about his competency as a driver in deposition testimony following a crash will have to pay sanctions imposed by the trial court for those misrepresentations.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident injury lawyers understand this might not have been the case had the insurer acted more expeditiously in its response to the revelation the driver had lied.

According to court records in GEICO v. Rodriguez, the 83-year-old insured had his auto insurance renewed in November 2005. The policy allowed for a bodily injury coverage limit of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per occurrence (which is the bare minimum coverage). The policy additionally allowed for the insurance company to pay all defense costs in the event of a covered crash.

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Challenging Florida Auto Insurance Step-Down Provisions

September 5, 2014

One of the many ways car insurance companies seek to limit the amount they have to pay in claims is with fine print that includes so-called "step-down provisions." These are clauses that limit the amount of money available to be paid in certain circumstances.

While the language may vary from policy to policy, in a family step-down provision, the insurance company will limit the amount payable to the insured's family members. These would be individuals who would otherwise be covered, but because of their familial relationship to the policy holder, can only receive the state's statutory minimum in personal injury protection. It's essentially a "step down" from what they would otherwise receive.

So for example, a child injured due to his father's negligent operation of a vehicle would only be able to collect a maximum of $10,000 in damages, even if his parent had an auto insurance policy that he believed covered the child for up to $100,000. The insurer would cite the family step-down exclusion.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know Florida is one of a handful of states that still recognize this provision as not running contrary to public policy (that is, against the public good). So long as the policy language isn't ambiguous, it's likely the family step-down provision will be upheld. However, recent case law in other jurisdictions indicates there could soon be a shift in the legal landscape.

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Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyers: Safe Labor Day Travel 2014

August 28, 2014

The long Labor Day weekend is synonymous with outdoor barbeques, beaches, boats - and an uptick in fatalities attributed to drunken driving and impaired boating.
Without fail, our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers have noted there are always revelers who will take it too far. We might expect a higher-than-usual number of injuries and fatalities, given the reduced price of gasoline this summer. That means more people will be taking longer trips, and boaters will be out on the water for longer.

As they have always done this time of year, law enforcement will be heavily patrolling the roadways, on the lookout for drivers who are impaired or otherwise acting aggressively or recklessly. And as usual, they will be patrolling the waterways as well. However, the enforcement on the latter front may be a bit heavier than in years' past, in light of the horrific Fourth of July boating crash that killed four people and injured several others on the Biscayne Bay. Officials are desperate to avoid a repeat.

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Carman v. Tinkes - Comparative Fault Can Harm a Personal Injury Case

August 25, 2014

In personal injury cases, plaintiff's degree of fault in the incident can impact the size of damages awarded and, in some states, preclude an injured party from receiving anything at all.
Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know Florida follows the pure comparative negligence model. It's one of the models that most favors injured parties, and holds that even when a plaintiff is at fault to some degree, he or she can still recover damages, minus the degree of fault. So if the defendant driver is found to be 65 percent at fault for the crash and the plaintiff 35 percent, the plaintiff will only be allowed to collect 65 percent of the damages claimed.

Determining the degree of fault of a defendant is a question for the jury, and one reason why it's important to have an experienced lawyer to litigate your case.

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Child School Injuries a Concern as Classes Resume

August 8, 2014

A Florida mother has filed a lawsuit against her daughter's former charter school as well as the maker of an inflatable "Sumo wrestling" suit, alleging that a "Spirit Day" activity went horribly wrong when the school failed to make sure the girl's helmet fit properly, and the manufacturer failed to warn of possible danger.

As a result, her family said the girl's head hit the ground repeatedly, causing her to suffer traumatic brain injury that has resulted in dramatic personality changes, regression in the ability to communicate, blurred vision, headaches and severe anxiety.

Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys know that in preparing children for back-to-school, parents must recognize a significant number of injuries to children occur while at school or while students are engaged in school-related activities or events. Some of these cases may be compensable, depending on the level of control the school had over the student at the time of the incident, and whether school administrators and staffers might have reasonably foreseen the risk of injury.

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Compulsory Medical Exams at Issue in Florida Personal Injury Cases

August 1, 2014

In many Florida personal injury cases, either side may request a plaintiff undergo a compulsory medical exam. This is a medical exam conducted to establish or refute arguments made by the opposing side.

Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers know that while courts often grant these requests, they are not permitted to do so unless good cause has been shown and the parameters are clearly outlined. The exam has to involve a matter that is "in controversy" in the case. That is, it involves a key point that is critical to the requesting side's position.

This issue was recently before two separate appellate courts in different cases, with one court denying the request and another choosing to narrow it significantly.

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3rd DCA Denies Vicarious Liability for Those Aiding in Defense

July 24, 2014

Florida tends to have broad interpretation with regard to vicarious liability in car accident cases. That is, while third parties generally aren't liable for the actions of someone else, Florida's dangerous instrumentality doctrine provides that a vehicle is an inherently dangerous tool. Therefore, vehicle owners in Florida are subject to liability anytime that vehicle, driven negligently by a third party with the owner's knowledge and consent, is involved in a serious crash.

However, Florida's Third District Court of Appeal in Miccosukee Tribe v. Bermudez recently declined to extend this kind of vicarious liability to individuals who aid in a legal defense. The argument in favor of extending liability was based on case law that pertained largely to attorney's fees, the court found, and could not be used as a basis to require a third party to pay for damages incurred by another person or entity.

Our car accident attorneys in Fort Lauderdale recognize this ruling limits the circumstances under which plaintiffs can pursue other parties for injury compensation. However, the overall impact is likely minimal, as the case involved a series of special circumstances.

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Force v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. - Rightful Claimants in Wrongful Death

July 18, 2014

The untimely death of a father in a traffic crash, leaving behind three young children, gave rise to a wrongful death claim that insurers sought to deny. The defendants (the at-fault drivers and two insurers) argued the children had no right to make a claim because the man's long-estranged wife had been denied compensation, and therefore the children (from another union) were not entitled to a set-aside from her.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in weighing the case of Force v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., found this to be a serious misinterpretation of the law, bordering on "absurd."

Our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers know that while there are statutory hurdles to making such a claim, courts are still inclined to make such decisions on a case-by-case basis. This is important, considering that families today don't always follow the traditional nuclear model upon which legal theory is often based.

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S. Shore Baseball, LLC v. DeJesus - Sports Stadium Injury Claims Tough to Establish

July 15, 2014

While tens of millions of Americans attend professional sporting events every year, a fair number of them will be injured.

These injuries range from third-party criminal attacks by other fans to being struck by hockey pucks and even getting hit with hot dogs.

Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers know that precedent set in most courts holds that a lot of times, these injuries are the manifestation of an assumed risk fans take when attending such events. In many cases, this warning regarding "inherent risk" is even printed on the back of the ticket.

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