Child Hotel Injury Lawsuit Will Proceed to Trial

November 25, 2014

A five-year-old child vacationing with his family suffers a serious fall from a hotel window, causing him to incur critical, debilitating injuries, including brain trauma.

Who is responsible?

A California appellate court recently granted the family the right to present a case at trial that the hotel was responsible for negligence and failing to address a known dangerous condition on its property. This was a reversal of an earlier trial court summary judgment favoring defendants, who argued they had no duty of care to the child and the accident was caused by parents' failure to supervise, rather than its own failure to install a fall prevention device on the window.

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South Florida Airbag Injury Claim Filed Amid Huge Recall

November 15, 2014

As the international recall on Japanese-made Takata airbags widens, a Miami-Dade woman has filed her own lawsuit, alleging defective airbags left her with lifelong scarring - and nearly killed her.
It's true there is rarely such thing as a "normal" accident. After all, crashes are rarely anticipated, and the unexpected is what often makes the situation so bad. But we expect in these situations that airbags, upon impact, will protect us.

What regulators are now finding is that in an increasing number of cases, defective airbags in fact made the situation far worse.

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Auto Owners Ins. Co. v. Foster - Vehicle Ownership Key in Injury Action

November 5, 2014

The determination of who owns a vehicle and/or who has permission to drive it is a key in the wake of a crash.

Answers to those questions will help your attorney figure out which insurance claims to pursue and what kind of coverage to which you may be entitled.

Often, the answers to these questions are relatively easy. Other times, they can be far more complex. An example of the latter was seen recently in the Indiana Court of Appeals case of Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Foster.

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Curtis v. Lemna - Golf Injury Work-Related, Co-Worker Lawsuit Barred

October 30, 2014

A state supreme court decision in Arkansas underscores a fact that injured workers in many states come to find out: Injury lawsuits against co-workers are generally barred unless there is some evidence the action was intentional or outside the scope of employment.

That means the primary question is whether the incident was work-related. For example, if a co-worker physically attacks you, he was almost certainly not acting within the scope of employment, and therefore the victim would have grounds to file a third-party injury lawsuit, in addition to seeking workers' compensation benefits. However, if he negligently crashes a motor vehicle while the two of you are on your way to a mid-day conference, this would likely be considered an action within the scope of employment. That means workers' compensation would probably be your sole remedy for compensation from your employer, though it's always best to consult first with an attorney to explore all options as a lawsuit against the other driver or even against your own insurance company may be warranted.

In the case of Curtis v. Lemna, the high court found a corporate executive who crashed a golf cart during a game played as part of a sales meeting was immune from liability for injuries to a fellow executive because he was acting within the scope of his employment.

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Bufkin v. Felipe's - Pedestrian Injury Claim Countered by Open Obvious Doctrine

October 20, 2014

A pedestrian was injured by a wrong-way delivery worker bicyclist on a one-way street. The pedestrian was crossing due to construction barriers blocking his path on the sidewalk.
In a lawsuit he filed several months later, plaintiff alleged a large trash bin placed on street-level parking in front of the private building under construction obstructed his view and created an unsafe condition for anyone crossing the street. His lawsuit, Bufkin v. Felipe's Louisiana LLC, named as defendants the employer of the bicyclist, the construction company that had obstructed the sidewalk and the building owner.

The construction company sought summary judgment from the trial court, contending the trash bin wasn't unreasonably dangerous and the potential danger was open and obvious to any who encountered it. The trial court denied this request, but the Louisiana Supreme Court later reversed.

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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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