A state appellate court recently issued an opinion stemming from a Florida amusement park injury lawsuit. According to the record, the defendant operates an indoor amusement park that contains trampolines, walls, and zip lines. The plaintiff’s son went to an amusement park with an adult friend of the family. Before entering, the friend signed a “release, assumption of risk, waiver of liability, and indemnification agreement.” The document allowed the friend to “warrant and represent” the document on the minor’s behalf. The boy suffered serious injuries while riding a zipline attraction.

The plaintiff sued the Florida amusement park company, and the company moved to compel arbitration. The defendant contended that the arbitration agreement was valid because the friend had “physical legal custody” of the plaintiff’s son. They argued that any issues surrounding whether the woman had the authority to sign was a matter for arbitration, not trial. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed.

On appeal, the court reviewed several issues, including whether a dispute should go to arbitration. There are three main elements that a Florida court will review when making this determination. First, whether a valid arbitration agreement exists, whether an arbitrable issue exists, and whether the party waived the right to arbitration. In Florida, questions regarding contract formation remain a trial court issue. Further, disputes regarding whether parties entered into a valid arbitration agreement is a contract formation question. In this case, the court found that the defendant failed to acknowledge the distinction between contract validity challenges and contract formation questions.

If an individual suffers injuries because of a defective product, the law allows that individual or their family to bring forth product liability claims against the negligent designer, manufacturer or distributor of the item. Defective product lawsuits involving medical devices tend to be some of the most complex Florida injury lawsuits. These cases often involve the convoluted interplay between medical malpractice and defective medical device claims. Both of these claims can stem from various situations; however, they tend to occur after improper anesthesia administration, injuries occurring at a hospital, and misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. These and other forms of negligence can have life-long debilitating or fatal consequences for a patient and their families.

Effective healthcare relies on sophisticated medical devices that can help medical providers treat patients swiftly and safely. Medical devices can aid medical professionals in diagnosing illnesses, monitoring conditions, treating injuries, and heal diseases. While these cutting-edge tools provide an invaluable asset to both doctors and patients, they are not fool-proof and may cause serious injuries.

Injury victims and their families who wish to recover for injuries resulting from a defective medical device must present compelling factually and legally sound cases to the court. These cases often rely on expert witness testimony. Under Florida’s Daubert standard, a trial judge may qualify an expert as such if they meet specific requirements. The standard allows a qualified expert to testify if they possess the specialized skills, training, or education to assist a fact-finder in understanding a specific fact at issue. The expert’s testimony must be based on requisite facts or data, it must be the product of reliable principles and methods, and the expert must have applied the methods and principles to the facts of the case.

An appeals court recently issued an opinion in medical malpractice cross-appeal involving negligent medical treatment of a passenger on a Florida cruise ship. According to the court’s opinion, a cruise ship passenger awoke with stomach pains on the third day of his trip. After vomiting during dinner, the passenger went to the ship’s medical center. The doctors administered a blood test, x-ray and monitored his heart. They concluded that the passenger was experiencing a heart attack and admitted him to the cruise liner’s intensive care unit. The onboard physicians determined that administering clot-busting medication would be too risky, so they monitored him before porting in Florida, where an ambulance took him to a hospital. The passenger eventually obtained a pacemaker and filed a lawsuit against the cruise liner, alleging medical negligence.

A jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $2,000,000; however, a district court reduced the damages to $1,700,000. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the court erred in excluding expert testimony regarding evidence of the passenger’s loss of earning capacity. The damages expert testified to the plaintiff’s loss of earnings and prepared three models to support his testimony. In response, the defendants argued that the expert was not a vocational expert, and his analysis was based on the plaintiff’s subjective descriptions.

Amongst several issues, the appeals court analyzed whether the lower court erred in excluding the expert’s testimony and granting the defendant’s motion for a directed verdict on the loss of earning capacity. The law allows medical malpractice victims to recover damages against an at-fault party for impaired earning capacity. The compensation is designed to address reductions in a victim’s income stream because of the defendant’s negligence. The judge or jury determines the value of the loss by estimating the loss of work because of the injury, calculating the lost income, adding the total damage, and subtracting that amount to its present value. Moreover, federal rules of evidence require that experts meet specific prerequisites for their testimony to be admissible.

Although there are many dangers a driver must confront in Florida when they operate a vehicle, left turns may be among the riskiest. Because drivers in cars that are turning right only need to focus on the right lane of the crossing route, they process far less information than drivers attempting to make a left turn at a busy intersection. In fact, drivers attempting to make a left-hand turn often process nearly four times as much information as other drivers. This means that the odds are often stacked against drivers when it comes to avoiding accidents while turning left.

According to a recent news report, a fatal left turn car accident left three young children and two adults dead. Based on an accident report from the Florida Highway Patrol, a sedan was attempting to make a left turn when it drove into the path of another vehicle. Both cars overturned and five people from the sedan were ejected from their car. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver was wearing a seat belt and sustained only minor injuries, but authorities reported the accident scene has one of the “most horrific scenes” they had experienced in a long time. The crash remains under investigation.

In Florida, similar to other states, there are specific statutes that cover liability when it comes to drivers making left turns that result in car accidents. As a general matter, Florida law states that drivers who intend to make a left turn are expected to approach the intersection from the lane that is farthest to the left as possible. The far lane should be going in the same direction. Once the driver enters the intersection by turning left, they should follow the expected and established lane of travel. When possible, drivers should make their left-hand turns so that they are “to the left of the center of the intersection.”

Florida’s controversial no-fault insurance laws have been at issue for several years. The no-fault framework mandates that motorists carry at least $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage was designed to cover the medical costs of car accident injury victims. The public policy behind this system was to ease the burden on the court system and promote efficient payment. The no-fault system presented several issues to Florida car accident victims, as it placed limitations on how much they could recover from their insurance company. Senate Bill 54 would change the state’s insurance laws, moving away from the no-fault system. Proponents of the bill argue that the no-fault system is antiquated and does not effectively meet the needs of accident victims.

Lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 54 (SB 54) in a bipartisan effort to address the no-fault system’s many flaws. The bill would address rising healthcare costs and impute liability on the party that caused the accident, instead of placing the burden on the accident victim. Under SB 54, motorists will no longer need to purchase PIP coverage, and instead will need to carry bodily injury (BI) protection. BI coverage provides critical coverage in situations where an accident results in serious injuries and hefty medical expenses. This coverage will allow claimants to pursue damages for medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, out-of-pocket losses, and most importantly, pain and suffering.

Critics of the no-fault system cite widespread fraud and inequities within the current system. They argue that the system forces older adults on Medicare and people with health insurance to purchase unnecessary costly insurance. Further, motorists who maintain bodily injury coverage are covering the costs to bail out irresponsible motorists. Finally, the coverage limit has not been updated in decades and rarely meets a victim’s needs. Many believe that the changes will reduce insurance costs and provide more options to meet a motorist’s specific needs.

In a simple dispute between two parties, one imagines that they go through one trial, the jury or judge considers the issues, and a decision is rendered. Not all cases, however, are this simple. When different types of damages determinations are involved, for example, court procedures can change in the course of a lawsuit. In a recent Florida district court of appeal decision, the court had to consider such an issue. The plaintiff was stopped at a red light when he was rear-ended by the defendant. Following the collision, the plaintiff sued the defendant for compensatory damages. The plaintiff also sued for punitive damages because the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Before trial, the parties agreed that if the plaintiff was awarded compensatory damages, then he would also be entitled to punitive damages. During the trial, the plaintiff introduced evidence of the defendant’s intoxication, which was irrelevant to the determination of compensatory damages. The jury awarded the plaintiff significant compensatory and punitive damages following trial.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the lower court should not have allowed the plaintiff to introduce evidence of intoxication during the trial, and the court agreed and sided with the defendant. According to the court, when considering compensatory damages during the trial, the jury was not supposed to factor in whether or not the defendant was intoxicated because the parties had agreed prior to trial that punitive damages would be available only if the plaintiff received compensatory damages first. Thus, the evidence of intoxication unduly influenced the jury to take it into consideration when awarding compensatory damages and resulted in a larger award.

In Florida, bifurcation, or a judge’s ability to divide a trial into two parts to render a decision on two separate legal issues, is proper when compensatory and punitive damages are both considered in a case. For example, in a case such as this one, punitive damages were only available because the defendant was intoxicated, but the plaintiff would only be eligible for them if he was awarded compensatory damages first. The defendant claimed the introduction of the evidence unfairly influenced the jury’s ability to fairly determine compensatory damages and should have been reserved for a separate trial phase.

Florida’s sunny and year-round temperate weather makes the state a popular hub for motorcyclists. The state has many residents and out-of-state visitors who pursue their passion for riding motorcycles; in fact, the state holds some of the country’s largest biking events. Despite the prevalence of bikers, many are not aware of their rights and remedies if they suffer injuries in a Florida motorcycle accident. Moreover, the law protects motorcycle passenger victims as well.

Many motorcyclists face undue biases when attempting to recover damages from a negligent motorist or through an insurance claim. However, under Florida Statutes section 316.208, motorcyclists maintain the same duties and rights as any other motorist. However, it is essential to note that the law distinguishes bikers and moped drivers.

Motorcyclists must abide by the applicable rules and regulations regarding their vehicle’s operation. First, the law requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet and ensure that their vehicle has specific safety equipment. Some of the required safety equipment includes, stop lamps, turn signals, headlights, and level handlebars. Additionally, motorcycle operators must obey protective gear requirements. Under these safety rules, bikers must maintain an active and valid motorcycle license, wear helmets if they are under 21-years-old, and wear approved eye protection.

When a plaintiff files a lawsuit in Florida, often the dispute can be resolved before the case ever makes it to trial. Although there are various points where the issue may be resolved before going to trial, a motion for summary judgment is one of the most common ways to get a court to enter a judgment in your favor, avoiding the need to battle it out with the other party through an expensive and stressful trial.

In a recent Supreme Court of Florida decision, the court examined the role of video evidence in light of a summary judgment motion. Following a fatal rear-end car accident, the estate of the deceased sued the other party. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants after video evidence from the vehicle’s forward-facing dashboard camera contradicted the estate of the deceased’s version of events. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s summary judgment ruling, claiming that the lower court had improperly weighed the video evidence in light of all of the facts of the case.

On appeal before the Florida Supreme Court, the court affirmed the appellate court’s decision to reverse summary judgment. Because the appellate court understood that summary judgment should not be granted in instances where evidence or the record raises even the slightest doubt that a dispute could be had over issues in the case, the Florida Supreme Court felt the appellate court considered the issue properly.

In Florida, like many other states, the legal doctrine known as res ipsa loquitur exists as a claim that can be brought against defendants in civil tort related cases. Typically, the claim is advanced when a party argues that the court can infer negligence from the accident or injury that occurred even in the absence of direct evidence. In other words, res ipsa loquitur is typically brought when the nature of how an accident or injury came about is so obviously negligent that the court does not require additional direct evidence on how a defendant behaved to assign liability.

In a recent Florida district court of appeal opinion, the court considered whether the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied to a personal injury case. An attorney brought a premises liability case on behalf of his client, who was being held at a local county jail when she was injured by an interior gate that closed on her unexpectedly. At trial, the defendant argued that the officer who controlled the gate and the jail did not act negligently, but instead a sensor was tripped, or there was a malfunction, which caused the accident. However, the attorney presented testimony from jail staff explaining that the jail gates operated manually and were controlled by an officer, but did not present evidence explaining whether a malfunction could cause the gate to close unexpectedly. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff with a res ipsa loquitur instruction, and the defendant appealed.

On appeal, the court sided with the defendant and reversed and remanded the case for further consideration. Because the plaintiff failed to prove that negligence by the defendant was the probable cause of her injuries, the court could not apply res ipsa loquitur to the present case. Although the plaintiff offered some evidence on how the gate was intended to operate, the lack of expert testimony on how the gate actually worked at the time of the incident or whether a malfunction could have caused an accident absent negligence meant that the plaintiff failed to meet the burden of proof necessary for the court to apply res ipsa loquitur.

When it comes to civil claims, every state has slightly different laws addressing these lawsuits. In many personal injury claims, when the at-fault party does something negligently and causes injury to another party, the injured party can often seek damages through a Florida personal injury lawsuit.

Florida, like several other states, uses comparative negligence laws to determine liability. Under general comparative negligence laws, both parties in a lawsuit could potentially be at fault if they each contributed to the injuries or damages that are in dispute. Under Florida law, courts apply pure comparative negligence laws. These laws are a bit more flexible and can allow even at-fault parties to claim some amount of compensation.

To illustrate Florida’s pure comparative negligence standard, consider this example: a man is speeding and crashes into another car on the road, and the other driver suffers significant injuries. The driver who was hit, however, was distracted while driving because he was checking his phone. If the injured party decides to bring a personal injury claim to recover damages from his injuries following the collision, the court may argue that the injured party was also partially responsible for their injuries. This may affect how much the plaintiff is able to collect from the defendant since the accident may not have occurred if he was not on his phone. If a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for his injuries in the accident, his damages will be reduced. If the plaintiff shared responsibility for causing the collision, this would diminish any economic and non-economic damages proportionate to their level of fault. The plaintiff, however, will not be completely barred from recovering compensation.

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