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Articles Posted in Car Accident

Recently, a state appellate court issued its opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit arising out of fatal injuries a hotel guest suffered after being hit by a car. The record indicates that the injury victim was staying at the hotel when he got into a hotel golf cart and asked a hotel employee to drop him off at a trading post near the hotel. Besides a shuttle service to transport guests across a major highway, the hotel provided guests with a golf cart service for transportation throughout the resort. Hotel protocol provided that golf carts could not be used on public roads, except across a smaller portion of the highway for pick up and drop off on the east side of a major highway. In this case, the hotel employee drove the plaintiff across the smaller highway, and dropped him off at the east entrance to the major highway. As the plaintiff was stepping out of the golf cart, a car struck him.

After filing a negligence lawsuit against the hotel, the plaintiff died, and his case was amended to include a wrongful death claim. The plaintiff’s representative argued that the resort was negligent; however, the defendant claimed that their conduct did not create a foreseeable risk of harm. Further, the defendant argued that they did not breach their duty to the plaintiff, and the danger of stepping out onto a busy highway was open and obvious. The primary issue on appeal was whether the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim.

In Florida, questions concerning whether a defendant owes a duty of care is a question of law. To address this threshold issue, courts will analyze whether the defendant created a “foreseeable zone of risk,” thereby establishing a duty of care to the plaintiff. Generally, Florida negligence law recognizes that in cases where a defendant argues that the danger was within a foreseeable risk zone, they must still establish that they mitigated the risk or took steps to protect others from harm.

When a witness testifies in a Floria personal injury case, they swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” However, if a witness contradicts themselves while on the stand, this can often be grounds for opposing counsel to discredit them and make them seem less believable in the eyes of the jury. A recent case illustrates the importance of maintaining consistency throughout a trial, as well as the boundaries of the attorney-client privilege.

In a recent Florida personal injury case, a plaintiff sued after claiming she had permanent back damage from when the defendant’s vehicle struck her from behind. During the trial, defense counsel argued that while the plaintiff was on the stand she contradicted herself, and used this contradiction to get in evidence that would otherwise have been inadmissible. Specifically, the plaintiff testified that she was referred to a treating chiropractor by the emergency room doctor. However, in reality, it was the plaintiff’s former attorney who referred her to the chiropractor. The defendant used the contradiction to admit evidence that the plaintiff’s former attorney referred her to the chiropractor.

In Florida, the attorney-client privilege protects a party from being required to disclose that her attorney referred her to a physician for treatment. In this case, the plaintiff claimed that defense counsel was not allowed to ask about the referral in front of the jury because it violated attorney-client privilege. However, the court concluded that the defendant’s attorney did not directly ask the plaintiff whether she received the referral from her attorney, but merely drew the inference. While asking the plaintiff about the referral would have been a clear violation of attorney-client privilege, the attorney was allowed to probe into the plaintiff’s contradiction in front of the jury.

When someone is injured in a Florida car accident, determining their insurance coverage and potential recovery amount is essential. However, the process may be more complicated when the at-fault driver does not have insurance. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and insurance stacking can come into play and help pay for accident-related expenses when a person is hit by a driver without insurance. While Florida law allows for insurance stacking after an accident, there are limitations depending on the type of insurance issued and the specifics of the accident.

In Florida, insurance stacking is often used to increase a person’s uninsured motorist coverage by combining the limits of each policy on every car insured. For example, if a motorist has stackable UM coverage on a car for $30,000 and stackable UM coverage on a different car for $60,000, they can stack their coverage limits for a combined coverage of up to $90,000 in case of an accident with an uninsured driver. Stacked UM coverage can be helpful to ensure a person’s full expenses are met, as it provides protection whenever or wherever the insured person is injured by an uninsured motorist.

On the other hand, non-stacked UM coverage does not allow the combination of policies, and the UM coverage is solely for the amount listed on each policy. If a person has a non-stacked policy limit for $30,000 for one vehicle, that is the maximum amount the person could collect after an accident. Because of its limited scope, non-stacked UM coverage is often less expensive.

After the death of a loved one, especially after an unexpected Florida car accident, there is a lot to deal with. A family must manage their grief, make funeral arrangements, as well as deal with their loved one’s medical bills. Because of this, the thought of filing a lawsuit is often the last thing on a family’s mind. However, a wrongful death claim may ease a grieving family’s financial burden and reduce many of the unavoidable stresses associated with a tragic loss.

Woman Killed on Florida Turnpike

Recently, a woman was killed, and several more were injured after a three-car crash on the Florida Turnpike. According to a local news report covering the accident, a van did not slow for traffic and hit the rear end of a car. After the vehicle was struck, it collided with a third vehicle. Unfortunately, an 84-year-old woman was killed while five others, including two young girls, suffered severe injuries.

Although the families of Florida car accident victims cannot have their loved ones back, Florida state law allows them to bring a claim against all responsible parties. The Florida Wrongful Death Act, contained in Florida Statutes section 768.16, enables the family of an accident victim to file civil charges against the responsible parties. To prove liability, the family must prove the death was caused by that person’s wrongful act, negligence, or breach of contract. Thus, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be brought if the deceased could have filed a lawsuit for the injuries he sustained, had he survived.

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shutterstock_719930443-300x200Texting and driving – an epidemic responsible for 1 in 4 car accidents – will officially be classified as a primary traffic offense in Florida starting on July 1, 2019. Prior to the passage of this new law, texting and driving was a secondary offense, meaning you could not be pulled over for it. Now, law enforcement has the power to stop and ticket solely for a texting and driving violation. This new law bans as a primary offense all forms of typing on a wireless device while driving, which includes texting, e-mailing and instant messaging. Using your cell phone to read text messages and e-mails while driving is also prohibited.

Officially codified as an amendment to Florida Statute § 316.305, the new law reads that, “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device…” Florida now joins 44 other states in making texting and driving a primary offense. The law passed through Congress by an overwhelming majority – 108-7 in the House of Representatives and 33-5 in the Senate – before being signed into law by Governor DeSantis.

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shutterstock_604492649-1-300x200With the dawn of the social media age came a burgeoning new field of law. Social media discovery has spawned a rash of appellate decisions covering everything from the discoverability of Facebook posts to the legal significance of emojis. But what happens when a Facebook post could be evidence of a crime?  Does that post get Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination?

The above question was posed to Florida’s Fourth District of Appeal in Wright v. Morsaw, a wrongful death civil case. In Wright, it was alleged that the Defendant was intoxicated when he left a Delray Beach bar. The Defendant was accused of a hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian. After the fatal crash, the Defendant allegedly fled to a friend’s home where he posted about the incident on social media.

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shutterstock_227581717-300x200In the case of  Walerowicz v. Armand-Hosang, the Fourth District Court of Appeal clarified its perspective on two points: 1) what is considered sufficient evidence to prove past medical expenses and 2) how to deal with admission of expert testimony that does not conform to the court’s trial order. In this case, the plaintiff, Mandy Armand-Hosang, sued for permanent bodily injuries she sustained in a car accident. As in most every auto accident case in Florida, Ms. Armand-Hosang, as the plaintiff, had to prove the causation and permanency of the her injuries and reasonableness and necessity of her medical bills. The Fourth District Court of Appeal sided with the plaintiff on both issues, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the plaintiff’s surgeon to testify regarding the causation and permanency of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the plaintiff had met the evidentiary burden to prove the reasonableness and necessity of her past medical expenses.

In many states, all that is required to establish reasonableness and necessity of past medical bills is merely entering the medical bills into evidence. Florida, on the other hand, requires a little more effort—but to what extent? In Walerowicz, to prove reasonableness and necessity, the plaintiff’s attorney relied on the plaintiff’s testimony about her treatment for her accident-related injuries, the treating surgeon’s testimony, and also offered the medical bills into evidence. The defendant argued that the testimony was insufficient to establish reasonableness and necessity because the plaintiff did not associate each specific bill to the injuries sustained in the accident.

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There were nearly 400,000 accidents in the state of Florida in 2016 and 166,000 of them involved injuries. Of those injuries, nearly 22,000 were incapacitating. While there is often clear fault in these tragic circumstances, victims are rarely compensated sufficiently for their suffering.

From working with our clients in Boynton Beach and surrounding areas, we know that these accidents are traumatic and cause financial hardship. Current and future medical bills and loss of wage issues can devastate a family.  We can help.

Six common types of negligent accidents include:

At some point in life, every person surely has received the age-old advice to read a contract before signing it. However, what if you are awoken from a comatose state only to realize that a contingency fee contract with a law firm was executed on your behalf?

On April 4th, 2018, the Fourth District Court of Appeal decided the case of William O’Malley v. The Freeman Law Firm, which serves as a cautionary tale to lawyers who work on contingency fee agreements. In this case, the appellant, William O’Malley, was involved in a horrendous car wreck that left him in a coma for months. During this period, his mother sought representation on his behalf and signed a personal injury contingency fee contract as the personal representative of the Estate of William O’ Malley. Problem: the mother was never actually appointed as personal representative! Moreover, Mr. O’Malley had not executed a power of attorney in favor of his mother, nor had he been declared legally incompetent by a court, which could have led to an appointment of a legal guardian.

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If you have lost a loved one due the negligence of another person, the last thing you need is to be bombarded with questions about the status of your relationship with the deceased. Last month, the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Florida clarified this issue in a written opinion in Domino’s Pizza v. Wiederhold, discussing when a plaintiff qualifies as a “surviving spouse” for a wrongful death lawsuit.

The court explored the tragic case of an engaged couple that married after a disastrously life-altering car accident. The plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle with her then-fiancée, who was forced to swerve into a median when a vehicle owned by a Domino’s franchisee suddenly pulled out in front of them. The car overturned a few times before coming to final rest in a ditch. The accident immediately left the man a quadriplegic, while the woman was unharmed. A month after the accident the man sued Domino’s, the franchisee owner, and the driver of the franchisee’s vehicle. The couple subsequently moved forward with their commitment and married before the man died a year later due to accident-related injuries. After her husband passed away, the woman was substituted as the plaintiff and filed an amended complaint to include a claim for wrongful death damages.

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