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Personal Injury & Accident Law Center

Personal Injury and Accident FAQs

Below are some of the most common initial questions our clients have about their personal injury or accident cases. You can use the quick links below to jump to individual categories or search for specific questions in the search box.

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Car Accidents and Injuries (8)

Negligence per se is a special type of negligence wherein the defendant is found negligent as a matter of law because they violated a statute that is designed to protect against the type of accident or harm caused by their actions. This concept is important because proving negligence is a central factor in any accident injury case.

Under normal circumstance, proving negligence requires that your lawyer show four things:

  1. A duty was owed to a plaintiff,
  2. The defendant breached that duty,
  3. The event was a proximate cause of the injury, and
  4. An injury or damage was suffered by the plaintiff.

A defendant who violated a law that was meant to protect the public—e.g. a driver who caused a wreck by running a red light—can be found negligent per se; thus, the injured party can bypass proving the first two elements of regular negligence and skip to showing whether the violation was the “cause in fact” of the plaintiff’s injury.

It is absolutely critical to note that in Florida only violations of non-traffic penal statutes will trigger negligence per se. So, for example, in a drunk driving accident, showing that the driver was drunk would establish negligence pe se, because the law that prohibits drunk driving is a penal statute. However, showing that the driver was speeding (a traffic law violation) may not be sufficient to trigger negligence per se; although, it can still be used as evidence of negligence.

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Drivers and passengers can suffer an array of bodily and emotional injuries ranging from minor aches and pains to life-altering injuries. The most common car accident injuries include:

  1. Neck and Back Injuries: The rapid deceleration and harsh jerks that happen when two cars collide can damage vertebrae, strain ligaments, or herniate discs. One of the most common injuries sustained is whiplash. Minor whiplash can simply cause neck pain and stiffness, but more severe cases can lead to longer-term effects such as blurred vision, headaches, memory problems, and depression.
  2. Head and Brain Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions are caused by the head smashing against a part of the vehicle itself during the wreck. The short-term effects of TBIs include nausea and vomiting, numbness, or blurred vision. But TBI can cause long-term damage too such as chronic headaches, depression, behavioral changes, and seizures. TBI symptoms may take hours or days to fully manifest and the treatment is complicated and costly.
  3. Bone Fractures and Tissue Damage: The sheer force involved in a high-speed collision is enough to fracture bones and tear muscles and ligaments. Serious bone fractures or ligament damages occur more frequently in head-on collisions, sideswipe or “T-bone” crashes, and in high-speed accidents. Multiple or complex fractures, muscle tears, and ligament damage often require surgery and extensive physical therapy, which will be a more significant financial burden on you and your family.
  4. Psychological and Emotional Injuries: Accident victims, especially children and young adults, commonly suffer a range of psychological and emotional damages. In fact, a recent analysis concluded that over 22% of car crash survivors develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These psychological harms are not visible like cuts, and they may take days or weeks to manifest. And you can be sure the insurance company or at-fault driver will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying for such damages!

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There are five critical Florida car accident laws that all drivers should know.

  1. Any driver involved in a car or motor vehicle collision is required by law to stop at the scene of the accident. More importantly, Florida law (§316.065, F.S.) also requires drivers to report the accident to law enforcement if injuries or damages “appear to exceed” $500.
  2. Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state which means drivers who have been in an accident must turn first to their own insurance plans to pay for their repairs and recovery costs—regardless of who is responsible for the accident! These no-fault insurance plans are also referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage. (Please note: Florida’s PIP insurance system is currently in the process of being changed. Stay tuned for how this will impact you.)
  3. Florida’s currently PIP statutes require all drivers to show proof of an auto insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. Again, should a car accident occur, each person would turn to their individual PIP coverage first.
  4. Florida operates according to the principle of “pure comparative fault” for assigning responsibility in an accident. Under this system, both parties in the accident essentially share fault or liability. These percentages of liability will then directly determine the amount of damages recoverable by each party.
  5. In general, the Florida statute of limitations for car, truck, and motorcycle accident cases is four years from the date of the accident. However, the statute of limitations for seeking medical attention is only fourteen days. And PIP will not cover any medical bills if you do not seek treatment within 14 days of the accident.

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Maybe.

Florida’s new Wireless Communications While Driving Law (§316.305, Fl. Stat.), which went into effect in 2020, will likely affect negligence and liability assignments in car and motor vehicle accident claims.

This is because Florida operates according to the principle of comparative liability, which states that both parties in an accident essentially share fault. As such, shifting the liability onto the other driver is important to increase the amount of compensation you can recover. To do that, though, you must prove the defendant acted in a negligent manner.

In particular, the new law includes a provision (F.S. §316.305(3)(d)) stating that cell phone billing records can be used as evidence of negligence in the event of an accident that results in death or personal injury. This provides your personal injury lawyer with another tool to prove the other party’s liability in your car accident case.

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Most car accidents are not “accidents.” Instead they are caused by a range of factors often attributable to another driver’s negligence. If you’ve been in a car accident in Florida, it was likely caused by one of these 6 factors.

  1. Distracted Driving: Distracted driving includes anything that takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or mind off driving. Drivers who engage in these activities are more likely to cause accidents, less likely to avoid them, and can he held liable for damages caused by their negligent behavior.
  2. Aggressive Driving: Excessive speeding, tailgating, quick and unannounced lane changes, “rolling stops,” or just a general disregard for the rules of road and the other drivers are all characteristics of an aggressive driver. This dangerous driving style, together with even minor distractions, can cause tragic accidents.
  3. Drunk or Impaired Driving: Drunk driving is one of the top causes of road fatalities in Florida. But impaired drivers are also very dangerous. Critically, these drivers can be on the road at any hour of the day since many of these drivers are taking doctor-prescribed medications.
  4. Hazardous Roads: Potholes and uneven pavement, poorly designed shoulders or exits, or improperly maintained road safety measures can all contribute to car crashes. In these instances, state and local government entities, property management companies, and private businesses can sometimes be held liable for the damages.
  5. Weather Conditions: Sudden downpours or more violent storms can pass through and create acutely hazardous road conditions. High winds and rain can decrease visibility and control and increase the likelihood of a car accident, especially on crowded highways and interstates.
  6. Improper Vehicle Maintenance: Cars need regular maintenance to ensure they work properly and can be driven safely. Bad brakes, worn down tire treads, or poor windshield wipers, can all contribute to traffic accidents, and drivers can be held liable for accidents caused by their failure to maintain a car’s essential safety measures.

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In July 2019, Florida passed The Wireless Communications While Driving Law (Florida Statutes 316.305), which made texting while driving a primary traffic offense. Law enforcement officers can now pull over and ticket drivers specifically for texting while behind the wheel. Previously, drivers could only be ticketed for texting if they were pulled over for another violation, e.g. speeding.

The primary reason for the new law is to combat distracted driving. The new law specifically prohibits operating a motor vehicle while “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless communications device.” So, “texting” includes email, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media apps.

However, the new law does not apply in two important situations. First, devices used for navigation are exempt from the law, both smartphones and built-in navigation systems. Second, drivers are allowed to text while vehicles are “stationary,” which includes being stopped red lights or stop signs.

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Yes, for two reasons: to protect your health and to protect your legal rights.

  • Health Risks: Self-diagnosing headaches, blurred vision, and other problems as stress induced can be deadly. These various aches and pains can be signs of more serious injuries. You could have a traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, or even internal bleeding that self-diagnosis will miss.
  • Legal Risks: Second, under Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) law (Florida Statute 627.736), you have 14 days to see a doctor after an accident if you want to receive compensation for your medical expenses or other damages. If you do not get medical treatment for your car accident injuries within the 14-day window, the insurance company may deny your accident claim.

Additionally, if you plan on filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in the accident, medical records detailing your injuries, diagnosis, treatment regimen, and medical costs will act as some of the most important forms of evidence in your injury case. All of this will have a significant impact on your ability to collect compensation.

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Maybe.

If you or a family member have been injured in a car accident that was caused by a negligent driver, you are legally allowed to seek financial compensation from the at-fault party. However, injured parties must file a personal injury lawsuit within four years of the date of the accident.

This period is known as the “statutes of limitations,” and it applies to injuries sustained in a range of accidents including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. However, wrongful death plaintiffs only have two years to file a lawsuit in Florida, including accidental deaths due to car, truck, and motorcycle crashes. Because the stakes are so high, it is always in your best interest to speak to a qualified personal injury and accident lawyer as soon as possible.

It’s critical that you be aware of what time limitations apply to your particular case and take the right steps at the right time to successfully recover the compensation you deserve. Failing to file your lawsuit on time could result in your injury claim being rejected by a judge, regardless of the proof you have.

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Commercial Truck Accidents (5)

Despite what you might think based on most lawyer advertisements and billboards, it’s impossible to give exact figures for how much a truck accident victim can recover because each victim’s losses and damages are different and will be determined by the facts of the case. The better question to ask is “what types of damages can I recover?” 

Truck accident victims have the right to sue the at-fault parties for economic (“special”) and non-economic (“general”) damages. Punitive damages could also be on the table in extreme cases, but you should talk to a lawyer to discuss that option.

Economic damages are your compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries you sustained in the truck accident. They include:

  • medical bills,
  • lost wages, or
  • property damage.

Non-economic damages are harder to quantify, and often include future harms or injuries that lack specific “replacement” values. Values are given to these items by their impact on your quality of life:

  • loss of capacity to earn,
  • loss of consortium (companionship or familial love),
  • pain and suffering.

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Determining fault and liability in a car accident is relatively simple. If Dwight rear-ended Andy, Dwight is probably at fault and responsible for Andy’s damages. But liability for damages in a commercial truck accident is much more complex: It could include the driver, the driver’s employer, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, third-party contractors, and the insurance companies who insure each of the aforementioned.

The identification and determination of the liable parties is key because each of them will likely carry separate insurance policies that could potentially all pay out separate amounts. Plus, each of these entities or parties will have to be named separately in the lawsuit.

To make matters more murky, there are national safety regulations that govern trucks and truck drivers, which may impact the various parties’ culpability and liability for your accident. Florida has adopted most of these commercial vehicle safety regulations (F.S. §316.302) as well. This means there are legal nuances at play in a truck accident that make it critical that you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your case who knows these rules and regulations.

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It depends on the cause of the accident.

When Michael runs into Meredith with his car, Michael is at fault and Meredith will bring a personal injury lawsuit against him. But if Michael is driving a semi-truck when a piece of cargo falls off and hits Meredith’s car, the number of different parties potentially responsible for Meredith’s injuries multiplies.

Because each of these parties must be identified, commercial truck accidents are more complicated to pursue than car accidents. To take a simple case, the truck and trailer components of a semi-truck are often owned separately and by corporate entities, not individuals. This results in potentially two separate companies being responsible for your injuries.

Furthermore, you must sue the corporate entities themselves, not someone at the company, and figuring out who and what company or corporation to sue can sometimes be difficult, especially if the trucking company is a nationwide company.

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Regardless of the exact cause of a semi-truck accident, there are six types of accidents that tend to occur more frequently when commercial vehicles are involved.

  1. Jackknifed Trailer: When the coupling, the device that attaches the cab and trailer, fails or when the trailer gets thrown off balance, the trailer can swing out perpendicular to the bed, much like a folding knife. A jackknifing trailer can crash into cars in adjacent lanes and cause widespread damage and injuries.
  2. Runaway Truck: A moving 40-ton semi-truck a lot of momentum. If the driver loses the ability to control or slow the truck, its momentum will carry it down the road demolishing anything in its path. Runaway trucks are more common in mountainous terrain, but they can also happen on flat ground, especially if there are weather hazards such as heavy rains, sand, or rocks.
  3. Rollovers: Semi-trucks have high centers of gravity, which makes them prone to tipping over if drivers take turns or curves at too high a speed. High winds, over corrections, and evasive maneuvers can also lead to rollovers.
  4. Override: A rear-end collision with two cars may only be a minor fender-bender, but when a semi-truck rear-ends a smaller car, the truck may actually drive onto the back of the car. In the worst cases, the truck will crush the rear seats, which is usually deadly for any passengers.
  5. Underride: An underride, the reverse of an override, is when a car crashes into the back of a truck. In such cases, the front ends of smaller vehicles can become wedged underneath the truck’s rear wheels, often killing drivers and front-seat passengers.
  6. Cargo Spill: Commercial vehicles often haul cargo that is as large as the other cars on the road (or the cargo might be actual cars!). If cargo is improperly secured or overloaded, it can fall off of the trailer during transit and cause massive devastation on the road.

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Even though we use the term “accident,” most truck crashes aren’t accidents at all. Rather, driver negligence, equipment malfunction, environmental factors, or a mix of all of three most commonly cause the accident.

“Driver error,” a broad category of actions that are under the direct control of the truck driver, is the leading cause of truck accidents.

  • Distracted driving
  • Tired or fatigued driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Aggressive driving
  • Speeding

On the other hand, occasionally a part of the truck or cargo hold will fail and cause a wreck. These instances may not be attributable directly to driver error, but various parties can still he held negligent for:

  • Manufacturing defects
  • Improper truck maintenance
  • Overloading cargo
  • Improperly securing or loading cargo

The impacts of both driver error and mechanical failures can be exacerbated by weather or road conditions, and they can lead to a number of different types of truck accidents.

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Personal Injury Law (11)

Yes.

Personal Injury & Accident Law Center always provides potential clients with absolutely free consultations. In addition to in-person consults, we offer clients the option to hold their consultation via telephone or video call to give more freedom and flexibility.

If you’ve been the victim of a negligent driver, property owner, medical practitioner, or animal owner, call us now at 561.372.3800 to schedule your free consultation.

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Despite what most lawyer advertisements and billboards lead you to believe, it’s impossible to give exact figures for how much you can recover from an injury. That one accident settled for $400,000 in no way implies that yours will too. The fact of the matter is that each victim’s losses and damages are different, and the total amount recoverable will be determined by the facts of the case.

 The better question is, “What types of damages can I recover?” 

Accident victims have the right to sue the at-fault parties for economic (“special”) damages and non-economic (“general”) damages. Punitive damages could also be on the table in extreme cases.

Economic damages are your compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries you sustained in the accident, including:

  • medical bills,
  • lost wages, or
  • property damage.

Non-economic damages often include future harms or injuries that lack specific “replacement” values. You and your lawyer will assign values to these items by their impact on your quality of life, such as:

  • loss of capacity to earn,
  • loss of consortium (companionship or familial love),
  • pain and suffering.

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An Independent Medical Examination (IME) is a tool that insurance carriers use to examine their own customers that have been injured in an accident to suspend their medical benefits or limit their medical treatment under Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Unfortunately, the examinations are:

  1. obligatory, if the insurance carrier can show that the medical condition is salient to the medical benefits claim, and
  2. rarely “independent” since the physician has been hand-picked by the insurance carrier, who expects the doctor to report back in their favor.

However, the IME physician must have the same licensing as your treating physician (e.g. a neurologist must examine you if you are being treated by a neurologist), the insurance company is required to pay for the IME, and they cannot make you travel unreasonable distances.

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No.

An Independent Medical Examination (IME) is not the same as a Compulsory Medical Examination (CME). An IME is requested by an injured person’s own insurance company to suspend medical benefits or limit medical treatment. A CME, on the other hands, can be requested by either party’s insurance carrier, and they occur after litigation has begun as a means to defeat the lawsuit or mitigate the damages imposed on the at-fault party.

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Yes.

Unfortunately, you are required to attend an Independent Medical Examination in most instances. Your insurance carrier has a fundamental right to an IME to curtail potential fraud. If you refuse to submit to or to attend a lawfully granted IME, the insurance company will cite it as an “unreasonable refusal” and you will be deemed to have breached the insurance policy. Breaching the contract could release the insurance carrier from all liability for further medical payments.

Do note, though, that failure to attend the IME is not necessarily an “unreasonable refusal” to attend. For example, missing the appointment because of a family emergency is not the same as purposefully staying home. The insurance carrier has the burden of proving the failure to attend was unreasonable.

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No.

Fortunately, you do not have to pay an insurance-requested Independent Medical Examination (IME). The insurance company must pay for the Independent Medical Examination, and they must give you sufficient notice of any upcoming examination so you can make arrangements to attend.

In addition, the insurance company cannot make you travel unreasonable distances to attend the IME. They are required, unless no physician exists, to select an IME physician that is in the municipality where you are receiving treatment or in a location reasonably accessible to you (that is, within 10 miles from your residence).

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Because the law states that the results of an Independent Medical Examination and only usable if the physician that conducts the exam has the same licensing as your treating physician. This means that an insurance carrier cannot use a neurologist’s examination to stop paying your chiropractic medical bills, nor a podiatrist’s report to avoid paying for neurological medical treatment.

Unfortunately, for those being treated by multiple physicians, this could mean undergoing multiple IMEs, one for each medical specialty.

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Yes!

The Personal Injury & Accident Law Center exclusively bills on a contingency fee basis. Plus, our 100% “No Win, No Fee” guarantee means that our clients won’t pay anything unless they recover money—either from a settlement, judgment, or jury verdict. The contingency fee arrangement benefits injured clients by removing the financial barrier to bringing a personal injury lawsuit, which could disincentivize some seriously injured parties from seeking the legal help and monetary recovery they deserve.

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It depends.

Our firm exclusively bills on a contingency fee basis. This means that we receive a percentage of the total amount recovered—either from a settlement, judgment, or jury verdict. The exact contingency fee amounts change as the case moves forward, but the most common contingency fee structure is:

  • 33.3% for cases that settle before a lawsuit is filed, and
  • 40% for cases after a lawsuit is filed.

The contingency fee structure benefits our clients because:

  1. They will never pay anything out of pocket since the legal fees are subtracted from the total amount awarded to them, and
  2. We have a tremendous incentive to work hard on your case since our fees are entirely contingent on your recovery.

On top of this arrangement, we offer free case evaluations to all potential clients. It’s essential that we review the general aspects of your case and discuss your legal options up front.

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Your insurance company will send you notice of your upcoming Independent Medical Examination. In advance of the exam, your relevant medical records will be sent to the physician. The physician may also receive a letter from the insurance company pushing them to do or check on certain things, which the IME doctor will use to guide the examination. They may be interested in questions like:

  • Was the condition correctly diagnosed?
  • Could the condition be pre-existing or caused by something else?
  • Are any of the conditions or injuries permanent?
  • Is the current treatment regimen proper and medically necessary?
  • Will the condition require future medical treatments?
  • Will you be able to return to work?

The exam itself will probably be a typical physician exam: They will ask you about your accident and injuries, collect a medical history, review the treatments you’re receiving, and conduct small tests to check your range of motion or grip strength.

As you go through the exam, be sure you are truthful about your symptoms and injuries. But also, only provide the information that is requested. Regular doctor-patient confidentiality does not exist with the IME physician, so do not elaborate or let yourself get too conversational.

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Many clients inadvertently hurt their cases and reduce their compensation during the Independent Medical Examination (IME). The IME is a tool that insurance carriers use to justify suspending payments of medical benefits or limiting treatment options in order to reduce your payout as much as possible The conducting physician is likely hand-picked by the insurance company and will be expected to help them do that. Though the exam is obligatory, avoid:

  • Exaggerating Symptoms: Whether in your description or in your behavior, resist any urge to exaggerate, overplay, or hype-up your injuries. Embellishing your injuries or acting as though they are more severe will not increase the amount of money you recover. The IME doctor is not there to increase the value of your claim. You only risk getting caught in a lie, hurting your credibility before the judge or jury, and giving the insurance company ammunition to contest your payouts.
  • Oversharing: You may not be advised of this, but the regular doctor-patient confidentiality does not exist with the IME physician. Anything you tell them, they can and will report back to your insurance company. This is also true of observations the doctor makes at any point before, during, or after the exam. So, answer their questions, but do not elaborate or give additional details about your current or previous injuries (or anything else!) regardless of how sympathetic the doctor may seem. As the saying goes, “anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.”

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Slip and Fall Accidents (3)

Florida’s premises liability law (F.S. §768.0755), which governs slip and fall accidents, allows people who have been injured from slipping, tripping, or falling to sue for damages. But, the statute also requires the injured party to prove that the owner or business was negligent and liable. Proving negligence requires you to show that the business or property owner had actual knowledge or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. Since businesses will likely take steps to fix a hazardous condition that they actively know about, most slip and fall cases rely on proving constructive knowledge.

Constructive knowledge means that the business should have known about the dangerous condition. You or your lawyer can prove constructive knowledge by showing that:

  • The dangerous condition existed for long enough that the business would’ve known of the condition had it been exercising ordinary care, or
  • The dangerous condition occurred regularly and was foreseeable.

After an accident, a business will immediately fix the hazard so that no other patrons are injured. So, documenting your surroundings after a slip and fall accident is critical to ensuring a provable and winable case.

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People often don’t take slip and fall accidents as seriously as they should because many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious and costly injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can drastically reduce a person’s movements and hamper their quality of life. Slip and fall victims tend to have one or more of the following injuries:

  • Broken wrists or arms, sprained or broken ankles, or fractured pelvises and hips. In fact, for elderly persons, over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. The angle of the fall and our reflexive movements to stop our fall tend to make wrist, hand, and arm injuries more likely.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Falls are the most common cause of brain injuries and concussions. Brain trauma is very serious and can cause long-term damage such as chronic headaches, depression, behavioral changes, and seizures.
  • Emotional trauma. Especially for elderly slip and fall victims, they may become afraid of falling again, even if they’re not seriously injured this time. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.

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The total cost to a victim to recover from a slip and fall injury can include medical costs, lost wages, and a reduced quality of life. And these costs are not negligible! CDC data show that in 2018:

  • Injuries from falls racked up nearly $4 billion in medical costs (in Florida alone), and
  • Deaths from falls cost $754 million.

To bring that to the individual level, the most recent data available from CDC estimate that the average cost of a hospitalization to treat a slip and fall injury is $40,000. On top of that, victims saw average lost work costs of $56,000 (in 2010-dollars). All told, a slip and fall accident could easily cost you around $100,000!

Critically, these estimates do not account for reduction in your quality of life. If you lost the ability to coach your son’s little league team or couldn’t care for your aging parent, your life would be negatively impacted, but there wouldn’t be an easily assignable price tag.

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Boating Accidents (7)

Yes.

Florida has strict laws against operating a boat or other watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For adults over 21, the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .08 applies to boat operators as to drivers. Similar testing and citation laws also apply. In addition, any boat operator under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher is in violation of Florida law.

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Probably.

Florida law states that boat operators must report accidents with “over $2,000 apparent aggregate damage” to the proper authorities. So, technically, not every boat accident must be reported, but it can be very difficult to assess the full range of damages in these instances. You may be dealing with property damages to the exterior of the boat(s), broken personal property inside the boat, and physical damages to persons on the boats. As such, it’s a good idea to make a report of any boating accident to ensure documentation is clear and complete in case a personal injury claim needs to be made.

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Data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows that inattention is the most common cause of boating accidents. The second and third are operator inexperience and excessive speed. Altogether, these three factors account for nearly half of all Florida boating accidents.

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In 2020, there were a total of 534 reported injuries due to boating accidents, an increase of 15% from 2019. Cuts, gashes, and lacerations were the most common type of injury. Broken bones, contusions, head and neck injuries, and back injuries were also common.

Of the 534 boating injuries, the number of each injury are as follows:

  • Lacerations: 150
  • Broken Bones: 90
  • Contusions: 83
  • Head, Brain, and Neck Injuries: 69
  • Back and Spine Injuries: 36

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If a person does not operate a boat with the legally required duty of care, they can be held liable for damages that result from their negligence. To successfully prove negligence and recover damages for your injuries, you must show that 1) the boat operator failed to operate the boat in a reasonably safe manner and 2) that this failure caused the injury. 

Common negligent conduct includes:

  • Taking the boat out in poor weather conditions,
  • Turning the wrong way into a wave and causing the boat to capsize,
  • Going too fast to avoid hitting another vessel, or
  • Failing to have adequate safety equipment on board.

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It depends.

Assessing fault and liability for boat accident injuries can be messy. You need to consider a range of factors including the parties involved and the cause of the accident. Depending on the circumstances, multiple parties may be liable for your injuries:

  • The operator or owner of the boat that hit or collided with your boat,
  • The operator or owner of the boat you were on,
  • The manufacturer of the boat, defective flotation devices, or safety equipment,
  • The owner of the dock or marina,
  • Anyone responsible for an obstruction in the water.

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Yes.

Under Florida law, injury victims can recover compensation for their injuries from negligent parties. But, unlike with passenger car and commercial truck insurance, Florida currently does not require liability insurance coverage for boats. This means, if you are injured in a boat accident, there is a fairly good chance that you will not be covered by an insurance policy for your immediate medical expenses.

Your only option to get compensation for your injuries may be to sue the liable parties for damages. But there is also no guarantee that they will have the funds needed to cover your expenses, and litigation can take a long time. Hiring a boat accident lawyer can help smooth this process out so you get compensation for your injuries in a timely fashion. A lawyer can investigate what insurance policies are in play, who might be liable, who has the ability to pay, and advise you properly.

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Toxic Mold Injuries (5)

Yes.

Certain types of molds like Stachybotrys chartarum (“black mold”) produce mycotoxins, which can cause serious health problems when they are continuously inhaled by people living in homes, apartments, condos, or other spaces. However, with prolonged exposure almost any type of mold can cause health problems.

Common symptoms of long-term exposure to toxic mold include: 

  • Respiratory Symptoms: asthma, difficulty breathing, respiratory infections, wheezing, chronic cough, bronchitis, chest pain,
  • Sinus Problems: sinus pain or pressure, mucus build-up, nose bleeds, 
  • Allergic Reactions: Hives, rashes, skin reactions,
  • Other Immune Responses: chronic fatigue, nausea, cognitive impairment, headaches, bleeding.

The symptoms of toxic mold exposure vary, but they are more likely to be severe in people with certain conditions:

  • Pre-existing Respiratory Conditions: environmental allergies, chemical sensitivities, or asthma,
  • Compromised Immune Systems: people on immuno-suppressing medications, chemotherapy patients, or with immuno-compromising condition (e.g. lupus, HIV),  
  • High-Risk Groups: infants, young children, and older persons.

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Yes, tenants have the right to compensation for injuries sustained from exposure to toxic mold.

However, the presence of mold is not a sufficient condition for a lawsuit—there must also be quantifiable losses or damages. Although dealing with a mold infestation or an uncaring landlord may be frustrating and potentially harmful, neither frustration nor future damages are good causes for a lawsuit. To oversimplify greatly, “no damages, no case.”

If you have suffered sizeable financial losses or lasting medical injuries as a result of exposure to mold, then you may have a strong basis for filing a personal injury claim. Given that toxic mold injury claims are difficult, you should do everything you can to properly preserve and document your claim.

  1. Take pictures of the mold and water damage before any mold remediation is done.
  2. Hire a state-licensed mold assessor or inspector to do a comprehensive inspection of your residence.
  3. Notify the landlord or condo association in writing as early as possible about the mold problem.
  4. See a medical professional who can assess your health problems.
  5. Keep detailed records of sick days, medical bills, or other expenses to prove you suffered damages.

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Maybe

Currently, there are no specific mold laws in Florida. Some local housing codes may include such wording, but it will not be systematic. However, landlords must abide by the so-called “implied warranty of habit­ability,” meaning that they have a responsibility to provide safe and livable housing to tenants. Importantly, a responsibility to maintain the integrity of a property is not the same thing as being legally liable in a personal injury lawsuit arising from mold exposure.

For tenants who simply have mold in their units that they want removed, the first line of defense in Florida is the Landlord-Tenant Act (83.51, Fl. Statutes), which requires landlords to comply with applicable building, housing, and health codes, and to:

maintain the roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition.

A secondary shield for tenants against intransigent landlords is section 468.84 ff., Fl. Statues, which regulates the licensing of professional mold remediators. According to this statute, anyone hired to conduct mold inspection or mold remediation must maintain specialty licenses from the state. This improves the likelihood that mold assessment and remediation will be done properly. It also means that landlords aren’t allowed to bring in a cheaper contractor or do the mold remediation themselves, unless they have such a license.

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Every tenant should know that they have the right, pursuant to Florida’s Landlord-Tenant Act (Ch. 83, Fla. Stat.), to a habitable housing environment. If you have not been injured but simply want your landlord to remediate the mold, the law provides you with a few alternative options to remedy the situation:

  • Repair and deduct: This strategy involves the tenants paying for the mold remediation and repairs out of their own pockets and then deducting the costs from future rent payments. The benefit is that you know for certain that the toxic mold in your rental unit will be cleaned up, though you will have to incur expenses up front.
  • Rent Withholding: As long as you have sent the landlord a very specific written notice by mail or hand delivery, Florida law (§83.201, Fla. Stat.) also you to withhold rent. The notice must declare the premises to be “wholly untenantable,” describe the precise repair or maintenance, give the landlord at least 20 days to make the repair, and state that rent will be withheld until the repairs are performed.
  • Break the Lease: If all else fails, tenants have the right to terminate their lease, again, provided that they give proper 7-day notice according to a very specific process outlined at §83.56, Fla. Stat. Not following the process exactly can have negative repercussions.

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Tenants that have suffered lasting or serious medical injuries or financial losses from exposure to toxic mold, may have the option to get compensation for their injuries through a personal injury lawsuit against your landlord. Though this should never be your first course of action, it is an option to protect your rights and your wellbeing.

Given that toxic mold injury claims are difficult to pursue and negligence is difficult to prove, you should do everything you can to properly preserve and document your claim as soon as you suspect that toxic mold may be the cause of your ongoing medical issues:

  1. Take pictures of the mold and water damage before any mold remediation is done. This photographic evidence will be important for your personal injury claim.
  2. Notify the landlord or condo association in writing as early as possible about the mold problem. Legally, if the party hasn’t (or can claim that they aren’t) aware of the issue, then they cannot be held legally liable for your damages.
  3. Hire a state-licensed mold assessor or inspector to do a comprehensive inspection of your residence. Testing the toxicity levels of mold is critical to connecting the mold to your injuries.
  4. See a medical professional who can assess your health problems. A mold liability claim will need to be supported by expert testimony from a licensed physician, preferably one with experience with mold exposure, as to your medical condition.
  5. Keep detailed records of sick days, medical bills, or other expenses you incurred due to the toxic mold injuries. Without evidence to prove you suffered damages, there will be no way for a court to “make you whole” (i.e. award you compensation).

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Pedestrian Accidents (3)

Yes.

Florida has “Right of Way” laws that state who must yield, or give the right of way, to whom in an intersection. Generally, pedestrians have the right of way when crossing a street, provided that they are crossing inside a crosswalk. However, Section 316.130, Florida Statutes, details a more fulsome set of rules that pedestrians must follow, including:

  • Pedestrians must only walk on the left shoulder of the road (i.e. against the flow of traffic),
  • Drivers must stop to let a pedestrian who is at least halfway across the road pass,
  • When crosswalks are available, pedestrians must not cross at any place except the crosswalk,
  • Every pedestrian crossing a road outside a marked crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles,
  • Pedestrians must cross the road at 90-degree angles to the opposite curb.

Florida’s pedestrian laws are primarily in place to keep pedestrians safe. But following these rules has the knock-on effect of reducing the potential liability a person might bear in a pedestrian accident. If the opposing attorney can show that you were violating one or more of these laws, then you can be held partly liable for the accident that occurs as a result.

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Yes, in general Florida law grants that pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the street. However, pedestrians give up the right of way if they cross the street outside of a designated crosswalk.

This is somewhat of an oversimplification of the full set of Florida’s pedestrian statutes (Section 316.130, Florida Statutes). The nuances of the provisions are key, and the rules are in place not only to help keep pedestrians safe but also to reduce potential liability on a pedestrian’s part for any accidents. Disobeying one or more of these pedestrian laws could result in physical harm and in a more difficult path forward for your pedestrian accident lawsuit. If the driver’s defense attorney can show that you were violating one of these laws, then you can be held partly liable for the accident that occurs as a result, which then decreases your total compensation.

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Florida is the #1 most dangerous state for pedestrians. Statistically, certain surprising situations are more likely to lead to pedestrian accidents. According a 2019 study, pedestrians should exercise caution in these five high-risk scenarios:

  • Outside of Intersections: Contrary to expectations, only 25% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in or near an intersection. If you’re only being careful at crosswalks, you are only being safe 25% of the time.
  • Local Roads and Highways: Only 22% of the total pedestrian fatalities occurred on residential and downtown streets. A much higher percentage (59%) happened on main roads that carry a city’s local and regional traffic.
  • Nighttime: 76% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, and another 4% occur during dawn and dusk. All told, time of day and lighting conditions impact 80% of the total fatalities.
  • Elderly More at Risk: Unfortunately, the 50+ population is overrepresented in pedestrian accident deaths. This age group, especially those 75+, is more likely to experience challenges seeing, hearing, or moving, further exacerbating the problem.
  • Lower-Income Communities: Because low-income communities are less likely to have well-maintained sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and streets designed for pedestrian safety, they see a disproportionate number of pedestrian fatalities.

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Wrongful Death in Florida (7)

Our best studies have concluded that medical malpractice and medical error are both wide ranging and underreported. The numbers of deaths attributable to medical error has been increasing in the last 20 or so years, mostly because of a renewed effort to properly categorize the causes of death. An Institute of Medicine study in 1999 concluded that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die in hospitals due to medical errors. A 2010 study increased the number to 180,000. This was updated again in a 2013 study that suggested that 210,000–440,000 deaths per year were attributable to medical malpractice. 

Most recently, a comprehensive and detailed report from Johns Hopkins University in 2016 argued that medical errors may be responsible for over 250,000 deaths each year, making medical error the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

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Florida’s “free-kill” loophole concerns wrongful death lawsuits in the context of medical malpractice. Specifically, it refers to a restrictive exemption buried in the Florida Wrongful Death Act that limits who can and cannot recover certain damages in a medical malpractice-specific wrongful death lawsuit.

The provision is a bit complicated. According to §768.21(8), Fl .Stat., a parent whose adult child dies or, vice versa, an adult child whose parent dies, provided that the person who died did not have a spouse or minor child, is forbidden from recovering pain and suffering damages in a wrongful death lawsuit where the death is due to medical malpractice. In other words, in cases where medical malpractice led to a wrongful death, pain and suffering damages are only available to

  • a spouse,
  • parent(s) of a minor child, or
  • a minor child.

In effect, this significantly limits the number of wrongful death actions filed on behalf of unmarried adults who have adult children because without pain and suffering damages the cost to litigate a malpractice case may be more than any potential recovery. Florida is the only state in the nation with this type of an exclusion, and it is estimated that more than half the state’s population falls into this no-man’s land.

The “Free-Kill” nickname originated because, as the logic goes, a medical professional would prefer a dead patient to an injured and living one because under this exemption a dead patient poses no financial liability, whereas a severely injured—but alive—patient does.

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Maybe.

Deaths caused by medical malpractice or hospital error are included under the statutory definition of “wrongful death,” which means that deceased person’s survivors and beneficiaries have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. However, “filing a lawsuit” and “being a party to a lawsuit” are different. Under Florida law, only a decedent’s personal representative can actually file a wrongful death lawsuit. Additional beneficiaries may be included as parties to the lawsuit.

On the other hand, Florida’s so-called “Free-Kill” loophole (§768.21(8), Fl .Stat.) states that when medical malpractice causes a wrongful death, pain and suffering damages are only available to

  • a spouse,
  • parent(s) of a minor child, or
  • a minor child.

This Florida-specific provision effectively bars wrongful death actions filed on behalf of unmarried adults who have adult children because without pain and suffering damages the cost to litigate a malpractice case may be more than any potential recovery.

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It depends.

Florida law states that only a personal representative (aka “executor of the estate”) can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. Florida law further states that personal representatives must be Florida residents. If the deceased has a will that names a personal representative, this person will be responsible for overseeing the administration and distribution of the deceased’s estate, including initiating wrongful death litigation on their behalf. If the decedent did not have a will, then a probate court will appoint someone.

Although only the personal representative is allowed to initiate the lawsuit, other beneficiaries such as the surviving spouse, children, parents, adoptive siblings, or other blood relatives can be parties to the wrongful death lawsuit and receive a portion of the compensation.

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It depends.

Although Florida law states that only the decedent’s personal representative can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, other beneficiaries and survivors can recover damages based on their familial relationship and dependence on the deceased. But who does and does not qualify to be awarded damages can be complicated and depend on multiple factors. The statutory division of damages and list of parties can further complicate matters during an emotional time.

Florida’s Wrongful Death statute details how and in what order damages are to be allotted to the various beneficiaries:

  • The Estate of the Decedent (i.e. person that died) can recover medical or funeral expenses, loss of earnings, and loss of net accumulations to the estate.
  • Surviving Spouses can recover funeral and burial expenses, lost support and services (plus interest), loss of companionship and protection, and mental pain and suffering from date of the injury.
  • Surviving Minor Children (includes all children if no surviving spouse) can recover lost support and services (plus interest), loss of parental guidance, companionship, and instruction, and mental pain and suffering from date of the injury.
  • Parents of Minor Child (or adult child if no other survivors) can recover mental pain and suffering from date of the injury, medical costs, and funeral and burial expenses.

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The definition of wrongful death in Florida’s “Wrongful Death Act” reads as follows:

When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.

The critical parts are underlined for clarity, but this definition is written to satisfy certain legal standards, not to be understood by the average person. To simplify, think of it like this: A wrongful death lawsuit is a personal injury lawsuit that is brought on behalf of the injured party because the injured party died.

If we now re-read the definition with some of the extra verbiage taken out, hopefully it will make more sense. A wrongful death is a death:

(1) caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person…(2) [provided that] the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.

Importantly, a “wrongful act” can encompass negligence, careless driving, assault and battery, manslaughter, and even murder. Wrongful death lawsuits are handled in civil court and are separate from any criminal charges which might be brought against the negligent party in criminal court. The purpose of a wrongful death tort is to compensate the surviving family for the financial losses they suffered because of the responsible party’s negligence.

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Two years.

The statute of limitations is the period of time in which you can file a lawsuit for a specific harm. For wrongful death claims the statute of limitations is two years. Under Florida law, the personal representative is the only one who can initiate a lawsuit, and if the personal representative does not file the wrongful death lawsuit before that two-year statute of limitations is up, their right to hold the negligent party accountable and receive compensation for the unnecessary loss of a loved one will expire.

Statutes of limitations vary. It is critical to be aware that this two-year window is much shorter than the four-year statute of limitations that governs most personal injury lawsuits, including medical malpractice suits.

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Medical and Professional Malpractice (7)

Our best studies have concluded that medical malpractice and medical error are both wide ranging and underreported. The numbers of deaths attributable to medical error has been increasing in the last 20 or so years, mostly because of a renewed effort to properly categorize the causes of death. An Institute of Medicine study in 1999 concluded that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die in hospitals due to medical errors. A 2010 study increased the number to 180,000. This was updated again in a 2013 study that suggested that 210,000–440,000 deaths per year were attributable to medical malpractice. 

Most recently, a comprehensive and detailed report from Johns Hopkins University in 2016 argued that medical errors may be responsible for over 250,000 deaths each year, making medical error the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

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At its core, medical malpractice refers to professional negligence by a healthcare provider whose treatment fell below the accepted standard of care and thus caused harm, injury, or death to a patient. This means that not all negative interactions with a doctor nor all injuries are sufficient conditions for a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, medical malpractice and medical error encompass an array of acts (and failures to act) by medical professionals.

Intensive care units, operating rooms, and emergency departments all have high error rates with serious adverse effects, but preventable medical errors can happen in any specialty and during all manner of procedures. Here are some of the most commonly cited areas for medical malpractice:

  • Diagnosis: Missed diagnosis or failure to properly diagnose (e.g. stroke or heart attack); misreading of X-ray, MRI, ultrasound, or other diagnostic test; failure to make request for specialist consultation, referral, or transfer.
  • Surgery: Improper surgical techniques; operating on the wrong body part or wrong site; anesthesia mistakes; leaving foreign object in the body; improper post-op procedures.
  • Hospitalization and Care Facilities: Restraint-related injuries; falls from improper bed rails or restraints; burns, pressure ulcers, or bed sores; mistaken patient identities.
  • Testing: Failure to order the proper tests; defective medical devices; unnecessary testing or treatment; tests you did not consent to.
  • Medication: Adverse drug events; dangerous drugs; prescribing wrong medications or conflicting medications.

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Florida’s “free-kill” loophole concerns wrongful death lawsuits in the context of medical malpractice. Specifically, it refers to a restrictive exemption buried in the Florida Wrongful Death Act that limits who can and cannot recover certain damages in a medical malpractice-specific wrongful death lawsuit.

The provision is a bit complicated. According to §768.21(8), Fl .Stat., a parent whose adult child dies or, vice versa, an adult child whose parent dies, provided that the person who died did not have a spouse or minor child, is forbidden from recovering pain and suffering damages in a wrongful death lawsuit where the death is due to medical malpractice. In other words, in cases where medical malpractice led to a wrongful death, pain and suffering damages are only available to

  • a spouse,
  • parent(s) of a minor child, or
  • a minor child.

In effect, this significantly limits the number of wrongful death actions filed on behalf of unmarried adults who have adult children because without pain and suffering damages the cost to litigate a malpractice case may be more than any potential recovery. Florida is the only state in the nation with this type of an exclusion, and it is estimated that more than half the state’s population falls into this no-man’s land.

The “Free-Kill” nickname originated because, as the logic goes, a medical professional would prefer a dead patient to an injured and living one because under this exemption a dead patient poses no financial liability, whereas a severely injured—but alive—patient does.

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Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for winning legal cases of any kind. Each area of law has specific governing statutes, and each case has its own unique fact pattern. That being said, there are fundamentally four elements that are key to a successful medical malpractice case:

  1. Establishing a legitimate patient-doctor relationship,
  2. Proving that the medical provider neglected to provide a reasonable standard of care,
  3. Showing that this negligence directly led to the patient’s injuries, illness, or death, and
  4. Confirming that the patient suffered damages or loss as a result of this negligence.

Though this four-step outline may seem simple, medical malpractice lawsuits are the very complex and labor-intensive because:

  1. There are extremely strict guidelines that must be met before the case can even be filed,
  2. Malpractice cases are very fact intensive and require numerous expert witnesses, and
  3. Marshalling all of these facts and following the statutory process requires an array of legal and medical knowledge.

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Maybe.

Deaths caused by medical malpractice or hospital error are included under the statutory definition of “wrongful death,” which means that deceased person’s survivors and beneficiaries have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. However, “filing a lawsuit” and “being a party to a lawsuit” are different. Under Florida law, only a decedent’s personal representative can actually file a wrongful death lawsuit. Additional beneficiaries may be included as parties to the lawsuit.

On the other hand, Florida’s so-called “Free-Kill” loophole (§768.21(8), Fl .Stat.) states that when medical malpractice causes a wrongful death, pain and suffering damages are only available to

  • a spouse,
  • parent(s) of a minor child, or
  • a minor child.

This Florida-specific provision effectively bars wrongful death actions filed on behalf of unmarried adults who have adult children because without pain and suffering damages the cost to litigate a malpractice case may be more than any potential recovery.

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It depends on when the malpractice occurred.

In general, Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice. But, because medical injuries are not always apparent at first, the two-year timeclock starts from either the occurrence or the discovery of the injury. At most, however, a victim has four years from when the malpractice occurred to initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit.

There is one exception to this rule: Fraud. If the healthcare provider intentionally hid their medical malpractice from you, the statute of limitations is two years from the discovery of the injury or seven years from the occurrence of the medical error.

Finally, the two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases does not apply to minors. Also, if the malpractice resulted in a wrongful death, the two-year wrongful death statute of limitations comes into effect.

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It depends.

Florida currently has no caps for economic damages. If you can prove that you have suffered monetary losses (e.g. medical bills or lost wages), you can recover the full value of those losses, however large the price tag. Generally, though, economic damages tend to be smaller.

Noneconomic damages (i.e. “pain and suffering” damages) are a different story. First, they account for the bulk of large recoveries. Second, Florida law caps noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. The Florida laws governing noneconomic damages caps have a long and tortuous history dating back to 2003. The worst part about their storied past is that the current status of the noneconomic damages caps is still in flux.

  • 2003: Florida passed legislation setting caps on noneconomic damages at $500,000 (or $1m for wrongful death). These statutes were in effect and untouched until 2014.
  • 2014: The Florida Supreme Court ruled that these caps were unconstitutional, but only in wrongful death medical malpractice cases.
  • 2017: The Florida Supreme Court extended this 2014 ruling to all noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases (N. Broward Hosp. Dist. v. Kalitan, 219 So. 3d 49 (Fla. 2017)).
  • 2020: Despite the court ruling these caps unconstitutional, the relevant Florida laws remain unchanged. If you seek out the official Florida statutes, you will find that the pre-2014 damage caps on noneconomic damages are still listed (Fla. Stat. §766.118(2)-(6)).

In short, despite the various rulings and hubbub, it is likely that noneconomic damages in your medical malpractice lawsuit will be capped at $500,000 for medical practitioners.

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Bicycle Accidents (8)

Yes.

According to §316.2065, Florida Statutes, a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and can be operated on roadways. But, because cyclists have the same privileges and rights as other drivers, they have the same responsibilities too. Cyclists must follow all the traffic laws, signs, and controls on public roads. Other key Florida laws for bicyclists include:

  • Do not ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (yes, you can get a DUI on a bike!).
  • Do not text while biking. Not only is it unsafe, Florida’s new texting and driving law may extend to bicyclists.
  • Do not wear headphones or ear buds. They will reduce your ability to hear the surrounding traffic.
  • Always use directional hand signals to show other drivers that you are about to turn.
  • You may use the full lane when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazards, or when a lane is too narrow for you and a car to share it safely.
  • At night you must have a white light visible from 500 feet on the front of your bicycle and a red reflector and a red light visible from 600 feet on the rear. Flashing lights are allowed.
  • All bicyclists and passengers under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets. Of course, helmets are always encouraged as a minimum safety measure.

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Yes.

According to Florida Statutes §316.2065, your bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle, and as such you must follow all the traffic laws, signs, and controls on public roads, including the prohibition against drinking.

This means that if you are intoxicated or impaired while riding your bicycle in a dedicated bike lane, in the road, or on the sidewalk, you can be stopped and ticketed for driving under the influence. Additionally, if you were to get into an accident while you were riding drunk or impaired, you could destroy any chance of recovering damages after the accident since the defense would use your intoxication or impairment to argue for your negligence.

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Although one might assume that children and teenagers are more likely to be injured by a negligent driver while riding a bike, the data show that adults in their mid-40s are actually the most common victims of cycling accidents.

According to a 2018 HNSTA report, the average age of bicyclists killed in crashes rose from 41 to 47 between 2009 and 2018. The largest number of fatalities come from the 55–59 age group. Men make up a disproportionate number (86%) of bicycle accident fatalities and injuries across all age groups. The population-based fatality rate was 7 times higher for males than for females, and the injury rate was 5 times higher.

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Given that negligent and distracted drivers cause most bicycle crashes, areas in which there is more traffic see higher rates of bicycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Unsurprisingly, the majority (79%) of bicycle accident fatalities occur in denser urban areas. However, two-way streets, three-lane roads, and narrow shoulders were much more dangerous than intersections, which accounted for only 29% of bicycle accident fatalities.

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According to a study by NHSTA, certain vehicle types account for significant proportions of bicycle accident fatalities and injuries. The most common vehicles were light trucks (including SUVs, pickups, and vans), which were involved in 45% of all fatal bicycle crashes. Passenger cars, such as coupes, sedans, and small SUVs, also accounted for a high number of fatal accidents (37%). Both light trucks and passenger cars overwhelmingly struck the bicyclists with the front of the vehicle, perhaps implying the drivers did not see the cyclist due to the size of the vehicle or because they were distracted.

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As is the case with motor vehicle accidents, one might assume that more bike accident injuries and fatalities occur at night than during the day. However, a 2018 NHSTA report found that the rates for daytime and nighttime fatalities are roughly the same: 50% of cycling accident fatalities happened during the dark and 46% happened during daylight hours.

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The prevailing belief is that most bicycle crashes in Florida are caused by the negligence of the cyclists. However, this is a false. Data from governmental and private-sector organizations, including the NHTSA, repeatedly show the exact opposite: that negligent and distracted drivers cause most bicycle accidents.

Based on many factors such as the angle of impact, location of the crash, and vehicle type, these studies show that cycling accidents are not so much the fault of bike riders disregarding the rules of the road, but rather drivers disregarding the presence of bike riders.

Since bicycles are considered vehicles by Florida law, if you are hurt in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, you have the right to sue the at-fault driver for economic (“special”) and non-economic (“general”) damages. Punitive damages could also be on the table in extreme cases, but you should talk to a lawyer to discuss that option.

Economic damages are your compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries you sustained in the bicycle accident including:

  • medical bills,
  • lost wages, or
  • property damage.

Non-economic damages are harder to quantify. They often include future harms or injuries that lack specific “replacement” values. You and your lawyer will assign values to these items by their impact on your quality of life, such as:

  • loss of capacity to earn,
  • loss of consortium (companionship or familial love),
  • pain and suffering.

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