Discovery in a Florida Personal Injury Accident Case

A Miami restaurant, the Lemoni Cafe, and its landlord who had been operating an illegal sidewalk cafe were recently sued after patrons were injured when a car lost control and crashed into them, causing serious personal injuries. Consequently, the City of Miami mayor, Tomas Regalado, was dragged into the case when the plaintiffs’ lawyers sought to depose him and the City Manager, Daniel Alfonso, to demonstrate that the cafe had been permitted to operate illegally after being repeatedly cited by the code enforcement board. In fact, citations had been issued in December 2011 and March 2014. After the March 2014 citation, the Code Enforcement Board hearing scheduled for June 3, 2014, was continued and ultimately never held. Months later, the accident occurred. The politicians sought protection from the court to prevent the depositions from proceeding, and the request was denied. They then appealed to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. Their briefs argued that the plaintiffs could not compel the mayor and city manager’s depositions because they had failed to demonstrate that the mayor and city manager were uniquely able to provide relevant information that could not be obtained from other sources. However, before seeking to take the mayor’s deposition, the plaintiffs had deposed seven other City of Miami officials who presumably should have known how and why the Lemoni Café’s illegal sidewalk café was permitted to continue operating after receiving two citations from code enforcement. These included the code enforcement director, a code enforcement supervisor, and a representative from the mayor’s office, but each City of Miami official testified that he or she did not know. Following a...

Collecting Evidence After a Slip and Fall Accident in Florida

Every plaintiff in every personal injury case in Florida needs evidence of the accident and injury. Sometimes it is clear that the defendant was negligent and that negligence caused particular injuries. In those instances, an insurance adjuster may require only cursory evidence to offer to settle a personal injury claim, and that evidence could be readily available. However, that is not always the case. Some personal injury lawsuits are highly contentious and fiercely contested by the defendant; this can be particularly true in slip and fall accidents where it is more difficult for a plaintiff to prove the defendant’s liability. Direct and circumstantial evidence becomes essential, and could be the difference in determining the amount of recovery, or if there is any recovery at all. As evidence is critical, plaintiffs need to know what evidence is required and how to collect it after a slip and fall accident in Florida. Types of Evidence There are two broad categories of evidence, direct evidence of liability and circumstantial evidence. In a slip and fall claim, the plaintiff is likely to collect both types of evidence, but direct evidence builds a stronger case. Direct evidence supports a claim that the defendant was negligent and that negligence caused personal injuries without any additional inferences needed. Often Florida personal injury lawyers say direct evidence speaks for itself in proving an aspect of the personal injury claim. Examples of direct evidence include photographs where the slip and fall took place, witness statements about the accident, medical reports on the resulting injuries, and even the plaintiff’s statement of events. If the slip and fall occurred in...

Consulting with a Florida Worker’s Compensation Lawyer: Filing a 3rd party Florida Worker’s Compensation Claim

Employees who are injured while performing a work-related activity in Florida have an obvious way to seek compensation and recovery. Submitting a claim to an employer and its workers’ compensation insurance provider is a protected mechanism to recover medical costs and cover certain losses related to an injury. However, questions about this process and other legal remedies can arise when an employee is injured because of a third party’s negligence or actions. How do Third Party Injuries Occur? It might seem odd that an unrelated third party could cause a workplace injury, but consider how frequently outsiders are present in your place of employment. Contractors who perform daily janitorial services, plumbers responsible for fixing leaky pipes, security personnel in charge of limiting access, delivery personnel, clients, customers, and construction workers all visit the premises regularly. Any of those individuals could act in a negligent and unfortunate manner that causes a workplace injury. In particular, repairmen and construction workers make physical changes to the property; those can lead to a torn carpet, water on a bathroom floor, or sharp objects left in walkways. Employees in a hurry or simply distracted by work activities can easily miss those new aspects of their everyday environment. You can still File for Workers’ Compensation The workers’ compensation law in Florida states that injuries and illnesses occurring at the workplace may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. To be entitled to these benefits, a worker need not demonstrate responsibility. There is no requirement that an employee prove to an employer, insurance agency, or government official who was responsible for the accident or incident leading to injury. In...

Determining a Driver’s Liability for Pedestrian Accidents in Florida

Florida’s drivers share the road daily with other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Lawmakers and law enforcement officials try to ensure that this co-mingling of vehicles, bikes, and people on foot progresses safely and uneventfully. However, accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians do occur, and when they do, questions of fault, blame, and liability can be difficult to resolve. Trending Towards Accidents States across the country are focused on lowering the number of motor vehicle accidents that occur each year. In particular, states have pushed to limit fatalities from these collisions. In Florida and elsewhere, these efforts have succeeded, with an 18% decrease in the number of motor vehicle fatalities between 2006 and 2015. Yet within this same period, the number of pedestrian-related fatalities due to collisions with cars and other vehicles went up. The 12% rise in pedestrian fatalities between 2005 and 2016 represents an unfortunate safety trend for those who walk as a primary mode of transportation. Moreover, nearly 70,000 pedestrians were injured in accidents in the United States in 2015. That statistic represents an even greater increase, as from 2006 the number of pedestrians injured in accidents is up by 14.8%. it would be natural to conclude from these statistics that drivers are more careless, less aware, and generally at fault for pedestrian accidents in Florida. However, the falling number of motor vehicle accidents suggests that all parties who share the road could potentially be at fault for a given accident. Point of Collision Every driver in Florida is required to exercise reasonable care when it comes to sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists. This requires...

Suing Publix for a Slip and Fall

Publix is a supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Florida. With over a thousand stores across Florida, and nearly two hundred thousand employees, “shopping at Publix’ is an experience nearly everyone who lives and works in Florida has enjoyed. Moreover, Publix is now expanding beyond Florida, with stores in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. One day soon, we may even find Publix in New York City. Since 1991, our personal injury law firm has represented people who have been injured in Publix stores and their parking lots in a variety of cases. The most common is the slip and fall on liquid spilled in one of the aisles or in the produce department. We have seen cases where the liquid came from leaking pipes, spilled samples from vendors, customers who were eating and drinking while shopping, and many other scenarios. PUBLIX HAS A DUTY TO USE ORDINARY CARE Publix, like all Florida businesses, has a legal duty to use ordinary care to maintain its stores in a reasonably safe condition. That means that legally, not all customer slip and falls at Publix are necessarily Publix’s fault.   Take for example the case of Caridad Dominguez, who was represented by another law firm, and claimed to have fallen on a patch of laundry detergent that had seeped out of a bottle that had fallen from the shelf. According to the Court’s record, a Publix manager ran to the spot of the spilled bottle just nine seconds after the bottle fell, right to the bottle, and just four seconds later, while the manager’s back was turned, the lady...

Florida’s Supreme Court Weighs in on Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (No-Fault Law)

It is not every day that the Florida Supreme Court rules on an issue that involves Florida’s Personal Injury Protection insurance laws, which are also known as Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Laws (No-Fault Laws).  These are the laws that govern the payment of medical bills and lost wages for individuals involved in car, truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian traffic accidents.  This week the Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding what discovery is permissible by insurance companies looking to evade payments even before they even sued for non-compliance. The case arose from a conflict between Florida’s PIP statute and opinions issued by Florida’s First and Fourth District Courts of Appeal over what charges were appropriately paid out of a PIP and what discovery would be available by an insurance company even before it was sued for non-compliance under the policy.  The facts of the case involve medical treatment rendered by Shands Jacksonville Medical Center (Shands) to twenty-nine people who carried State Farm PIP Insurance and were injured in motor vehicle accidents. After paying Shands, State Farm requested documentation relating to the “reasonableness of the charges,” pursuant to section 627.736(6)(b) of Florida’s PIP statutes. This section requires healthcare providers to provided PIP insurance companies like State Farm, upon request, specific documents and information relating to the treatment of injured persons and the associated costs. In other words, insurance companies use discovery like this as a basis for refusing to make payments even before a lawsuit is filed. In response, Shands provided State Farm with the medical records documenting the treatments and charges for the services rendered, its most recent Medicare Cost Report,...
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