A Glimpse at Motion for Summary Judgement in a Personal Injury Case

When people think of a victory in a lawsuit, most undoubtedly think about two lawyers giving eloquent closing statements, jury deliberations, and the final verdict being read. A victory on the merits of a case, after each side presents all of its evidence and makes the best arguments it can, is the preferred method for resolving most legal disputes between parties that cannot reach a settlement. However, there are other ways that victory can be achieved in a lawsuit. One of the most common other ways in personal injury cases is when a court grants a motion for summary judgment. A motion for summary judgment is a request by a party for a judgment that is based on the evidence prior to trial. It is a request made to the Judge, and not to the jury. The request can be for a final resolution of the entire case (final summary judgment), or it can be a request for judgment on certain issues, claims, or defenses (partial summary judgment). If a defendant files a motion for summary judgment in a personal injury case, it is essentially saying that the plaintiff does not even have disputed evidence to support each element of his or her claim. The basic elements of a personal injury claim are as follows. First, plaintiffs must prove that a defendant owed them a “duty” to behave reasonably under the circumstances. Second, they must prove that this defendant breached this duty (“breach”). Next, they must prove that they suffered harm (“damages”). Lastly, they must prove that the defendant’s breach of this duty caused them this harm (“causation”). If...

How Social Media Will Destroy Your Personal Injury Case

Just about everyone I know and most of our clients that we represent are on social media. People feel compelled to post, tweet and snap their daily activities to friends and strangers. In fact, a recent report in the New York Times found that — an estimated 81 percent of Americans have a social media account. But did you know that when you make a claim for a slip and fall, trip and fall, medical malpractice or an injury on a cruise– the defendants, their insurance companies and their lawyers are checking you out too? In fact, it is very common for our personal injury lawyers in Miami to receive formal requests for our client’s social media accounts. And I know for a fact that many of the cruise lines I sue monitor my personal feeds closely. And while social media is a powerful tool for those looking to expand their network, build a business, enhance a brand or find a new gig they can be devastating to ones personal injury case. Here is why: Social media platforms constantly change and update their privacy settings. It is not uncommon for people to unknowingly believe their accounts are private- but are in fact open to the public. Further, if one were to post a picture or video of let’s say- rollerblading in the park on a Sunday while smoking a cigar- a “friend” or other can repost that content on other platforms- thereby taking private content public and perhaps viral. Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with being able to rollerblade and smoke a cigar- it only becomes...

Expert Witness Testimonies in a Personal Injury Cases

The testimony of an expert witness can be the deciding factor in the outcome of a case. However, because of its importance, federal courts require expert testimony to meet a standard called the Daubert standard, named after the case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). One of the reasons that standards for expert witnesses are needed is due to the potential weight that a jury may give to witnesses who are designating themselves as “experts.” However, just because a person may call him or herself an expert in a particular field, this does not mean that this person is actually an expert in that field. Likewise, a person may be a highly qualified expert in his or her field, but may still attempt to offer testimony that is not supported by either his or her expertise. For example, if a medical doctor wants to testify that the design of the floor in a slip and fall case was adequate, the fact that the doctor is an expert in the practice of medicine does not mean that the doctor is an expert in architecture or engineering, and the doctor may not be allowed to offer this testimony. An expert must satisfy three requirements in order to be admissible in federal court. First, an expert must be qualified to testify competently regarding the matters he or she intends to address. Second, the expert must use a reliable methodology to reach his or her conclusions. Third, the expert’s testimony must be helpful to a jury (or judge in the case of a bench trial) understand the facts or...

Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Shares Tips For A Safe 4th of July

Happy Birthday, America! Please let this Fourth of July be a happy and safe occasion for everyone. We know that nothing is more exciting than celebrating our nation’s independence with a cookout, parade, and fireworks watching with friends and family. As you can see in the video above, every year we like to remind families to stay safe during the 4th of July. We are committed to family safety, and we urge all our friends and clients to leave the fireworks to professionals, focusing on the hot dogs and apple pie. However, if you must light fireworks, we strongly recommend that you heed the advice of the National Council on Fireworks Safety by following these safety tips: Don’t Drink and Light Fireworks. Alcohol and fireworks simply don’t mix. Save your celebratory toast for after the show. Keep the Kids Away. Fireworks are for adults only. Don’t let children or young teens light fireworks. Keep it Outdoors. Under no circumstances should fireworks be lit inside you home, garage, or near anything flammable, like your gas grill. Wear Safety Glasses when Lighting Fireworks. Don’t Relight a Dud. If the firecracker does not work, soak it in a bucket of water for at least 20 minutes and then dispose of it. Keep a Bucket of Water Close and hose turned on–nearby. One at a Time–Don’t try to recreate Disney’s fireworks display for your friends and neighbors. Light just one at a time. Don’t Try to Make Homemade Devices. Buy your fireworks, if you must, from a reputable vendor. Check your Local Laws and regulations. For example, the City of Coral Gables, where...

Referring Personal Injury Slip and Fall Accident Clients to Doctors in Florida

The Most Common Questions Slip and Fall Accident Clients Have After An Incident One the most common questions slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall clients will ask their personal injury lawyers is where and from whom they should seek medical care after their accidents. Personal injury lawyers like me typically work with a cadre of doctors and therapists, ranging from orthopedic surgeons to neurologists and anesthesiologists (for pain management), who they believe will provide excellent care for their clients–as well as be willing and able to come to court and testify about their opinions on the injuries and the future consequences for their clients. Such consultation is especially common when the injured person does not have health insurance or only limited coverage.   Inevitably, if the cases must be litigated and the injured plaintiffs are questioned by the insurance company’s defense lawyers, the question arises as to how the plaintiffs found the doctors who treated them for their injuries. A significant issue arises if, as often happens in Florida personal-injury claims, the plaintiff’s lawyer made the “referral”; the very nature of the referral and the conversation that it must have been part of–as well as any other conversation between an attorney and the client–is privileged, meaning it is protected from discovery. One would think the question of forcing a personal injury plaintiff to disclose this information would have been the subject of well worked out arguments and dusty legal text books. However, Florida’s Supreme Court was only recently asked to decide once and for all what Florida law is on this issue.1 Slip and Fall at a YMCA in Florida The case...

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...
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