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.1HEATHER WORLEY, Petitioner, v. CENTRAL FLORIDA YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASS’N, INC.,...

Justice Denied: Slip and Fall at a Florida Grocery Store

Slip and fall cases against supermarkets in Florida are governed by an area of the law known as torts–specifically, premise liability. When someone brings a claim against a grocery store, shopping mall, fast-food restaurant, or gas station for a personal injury and sues the defendant, several defenses are typically asserted to try to prevent the injured person from ever getting the case to a jury. FLORIDA LAW FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN SLIP AND FALL CASES Under Florida law, businesses owe two “separate and distinct” duties to their customers: 1) to warn of concealed dangers which are or should be known to the owner and which are unknown to the customer; and 2) to use ordinary care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. More than a half-century ago, Florida’s Supreme Court recognized that a business invitee is entitled to expect that the owner will take “reasonable care to discover the actual condition of the premises and either make them safe or warn of dangerous conditions.” It is equally well settled that the business property owner has a right to assume that the invitee will perceive that which would be obvious to him upon the ordinary use of his own senses. This means that Winn-Dixie and other Florida business owners have no duty to warn against an “open and obvious condition which is not inherently dangerous.” Courts have gone on to clarify that the dangerous condition of an object–not simply the object itself–should be considered in either granting or denying a motion for summary judgment. The courts are likewise clear that a duty to warn is different than...

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...

The Costliest Mistake Claimants Make in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit

Anyone who gets injured in Florida in a bicycle, car, truck, or motorcycle accident–or a slip and fall at a Publix, Costco, or other retailer–and then hires an accident lawyer to sue the defendant ought to read this blog because the number-one mistake that plaintiffs can and often do make in pursuing a claim in a Florida personal injury lawsuit is lying under oath. Take for example the case of Sheila and Curtis Bryant.1SHEILA BRYANT and CURTIS BRYANT, Appellants, v. RAYMOND MEZO, Appellee. 4th District. Case No. 4D16-386. May 17, 2017. Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Indian River County; Paul B. Kanarek, Judge; L.T. Case No. 312014CA001017. They were represented by another PI law firm in a car accident claim against Raymond Mezo. According to court records Mrs. Bryant was not transported from the scene of the accident, but returned to work. Several weeks later, she began treatment with a chiropractor, complaining of neck and back pain. Several months after that, she underwent neck surgery.    She sued Mr. Mezo, whose lawyers sent her interrogatories, a written questionnaire each plaintiff must fill out and sign under oath in virtually every case. The questions range from providing past residences and employment to giving a detailed history of prior medical care and legal claims, to listing the names of all healthcare providers the plaintiff may have been treated by over a period of times–sometimes up to a decade before the accident in question. In this case, Mrs. Bryant identified a prior worker’s compensation claim in 1987 or 1988, in which she injured her left arm. However,...

Man Sues His Own Church for Trip and Fall Accident in Florida

People who are injured in slip and fall accident cases in Florida often think that because the accident occurred at a public business–such as a shopping mall, supermarket, or gas station–the owners of these businesses and properties automatically have a legal responsibility to pay them money for their injuries. This is simply not true. Claimants in trip, slip, and fall cases must first prove that the business or property owner is legally responsible. Those property owners then have a variety of legal defenses at their disposal when and if they are sued. These types of cases are known in the law as premise liability claims, and one the most powerful legal defenses utilized in these cases is called the “assumption of risk defense.”  Recently, a Florida appellate court reviewed the case of Thomas and Judy Petruzzella who sued the Church on the Rock of Palm Coast after Mr. Petruzzella tripped and fell at a church, rehearsing for a concert where he had volunteered to perform in church rock band. The accident occurred when he tripped and fell on the unsecured cord of the bass player’s guitar, sustaining serious personal injuries.    Mr. Petruzzella and his wife sued the Church on the Rock of Palm Coast, alleging that the church was negligent for failing to maintain the church stage in a reasonably safe condition, and that it had failed to correct a dangerous condition which the church either knew or should have known of by using reasonable care. His wife, Judy Petruzzella, sued the church, alleging a loss of consortium. The Church answered their complaint by denying the allegations of...

Filing a Claim for a Florida Slip and Fall Injury on City Property

Every day a number of people are injured in the State of Florida from tripping, slipping, or falling on the cracks, potholes, and other obstructions on city sidewalks. This can even happen to careful people. Sometimes these incidents result in a stubbed toe or bruised knee, but in other instances, a person is seriously injured. This can lead to expenses for medical attention or property damages and losses due to inability to work, pain and suffering, and even emotional distress. Individuals, who suffer these more serious injuries due to a fall on city sidewalk, could be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, just because you fell on a crack, ice, or hole in the sidewalk, does not mean the city was negligent and these claims can be complicated because the defending party in these situations is the local government. Need to Prove Liability One similarity between a slip and fall injury on city or public property and on privately owned property is the requirement to show liability. First, to have a valid personal injury claim arising from a Florida slip and fall injury, the plaintiff must prove the owner (or lessee) was somehow negligent, grossly negligent, or reckless in maintenance of the property. Identifying the correct owner of the property, whether the city, municipality, or county, is essential. Second, the plaintiff must show this negligence caused his or her injury. When a person falls due to an unsafe condition, such as a crack or hole in the sidewalk, it is necessary to prove that the city had reason to know that crack or hole existed. This...
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