Articles Posted in Personal Injury

motorcycleIn the U.S., we have both federal and state courts. If you are involved in a car or motorcycle accident, a knowledgeable South Florida personal injury attorney can help you to determine which court would be proper to file your suit in. Sometimes the suit may start in one court and then be moved – referred to as “removed”- to the other.

Motorcycle Accident

The underlying facts of this case involve a motorcycle accident. The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle when it shut off suddenly. This caused him to lose control of the motorcycle and he was injured. In the original demand letter, plaintiff asked for $275,000 plus “med pay benefits.” At the time the letter was sent, plaintiff’s medical bills had so far totaled $68,218.87. The plaintiff filed his suit in state court and the defendant removed the case to federal court. Now, the defendant is asking for the case to be moved back to state court. The case was decided by the Middle District of Florida, which is a federal court.

car accidentIf you are injured in a car accident, you may envision that the only person that you need to take legal action against is the driver who caused the accident. However, oftentimes insurance companies will also need to be brought into court in order for them to pay the damages that they owe. Even if your insurance company seems cooperative, they may just be trying to get you to settle for less than you deserve. If you are injured in a car accident, you should contact a knowledgeable South Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They can help you to decide whether you should take the settlement offered or if you need to involve the insurance company in legal action.

The Car Accident

A man was driving on a Florida highway with his friend in the passenger seat. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a cement barrier. While the driver was not injured, the passenger suffered serious injuries and was paralyzed from the waist down. To complicate matters even more, the car itself was owned by the driver’s father’s business. The insurance policy included a one million dollar garage liability policy and a two million dollar commercial umbrella policy.

witness standIn Florida personal injury cases, it’s often necessary to hire an expert to testify in court about different matters. The United States District Court in Southern Florida recently discussed what is required for expert testimony to be allowed to be presented in court. Since expert testimony is such an important part of proving a personal injury case, it’s crucial that the experts that your attorney hires is allowed to testify during your trial.

Underlying Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was on a cruise operated by the defendant when he fell and broke his ankle while using the onboard ice skating rink. One of the experts that the plaintiff wanted to call would provide testimony about the causes of other skaters falling on the rink, conditions of the skates and ice, and other safety factors such as the presence of a “skate guard.” In addition, the plaintiffs presented the expert testimony of a biomedical engineer who opined about the ankle fracture that the plaintiff suffered.

Test tubesA woman was working at a hospital when she fell and hurt her shoulder. When she tested positive for marijuana, the law presumed that the accident was due to her drug use. The court held that she did not successfully rebut the presumption of the drugs being the cause of the accident. Therefore, she was denied workers’ compensation benefits under the law. If you are injured at work, it is important to contact a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible. With the assistance of a skilled attorney, the woman in this case may have been able to successfully rebut the presumption and thus be eligible for benefits.

Facts of the Case

 Here, the plaintiff was working at her job cleaning hospital rooms when she slipped and fell as she was running to alert nurses on duty about a patient who was in distress. After she fell, her employer took her to the hospital to get treatment, and then took her immediately to a clinic, which gave her a drug test. She tested positive for marijuana during this test.

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In a recent case before the Florida Supreme Court, the court decided what kinds of funds Medicaid was able to put a lien against. It held that only an award of past medical expenses could be used to satisfy the lien, and that Medicaid could not touch the award for future medical expenses. If you are injured in an accident, you should contact a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible! They can help you to make sure you receive – and keep – the recovery that you deserve.

Facts of the Case

The facts of this case are relatively straightforward. A man was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. He had extensive injuries. He did not have private insurance so Florida’s Medicaid program paid $322,222.27 for medical care to treat his injuries from the accident. Later, he settled with one of the alleged tortfeasors for one million dollars. Medicaid then said he owed them over $320,000 for his medical bills. However, of the million dollar settlement, only $13,881.79 was compensation for past medical expenses. Though the case never explicitly states what the other amounts are for, presumably it is future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other compensable damages under tort law. Thus, the victim’s representative argued that the Medicaid lien should only be for the $13,881.79 allocated to past medical expenses.

In any personal injury case, the injured person must connect the accident to the alleged injury in order to receive damages.  The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recently assessed in a Florida car accident case, No. 4D17-1900, whether it was an error for the trial court to allow an expert witness for the injured person to testify about causation and permanency in violation of a trial preparation order.  The plaintiff Legal News Gavelsought damages for the bodily injuries she sustained due to an accident.  The driver of the other vehicle admitted fault but denied the accident caused the victim’s alleged injuries.  The case moved forward to trial to determine whether the accident did cause her injuries, whether those injuries are permanent, the reasonableness and necessity of medical bills, and damages.

The defendant objected to one of the injured person’s expert witnesses, an orthopedic surgeon, but the court allowed the expert to opine on the causation and permanency of the plaintiff’s injuries.  The surgeon testified the injured person’s shoulder was damaged as a result of the car accident and required surgery.  The physician described his course of treatment and provided copies of the total bill of $58,000 from his practice group.  The injured person also testified, discussing the multiple treatments she received to remedy the injuries from the accident.  The injured person went to an urgent care facility on the day of the accident to address pain and stiffness in the back of her neck and a numbing sensation starting at her shoulders and reaching through her arm to the fingertips.  The injured person additionally described seeking help for several months when she went to physical therapy and underwent an MRI.  Eventually, surgery was recommended by two separate physicians.  The injured person testified she underwent the procedure and had to follow up with additional post-surgical care to improve her strength and ability. 

On appeal, the defendant asserted the trial judge erred in the dismissal of his motions because there was insufficient evidence about the reasonableness and necessity of past services provided for the injured person’s medical care.  Florida requires an injured party to produce more than the mere bill for expenses to prove whether the amount was reasonable.  The defendant argued the physician’s testimony was unnecessary to show the necessity and reasonableness of the bill, but the injured person’s lay testimony was acceptable.  The defendant claimed that since there was no testimony from the injured person connecting each bill to the accident, there was no testimony meeting the burden set by Florida statutes and case law. The appellate court was unpersuaded by this argument and concluded the plaintiff sufficiently proved the reasonableness through her testimony and her expert’s testimony. 

In a recent Florida brain injury case, a teenager suffered permanent brain damage after her treatment for hydrocephalus at a Medical Center and Children’s Hospital. The teen had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 12 years of age, caused by a tumor creating a build-up of excess cerebral spinal fluid in the brain. To assist with the blockage, she underwent surgery, which went well. Another procedure was Legal News Gavelscheduled two years later to address the scar tissue left by the first procedure and remove the blockage building back up.

Before she could undergo surgery, she began vomiting and experiencing painful headaches. The girl’s parents called the children’s hospital, which advised them to take her to the nearest hospital for a CT scan, if they could not make it to their facility. The daughter arrived by ambulance and was labeled as an “urgent” status rather than emergent or non-urgent status. The treating doctor in the medical center ordered a CT scan and examined the teen. The physician noted a normal pupillary exam with no deficits to her eyes. Another eye exam was performed, which again showed her pupils reacted to light and were equal to each other. When the CT scan results came out, the radiologist determined the teen’s hydrocephalus was worsening based on a comparison to a scan taken six months earlier. Despite this, the treating physician at the center called the teen’s pediatrician and reported her condition as “stable.”

Transit from the medical center was arranged between the children’s hospital and the medical center. Within the hour and twenty minutes between the call from the treating physician and the estimated pick-up time by the helicopter, the teen began vomiting and experiencing a low heart rate. This was relayed to the children’s hospital and medical center staff. The teen was then placed on the helicopter 25 minutes after the estimated arrival time and examined by medical staff onboard. The nurse determined she had a decrease in speech but was able to respond to her mother by nodding her head. The teen was taken straight to the ER, but she arrived in critical condition and had to undergo an emergency ventriculostomy. Even though the procedure saved her life, the teen suffered permanent brain damage with great mental impairment. The teen is no longer able to feed herself, nor is she able to live or work independently.

Section 627.727, Florida statutes delineates the requirements for (UM) uninsured motorist coverage – specifically how an insurer must document the rejection of coverage. The insured can select UM coverage lower than the bodily injury liability limits of the policy or reject coverage entirely, but she or he must do so through writing. In a recent Florida car accident case, No. 4D17-332, the court looked at whether an insurance company failed to follow the UM statutory guidelines. The insured purchased uninsured motorist (UM) coverage for two vehicles. He filled out an online form, which did not allow him to sign anything, nor did it provide the ability to reject or deselect non-stacked coverage. The signing page also did not have warning language, as required by law. The appellate court determined the insurer failed to comply with the written notice Legal News Gavelprovisions, and as a result, the insured did not knowingly reject stacked coverage or accept non-stacked UM coverage.

The trial court judge found the documentation used by the insurance company did not comply with the specificities of Florida statute 627.727. The written notice with warning language was to be in a 12-point font and signed by the insured. The warning page did not have a signature line for the insured and was not signed by the insured. A different page had a signature but only incorporated the required warnings by reference. The judge also noted the online form did not allow a user to un-select the automated waiver of stacked coverage. The judge granted the insured’s motion for summary judgment, and the insurer appealed. The insurer did not argue against any of the judge’s findings on appeal, instead claiming the policy-holder orally rejected the stacked UM coverage. The case went on to be tried on the oral rejection issue alone, with a jury verdict in favor of the insurance company.

Section 627.727, Florida statutes is filled with very specific requirements preceded by the word “shall,” strictly limiting the interpretation to what is within the body of the statute. The appellate court noted this was all written with the intent to promote UM coverage and avoid costs borne by the taxpayer after car accidents. The court stated the legislature understood the short attention span of the average consumer and the need for essential information to be relayed efficiently and prominently, thus coming up with the specific requirements. Various appellate courts and the state’s supreme court reviewed these statutory mandates and found them to be acceptable. The legislative history shows this to be a compromise between keeping drivers adequately covered in the event of a UM accident and the insurance companies’ competition.

A Florida personal injury judgment against an aesthetician and a spa was recently upheld by the Fourth District Court of Appeal. In Case No. 4D16-2530, a woman was injured after a facial at a spa went very wrong. The injured customer filled out a form advising she had the skin condition rosacea, which is a chronic inflammation of the face. Prior to the treatment at the spa, the condition was mild with only a rosy flush in Legal News Gavelher cheeks. The aesthetician performing the facial admitted she did not read the form before the procedure, and if she had been aware of the condition, she would have used a different product or performed a test on a part of her face.

The plaintiff stated her face felt like it was burning during the procedure and continued to burn afterward. The injured woman’s face oozed and remained bright red. During the trial, the injured woman’s face was bumpy and easily turned red whenever the temperature increased or she was out in the sun. The pattern of bumps and redness were in the exact shape of the burn to her face. The woman testified at trial that before the injury, she had smooth skin and never wore makeup. After the incident, people would inquire if she was all right any time her face became red, asking what was wrong. The plaintiff stated that she now has to wear makeup to feel comfortable in public, and she has become more shy and awkward as a result of her appearance.

At trial, the injured woman presented several expert witnesses to the jury to help document the history and worsening of her skin condition. Her treating dermatologist related that her condition was mild and had been improving prior to the facial. Following the peel, he diagnosed her with severe irritant contact dermatitis, prescribing an antibiotic cream. The dermatologist tracked the continued inflammation and hyper-pigmentation in the months after the peel. A plastic surgeon also testified, describing his examination of the plaintiff after the chemical peel. He stated that her face had been permanently damaged because the peel removed the skin’s protective barrier. He opined that the disfigurement and scarring were permanent and that she’d need a lifetime of dermatological care to control the outbreaks of her skin. He stated she could never return to her appearance before the peel.

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Florida car accidents are often caused by poor choices made by other drivers or bad weather conditions. Occasionally, they are caused by hazards created by construction zones or the design of a roadway. The Third District Court of Appeal recently issued an opinion in a negligence action filed against a gas station. The plaintiff alleged a cut across a median requested and promoted by the gas station caused the errant car to strike the plaintiff’s car, causing her bodily injuries.  Legal News GavelThe claims made by the injured woman against the gas station were dismissed by the trial court, which was affirmed in part and reversed in part by the Court of Appeal.

The car accident happened on a four-lane road with two lanes of traffic on each side of a concrete median. The plaintiff stated another car pulled out of the gas station, went across the cut in the median, and joined the lane of traffic she was occupying. The injured woman claimed the car from the gas station caused her to lose control of her car and hit a palm tree. She did not allege any obstruction in her view.

The gas station purchased the property near the accident after making a deal with the city several decades ago. The gas station petitioned for a cut in the median so that traffic could enter and exit from both eastbound and westbound lanes. During the application process, the gas station submitted a traffic study. The plaintiff alleged that this was done improperly and that the gas station did not make necessary adjustments to their signage to deal with the foreseeable dangers to the public.

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