Articles Posted in Serious Injury

Drunk driving accidents are unfortunate occurrences that frequently cause serious and often fatal injuries. In addition to seeking damages from the drunk driver, Florida law permits injured parties to seek compensation from anyone who served the driver alcohol if they knew the driver was a habitual addict.

The injured party must present adequate evidence of addiction, however, and the failure to do so may be fatal to their claim, as illustrated in a recent case decided by a Florida appellate court. If you were injured in a South Florida car accident caused by a drunk driver, you should retain an experienced personal injury attorney to provide you with a strong chance for a successful outcome under the circumstances.

Facts Regarding the Driver’s Consumption of Alcohol and the Subsequent Accident

Reportedly, the defendant driver struck two couples on mopeds from behind at 10:15 pm when he was on his way home from work. All of the individuals on the mopeds were injured and one individual died from her injuries. The driver was employed at a Key West restaurant and worked until 5:00 pm that evening. After he was done working, he remained at the bar and consumed several alcoholic beverages.  The bartender on duty stated the defendant was not drunk when he arrived, but when he left at 10:00 pm he was intoxicated, stumbling and slurring his speech. It was stipulated that the defendant driver’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was .2 grams per deciliter. The injured parties and the personal representative of the deceased party filed an action to recover damages from the defendant driver and his employer. The plaintiffs’ claims against the employer were based, in part, on a Florida statute that imposes liability on anyone who serves alcohol to a person habitually addicted to alcohol, if the person then injures a third party.

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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.

When an injury occurs on the premises of a business, it can be difficult to determine who is liable for the accident. When there are multiple entities involved, including insurers, indemnity often comes up between the parties.  Insurance companies often indemnify their insureds, meaning that they handle the suit on behalf of the insured.  Sometimes two companies can agree between themselves that one will indemnify the other in certain situations.  The First District Court of Appeal addressed a question of indemnity in a Florida premises liability case, No. 1D16-5675.

A woman was trapped and injured in an office building elevator.  The property owner had previously entered into an elevator service contract, hiring a company to be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the elevators in the office building.  This included responding to calls from people trapped in an elevator.    After the injured person filed suit against the owners of the office building for negligence, the property owner sought indemnification from the elevator maintenance company, per the agreement.  After the contractor refused to indemnify, the property owner filed a cross complaint against the contractor for not honoring the contract, asserting the property owners were not at fault. 

At trial, the jury found the property owners and the maintenance contractors to be 50 percent at fault in their response to the elevator malfunction.  The office building owners moved for a directed verdict, which was granted, absolving them of liability as the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, but still holding them liable for providing safe operation and proper maintenance.  The property owner and the elevator company each reached their own settlement agreement with the plaintiffs during the second phase of the bifurcated trial.  The agreement between the property owner and the injured person was disclosed to the jury, but the agreement between the elevator maintenance company and the injured person was not.  The jury returned a verdict of $13 million, which was in excess of the settlement amount.

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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 scheduled 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.

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