Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit

Aside from how much money a case is worth, Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit plaintiffs often want to know how long their case will take to resolve. Most are not thrilled to hear the ever-popular lawyer answer: It depends. But the truth is that determining how long a case will take to resolve can be more of an art than a science. First, know that settlements can often be preferable to litigation. They take less time and tend to use fewer resources. You may never even need to file a lawsuit if your injury attorney can successfully negotiate a fair resolution with the insurer(s) involved. While this is oversimplified for purposes of making this a brief blog post; for a settlement to be reached, both sides need to agree on two main issues: Liability and fair value.

Liability refers to which party is legally responsible for paying. Florida follows a system of “pure comparative fault,” essentially meaning a plaintiff (the person filing the case) could be 99 percent liable – and still collect the remaining 1 percent of damages from the other at-fault party. However, your damage award is going to be proportionately reduced by your degree of fault. So if you are 40 percent liable, your total damages will be reduced by 40 percent.

Fair value refers to how much your case is reasonably worth in light of the severity of your injuries, how much physical pain you suffered, the totality of your medical expenses (past and future), the time you had to take off work, the impact to your future wage-earning capabilities and the extent to which this has impacted your personal life. Understand that for cases involving serious injuries, it is probably impossible to resolve in less than a few months because it is going to take at least that long (usually longer) to accurately determine the full severity of your injuries, the long-term estimate of future medical expenses and how these injuries are going to impact the rest of your life.

It should go without saying that you or your attorney will need to prove causation, that is that the injury for which you are seeking “fair value” was actually caused by (or made worse as a result of) the crash or incident. This is an often contested area as many of us have some evidence of the natural aging process going on in our body at a time that we may become injured.

Needless to say, there can be more than a few points of disagreement. When those differences cannot be resolved, cases end up going to trial.

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Florida personal injury lawsuit

As it is with any type of litigation, there are certain risks associated when you pursue a Florida personal injury lawsuit. The good news is these risks are significantly mitigated by:

        • Hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in successfully handling cases like yours.
        • Contingency fee arrangements that do not require plaintiff attorney’s fees to be paid upfront – or at all – unless you win.

An experienced attorney can provide you with an informed opinion about the strength and value of your injury case, giving you a good sense of whether it is better to accept a settlement offer or proceed to trial. The contingency fee arrangement is a safety net too. Not only because you are off-the-hook for your attorney’s fees if you do not win, but it also creates a clear incentive for your injury lawyer to be frank with you about your chances of prevailing – and the best way to do it.

That said, our Fort Myers injury attorneys are always straightforward with our clients about some of the potential pitfalls of personal injury litigation. These are general risks, though some may be more relevant for certain types of cases (i.e., auto accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, claims against government entities, etc.).

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Naples personal injury lawyer

Some people think they must suffer catastrophic injuries to recover damages in a Florida injury lawsuit. That is not always true. What is true is that when catastrophic injuries are involved, winning full and fair compensation can actually be an even greater challenge. In you have sustained life-changing injuries, it is highly recommended that you sign nothing until you at least consult with an injury lawyer. After that, you can then decide if you feel comfortable handling the claim alone or if you’d prefer a trial attorney’s help.

We know for a fact that no insurer is eager to pay the full sum of what is rightly owed in these cases.

As our Naples personal injury attorneys can explain, catastrophic injury claims (which typically involve severe damage to the spine (back), spinal cord, brain, or other extremities) are actually more common these days than they were even two or three decades ago. This is mostly because of the evolution of modern medicine. As noted by insurance industry research: “Medical advances are helping first responders better stabilize accident victims at a scene… Many who used to die are now living. … Advances in medicine (have also) significantly reduced complications that arise from catastrophic injury claims. This means longer life expectancies.”

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South Florida personal injury lawyer

Many South Florida personal injury lawyers offer up a wealth of information about things like, “What to do after a car accident,” or, “Ways nursing homes can be liable for neglect,” and, “Who can file wrongful death litigation?” This insight is valuable, but much of it presumes the person involved was not already disabled or medically vulnerable. There is a presumption that one day he or she is completely fine, then they encounter someone else’s negligence, and now they have serious injuries with long-term consequences. But what if you had a pre-existing condition? What if you were already medically fragile?

In Florida, this is an important consideration because it:

  • Ranks No. 2 nationally for having the highest percentage of the population over the age of 65. There are an estimated 73 million baby boomers nationally, with many vacationing in Florida or having second homes here, even if they don’t live here full time.
  • Reports of more than 28 percent of adult residents have some type of disability. That is higher than the national average of 25 percent.
  • Has nearly 1.7 million elderly residents with at least one type of disability.

Incidents that give rise to Florida personal injury claims, such as car accidents, slip-and-fall injuries, dangerous product injuries – these do not just happen to young people who had zero health issues beforehand. People who are elderly or disabled may be at increased risk of certain types of injuries (falls in particular). Additionally, the extent of the injuries they are likely to suffer is often more severe, and recovery will take longer. Continue reading

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Florida personal injury lawsuit

If you file a Florida personal injury lawsuit, chances are your case will never go to trial. In fact, U.S. Justice Department data shows about 97 percent of all claims are settled or dismissed without a trial.

Even so, it is helpful to know the risks and benefits of both trials and settlements, something your South Florida personal injury lawyer should explain while reviewing your case. Ultimately, your attorney should not shy away from going to trial if it is what is in your best interest, but settlements can remove uncertainty and can often be the best course of action.

What is a Personal Injury Settlement? 

The term “settlement” refers to a kind of formal resolution of your claim or lawsuit before a judge or jury hears it. It means you agree to accept money in exchange for dropping your action against the person or business who caused your injury.

Settlement agreements can be reached at any point during litigation, up to the point that a case has been tried, but before jurors reach a verdict. In some instances, your case can settle before you ever even have to file a Florida personal injury lawsuit.

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Florida emergency vehicle accidentsWe all know that when an emergency vehicle approaches with its lights flashing and sirens blaring, other motorists should make way – and fast. But what if you cannot move quickly enough? What if you did not see the lights or hear the sirens before it was too late? What if there were no lights or sirens activated at all?  As our South Florida injury lawyers can explain, state law allows for legal accountability in Florida emergency vehicle accidents in some circumstances. Proving it will likely require an extensive investigation, expert witness testimony, and an experienced legal team.

According to the National Safety Council, emergency vehicle crashes – those involving police vehicles, ambulances or fire trucks – caused 168 U.S. deaths in 2018. Of those, less than half (48 percent) occurred while the authorized vehicles’ lights and sirens were in use. Most of those who died were either an occupant of non-emergency vehicles or pedestrians (69%). Police vehicles were involved in the most fatal crashes (64%), followed by ambulances (28%), and then fire trucks (8%). These numbers provide some insight but do not give us a full picture as non-fatal crashes are not included.

F.S. 316.072 allows emergency vehicle operators some leeway when it comes to traffic rules. For example, they can proceed past a red light or through a stop sign – but only after slowing down as necessary for safe operation. They can exceed the maximum speed limit – so long as the driver does not endanger life or property. They can also disregard regulations governing direction, movement, or turning – but only so long as life or property is not endangered. Many departments also have written policies that outline the caution their employees should use when responding to an emergency.

What the law makes clear is that while these first responders are tasked with critically important duties for which seconds count, they do not have free reign to drive recklessly on our roads or needlessly endanger others.

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Fort Myers injury lawyerRoughly 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses occur annually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. One-third of these incidents caused employees to miss at least one day at work. Those in agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, retail trades, transportation, and warehousing are at the highest risk for work injuries. As a Fort Myers injury lawyer, one question I am sometimes asked is whether or not someone can file a lawsuit following a work-related injury. The answer will depend on circumstances under which the person was injured, whether dangerous machines/products were involved, and who was responsible for safety at the place where it happened.

Let us start by making it clear that in the state of Florida, F.S. 440.11 makes it clear that workers’ compensation is considered the exclusive remedy for work related injuries. However, this does not mean you cannot file an injury lawsuit. What it means is that you probably cannot file an injury lawsuit against your employer or co-worker. The trade-off, as stated in F.S. 440.15, is that employees get the benefit of quick, efficient receipt of medical and wage loss benefits without having to prove they were blameless, while the employer enjoys immunity from work injury lawsuits. There is, however, a very narrow exception to this rule that involves employers who cause worker injuries with deliberate intent, and your injury probably does not qualify. (If your employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance or you were an independent contractor/not an employee, that may be another matter entirely.)

Still, what you do not want to discount is the potential for a third-party liability claim. The fact is, even if you do collect workers’ compensation, it is not going to cover as much as a personal injury lawsuit would. Workers’ compensation claims do not allow for damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, or a loss of consortium claim from your spouse. Continue reading

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Fort Myers bicycle accidentThe coronavirus pandemic has spurred a nationwide biking boom. Bike sales nationwide have doubled in recent months compared to last year. Some cyclists like cheap transportation while others find it safer to cycle right now than take a public bus or subway. Many simply welcome a healthy outdoor respite from social isolation. Numerous Florida cities have seized on the reduced traffic counts as an opportunity to get a jump start on building new bicycle lanes or connecting existing ones to create a more expansive, safer biking network. However, South Florida is still one of the most dangerous regions in the deadliest state for bicyclists and the risk of a Fort Myers bicycle accident remains high.

The Miami Herald reports that despite the high demand for bike infrastructure, few South Florida cities are taking the initiative to make biking safer. Transportation safety advocates note that in many communities throughout the state, there is no network of safe bicycle pathways. Instead, we have these fragmented stretches of random bicycle lanes that do not connect to one another, are often not separated from traffic, and are far too frequently ignored by careless motorists.

Our South Florida bicycle accident attorneys know that many communities from Tampa to Miami have made big plans when it comes to bike safety, but many have stalled if they were ever begun in the first place. There has been discussion of expanding and connecting the Gulf Coast Trail, which would serve as a Southwest coast connector from Clearwater to Naples, with segments adjacent to motor vehicle traffic. WINK News reports the last time the City of Fort Myers created a plan to make biking and walking easier was in 2007, though they did recently release a survey asking residents to chime in with suggestions for improvement. Meanwhile, there has been little movement on Miami Beach’s nearly-200-page bicycle master plan for Miami Beach. So far, the city’s only built one-tenth of a mile of the 17 miles of protected bicycle lanes promised back in 2009.

Bicycling is great for individuals and communities in a number of ways, but there is cause for concern when there is an uptick in ridership combined with a lack of safety infrastructure – especially because Florida does not have a great track record when it comes to preventing bicycle accidents. Continue reading

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Naples injury lawsuitSuccess in a Naples personal injury lawsuit is going to depend on dozens of factors that are specific to your case. These can include the degree of the other person’s carelessness, what type of insurance you have, what pre-existing conditions you have, and whether there were complaints or verdicts against the defendant for similar conduct.

Some of these elements are more nuanced than they initially appear. That is why it is so important to consult with an injury attorney who has extensive experience handling tort claims before writing off your chances of winning.

Understand that personal injury attorneys in Florida accept these cases on a strict contingency fee basis, meaning they are not paid unless you prevail. That means injury attorneys have ample incentive to be frank about your chances of winning, and it helps to know some of the aspects they are considering. Continue reading

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furniture tip-oversHome furnishings retailer Ikea has recalled 820,000 chests due to the risk of furniture tip-overs that could endanger young children. The IKEA Kullen dressers have been sold nationwide, and the danger is that if they tip over, they can crush kids. According to the Ikea recall notice, the three-drawer version of these chests is unstable if not anchored to a wall and they were not in compliance with voluntary performance standards. Consumers are advised to stop using them immediately and can receive either a repair kit or a refund.

Every year, thousands of children are treated in emergency rooms because of furniture tip-overs – dressers, chests, bookshelves, cabinets, desks, television stands, and televisions being particularly deadly. Consumer Reports indicates that since 2000, there have been more than 200 deaths, almost all of them younger than 6. Young children often are not able to think about or react to danger to themselves. They cannot consider the consequences of climbing up or down a piece of furniture, and they are not fast enough to react to one falling on them or strong enough to lift it off themselves if they are trapped.

Federal public health officials report 40 children every day are injured in furniture tip-overs.

This recall is the seventh involving chest and drawers for tip-over risks – since September.  Continue reading

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