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Florida PIP lawyer

When answering calls from Fort Myers car accident victims, our attorneys have found that Florida PIP is one of the most misunderstood concepts.

“Why am I fighting with my own insurer?” “Can I still sue the person who hit me?” “What is the ‘no-fault’ system anyway? Someone is at-fault, right?”

Understandably, people are confused because Florida is one of just a few states that still uses this kind of system to handle auto accident claims, and there are all kinds of exceptions and caveats. PIP is not supposed to deny you the opportunity to have your damages covered, but many crash victims find navigating the system difficult and frustrating.  Our team at Garvin Injury Law can help you get answers and determine how to maximize your odds of receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries.

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Key West injury lawyer

In most Florida injury lawsuits, the injured person (plaintiff) needs to show the person or entity they are suing (defendant) violated a duty of care that was owed, resulting in the injuries and financial damages at issue. In some cases, however, the plaintiff can establish the duty of care and the breach of duty using the doctrine of negligence per se. The phrase “per se” in Latin means “in itself” or “by itself.” As a Key West injury lawyer can explain, negligence per se is a legal term that refers to a violation of some statute, law, or regulation enacted to protect individuals in the plaintiff’s same position. Where the doctrine applies, one need only prove the defendant’s actions were the proximate (legal) cause of their injuries.

A recent ruling by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal dealt with negligence per se in an elevator accident. In the case of Vogel v. Cornerstone Doctors Condominium Association, Inc., the question was whether the defendant property owner acted reasonably with regard to the safety of its elevator. In that case, the Defendant owned a two-story building that houses medical offices. Plaintiff was a patient who went to his doctor to give them his new insurance card. On his way in, he rode the elevator to the second level without issue. Upon departure, he approached the elevator again and found the doors were open. He stepped inside but soon discovered the elevator floor was not properly level, as it was about two feet below the landing. Unfortunately, he did not realize this until after he had taken a step in, and as a result, fell, suffering personal injuries to his neck and back.

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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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teen driver crash risk

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for Florida teens, and adolescents face four times the crash risk as drivers over 20, particularly within the first 18 months after receiving their driver’s license. Part of the reason for that could be immaturity, which could lead to dangerous actions behind the wheel that heighten the crash risk. But a new report also finds teen drivers have a greater chance of serious injury or death in a crash because they’re more likely to be driving older, smaller cars.

As one research scientist for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety stated, “Despite everything we know about young drivers and crash risk, teens are still driving the least safe vehicles. Small vehicles do not protect as well in a crash, and older vehicles are less likely to be equipped with essential safety equipment.”

The study authors examined data from deadly crashes that occurred between 2013 and 2017. What they discovered was that among teen motorists killed in these crashes, those operating older vehicles faced four times the fatality risk as those driving newer models. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of teens who died in collisions were in vehicles that were older than six years. Teenagers also spend more than half their drive time in a vehicle that’s more than a decade old. Nearly one-third of those who died were in vehicles that were lighter and smaller. Less than 4 percent of teen drivers who lost their lives in crashes were in vehicles under three years old.

Our Fort Myers car accident lawyers understand parents’ reluctance to pay a lot of money for their teenager’s first vehicle. But what many probably are not aware of is how much less safe those older cars are.

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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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Garvin Injury Law is proud to announce that the firm has again been named and ranked in the 2021 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally in both personal injury and medical malpractice. Garvin Injury Law offers legal services for personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice, with offices in Fort Myers, Naples, Key West. Attorneys Leland Garvin and Jeff Garvin are a father and son team, described by satisfied clients as committed, knowledgeable, compassionate, ethical, and responsive. The attorneys have a proven track record of success, both in pre-trial settlement negotiations and in civil jury trials, having secured multiple millions of dollars in compensation for victims of negligence and intentional wrongdoing.

Founded well over 40 years ago, our attorneys are motivated by the needs of their clients, as well as a fierce commitment to seek accountability for those who have caused them harm. The team is invested and involved in the Southwest Florida community and familiar with its courts and processes. They pride themselves on working tirelessly to uphold the highest standards of the legal profession – and securing the maximum compensation for their clients.

Leland
Attorney Leland E. Garvin was named for Personal Injury Litigation.

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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?  Over the years our law firm has received many calls regarding Florida emergency vehicle laws;  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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