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Earlier this month, Florida authorities arrested a man suspected of causing a fatal accident in Broward County back in April 2016. According to a local news report, the accident occurred in the evening hours, when the victims’ vehicle was stopped at a red light at East Oakland Park Boulevard and North Federal Highway.

Car WreckEvidently, a driver came from behind the victims’ vehicle when it was stopped at the red light. The driver failed to stop in time and slammed into the rear of the vehicle, which was then pushed into several other nearby cars. Both the driver and the passenger in the stopped vehicle were pronounced dead shortly after the accident.

The at-fault driver exited his car and ran to a nearby business, where he took off his clothes. Patrons at a nearby bar later told authorities that they saw the half-naked man drinking other peoples’ drinks at the bar. Authorities later arrested the man and took him to the hospital for the treatment of the injuries he sustained in the accident. There was evidence suggesting that the man had smoked marijuana earlier in the day and may have been under the drug’s influence.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida dog bite case discussing the single defense to the state’s strict liability dog-bite statute. Ultimately, the court concluded that a warning sign posted outside the dog park where the plaintiff was injured did not bar her recovery against the defendant dog owner.

Snarling DogThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had volunteered at a local dog park for three years. Prior to beginning as a volunteer, the plaintiff signed a waiver indicating that she was aware of the dangers involved in being in the dog park and that she accepted those risks. On the entrance gate into the dog park, there was a sign warning visitors of the potential dangers and explaining that all visitors enter at their own risk.

One day, the plaintiff was inside the dog park with the defendant and the defendant’s dog. The defendant’s dog was running around the park when it collided with the plaintiff, causing her to fall and break her leg. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that under the state’s strict liability dog-bite statute, the defendant was liable for her injuries.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida nursing home negligence case dealing with the validity of an arbitration agreement that was signed by the plaintiff on behalf of her deceased husband. The case required the court to determine whether the court or the arbitration panel named in the agreement should determine whether certain clauses contained in the arbitration agreement were severable from the rest of the contract. Ultimately, the court concluded that the severability of the clauses was properly before the court because the arbitration agreement contained no “delegation” clause.

signatureArbitration Agreements Generally

When someone is injured due to the alleged negligence of another person or business, the injured person has a right to file a personal injury case against the party they believe to be responsible for their injuries. The same is true for the loss of a loved one. However, the right to file a claim in a court of law can be waived through an agreement to submit the claim to arbitration.

Arbitration is an informal, although still legally binding, way of resolving disputes between parties. Normally, arbitration is requested by a company prior to providing services. Commonly, arbitration agreements arise in the context of nursing home pre-admission contracts, whereby the resident agrees to submit any claim for damages to arbitration, rather than filing a personal injury case in a court of law.

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Earlier this month, a pedestrian bridge on the campus of Florida International University collapsed, killing six and injuring several others. According to a recent news report, students and teachers on campus identified several cracks in the bridge before its collapse. However, no action seems to have been taken amid reports of the cracks.

As students prepared to go back to school four days after the tragic accident, the first lawsuits started to be filed. One man who was riding a bike near the bridge at the time of the collapse recently filed a Florida personal injury claim against the firm that designed the bridge as well as the company in charge of its construction.

University GroundsThe bridge was constructed using a new method of construction called accelerated bridge construction. While a former president of the American Society for Civil Engineers told reporters that accelerated bridge construction does not result in a more dangerous bridge once construction is complete, he did acknowledge that moving the bridge into place can put stress on the bridge, leaving it more vulnerable to collapse until final installation is complete.

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For many, when anxieties run high, physical symptoms can set in. Commonly, symptoms of heightened anxiety are sweaty palms, heart palpitations, dizziness, or nausea. However, when a triggering event is serious enough – like witnessing a fatal Florida car accident – the symptoms can get much worse.

Fatal AccidentRecognizing this reality, Florida courts have determined that those who suffer physical symptoms as a result of witnessing a psychologically traumatic event may be able to recover for their injuries – both physical and emotional. This claim is called negligent infliction of emotional distress, or NIED.

Interestingly, NIED is not mentioned anywhere in the Florida Statutes. Instead, this cause of action was developed entirely through the court system. Essentially, courts were getting cases in which those who witnessed serious accidents involving a loved one were attempting to recover for the injuries they sustained from the person who caused the accident. Since there was no statute guiding the courts on how to handle these matters, the courts had to decide for themselves what the elements were to substantiate such a claim.

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Over the past few years, the popularity of rideshare apps, such as Uber and Lyft, has skyrocketed. Indeed, last year, over 45 million people used a rideshare app at least once to get to their destination. However, drivers who are employed by these companies do not need to meet any special criteria other than having three years of driving experience and a clean driving record. The result is that, in too many cases, inexperienced drivers looking for a quick buck end up causing Florida car accidents while transporting passengers.

Steering WheelThe rideshare movement, has raised a number of questions involving who can be held responsible when an accident occurs. The two main rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, each maintain $1 million insurance policies to cover drivers, riders, and even third parties, such as pedestrians or other motorists. However, that policy is only in effect once a driver has accepted a passenger’s request for a ride.

If an accident occurs while a driver is waiting for a passenger to contact them, or is using their vehicle for personal reasons, the companies’ $1 million insurance policy will not provide coverage. However, there may be other options for accident victims, including filing a claim under their own insurance policy, filing a claim with the driver’s personal policy, or filing a claim with the rideshare company under their liability-only policy. The companies’ liability policies, however, offer only the greatly reduced coverage limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.

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Florida is known for its temperate, warm climate, which lends itself to nearly year-round motorcycle riding. As a result of this, many Floridians have a motorcycle that they use, if not for their main means of transportation, as a secondary vehicle. At the same time, Florida is also known for its bad drivers. And as anyone who has ridden a motorcycle knows, bad drivers and motorcycling don’t mix.

https://www.southfloridainjuryattorneys-blog.com/files/2018/02/Screen-Shot-2018-02-20-at-7.07.09-PM-300x193.pngIn all, nearly 500 motorcyclists are killed each year in Florida motorcycle accidents. According to one recent government study, this represents the most fatal motorcycle accidents in any state. In fact, aside from Texas (which is just slightly behind Florida), Florida has nearly three times the number of fatal motorcycle accidents as any other state.

The duty to prevent Florida traffic accidents rests with all motorists, but when it comes to multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents, there is a common theme. More often than not, these accidents are caused by another motorist failing to take notice of a motorcycle. This may result in a motorist changing lanes into a motorcyclist, or a motorist attempting to make a left turn in front of an approaching motorcycle. In either case, a distracted driver can be held liable for injuries caused by their negligence through a Florida personal injury lawsuit.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida personal injury case that was brought by a woman who suffered worsening symptoms of a pre-existing condition after she received a chemical peel procedure from the defendant spa. The case required the court to determine if the lower court was proper in excluding a defense expert witness and entering judgment in favor of the plaintiff. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower court was within its discretion and affirmed the verdict below.

Rolled TowelsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff arranged to have the defendant spa perform a chemical peel on her face. The plaintiff, who suffered from rosacea, filled out an intake form indicating that she had rosacea. However, the aesthetician failed to read the form before she conducted the peel.

The aesthetician later testified that, had she been aware the plaintiff suffered from rosacea, she would not have performed the peel. The aesthetician admitted that not reading the form was negligent, but she claimed that the plaintiff was also negligent. As it turns out, the plaintiff had not been to see a doctor for her rosacea for two years, and she had stopped taking all prescribed medication for her condition.

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If a Florida wrongful death case goes to trial, one party ends up with an unfavorable result. In that case, the losing party may appeal the decision. But if an appeal is made, the party has to have a clear understanding of the issues it can raise—because if it failed to raise the issue before, the issue may be waived, and the party may be stuck with the result.

Cigarette SmokeIn a recent case, a Florida appeals court considered whether an issue could be raised on appeal that the defendants raised before—but not during—the trial. In that case, a man brought a wrongful death claim against two cigarette companies after his wife’s death. The case went to trial, and the jury found in the man’s favor, awarding him $460,000 against each defendant. The defendants appealed the decision, arguing in part that there was improper expert testimony.

The expert testified about the defendant’s use of ammonia in an attempt to increase the addictiveness of cigarettes. The trial court had allowed the expert, a historian, to testify about the history of the defendants’ efforts to increase the addictiveness of cigarettes. The court did not allow the expert to give an opinion on the chemistry of tobacco. However, on appeal, the defendants argued that the expert’s testimony went beyond a historical opinion by testifying that adding ammonia to cigarettes increases their addictiveness.

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In most Florida personal injury cases that are tried to a jury, once both parties have concluded their presentation of the evidence, and the jury returns a verdict, that verdict is final. However, Florida lawmakers recognize that jurors can make mistakes, and thus they have provided a mechanism for parties to petition the court in these situations.

Scale and GavelRemittur and Additur

Under Florida Statutes section 768.74, after a jury determines that liability exists and returns a verdict, a party can ask the court to “review the amount of such award to determine if such amount is excessive or inadequate in light of the facts and circumstances which were presented to the [jury].”

If the judge determines that the amount awarded by the jury was inadequate, he or she can order an additur, which increases the amount of the jury’s verdict. Similarly, if the judge finds that the jury’s verdict was excessive, he or she can order a remittur, which reduces the jury’s verdict. If the party asking for review does not agree with the new figure, the judge will then order a new trial on the issue of damages only.

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