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Earlier this month, a court issued a written opinion in a Florida golf cart accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s insurance provider was required to cover the accident under the underinsured motorist (UM) provision of the plaintiff’s policy. Ultimately, the court held that the exclusion for accidents involving “non-owned golf carts” was invalid.

Golf CartThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking on a pathway in Sun City Center when she was struck by a golf cart. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries. The operator of the golf cart did not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for her injuries, so she filed a claim with her own insurance company, under the underinsured motorist provision.

The plaintiff’s insurance policy contained separate language for accidents involving liability insurance and accidents involving UM insurance. Specifically, the plaintiff’s liability policy covered accidents involving “non-owned golf carts,” but accidents involving “non-owned golf carts” were specifically excluded from the UM protection policy. Thus, the insurance company denied the plaintiff coverage.

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When someone is injured due to the reckless, intentional, or negligent conduct of another party, they may be entitled to monetary compensation from the at-fault party through a Florida personal injury case. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the severity of the accident victim’s injuries, and the defendant’s level of culpability, an accident victim may be entitled to one or more of several types of damages.

Dollar BillsTypes of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

The most common and straightforward type of damages in a Florida personal injury case is compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are designed to restore the plaintiff back to the situation in which they were prior to being injured. Of course, courts cannot go back in time and make a plaintiff “un-injured,” so instead courts estimate the costs that have been incurred by the plaintiff in the past and estimate the plaintiff’s expenses moving forward. Thus, compensatory damages include award amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering endured by the accident victim as a result of the defendant’s conduct.

In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded in a Florida personal injury case. While the purpose of compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff whole again, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for especially egregious behavior and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct. Due to their nature, punitive damages can be quite substantial; however, they are only available in limited circumstances.

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The highways of South Florida see a large number of commercial trucks every day. As a result, it isn’t surprising to learn that there are a significant number of truck accidents across the state. Indeed, according to a recent government study, there were nearly 300 fatal Florida truck accidents in 2016 alone. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties see the highest number of fatal Florida traffic accidents each year.

HighwayDue to the dangers presented by large trucks, Florida truck drivers are required to obtain a special license prior to operating a large truck. In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license, an aspiring truck driver must pass several written tests, as well as a pre-trip inspection test and a road test. In addition, truck drivers who plan on carrying hazardous materials, school children, or extra-long trailers must obtain additional endorsements.

When it comes to determining whether a truck driver can be held liable for an accident, courts apply the law of negligence. Essentially, to establish that a truck driver is liable for injuries related to an accident, the accident victim must prove that some negligent action taken by the truck driver resulted in the accident victim’s injuries. This is normally broken down into four segments:  duty, breach, causation, and damages.

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Being involved in even a minor Florida car accident is a stressful experience, but when an accident victim suffers serious injury in an accident the stress can become overwhelming. initially the physical and emotional recovery consume an accident victim’s time and thoughts, but as the body and mind start to heal, financial worries creep into the picture. What sort of medical treatment is going to be needed in the future? How will it be paid for?

Car AccidentThankfully, Florida accident victims are able to pursue a claim for compensation against the at-fault party through that party’s insurance carrier. Although Florida law requires a base level of coverage, if the at-fault motorist does not have insurance coverage, then an accident victim will likely be able to file a claim with their own insurance policy under the uninsured motorist clause. Similarly, if an accident victim’s injuries amount to a need for compensation in excess of what is available through the at-fault driver’s policy, a claim under the victim’s underinsured motorist protection clause can help fill the gap.

Dealing with insurance companies, however, is rarely an easy experience. Insurance companies operate on a for-profit model, and are often reluctant to approve a claim for what the accident victim deserves. Indeed, in many cases insurance companies look for ways to deny a claim, or approach a motorist with a low-ball offer in hopes of settling the claim quickly and for as little as possible. A recent case illustrates an insurance companies attempt at avoiding financial liability following a Florida car accident.

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Despite decades-long efforts by the state and federal governments, drunk driving remains a major problem on Florida roads. Indeed, in the 10-year period between 2003 and 2012, there were almost 8,500 Florida drunk driving deaths. This amounts to about 850 drunk driving accidents a year or 70 per month.

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When a driver gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink, they are putting not only their own life in jeopardy but also the lives of countless others. It has been shown that drunk drivers are more likely to speed, act aggressively, fall asleep, get distracted, or make poor judgment calls, all of which can further increase the chance of causing an accident.

Florida law allows for victims of drunk driving accidents to seek compensation for their injuries through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. In some cases, the fact that a driver was intoxicated will make an accident victim’s recovery process easier because the driver is presumed to be negligent, due to the fact that drunk driving is specifically prohibited by law.

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When someone slips and falls on the property of another party, they may be entitled to recover compensation for the injuries they sustained as a result of the fall through a South Florida premises liability lawsuit. In order to prove a slip-and-fall case in Florida, certain elements must be met, or the court can dismiss the case upon the defendant landowner’s motion.

Wet Floor SignPremises liability cases are based on the theory of negligence, which allows an accident victim to recover damages from the defendant if they can establish that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, which was violated by some act or omission of the defendant. Furthermore, the plaintiff must establish that it was the defendant’s alleged negligence that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

In regard to the “breach” element, Florida lawmakers have enacted a statute to assist courts in determining if a defendant landowner breached a duty they owed to a visitor. Florida statute 768.0755 applies to cases in which a plaintiff is injured after slipping on a “transitory foreign substance,” and it requires the plaintiff to establish that the landowner have “actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.”

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Earlier this month, a Florida State Trooper was seriously injured in a Florida car accident when he was struck by a motorist while responding to the scene of an accident on the side of the highway. According to a local news report, the original accident was between two vehicles heading south on the Palmetto Expressway. Evidently, the state trooper was on scene assisting the motorists involved in that collision when another motorist failed to take notice of the accident and crashed into the back of one of the cars.

Police CarThe force from that collision sent the car spinning around, and it then crashed into the other car that was involved in the original accident. The state trooper, who was standing near both cars, was struck by one of them and was thrown to the side of the road. The trooper was flown to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.

Police told reporters that the driver who caused the subsequent collision had alcohol on his breath and consented to a blood-draw. The results confirmed that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested on several DUI-related charges.

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Putting your child on a school bus may be the safest way to get your child to school. School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries. However, despite the heavy regulations placed on school buses, South Florida school bus accidents still happen.

School BusAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2006 to 2015, there were 1,313 fatalities in school transportation-related crashes, or around 131 fatalities per year. A school transportation-related crash was defined as a crash that involved a school bus, or a non-school bus functioning as a bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities. There were 301 school-age children killed in school transportation-related crashes, 54 of whom were occupants of school transportation vehicles. In addition, of the school-age fatalities in school transportation-related crashes, most occurred between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. or from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reported there were 134,790 children involved in crashes in Florida in 2016. It also noted there was a 32 percent increase in fatalities from 2014. The DHSMV cautioned drivers to properly stop for school buses. As of July 1, 2017, a new Florida law took effect, the Cameron Mathew Act, which increases the minimum penalty for drivers who illegally pass a school bus, resulting in injuries or death.

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Every person on the road has to be wary of other drivers, especially those drivers who are fatigued and may not be safely operating a vehicle. A recent news article highlights the dangers associated with the transportation of agricultural workers, a danger all Florida drivers face.

Wheat FieldIn a Florida auto accident involving a truck and a bus, four people were killed in an early morning collision near St. Marks. According to federal investigators, the crash highlighted problems with safety regulations concerning the transportation of migrant farmworkers. The crash occurred at around 5:00 AM and was deemed to be the fault of the bus driver. The bus was being driven by a migrant farmworker who had finished a day’s work picking crops.

Investigators determined that the bus company failed to adequately oversee the driver. It also found there was a lack of effective oversight by the Department of Labor and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In addition to the four people killed in the crash, 29 others were injured. The investigation thus far shows that the driver failed to stop at a blinking red light and stop sign at an intersection.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit that arose after the plaintiff fell off an examination table in the defendant doctor’s office. The court was tasked with determining if the plaintiff’s lawsuit should be dismissed because she failed to comply with the applicable statute of limitations. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was not a “medical malpractice” lawsuit as defined by the statute and that her claim need not comply with the stricter statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Doctor's OfficeThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seeing the defendant doctor so that he could remove a catheter. When the doctor came into the examination room, he instructed the plaintiff to climb onto the examination table. He then pulled out a stool so that she could more easily get atop the table. The plaintiff safely climbed onto the table, and the doctor performed the procedure without any complications.

After the procedure, the doctor told the plaintiff to go to the front desk and make a follow-up appointment the following week. The doctor then left the examination room without pulling out the stool to help the plaintiff descend off the table. The plaintiff attempted to get off the table but fell as she did so.

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