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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident lawsuit that illustrates the difficulties some motorists encounter when filing insurance claims after an accident. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss when a plaintiff’s failure to fulfill a “condition precedent” prior to filing a claim with his own insurance company can be fatal to a plaintiff’s claim. The court concluded that, generally, such a failure will prevent the plaintiff from recovering damages; however, when the insurance company fails to raise the issue in a timely manner, the objection will be considered waived.

Car AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sustained injuries in a Florida car accident. The plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was being operated by her father. The plaintiff claimed that the other driver was at fault, but that driver did not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries she sustained.

At the time of the collision, the plaintiff was covered under two insurance policies:  her mother’s policy with Allstate and her father’s policy with Geico. Both policies had underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance. The Geico policy’s limit was $20,000, and the Allstate policy’s limit was $25,000. The Allstate policy contained an “other insurance” clause, stating that the insured must exhaust all other insurance policies available before a claim under the Allstate policy.

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In any South Florida personal injury case, one of the judge’s primary roles is to instruct the jury on the applicable law of the case. To help make sure that all Florida judges are providing similar instructions to juries across the state, a set of standard jury instructions has been created. The standard jury instructions provide the jurors with guidance, asking the jurors to answer individual questions that eventually lead to the ultimate conclusion. Once the jurors answer the questions, the judge will announce the decision and render a verdict.

Gavel and JournalIn Florida, there are several types of product liability claims, including manufacturing defect and design defect claims. When a Florida product liability case is brought under a theory of strict liability, Standard Jury Instruction 403.7 applies. Strict liability can be seen as “liability without fault,” meaning that a defendant manufacturer can be found liable without a determination that the manufacturer was negligent. In other words, the mere fact that the product was unreasonably dangerous is sufficient to establish liability.

Instruction 403.7 pertains to both design defect and manufacturing defect claims, and it allows for a manufacturer to be held liable when a product is “unreasonably dangerous.” The instruction defines an “unreasonably dangerous” product as one that “fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used as intended or when used in a manner reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer and/or the risk of danger in the design outweighs the benefits.”

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Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across much of South Florida last month, leaving many residents with the monumental task of rebuilding their lives in the wake of the storm. Some Floridians were lucky and were able to avoid the storm for the most part, making their transition to post-hurricane life smooth. However, for others, fallen trees, damaged roofs and windows, and extreme water damage caused significant property damage, requiring tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild, if not more.

StormFor most affected homeowners, their South Florida property insurance policy should cover much of the damage they sustained in the storm. Indeed, according to a recent news report, there have been approximately 562,000 insurance claims filed related to Hurricane Irma damage. Added up, these claims represent about a $3.6 billion loss, and that figure is expected to increase with time. Most of the claims came from Miami-Dade, Orange, Broward, and Lee Counties.

Given the number of claims filed in South Florida last month, one may expect that a homeowner will face significant delays when waiting for their claim to be approved. In addition, if the insurance company does not agree with the homeowner’s claim amount, it may offer a reduced figure in hopes of a quick settlement. A desperate homeowner in need of financial assistance to rebuild their life may be tempted by such an offer; however, an insurance company’s initial offer is rarely non-negotiable.

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The Florida state government wants to encourage people to be active and to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather by rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, or engaging in other recreational activities. However, the government seemed to notice that there were becoming fewer and fewer places to partake in these activities because landowners were prohibiting people from engaging in these recreational activities on their land, due to the liability they may face if someone is injured.

Skate ParkThe Florida Legislature’s solution was to pass Florida Statute 316.0085, which provides immunity to certain landowners who open up their property for the public’s use. While there are other recreational use statutes in Florida, this particular statute pertains to rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, and paintballing.

The statute provides broad immunity to government landowners, stating that no government entity or public employee can be held liable for injuries sustained by someone who is rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, or paintballing on government property. At first glance, it would seem that anyone who is injured while engaging in any of those activities would not be able to seek compensation for their injuries; however, that is not necessarily the case.

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Now that Hurricane Irma has come and gone, it’s time for Florida to start the rebuilding process. While the wrath of Irma may not have been what many news outlets claimed it would be, the storm was still severe, displacing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions of Floridians without power.

Storm at SeaFlorida nursing homes were also affected by the storm, as well as the subsequent power outages. In fact, according to a recent news report, one nursing home is currently facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the surviving loved one of a resident who died in the aftermath of the storm.

According to the report, the plaintiff in the case is the daughter of a 94-year-old woman who was a resident in a South Florida nursing home where eight residents died after the nursing home was left without power while Irma passed. The plaintiff claims that the nursing home’s failure to prepare for the power outage showed “negligence and reckless indifference” toward the residents it was charged to protect.

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The technology being used in vehicles is evolving quickly, and self-driving cars have started to hit the roads in increasing numbers. These cars present new risks and new legal issues that can complicate the issue of liability in Florida car crashes. For example, there is the question of who is controlling the car in a self-driving car—the driver or the self-driving system?

Generally, existing laws only consider the driver for liability purposes, but in some cases, a manufacturer may be to blame. As self-driving cars continue to expand, many are pushing for legislative changes that consider the use of automated cars. Until then, it may be up to the courts to sort out the legal issues.

Shattered WindowInvestigation Finds Tesla Automated Car to Blame in 2016 Fatal Florida Crash

Accident investigators determined that Tesla’s autopilot system contributed to a 2016 Florida crash. According to one news source, in May 2016, a former Navy SEAL died after his Model S hit a truck that was crossing the highway in front of him. The accident victim was driving at 74 miles per hour when the truck made a left turn. The driver apparently did not try to brake or steer the car to get out of the way, and investigators later determined that the car had been on autopilot.

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Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida medical malpractice case that required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case was timely under the applicable statute of limitations. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case was properly filed within the applicable statute of limitations, and a lower court’s finding to the contrary was reversed. As a result, the plaintiff’s case will be permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Chest X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a patient of the defendant radiologist. In 2008, the plaintiff underwent a mammogram, and the defendant interpreted the results. Despite finding a nodule that he knew at the time was likely to be cancerous, the defendant did not inform the plaintiff or her primary care doctor.

Later that year, the defendant’s office called the plaintiff, requesting she come in for a follow-up. Again, no mention was made of the nodule and the possibility that it was cancerous. It was not until 2010, following a subsequent mammogram, that the plaintiff realized she had breast cancer. By that time, the cancer had metastasized and spread to her bones. The plaintiff’s breast cancer was successfully treated with chemotherapy, but the metastatic cancer in her bones continued to progress.

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Hurrican-Photo-225x300As Hurricane Irma approaches we encourage our friends and clients to prepare for the storm and wish for everyone’s safety.

Following are some important numbers to keep with you during and after the storm:

EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS:

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Hurricane-Horizontal-300x225Hurricane Irma continues to threaten Florida in the upcoming days. As many of us run around trying to get our home and families ready for the storm, it’s equally important to have your hurricane insurance matters in order.

This is the time to review your policy and prepare in case you need to file a claim. Following are some important reminders:

•Take still pictures or videos of your house and personal belongings to insure there is no doubt as to what you owned before the storm.

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When a driver is involved in a South Florida car accident, they are required by law to remain at the scene of the accident and exchange their driver’s license and insurance information with the other drivers involved. In accidents in which another person was seriously injured, a motorist may also have a duty to call 911 to ensure that the injured party receives timely medical treatment. A Florida hit-and-run accident results when a driver fails to remain on the scene and fulfill these duties.

MotorcycleBy some estimates, hit-and-run accidents account for nearly 25% of all Florida car accidents. Through public awareness campaigns and the implementation of a strict set of criminal punishments for hit-and-run drivers, Florida lawmakers have made significant steps to curb hit-and-run accidents. However, the fact remains that instances of hit-and-run accidents still are high.

Victims of hit-and-run accidents may be able to obtain financial compensation for their injuries, regardless of whether the hit-and-run driver was located by police. This can be done through the uninsured-driver provision of a motorist’s car insurance policy. However, not all claims are accepted, and even when a claim is accepted, the amount offered by the insurance company may not fully compensate an accident victim for their injuries. In these cases, an accident victim should seek the assistance of a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney.

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