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Fast Facts: Florida Lawsuits

Here’s a Florida Litigation for Beginners installment with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Florida Personal Injury Lawsuits, in the form of a Top 10 List.

Fast-Facts

Every personal injury lawyer has a different view of why and when to file a lawsuit.

Sometimes it is filed very soon after the accident injury event, and sometimes there are lengthy negotiations or maybe at least a wait until you are finished with your medical care.

Most law firms and attorneys will try first to settle your case by sending a very detailed summary about your accident facts and circumstances, in a “demand letter”.

For an example of a demand letter, click here.

A basic outline of a demand letter is that it contains, at minimum:

— How the Accident Occurred/Extent of Property Damage, if Applicable

— Previous Medical History/Injuries

— Injuries/Medical Care as a result of accident

— Damages – medical bills, lost wages, liens

— Lost of Consortium, if applicable ( spouse also may get to claim some damages, even if the spouse was not injured).

— Evaluation and Demand (Demand may be for a specific amount).

Simply filing a lawsuit, even a well written one, against the proper parties and in a timely manner is not even a beginning!

It still needs to be served upon the Defendants. This “service of process” is technical, and can involve a variety of different ways to notify the companies or people named as Defendants in the lawsuit.

The methods may vary,  not only depending upon the facts of your personal injury accident, but also may change depend on where the accident happened, or where the other parties reside. If you were injured in a Florida car accident -or a Florida slip and fall, why your injury happened can make a difference in how you are able to notify the Defendants and get them to file a response to the lawsuit.

Very important information from the long form police traffic automobile accident report can include

—  The positions of the cars upon the arrival of the police.

—  Photographs of the scene or cars taken by the police; this rarely happens.

—  Notes of the areas of damage observed by the police, for each car.

—  Whether either or both drivers or their passengers complained of injuries.

—  Visible injuries may be noted.

—  If anyone was transported to a Hospital.

—  If a driver or automobile passenger was treated by fire-rescue at the scene.

—  If the accident victim refused medical attention at the scene.

Yes, it is true that the long form report may include statements made to the law enforcement officer by you or the other driver or passengers, and also who got a ticket or traffic citation – but these last two, statements and citations, are treated very oddly in an accident injury lawsuit.

Read further, please.

The Florida No Fault Insurance

Florida has some special laws for car accidents that are more or less shared by fewer than 20 States. Florida is a “No-Fault” State. This means that no matter who is at fault, your OWN car insurance will have to cover the first $10,000 dollars of medical bills, and also some of that same ten thousand dollars can be used for loss of wages. But, of course, the law is never as clear and simple as the easy explanation I have just given you.

 

Medical Bills and Claims for Losses & Damages

There is a difference between money compensation requirements for different varieties of harm. For example, medical bills and loss of income are different from pain and suffering compensation and it is possible that a personal injury accident victim may be eligible for lost income and medical bills but not pain and suffering. Read further, please.

PIP Insurance

The kind of insurance that you have on your car that pays for the first ten thousand dollars of medical bills is called “Personal Injury Protection” insurance, and we Florida Personal Injury Attorneys call these benefits PIP.

This PIP insurance also may pay some combination of loss of wages and medical bills. Some of you may have purchased additional medical coverage, called MED PAY –in Florida Med Pay is usually only another extra $5,000 in benefits. 

It may not make sense or seem fair to you, but the law was designed to protect you and force your own car insurance company to pay some of your early emergency bills, because there is no guarantee that the other driver is at fault or that the other driver even has any car insurance at all. To get the insurance benefit of this PIP insurance it is not a requirement that you be free of fault.

You could even have been the real cause that the accident happened. That is why they call it “Florida No Fault”.

Monetary Compensation for Pain & Suffering

There is a requirement in order to get money compensation for pain and suffering from a jury. The law is called the “Florida No Fault Threshold”. It says that you must have a:

PERMANENT INJURY WITHIN A REASONABLE DEGREE OF MEDICAL PROBABILITY.

I put that last phrase in capital letters because it is so important!

The “Florida No Fault Permanent Injury Threshold”

There are a variety of damages which are split into different categories under Florida’s fairly complicated automobile accident laws.

If you were hurt in a Florida Slip and Fall accident, or by a defective product, your legal rights to money damages for pain and suffering would be quite different to your legal rights had you been injured in a Florida Car Accident.

In order to get money compensation for your pain and suffering due to injuries in a Florida Car Accident, you have to have a “PERMANENT INJURY”.

Severe & Permanent Injuries

If you know that your injury is surely permanent, because you have had a major fracture, or clear and immediate accident trauma-related surgery, then sections 7, 8 and 9 are perhaps not for you.

Severe & Permanent Injury Requirements

This car accident permanent injury requirement has a few loopholes and exceptions.

Scars may be a way to bypass the requirement, for example.

But for the most part, the law was intended to make it very difficult for accident victims who have suffered a milder car accident injury – such are those that are most commonly sustained after a whiplash accident – to get money for their pain and suffering.

What is considered a Permanent Car Accident Injury

It may be considered a permanent injury if you have been medically treated for a while and the pain happens off and on, and your doctor says he thinks that it is probable that the pain will come and go for the rest of your life.

However, the Insurance Company and their attorney can easily produce multiple respected doctors to say that in their opinion, your injury is not permanent.

Car Accident Permanent Injury Contested Cases

These kinds of contested cases, where you still feel poorly after a whiplash, and the insurance company has their doctor saying you are not truly badly injured are difficult. Not all lawyers will take these cases to a jury trial, and prefer to settle them for much less money than you may think is fair

How Can an Injured Car Accident Victim Prove the Permanent Injury Requirements

Your Florida Injury Lawyer who is Florida Bar Board Certified in Civil Trial eats, drinks and sleeps all about what is, and what is not, a “permanent injury” and sometimes it can all boil down to your continuing complaints being backed by a good and qualified physicians opinion and the jury’s belief in your being truthful.
Each case is individual. Each case should be discussed with an experienced Florida Personal Injury Lawyer.

If you are hit by a car driver…

If you are hit by a car driver in a bicycle accident and have suffered injuries, then calling the police and getting an accident report is clearly the best action to take.

Preserve the evidence

Pictures of the injury; road marks at the intersection; keep the helmet; keep the bicycle; and do not speak with the insurance company until you consult with a Florida personal injury attorney. Get the names and phone numbers of eyewitnesses.

Helmets are not legally required!

Helmets are not legally required unless you are under 16. Florida law states that you cannot be penalized for not wearing a helmet if you were not required to do so. Helmets are not a guarantee of safety against bicycle head injury or bike brain injury, but it is clear that they can prevent some otherwise fatal bicycle accidents.

Where do most bicycle accidents happen?

Most bicycle accidents happen at an intersection.

More risk when…

It is clearly more risky to be going against the car traffic instead of riding in the same direction.

More dangerous at…

Riding at night is far more dangerous.

Frequent bicycle accidents are due to:

right or left turning cars not seeing you; cars overtaking you and drifting into you; car doors opening into your path of travel – or getting “doored”.

Minimum distance requirement

There are states that have adopted a minimum distance requirement between bicycles and cars.

Failure of the driver to see you at night

Failure of the driver to see you at night – your equipment, outfit visibility and other technical matters – are important factors in a potential bicycle accident injury lawsuit.

An experienced Bicycle Injury Lawyer

Bicycle accident lawsuits should have an experienced bicycle injury lawyer that understands the jury composition of the community and the prejudices and opinions of the community and individuals on the jury panel as regards their feelings about bicyclists.

Know your legal rights!

Know your legal rights as a Florida bicycle rider by consulting with an experienced Florida injury lawyer; call me now for a free legal consultation with a Florida bar board certified trial attorney.

Do Not Panic!

If you were injured on a cruise, the very first thing you’ll want to do is to not panic. Notify your accident to the cruise ship management, and seek assistance from crew members. Avoid getting caught in further complications, adhere to directions from the cruise personnel, and be compliant to a practical extent. Before leaving the cruise ship, ask for records relating to the medical attention you received immediately after your accident, and save all receipts from out-of-pocket expenditures you had to incur as a result of your injuries (medical expenses, hospital bills, insurance claims, etc.)

Be careful!

A lot of lawyers think that there’s a three year time limit to sue under Federal Maritime or Admiralty law. But there is a catch. The majority of the Florida cruise lines limit the time you have to file a claim for compensation; generally that time limit is one year from the date of the accident.

Cruise Lines choose the Court!

The court location in which to file your cruise lawsuit will depend on the content laid out in your cruise ticket-contract. Cruise lines very carefully insert Forum Selection Clauses in the fine-print section, where they choose the courts where you may file a lawsuit against them. The majority of cruise lines pick Florida as the venue in which to file a claim for compensation for any injuries their passengers may have suffered aboard one of their cruises; regardless of where the injury actually happened during the trip.

Some cruise lines prefer to play games…

A potential settlement agreement for your cruise ship injuries will depend on many things, such as the cruise line, the circumstances surrounding your accident, the severity of your injuries, etc. Some cruise lines are a bit more welcoming of a potential settlement resolution, while some others prefer to play games, and won’t negotiate in good-faith until the trial is near.

You may be required to come to Florida for court appearances

If you file a claim for compensation for your injuries against a particular cruise line in the Florida Courts, and you do not live in the State of Florida, or you are a foreigner, then you may be required to come back to Florida for some court appearances; while there are other court appearances in which a Florida Injury Lawyer may appear in court on your behalf.

Time to resolve a Florida Cruise Lawsuit will vary a great deal

The time to resolve a Florida Cruise Lawsuit will vary a great deal. If a settlement can’t be reached with the cruise line and your case goes to trial, a cruise lawsuit in Florida, may take a year, and from time to time two years, before it’s finally settled; notwithstanding a potential appeals process, which might additionally extend the length of a final resolution.

Talking to the insurance company of the cruise line is not the greatest of ideas

Unless you’re looking for a minimal amount of monetary compensation, then talking to the insurance company of the cruise line is just not the greatest of ideas. I often hear from passengers who contact me immediately after giving recorded statements they believed went smoothly… Only to find out that wasn’t the case at all.

Read the Cruise Line Ticket-Contract!

If you are going on a cruise vacation, you would be wise to read the cruise line ticket-contract to become aware of the many different clauses and stipulations inserted there, such as Forum Selection and Statutes of Limitations terms.

Not all injuries give you the right to file a lawsuit!

It’s essential to be aware that not all injuries give you the right to file a lawsuit for compensation. An injured cruise ship passenger has the burden of proving the following: Liability of the cruise line by demonstrating that they were negligent or engaged in wrongful acts and are legally accountable to compensate you for your injuries and that you actually suffered losses and/or damages because of your injuries (medical fees, hospital costs, lost income or wages, pain and suffering, and so on).

Statutes of Limitations term for filing a claim

Beware of contacting the cruise line on your own without first having talked to a personal injury lawyer in Florida. I’ve seen many cases where a cruise line actually goes out of their way to correspond back and forth with an injured cruise passenger. But this is because they are entirely aware of the fact that the Statutes of Limitations term for filing a claim is expiring with every second that passes. Unless there was fraud or evident deception in the way the cruise line acted while exchanging letters with the injured passenger (which is quite difficult to prove), then after the time-limit for a personal injury claim expires there’s really nothing that anyone, even Perry Mason, can do for you.

Maritime Law and the Jones Act

Maritime Law and the Jones Act provide injured seamen with the right to seek monetary compensation for accidents such as: Steam Burnings; Engine Room Fires; Suffocation caused by Fumes; Falling from Heights; Oil Rig Drilling Platform Incidents; Slipping or Tripping; Defective Stairs; Insufficient Training and Equipment; Crimes on the ship, etc.

An injured worker will have to prove negligence

In a claim for compensation under the Jones Act, an injured worker will have to prove that the owner of a vessel was negligent and such negligence caused the injury to the vessel’s employee or crew member.

The definition of a vessel

The definition of “vessels” has been construed to incorporate most ships and boats, as well as water-crafts, including offshore and semi-submersible drilling rigs, tug boats, supply watercraft, cruise ships, freight ships, freight boats, industrial fishing ships and, even helicopters.

Seaman Status as defined by the Jones Act

For vessel employees and crewmembers, there are two things that will determine if injury falls under the Seaman Status defined by the Jones Act: employment status and location of the accident.

Report your injury within a reasonable timeframe

A Federal Court in Florida may dismiss a lawsuit against a negligent ship owner/operator if the injured seaman does not report his injury within a reasonable timeframe. Jones Act dispositions do establish that injured workers have three years to file a maritime accident claim for compensation against the corresponding employer.

Unseaworthiness

Unseaworthiness imposes a strict-liability duty of care for a vessel’s employer; an accident that leads to a seaman’s injuries doesn’t need to be foreseeable for liability to exist against the employer. Even a momentary deficient condition makes a vessel unseaworthy.

Determination of Seaworthiness

The determination of seaworthiness for a specific vessel extends to the ship’s hull, cargo equipment, gears and equipment, ropes, and other accessory equipment on the ship; these also include deficient conditions created by fellow employees or even third-parties and contractors.

Claims of unseaworthiness and negligence

Claims of unseaworthiness and Jones Act negligence are usually brought together, to allow injured seamen the best chance to obtain compensation.

Seaworthiness is evaluated on a case-by-case basis

Determining whether a ship is seaworthy is something that is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and depending on the specific circumstances of the incident. An experienced maritime injury attorney with more than 30 years of experience in personal injury litigation can help make these determinations.

Maintenance and Cure payments

“Maintenance” refers to the daily compensation an injured seaman would’ve received while working on the ship and meant to cover basic expenses like food/shelter, and the rates run anywhere from $15-$50 a day; “Cure” includes compensation for medical treatment, medications, rehabilitation, hospital bills, etc., of the injured seaman during his recovery; Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is the point where an injured seaman cannot get any better and/or his condition cannot improve any further, and as a result, the “maintenance” and “cure” payments cease.

Medical Malpractice cases are not always successful.

Medical Malpractice cases are hard, costly and not always successful.

Shorter time limits for a medical malpractice lawsuit than for most types of personal injury cases.

There are shorter time limits for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit than for most types of personal injury cases. Even experienced medical malpractice attorneys have to worry about how much time remains to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, so, call for a free consultation as soon as possible.

There has to be medical evidence

In Florida, even before your personal injury lawyer can file your medical malpractice case there are many procedures and requirements to be completed. These include, but are not limited, to getting a written sworn statement from an appropriate health care provider that there was medical negligence. That’s right, even before filing the lawsuit there has to be some medical evidence besides your say-so.

Finding the right expert witnesses is a concern

Finding the right expert physician witnesses is a giant concern. Also, usually a lot of medical records need to be very, very carefully reviewed; more reasons why you should consult a qualified experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you can.

Doctors are not required to carry malpractice insurance!

In Florida, you have to have insurance to own and drive your car. But if you are a doctor, even if your negligence killed a mother of ten kids, you are not always required to carry malpractice insurance!

Doctors are prone to amnesia

Doctors stick together. So, when some other doctor tells you in a low voice that they would not have done something another doctor did, do not expect them to remember that they told you that. They are prone to amnesia when asked to be a witness for you.

Write a short summary about your possible malpractice case

Write a short (short!) summary about your possible malpractice case that is quite clear and not angry. Send it to your medical malpractice lawyer. Nowhere else. It will help both of you focus on the issues, and will help your attorney to understand the basic facts more easily.

Keep Records!

Keep a file folder of bills and records. A calendar of appointments, doctor names, what was done and said, and who was present, are very helpful for the future, and it may be good to bring to an interview or free medical malpractice and medical negligence case consultation

your age and health are taken into consideration

Honestly, your age and health are considered quite a bit by most medical malpractice lawyers in most cases. If you are 98 years old and want to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice over a smaller injury, it is going to be tougher to find a medical malpractice lawyer to represent you.

These cases take so long, and settle far less frequently than most other kinds of personal injury or accident lawsuits, so that – bluntly – if you were to pass away before the case was concluded, and your death was not related to the medical malpractice claim, the claim’s value may be severely diminished by your death.
Harsh? Yes… Unfair? Yes… But this is a point you need to know about.

Good medical malpractice cases are not easy to spot or evaluate

Good medical malpractice cases are not easy to spot or evaluate. Your opinion is not a jury verdict. Your opinion is not evidence. By the same thinking, a lawyer who says that you have no case is not the final verdict. Get a second opinion from another medical malpractice lawyer if you feel strongly that the first lawyer who turned your case away was not making the right decision.

Remember, different lawyers may not make the same decisions about cases being good or being bad

Helmets do help

Helmets do help to prevent head injuries and fatal brain injuries in motorcycle accidents.
Just because you were wearing a helmet does not mean that you avoided having a motorcycle accident head or brain injury, and even if you had a brain injury while riding without a helmet that does not automatically mean that wearing a helmet may have made a difference.

The Facts need to be Understood!

The facts and evidence, medical records, speed, road surface and many factors need to be understood and appreciated by a qualified motorcycle accident injury lawyer.

In a head and brain injury motorcycle accident case, a brain injury trial lawyer who has litigated these cases may be a good choice.

I am, frankly, both.

Jury selection is important

Jury selection is very important in motorcycle accident lawsuits.
What do the jurors think about motorcycles? Are they upset to share the road?
Do they feel that motorcyclists are “asking for it” by riding on I-95 or choosing to ride a motorcycle?
Have they ever owned or operated a bike?
Jurors need to be constantly reminded that your rights are equal, and identical to motorists’ rights.

Leave your bike where it is

In case you are reading this just for general information and not for an accident that happened, if you are injured in the future (no jinx, I hope it never happens to you) and can move without getting really extra hurt… get out of the road!
Do not get run over waiting for the police to arrive. If you have to, leave your bike where it is, and get to safety.

Keep the Evidence!

Save the helmet. Do not sell, repair, or trash the bike.
These are now important pieces of evidence; ask your motorcycle crash accident attorney what to do with the helmet and bike.

Do not discuss the case

Do not post information about your motorcycle accident on Facebook or MySpace. Do not discuss it with folks in your bowling league or softball team.
Such conversations can be misquoted or even become damaging to your case later down the road.

Be informed about your legal rights

Do not speak with the insurance company investigator until after you have contacted, and had a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
You should be informed about your legal rights, and know about what to expect.

Motorcycle ownership and riding skills are not mutual

Motorcycle ownership and riding skills are not mutual. You could own twenty bikes, yet still be an unsafe or unskilled motorcycle rider.
Your riding experience, habits and actions may be a big factor in terms of what a jury may do when it comes time to deciding who is at fault, or, if both you and the car driver are at fault.

Visibility is a key factor

Most motorcycle accidents that are fatal happen at night, in an intersection.
There are many different fatal motorcycle accident circumstances, such as tractor trailers cutting off the lane; opening parked car doors into an oncoming bike and failure to look for, seeing, and comprehending that a motorcycle is nearby.
Visibility is often a key factor as well, in motorcycle death lawsuits and motorcycle injury lawsuits.

You shared the road, the car driver did not!

You shared the road, the car driver did not. Motorcycle personal injury attorneys need to understand motorcycle riders and riding, you need to understand that a motorcycle accident attorney should be consulted as soon as possible.

Negligent Security or Inadequate Security are descriptions about:

claims for your being hit, assaulted and battered, punched, raped, molested, strangled, shot, stabbed, knifed, and many other ways in which you were hurt and injured by: the violence of someone else; because of the negligence of another person or company; or due to the actions of a group or third party not taking proper preventive measures such as warnings, fences, cameras, security guards, etc.

A Grid Study

In a negligent security lawsuit, your personal injury lawyer can request a “grid study” of police reports for the location and surrounding area to see how dangerous the area was or is. This can be used in some instances to provide a basis for good expert witness testimony from security experts such as retired FBI, military, chief of police or other highly qualified experts.

The Guard, or Guards

Negligent security cases do not rise or fall on the presence of a security guard even if there was one present. What was the level of training of the guard; did the guard respond appropriately; was more than one guard needed; etc.

Could the event have been anticipated?

Should the guard, security company, hotel, resort or business owner have anticipated the event before it happened so that it would have been prevented instead of having a guard there?

Maybe better parking lot lighting, a better room key and lock, video cameras, or a fence would have stopped the vicious rape or mugging from happening in the first place.

Sometimes the criminal is never identified…

Sometimes the criminal perpetrator is never identified in a negligent security lawsuit. That is usually the case, so do not think if the attacker or perpetrator is not known that you do not have a civil lawsuit against the property owner for assault, battery, rape, robbery or other violent crime that caused you serious injury.

Proper Investigation

You would be surprised at what facts can be learned by proper investigation.

I once had a case where we found out the security guard was told to stay inside a store if someone outside was being hit on the head because it could be a phony make believe robbery and the plan or idea would be to steal from the cash registers!

Incredible but true.

Florida is a place for visitors, vacationers, and tourists

Hotels, Resorts, Health Spas, Motels and Bars should all know that Florida is a place for visitors, vacationers, and tourists; and that people who are from different states or countries will not always be as careful about where they go, or know how to stay safe and secure, because they are expecting secure premises.

Learn about your rights

Sometimes the people who are hired to protect you are the people that seriously injure you.

Bouncers, managers, employees of nightclubs, bars, lounges and even security guards may use excessive or unnecessary force and their employer may then be liable.

A free consultation with a Miami Injury Lawyer would be a good idea for you to learn about your legal rights.

Failure to use reasonable care

Whether you were hurt during an armed robbery, or sexually assaulted, the idea behind every lawsuit against a motel, hotel, restaurant, shopping mall or other establishment is that their failure to use reasonable care to protect your personal safety was the main cause and/or reason for the misfortune and injuries or losses resulting from it.

There are even a few cases where a victim was followed and sexually assaulted off premises and there was a jury verdict in favor of the victim, as well as cases of robbery in an adjacent parking lot, not even one that was owned by the bar where the drunken assailant had been drinking.

Each case is different

Each case is different.

I was the chairperson of the Florida Bar Public Interest Section Crime Victim’s Rights Committee for a period of time, and I feel strongly about these negligent security cases.

Given the wrong medication?

Prescription errors and Medication mistakes are a big problem and a leading cause of avoidable patient death.

Save all bottles and containers!

Save all the bottles and containers; even the bottles and containers that are not the drug that was wrongly prescribed.

Expect the lawyer for the hospital, doctor or pharmacy to claim that the injury was due to interactions between medications, and that you did not tell your doctor or pharmacist about other medications that you were taking.

Do not throw away any pills!

Do not throw away any of the remaining pills!

Expect an argument from the opposition that you overdosed. Having the proper amount of remaining pills will be important evidence to counteract this argument.

Keep the prescriptions!

Keeping the prescriptions provides proof and evidence about who prescribed what and why.

Record your prescription history

Especially if you have prescriptions filled at more than one pharmacy, try to get a printout from every pharmacy about your prescription history!

Be a model patient

These records will establish that you are not a hypochondriac, addict or pill seeker, and that you are compliant patient who follows doctor’s orders.

Do not post anything about your personal injury on the Internet

Do not post anything about your personal injury and wrong medication given lawsuit on the Internet. No Facebook, no MySpace.

No mention.

At all.

Some lawsuits have short time limits

Some of these negligent prescribed drug lawsuits and medication error lawsuits can have short time limits, so seek legal advice early to become educated about your legal rights.

Do not be your own expert!

Do not become your own expert in drug prescriptions or drug interactions.

Yes, it is true that the Internet has a lot of good information about drugs, side effects and lawsuits, warnings and FDA recalls and warnings, but unless you are a pharmacist, toxicologist, or experienced drug litigation and prescription error attorney, it is a good idea to seek legal advice before attempting to settle a claim on your own.

You can be Anonymous!

Sexual Assault claims can usually be filed as lawsuits without having to disclose your name publicly or put your identity in the newspapers or in the lawsuit papers.

Expect to wait

Some of the key facts and evidence about your case might be in the hands of the police or criminal investigators or sex crimes unit detectives.

You may have to wait to get the evidence that has been assembled for criminal prosecution, or you may need to file motions to get at that evidence.

There may also be a stone-wall about from the authorities about potential witnesses identities, on the basis that there are pending criminal charges, or that an investigation is still ongoing.

We are Adults and Professionals

If you are embarrassed to disclose intimate information to a male or female, tell your personal injury attorney about it, and arrangements can be made to hold a conference with an appropriate gender of your comfort level; we are not judgmental of race, sex, age, sexual or gender preference or alternative lifestyles…

We are adults and professionals.

Will the case become a case about you?

Will the case become a case about you, your sex life, how you dressed, how many sexual partners you have had?

No, you should simply put those issues or questions aside. They have no bearing upon your legal right to have personal safety and personal choice.

Most acts of sexual molestation and violence are about control and domination and the sex is a by-product or expression of that sick and twisted personality. The idea that you consented is not your concern at this time, let a personal injury lawyer know about your concerns and let him/her evaluate it.

Full Disclosure

Alcohol, drug use, drug abuse, psychiatric history, a criminal record, false information, past claims of sexual harassment and other things such as STD’s, are all items that you must be sure to disclose to the personal injury lawyer you choose to consult with in your interview.

Attorney-Client Privilege

When you attend the interview with the personal injury lawyer, you have an attorney-client privilege about such matters, even if you do not retain the lawyer or law firm.

So, feel free to discuss these past relevant topics with your attorney, because everything that you discuss with him or her will be confidential and must stay inside those four walls.

Sexual Assault cases create benefit for Others!

As the former chairperson of the Florida Bar Crime Victims Rights Committee Public Law Interest Section, I can tell you that these lawsuits have created benefit to others who have been similarly subject to abuse, sexual assault or harassment.

Others have been encouraged to come forward, to express their emotions, get treatment and attention, and to bring additional claims; companies have disciplined or dismissed officers and employees as a result of well founded serious allegations; extra security has been added to hotels, bars, hospital parking lots.

A duty of Reasonable Care

Hotels, Bars, Amusement Attractions, Chain Stores, Supermarkets and other premises and retail establishments owe a duty of reasonable care to their patrons and customers.

These duties and responsibilities include taking reasonable steps to protect your personal safety.

Cases often involve close friends and family members

Sexual Assault Lawsuits and Child Molestation cases often involve very close friends and family members, clergy, counselors  teachers, religious community figures, and/or psychiatrists. Massage therapists, bartenders, and all manner and types of persons and occupations may also be involved, and the legal responsibility of each company for the actions of their provided personnel or services may vary widely.

Furthermore, there may be complicated issues which do not make common sense, about independent contractors, employees, subcontractors, management agreements, and a variety of assorted issues.

The bottom line…

The bottom line is that sexual assault and molestation lawsuits are obviously emotional, very fact-based, and have twists, turns and legal issues that most of the public do not see happening behind the scenes.

Information can be lost!

Swimming pool accident and drowning death accidents are best consulted about with an experienced Florida Injury Lawyer as soon as possible.

Crucial information can be lost, destroyed or become unavailable quite fast if the investigation does not take place quickly after the swimming pool accident.

Things like the following should be obtained early: Photographs of the scene; Statements of Eyewitnesses; 911 tapes; Paramedic Transport call logs and computer stored conversations

Do not forget to…

Do not forget to tell your attorney about any news, newspapers, TV broadcasts about the accident.

Broadcast copies are often discarded after a short time, but they may provide valuable images or information.

Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself, this next part probably will not happen, but since you seek real information here is some truth and honesty.

It depends on the individual facts and circumstances, and this is highly unlikely to apply to you… but:
If you are the parent of a child that has died in a drowning or almost drowned to death, you might possibly – just a small and tiny chance –be questioned by the authorities. Do not construe their concern and sympathy to mean they are not thinking about filing criminal charges against you for child-neglect, or maybe evaluating having any other kids of yours to be taken into the custody of the State.

I say this from experience with great parents whose child has drowned, and I say this regardless of how great a parent you actually are or how innocent a parent that you are. In a case like this one, I usually have you consult with a criminal defense lawyer and perhaps a family lawyer.

It all depends on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

A big point…

A big point in some of these very tragic child drowning lawsuits is how long the child was deprived of oxygen.

In near-drowning cases, the issue is even more important to understanding the oxygen deprivation time for medical forensic and legal purposes.

Adult Supervision

In child drowning cases the issue is usually that there was no adult present to supervise.

The Case Focus

The majority of cases dealing with a child drowning will focus on: Who-Was-Where; What-Were-They-Doing; How-Long-Did-It-Take; What-Happened.

Do not take that to mean that all cases follow this very same formula or steps; there are elements which are likely to be investigated and litigated and these are usually amongst them.

Important Factors

The pool may not play a large part in the accident facts, except as the dangerous condition; more likely, however, the pool may be a huge focus of key issues.

How deep, slope or pitch, transitions from shallow to deep ends, edges, comings and overhangs for grasp… Safety equipment, fences, pool barriers, lifeguards on duty, even the angle of the sun and glare may all be important factors to consider.

Juror Factors

Selecting a jury in swimming pool child drowning lawsuits is an art form; ethnic backgrounds, education levels, parenting history, water and swimming lifestyle and prior water sports experiences.
There are hundreds and hundreds of factors that go into the evaluation of keeping or challenging a potential juror.

Expert Witnesses

Psychologists, psychiatrists and even experts in grief counselling are usually retained to consult with me and may be called as expert witnesses to testify on your behalf at the trial.

Each Case is Unique

Each tragic pool drowning case is unique, just as each child is unique.

A drowning case is among the saddest of circumstances, and you deserve extra time and respect for your tragic loss, not a form to be filled out or a meeting with a paralegal.

Now everything is irrevocably changed, and life is hard to carry on. Inner strength is great, and so are your religious beliefs. Don’t forget to lean on your friends, family, pastor, priest, clergy, and take no shame in asking for therapists and professional help like psychologists or psychiatrists.

There are time limits to sue

Unless it was a government owned or operated vehicle, the Florida time limit to sue the other driver (if the driver is a Florida resident or driving a Florida-owned car) is 4 years.

There are rare exceptions where the time limit may be even shorter, or certain types of claims may require notice by certified mail even earlier than this time limit. Tourist injury attorney discussion is strongly suggested.

There are sometimes very short time limits to file a lawsuit. A claim for wrongful death has a shorter time limit, and a claim against a cruise ship has an even shorter one.

It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer early, because many lawyers do not want to accept cases that are very close to the time limit for filing a lawsuit, and you do not want to lose any legal rights to sue because you did not know how much time was remaining on the time limit, or, how close to the expiration or loss of your right to sue you are.

Insurance Coverage

There are special types of insurance coverage; one of them is called “uninsured or underinsured motorist” coverage.

It is also called UM coverage. This coverage is something your Florida Injury Attorney needs to look into.

Liability Insurance

If you are the passenger in someone else’s car, and the driver of that car is the person who is totally at-fault, can you use that driver’s UM coverage against him?

No, but you can probably go against his/her liability insurance.

Liability Laws

In Florida, the owner of the car and the driver of the car are both responsible for payment of qualified injury compensation, up to the extent that there is fault on the part of the driver.

There are different laws for long term leased cars, and rental cars, as well as government cars and government drivers… There may be other companies and people that are also responsible.

Your own insurance

Your own car insurance policy, the entire policy, should be obtained by you so that your Florida tourist injury attorney can look it over.

Lawyer Co-operation

The Florida tourist injury attorney will look at your Florida tourist accident case for purposes of deadlines and coverage.
Let’s say for example that you are from Chicago and you were involved in an auto accident in Tampa… It may be the circumstance that your Chicago lawyer will advise and coordinate the insurance coverage with you about Chicago, and a Florida tourist injury lawyer will conference with the Chicago personal injury lawyer; or vice-versa.

Where to Sue?

An important consideration in these tourist and vacation accidents and injuries cases is the choice of laws and where to sue.

What law will apply?

What if, for example, you are a passenger in a car driven by a driver; who is not your friend, and who you did not recognize right away as being drunk, hits a palm tree because he or she fell asleep at the wheel; there are various special issues involved of cases of that specific nature.

Is your friend a resident of the same state as you, or did he/she fly in, or drive from another state to meet up with you in Florida?

Can you, or should you, sue the driver in their home state? What law will apply?

How does the Florida Injury Lawyer get paid?

Typically, there is a free first consultation. Accidents to Florida tourists usually get represented by Florida Tourist Accident Attorneys under a fee agreement called a “contingency” agreement.

There would be no legal fees that you would owe the Florida personal injury lawyer unless there was money recovered. If there is money recovered, then in Florida, the tourist lawyer will usually take a percentage of the total recovery, off the top.

The typical percentage is one third of the recovery, but if a lawsuit is filed and the lawsuit goes a certain distance in the process, the fee may increase some percentage.

There are many other ways that tourists can get injured in Florida, and I have probably represented almost all of the different fact patterns over the last 30 years.

Will I be able to make my tourist injury claim, now that I am back in my home country or state, or do I have to return to Florida?

A common question I often get is: Will I be able to make my tourist injury claim, now that I am back in my home country or state, or do I have to return to Florida?

The answer is that most cases settle without a lawsuit, and your claim can be presented on paper without your coming to Florida again. If needed, your statement can be taken over the phone. But, if your case cannot be settled, and a lawsuit has to be filed, you probably will be required to return to Florida more than once.

If you are too sick to travel, there are exceptions, and many Judges will consider a detailed doctor’s report restricting your travel.

Typically, after a lawsuit is filed, a tourist involved in an accident in the State of Florida will have to come to Florida for things such as: giving a sworn statement (called a deposition); attending a medical examination (called a IME, short for Independent Medical Exam); and attending to a Settlement Conference (called a Mediation – where many lawsuits will settle).

If your case does not settle, then of course you should expect to be present in person for your own personal injury trial to a jury of the State of Florida.

Three biggest Wet Floor Questions:

— How long was the substance on the floor?
— Where were you looking?
— Is there a reason that you did not see the slippery liquid?

Four biggest Pothole and Parking Lot questions:

— Where did you park
— What path did you take to get from your car to where the pothole was?
— How long was the pothole there, before your accident?
— Why didn’t you see the pothole, aren’t you careful?

Note: There are plenty of other slip and fall accidents that do not involve a pothole or a slippery liquid. For example:
— Apartment Building or Condominium Stairs that are worn, or have no handrail.
— Elevator or Escalator Abruptly starting, stopping, jerking or misleveling.
— Ropes, wires, strings or other objects placed in your way.
— Lots of other ways, too many to list here. The legal concepts are the same.

“Notice” of the defect or dangerous condition

If you have been paying attention, then you know that numbers 1 & 2 above asked you a question that you would usually respond to with a:
“How should or could I know how long the liquid or pothole was there for? If I knew it was there, then I would not have slipped/tripped!”

This is a problem response. Because in many slip and fall accident cases, most of you think that simply the fact that there was substance/liquid on the floor, or a pothole in the parking lot, that all you have to prove is that you encountered the problem area and were seriously injured.

But, truth be told, Florida Law is very different than you probably expect.

Under most slip and fall lawsuit circumstances, you have to prove that the store, office building, condominium or other premises should reasonably have been aware of the condition for a sufficient amount of time before your accident to have been able to warn you, or to attempt to prevent the accident from happening by correcting the problem area or dangerous condition.

We call this awareness “Notice” of the defect or dangerous condition, and it is not always totally needed to provide clear documentary proof, sometimes proof can be in the form of accident facts, witness testimony, statements made by employees, and many other types of evidence.

There are several ways that savvy and experienced Florida Attorneys may be able to prove, indirectly, how long a dangerous condition existed.

Do not speak with the insurance company representative

Do not speak with the insurance company representative before you speak with a Florida Personal Injury Attorney about your slip and fall.

No matter how simple you think it will be answer a few questions; no matter how smart you are; no matter if you are a good Christian, Muslim, Citizen, or have nothing to hide.

With over thirty years of slip and fall cases and injured clients, I can tell you that these statements to adjusters are very important, and that many adjusters really are so tricky that you do not even know it; the tricky ones can manipulate the interview and produce problems where none should exist.

Not all adjusters, but how will you spot the difference?

Keep your Shoes and Clothes

Keep your shoes and do not wear them again.

The same goes for your clothes, if you have encountered a foreign substance other than water.

Take Photos

If your accident happened in an area that will be cleaned up, try to take a cell phone photo of the defective condition.

Usually cell phone photos of liquids on a floor do not turn out well; the glare, flash or transparency of some liquids do not end up coming out clearly in the photos. But if you can, try to take one anyway.

If it is a pothole, place a ruler in the hole to measure its depth, and take pictures of not only the pothole but also the area of the pothole location, so that the insurance company can identify which parking lot, which building, shopping center, etc.

Otherwise, how do they know that you are not sending them a picture of a pothole in Zimbabwe, or that you found on the internet. Insurance company scammers have tried these ways to defraud the insurance company, so they trust nobody to be honest with them.

As a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, I send out competent investigators and go to the scene myself in most pothole cases.

Take more Photos!

Take pictures of your injuries, especially red spots, bruises, scrapes.

Often these photos put to rest the issue if you injured a specific body part. If you have a fracture, take a picture of yourself in the cast or on crutches. Or in the hospital bed.

I send out investigators or take my own pictures, also.

Florida’s Comparative Negligence Law.

Slip and Fall cases and lawsuits are subject to Florida’s Comparative Negligence Law.

This is a complicated law, but basically, if you do not settle your case and decide to press onwards with a jury trial, the jury will have to decide who, if anyone is at fault.

In the event, for example, that the jury decides you should have been more careful, but that both you and the landlord were negligent, the jury may decide – just to randomly pick figures of money and fault from a hat to explain it more clearly – that your injury is worth $100,000 in damages, but that you are 50-50 at fault.

What happens then, in most cases, is the Judge reduces your money by the percentage that the jury came up with for your fault. This means, to continue using the aforementioned example, that your $100,000 and 50% at fault results in the Judge adjusting your award to $50,000!

Notice Requirements

There may be more than one person or company that your Florida Premises Liability Attorney will need to put on Notice, file a claim against, or sue over your slip and fall accident.

Remember, too, that Notice Requirements are not the same as the Statute of Limitations for a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit.

Time limits for filing a lawsuit

There are time limits for filing a lawsuit.

With a Free Legal Consultation available to you right now, what are you waiting for? Call, explain, and ask questions.

Learn about your legal rights.

There are serious and permanent deadlines or time limits for filing personal injury cases! We call them “Florida Statutes of Limitations”.

Generally, you and your attorney would be wise to make a decision to file- or not file-your personal injury claim earlier, rather than later if your case is coming up on a time deadline to file the lawsuit.

This way, if your attorney has been trying just to settle your case- but had no true intention to file a lawsuit about your case, then you will find that out early. You will then hopefully still have time to find another possible law firm to take over the case – or at least have a discussion about how to proceed before you are left with a case which is too close to the time limits for comfort.

Assuming that a lawsuit is timely filed, that does not mean that all is well

Before you get that lawsuit filed, make sure that the parties to the lawsuit – the people or companies being sued, called the Defendants- are properly identified and that they can be located and are still in business.

Otherwise you may have trouble notifying them about the existence of the lawsuit and putting them on the hook to require a defense and to respond to the lawsuit.

After a lawsuit is timely filed, in the proper location, in the proper court, and it is served upon the Defendants, they will have their responses, which may include several kinds.

hese responses could vary very widely from: “you sued the wrong guy“; to “even if you sued the right guy, someone else is also responsible“; or “You! You are really the reason this accident happened, not us!

These kinds of responses are usually very fancy, and are called ” Affirmative Defenses”.

Another typical response is to say “You are suing us in the wrong court“, or “We know about the lawsuit, but you still did not tell us about it in the proper manner“, and among the many different ways to respond, there is also for example :

“We can’t make head or tail of what your lawyer wrote here, so we can’t respond. Judge, this is confusing, make them rewrite it and try it again!”

These kind of responses, also put in $350 an hour fancy insurance company lawyer words, are usually contained in a “Motion to Dismiss”.

Once you have reached the stage of the lawsuit that we have discussed in 1-6 above, there will be “Discovery”.

In theory, discovery is supposed to be a fair exchange of material, documents, facts and information between both sides.

In reality, it usually is a huge playing field for time consuming and frustrating evasion, a game of hide-the-ball and other tactics. A good and stern Judge is a true asset, who can see through all the hide-and-seek, and only-a-peek at each other’s hand of cards and rule appropriately to get the case moving and most of the games stopped

The “Discovery” (not the space shuttle, remember?) can be questions in writing, called “Interrogatories”; questions asked in front of a court reporter called “Depositions”; asking for specific documents, called “Requests to Produce”.

There are many other options for this information hunt called Discovery, but these are the main ones.

This website has a really good explanation about about the basics of Deposition Preparation, please be sure to check it out.

Aside and apart from asking questions in writing; getting documents and evidence; proof of how the accident happened; how bad your injuries are: there will be later, down the road, “Expert Witnesses”.

The selection of who is going to be an expert witness, and why, is an art form.

An experienced trial attorney can sometimes make a big difference in the progress of the case by making the decision about which expert or experts to use. Not only does an experienced personal injury trial attorney decide which experts to use; but what kind of expert; in what area of specialization or knowledge; if the expert makes a good appearance; the qualifications and reputation and so many other very important points.

A poor or discredited expert can sink a case more quickly than an iceberg did being hit by the Titanic.

In Florida, as the trial approaches, there is a crucial and key time.

big opportunity, three out of four times so they say, to settle your case before the jury trial starts. You may or may not have heard about this important settlement conference, called “Mediation”.

In a nutshell, a Mediation proceeding is you, your lawyer, the guys you are suing and their lawyer, staring down each other across a long table, and being forced to hear each other’s version of what each of you thinks a jury verdict will be in your personal injury case. Then, negotiating the money back and forth unless there are refusals to pay or accept.

This entire very interesting and exhausting series of negotiations and presentation is really where a experienced trial lawyers gets a chance to demonstrate his or her preparation, knowledge of the facts, skill, argument and strategies.

The whole Mediation enchilada, everything I have just described, takes place under the watchful eyes of a neutral person, not rooting for either side, called a “Mediator”. The selection of a mediator may be done by the Court, and most of the time the mediator is jointly selected by both sides of the litigation.

The mediator cannot force a settlement, and the insurance company cannot be forced to offer a sum of money. What goes for them also goes for you, too. You cannot be forced to demand a sum of money, or to accept an offer. In the absence of some bad faith and conduct bordering on the extreme or intentional, mediations that do not produce a settlement mean just that.

No settlement.

When a Florida lawsuit goes to Mediation and then it does not settle at the Mediation, the Mediator writes a short note to the Judge, telling the Judge nothing about what happened in the Mediation other than it did not settle, calling it an “Impasse”  which is a fancy word for nothing happened and it didn’t settle.

Well, you have just been given a quick overview of the process a basic personal injury lawsuit goes through in Florida State Court, but if you notice, I am not discussing what happens in a trial. That is for you to learn when you call up or contact me for a Free Legal Consultation.

Office Location and Service Areas

Mark J. Leeds, P.A. handles cases throughout Florida from his Fort Lauderdale office.

Here is a list of some of the counties and cities we serve:
Broward County:
Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Hallandale, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale Beach, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Miramar, Plantation, Sunrise, Coral Springs and throughout the greater Broward area.
Miami-Dade County:
Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, South Miami, Kendall, Hialeah North Miami Beach, Aventura, Sunny Isles, and throughout the greater Miami-Dade area.
Palm Beach County:
West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and throughout the greater Palm Beach area.
Collier County:
Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Marco Island, Estero, Sanibel and throughout the greater Collier area.

How Can Mark Help?

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