Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Amid ongoing incidents of violence at schools and colleges, the California Supreme Court has ruled that colleges DO owe their students a duty of care to protect them from foreseeable violence during curricular activities. This responsibility, the court ruled, was owing to the power dynamic between schools and students, which amounts to a “special relationship.”injury lawyer

This was a reversal of a previous appellate court decision, which held 2 to 1 that universities and colleges had no general legal obligation to protect adult students from the criminal actions of other students.

The case involves a 20-year-old pre-med student who was viciously attacked with a knife in a chemistry classroom by a fellow University of California at Los Angeles student. Her attacker had previously been diagnosed with paranoid delusions and possible schizophrenia and was undergoing outpatient treatment at the university at the time of the incident. He was later found not guilty by reason of insanity. Plaintiff’s argument against the university was the school breached its duty of care by failing to take reasonable steps to protect her from foreseeable violence. Continue reading →

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House fires have the potential to cause serious threats to our personal safety and welfare. The National Fire Protection Association estimates home fires kill 2,500 annually (accounting for 93 percent of all civilian structure fire deaths), which breaks down to an average of seven daily. They also injure some 12,300 people each year and cause more than $6.7 billion in direct damage. fire injury

The question of who is legally responsible for a fire can be a complex one, even when there is no evidence someone intentionally set the fire (in which case criminal arson charges may be applicable). More often than not, the cause is accidental, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t preventable or that someone shouldn’t be held liable. The NFPA reports cooking equipment is the No. 1 cause of home structure fires and injuries, followed by smoking and heating equipment.

But for those who live in rental properties, it’s important to consider the actions or omissions of the landlord. While such actions may not have caused the fire, they may have created circumstances that made the structure vulnerable to fire or exacerbated the risk of injury or death. Examples might include absent or broken smoke detectors, blocked fire exits, missing safety equipment and maintenance failures.  Continue reading →

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Disney is the “happiest place on earth,” but visitors are still sometimes at risk for serious injury. Obtaining injury compensation from an amusement park – or any large-scale corporation – can seem a daunting challenge. The good news is the civil courts are intended to be a level playing field, where no side has a greater advantage and all are subject to the same laws. While big companies do have deep pockets to hire some of the best defense attorneys, personal injury claimants generally pay nothing upfront in a contingency fee arrangement (wherein attorney’s fees are paid only if and when the claim is successful), meaning plaintiffs too have access to high-quality legal representation. injury attorney

It has been the experience of our personal injury lawyers in Orlando that sometimes the company will settle a case far in advance of trial if the facts are sufficient to support a case for negligence. However, ensuring plaintiffs are paid an adequate sum for their injuries can be more challenging. It requires extensive proof established through witness statements, medical records and sometimes expert witness testimony.

A number of recent Disney injury cases have been reported in local media outlets, who caught wind either via a public court filing or through the company’s own periodic injury report, which it releases voluntarily to the public (part of its deal with legislators to avoid state inspections).  Continue reading →

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The doctrine of avoidable consequences, sometimes referred to as the “duty to mitigate,” is an affirmative defense that can be raised by defendants in personal injury cases to argue the plaintiff was partially or fully responsible due to failure to exercise reasonable care to reduce the injury or damages suffered. injury lawyer

Sometimes, the doctrine of avoidable consequences is confused with the doctrine of comparative negligence. Both are issues raised by the defense, the main difference is while comparative negligence involves the allowance of a court finding that numerous parties contributed to the initial injury and therefore share liability damages, the avoidable consequences doctrine asserts plaintiff had a duty to prevent further injury after the the initial legal wrong occurred.

Plaintiffs must pay attention to this because it can substantially reduce damages (compensation you are owed) following a personal injury.  Continue reading →

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An appellate court in California recently reversed summary judgment in favor of a company that employed a maintenance worker accused by plaintiff of negligently failing to conduct an adequate check on her – a guest – at her husband’s urgent request. It turned out the wife had suffered a brain aneurism and was in dire need of medical attention. While the lower court found the hotel owed no legal duty to the couple (co-plaintiffs), the appellate court said the “negligent undertaking” theory of liability can be invoked where one comes to the aid of another but fails to do so with reasonable care.personal injury attorney

In Florida, this is sometimes referred to as the “undertaker’s doctrine.” Having nothing to do with funeral homes, it involves establishing a defendant owed a “duty of care” (a key element in any negligence case) to the plaintiff. As noted in the Restatement (Second) of Torts Chapter 323, anytime a person undertakes to provide a service to others – whether gratuitously or by contract – the person who undertakes to provide that service (i.e., “the undertaker”) assumes a duty to act carefully and not to place others at unnecessary risk of harm. A good West Palm Beach injury attorney recognizes that this applies to governmental and non-governmental entities, and not only to those parties who have a contract with one another, but also third parties, as noted in the 2003 Florida Supreme Court ruling in Clay Electric Cooperative v. Johnson.

These cases can be pursued when a person undertakes or renders services to another that he/ she should recognize as necessary for the protection of the third person and his/her things is subject to liability if the third person suffers physical harm resulting from failure to exercise reasonable care if:

  • Failure to do so increases the risk of such harm;
  • Harm is suffered because of the third-person’s reliance on this undertaking.

Continue reading →

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All terrain vehicles are considered a welcome past-time in Florida, especially now that cooler evenings have afforded more comfortable camping conditions in rural parts of the state. However, recent news reports are littered with stories of individuals who have lost their lives in Florida ATV accidents.injury attorney

There was the teenager killed in Miami-Dade ATV crash late last month when the off-road vehicle was reportedly traveling on 198th Street and was struck by a pickup truck. Another teenager and the driver of the pickup were critically injured. Then there was the 41-year-old man who died in Ocala after the ATV he was riding crashed as he negotiated a curve on Southwest 153rd Loop. Then a 51-year-old Pompano Beach man was killed in an ATV accident at River Ranch Hunt Club in Lake Wales after reportedly losing control on a soft sand surface while trying to negotiate a right curve, resulting in a complete rollover, with the ATV resting on top of decedent.

Florida has some of the highest rates of ATV deaths in the U.S., according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Sunshine State ranked No. 6 nationally, with 512 total deaths on ATVs reported between 1982 and 2012. A more recent CPSC analysis of ATV-related fatalities in 2016 indicates there were 337 reports of ATV deaths nationally just in 2016 alone. That’s a drop from the 484 reported in 2015 and the 581 reported in 2014. It should be noted that reporting for the last few most recent years is still ongoing, and these figures are expected to rise once the final reports are in. Between 1982 and 2016, the number of ATV deaths had risen to nearly 14,700. Continue reading →

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Car accident and pedestrian accident lawsuits usually involve claims that one or more motor vehicle drivers was negligent. However, an experienced injury lawyer can tell you it may be worth exploring whether other individuals or entities might also be responsible. A good example of this is landowner liability for crash-related injuries.pedestrian accident lawyer

For instance, if you’re on a public road, we may explore whether the government poorly maintained, designed or constructed the road in a way that increased the odds of an accident or enhanced the severity of it. If you’re on commercial private property, we may explore whether the property owner failed in its duty of care to provide a safe means of ingress and egress for customers. And then there are also some cases where a private property owner could be liable for injury that occurs on a public road – but usually the circumstances to successfully make such a claim are limited.

Recently, the California Supreme Court took on this issue, deciding that landowners do not have a duty to insist invitees in crossing a public street when the landowner doesn’t do more than maintain a parking lot that requires invitees to cross the street to access landowner’s premises – so long as the dangers of the public street aren’t magnified or obscured in some way by a condition of landowner’s property or some action taken by the landowner. Continue reading →

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When an employee causes injury to someone else in the course and scope of employment, their employer can be held vicariously liable for those injuries. The legal doctrine is called respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “Let the master answer.” injury attorney

Of course, an employer could also be found directly liable as well for things like negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision or negligent security. But respondeat superior does not require a finding that the business was negligent. As long as the negligent employee was acting in furtherance of the business at the time the incident occurred, the business may be liable.

This is what is alleged in a Florida personal injury lawsuit recently filed against Apple Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case is filed federally because, while the injury occurred in South Florida, the company is headquartered in California.  Continue reading →

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The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that “Stand Your Ground” immunity granted in criminal cases cannot be automatically transferred to civil cases filed in response to the same incident. injury attorney

The standard of proof in a criminal case – beyond a reasonable doubt – differs from that in a civil case – the preponderance of the evidence (which basically means it was more likely than not something occurred in a certain way). That’s why a person can be found not guilty in a criminal trial, but still be found liable for damages in a civil case.

Many civil injury lawsuits are predicated on wrongdoing based on negligence. That is, someone owed a duty of care, that duty of care was breached and injuries resulted. However, some civil cases involve intentional torts. These can include things like assault and battery, false imprisonment or intentional infliction of emotional distress. A single incident can be the subject of both a criminal case and a civil case, but the two are entirely separate, and the outcome of one should not influence the outcome of the other, though much of the same evidence may be presented.  Continue reading →

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A bicyclist who suffered a severe injury after his bicycle struck a pothole will receive a $6.5 million settlement from the City of Los Angeles, following lawmaker approval of a claims bill. The claims bill process involving public entities in L.A. is somewhat similar to how such matters are handled here in Florida, where damage caps per F.S. 768.28 allows for up to $200,000 per claim or $300,000 per occurrence, unless legislators pass a claims bill to allow for more. pothole1-300x225

According to the Los Angeles Times, plaintiff suffered severe and permanent brain damage when he encountered a pothole while on his bicycle. The impact tossed him from his bicycle, causing him to suffer several broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.

He alleged in his lawsuit that the street on which he crashed was poorly maintained, causing what was in essence a concealed trap for those on bicycles. Claimant presented evidence that he is likely to suffer some form of disability for the rest of his life. Members of city council agreed to approve the multi-million dollar settlement.  Continue reading →

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