More than a dozen people injured or killed due to the negligence of government workers and/or agencies in Florida will finally receive the payment promised in settlements or litigation, some having waited years for legislative approval.
The reason for the wait has to do with damage caps imposed by the state on injury claims against the government. In cases where the government’s sovereign immunity protection is waived, the most a plaintiff can expect to receive is $200,000.
However, in cases where there has been a catastrophic injury or death, that amount barely covers medical expenses. Sometimes, that amount isn’t enough even for that, let alone loss of earnings or damages for pain and suffering. The only way a higher amount can be paid – even if the government agency concedes negligence and agrees to pay it – is with legislative approval. That means a bill must be introduced and approved by state lawmakers.
Often, there are several of these bills presented each year. However, for the last two sessions, none of these bills has been approved, and several had to be introduced more than once. Now, a total of 14 have been green-lighted by lawmakers, and now only await the signature of Gov. Rick Scott.
These are primarily claims involving major injuries or death. Our experienced legal team understands that challenges involved with negligence claims against the government, and we carefully help our clients weigh their options. In many cases, despite the hurdles and delays, it can be worthwhile to aggressively pursue an injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the government in Florida.
Among some of the plaintiffs whose claims were recently approved:
- A $485,000 claim for the family of a 28-year-old father of two young children who died after an on-duty police officer ran a red light, struck the man’s vehicle and caused it to crash into a utility pole.
- A $100,000 to cover the medical bills of a man severely injured when a city utility truck in Hollywood struck his pickup truck head-on.
- A $940,000 claim by the children of a woman who died of head injuries after she boarded a bus in Miami-Dade and, shortly after, the driver quickly accelerated and then slammed on the brakes, forcing her to fall.
- A $3.2 million claim by the family of a 10-year-old who died and his 12-year-old brother, who suffered a broken back, after a bus struck them in a crosswalk in Kissimmee.
- A $102,000 claim from a motorcyclist who suffered serious head trauma and other injuries after he was struck by a county-owned dump truck and trailer.
- A $200,000 claim from the mother of an 18-year-old who died after being ejected from a vehicle after it was rear-ended by a police officer in North Miami.
- A $395,000 claim to a little girl who suffered permanent nerve damage to her right arm at birth in a state-owned hospital, where a nurse attempted to deliver the child on her own without a doctor’s assistance – despite knowing the mother had gestational diabetes.
- A $633,000 claim for medical bills of a man who survived just three years before dying of complications after he was struck by a school bus.
- A $370,000 claim for the family of a man who was killed after being struck by a sheriff’s deputy in Palm Beach.
- A $2 million claim to a man in a government-owned hospital in Miami who suffered a severe brain injury after he was not promptly intubated after his oxygen levels dropped dangerously low.
- A $700,000 claim to a 3-year-old girl at that same hospital who was also improperly intubated. She will now require lifelong care after suffering severe brain damage.
All of these amounts are in addition to the capped $200,000 amount that’s already been paid.
Although these cases were approved, not all pending measures were even considered. A total of 32 were filed in the House, but only 21 in the state Senate. Some of those that weren’t weighed this session include some of the more serious cases.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
After long wait, 14 accident victims get promised money, April 28, 2015, By Dan Sweeney, Sun-Sentinel
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Carlson v. Town of South Kingstown – Sporting Event Liability, April 24, 2015, Orlando Injury Lawyer Blog