Articles Tagged with Miami personal injury lawyer

If you have been injured, you are likely wondering what you should do next?  Should you speak with an attorney now or later? Should you try and handle the claim on your own? Should you focus on healing and not worry about trying to bring a legal claim in court or at all? You may wonder, how will I pay for  medical bills, property damage, lost wages, out of pocket expenses or recover money for pain and suffering  after a serious injury? Miami personal injury attorneys help injury victims through injury claims. No matter how you were injured—whether it was in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall, or in some other type of incident personal injury claims take time to resolve. Many injury victims don’t understand that amount of information that needs to be processed. From the minute you walk into the law firm office information needs to be gathered. Case facts need to be analyzed. Injuries also can take time to heal and in some cases the long term consequences are not recognized until well after an accident. As personal injury lawyers, our  job is to not only understand how an accident occurs, but also how understand how it will affect our clients long term. Is future medical care needed? Are the injuries going to heal on their own? Is the  defendant financially viable? There are many in variables to consider after serious accident, injury or death claim.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO HAPPEN FIRST AFTER AN ACCIDENT

If you have not hired a lawyer yet, you will probably receive calls from insurance companies, investigators  or insurance adjusters.  These insurance companies will likely try to settle the claim for as little money as possible. If you were in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may contact you. If you slipped and fell in a store, the store’s insurance company representative may call you too. As  a rule of thumb,  if you are injured in Miami, Florida then you should not speak to these insurance companies without the advice or guidance of an reputable accident attorney.

Does the term collateral sources seem interesting? Probably not, and it probably sounds like a term that has absolutely nothing to do with getting recovery from a negligent party for your injuries. But in fact, collateral sources can directly affect the amount that you receive from a jury verdict in a lawsuit brought for personal injuries.

What is a Collateral Source?

Collateral sources are sources of money that you receive that compensate you for damages or injury, which aren’t part of your injury lawsuit.

We often hear about punitive damages in movies or on TV. It seems easy to get them, if you believe Hollywood’s interpretation of punitive damages. But in Florida, punitive damages are not easy to get, and there is even a special statute that dictates when and how punitive damages can be sought.

What Are Punitive Damages

As the name implies, punitive damages are intended to punish, or at least, deter others from acting in a similar manner in the future. This is different from traditional damages, which seek to compensate the injured victim for loss.

In a personal injury action, under Florida law a Plaintiff must show the elements of 1.) Duty 2.) Breach 3.) Causation, and 4.) Damages.  When we are injured by the negligence of another, especially when we are injured on the premises or property of a business, it’s common to think that as long as you can prove the other person or business was at fault or negligent, the case is won. But there is still the question of injury or medical causation. If someone’s negligence didn’t actually cause or contribute substantially to the injuries for which you are claiming damages, the law provides that a jury must  enter a verdict for the defendant on that issue. This a common defense strategy where there  injuries that are considered to be degenerative, or “pre existing” in nature .  Florida law does provide for aggravation or acceleration of a per-existing injury. However, this still requires proof of that the prior injury was accelerated but for the harm that was caused. Many defense lawyers and insurance companies often defend cases on these types of arguments. Our Miami injury lawyers are well versed in dealing with and many of other types of affirmative defenses and how to deal with them in the court room.

No Causation in Wal-Mart Negligence Trial

The case involved a woman who said she was injured when an 8.4 oz “squishy” (in the words of the court) pumpkin fell on her at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart admitted they were negligent, but claimed that there’s no way that an object of that size could have ever caused the victim the injuries she said she sustained.  Also referred to medical causation, the lawyers argued that even though they were at fault, the element of causation was missing and therefore argued that the jury must find in their favor. The defense hired a medical expert to testify against the victim.

We often think that in lawsuits of any kind, including injury cases, that attorneys’ fees are automatically awarded to the prevailing party. But in our system, attorneys’ fees are only awarded where there is a contract or statute providing for them.

In ordinary negligence cases, there is no provision for attorneys’ fees. A jury cannot award attorneys’ fees and a defendant is not obligated to pay them, even where the defendant was found liable by a jury.

But Florida has a unique fee-shifting statute that can be used to obtain attorneys’ fees. The problem is that it can also be turned around, and used to make injured victims pay the fees of negligent defendants.

In many personal injury cases, a negligent defendant will be in possession of crucial evidence, often for a long period of time before it has to be turned over. This may include a product that allegedly malfunctioned, witness reports, or photos of an accident scene.

You may wonder what is to prevent a defendant, who knows he was negligent, and knows that a lawsuit may be coming, from simply “losing” or destroying crucial evidence? And if it happens, how does an injured plaintiff prove their claim?

Spoliation of Evidence

In any injury lawsuit involving a corporation, taking depositions of officers of the negligent party is an essential part of winning a case. As you may imagine, most defendants are not crazy about having their employees and officers sit for deposition. But a new case makes the process much easier, and leaves less room for corporate defendants to evade depositions.

The Deposition Process

It has always been the case that a party can depose certain employees simply by noticing them.

If you are in an accident, and sue for your injuries, your case may not get to trial. In fact, few do. Many settle out of court, and when they do, there are settlement agreements to consider. In many cases, a settlement agreement may be exchanged early in the lawsuit process. Injury victims should be aware of what could happen if offers to settle injury lawsuits are exchanged before a lawsuit is actually filed.

A new case, Thompson v. Estate of Maurice, is a reminder of some potential problems that could arise in these cases.

Attempted Settlement Before Suit

In disputed injury cases, getting evidence that may be difficult to obtain can be the difference between winning and losing. When we think of evidence, we often think of witnesses and medical records and maybe even video camera recordings. But we often don’t think of cell phone records as evidence in injury cases.

Cell Phones and Privacy

We often think of the information on our cell phones—texts, emails, pictures, schedules, etc.—as our private information. Because of that, we write very candid things on our phones, not expecting that the world could ever see them.

There are some legal fictions that seem to exist no matter how true or untrue they are. One such fiction is the so-called “one free bite rule.” This is the belief that a dog can bite someone the first time without the owner being liable, but the second time there’s liability. This is actually not true in Florida, though.

Dog Bite Laws

The law is clear that if a dog bites you, the owner is responsible for your injuries, regardless of whether Fido has ever bitten someone in the past, and regardless of the dog’s propensities for being a sweetheart or a killer in the past. There are some exceptions to this law: