In most Florida personal injury cases, once a jury comes to a decision and enters a verdict, the case is over. Generally speaking, the jury’s decision regarding whether the defendant should be held liable to the plaintiff is fairly insulated from review and can only be overturned in the rarest of circumstances.

Gavel and BooksThere are some situations, however, in which a jury’s decision regarding an award amount is subject to a judge’s review. Thus, if a jury finds that the defendant is liable to the plaintiff, enters judgment in the plaintiff’s favor, and then enters an award too large or too small, the judge can review the jury’s award. Under Florida Statute section 768.74, if the judge determines that the award was not appropriate, the judge can then order a remittur (reduction) or an additur (increase) in the award amount.

Section 768.74 lays out several considerations that a judge should take into account when asked to review a jury’s award. These include:

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golf-equipment-1503940-1279x972-300x228A principios de este mes, la corte de apelaciones extendió una opinión en un caso de lesiones personales en la Florida que involucró a un peatón que sufrió lesiones graves  después de haber sido golpeado por un carrito de golf. El caso ilustra las dificultades que son comunes cuando se trata con una compañía de seguros a raíz de un accidente.

Desafortunadamente, el conductor del carrito de golf, que fue responsable por el accidente, no tenía suficiente cobertura de seguro para compensar por completo a la víctima por sus lesiones. Por lo tanto, la víctima se vio obligada a presentar un reclamo ante su propia compañía de seguro, bajo la disposición de que el responsable tenía un seguro insuficiente. El caso requirió que la corte determinara si la póliza de la víctima cubría el accidente.

La póliza de seguro del demandante

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida personal injury case involving a pedestrian who was struck by a golf cart and sustained serious injuries. The case illustrates the difficulties that are common when dealing with an insurance company in the wake of a serious accident.

Golf CartUnfortunately, the operator of the golf cart responsible for causing the accident did not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the victim for her injuries. Thus, the victim was forced to file a claim with her own insurance company, under the underinsured motorist provision. The case required the court to determine if the accident victim’s policy covered the accident.

The Plaintiff’s Insurance Policy

The plaintiff’s insurance policy provided for both liability protection as well as underinsured motorist protection. The language describing the policy’s liability protection included coverage for all accidents involving cars and trailers. However, the policy contained an exclusion for vehicles that were not generally used for public roads. That being said, the exclusion specifically excepted accidents involving non-owned golf carts from the exclusion.

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Cases that go to trial are generally left in the hands of the jury. However, in some cases, judges can take the decision out of juries’ hands and make a decision on their own. In one recent case, a Florida appellate court considered the limits of a trial judge’s ability to take the decision away from the jury, even when only one side presented testimony on an issue.

CourtroomIn this Florida car accident case, a woman and her husband brought a claim against the insurance company for uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage after the woman was injured in a car accident. The case proceeded to trial, but before the trial began, the court prohibited three of the insurance company’s experts from testifying, leaving only the plaintiff and her surgeon to testify on the issues of causation and whether she sustained a permanent injury.

The jury found the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries but did not find that she had suffered a permanent injury. However, the plaintiffs moved for a directed verdict, and despite the jury’s verdict, the court found in the plaintiffs’ favor on the issues of causation and permanency. The insurance company appealed, arguing that even though their experts were barred from testifying, the court should have allowed the jury’s verdict to stand.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit that presented the court with the opportunity to discuss when a negligence case becomes subject to the additional procedural requirements of a medical malpractice case under Florida law. Ultimately, the court determined that the facts as presented in the case fell within the traditional theory of negligence, and it was not subject to the additional requirements of Florida medical malpractice cases.

Examination RoomThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a patient of the defendant doctor. The patient had an appointment with the defendant to remove a catheter. When the defendant doctor entered the examination room, he instructed the plaintiff to climb atop the examination table. The doctor then pulled out a small stepping stool to assist the plaintiff. Once the plaintiff was atop the table, the doctor scooted the stool back under the table.

The doctor removed the catheter without incident. At the completion of the procedure, the defendant instructed the plaintiff to get dressed and go make an appointment with the front desk for a follow-up visit. However, the doctor did not pull the stool back out from underneath the table. The doctor then left the room.

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As a general rule, litigants in Florida car accident cases must raise any issues they have with the trial court’s decisions at the moment a decision is made. Similarly, when responding to a claim or allegation, a party should be sure to make all relevant arguments at that time. Otherwise, a court may consider the argument waived.

Car WreckThe purpose of the waiver rule is to encourage efficient resolution of cases. If, for example, a party were able to raise any issue at any time, courts would find themselves dealing with a never-ending series of motions and requests as the parties came up with new versions of old arguments. Instead, Florida court rules require that parties bring everything they have upfront so that the judge can make one informed decision that will not need to be revisited, absent a legal error. A recent Florida personal injury case illustrates this concept.

The Facts

The plaintiff was injured when another motorist struck her vehicle. The other motorist did not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for the injuries she sustained. The plaintiff, however, was covered under two other insurance policies:  an Allstate policy in her mother’s name and a Geico policy in her father’s name. The Allstate policy provided $5,000 more in coverage than the Geico policy.

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kelly-sikkema-203594-300x199Last Saturday was busy. I had spent the week working on a particularly difficult case, so I admit I was exhausted to start with. The weekend brought the usual barrage of errands and soccer games, lost cleats and lack of parking, and I very soon found myself close to the end of my proverbial rope. Getting out of the car, I dropped my keys, wallet, water bottle, and extra shirt, causing me to let out a string of expletives usually reserved for private moments away from my kids. In the midst of the chaos, my young daughter came over and put her hand on my face. “It’s ok, Daddy. I’ll help.” And my world was right again.

For parents, children are literally the center of our universe. We exalt in their highs and sympathize with their lows. We beam with pride over their smallest accomplishments and spend sleepless nights worrying about their future. We attend their sporting events and school activities, and we work hard to make sure they are happy, healthy, and that they have the best lives possible.

Most importantly, we strive to protect them and to keep them safe.

Earlier this month, the District Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion in a Florida premises liability case illustrating the difficulties some plaintiffs have when pursuing claims arising from injuries sustained while engaging in recreational activity on another party’s property. The case presented the court with the opportunity to clarify seemingly confusing language in the state’s recreational-use statute. Ultimately, the court resolved the issue in favor of the government defendant, and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

RollerbladingThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was rollerblading on a street in Delray Beach when he ran into a pothole and fell. He sustained serious injuries in the fall and subsequently filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city. The plaintiff claimed that the city failed to safely maintain the public roadway.

The city claimed that the plaintiff was rollerblading in an area where he was not permitted to do so and that the city should not be held liable. Furthermore, the city pointed to the state’s recreational use statute, which provided immunity to landowners when someone is injured while rollerblading.

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HD-Image-7-1024x683-300x200I was twelve when I first rode a motorcycle. It was just a small dirt bike that belonged to an acquaintance, but riding it gave me an incredible sense of freedom. Like many people, I wistfully remember that bike and the joy it gave me.

I still have numerous friends with motorcycles, and I frequently warn them about the dangers they face on the roadways. As an attorney, I know that that danger doesn’t come from road debris or from faulty bikes. Most accidents involving motorcycles happen not because of any fault of the driver of the motorcycle, but because the drivers of cars don’t see the motorcycle. These drivers change lanes into them, stop suddenly, or take other actions that leave the motorcycle driver unable to avoid an accident.

These are riders doing nothing wrong, but who end up with medical bills, damaged property, and even lost wages thanks to negligence by a driver of a car who simply failed to take due care on the roadway. These drivers need to be held accountable for their actions, and they need to compensate victims for the damage they caused.

All Florida medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within a certain amount of time, or the judge overseeing the case will dismiss the plaintiff’s case. Pursuant to Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(b), Florida medical malpractice cases must be filed within two years “from the time the cause of action is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.” Notwithstanding the above rule, all Florida medical malpractice cases must be filed within four years of the alleged act of negligence.

X-RayUnderstandably, the inclusion of the phrase “should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence” can lead to confusion and is often a point of contention in Florida medical malpractice cases. In a recent Florida appellate opinion, the court was tasked with determining whether a plaintiff’s case was filed within the two-year statute of limitations.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had a mammogram performed, the results of which were interpreted by the defendant, a radiologist. The results of the mammogram indicated that there was a nodule in the plaintiff’s body, and the defendant believed that she may have malignant breast cancer. However, the defendant did not tell the plaintiff or her primary care doctor.

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