Recently, a Florida appeals court issued an opinion in a lawsuit brought by an injured cyclist against Pinellas County. Historically, sovereign immunity protects governmental entities and officials from lawsuits stemming from the performance of their official government duties. However, in the interest of fairness, the federal government (as well as most states) provides waivers to this immunity. Florida permits individuals to sue the government in certain situations, but does not allow plaintiffs to recover punitive damages or compensation over $200,000.
In the case above, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the county for injuries he suffered when he lost control of his bike and fell into a ditch in an intersection maintained by the county. The plaintiff testified that he was heading west, approaching the intersection when he noticed a car stopped in the northbound lane. He wanted to proceed south but was not sure what the driver was going to do, so he remained on the shoulder of the road. However, the car struck him, and he blacked out.
The plaintiff claimed that the county was responsible for his damages because they negligently maintained the roadway and failed to warn motorists, pedestrians, and bikers of the road’s dangerous condition. The plaintiff contended that the intersection’s shoulder lacked clear zones and slopes for bikers. The lower court let the case against the government proceed, but in response, the county claimed that they were not responsible because the plaintiff could not prove that they were the cause of the accident or his injuries. The court granted the county’s motion for summary judgment, but the plaintiff appealed, arguing that there were genuine issues of material fact that remain unresolved.
Under Florida’s summary judgment laws, the party moving for the judgment must demonstrate that there are no genuine issues of material fact. The moving party cannot overcome this requirement by just showing that the plaintiff is unsure about what caused their damages. The jury must resolve causation issues based on a review and examination of the facts and circumstances of the case. In this case, the court found that the plaintiff made out a case for negligence, and the trier-of-fact must hear any dispute regarding causation. Therefore, the appellate court remanded this case for further proceedings.
Have You Suffered Injuries on a Dangerous Florida Roadway?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries or death because of the negligence of a Florida government entity or official, you should contact the attorneys at Frankl Kominsky. We have dedicated our practice to representing Floridians who have suffered injuries due to the negligence of others, including Florida bike accidents, slip and falls, and instances of medical malpractice. Despite similarities between personal injury cases, our attorneys understand that each client and lawsuit is unique, and therefore we provide our clients with detailed and individualized attention. In taking this approach, we have recovered substantial compensation for our clients, ranging from payments for medical expenses, ongoing treatment, property damage, and emotional distress. Our law firm continues to provide the same high-quality of representation through the current COVID-19 pandemic. Contact our office at 561-354-6184 to discuss your legal issue with an attorney on our team.