South Florida Injury Attorney Blog
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Baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Although Berra was talking about sports, the expression is equally true in the law. Procedural matters and other legal finagling can complicate a case to the point where it appears to be finished before it is even tried, but an appellate court may disagree and send the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

Similarly, a large jury verdict may make it may seem that one party has surely prevailed over the other, but a higher court may set the verdict aside months or even years later. Ultimately, it is up to the appellate courts to decide, once and for all, when “it’s over.”

In the recent case of Phillip Morris U.S.A., Inc. v. Skolnick, a Florida appellate court determined that, despite legal proceedings dating back to at least 2002, a widow’s attempt at redress for her husband’s death was not over.

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calculator 2Generally speaking, civil courts in Florida follow what is referred to as the “American rule,” under which each party is responsible for his or her own attorney fees. There are, of course, certain exceptions to the rule. One of the most important exceptions for personal injury litigants is the Florida Settlement Rule.

Set forth in Florida R. Civ. Prov. 1.442 and Florida Statutes § 768.79, the rule allows a court to award attorney fees and costs in limited situations. Although the amount that a court may order under the rule is typically less than the amount that the litigant owes his or her attorney under the contract between them, it does help offset some of these fees.

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doctors clothes 2The idea of “separation of powers” is a basic component of the American legal system. The legislative branch passes laws, the executive branch enforces those laws, and, when necessary, the judicial branch interprets the laws.

In the recent case of North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan, the District Court of Appeal for the Fourth District of Florida was asked to determine whether a previous ruling of the Florida Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of a cap on damages was applicable to a particular medical malpractice suit.

The previous case, Estate of McCall v. United States, 134 So. 3d 894 (Fla. 2014), held that Florida Statutes § 766.118, which purported to limit noneconomic damages awards in wrongful death cases arising from an act of medical negligence, was unconstitutional under the Florida Constitution.

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In order for a court to properly hear a case, the court must have jurisdiction over the matter. Jurisdictional issues can include both subject matter jurisdiction (the court’s competence to hear a particular category of case) and personal jurisdiction (a court’s power over a particular person or business). If a court lacks jurisdiction, it must dismiss the case, and the aggrieved party must refile the suit in the proper court. Alternatively, the claimant may appeal the matter to a higher court for review.

In the recent case of Carmouche v. Tamborlee Management, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit was asked to decide whether the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida had general personal jurisdiction over a Panama corporation that provided shore excursions for tourists in Belize.

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clock3One of the most important considerations in any lawsuit is the statute of limitations, the period that the law allows for filing suit. Failure to file suit within the time afforded by the limitations period usually means that there can be no recovery, regardless of the merits of the action.

That said, there are a few, limited exceptions to the general requirements of the statute of limitations. While it is always best to err on the side of caution and file sooner rather than later, the exceptions can come in very handy in some cases.

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a long exposure on the side of a highway (the white lines are car headlights)If you have been hurt in an accident and are hoping to recover compensation from the party or parties responsible for your injuries, you should know that there are many factors that go into determining whether you can bring suit against a particular defendant and, if so, the extent to which you can recover losses such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

This means that two people who have sustained exactly the same injury (or two families who have lost a loved one in an accident) may get a very different result, depending upon how the accident occurred and the identity of the possible defendants in a lawsuit arising from the accident.

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Historically, the doctrine of sovereign immunity prevented litigants from asserting claims against governmental entities. Over time, however, this concept of complete immunity for the government has given way to a more limited form of sovereign immunity, under which those previously protected by the doctrine are subjected to tort liability. However, certain limitations and restrictions still apply.

It is not always clear whether and to what extent a particular entity is entitled to immunity. In such cases, it is up to the courts to make the appropriate determination.

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Generally, there are two types of damages available in personal injury cases:  economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages compensate an injured person for things like lost wages, property damage, and medical expenses. Noneconomic damages provide remediation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and similar losses.

Several years ago, the Florida legislature passed a statute that placed a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Recently, the statute supreme court was called upon to determine whether the cap could be applied retroactively.

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Most lawsuits settle out of court. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main incentives for a settlement is so that the parties can put the matter behind them and move on with their lives. It’s no secret that jury trials can lead to appeals and that appeals can delay a resolution to the issues for months or maybe even years.

In the case of Coba v. Tricam Industries, Inc., the state’s highest court was called upon to determine whether a trial court and an intermediate appellate court had properly addressed a jury’s allegedly inconsistent verdict in a product liability lawsuit brought by the personal representative of a man who fell to his death from a 13-foot aluminum ladder. The woman’s complaint against the defendants, the manufacturer and seller of the ladder, alleged both strict product liability and negligence.

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Florida premises liability law requires that the owners and managers of businesses maintain their establishments in a reasonably safe condition. If this does not happen, a person who is injured on the property may bring a lawsuit seeking financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

When someone brings suit to recover damages for injuries sustained in an accident arising from allegedly unsafe conditions on business property, some in the legal community refer to it as a “slip and fall” case. In Florida, there are several statutory requirements that must be met in order for such a case to be successful. The District Court of Appeal for the Fourth District of Florida recently ruled that a particular woman’s case failed under statutory law.

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