Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Published on:

In a recently decided case, a plaintiff sued a grocery store for injuries after she slipped and fell on a piece of watermelon at the store. A store employee had been handing out watermelon samples close to where the woman had slipped. The woman alleged that the grocery store was negligent because the floor was wet from the watermelon samples and posed a danger to customers. She claimed that the store either knew or should have known about the danger because offering watermelon samples in a busy section of the store created a danger in and of itself. But the plaintiff did not have evidence as to how long the piece of watermelon had been on the floor before she slipped on it.

Watermelon SlicesThe court found that the case failed because of the woman’s lack of knowledge as to the length of time the watermelon had been on the floor. The woman had to show that the danger posed was due to the store’s negligent conduct. The court explained that normally a plaintiff must demonstrate a store was negligent either because it knew that the danger existed or because it should have known about the danger but failed to do anything about it.

The court found that the woman could not do that in this case because there was no evidence that the store knew a piece of watermelon had dropped on the ground, or that it should have known it was there due to the length of time it had been on the floor. In addition, while the woman argued that the court should have found that the business’ decision to pass out watermelon by itself created a danger, the court rejected the argument. As a result, since she had no evidence as to the length of time the dangerous condition that caused her to fall existed, her case failed.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Arizona decided an interesting case involving a defendant’s right to name additional defendants in a case that was originally filed against only a single defendant. In the case, Cramer v. Starr, the court determined that the defendant did have a right to name an additional party to the lawsuit whom the defendant believed may be partially liable to the plaintiff for the injuries that formed the basis for the personal injury claim.

Damaged Car

The Facts of the Case

Mungia, the plaintiff, was involved in a rear-end accident. Cramer was the driver of the car that struck the rear of Mungia’s vehicle. After the accident, Mungia began experiencing back pain and consulted with a chiropractor. After a few months of treatment and no improvement of her symptoms, she had an MRI performed, and it was discovered that she had several bulging discs. The doctor whom she had gone to see about her back pain recommended this surgery. However, after the surgery was performed, Mungia’s pain was worse than before. Mungia filed a lawsuit against Cramer, alleging that her injuries stemmed from the car accident caused by Cramer.

At trial, Cramer asked the court to allow her to name the doctor who performed the surgery as an additional defendant, arguing that it was the doctor’s negligence rather than her own that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The court denied the request, and Cramer appealed.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals heard an appeal from a product liability case involving an allegedly defective door-knob guard. In the case, Coterel v. Dorel Juvenile Group, the plaintiffs were the parents of a boy who successfully disengaged the door-knob guard manufactured by the defendants and was later found dead in a pond. At issue in the appeal was the trial court’s admission of evidence indicating that the young boy had previously disengaged the mechanism and that the deadbolt to the front door was not locked on the day in question.

Door HandleEvidentiary Rulings in Personal Injury Cases

Courts are governed by certain sets of rules when it comes to which evidence can be admitted at trial. Not all evidence is relevant, and not all relevant evidence is admissible for a variety of reasons. In the Coterel case, the parents of the young boy objected to the admission of the evidence that would show the jury that their son had successfully negotiated the door-knob guard in the past and that the parents had forgotten to lock the front deadbolt.

The trial court determined that the evidence was proper and allowed it to be considered by the jury. After the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the court’s alleged error in allowing the evidence to be considered by the jury warranted a new trial.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Earlier last month, four of the five families who lost loved ones in a truck accident entered into and accepted settlement negotiations with the employer of the truck driver who was determined to be at fault in the accident. According to a local news source covering the tragic accident and subsequent settlement, three of the four settlement amounts are still confidential. However, it was released that one family was provided $14 million for the loss of their loved one.

Semi TrucksSettlement Negotiations in Truck Accident Cases

It is commonly asked why so many personal injury cases end up as settlements. While there are several reasons for this, and many are based on the personal preferences of the specific parties involved, certainty is one of the main motivating factors. Even a seemingly rock-solid case can lose its strength if certain evidence is discovered or if an unfavorable pre-trial ruling is made. In these cases, it may behoove a plaintiff to accept a guaranteed sum of money rather than take the case to trial and potentially end up with nothing.

The Facts of the Case

Evidently, back in April of last year, five nursing students were traveling to work on Interstate 16. The students were split up into two cars, and they had come to a stop in a traffic jam that was caused by an unrelated accident. While the two vehicles were in stop-and-go traffic, a truck came up from behind traveling at a high rate of speed. The truck slammed into the rear of one of the vehicles carrying several students. That vehicle then crashed into the other vehicle carrying the remaining students.

Continue reading →

Published on:

In a dramatic shift from prior decisions, the Supreme Court of Arkansas recently released its opinion regarding the admissibility of seat-belt use evidence in civil lawsuits. The court found that the code that restricts the admissibility of a person’s failure to wear a seat belt violates the Arkansas Constitution.

street-296220_960_720The case arose from a 2011 car accident. Evidently, the petitioner/plaintiff was a passenger of a car driven by the defendant, who fell asleep at the wheel and caused an accident. The passenger brought a suit against the defendant, alleging damages for the injuries she suffered. The passenger also claimed that the driver was acting within the scope and course of his employment when the accident occurred, and she added the employer as a defendant as well. Both defendants filed answers that included the fact that the passenger was not wearing a seat belt as an affirmative defense. The plaintiff argued that the evidence should not be included because it violated a state statute that prevented such evidence. In turn, the defendants challenged the constitutionality of the state statute that restricts the admissibility of seat belt use or non-use in civil actions. Ultimately, the statute was held unconstitutional.

Applicability of the “Seat Belt” Defense in Florida

In the above case, the defendants attempted to use the seat belt defense in order to lessen the amount of damages for which they were liable. This defense has often been incorporated into various comparative fault systems. A number of states do not address the seat belt defense. However, Florida is one of the 15 states that allow a seat belt non-use defense.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Utah issued an opinion in a case that presented an interesting issue regarding when a minor can be held individually liable for their own negligent actions. Ultimately, the court determined that no minor under the age of five can be held liable for their actions, regardless of the level of negligence or recklessness involved. The case, importantly, did not comment on the potential liability of the parents of the minor.

baby-1093759_960_720Neilsen v. Bell:  The Facts of the Case

The Bells had a four-year-old son. When they were away for the evening, they arranged for Neilsen to stay with their son as a babysitter. Unfortunately, while the Bells were away, their son threw a toy at Neilsen’s face, hitting her in the eye. Neilsen, having previously had surgery on her cornea, ended up losing the sight in that eye as a result of the toy striking her.

Neilsen filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Bells, as well as against the young boy in his individual capacity. The lawsuit against the Bells proceeded under the legal theory of negligent entrustment, arguing that they were negligent in leaving their son with Neilsen. However, that claim was dismissed by the trial court and was not appealed by the plaintiff.

Continue reading →

Published on:

The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided to overturn the ruling of a federal district court judge in a negligence and product liability lawsuit filed against a gun manufacturer. The plaintiff in the case of Seamon v. Remington Arms Company was the widow of a man who was killed by a firearm while out deer hunting alone. The Court of Appeals ruled that the district court was mistaken to exclude the plaintiff’s proposed expert witness, who would testify that the gun had a design flaw that caused it to fire on its own and cause the man’s death.

to-be-a-target-1306531As the Hunter Lowered the Gun From a Hunting Stand, it Discharged on its Own

In November 2011, the plaintiff’s husband was hunting for deer in rural Alabama when he failed to return home. Family members searched for the man and eventually found him dead in his tree stand with a single bullet wound in his chest. Information from the most recent ruling revealed that the firearm was attached to a rope and had been at least five feet away from the man when it discharged because there was no gunpowder residue on the man’s body, which would usually be present in the event of a suicide or accidental discharge.

The decedent’s wife filed a lawsuit against the arms manufacturer in federal district court, and she offered the testimony of an expert witness who would testify that a specific manufacturing defect in the design of the trigger mechanism of the Remington Model 700 rifle that fired the shot that killed the man caused the gun to fire on its own while he was lowering the weapon from the tree stand. The expert noted that the defendants themselves have known that the Model 700 has fired unexpectedly “a number of times” in the past.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Sign reading Smoking Area

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.

Continue reading →

Published on:

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.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Ladders for siding work

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.

Continue reading →

Contact Information