Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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 →

Published on:

LawThe settlement of lawsuits is encouraged under Florida law, so much so that the so-called “Florida Settlement Rule” states that a party who refuses a settlement offer can be held liable for the attorney fees and costs incurred by the maker of the offer if the maker is successful at trial. Of course, there are many stipulations that come with the rule, and the issue of whether or not the rule was complied with is a frequent source of litigation in and of itself.

Continue reading →

Published on:

cigaretteCivil lawsuits involving personal injuries are subject to a time limit, or “statute of limitations,” for filing. This time period usually begins to run on the date that a person is injured or killed due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another person or a business. Some actions are also subject to a “statute of repose,” which may place additional time restrictions on the filing of a lawsuit. The applicability of the statute of repose for fraud was at issue in the recent case of Hess v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.

Continue reading →

Contact Information