Articles & FAQ

Florida Punitive Damages Overview

Category: Articles & FAQ |

As the name suggests, punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant or to act as a deterrent.  But not every plaintiff in a civil case (such as a personal injury claim) can ask for punitive damages. In fact, the requirements for eligibility are fairly strict. Florida Statute Section 768.72 allows punitive damages only when “there is a reasonable showing by evidence in the record or proffered by the claimant which would provide a reasonable basis for recovery of such damages.”  Understanding when a court can award punitive damages is important for anyone who may be involved in a lawsuit. Here is a short guide to how punitive damages in Florida work and who may be eligible for them. Damage Categories in Florida Civil Cases When someone suffers injuries or other losses due to the negligent or wrongful act of another, they are entitled to seek compensation. In Florida, there are three basic categories that a plaintiff may receive in a lawsuit or settlement. Economic Damages Economic damages are used to financially compensate a plaintiff for the direct losses the plaintiff suffered due to the accident/incident. These include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and more. Non-Economic Damages Non-economic damages compensate the plaintiff for less concrete losses like physical pain and suffering, emotional and psychological damage, loss of quality of life, and more. Punitive Damages Unlike the first two types of damages, which are compensatory, punitive damages are put into place to punish the individual or entity responsible for the incident. They are available only in the most egregious circumstances. Florida Punitive Damage Statute As mentioned above, Florida Statute Section 768.72 dictates when punitive damages are available in a lawsuit: “A defendant may be held liable for punitive damages only if the trier of fact, based on clear and convincing evidence, finds that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.” The language of the law indicates that this is a pretty high bar to clear. Only a trier of fact (the jury) is allowed to award punitive damages and only under exceptional circumstances. The onus is on the plaintiff not just to ask for these damages but also to prove them. The “clear and convincing” standard is higher than the normal personal injury-proof standard, which means that the plaintiff needs strong evidence to back their damages claim.  The fact of the matter is that punitive damages aren’t awarded very often. Generally, punitive damages claims are not meant for a plaintiff to recover extra damages for themselves. Instead, they are intended to punish a defendant for a particularly heinous act or to provide a warning to future defendants to avoid similar conduct. Intentional Misconduct v. Gross Negligence Under the Florida punitive damages statute, there are two situations where punitive damages are appropriate. These are when the defendant’s actions are grossly negligent or the defendant commits intentional misconduct. Both are expressly defined by Florida law: Gross negligence exists when the defendant’s conduct was so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of persons exposed to such conduct (Florida Statutes 768.72 (2)(b)); and Intentional misconduct exists when the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct and the high probability that injury or damage to the claimant would result and, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct, resulting in injury or damage (Florida Statutes 768.72 (2)(a)). Only if the defendant or possible at-fault party committed acts that fit either of these will the court consider awarding punitive damages in addition to the other categories. The Process of Asking for Punitive Damages There is a specific way that a personal injury attorney must seek Florida punitive damages in a trial setting. First, there is a hearing before the judge. This determines if there is sufficient evidence to allow the plaintiff to present a claim for punitive damages to the jury.  If the judge approves, the plaintiff must then present enough clear and convincing evidence to the jury that punitive damages are appropriate in your case. An attorney may not just randomly ask for punitive damages at the end of a trial, nor can a jury tack these onto a damages award once it has reached a verdict. If the process is not followed, a jury cannot award any punitive damages. Limits on Punitive Damages Most states place limits on the amount that a plaintiff can receive in compensation for a personal injury claim. Most states do not place limits on economic damages, as long as the losses are supported with evidence. Some states limit non-economic damages, but Florida does not. The only category that Florida limits (or caps) is punitive damages. A plaintiff can only receive up to three times the amount they receive for compensatory damages (economic and non-economic damages combined). Anything above is capped by law. Injured in Florida? Call Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Today! If you are seriously injured due to someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You may be unable to work and struggling both physically and emotionally to recover from your losses. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we are here to help. Based in Tampa, our personal injury attorneys also handle cases in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and throughout the state of Florida. For over 30 years we have fought for the well-being of our clients and are proud of our case results. We have received an A+ rating from the BBB, an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and a “Best Law Firm” rating from US News & World Report. When it comes to serious injuries, the team at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk provides excellent advocacy as well as personal service. For a free consultation, call us at 813-223-5295 or contact us on our website to schedule an appointment.

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Florida 14-Day Accident Law

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If you are in an accident, you need to familiarize yourself with the Florida 14-day accident law. This law states that injured victims must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident for their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to apply. PIP coverage is your no-fault insurance that covers medical expenses and some of your other damages. If you have questions about PIP and the 14-day accident law, let the experienced Tampa auto accident lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk help. Failure to adhere to this 14-day rule could mean trouble for your personal injury protection claim. It could adversely affect your ability to get reimbursed for your damages, which means you would be paying for your expenses out of pocket. Deciphering the 14-Day Rule Seeking medical treatment after an accident is always a good idea. Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, you should get checked out. Some injuries are not visible, so you want to rule out any internal damage as well. Florida’s 14-day PIP rule says that you must at least have an initial medical examination within 14 days of the accident. If you don’t, your insurance company has the right to deny any subsequent claim that you present under your personal injury policy. There is no specific type of doctor you need to see, which means almost any kind of medical care with a qualified health care provider could meet the requirement. For example, you might visit an: Emergency room physician, Medical doctor, Chiropractor, or Dentist. It’s crucial to note that health care providers that are not listed in the specific law may not qualify. Massage therapists and physical therapists are two examples that may not be eligible. If you see a massage therapist but not a medical doctor, your insurance company will likely deny your claim. You can see a massage therapist on your own if you need it; it just will not be reimbursed. The important thing is to get to the emergency room or make an appointment with a doctor first to ensure you satisfy the 14-day rule.   Some people don’t see the rule’s importance and are shocked when their claim is denied for not seeking treatment in time. There are several reasons why this 14-day rule exists, including to deter potential insurance fraud and claims for unconnected injuries. If someone waits two months to see a doctor, the insurance provider can easily deny the claim on the basis that the person was likely injured somewhere else. Other reasons the 14-day rule exists are to help facilitate quick medical diagnoses and avoid medical complications. Personal Injury Protection Payout Limits When Florida amended the PIP law, it also limited what benefits are available under the policy. You must have a minimum policy amount of $10,000, but that doesn’t mean you are entitled to receive the full amount after an accident. Under the current PIP law, the amount of your maximum benefit will depend on the severity of your injuries. You must seek treatment within 14 days, and you will be eligible to receive only up to $2,500 in benefits if you sustained non-emergency injuries. If your injuries fall under an “emergency medical condition,” then you could receive the maximum payout under your policy. However, PIP only pays 80% of your medical costs. Take a $10,000 PIP policy, for example. If your medical expenses are $10,000, then you would receive only $8,000 under your policy. If your expenses are $20,000, you would receive the whole $10,000. PIP also covers 60% of your lost wages, up to $10,000. If you are disabled and unable to work, then you would want to include a loss of earnings claim. Payment under this section also provides compensation for services you would normally do, such as cleaning your home, laundry, etc. Your personal injury policy also usually includes up to $5,000 in death benefits. If the policyholder dies, your PIP coverage will pay for the burial and funeral expenses, in addition to the other benefits. What Is Considered an “Emergency Medical Condition”? Under Florida Statute section 395.002(8), you’ll find the definition of an “emergency medical condition.” A qualifying emergency condition is one where you suffer acute symptoms that require immediate medical attention to prevent: Impairment of a major body function; Endangerment of your health and wellbeing; or A serious dysfunction of any body part or organ. Be sure to talk with your doctor about what is going on with you after the accident. They can note in your chart that you had a condition that qualifies for some benefits under your PIP. The notes don’t have to reflect it was an “emergency medical condition.” As long as there is proof that you sought treatment within 14 days, you should be entitled to some benefits from your policy. The determination of whether you have a qualifying condition doesn’t have to take place within 14 days either. You need to show only that you sought initial treatment from a qualifying provider to meet the legal requirement. What If Your PIP Claim Is Denied? Even though you pay a monthly premium for your personal injury protection coverage, it doesn’t mean that the insurer will always pay you the benefits you think you are owed. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and therefore they will look for ways to reduce their payouts whenever possible. Common reasons for denials include: Not seeking treatment within 14 days; Not suffering injuries in this accident as you claim; and Not suffering a qualifying emergency medical condition. Despite the current situation with the pandemic, you still need to seek treatment within 14 days. Many doctors and facilities are offering telephone and virtual appointments if you are concerned about going in person. The telehealth option would most likely satisfy the 14-day rule. You can check with your insurance company to verify first. Contact a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer Today  Don’t try to fight a PIP denial on your own. Instead, let the experienced team of...

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Florida Negligence Elements & Negligence Law Overview

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Most people are familiar with the term personal injury law. However, this is just an umbrella term that covers a wide range of possible legal claims, from products liability to intentional torts like assault. But most personal injury cases are actually brought under the legal theory known as negligence, which has a long and storied history in American law. Here, we will discuss Florida’s negligence law, its elements, and how they may apply to your situation.  Florida Negligence Laws Although there are many famous court cases that are a big part of shaping negligence law, the governing law itself is actually found in the Florida Statutes. More specifically, Florida Statutes Chapter 768 deals exclusively with negligence and all connected issues like damages, special exceptions, etc. But sorting through all the legalese can be overwhelming and confusing. There’s a reason that attorneys have to go to law school, after all. Instead, it’s much easier to break down a claim into its basic elements. Florida Negligence Elements In the most general sense, negligence is when someone fails to exercise a degree of reasonable care expected of them to minimize risk of harm to another. This can be broken down into four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damage. Duty of Care First, a plaintiff needs to show that the person/entity who injured them owed them a duty of care. This means that they had a legal obligation to do (or not do) something based on the relationship between the parties. For example, every driver on the road has a duty to others on the road to drive their vehicle safely and according to the law. Someone who owns a business open to the public owes a duty to visitors to keep their store as free of hazards as possible. Breach of Duty The second element requires a breach of duty to create a legal cause of action. A driver breaches their duty by driving unsafely or breaking traffic laws. A store owner might breach their duty if they ignore a spill of some sort where customers travel. Causation The next element seems easy and logical, but there can be some complications. If one driver hits another and causes damage to their vehicle, causation is easy. But when there are multiple people or events that are involved in an accident, things can get confusing. If someone in a store accidentally knocks an item off a shelf which hits someone else, the cause of the accident is at first glance, not the store owner. But if the store owner placed the item at a height and position that made it a danger for customers to navigate, then the injured customer may claim that the owner’s negligent act legally caused the harm.  Damages/Injury Finally, the plaintiff must show that they suffered injuries or losses that can be compensated. Usually, this means financial compensation. While it seems clear that you can’t sue someone when you haven’t suffered damages of some kind, this is still an important step to completing a claim. Damages must be proven by evidence such as medical bills, proof of lost wages, appraisals for property damage, and more. In addition, less concrete losses like pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment are also possible losses that a plaintiff may ask for. Florida negligence laws don’t just define what a claim is, they also define the type and amount of damages a plaintiff can seek. Florida and Comparative Fault One additional in a negligence claim is how fault distribution can affect potential damage amounts. Although some accidents can be attributed to one party 100%, this is not the case in many incidents. As a result, there are different approaches for reducing damages when each party has some fault in an accident. Different states follow different rules, and Florida follows the pure comparative negligence approach. Pure comparative negligence reduces a plaintiff’s damages by their attributed fault percentage. This means that under Florida law, the amount of your recovery will be reduced by the amount of your fault. For example, say you incur $100,000 in medical costs and other damages. However, the jury also decides that the accident was 40% your fault. This means that the amount you are awarded will be reduced by 40% and you will receive only $60,000. Some states limit recovery altogether if the plaintiff is more than 49% or 50% at fault, but not Florida. In the pure comparative fault system, you can still seek recovery even if your fault is deemed to be a higher percentage, such as 90%. Injured By Someone’s Negligence? Call Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Today! If you suffer injuries or other damages in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation. And while filing any legal claim seems scary, the personal injury team at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk is here to make the process as stress-free as possible. We know the law and proudly boast 30 years of experience successfully representing clients throughout Florida. We offer potential clients a free case evaluation to assess your claim and advise you on the best legal path for your recovery. To schedule an appointment with us, call us at 813-223-5295 or contact us on our website.

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Florida Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine Quick Facts

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The Florida dangerous instrumentality doctrine, also sometimes called vicarious liability, can impact your car accident claim. Some people mistakenly assume that letting someone else borrow their vehicle will absolve them of liability if the other person gets into an accident. However, the Florida dangerous instrumentality doctrine, says that the vehicle owner can also be liable. If you are an accident victim, this means you may have another potential source of recovery. To learn more about how this doctrine can impact your claim, contact the Tampa car accident lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today. What Is the Florida Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine? The doctrine holds the owner of a dangerous instrumentality responsible for any damage or injuries that the vehicle caused. In this situation, Florida courts have determined that vehicles qualify as dangerous instrumentalities. In easier-to-understand terminology, Florida law says that an owner of a motor vehicle can be held liable for injuries and damages to a third party when the owner voluntarily loans their vehicle to another person. The reasoning behind this theory is that some items, such as a motor vehicle, have the propensity to be so dangerous that public policy should not allow the legal owner to avoid any legal responsibility if an innocent person is injured by the vehicle that they permitted someone else to drive. One of the most common examples of the Florida dangerous instrumentality doctrine is when parents purchase a vehicle for their child but retain legal ownership of it.  The doctrine extends to all passenger vehicles, such as a car, pickup truck, SUV, van, etc. The person driving and the vehicle owner could both be responsible for economic and non-economic damages caused by the driver’s wrongful acts or negligence. However, the doctrine does not extend to long-term lessees—those leasing the vehicle for their personal use. In this case, the liability will be limited to the lessee. That means the dealer or similar entity will not be responsible for any damages the leased vehicle causes, despite possibly holding a security interest in the vehicle. There is one important difference between Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine and vicarious liability in other states: other states typically require proof that the owner acted negligently in giving permission. Florida’s doctrine doesn’t have that requirement. Where the application of this doctrine becomes more confusing is when the accident occurs outside of Florida. Florida vehicle owners could still be held liable under the doctrine, even if the accident occurs out of state. Whether this doctrine can be applied to an out-of-state accident will depend on the circumstances. If your claim involves an out-of-state accident, you should contact an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk. Exceptions to Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine There are some instances where the doctrine will not apply. Car Theft The first exemption is when someone steals a car. The doctrine applies only to people who permit someone else to drive their vehicle. If the owner can show the person didn’t have permission, such as a vehicle thief, then they likely wouldn’t be held accountable. Shop Rule In some cases, there may be people who have permission to drive the vehicle, but the doctrine won’t apply. Examples include body shop employees, auto mechanics, or valet parking attendants. This example falls under the “shop rule.” Under the shop rule, vehicle owners who entrust their vehicle to an auto body shop or service station will not be responsible for any negligence on behalf of the shop employees. This same exception also applies to any damage that a valet driver causes. Rentals and Leases Rental cars and leased vehicles also fall under the exception clause. The leasing company or rental agency keeps the vehicle title in their name, but they aren’t responsible for what the renter or lessee does while driving that vehicle. This example falls under the Grave’s Amendment. The Graves Amendment was part of a 2005 federal highway bill that excludes rental car companies from vicarious liability for injuries caused by their customers unless someone can prove that the rental car company’s actions or negligence contributed somehow. Recent Sale The final exception deals with selling a vehicle. If the vehicle owner sold the car and the new buyer damaged it before changing title, the previous owner may be able to escape liability. The accident must occur before the prior owner had a reasonable amount of time to change the title. Do You Need to Hire a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer? Following an auto accident in Florida, you are likely wondering whether you need to hire an attorney or can handle the claim on your own. In most cases, hiring a Tampa car accident lawyer is beneficial. If you were involved in an accident where the dangerous instrumentality doctrine in Florida applies, it’s essential to speak with an experienced lawyer before pursuing an injury claim independently. These can be complicated claims, and you want to talk to someone who has experience handling similar cases. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping clients get the compensation they deserve. We have represented over 20,000 injured clients and recovered over $300 million to date. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your case and advise you on the best legal course of action. 

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Florida Auto Negligence Overview

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Florida is home to millions, and so many drivers on the road often leads to unfortunate accidents. These car accidents are often the result of a negligent party or a party whose irresponsibility on the road endangers other drivers. It’s essential to know how Florida handles automobile negligence and what that may mean for you.  Defining Auto Negligence An individual is negligent when they are not acting reasonably and their actions cause an accident or injury. Similarly, auto negligence occurs when a driver is not driving in a way a reasonable driver should, resulting in an auto accident. Proving Auto Negligence Proving negligence in Florida requires you to establish that a driver was not driving reasonably and that their lack of care ultimately resulted in an accident and injury. To prove negligence, you must first satisfy the following elements: The driver owed you a duty of care; The driver breached this duty of care by failing to drive responsibly; The breach was the direct cause of the accident; and The accident resulted in damages. Drivers owe other drivers on the road a duty to act reasonably and drive responsibly. If the other driver did not respect other drivers on the road, they have breached this duty. If this breach of care resulted in your accident and the accident then resulted in damages, including injuries and property damage, there is a chance that you will successfully prove the other driver’s negligence. It can be challenging to establish auto negligence. Fortunately, a car accident attorney can gather details and information from your case to help establish the other driver’s negligence. Proving negligence is one of the most crucial parts of a car accident case. Comparative Negligence in Florida Car Accidents No two accidents are the same, and while many accidents are caused by one negligent driver, some accidents are caused by multiple parties. Florida follows the “pure comparative fault” rule for cases involving more than one negligent driver. Under the pure comparative fault rule, a judge will determine each driver’s exact percentage of fault. The plaintiff’s award will then be reduced by the percentage of fault they have in their accident.  For example, if the defendant crashes into the plaintiff but the plaintiff was texting and driving, the pure comparative fault rule will come in. If the defendant was 70% at fault and the plaintiff was 30% at fault, and the plaintiff’s total damages are $100,000, their award will be reduced by 30%, leaving them with $70,000. Some states follow a different comparative fault rule, where a plaintiff more than 50% at fault loses the right to recover any damages. However, this is not the case in Florida. Even if it is determined the plaintiff is 90% at fault, they will still be entitled to 10% of the damages award. Florida’s No-Fault Law Florida is one of the very few states that follow a “no-fault” car insurance system. This system provides that, after a car accident, you will have to seek monetary aid from your own insurance coverage. Your personal injury protection, or “PIP,” insurance will cover your medical bills and other accident-related expenses, up to $10,000, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. If your injuries and losses exceed the $10,000 maximum, you may be able to go outside Florida’s no-fault system and file a claim or personal injury lawsuit. Note that the no-fault system does not apply to property damage resulting from a car accident. You may make a claim against the at-fault driver for property damage and loss. Serious Injury Under Florida No-Fault To file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover for non-economic damages under Florida’s no-fault system, injuries must qualify as “serious injury.” According to Florida Statute, serious injury includes: Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; and Death.  If your injuries do not qualify, you will not be able to collect for non-economic damages. How a Florida Car Accident Attorney Can Help While you are not legally required to hire a car accident attorney, having representation will often result in the best outcome. Not every car accident case is straightforward, with some cases presenting particular challenges. Your car accident attorney will handle every aspect of your case, including: Investigating your accident, Gathering information and evidence, Calculating appropriate damages, Communicating with insurance companies, and Engaging in settlement negotiations. Often, car accident cases settle without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Nonetheless, some cases do end up in front of a jury. Having the help of an experienced car accident attorney will give you peace of mind knowing your case is being handled properly. A lawyer will advocate for you, protect your rights, and work toward getting you the compensation you deserve. Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney Today Abrahamson & Uiterwyk has over three decades of experience helping injured clients when they need us most. Our firm has had the pleasure of serving over 20,000 clients to date, recovering hundreds of millions along the way. Client satisfaction is of the utmost importance to us, and we’re happy to have earned the love and respect of so many of our clients. We provide aggressive representation to help get you back on your feet after an accident. Our firm offers free case reviews. Contact us today, and let’s get started.

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Florida Survival Statutes Quick Facts

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Losing a loved one is always difficult. You will undoubtedly experience heightened emotions, stress, and financial instability. While money cannot take the lingering pain away, it can help ease some pressure and financial strain.  After a loved one’s death, you may be able to file a survival action. It is essential to know what the Florida survival statute means, what differentiates a survival action from a wrongful death claim, and your options. Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action After losing a loved one, you may hear “wrongful death” and “survival action” used interchangeably. However, they are not the same kind of lawsuit. Wrongful Death A wrongful death claim arises when a loved one dies due to someone’s negligence or a wrongful act. The decedent’s survivors may then bring a wrongful death claim. This type of claim serves to compensate the decedent’s family for the death. Survival Action On the other hand, a survival action allows a decedent’s survivor to file a lawsuit as if the decedent themselves were filing the lawsuit. The Florida Survival Statute provides that “no cause of action dies with the person.” This means if a decedent would have had grounds to file a lawsuit, they still will even after death, with their survivors filing the lawsuit for them. While wrongful death compensates the family for the losses they incurred after their loved one’s death, survival claims focus on the decedent’s losses. A survival claim can be based on the actions that caused the person’s death or on other injuries unrelated to their death. Who Can File a Survival Claim? Survival claims may be filed by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Unlike wrongful death claims, where damages go to specific family members, survival claim awards go to the decedent’s estate. The award is then distributed according to the decedent’s will. If a decedent dies intestate, or without a will, the decedent’s heirs will receive the award. A decedent’s heirs typically include spouses, children, grandchildren, and other relatives. A court can decide how to distribute the award correctly. Damages Available In Survival Claims Damages available in survival claims are those that would have been available to the decedent had they lived and been able to file their own lawsuit. These damages include: Medical expenses, Lost wages, Lost earning capacity, Pain and suffering, and Property damage. Survival claim damages may also include any other financial losses the decedent incurred due to the defendant’s negligence or the wrongful act leading to their death. Damages can be challenging to calculate, and you may not be aware of everything you’re entitled to. Fortunately, an attorney can calculate the appropriate damages and the compensation you deserve. What Kind of Claim Should You File—Wrongful Death or a Survival Action? You may be confused as to which claim is right for you. While you may be able to file both a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival claim, Florida does not allow you to receive damages for both types of claims arising out of the same incident. A proficient attorney can review the details of your case and help you decide which claim to pursue. In certain situations, you may be able to pursue both a wrongful death and survival claim. For example, your spouse is involved in an accident that leaves him paralyzed. Six months later, he suffers a heart attack after a medical procedure entirely unrelated to the accident. In this case, you may then file a survival claim for the first accident and a wrongful death claim for the medical malpractice since these two unfortunate incidents were unrelated to one another. An Attorney Can Help After the loss of a loved one, you may be confused and frustrated. While a lawsuit cannot bring your loved one back, it can help alleviate some of the financial burdens left after a death. An attorney can help you navigate the challenges of a lawsuit, working toward getting you just compensation. Your attorney will: Investigate your loved one’s death; Determine which type of claim is right for you; Gather relevant evidence and information; Calculate damages; and Fight for your rights and compensation. Losing a loved one is hard enough as it is. Let an attorney take care of your claim, giving you peace of mind and time to heal. Contact a Florida Attorney Today Abrahamson & Uiterwyk has over 30 years of experience helping clients through the most challenging times. We are committed to providing aggressive representation and prompt service, leaving clients satisfied and on the road to recovery. Our team offers the care and compassion to get you through one of the toughest times while never losing sight of the end goal: justice and financial recovery. We offer free case evaluations. Contact our office and let’s see how we can help you.

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Understanding Loss of Consortium in Florida

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Serious accidents can cause more than just physical damage. The emotional harm can be just as impactful and long-lasting and may support a claim for loss of consortium.  What Is Loss of Consortium in Florida? When a victim is injured or dies as a result of the negligent actions of another person, they or their loved ones are generally able to bring a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the negligent party. Depending on the severity of the injury, the outcome can affect more than just the victim. Understanding loss of consortium in Florida is important to determine your options. Loss of companionship is another common term for loss of consortium.  Loss of consortium in Florida is generally defined as loss of companionship and fellowship. This includes the right of each to the company, cooperation, and aid of the other in every conjugal way.  How Do I Prove Loss of Consortium? Not every personal injury or wrongful death case will include a claim for loss of consortium. In most cases, a loss of consortium claim involves death or serious injuries that prevent the victim from functioning like a normal, healthy person. This could include brain damage, paralysis, incontinence, or a variety of other issues that require a significant level of care and assistance for the victim to maintain their quality of life. The injury must be severe and long-lasting. Here are some of the facts that must be true for you to receive compensation for loss of consortium: If filing a claim as a spouse, the victim and plaintiff must have been married at the time of the accident; The defendant must have intentionally or negligently caused the injury of the victim; The defendant’s conduct must have caused the serious harm; The personal injury or wrongful death claim against the defendant must be valid; and The plaintiff must prove the actual loss of consortium due to the victim’s injury.  A loss of consortium claim is directly tied to the personal injury claim. If there is not a valid claim for personal injury or wrongful death, meaning no negligence on the part of the defendant, there cannot be a claim for loss of consortium.  You must file the personal injury claim first in civil court. The loss of consortium is a separate claim, but cannot be filed first. It is helpful to have an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to guide you through this process.  Can I Bring a Claim for Loss of Consortium in Florida? Most loss of consortium claims are filed by spouses. A claim could also be brought by the children, parents, or other dependents of the victim. The age of the victim or their children may be a factor. There are three types of loss of consortium claims.  Spouse’s Loss of Consortium A spouse has a claim only if they were married to the victim. A lot of other factors regarding the health of the relationship can also be considered in a spouse’s claim. The victim and spouse must have been married before the accident occurred.  Loss of Parental Consortium According to Florida Statute 768.0415, “A person who, through negligence, causes significant permanent injury to the natural or adoptive parent of an unmarried dependent resulting in a permanent total disability shall be liable to the dependent for damages, including damages for permanent loss of services, comfort, companionship, and society.” Severe injury to the parent of a minor child could pose a special set of difficulties. A child forced to grow up without the care of a parent or to act as a caregiver has experienced loss. Losing a parent is a life-altering occurrence.  Parental Loss of Filial Consortium A claim filed by a parent is referred to as “loss of filial consortium” and applies if the victim was a minor. The loss or severe injury of a child is a tragedy no parent wants to experience.  Potential Compensation for Loss of Consortium in Florida It is hard to put a dollar amount on the suffering that comes from severe injury or loss of a loved one. No monetary compensation will ever be enough to replace what was taken away from you. Compensation achieved through a valid claim for loss of consortium does not include damages associated with the actual injury. This compensation is for non-economic harm and may include various types of loss including: Help raising minor children, Help with household chores, Financial assistance, General companionship,  Sexual relationship between spouses, and Emotional support.  These are hardships that may occur because of the injury. Though money cannot make up for the loss of a partner or family member, the monetary recovery may allow a surviving single parent to hire help with childcare or household chores. It could also help with therapy or just coping with new burdens that may arise.  What Do I Need to Know About Filing a Claim? If you choose to file a claim for loss of consortium in Florida, it is important to understand that your relationship with the victim will be placed under a microscope. Intimate aspects of your relationship will be questioned and scrutinized. This could be especially difficult if your marriage included any infidelity, separation, abuse, or criminal charges. Length of the relationship and life expectancies may also be factors.  Hard times do not mean that a valid claim for loss of consortium does not exist, but building a solid case will be easier with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.  Should I Hire an Attorney for My Loss of Consortium Case? Navigating the court system alone can be a daunting task. Combine that with a lack of emotional support from your injured spouse or loved one, and it becomes even more difficult.  A personal injury attorney who has experience with loss of consortium cases will be able to help you in a number of important areas including: Determining the strength of your case; Filing important paperwork; Understanding your options for relief; Preparing you for invasive questioning: Providing...

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Understanding Pain and Suffering in Florida

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Understanding Pain and Suffering in Florida  If you’ve ever been seriously injured in an accident, you know that the damage is not always just physical. Emotional pain and suffering are part of the process. You may be entitled to legal compensation for pain and suffering in Florida from injuries caused by a liable party.   What Is Pain and Suffering? The legal term “pain and suffering” refers to the physical and emotional injuries following an accident. These damages can be difficult to quantify. It is reasonable to assume that the party that caused the accident would be responsible for related damages such as medical bills and other costs that you would not have otherwise incurred. Pain and suffering damages are much more subjective, but arguably just as important.  Economic Damages vs Non-Economic Damages There are two main types of compensation in Florida personal injury cases: economic damages and non-economic damages.  Economic Damages Compensation to cover actual costs of the property damage or injuries caused are called “economic damages.” This type of compensation is crucial to making sure that you are not financially burdened by the negligent actions of someone else. The downside of purely economic damages is that they do not make up for the emotional burden or life changes that may occur because of the injury. Their purpose is just to pay the bills and cover expenses that would not have existed without the accident.  Non-Economic Damages Once actual expenses are covered, the injured party must still deal with the mental and emotional consequences of the accident. Pain and suffering is a claim to cover these “non-economic” damages. Non-economic damages may include: Mental anguish, Depression, Loss of quality of life, Emotional and psychological distress, Humiliation, Anxiety, Fear, Anger, and Post-traumatic stress. These types of damages are difficult to put a price on, but they can be debilitating and life-changing. You deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering.  Are There Limits on How Much Money I Can Get for Pain and Suffering? Florida does not have a cap on damages for pain and suffering damages in general personal injury claims. Relief for pain and suffering does depend on the type of personal injury case, the extent of the damages, and circumstances surrounding the accident.  Pain and Suffering Damages in No-Fault Auto Accident Cases In 2019, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported 401,867 auto accidents. However, some car accident victims may be limited in their ability to pursue pain and suffering damages. Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to auto accidents. This means that a driver must turn first to their own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage regardless of who was at fault for the accident. PIP coverage extends to economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, but it does not cover pain and suffering. Nevertheless, a car accident victim can file a personal injury lawsuit and request compensation for pain and suffering from the at-fault driver if their damages reach a certain threshold. To meet the threshold to bring a claim for pain and suffering in Florida, the injured party must have experienced one of the following: Significant, permanent loss of function; Permanent injury; Disfigurement; or Permanent scars. It is important to contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to file a claim for pain and suffering after a car accident.  Florida Comparative Negligence Rule  The State of Florida follows a pure comparative negligence rule. This rule reduces the victim’s recovery by the percentage for which they were found at fault for the injuries or damages. If you were partially responsible for the accident that caused the injury, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility.  How are Florida Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated There are several factors the court will consider when evaluating pain and suffering: Severity of the injury, Type of medical treatment received, Age of the victim, Length of recovery, Injury prognosis, and Long term impact of the injury.  These factors play an important role in getting you what you deserve. Ultimately, however, it is up to a jury to determine what is reasonable in light of all the evidence in the case. Evidence to Support a Claim for Pain and Suffering Details are important when gathering evidence to support your claim for pain and suffering. The first step is to consider how the injury has and will interfere with your normal life. Keep a record of the help you have required to maintain a semblance of normalcy. This can be a written record, testimony, or invoices from people who have assisted you in normal tasks, including things like: Cooking meals or purchasing groceries, General housework, Caring for dependent children, Transportation, Doing yard work, and Caring for pets. Tasks like these may seem simple. If you cannot accomplish them due to your injury, you may be compensated. Expert opinions, medical records, and tangible documents will also be important in your claim for pain and suffering. Some examples of these may include: A list of restrictions provided by your doctor;   A list of medications prescribed to you, like painkillers, sleeping pills, or anxiety pills; Testimony from physical therapists regarding progress and prognosis; and Evidence from a psychiatrist detailing the level of mental anguish, stress, and anxiety caused by the accident. Your attorney can help you gather essential evidence to maximize your pain and suffering award.  Should You Hire an Attorney for a Claim of Pain and Suffering in Florida? Pain and suffering is not a straightforward claim for personal injury compensation. Seeking counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney could be crucial for your case. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we can help you evaluate your personal injury claim and determine the best way to get you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering. Contact us today. Our compassionate team will help you through the process. You have suffered enough, and we are here to help. 

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What to Do After an Accident Resulting in an Injury at Universal Studios

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Although visited by millions per year, amusement parks like Universal Studios may put people at risk for accidents and resulting injuries. Accidents at Universal Studios may occur more commonly than you expect. Whether injuries suffered are minor or severe, it’s essential to be aware of the common reasons that accidents and injuries may occur. Additionally, knowing what to do in the event a Universal Studios ride accident occurs is essential to establishing your compensation claim.  Steps to Take After an Accident at Universal   There are essential steps to take after you suffer a Florida Universal Studios accident. The most important goal after suffering an injury is compiling and retaining evidence.  Dial 911  If injured, call 911 to bring the proper authorities to the scene of your accident at Universal. It’s crucial to ensure you are not severely injured or in need of medical assistance.  Seek Medical Assistance  If your Universal Studios Orlando Florida accident causes substantial injuries, seek medical assistance. It may be wise to seek medical help even if you feel fine. In many personal injury cases, you may discover injuries or experience pain at any time after the accident occurs. Additionally, obtaining an assessment of your physical injuries after an Orlando Universal accident provides documentation of any damages for which you may seek compensation.  Create an Account of the Accident  Do not allow too much time to pass before creating a chronological timeline and a detailed list of the circumstances of your Universal Studios theme park accident. Since memory fades over time, making a record of detailed information can keep details fresh in your mind and provide evidence later on. Gather Evidence and Witness Accounts  If possible, take photographs of the scene of your accident at Universal as well as pictures of your injuries. This type of evidence serves as visual proof of any compromised safety issues existing at the park. Additionally, ask parties that witnessed the accident at Universal Studios Florida for their contact information. When preparing your lawsuit against Universal Studios for your injuries, key witnesses can strengthen your case regarding any safety issues existing at the park.  Maintain Records  Hold on to all copies of medical bills and statements. Additionally, keep records of any missed wages resulting from accidents at Universal Studios. Medical reports, including those providing details of long-term medical care, can also be vital.  Types of Injuries for Which You Can Seek Compensation The most common types of injuries suffered at theme parks like Universal Studios may include the following: Broken bones and fractures;  Severe brain and head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries;  Whiplash and other neck injuries; Spinal cord injuries; Cuts, bruises, and scrapes;  Drowning; and Death.  Injuries suffered due to a Florida Universal Studio accident should be reported immediately to park personnel, and you should immediately seek medical attention.  Types of Claims You May Have There are several grounds on which you might consider bringing a claim for a Universal Studios accident.  Negligence  Ordinary negligence leading to injuries as a result of an accident in Universal Studios Florida may be based on: Operator behavior,  The nature of the ride,  Missing safety equipment required for a safe ride,  Mechanical failure,  Negligent supervision,  Design defects, or  Poor maintenance.  Although Universal Studios undertakes routine safety inspections and training for all employees, accidents at Universal Orlando may still occur. Injuries at amusement parks like Universal Studios can be especially devastating due to the high-speed nature of many rides at the park.  Products Liability  In addition to negligence, injuries suffered due to a Universal accident may fall under product liability.  Product liability lawsuits do not rest on the same theory of duty of care as negligence. Instead, product liability lawsuits rest on the concept of strict liability. Strict liability does not depend on negligence or intent to harm to establish a claim. Product liability claims depend on injuries caused by the following: Dangerous design unreasonable in nature, Defects in manufacturing, or Failure to adequately warn of the hazardous nature of a product.  Product liability lawsuits are particularly complicated. They may include not only Universal Studios, but other parties involved with the park.  Premises Liability  Premises liability is a legal theory related to a park owner’s responsibility to maintain and keep the property safe. Park owners and operators must proactively identify dangers and remedy them to avoid injury to park guests. If you tripped on a damaged stair, slipped on a wet floor, or cut yourself on a jagged edge at Universal Orlando, you might have a premises liability claim.  How Do I Know If I Have a Case? If you suffered an Orlando Studio accident resulting in injuries, you may claim compensation against Universal Studios. An experienced personal injury attorney assesses your claim’s facts to determine if your injuries resulted from the negligence or liability of Universal Studios.  Benefits of Hiring An Attorney You can expect significant pushback after filing a lawsuit for injuries resulting from an accident at Universal Studios Florida. Theme parks such as Universal Studios employ a team of defense attorneys to avoid liability for your injuries. Additionally, defense attorneys may paint a picture of comparative negligence on your part to lessen your compensatory award.  An experienced personal injury attorney understands the complexities of different causes of action and carefully compiles evidence to strengthen your claim. Additionally, attorneys understand the statute of limitations and other deadlines, and can ensure your case is not dismissed on a technicality.  Contact Us  For those injured due to accidents at Universal Studios, the personal injury attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk are here to help. Our team of personal injury attorneys has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Our experience includes representation of over 20,000 injury victims throughout Florida. Our prompt and aggressive personal injury attorneys provide diligent and caring representation to our injury victims. Contact us today to obtain a free case review of the facts surrounding your Universal Studios accident.  FAQ  Will Universal Studios Pay for My Injuries? If Universal...

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Bulging Disc from Car Accident Settlement

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Though they occur every day, no one ever expects to be involved in a car accident. However, the trauma of a car accident is further complicated if you suffer a debilitating injury. Though common, bulging disc injuries affect everyone differently. If you suffered a bulging disc injury from a car accident, settlement with the other driver’s insurance may be an option for you. The severity of your injury affects your bulging disc settlement value. Contact a personal injury attorney to review the facts of your case and possible bulging disc car accident compensation.  What Is a Bulging Disc? In our back, we have multiple discs positioned between our vertebrae to cushion our movements. Soft cartilage wraps each disc, shaped to fit between the vertebrae it cushions. As we age, the discs change shape and begin to protrude. Bulging disc is the term applied to these protruding discs.  Bulging discs can exist anywhere from the neck to the lower back. Though relatively common and often painless, bulging discs become uncomfortable when irritated or when a disc rests against the nerves of your spine.  Bulging discs can cause a wide array of symptoms, many not directly associated with the bulging disc’s location. Typically, these injuries cause headaches, numbness, pain in the neck, face, shoulder, back, and hands. A bulging disc in the lower back may cause numbness, pins-and-needles, and weakness in the legs. While bulging discs occur due to age and general deterioration, they may also be caused by traumatic events like a car accident. In these situations, you may wonder what your rights are for bulging disc car accident compensation.  Is There An Average Settlement? Due to the wide range of injuries a bulging disc may cause, there is no average settlement for a bulging disc from a car accident. You can seek a settlement for a bulging disc injury in the neck or spine. However, you may wonder how much would a settlement be for a bulging disc injury you suffered. Various factors influence a bulging disc settlement value.  Age  As you age, your risk of suffering a bulging disc injury increases. Additionally, as you age, your ability to recover more quickly from injuries lessens. Therefore, age and your ability to recover will play a factor in your bulging disc settlement.  Medical History  Even if you had a bulging disc or another injury before your accident, this does not prevent you from pursuing a bulging disc from car accident settlement. Insurance companies may attempt to call your bulging disc a pre-existing injury.  You can receive compensation even for a pre-existing injury if the accident made your injury worse. However, you may receive less for your bulging disc car accident compensation than you would with a new injury. Salary & Lost Wages If your bulging disc keeps you from working, you have a right to recover your lost wages in your settlement. The higher your pre-injury wages, the higher your bulging disc settlement may be.   Nature of Injury  A bulging disc settlement value is affected by the prognosis of your injury after your car accident. For example, if your bulging disc injury improves over a few months, your bulging disc car accident compensation may not be substantial. In contrast, if you suffer lifelong issues such as chronic pain, limited mobility, inability to work, and other symptoms as a result of your bulging disc after a car accident, your settlement amount may be greater.  Pain and Suffering In many cases, a bulging disc injury can cause pain and suffering, including psychological and emotional symptoms that are not easily quantifiable. For example, if your bulging disc injury causes chronic pain, this may result in emotional stresses since you cannot return to your everyday life before your injury. These types of injuries, while difficult to quantify, may also increase the settlement value of your case. Bulging Disc Injuries and Insurance Companies  Insurance companies are not eager to pay out fair bulging disc settlements. Insurance companies may claim your injury was pre-existing in an effort to reduce your compensation. Additionally, they may attempt to claim you were at fault for the accident. For these reasons, it’s essential to have an experienced personal injury attorney representing your interests. Many unrepresented and injured parties settle for less compensation than they would have received if they retained a personal injury attorney.  Personal injury attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk carefully compile necessary evidence and documentation to strengthen your claim. We guide clients on their path to recovery through diligent representation and advocacy.  What Should I Do About Treatment?  After suffering a suspected bulging disc injury, it’s best to seek medical attention to receive an assessment from a medical professional. For purposes of your bulging disc settlement, retain all medical records regarding your injury. Your diagnosis and prognosis are all factors impacting your bulging disc settlement value.  How Long Can the Settlement Process Take?  If parties agree to a settlement, an insurance company must pay the claim within 20 days. If it is a personal injury protection claim, the insurance company must pay the claim within 30 days. Timelines are dependent, however, on the ability of the parties to reach a satisfactory settlement.  There are many reasons why a settlement may take longer to reach. Disputed Factual and Legal Issues In many situations, the parties may not agree on various factual or legal issues relating to a bulging disc injury. For example, there may be a dispute regarding the injury’s severity or who is at fault for the accident.  Settlement Value  If your bulging disc settlement value is likely to be high, your case might take longer. Insurance companies are not eager to pay out large sums of money in lawsuits, so they are more likely to contest legal or factual issues in high-value cases. Medical Improvement If your bulging disc injury is ongoing, with no resolution of your symptoms, it may be difficult to reach an agreement as to the proper valuation of your damages. For this reason, getting...

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