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As Broward car accident lawyers, we may be able to represent more than one person involved in the same car accident – but only when there is no conflict of interest between them. The problem, however, is that not all conflicts of interest are immediately apparent.

Defining a Conflict of InterestBroward car accident lawyer

As noted in Florida Rules Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.7, some ethical conflicts of interest for lawyers exist when:

  • The representation of one client would be directly adverse to another.
  • There’s substantial risk that representing one or more client would be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, former client, or third person by a lawyer’s personal interest.

Such conflicts can sometimes be waived if the lawyer believes they can provide competent and diligent representation to all clients, the representation isn’t barred by law, and each affected client gives informed consent.

When Interests May Conflict for Broward Car Accident Victims

When it comes to Broward car accident cases, the most obvious conflict of interest would involve representation of one driver suing another for negligence. That would likely never happen.

Similarly, it’s highly unlikely a Broward car accident lawyer could ethically represent both an injured passenger and the driver being sued for the negligence that caused the passenger’s injuries.

Where the lines become a bit more blurred is when two people in the same crash are suing a third party for negligence that caused both their injuries. For example, it might make sense for two family members injured in the same car accident to hire one lawyer if the other driver was mostly if not entirely at-fault. This is particularly true if you’re a parent of minor children.

However, it’s important to understand that if a driver and passenger suing the same driver for the same act of alleged negligence, a conflict can arise because the money will be paid from the same pot. If the injuries of one person are more severe, fairness would stand to reason that they should get a larger chunk of the money. An attorney representing both clients may find themselves with a conflict of interest because they’re advocating for the maximum payout for each.

Also bear in mind that there are few South Florida car accidents in which one driver is entirely, 100 percent at-fault for the crash. There are often several factors. If you are a passenger in a car with a driver who was just partially at-fault, you may have viable claims against both drivers. In that situation, it would be a conflict of interest for a Broward personal injury lawyer to represent both you and the person who was driving the car you were in.

Florida Bar Ethics Opinion on Car Accident Lawyer Conflicts of Interest

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One of the more unique elements of Florida injury law is the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. It essentially allows the owner of a vehicle to be held legally responsible for damages inflicted by negligent operation of that vehicle, even if it wasn’t the owner who was driving. As a Broward injury lawyer can explain, it’s an important path to compensation when a negligent driver is young, poorly insured, and/or lacking in personal assets. Broward injury lawyer

Recently, the Florida Supreme Court was asked to weigh in on whether a claimant could pursue claims of dangerous instrumentality against two parties – both parents of the driver, one the title holder and the other the “bailee.” The “bailee” is one who gains possession/control of property but does not actually own it. Here, the father of the negligent, 21-year-old driver was the title-holder. The mother was the bailee; she was the primary driver of the car, but both parents frequently permitted their son to drive it as well.

According to court records in Emerson v. Lambert et al., the young man was driving home from dinner when he struck a motorcyclist, who is the plaintiff in this case. The crash was catastrophic, leaving the motorcyclist a quadriplegic.

In the subsequent Florida injury lawsuit, plaintiff named the driver and his parents as defendants, the latter two allegedly vicariously liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Continue reading

Florida’s sun-kissed beaches, resorts, and theme parks are world-renowned – which is why Broward County alone drew 118 million visitors in a single recent year. Tourism is the state’s No. 1 industry, and our restaurants, hotels, and other businesses profit handsomely from it. But with this comes responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect guests from foreseeable risks. Failure to do so, as a Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer can explain, can be categorized as negligent security and could be legally actionable if you’re harmed. woman looks out of balcony of Florida hotel negligent security risk

The broad definition of negligent security is a form of premises liability by which an individual who is injured by the criminal action of a third party can hold legally liable the owner or tenant of a property where the injury was inflicted. Typically, such injuries arise out of cases of robbery, rape, assault, or battery.

This is not to say there’s a potential civil claim for every criminal action. The question is whether you had a right to expect some degree of safety where the attack occurred – whether that was at a shopping mall or an office complex or an entertainment venue or a hotel. The people who own and control these properties are expected to have a basic understanding of the possible safety risks posed to their customers, and to take reasonable action to secure the premises and protect these individuals – particularly when (as in the case of the hotel) those individuals are paying customers.

As a Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer can tell you, prevailing on a claim of negligent security against a hotel requires proof that the crime could have been prevented – or at least made less likely – if the hotel owner or manager had used appropriate security measures. If the  lapse in security happened due to the mistake of an employee, the hotel owner/employer can still be held liable under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior, Latin for “let the master answer.”

Examples of Negligent Security at a Florida Hotel

There are many different scenarios in which an injured Florida tourist could sue a hotel for negligent security. Continue reading

One of the first questions people start asking after a serious accident is, “Do I have a personal injury case?”Filing a Broward personal injury lawsuit

Weighing both the viability and value of a potential case is important when considering how to proceed. But you’re going to have a tough time answering that question without first talking to a Florida injury lawyer. Even if you have a basic sense of what negligence is and the fact that you were hurt by someone else’s failure to use care, other details can stop a case before it starts.

For instance, if the other driver is negligent but does not have insurance and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you may not have a personal injury case. If you’re in an accident and the other driver was at-fault but your injuries were not serious and permanent, you may have to rely solely on your own personal injury protection coverage (PIP) because your case doesn’t meet the serious injury threshold for filing a Broward personal injury lawsuit, as outlined in F.S. 627.737.

Large trucks are the lifeblood of our economy in Florida and throughout the U.S., a vital cog in virtually every supply chain wheel in the country. But they can also be incredibly dangerous to other motorists, as well as vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians. When crashes with big trucks do occur in South Florida, there are some key differences in the way those cases unfold compared to your typical car accident case. As longtime Broward truck accident lawyers, we’re committed to holding truckers and trucking companies accountable when negligence results in irreversible consequences to others on the road. Broward truck accident lawyer

Florida Truck Accident Statistics

Every day, operators of large trucks traversing our nation’s roads are the cause of serious crashes resulting in extensive property damage, serious injury, and tragic deaths. The term “large trucks” refers to medium or heavy trucks (excluding buses and motor homes) with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000+ pounds. This can include both commercial and non-commercial vehicles.

According to the National Safety Council, there were 5,700 large trucks involved in large crashes in 2021 – which represented an 18 percent increase from 2020 and a nearly 50 percent increase over the last decade. Part of the explanation for this rise is the fact that there are more large trucks on the road. But even so, the involvement rate per 100 million large truck miles has also increased – up 7 percent from 2020 and 22 percent over the last 10 years.

Big trucks are involved in 9 percent of all fatal crashes.

Specifically in Broward County, there were a total of 4,111 commercial vehicle crashes in 2021. These resulted in 820 injuries and 12 deaths. That’s just a snapshot of a single Florida county, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Statewide, according to the NHTSA, large trucks were involved in more than 350 traffic deaths in a single recent year.

Differences in Broward Truck Accident vs. Car Accident Claims

If you’re injured in a Broward truck accident, you may have grounds for filing a civil claim for financial compensation – same as you would if you were involved in a car accident. You’ll still need to prove negligence (and strongly dispute any allegations of contributory negligence), as well as the extent of your injuries to establish your right to collect damages. But there are a number of ways in which truck crash cases differ from your typical car accident claim.

Among them: Continue reading

If you’ve recently been in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, you may be wondering whether this ordeal will eventually wind up in a courtroom trial.Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

While every case is different, the most probable answer is: No.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. But the truth is, most Fort Lauderdale car accident cases never even become lawsuits – let alone make it all the way to trial.

Florida has the unenviable distinction of consistently having more reported bicycle deaths than anywhere else in America. It’s important to understand that if you’re injured or a loved one is killed in a bike-car crash that Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawsuits differ from other types of injury/wrongful death cases in a number of ways. Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney

For starters, cyclist injuries tend to be far more serious than what you’d typically see in a car crash. No matter who was at-fault, in a bicycle-car crash, it’s always going to be the bicyclist who suffers the most. As noted in the medical journal American Family Physician, the most common bike accident injuries are to the arms and legs (soft tissue injuries like road rash, bruises, and cuts, as well as strains, fractures, and dislocations). However, traumatic head and neck injuries – including skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhaging, and concussions – are cited in most serious bicycle accident cases.

Why does this matter for claims/litigation purposes? Because it raises the stakes. If you are pressured by an insurance adjuster into signing off on a claim settlement right away, you might do so before realizing your claim is worth a whole lot more. This is why it’s really important to talk to a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney before you sign anything. Even if you think you were at-fault, getting a professional opinion is important when so much is at stake.

Secondly, the laws governing bicycles is slightly different than the laws governing motor vehicles. True, bicyclists have many of the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers, but not exactly the same. Bicycles aren’t allowed to be operated on certain roadways. Drivers passing bicyclists on the road must do so only when it’s safe and give them at least three feet of distance.

Another issue that can complicate bicycle accident claims is that cyclists aren’t required to carry insurance the way drivers are. Florida is a no-fault state for car insurance. That means that no matter who is at-fault, both parties are supposed to filer a claim with their own personal injury protection (PIP) insurer. This covers a portion of medical bills and lost wages, up to $10,000. One must sustain serious/permanent injuries to file a claim for bodily injury liability coverage against the other driver. If you are injured in a bicycle accident with a car and you have PIP coverage for the car you normally drive, you can likely file a PIP claim with your own insurer. Even though you weren’t driving, you were still in an auto accident. However, cyclists aren’t required to carry insurance, so not all have PIP. In that case, they can file a PIP claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Insurance filing deadlines for no-fault coverage tend to be short, so you need to take action immediately. An attorney can help you file all the correct paperwork – completely and on time.

If the other driver was at-fault (or at least, more at-fault than you) AND you suffered serious injuries, you can file an injury claim and/or lawsuit against them. If they do not have insurance, you may be able to collect damages from your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage carrier.

As an aside, if you are injured in a bicycle accident that did NOT involve a motor vehicle – you might still be entitled to collect damages. If there was a condition of the road, sidewalk, commercial property, or private home that caused/contributed to the severity of the crash, you might be able to file a claim with:

  • The local/state government agency responsible for road maintenance.
  • The commercial property owner/manager.
  • The homeowner/homeowners’ insurance.

 Florida Bicycle Accident Statistics 

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There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who are living their lives with the aftermath of some sort of injury. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports about 50 million people are treated for unintentional injuries annually. Many of us heal eventually, but some will have some sort of lasting impact. When someone who has a pre-existing injury is injured again, it can complicate any subsequent legal claim. But as longtime Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers can explain, it won’t kill your case – as long as you’re working with a good attorney.Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer

The first question is whether the accident at issue has anything at all to do with your existing injuries. If your pre-existing injury involves range-of-motion issues with your wrist but the more recent accident primarily impacted your neck and back, the old injury will probably be a non-issue for purposes of your new claim. That’s not to say it won’t come up at all. It’s important to be forthright with your medical providers as well as your lawyer, to ensure it’s all fully-documented and there are no surprises.

If the new injury does happen to involve the same area of the body where you were hurt before, the next question will be: “To what extent did the new injury exacerbate your pre-existing injury?”

Aggravation of a pre-existing injury is compensable under Florida law. This has been precedent for well over a century. (See the 1908 Florida Supreme Court case of Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Dees. In that matter, the court ruled “…to recover damages for personal injuries alleged to have been caused by the negligence of the defendant, and [the plaintiff] was at the time the injuries were received suffering from some disease or illness… such [plaintiff’s] previous infirmity will not excuse the defendant from answering in damages to the full extent of injuries caused by such negligence…”)

But that doesn’t mean the defense won’t make it easy. When pre-existing injuries or illnesses are a factor in a Fort Lauderdale injury claim, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (person who is injured) to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the injury was either caused or aggravated by the defendant’s negligent act. This must be properly pleaded – and supported by evidence – in the special damages part of a Florida civil lawsuit. Your attorney has to clearly spell out:

  • Exactly what the pre-existing condition is.
  • The extent to which it impacted your life/well-being prior to the accident.
  • How the new accident caused that condition to be worsened.
  • The degree to which this exacerbation of your injury has degraded your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

When there’s a pre-existing injury involved, it will not be assumed that the new accident caused it to worsen. That fact must be expressly stated and supported. Continue reading

There was a reason motorcyclists were motivated by the hundreds in a show of political might to cram into the Florida Capitol building last month: Tort reform. motorcycle accident lawyer

The controversial bill (House version HB 837 and Senate version SB 236) was fast-tracked through the legislature and signed by the governor within hours of it hitting his desk. It undercuts a laundry list of rights for personal injury plaintiffs – but those in Florida motorcycle accidents will suffer a particularly outsized impact.

Essentially, the measure imposes sweeping limitations on Florida lawsuits, most of those broadly and unapologetically shielding insurers and big businesses from payouts in injury cases – at the expense of those most seriously hurt. Many of the motorcyclists who turned up to protest, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, are “diehard, staunch DeSantis supporters, Trump supporters, and lifelong Republicans.” But as several of them noted, “This is bad for everyone.”

What exactly is the change motorcyclists are most upset about? The shift in the comparative fault standard.

As our Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyers can explain, for years under F.S. 768.81, Florida followed a system of pure comparative fault. Essentially, that means everyone is responsible for their own share of the fault. If you are hurt in a car accident and are 40 percent responsible for what happened, you can still hold the other driver accountable for their 60 percent share of the blame. In a pure comparative fault standard system, this fair share liability principal goes all the way to 99%/1%. So if a plaintiff is 99 percent liable and the defendant 1 percent, the plaintiff can still collect on that 1 percent in damages. (That’s not an ideal outcome, of course, and injury lawyers paid on a contingency fee basis were already less likely to take on weaker cases for this reason, as they are paid a portion of the damages ultimately paid out. This is one of the reasons the argument about “frivolous lawsuits” being problematic holds little water. It’s not easy to win – or get paid – for a Florida injury lawsuit that isn’t strong on its merits.)

This new law turns pure comparative fault on its head. Now, Florida has a standard of modified comparative fault with a 51 percent bar. This means that if the plaintiff is more than 50 percent responsible for their injuries, they can’t collect a dime from the other at-fault party. So if the other driver is 49 percent at-fault, they pay nothing. The financial burden rests solely with plaintiffs.

Why do motorcyclists care so much?

Because a motorcyclist can be faulted for their own head injuries if they don’t wear a helmet. Continue reading

Sweeping legislative reforms were passed by the Florida legislature late this month – including provisions will significantly and adversely impact the ability of personal injury plaintiffs in Fort Lauderdale to collect full and fair compensation for losses caused by another’s negligence. Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer

As our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers can explain, tort reform proponents (mostly lobbyists for large corporations and insurers) have for years painted Florida as a “judicial hellhole” and decried how easy it was for plaintiffs to win big payouts for things like car accidents, premises liability, boating accidents, medical malpractice, etc.

The reality is: It’s not easy to win Florida personal injury cases, and never has been. Now it’s about to be even harder, and accountability for insurance companies has been weakened. Having a dedicated, experienced personal injury lawyer advocating on your behalf has always been an imperative to success in these cases, but now more than ever.

Among the changes now in effect thanks to HB 873: Continue reading

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