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Lifeguards posted at beaches throughout Fort Lauderdale are supposed to save lives and reduce the risk of serious injury. However, for one sunbathing tourist, the actions of an on-duty lifeguard nearly ended in tragedy. Local media reported the North Carolina woman was soaking up the sun on Fort Lauderdale Beach in 2012 when a patrol vehicle ran over her. After deliberating for about three hours, jurors awarded her $250,000.

However, our Fort Lauderdale tourist injury lawyers know it’s likely that the damage caps applicable to Florida state and local government agencies in injury lawsuits, as imposed by F.S. 768.28, will reduce that award to $200,000 (the maximum any one person can receive in such a case; It’s possible more could be secured with a successful claims bill passed by state lawmakers, though that could take years). The problem with such caps, of course, is they are not only arbitrary but sometimes serve as a lawsuit deterrent, preventing all the most severe catastrophic injury claims. Further, they can make government agencies less likely to address dangerous conditions that threaten the taxpayers footing the bill.Fort Lauderdale tourist injury lawyer

In this case, plaintiff testified she’d been lying in the sand with her shorts draped over her face when a lifeguard operating a patrol vehicle drove over her. But it didn’t end there. The now-49-year-old says she was trapped under the vehicle. City officials dispute the claim the truck tires came in contact with plaintiff, instead arguing the bulk of her injuries, defense asserted, was the undercarriage of the truck. Still, the city accepted liability in the case.

The issue jurors were left to decide was whether plaintiff was entitled to recover monetary damages for her injuries and if so, how much. A doctor testifying for the defense argued the woman still had full range of motion in each of her limbs and neck and had suffered no permanent scarring form the incident. While the woman’s attorneys sought $1 million in damages, the city’s lawyers initially offered her just $40,000. That offer was increased the week before trial to $100,000. Jurors awarded her 150 percent more than the city’s most recent settlement offer. It appears they gave greater credence to the expert witness testimony of plaintiff’s physician, who testified about the ongoing health effects of the incident, as well as plaintiff’s own testimony, in which she showed the jury visible scars on her body she insisted were the result of the city-owned truck running over her. According to her account (supported by her doctor) the woman suffers permanent neurological damage and chronic pain, for which she routinely receives painful cortisone injections.  Continue reading

Working hard your whole life, sacrificing, saving, investing wisely and also managing by acumen, sheer dumb luck or some combination to avoid pecuniary pitfalls that might otherwise have left you practically penniless, of course you want as much of your estate as possible to reach the people and causes that matter most to you. That means in part avoiding probate if you can and minimizing the tax hit your heirs will take on whatever gifts they inherit. Ensuring the most expedient possible estate transition usually involves (at minimum) some combination of a will and a revocable and/ or irrevocable trust.Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer

Occasionally our Fort Lauderdale probate attorneys are queried about a the prudence of early inheritance, also referred to as pre-death transfers and gifts prior to death. The short answer is: It really depends, but it can be very risky.

There are a number of factors to consider when weighing early inheritance as an option. Let’s say we’re talking about transfer of your Florida home. The reason we’ve heard most commonly cited for sharing or transferring the deed of a Florida residence to children or grandchildren before death is that heirs are then spared cumbersome estate taxes and potentially draining probate litigation. Perhaps, the homeowner thinks, they can safely bypass Florida estate planning altogether with this option. However, early inheritances really should be avoided least until you’ve discussed it at-length privately with your own estate planning attorney. Get a second opinion if you still aren’t convinced. Because while savings for an heir could prove worth it, the elderly benefactor may be taking a major risk. Sometimes, even the most loyal, honest heirs can end up making a mess of things, even unintentionally.  Continue reading

Following several tourist injuries and at least one death, a Bahamian-headquartered cruise line docking in the Port of Miami is being sued by multiple plaintiffs who say they encountered an unreasonable risk of danger at an on-shore zip line excursion in Honduras. As with many excursions advertised by large cruise lines, this one was offered by a third-party independent contractor. However, plaintiffs allege firstly they were misled in marketing materials to believe the cruise line itself was the operator. Furthermore, these tourists say the cruise company should have known the zip line excursion wasn’t safe because numerous cruise ship guests suffered tourist injuries on it. Miami tourist injury attorneys know that if they can prove both of these elements, they may have a decent shot at recovering damages for their injuries.Miami tourist injury lawyer

In July, a newlywed groom on that zip line crashed into his brand new bride, suffering serious injuries that proved fatal. The Miami New Times reports that prior to that incident, there were at least 10 people who sustained severe injuries while on the excursion facilitated by Royal Caribbean, which received complaints after each incident.

Zip lining is arguably one of those recreational activities, such as rock climbing or mountain biking or snow skiing, that by their very nature present some sort of risk of an accident or injury. Defendants will often argue the “assumption of risk” doctrine, meaning they assumed the inherent risk when they chose to do that activity anyway. Such assertions can be especially bolstered if the claimant signed a waiver of liability. Such waivers don’t completely shield defendants from liability (particularly for gross negligence), but they can be useful for the defense. However, in the case of this Honduran-based excursion, the numerous federal lawsuits indicate a pattern of problems that went beyond what one might assume while zip lining. Rather, the allegations are that this particular zip lining excursion was especially dangerous – even for zip lining – and that Royal Caribbean knew about it yet failed to protect future guests from being hurt either by terminating their contract with the zip lining company or warning guests of the potential dangers or prior accidents.  Continue reading

Florida theme parks – Disney, Universal, Legoland and more – owe a duty of care to adequately warn visitors of possible danger, whether it’s a slippery walking surface or a ride with jerks and jolts that could be dangerous to someone with a heart condition or who is pregnant. In fact, as businesses that invite members of the public on site for the benefit of the property owner, these companies owe visitors the highest duty of care to patrons. But what does it mean to provide “adequate warning”? Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers know there is a good argument to be made that an adequate warning at a theme park that attracts visitors from around the globe is one that is provided in numerous languages.amusement park injury lawyer

This is the allegation in a recent wrongful death lawsuit filed against Universal Studios Orlando by the family of a Guatemalan man who suffered a fatal heart attack in 2016 shortly after exiting a suspense-filled roller coaster-type ride featuring animatronics and 3D screens, the rider seated in a “truck” as they speed through the scenes of the recent King Kong films. Decedent, a man in his 50s, reportedly had prior heart problems – a risk factor outlined in prominent warning signs just before riders board. However, decedent was unable to read those warnings because they were written entirely in English, while he understood only Spanish.  Continue reading

For decades, native Floridians commented on how it seemed “everyone” was moving to South Florida. Recent data lends some truth to that. As Palm Beach probate attorneys, we encourage those who are relocating to Florida from across state lines to consider meeting with a local probate lawyer to review important estate planning documents, such as wills, revocable living wills and durable powers of attorney.Palm Beach probate attorney

As the new year kicks off, it’s a great time for all Floridians – but especially those who moved to Florida in 2018 or within the last couple years – to review their important documents, ensure personal representatives and powers of attorney are up-to-date and that wills and trusts reflect your true intentions and align with Florida law.

An analysis of U.S. Census data by the National Association of Realtors found the No. 1 most common migration pattern in the U.S. was New Yorkers moving to Florida – some 33,400 between 2011 and 2016. Another 16,400 moved from New Jersey, 12,500 from Pennsylvania, nearly 9,000 from Michigan and about 7,800 each from Ohio and Illinois. Many are lured not just by Florida’s beautiful beaches, but also the low personal income tax rate. It’s the most popular destination for people from northern East Coast and Midwest states.  Continue reading

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are supposed to mark a fond farewell to the past and a celebration of the promise to come. Too often though, a Miami drunk driving crash leads to injury, or worse, death. Miami drunk driving injury lawyer

Florida news outlets reported that between 2014 and 2016, a total of 34 New Year’s Day crashes were reported in the Sunshine State, averaging about 11 annually. It’s widely known the first and last days on the calendar are some of the worst for drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths. In Florida, only five other days averaged more, though none with more than 13. The riskiest time on the roads is from midnight to 3 a.m. on Jan. 1. That’s when nearly one-third of all New Year’s Day car accidents occur. On New Year’s Eve, 44 percent of crashes occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. This pattern of drunk driving on New Year’s is seen all over the country, year after year.

Miami drunk driving injury lawyers know holidays in general tend to see a spike in Florida car accidents, starting around Thanksgiving and continuing on to Christmas and New Year’s and then through spring break in March. Mothers Against Drunk Driving teamed with Uber last year to encourage folks to designate a sober driver before they are too drunk to drive home themselves.

How to Avoid a Miami Drunk Driving Accident This New Year’s

If you can’t stand the thought of simply staying in this holiday or you’re planning on throwing a party, consider the following:  Continue reading

Police and other law enforcement investigators play an integral role in your Florida car accident injury claim. As Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers can explain, a traffic crash investigator provides a credible, unbiased and third-party documented observation of details like the date, time and location of an accident, names and contact information of everyone involved, description of injuries documented at the scene, descriptions of vehicles – down to the license plate and VINs. Investigators also provide details about any potential crash causes they may note, statements from witnesses and, if possible, those involved, road and weather conditions noted at the time of the collision and the nature and extent of any damages to personal or public property. They may even take photos or clips of video footage and sometimes in serious crashes or those involved in a DUI or other criminal investigation will continue to gather evidence even after they have left the scene. Fort Lauderdale car accident injury lawyer

Sometimes, citations for traffic violations will be issued, with conclusions drawn about who was at-fault for the Florida car accident.

But while police reports can be very persuasive and valuable in a crash case, they aren’t the only evidence considered, nor are they generally deemed the last word in any crash case. (In fact, the crash report itself is generally considered “hearsay,” and can’t be presented as evidence at trial absent the testimony of the officer who wrote it.) Continue reading

An increasingly common issue sprouting up in Fort Lauderdale probate litigation is prenuptial agreements. These agreements, also sometimes referred to as premarital agreements, are those made by couples prior to marriage that concern the ownership of respective assets should the marriage fail. However, Florida probate lawyers know they can also include virtually any right or interest in any present or existing property rights – including stipulations such as alterations of an existing will. As long as there is nothing in the contract that violates the law or affects the right of child support, the parties can pretty much contract for anything they want. Florida undue influence lawyer

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that in a national survey, more than 60 percent of top family law attorneys have seen an increase in the total number of prenuptial agreement requests over the last three years, many saying millennial newlyweds were a significant driver of the uptick, though older generations too are securing these agreements, particularly in second or subsequent marriages. The reason for the latter, the AAML noted, was because older couples have more assets to protect.

A recent Florida probate case involving a prenuptial agreement was weighed by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. The spat was between decedent’s son and his wife over the way the estate was administered.  Continue reading

An appellate court recently affirmed a Florida car accident victim’s right to uninsured motorist benefits from her insurer after successfully arguing a 12-foot ladder left in the road had fallen from a truck whose owner/ driver were not identified. This personal injury case before Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals was interesting for the fact that:

  • It involved a phantom motor vehicle;
  • The court inferred the ladder in the road had fallen from a pickup truck that had parked in the right emergency lane;
  • The court inferred the ladder had fallen into the road (causing a chain collision) due to negligence in securing the ladder.Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

These conclusions were based primarily on circumstantial evidence and witness statements. Plaintiff’s uninsured motorist (UM) insurance carrier argued there was no proof of those last two points, the assertion relying wholly on circumstantial evidence and failing to exclude other possibilities. Defense sought a directed verdict in its favor. The court denied the motion and jurors decided the case in favor of plaintiff. The phantom vehicle was found 60 percent at-fault for the collision, while the soda company truck that rear-ended plaintiff’s vehicle when she made a sudden stop on the highway was 40 percent at-fault. The UM carrier is liable for damages caused by the “phantom vehicle. Continue reading

A South Florida injury lawyer can give you advice if you were injured as a result of negligence by someone who died in the accident itself or soon thereafter. A personal injury claim doesn’t die when the defendant does, though there can be complications because the case will be filed not against the person, but his or her estate. Typically though, it will still be an insurance company that stands in to represent the defendant and that ultimately foots the bill – especially in Florida car accident lawsuits.car accident lawyer South Florida

An appellate court in California recently addressed several issues that arose from such a situation in Meleski v. Estate of Holtlen, where a plaintiff sued the estate of a decedent, alleged to have been the at-fault driver in a crash in which plaintiff was injured. Although this was an out-of-state case, the same general principles apply with regard to Florida injury litigation.

In this case, plaintiff was injured when defendant ran a red light, colliding with her vehicle. Unfortunately, by the time plaintiff filed her lawsuit, defendant was deceased, apparently of unrelated causes. Decedent had no estate from which she could recover, but he had purchased an auto insurance policy for $100,000 that covered the accident. Plaintiff brought her complaint pursuant to the state’s probate statutes, which allowed her to serve her complaint on the insurance company directly and recover damages from that policy, though limiting recovery of damages to policy limits. Continue reading

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