The National Trial Lawyers
The Guardian
See In The News for more information

In Florida, most drivers have underinsured motorist insurance, which provides coverage for losses incurred due to accidents with people with inadequate insurance. Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to avoid their obligations by refusing to pay insured individuals the benefits they are owed. In such instances, the insureds can file lawsuits against the insurer, alleging breach of contract and other claims. In many instances, insurance companies will attempt to move cases to federal court in efforts to obtain more favorable rulings. Recently, a Florida court discussed the requirements for proving a federal court can exercise jurisdiction over a matter in a case in which the plaintiff sought remand of an underinsured motorist claim. If your insurer denied you uninsured motorist benefits, you should speak to a Florida car accident lawyer about your options for seeking redress.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was involved in a rear-end collision with an underinsured motorist. She sustained significant injuries and subsequently filed an underinsured motorist claim with the defendant, the company that provided her automobile insurance. The defendant denied her claim, after which she filed a lawsuit in state court. The complaint alleged her damages were in excess of thirty-thousand dollars and one cent, but the sum in parentheses after the damages amount was $100,000. The defendant, a resident of Michigan, removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand, arguing that the defendant failed to show the amount in controversy was sufficient to meet the jurisdictional requirements.

Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Uninsured Motorist Claims

Defendants that remove cases from state court to federal court bear the burden of proving that federal jurisdiction exists. In part, this requires a defendant to set forth a notice of removal that includes a plausible assertion that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. If a plaintiff disputes an allegation in a notice of removal or a court questions it, the defendant then has to produce evidence showing the amount in controversy requirement is met. Continue reading

In Florida, when one driver collides with another vehicle, it is often presumed that the driver is negligent and should be held accountable for any harm that ensues. In some instances, however, even if it seems liability is clear, a defendant in a case arising out of a car accident may be able to assert a defense that precludes a jury from assigning him or her fault. For example, the unexpected and sudden loss of consciousness while driving is a defense to negligence claims in car accident cases. In a recent opinion, a Florida court explained what evidence a defendant must offer to support a loss of consciousness defense, in a matter in which it ultimately reversed a verdict in favor of the defendant. If you were injured in a collision, it is smart to meet with a Florida car accident lawyer to determine what damages you may be owed.

The Accident and Trial

It is reported that the plaintiff’s car was stopped at a red light when it was struck from behind by a vehicle operated by the defendant. The plaintiff and her minor children, who were passengers in her car, sustained serious injuries. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, averring that his negligence caused the accident and their harm.

Allegedly, during the trial, the defendant argued he should not be liable because he suffered a sudden loss of consciousness prior to the collision. The jury issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, after which the defendant filed a motion for a directed verdict. The defendant’s motion was granted by a judge who had not presided over the trial, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading

Rear-end accidents often cause significant trauma. In most instances, they occur because the driver of the second car was driving too fast or while distracted, or otherwise acting negligently. While the person operating the second vehicle is usually responsible for causing rear-end collisions, they may not be solely liable, and the courts may be reluctant to rule in favor of plaintiffs as a matter of law in cases arising out of such accidents. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion issued in a rear-end collision case in which the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. If you were hurt in a car crash, it is advisable to speak to a Florida car accident lawyer to discuss your potential claims.

The Subject Accident

It is reported that an accident occurred on a highway in Florida when a car driven by the plaintiff was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer operated by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant company. The plaintiff sustained significant injuries in the accident and brought a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging the negligence of the defendant driver caused the crash. Depositions of the parties were taken, after which the plaintiff moved for summary judgment. The defendants filed a response in opposition to the plaintiff’s motion.

Liability for Rear-End Collisions

In Florida, a party moving for summary judgment must offer proof that there is no true dispute as to a material fact and that he or she is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If parties offer such support, their motion will only be denied if the opposing party demonstrates that there is a genuine disagreement over a material fact. In cases in which the parties offer conflicting evidence, the proofs offered by the party responding to the motion will be presumed to be true, and all inferences in that party’s favor that are reasonable will be drawn. Continue reading

Pedestrians that are struck by vehicles frequently suffer devastating injuries that cause permanent harm. As such, they will often pursue claims against the parties that struck them to help offset their damages. It is not uncommon in cases arising out of pedestrian crashes, though, for drivers to argue that the injured parties are, in fact, at fault for the crash, and therefore, they should not be awarded damages. In a recent Florida ruling, a court discussed what evidence is admissible to prove a plaintiff’s negligence in a pedestrian accident case. If you were struck by a vehicle while walking, it is smart to meet with a Florida pedestrian accident lawyer to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was walking along a rural road at 7:00 pm on a summer day. Prior to embarking on his journey, he consumed alcoholic beverages at a convenience store. He admitted that he was unfamiliar with the area and impaired due to the alcohol. As such, he called a friend to ask for directions. He was then struck by the defendant’s van while he was talking on the phone.

Allegedly, the defendant stated that he moved away from the shoulder of the road to avoid the plaintiff, but the plaintiff veered into his lane of travel. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging his negligence caused the accident. At trial, the defendant introduced evidence of the plaintiff’s BAC level, arguing that the plaintiff was impaired and caused the accident. The jury found in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading

When a case is to be decided by a jury rather than a judge, the parties must engage in the process of jury selection prior to trial. During the process, the parties will attempt to determine whether any potential jurors harbor explicit or implicit biases that may render them unable to make objective decisions and, if so, may seek to preemptively strike them from serving on the jury. If a court inappropriately denies a party’s request to strike a juror, it may result in an unfair trial, as demonstrated in a ruling recently issued by a Florida court in a truck accident case. If you were hurt in a collision involving a commercial truck, it is advisable to speak to a Florida truck accident lawyer regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s decedent was driving on a highway through a construction zone. He was following the defendant motorist. The defendant truck driver was approaching from the opposite direction. The defendant motorist then swerved into the defendant truck driver’s lane, sideswiping the truck and causing it to jackknife and crash into the decedent’s vehicle. The decedent died due to the injuries sustained in the accident, and his wife, the plaintiff, filed a lawsuit against the defendants.

It is alleged that during jury selection, the plaintiff sought to use a peremptory strike against a juror whose husband had worked in the trucking industry. The trial court denied the strike due to the fact that the juror was the only African-American on the panel, and the plaintiff failed to meet the race-neutral test established by Florida case law. The issue was revisited prior to trial, but the court maintained its position. The jury ultimately returned a verdict for the plaintiff but found the defendant truck driver was not liable. The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which the court granted. The defendants then appealed. Continue reading

In many car accident cases, it is undisputed that the plaintiff suffered harm in the subject collision. In others, though, the defendant may argue that a crash did not cause the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. In such instances, the defendant may attempt to offer the testimony of a biomechanical expert on the issue of the force conducted in the accident and whether it was sufficient to bring about the plaintiff’s harm. Recently, a Florida court discussed the limitations imposed on biomechanical experts in car accident cases, in a matter in which the plaintiff objected that the expert was not qualified to opine on the issue of causation. If you were injured in a crash, it is important to understand what evidence may be presented to refute your claims, and it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney to assess your options.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was injured in a collision involving the defendant. She subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging that the defendant’s negligent driving caused her harm. The defendant argued that the crash did not cause the plaintiff’s harm and disclosed that she intended to rely on the testimony of a biomechanical expert to support her opinion. The plaintiff moved to preclude the expert from testifying on the grounds that he was not qualified to testify regarding whether the accident caused the plaintiff’s harm. The court ultimately agreed and granted the plaintiff’s motion.

Testimony Permissible by Biomechanical Experts

In federal courts, Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence governs expert testimony. Specifically, it states that a person who is qualified by experience, training, skill, or education may testify if his or her knowledge will help the fact finder understand the evidence or determine a disputed fact, and the proffered testimony is based on adequate data or facts and is the product of reliable methods and principles. Continue reading

Under Florida law, when a person driving a borrowed vehicle causes an accident, the owner of the vehicle may be deemed vicariously liable for any harm incurred in the crash. There is an exception in cases filed in federal court provided by a law known as the Graves Amendment, though, for parties that are engaged in the leasing or sale of motor vehicles that rent a car to the party involved in the crash. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a car accident case, a court discussed evidence needed to prove a party falls under the exception and should not be held vicariously liable. If you were hurt in a collision caused by a careless driver, you could be entitled to compensation, and it is advisable to speak to a seasoned Florida car accident attorney to determine your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the driver took his wife’s car to the defendant dealership to be serviced and was provided a loaner vehicle to borrow in the interim. It is disputed whether the driver signed a rental agreement. Regardless, one week later, he was involved in a collision with the plaintiff, who suffered substantial injuries. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, arguing it was vicariously liable for the driver’s negligent acts that led to the accident. After discovery was completed, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Graves Amendment applied, and therefore, it could not be found liable as a matter of law.

The Graves Amendment

The Graves Amendment preempts vicarious liability under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine. It provides that the owner of a car, who rents or leases the car to another person, will not be liable for harm that arises out of the possession or operation of the car if the owner is engaged in the business of renting or leasing motor vehicles, and did not engage in any negligent acts or criminal wrongdoing. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for people hurt in car crashes to file personal injury lawsuits asserting claims against the party responsible for the collision. It is critical that any claims for damages are filed within the applicable statute of limitations, but in cases in which accidents occur in states other than Florida, it is not always clear when the statute of limitations runs. In a recent Florida opinion, a court discussed what factors are considered in determining what statute of limitations applies in a case in which the accident happened in Georgia, but the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in Florida. If you were injured in a car accident, you may be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Florida personal injury attorney to assess your options.

The Subject Accident

Allegedly, the plaintiff husband was injured in a car crash caused by the defendant. The accident happened in Georgia, but the plaintiff husband treated his injuries in Florida, where he resided. He and his wife ultimately filed a personal injury action in a Florida federal court, seeking damages for negligence and loss of consortium. The defendant, who was a resident of Michigan, moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, arguing that Georgia law applied and under the applicable statute of limitations, the plaintiffs’ claims were time barred.

Evaluating Which State’s Laws Apply

Ultimately, the court found that the Georgia statute of limitations applied to the plaintiff husband’s claims, but the Florida statute of limitations applied to the plaintiff wife’s claims. Thus, the plaintiff’s husband’s claims were dismissed, but the plaintiff wife was permitted to proceed. The court stated that in evaluating which state’s laws apply, a Florida federal court will employ the most significant relationship test. In other words, the court will assess which state has a more substantial relationship to the injury in question. In doing so, the court will examine numerous factors, including the applicable policies of the forum, the needs of the interstate system, uniformity of results, and justified expectations. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for a driver to set off a chain of events that leads to a series of collisions. When multiple crashes arise during a single incident, it may be disputed whether they constitute one or more accidents for purposes of determining insurance coverage. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion discussing the issue of determining how many discrete events occurred in a case in which the plaintiff and her insurer disagreed regarding the extent of underinsured motorist coverage available. If you were hurt in an accident caused by a driver without insurance, you might be owed significant damages from your insurance company, and you should meet with a trusted Florida car accident attorney regarding your rights.

The Subject Collision

It is reported that that the plaintiff was traveling on a Florida highway when she was struck by a pickup truck that was traveling next to her. The truck driver drove away after the crash. The plaintiff was then hit by a driver without insurance. She subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking uninsured motorist benefits from her insurance company, alleging she was involved in two accidents. The insurance company disagreed that two accidents happened, asserting that the incident constituted a single occurrence. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury ultimately found that there was only one occurrence. The plaintiff then appealed.

Accidents in the Context of Underinsured Motorist Insurance

On appeal, the court noted that the term accident in the context of insurance has been subject to multiple interpretations when the policy does not provide a definition. Generally, cases that define the term accident focus on whether an insured is liable for the harm. They typically define occurrences as accidents, which include a repeated or continuous exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions. Continue reading

Losing a loved one in a car accident can cause significant emotional and mental trauma. As such, surviving family members are often able to recover damages for their suffering and pain from the party responsible for the accident. Such compensation is calculated based on the life expectancy of the survivor, and if he or she dies prior to an award being issued, no damages will be awarded. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion, in which the court reduced a $5,000,000 damages award to $0 due to the death of the surviving heir prior to the judgment being made final. If you lost a loved one in a fatal car crash, you have the right to pursue compensation, and it is advisable to speak to a skillful Florida car accident attorney to assess your options.

The Procedural History

It is reported that the decedent died in a collision on a road that was next to the defendant travel center. The decedent’s estate then filed a lawsuit against the defendant pursuant to Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. A jury found in favor of the estate and awarded the decedent’s sole survivor $5,000,000 in damages for mental suffering and pain. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial, but while that motion was pending, the surviving heir died. The court then denied the motion.

Allegedly, the defendant then moved for relief from the judgment, arguing that the damages should be reduced to $0 pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 768.24, which states that a survivor’s death prior to a final judgment must limit his or her recovery to lost services and support to the date of the survivor’s death. The court found that as the motion for a new trial was pending when the survivor died, the judgment was not yet final and granted the defendant’s motion. The estate then appealed. Continue reading

Contact Information