Do I have to reimburse my personal health insurance company for medical expenses from my personal injury case?

Posted By on January 17, 2017

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: Do I have to reimburse my personal health insurance company for medical expenses from my personal injury case?

A: If you have personal health insurance that has paid some of your medical bills resulting from a Florida personal injury case, you must reimburse that health insurance company some of the medical bills in most instances. That’s because of a concept known as subrogation. Since the health insurance has paid for medical bills that you are claiming resulted from the negligence of somebody else in a personal injury lawsuit in Florida, equity and fairness requires that at least some of those medical bills be returned to the health insurance company. Now it all depends upon the amount you recover and how difficult the case was. The health insurance company will negotiate with you and sometimes take pennies on the dollar.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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Why Does It Matter If Someone Wasn’t Acting Reasonably At The Time Of An Accident?

Posted By on January 12, 2017

In Florida, we all know that an accident victim has the right to pursue money damages against a negligent wrongdoer (aka the “tortfeasor”). That, of course, assumes the victim’s injuries were caused by the tortfeasor’s action (or inaction).

The law in Florida, like most states, is that a tortfeasor is held to account for his or her failure to act reasonably.  Failing to act reasonably (or acting negligently) is the backbone of most personal injury law.  How does this work? To prove negligence and recover damages after an accident, a victim must prove the tortfeasor did not consider the harm they might foreseeably cause another person.

What is Negligence?

Negligence is a type of tort (a tort is a civil wrong where someone is injured). In Florida, our negligence law is made up of both statutes (laws written by our legislatures) and court opinions.

Additionally, under our negligence laws, tortfeasors can be held to compensate a victim for damages to the person as well as to their property.  Of course, not every loss related to a tortfeasor’s negligence can or will be recovered by the victim.

Watch: What are types of pain and suffering damages you can recover in a Florida slip and fall lawsuit?

Reasonable and Prudent Standard

Florida law places limitations on accident claims.  Meaning, before an accident victim can recover compensation, he or she will need to prove that the wrongdoer failed to act in a “reasonable” manner.

In Florida, every person is held to a “reasonable and prudent” standard.  So is every business. 

It is only when the tortfeasor fails to act reasonably that the tortfeasor can be found negligent under the law.

This means when you drive your car, you are expected to drive as a “reasonable and prudent” driver would under the circumstances.  If you are a grocery store, then you are to keep your store aisles clean and free from spills as any “reasonable and prudent”  grocer would do.

Doctors, are held to the same standard.  When a surgeon performs surgery, he or she is expected to act in the same manner as a “reasonable and prudent” member of the surgical profession in the community would do so.

The Florida Supreme Court explains it this way:

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful person would use under like circumstances.  Negligence is doing something that a reasonably careful person would not do under like circumstances or failing to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under like circumstances.

Florida Supreme Court Form Jury Instruction, Negligence, 401.4.

 

Scale of justice gold
 

Accident Claims and Reasonableness

Let’s consider two big areas of negligence law and damage claims:  car accidents and slip and falls.

In both of these injury claims, there will be an injured person, and there will be a negligent party.  Maybe this is another driver.  Maybe this is a business owner or operator, like a restaurant, a supermarket, or a hotel.

For both of these accident claims, the burden of proof is on the victim. The victim must show someone was negligent and the negligence caused their injuries.

A victim does this by providing authentic and admissible evidence of negligence.  In a personal injury lawsuit, these requirements must be met in order for the jury to consider their claim.

The key elements to prove of each of these types of negligence claims are: (1) a legal duty of care was owed to the victim; (2) that duty of care was breached; this (3) caused the accident; and (4) damages resulted from the accident.

The duty of care is the first element that the accident victim after a car crash or slip and fall injury must establish.  What is that “duty of care”?  The answer is to act in a reasonable and prudent manner under the circumstances.

Negligence exists when the other driver (or the store or hotel, etc.) failed to act reasonably in the circumstances and someone was hurt because of it.

Here are some examples:

Car Accidents

After a car accident, a victim will file a claim for damages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.  If the at-fault driver failed to drive as a reasonable driver would have under the circumstances, then he or she should be deemed negligent.  Here are 4 types of common car accident claims:

1. Loss of Control Car Accident

It’s not easy to define a “loss of control” car accident, because these kinds of crashes involve all sorts of circumstances.  For instance, someone who jackknifes on the highway and causes an accident is responsible for a loss of control car accident.  Depending on the facts, a rear-end accident may also be classified as a loss of control accident.

The key here is that the other driver was not able to control his or her vehicle.  And, the key to his or her liability will be if he or she was not acting as a reasonable and prudent driver would act under the circumstances.

For more factors to consider in a loss of control accident, see our post, How Do You Know If A Driver Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent a Loss of Control Car Accident?

2. Rear End Car Accident

Rear end crashes happen all the time here in Florida.  They happen for several reasons.  Maybe the at-fault driver was distracted.   This might be from road noise, or from his own activity like texting on their phone; eating in the car; or checking the GPS.

Often, rear end car accidents happen when the driver in the front car gets scared because of a road hazard.  Maybe an animal darts into the road ahead.  Maybe a basketball bounces into traffic, and the driver is afraid a child will run out into traffic.

Also, a driver may suddenly decide to take a right hand turn, right into the path of another vehicle that has the right of way.  Or, maybe the front car slams on its brakes for whatever reason.

The key here will be if the driver was acting reasonably at the time of the accident.  Was it reasonable to be distracted by their phone?  Probably not.  Was it reasonable to brake because of a basketball bouncing into the car’s path?  Maybe so.

For more factors to consider in a rear end car accident, see our post How Do You Know If A Driver Acted Reasonably In Trying To Avoid A Rear End Car Accident?

3. Backing Car Accident

A backing crash happens when a driver puts his vehicle in reverse and hits the gas pedal.  He or she drives into or over someone who is not in a car.  The victim may be walking, or on a bicycle.  Backovers can happen on public or on private property, like a restaurant parking lot. Often, children are the victims of these kinds of accidents.

Was the backing driver reasonable or was she negligent?  Each case is different.  For more factors to consider in a backing car accident, see our post discussing Backing Car Accidents in Florida.

4. Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrian accidents happen when a driver hits someone on foot with his or her moving vehicle.   Insurance companies usually assume the driver is at fault in these kinds of cases.  However, this is not always true.

There are situations where the driver was driving defensively and will not be found negligent and liable for the accident.  For example, if a child suddenly darts out into traffic, then the driver may not have been able to avoid the accident.

Was the driver reasonable or negligent in your case?  Each case is different.  For more factors to consider in a pedestrian accident, see our post How Do You Know If A Driver Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent a Pedestrian Accident?

Slip and Falls

Slip and fall accidents happen in all kinds of places.  Anytime someone loses their footing and falls, that is considered a “slip and fall” accident.  It may be caused by a substance on the floor at a grocery store, or a napkin left on a restaurant floor, or the slip and fall is caused by soap scum in a hotel shower tub or shower.  One thing remains the same for all slip and fall accidents: Florida’s premises liability law will hold the owner or operator of the premises liable for the accident if their negligence caused the fall and the victim is injured as a result of the negligence.

1. Stairways

Falling down on a stairway often results in serious bodily injuries.  So much so, insurance companies have done research studies on stairway slip and falls to try and minimize these risks.  Stairs are required to have all sorts of safety features as a result:  things like handrails at a certain height.

Did the owner of the stairway act reasonably and take steps to prevent a slip and fall (was there adequate lighting or were slip resistant strips in use on the stairs)?  For more factors to consider in a stairway slip and fall accident, see our post discussing Stairway Slip and Fall Accidents.

2. Parking Lots

In Florida, owners of parking lots have two duties of care to their invitees:  (1) to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and (2) to give warning of concealed perils.  Burton v. MDC PGA Plaza Corp., 78 So.3d 732, 734 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).

Failure to warn of a crack in the asphalt footpath may be negligence, just as having failed to mop up standing water after a thunderstorm.

Again, did the owner of the parking lot take reasonable steps (were the wheel stops and speed bumps painted yellow or was proper warning signage in use) to prevent a slip and fall accident?  For additional factors to consider in a parking lot slip and fall accident, see our post discussing Parking Lot Slip and Fall Accidents.

3. Restrooms

Public restrooms need to be clean and well-maintained so they are safe for those invitees who have access to them.  If there is a slip and fall accident in a public restroom, then all sorts of failures on the part of the business owner may have contributed to the victim’s injuries (slippery floor, poor lighting, leaky roof, etc.).   The key here will be if the owner or operator of the public restroom acted reasonably in trying to keep the restroom safe for patrons.

Was the owner of the restroom reasonable?  Here are some factors to consider in a restroom slip and fall accident, discussed in our post “How Do You Know If A Business Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent a Restroom Slip and Fall Accident?

4. Stage or Elevation

Any kind of change in a footpath, like going up as you step forward, is considered a “stage” or “elevation” for accident claim purposes.  These are called “change in elevation slip and falls.” They can be caused by all sorts of things, like raised seating areas, platforms, piers, mezzanines, or curbs.

Did the owner of the stage or elevation act reasonably in trying to prevent an accident from occurring? What steps did he or she take to protect against foreseeable injuries?  For factors to consider in a stage or elevation slip and fall accident, see our post Stage or Elevation Slip and Falls in Florida.

5. Walkway or Hallway

Accidents where someone falls and is hurt in a walkway or hallway can happen in a wide variety of locations and businesses.  After all, there are walkways and hallways in most business establishments.

For a successful negligence claim, the accident victim must show a failure to maintain reasonable care of the area, causing the slip and fall (like not treating a tile or marble floor, or another slippery surface, with a slip resistance film or not mopping or waxing the floor regularly).

Was the owner of the walkway or hallway reasonable?  For factors to consider in a walkway slip and fall accident, see our discussion on Walkway or Hallway Slip and Fall Accidents.

6. Entryway

A business owner or operator owes a duty of care to its invitees from the minute they cross the property line.  If someone slips and falls in a business entryway, then that owner will be liable for that accident if they were negligent in taking care of that entryway (like not having slip resistant mats when it is raining outside or failing to replace old or damaged mats or mats that are curling).

Entryways must be both inviting and safe.  Was the owner of the entryway reasonable in taking care of the area when you slipped and fell?

For factors to consider in an entryway slip and fall accident, see our post discussing 30 Questions to Ask After an Entryway Slip and Fall.

7. Office

When you are injured in an office, the business owner or operator may be held liable for the accident.  However, if you are an invitee the law will be applied differently than if you are an employee.  In Florida, if you are injured in an office slip and fall accident, then you may have coverage with your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage.

However, in both situations the question of negligence will be the same. Was the owner of the office reasonable (like safely positioning trash cans or boxes out of foot path traffic or in a spot where someone won’t trip over them) in trying to prevent this kind of accident in the office?  For other factors to consider in an office slip and fall accident, see our post discussing Office Slip and Fall Accidents.

Do You Have an Accident Damages Claim?

If you have been hurt in a slip and fall accident,  or in a car crash, then the key to your accident claim is whether or not a duty of care was violated.  If the person (or business) who caused the accident failed to act reasonably, then they can be held liable for your damages. Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering  and more.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to the negligence of another person or business, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise, including how most insurance companies respond to these claims and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
 
 
 
 
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Should a passenger file an insurance claim against the driver of the vehicle the passenger is in or against the other driver if the other driver is at fault?

Posted By on January 10, 2017

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: Should a passenger file an insurance claim against the driver of the vehicle the passenger is in or against the other driver if the other driver is at fault?

A: If you are a passenger in somebody else’s car in Florida, and you own your own car and you’re injured in that accident, you must first make a claim against your own car insurance for PIP or no fault benefits. As far as a bodily liability claim, if you are a passenger in one car, and another vehicle’s driver caused the accident, you make a bodily injury liability claim against that other driver. If that other driver did not have any bodily injury liability insurance, there is a chance that you can make what’s called an uninsured motorist claim, and proceed against the insurance company of the driver of your vehicle. It’s a very complicated question and it’s nuance depends upon a variety of factors.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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What happens if the damages in an auto accident lawsuit exceeds the amount of liability insurance?

Posted By on January 3, 2017

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: What happens if the damages in an auto accident lawsuit exceeds the amount of liability insurance?

A: When the damages that you have sustained in a motor vehicle collision exceed the amount of liability insurance the at-fault driver has, there are several things you can try to do. One is to proceed against your own uninsured motorist insurance company, if in fact you have uninsured motorist insurance. Or if you were in someone else’s car, you could proceed against that person’s uninsured motorist insurance. Sometimes you can do asset checks to determine if in fact the person who caused the accident had assets from which you can collect in addition to the liability insurance. Many time, unfortunately, someone is badly injured and a person has minimal liability insurance, minimal assets and there is no uninsured motorist coverage available. Sometimes, unfortunately, you are forced to settle the case for much less than your case is worth.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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Florida Hotel Negligence Claims

Posted By on December 29, 2016

Florida is the top travel destination in the world making the Florida hotel industry essential to our economy.  In 2011, there were over 370,000 hotel rooms in the State of Florida – and that number has skyrocketed since then.

Florida Hotels Have Deep Pockets and Are Prepared To Defend Themselves Against Negligence Claims

Millions are made by these hotels each year by providing hospitable places for their guests to stay.  Business travelers may visit a downtown hotel for a single night; families on vacation may reside in a local resort for weeks at a time.

In Florida, this enterprise is known as the “hospitality” industry.  From small bed and breakfasts to the largest resorts here in South Florida, hotels work to provide their clientele with a “home away from home.”  It’s big business here.

In fact, we have an international reputation for having some of the most luxurious, and inviting hotels in the entire world.  Florida hotels work hard to build a welcoming reputation and to establish continuing relationships with their guests and clientele.

Accordingly, the Florida hotel industry is sophisticated as it relates to protecting itself.  Most hotels have varying types of insurance coverage in place to protect against their negligence, including accident liability (general liability coverage), auto liability, liquor liability, food borne illness liability, cyber liability and premises pollution liability coverage (i.e. mold claims). They also have a time tested strategy of arguing that their liability is limited when it comes to compensating a hotel negligence victim.

 

Biltmore Hotel, Palm Beach, Florida

One of the most famous hotels in the world is the Biltmore Hotel in Palm Beach.


 

Do Hotels Have a Special Duty of Care Under Florida Law?

Florida law recognizes the unique service that our hospitality industry provides to its customers.  Hotel guests are dependent upon these businesses to make sure they are safe from harm.

There is a special kind of vulnerability when someone trusts a hotel to act as their second home: a place where they sleep, take a shower, and leave their property behind.

Accidents do happen at hotels and people do get hurt, sometimes severely, as a hotel guest, patron, or visitor.

Consequently, our legislature found it necessary to regulate the industry.  Hotels and motels operate under a defined “duty of care” established by Florida law.  The hotels must meet minimum operating standards in their business operations.  Otherwise, they can be held liable for damages resulting from their failure to meet those minimum standards.

See our earlier discussion of the hotel industry’s desire for profits and how this balances with their duty to keep people safe from harm, “Florida Hotel Guests and Hotel Injuries: Do Hotels Consider their Duty to Provide Safety and Security as “Risk Management”?

Florida Statutes: Hotels are Public Lodging Establishments

Under Chapter 509 of the Florida Statutes, hotels are defined as “public lodging establishments.” This is a series of laws passed by the Florida Legislature to make sure that hotels exercise special precautions to protect their invitees in the course of their business operations.

These laws force hotels to take precautions against people getting hurt in slip and fall accidents as well as other accidents, like site hazards (e.g., drowning in an unattended swimming pool or ocean waters) and during criminal acts (robbery, assault, rape).

However, precautions can cost money.

Sadly, all too often hotels choose to neglect the dangers in order to increase revenue, and that’s when accidents happen.

Do Hotels Have a Special Relationship Under the Law with Their Guests?

In addition to statutory laws, the courts have imposed a common law duty of care upon the Florida hospitality industry.  Hotels can be found liable for negligence by the courts when their guests, patrons, or visitors suffer harm because of the hotel’s mistakes or carelessness.  As one Florida judge explains:

“[A]n innkeeper has a special relationship with his guests which gives rise to a duty to protect them against unreasonable risk of physical harm.” Adika v. Beekman Towers, 633 So.2d 1170, 1170-71 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994).

Are There Different Levels of Care?

Yes, in Florida there are different legal duties owed to different types of people.  For example, a Florida hotel does not owe as much duty of care to a trespasser as it does to the guest who is staying in the penthouse.  See, What Type Of Legal Duty Does A Florida Property Owner Have For Injuries To Visitors?: Florida Premises Liability- Invitee, Licensee, & Trespasser Distinctions.

Accordingly, an accident victim can expect a hotel defendant to try and argue a lesser duty based upon the victim’s status: invitee versus licensee versus trespasser.

3.  Special Jurisdiction:  Hard Rock Café and Indian Hotels and Resorts

Visitors to Florida may not realize that some of our most popular hotels and resorts are owned and operated independently of state and federal law.  They are tribal properties and Florida negligence law does not apply to some accidents that happen on tribal land.

Thus, for example, if you are injured at certain locations within the Hard Rock Café, then tribal law will apply to your accident claim.  (The Seminole Tribe owns and operates the Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos in Florida.)

See, Florida Hotel Liability: If You are Hurt in a Tribal Hotel, Resort, or Casino on Indian Reservation Land Then Florida Injury Laws Will Not Protect You.

What Are The Common Ways People Get Hurt at Florida Hotels?

Over the years, we have seen all sorts of ways that people can get hurt on hotel property.  It seems as if danger lurks around every corner.  Guests and other patrons have been victims of hotel negligence while swimming in the hotel pool, eating in the restaurant, or walking back to their hotel room across the parking lot.

Additionally, hotels have been found liable for injuries sustained by food poisoning, slip and falls in private bathrooms, or trips over guest room furniture.  Sadly, some very serious hotel injuries have occurred due to criminal acts perpetrated on hotel guests or patrons on the hotel premises, such as in badly lit areas of the hotel grounds.

Premises Liability – Slip and Fall Accidents

Simply stated, Florida’s premises liability law protects guests staying at a Florida hotel who are injured in a slip and fall. Here are the two ways a hotel can be held accountable to a victim:

1. Florida Premises Liability Law 768.0755

Florida Statute 768.0755 is the law that applies when someone falls at a business premises and the cause of the fall is from a substance on the floor.  Under the law, a guest who is hurt in a fall on hotel property can recover compensation for their injuries provided he or she can prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.

Since Florida Statute 768.0755 is so important, we recommend reading our earlier posts which discuss the legislative amendments to the statute, which increase the burden on an accident victim to prove their claim.  See:

2. Florida Premises Liability Precedent

There may also be liability for the hotel based upon Florida court case precedent, where a legal duty to keep patrons safe is placed upon the hotel owner or operator.

6 Common Hotel Slip and Fall Claims

Perhaps the most common accident at a Florida hotel involves someone getting hurt from a slip and fall.  We’ve discussed these dangers before.

Here are some examples of common slip and fall accidents where the Florida hotel’s negligence caused someone harm:

  • Slip And Fall at the Swimming Pool or Spa

Hotel Accident Claims: Hurt in the Hotel Pool

Can a person entering a hotel to use the swimming pool without authority change their status from trespasser to invitee by befriending or conversing with hotel guests?

  • Trip And Fall Over Broken Hotel Furniture

Does a Hotel Have a Duty to Protect You From Hidden Defects?

  • Slip And Fall In a Hotel Room Bathroom, Shower, or  Bathtub

Slip and Fall in Your Hotel Bathroom: Florida Hotel Accident Claims

How Do You Know If a Florida Hotel Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent A Bathtub or Shower Slip and Fall?

  • Slip And Fall In Stairways

How Do You Know If A Business or Property Owner Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent A Stairway Slip and Fall Accident?

  • Slip and Fall Because of Missing, Damaged, Or Worn Floor Mats

How to Settle a Walkway or Hallway Slip and Fall Accident

  • Slip And Fall In Parking Lots

Hotel Off-Premises Liability: Hotel Guest Killed Crossing the Highway

Burns

Burns have different causes.  Chemicals can cause burns to human skin.  Fire and its flames can cause serious or fatal burns, too.  Electrical burns can happen in hotels that can be very serious.  Even hot water out of the shower can scald a hotel guest.

Hotels can be held liable for burn injuries when they are shown to have failed in their duty of care.  Premises liability can be demonstrated in the failure to maintain hot water heaters properly, to repairing electrical cords or outlets, to neglecting proper swimming pool maintenance.

  • Chemical Burns From Too Much Chlorine In Pool

Hotel Accident Claims: Hurt in the Hotel Pool

  • Burns – Hot Water Thermostat To High – Chemical Burns

What duty does a hotel operator have towards its guests?

Injury from Sloppy Repair or Maintenance

Hotels have a duty to keep their property well maintained.  Since so many people come through the hotel properties each day, cleanliness is a priority and housekeeping must be top-notch.   Likewise, food preparation and food service operations must be safe.

Some common accidents that happen when housekeeping or hotel workers fail to do their jobs in kitchens, bars, restaurants, or laundries include things like bed bug outbreaks as well as food poisoning. See:

Duty to Protect Yourself at a Hotel, Bar, Theme Park, Concert — Who Has The Responsibility to Protect Customers Against Injuries?

Tourist Injuries: How Florida Tourist Hurt While Here on Vacation or on Business Can Get Help Under Florida Law.

Victims of Criminal Acts

Criminals may find Florida hotels very tempting spots in which to prey upon tourists and business visitors for crimes like robbery, burglary, or rape.  Sometimes, festive atmospheres in bars, lounges, or private party rooms sour as emotions run high and fist fights erupt (or other violence).  When crimes occur, criminals will be investigated and charged by law enforcement.

Hotels are aware that they can attract criminals and are legally bound to fight crime on their property.  Things like security guards, hotel room locks, security cameras, and proper lighting of hallways, garages, etc., are all steps that responsible hotels take to keep people safe from theft, assault, and other crimes.

When crimes do happen on hotel property, a crime victim may be able to recover compensation for their injuries.

Florida hotel negligence laws provide the hotel crime victim with monetary damages (pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and more) for the harm they have suffered in the criminal act.  If the hotel failed in its duty of care, that crime victim may have a claim based upon premises liability.  For details, see:

  • Security Issues

Hurt in a South Florida Hotel? Does Florida Law Protect You From Negligence of Hotel Security and Hotel Operations?

Crime Victims’ Compensation in Florida: Money Provided for Florida Victims of Crime Who Are Injured and Hurt During Crime

  • Assaults – Guest, Staff, Non-Guests

Hotel Accidents: Hurt by Another Hotel Guest?

When should a hotel have a security guard to protect its guests?

  • Inadequate Lighting

Florida Hotel Laws: Who Controls and Regulates Hotel Safety and Security for Hotel Guests in Florida? Federal or State Laws?

Poor Lighting Can Cause You to Fall: Slip and Fall Accidents and Inadequate Lighting

  • Liquor Liability Accident Claims

Florida Dram Shop Laws: Do Victims Of DUI Accidents Have A Civil Damage Lawsuit Claim Against Bar, Hotel, Restaurant That Sold The Drinks?

What Should You Do If You Are Pursuing a Florida Hotel Injury Claim?

For victims of an accident at a Florida hotel, it is important to investigate how the law protects hotel guests, patrons, and visitors from the type of injury that the victim has sustained.

  • Are there Florida statutes or other Florida law that cover what has happened?
  • If so, what are the requirements placed upon the accident victim to get justice from the negligent hotel owner or operator?
  • What damages will be covered under Florida law?

If you can show that the hotel was negligent (by proving the hotel breached its duty of care), then the hotel  can be held liable for your injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm at a Florida hotel and you have questions about dealing with a claim or an insurance adjuster, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise, including how most insurance companies respond to these claims and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

If you found this information helpful, please share this article and bookmark it for your future reference.

 

How does an insurance company decide how much they will pay to compensate someone for an injury?

Posted By on December 27, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: How does an insurance company decide how much they will pay to compensate someone for an injury?

A: Insurance companies will look at the liability or the fault aspect of the case as well as the damages and will analyze whether it believes it’s insured, is it fault in the case or partly at fault in the case, and it will also look at the nature and extent of the damages. Insurance companies are highly skilled in evaluating cases given the fact that they have had thousands and millions of such cases. They generally categorize such cases depending upon the injuries you sustained and they offer an amount based upon what they’ve offered in the past and what they’ve seen juries give when cases go all the way through a jury.  Again, they will analyze the issue of fault or liability, and they will analyze the nature and extent of the injuries including any future damages and future medical treatment that’s going to be needed.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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What happens if a police report is wrong about the facts of your Florida car accident?

Posted By on December 20, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: What happens if a police report is wrong about the facts of your Florida car accident?

A: Often times police reports have misinformation about the accident, or are incorrect about how the accident occur. These police officers and public-safety-officials fill out so many of these, that often times there’s incorrect information. Do not panic. You can try to contact the police department or the officer involved, to have that information corrected. Even if the police officer refuses to correct it, normally police reports, in Florida, are not admissible in evidence. What’s contained in the police report is not made known to the jury or made known to the judge. Do not panic if there is misinformation about how the accident occurred, as that often happens, because the police report will not get into evidence.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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Slip and Falls on Wet Floors  

Posted By on December 15, 2016

Losing your footing on a wet floor can result in serious injuries.  For some accident victims, these injuries can even be life-threatening (particularly if the victim is elderly).  Still, insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will try to minimize these claims.

From a victim’s perspective, it’s difficult to understand why these claims aren’t always taken seriously especially when you look at the research about these accidents.  For instance, according to the National Floor Safety Institute, research reveals the following regarding slip and fall accidents:

  1. Wet floor slip and falls can be fatal.
  2. Over 1,000,000 people will visit an emergency room each year because of injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident.
  3. Falls are the main reason that people visit the E.R.
  4. Slip and falls are the primary reason that people are sick and cannot come into work.
  5. Floors (and flooring materials) contribute directly to over 2 Million slip and fall accidents each year.

 

Wet floor sign CANEX

 

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a wet floor slip and fall in Florida, then you should know how our laws work to protect victims, including evidence requirements and compensation thresholds.

Whether you are negotiating your slip and fall accident claim directly with the insurance adjuster or you have hired a personal injury lawyer to help you get justice in the aftermath of your slip and fall, we are happy to provide you with the following information:

How Do You Prove The Floor Was Wet?

During a lawsuit, and even before a lawsuit is filed, it is the obligation of a slip and fall victim to prove with authenticated, admissible evidence that the floor was wet at the time of the incident.  A demand for damages will need to explain (1) the circumstances of your fall and (2) why you believe your fall was caused by a wet substance on the floor.

How can you do either of these tasks?  Evidence can include photos taken at the time of the accident, as well as witness statements describing the conditions.  The store or business should have records of what happened (including video surveillance, which they do not like to share with victims).  All of these can be used to support a claim.  Similarly, police reports or EMT documentation may be helpful here as the responders will likely include a description of the floor surface in their reports.

Evidence here can include things like details regarding:

  • wet clothing left on the floor;
  • wet clothing dripping near the pool or spa;
  • pooling and puddles after a thunderstorm;
  • streaks on the floor surface;
  • skid marks or wheel marks on the floor surface;
  • foot prints on the floor surface; and
  • any records that describe how the area was cleaned up (paper towels, mop) after the accident.

Proving How Long Was the Water on the Floor

Another issue in a wet floor slip-and-fall claim will be how long the liquid was on the floor.  If the owner or operator delays in cleaning up a spill in the grocery store aisle or mopping a walkway after a rain shower, then that delay alone may be evidence of negligence.

Why?  The business owner is legally required to know the condition of his or her business premises and has a duty to take steps to make sure things are safe for customers and guests (“invitees”).  If there is a spill or accumulation of liquid on a floor surface, then the business has to fix that problem and protect people from harm.

However, there’s a reasonableness standard here. The law does allow the business some leeway, and the surrounding circumstances will be considered. A grocery store needs to keep its aisles clean, but it is not legally required to keep employees with mops on each aisle.  The store has a duty to act prudently to watch over its premises for safety issues and when one is found, like a spill, to fix it promptly (acting prudently can include a regular maintenance schedule of checking for dangerous conditions – the store may maintain a log book to record these maintenance checks – during a lawsuit, you can ask to see the log).

Watch: Grocery Store Falls – What Is The Effect On My Lawsuit If I Can’t Prove Amount Of Time Substance Was On The Floor?

Sources of the Wet Substance

There are all sorts of ways that a floor surface can become wet and dangerous.  The location of the floor is one thing: indoors or outdoors, wet floors can cause slip and fall accidents.

Here in South Florida, rain and ocean spray are constant risks of a fall in all sorts of locations.  Added to the physical location of the accident site are the varieties of operations that can be done there.

Different businesses have different wet floor slip and fall risks.  Some of these include:

  • Grocery store’s frozen food aisle has defrosting food;
  • Melting ice cream in a convenience store aisle;
  • Rain in the entryway to the doctor’s office building;
  • Children spills in a fast food restaurant;
  • Rain puddles in the stairwell of the college dorm parking garage;
  • Sprinkler puddles in the parking lot of the condominium.

Preventative Measures

Businesses are aware of their duties to prevent and protect against accidents on their premises.  Insurance carriers are also well-versed in how accidents can happen and work hard to educate their policy holders on how to minimize the risk of liability for an accident claim.

The efforts made to protect against slip and fall accidents due to a wet floor surface are dependent upon the area and location of the risk.  However certain kinds of preventative measures will be undertaken in much the same way, indoors or outside, regardless of whether the danger lies in places like:

  • Parking lots;
  • Sidewalks or Walkways;
  • Food and Drink Areas in Dorms, Restaurants, or Cafeterias;
  • Showers or Bathrooms of Hotels and Resorts.

First, the business will probably set out warnings to anyone who might use the wet floor surface.  It is commonplace to see wet floor signs near South Florida beachfront bars and hotel lobbies as well as local restaurants, shops, and office buildings.

These warnings are important.  However, businesses need to do more than warn about a wet floor.  They need to take steps, “preventative measures,” to protect against a slip and fall.

Preventative measures involve doing things to ensure there is good traction on the floors, even if the floors are wet.  This can be done with grading into outdoor flooring, and with rubber stripping of indoor floor surfaces.

Another preventative measure used both inside and outdoors are anti-slip floor treatments.  Here, the business places anti-stripping materials or anti-skid paint on the floor or even on the hotel bath tub or shower flower.  These measures help provide traction even if there is a wet floor surface.

Preventative measures may also be floor mats placed indoors and outside to absorb any moisture that might otherwise accumulate on the floor surface.  These can be placed permanently in the location, or the business may have “rain mats” or “storm mats” to use only in bad weather.

Locations Where These Falls Occur

In South Florida, our climate and locale invite wet floor surfaces, particularly for businesses that enjoy a close proximity to our beautiful ocean beaches.  Sometimes, humidity alone can steam up a bar or restaurant and cause a wet floor condition.

This means that there are all sorts of places where the danger of a serious slip and fall on a wet floor surface exists here.  Examples include:

For an accident victim, the key here is to understand the duty of that business and its industry.  Different businesses take different steps to protect against wet floor slip and fall accidents.

For instance, a grocery store has a duty to keep its aisles safe and free from spills by routinely checking for hazards.  Similarly, anyone operating in the restaurant industry knows the need to keep kitchen floors safe by using special flooring mats, as well as to make sure that restaurant dining areas are safe for patrons.

Florida Statute – Transitory Substances

When there is a wet floor on a Florida business premise, then the owner and operator has a legal duty to warn its guests and clients that there is a dangerous condition by taking measures like displaying a “wet floor” sign.

However, the wet floor sign is only required if the business knew or should have known of the wet floor surface.  These are complicated issues, controlled by Florida statute 768.0755.

If there is a lack of proper warning and someone falls on a wet floor, the failure to have a “wet floor” sign may be enough to establish the liability of the business owner.  Each situation must be evaluated on its own individual facts.

For more information, read “I Slipped and Fell at the Store But There Was a Wet Floor Sign: Do I Have a Case? In Florida, Maybe.

Negligence

The legal basis for a business being at fault or responsible for paying an accident victim’s damages after a slip and fall accident on their wet floor is “negligence.”

Negligence involves a duty to the victim; and a breach by the business (which the victim has to prove); with the breach of duty causing the victim’s harm (which the victim has to prove).

In a wet floor slip and fall case, these negligence scenarios can involve all sorts of things, including:

  • excessive amounts of wax or polish,
  • treating one part of floor and leaving other parts untreated,
  • failing to use proper floor treatment,
  • not using a non-skid product,
  • failing to close off an area where there is a wet or damp floor.

Common Injuries Resulting From a Wet Floor Slip and Fall Accident

When the business is found negligent, then what happens?  They are responsible for compensating the victim and paying the costs and expenses resulting from the accident.  These damages can include medical bills, rehab therapy, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of like, resulting from injuries like:

Additional Resources About Wet Floor Slip and Fall Accidents

If you want to learn more about slip and fall litigation in Florida, check out the following:

  1. Our discussion on Can Your Slip And Fall Claim Related To Water On The Floor Survive A Summary Judgment?
  2. Alan’s video, “What happens if I can’t prove how the water got on the floor in my slip and fall case?
  3. Our Slip and Fall Table of Contents, which provides forms, pleading examples, and more.

Demanding Justice

Experienced slip and fall attorneys have seen all sorts of scenarios.  It’s amazing how varied the circumstances can be to cause someone to slip and fall on a wet surface here in South Florida.

All too often, insurance adjusters dismiss these claims as minor or they outright deny responsibility for what has happened to the victim.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident on a wet floor here in Florida and you have questions about dealing with an insurance adjuster, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise, including how most insurance companies respond to these claims and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

Also see:

How To Settle A Personal Injury Claim Without a Lawyer

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

If you found this information helpful, please share this article and bookmark it for your future reference.

Grocery Store Falls – What Is The Effect On My Lawsuit If I Can’t Prove Amount Of Time Substance Was On The Floor?

Posted By on December 13, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: What Is The Effect On My Lawsuit If I Can’t Prove Amount Of Time Substance Was On The Floor?

A: Well, sometimes if you cannot prove by any evidence for how long the substance was on the floor, the case may very well be dismissed by the judge. All is not lost all the time. If you could show that the type of condition, which occurred and caused you to fall occurred regularly, and was a foreseeable condition, the judge very well may allow the case to proceed to a jury to have a jury determine whether it was negligence. Also, if for example, there’s a leak in a roof that the store knew about or should have known about, and some water comes periodically and it’s cleaned up periodically, well, even though that particular water that you might slip on might have only been there for five or ten seconds, since the store knows it has a continuing problem, then you can prove negligence in that regard.That it didn’t correct the continuing problem, even though that particular water that you fell on had maybe just fallen to the floor 30 seconds before you slipped and fell. Normally, you must prove or show some evidence that the object or the substance was there for some period of time, but sometimes, even if you can’t prove that, you could still win your case.

 

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

If you found this information helpful, please share this article and bookmark it for your future reference.

How do I prove that a driver was distracted?

Posted By on December 6, 2016

In this video, Alan Sackrin answers a question that he has been asked many times before by clients and visitors to this site. If you have questions after watching the video, Alan is available to talk with you now and answer your questions free of charge:

Q: How do I prove that a driver was distracted?

A: It’s difficult to prove that this driver was distracted. However, it can be done. For example, in many motor vehicle collisions, there might be a witness to the accident who may have been a driver next to the driver who caused the accident, who might have seen that driver shortly before the impact looking down, looking at a cell phone, reaching for the radio. It’s possible through eye-witness testimony to show that a driver was distracted.

Additionally, you can show a driver was distracted if you can prove that the driver was texting or on the cell phone at the time of the accident, and that can be proven through subpoena-ing records of the provider to see if the person was on the phone at the time of the collision.

Although not easy, it can be done and has been done successfully in many instances.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

If you found this information helpful, please share this article and bookmark it for your future reference.