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Miami Personal Injury Law Blog

What is Florida’s injury threshold?

A common misconception that many in Miami have regarding car accidents is that they are entitled to pursue damages for any injury that they suffer. If you have been injured in a car accident, the potential financial reward that you could earn as part of a lawsuit may go a long way in assisting your recovery. However, you may not be aware that the state places a threshold on the extent of injuries sustained in an accident in order to be compensated for non-economic losses. Only if your maladies meet or exceed this limit will you then be able to go after the other driver for damages. Thus, it may be important for you to understand what this threshold is before speaking with an attorney about initiating a claim.

The injury threshold for Florida is spelled out in the state’s Insurance Rates and Contracts statutes. It lists the injuries that present the potential for the collection of damages to be:

  •          Injuries resulting in the impairment or loss of an important bodily function.  
  •          Injuries whose affects are permanent.
  •          Injuries that cause disfigurement or significant scarring.
  •          Injuries that result in death.

Team physician liability in wrongful death claims

Some of the Miami clients who have come to us here at The Law Offices of Ivan A. Schertzer seeking advice on the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit do so after losing loved ones to potentially dangerous activities. As surprising as it may seem, such activities sometimes include sporting events. If you lost a family member participating in a high school, collegiate, or professionally-sanctioned sport, you may wonder how such a tragedy could have occurred given that such events typically require having medical personnel on hand. Would liability fall to such personnel for allowing such a thing to happen under their watch?

The answer depends upon nature of the work that they were doing. The Florida laws regulating liability in wrongful death claims do contain specific language regarding voluntary team physicians participating in sporting events. It states that a licensed physician providing life-saving care “gratuitously and in good faith” cannot be held liable if a player is killed despite his or her intervention or failure to arrange further care. The only exception would be if the care provided was rendered in “wrongful manner,” which the state defines as that done in bad faith, with disregard for safety, or malicious intent.

Establishing safety expectations for sidewalks

It may come as a surprise to some in Miami to know the disparity between the number of auto-accidents that occur in urban areas as opposed to rural locations. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports these figures to be 73 percent versus 27 percent, respectively. While there certainly are more vehicles on the road in cities and other metropolitan areas, some may think that features such as sidewalks make pedestrians safer. The NHTSA goes on to report, however, that as much as 10 percent of all collisions between pedestrians and cars happen in areas such as sidewalks.

To protect pedestrians, Florida state law requires that they avoid walking along any portions of the roadway in areas where sidewalks are provided. This likely seems intuitive to most who, in the interest of their own self-preservation, will gladly accept the apparent protection from vehicles that a sidewalk provides. Yet once those people are on the sidewalk, exactly what sort of protection are they guaranteed?

Examining where bicycle accidents are most likely to happen

Florida is well-known for being one of the premier destinations for bicyclists in the U.S. Along with out-of-towners coming in to enjoy rides in the perpetual warm weather, more and more Miami residents themselves are utilizing bicycles as a form of transportation. However, with this increase in the number of bikes on the road also comes a greater risk for collisions between bicyclists and motorists. If and when these sides collide, it is not difficult to guess who gets the worst of it. If local bicyclists are aware of those areas of the road where accidents are most likely to occur, that may help them to lower their risk of being injured in a collision.

The Florida Department of Transportation released a pedestrian and bicyclist safety plan for the state’s residents in 2013. Contained within it was information on what sort of bicycle and pedestrian activities caused the most accidents. Not surprisingly, crossing the road at anywhere other than an intersection topped that list. However, not far behind that scenario was that of people crossing at an intersection, which comprised almost 25 percent of all bicycle and pedestrian accidents.

Examining exculpatory clauses

Here at the law offices of Ivan A. Schertzer, we are approached by countless clients asking to review the language included in waivers and release of liability forms. If you have been asked to sign such a document on your own behalf or that of your spouse or children, you may do so following the mantra of “what’s the worst that can happen?” Well, if you are ever placed in a position where you or a loved one experiences “the worst,” then you may be left asking what sort of limitations to legal recourse that a waiver places upon you.

Almost all liability waivers include an element known as an exculpatory clause. These clauses serve any or all of the following three purposes:

  •          To shift liability for accidents or injuries to a third party.
  •          To complete absolve the issuer of any liability.
  •          To clearly identify risks associated with an activity, and state that resulting outcomes are not an issue of liability.

Reviewing Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law

Many of the Miami clients who come to us here at The Law Offices of Ivan A. Schertzer following a car accident are in the difficult position of pursuing compensation from someone that they know. If you were injured in an accident as the passenger in a friend’s vehicle, you may also be required to look to that friend to help handle your injury expenses. This makes knowing what the law requires in terms of liability coverage imperative. Having such knowledge will help you in understanding how far your friend’s responsibility extends to you, and help you if you are forced to make the difficult decision of pursuing legal action against him or her.

Florida has enacted its own Financial Responsibility Law when it comes to the state’s drivers. It sets the minimum requirements for insurance coverage drivers are supposed to carry in order to protect passengers in their own vehicles, drivers and passengers in vehicles that they strike, and any property that they damage in an accident. These minimum requirements include $10,000 in bodily injury coverage for a single person, $20,000 for two or more people, and a minimum of $10,000 of coverage against property damage.

Explaining the principle of loss of companionship

The unexpected loss of a loved one in Miami often leaves a significant financial hole due to the support that the deceased had been providing. In cases where such a death was the result of negligence, the family members left behind may attempt to fill that hole through compensation earned from a wrongful death lawsuit. According to Florida law, surviving spouses and children are able to collect the amount of the deceased’s income from the time of the injury up to his or her death, as well as the estimated future support that he or she would have provided. Yet while this may help to fill the financial void that he or she may have left behind, what about the emotional one?

This is where the legal principle of “loss of consortium” comes into consideration. More commonly known as “loss of companionship,” it is defined the Cornell Law Legal Information Institute as the “deprivation of benefits of a family relationship.” In essence, this allows the family members of a deceased individual to also be compensated for the love, affection, and social interaction that his or her death deprived them from. While the principle is most often applied to spouses, many states have chosen to extend its benefits to children, as well.

Examining backover accident statistics

Any auto-pedestrian accident that occurs in Miami can be catastrophic, yet few are often as tragic or generate as much grief as backovers. Backover accidents occur when a driver inadvertently backs his or her vehicle over someone standing behind it. Data shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in backover accidents which produced fatalities, 77 percent of the victims were either under the age of 5 or over 70. However, these demographics represented only 28 percent of backover accident victims. The tiny bodies of toddlers and the frailties often incident with age no doubt contribute to the increased rate of fatalities seen amongst these groups.

The NHTSA goes on to report that backover accidents most commonly occur in either driveways or parking lots. In accidents occurring in driveways, oftentimes the driver knows the victim. However, the same might not be said for parking lot backovers.

Surviving as the caregiver of a TBI victim

Sadly, many of those that we assist here at The Law Office of Ivan A. Schertzer following bike accidents are left to care for loved ones with traumatic brain injuries. Further compounding the tragedy of these events is the fact that often, the victims of these accidents are children. In fact, the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention reports that every year, 26,000 adolescents and children are treated for TBI’s following bike accidents. Such injuries can leave you in the position of needing to provide full-time care for your child for the rest of his or her life. While this can be a daunting task, it is also one that you can find ways to manage effectively.

First and foremost, you need to understand the extent of care that your child will need. This will help you to determine if you will be able to provide it on your own, or whether or not you’ll need the assistance of outside resources. If such assistance is needed, inquire as to whether or not your child is covered under any of the disability clauses offered through your health insurance. Encourage other family members to participate in giving care, as well. This will also help them in coping with your child’s accident.

Who is liable for the actions of an overzealous security guard?

Walk around any large venue in Miami, and you are likely to see private security guards ensuring that visitors are getting to where they need to be and that any unruly activity is quickly stopped. However, have you ever wondered exactly how much authority security guards are given? Or better yet, who is held responsible if their enforcement gets a little too forceful?

In terms of legal authority, a private security guard has no more power than you or any other private citizen. Yet according to Florida state law, a person is justified in using force against you only if that is what is needed to keep you from committing criminal or tortious interference with a property. The law goes on to say that force is only justified from those who either own the property or share a special relationship with the proper owner. Among those includes people who are legally bound to protect the property. In this case, that could be a security guard.

Office Location

Law Offices of Ivan A. Schertzer
16211 NE 18th Avenue
North Miami Beach, FL 33162

Phone: 305-940-0007
Toll Free: 800-639-8084
Fax: 305-354-8895
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