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Four Important Reasons Why You Need a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

You are driving your SUV on Fleming Street in Key West, Florida when a sedan being operated by a texting teenager smashes into your vehicle. The distracted teen was speeding, so the impact was quite severe, resulting in extensive damage to you and your vehicle. In fact, you had to be transported to the hospital with injuries to your neck, back, and knees. In this scenario, hiring a Florida personal injury lawyer is extremely important. Below are four reasons why.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Matt Lemmon via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Matt Lemmon via flickr

Focus on Recovery

Do you really want to spend your days haggling with an insurance company to get the money you deserve? Instead, you should focus on your recovery and getting back to 100% health. Focus on your physical therapy visits and picking up the pieces of your life. Let your Florida car accident attorney haggle with the insurance company.

Knowledge of Personal Injury Law

Do you know the applicable statute of limitations for a personal injury case? Do you know where to find all of the applicable sources of insurance coverage for your claim? If you do not, that is totally understandable. Most non-lawyers do not. A personal injury lawyer is experienced in this area of law and that knowledge and experience can be put to use to help you get the compensation you deserve.

The Insurance Company Has a Team of Lawyers

When you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, the claim is initially handled by a claims adjuster, but the insurance company also has a team of experienced defense lawyers ready to litigate personal injury claims with a goal of denying you from getting any money. Remember, insurance companies focus on making a profit. Your injury claim hurts their bottom line, so they want to pay you as little as possible and would prefer to pay you absolutely nothing. You will hear reason after reason why you should not get any money from the claims adjuster and/or the insurance defense lawyer.

Level the playing field. Your Florida personal injury attorney will be your advocate. He or she will fight to get you the money you rightfully deserve. He or she will go to bat for you with a laser focus on protecting your interests rather than the interests of the insurance company. If you want to get the highest amount of restitution available, you need a personal injury lawyer.

Insurance Companies Treat Non-Represented Claimants Differently

It is an unfortunate truth that insurance companies treat claimants who do not have an attorney differently. They drag their feet in the hopes that you will let the statute of limitations expire. They will not offer you the most money they have available for settlement because they are not worried about you taking the case to trial and representing yourself to get a big judgment or verdict. Having a Florida personal injury attorney on your side changes that completely. They know that an experienced, aggressive injury lawyer can get a big verdict that will cost them even more money.

Contact the Experienced Injury Lawyers at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti Today

At the Law Offices of Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A., you will be represented by a Florida personal injury law firm with over 30 years of experience representing people harmed in automobile accidents and other serious accidents. Review our past results here and learn what our clients have to say about our representation. Contact our firm today at 305-653-5555 to set up a no-cost, no-pressure consultation.

Understanding Premises Liability in Florida

Imagine the following scenario: You walk into a store, a shopping mall, or some other business establishment. Suddenly, you slip on a substance and fall to the ground, suffering a serious back or hip injury. Unfortunately, this type of incident is quite common and can result in significant harm. This is a situation that involves the legal concept of premises liability. Premises liability law is based on the presumption that it is the duty of the owner of the premises to keep the area safe for visitors. If there is evidence to show that the owner failed to take reasonable steps to keep the premises safe, there may be grounds to pursue a civil claim.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Robert Couse-Baker via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Robert Couse-Baker via flickr

Premises Liability Law in Florida

In Florida, the law as it pertains to premises liability actions against business establishments is governed by Florida Statute Section 768.0755. For the purpose of this section, business establishments include any place where commercial activity takes place in normal course of the day – like office spaces, supermarkets, gym clubs, hospitals, theatres, gas stations, etc. Residential properties and accidents occurring therein are not covered in this section. More detailed provisions on negligence per se are outlined in the General Provisions, Part I of Chapter 768 of the Florida Code.

Under normal circumstances, in order to succeed in a premises liability suit, the injured party has to prove the following three conditions:

  • A dangerous condition existed in the property which the owner was aware of;
  • The owner of the property failed to repair and/or warn the visitors about this condition; and
  • The injury suffered was a direct result of this condition.

Prior to 2001, “actual or constructive knowledge” was required to be shown by a premises liability plaintiff in order to claim compensation from a premises liability case. However, now the current position of law as per the latest rulings of the Florida Supreme Court is that once a plaintiff has established that the injury suffered was due to the presence of a potentially dangerous substance, a rebuttable presumption of negligence ensues automatically.

Nonetheless, property owners in Florida are required to adhere to different levels of care depending on the types of people entering their property, who will fall under one of the three possible categories: (a) invitee, (b) licensee, and (c) trespassers.

  • Invitee – A plaintiff invited to the premises of the owner can either be a public invitee or a business invitee. Property owners in Florida owe the highest degree of care towards the latter, as it is the owner who has explicitly invited the person upon his property in order to work on business transactions. Level of liability extends to reasonable warning about any dangerous conditions in the property which the owner ought to know about.
  • Licensee – The second highest duty of care is owed towards a licensee, who enters the premises for any social purpose which is not illegal in nature, irrespective of having any formal invitation. Fair warning is expected to be given about any pre-existing potentially dangerous conditions that the owner already knows about.
  • Trespassers – Although it is normally assumed that a property owner should not care about the legal rights of a trespasser who himself has unduly encroached on his land, the basic rules of tort say that a minimum level of care is still expected from the landlord, by warning the trespasser of any dangerous condition that might exist inside the premises and prevent him from suffering unexpected injury.

Contact a Florida Slip and Fall Lawyer Today

As you can see, premises liability can become quite complex when it comes to determining the threshold of negligence that must be met to determine liability. If you or a loved one suffered a slip and fall injury that was caused by a property owner’s negligence, contact the slip & fall lawyers at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, PA for a free consultation or fill out the contact form to the right. All slip and fall cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means we only earn a fee if we win your case.

Cruise Ship Injuries – Know Your Rights

The cruise ship industry is active and vibrant in the state of Florida. Thousands of people board cruise ships, either as passengers or crew members, with the expectation of having a safe and enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. In fact, many people wind up suffering serious, debilitating injuries aboard cruise ships. If this has happened to you or a loved one, keep reading.

Steps That Must Be Taken if You Are Hurt on a Cruise Ship

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by lyng883 via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by lyng883 via flickr

First, get immediate medical attention at the ship infirmary and get off the ship as soon as you can so you can properly assess the damage. Second, report the incident to the ship safety and security officer or other crew members. Third, get the names of any crew personnel and/or passengers who helped you and get a copy of any incident forms and/or reports that may need to be filled out. Fourth, take photos or record the scene of where your injury occurred. Why? Many cruise ships do not keep video recordings for very long, and this can significantly help your claim. Fifth, when you get back home, provide written notice that you intend to file a claim against the cruise ship, or its controlling entity, pursuant to the express time limitations provided on the back of your cruise ticket. Finally, contact a Florida cruise ship accident lawyer to set up a time to meet for a free case analysis.

Watch Out for the Special Rules and Loopholes Applying to Cruise Ship Injuries

You may be hesitant to speak to a lawyer because you don’t want the hassle or you think that you were at fault. However, we strongly recommend you at least speak to a lawyer about what happened. Why? Overall, a myriad of complex laws and regulations may apply to your case, and lawyers can take care of all of that for you. For example, federal, international and maritime laws may govern your injury, depending when and where the injury occurred. There is also a much shorter statute of limitations for taking legal action. In some cases, a victim only has six months from the date of the injury to file a claim.

Read the Fine Print

Many cruise line companies put contractual provisions on the back of your cruise ticket. In fact, it is in this fine print where they attempt to bind you to a shorter time period to file a cruise ship injury lawsuit. In addition, these provisions may include language about giving written notice of your intent to pursue a cruise ship personal injury claim. In addition to adding fine print to your ticket, many cruise line companies require passengers to sign broad waivers of liability before you are allowed to participate in certain activities and events. This is a common strategy aimed solely to limit the cruise ship’s exposure to liability in case you or someone close to you gets hurt.

Time to Take Action

If you suspect a cruise ship operator, or crew member, was negligent and that negligence resulted in a serious injury, then don’t wait to seek legal representation. The clock is ticking. Now is the time to contact the experienced cruise ship injury attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. We are here to help. Contact us today at (305) 653-5555 or fill out our online contact form to get your free, no obligation consultation today!

Nursing Home Abuse – Understanding Your Rights

Florida is home to thousands of senior citizens. In fact, Florida has the largest percentage of residents over the age of 65, according to U.S. News & World Report. This means that nursing homes and long-term care facilities are often inundated with requests for service in the state. Unfortunately, many nursing homes wind up understaffed or staffed by employees who are not qualified and fail to take reasonable care of patients. Such negligent care, among other infractions, qualifies as nursing home abuse.

When You May Have the Basis for Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Claim:

The Staff Violated a State Statute or Regulation

Residents in Florida nursing homes have the right to privacy, personal dignity, and a level of personal autonomy. The Florida Department of State has codified minimum standards that must be met by all nursing homes doing business in the state. If an employee of the nursing home violates one or more of these standards, there may be grounds to take legal action.

Failing to Provide or Properly Administer a Medication

Your senior loved one has the right to be given proper medication and doses. When a prescription drug error occurs and that oversight results in an injury to a resident, a negligence claim could be pursued. An investigation would need to be conducted to determine the origin of the medication mistake since it may involve the prescribing physician, the pharmacist, and/or the nursing home.

Improper and Chronic Understaffing of the Nursing Home

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Fran Urbano via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Fran Urbano via flickr

If a nursing home is chronically understaffed, it can have serious adverse effects on residents. Medications are missed, bed pans are not cleaned out regularly, residents who are immobile are left in beds for days, etc. It can create a toxic, unsafe environment. Florida nursing homes can be held liable if a resident suffers a serious injury or dies due to understaffing.

Insufficient Training of Staff

On a related issue, even if a nursing home has plenty of staff, if they are not properly trained on how to administer medications, assist residents who have physical ailments, or fail to see recognizable signs of deteriorating health conditions, this may form the basis of a negligence claim against the nursing home.

Emotional Abuse by Staff

It is difficult to imagine, but many nursing home staff members have been caught on video levying threats, being insulting, and simply being downright mean to residents. This would be categorized as mental and emotional abuse in a nursing home, and can refer to verbal degradation or threats, isolation, sarcastic remarks or insults. Residents who are subjected to emotional abuse may not display obvious warning signs like physical bruises. However, they may display emotional withdrawal, mood swings, confusion, anxiety and/or or depression. If you notice this type of behavior by your elderly loved one, you need to investigate further and determine how your loved one is being treated by the staff.

Time to Take Action

If you suspect your elderly loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect in a Florida nursing home, you need to reach out and speak to an experienced Florida nursing home abuse lawyer. These cases can be complex and require intense investigation of nursing home records and of the facility itself. The more time goes by, the higher the risk of vital documents being lost or misplaced. Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. and set up a time to meet for a confidential, free consultation. Contact us today at (305) 653-5555 or fill out our online contact form to get your free, no obligation consultation today!

Pitfalls in Florida Medical Malpractice Laws

If you or a loved one suffers an injury due to a doctor’s negligence in a Florida hospital or any other medical facility, you will need to navigate a complicated set of rules and regulations to have a medical malpractice claim filed.  While the below is a high level summary of some of the things you need to consider, it is by no means an exhaustive list.  This is the case not just with medical malpractice, but with any legal matter, things are frequently more complicated than they seem to the lay person.

Limited Time to Take Legal Action

For most negligence-based tort claims, the statute of limitations in Florida is four years from the date of the harm. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is much shorter. You only have two years from when you either knew, or should have known, that the injury occurred. That’s right – for a medical malpractice claim, you get half the time to take legal action.

Pre-Suit Hurdles

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by pennstatelaw via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by pennstatelaw via flickr

If you retain an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney and are ready to take legal action within the allotted statute of limitations, there remains a myriad of “pre-suit” requirements that you must satisfy:

  • Your medical malpractice attorney must investigate your claim and verify that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that a medical professional was negligent and that the negligence resulted in injury to the claimant.
  • Your medical records must be reviewed by a medical expert in the same or a similar field as the doctor who caused your injury.
  • The expert retained on your behalf has to provide a “verified written medical expert opinion,” that they believe, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that there are reasonable grounds for your medical malpractice case to move forward.
  • Your Florida medical malpractice lawyer has to file a “Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation for Medical Negligence.”
  • A 90-day “pre-suit investigative period” will commence after the notice of intent is filed wherein you and the prospective defendant (i.e. your doctor or hospital) exchange written questions, request documents, and provide unsworn statements.
  • Finally, within the 90-day period, the prospective defendant has the right to reject your medical malpractice claim, make a settlement offer, or offer to arbitrate your claim.

The process gets even more complicated if your injury occurred in a public hospital or by a doctor employed by the State of Florida. Why? Because there is a law in place holding that the state of Florida is not liable for any punitive damages and the state and its agencies and subdivisions are not liable to pay a claim or judgment exceeding $200,000 per person, or any claim or judgment exceeding the sum of $300,000. This basically means that the state of Florida has a cap on damages of $200,000 per individual and $300,000 total for a medical malpractice claim.

Why So Many Complex Rules?

Lobbyists for the medical and insurance industry spent years influencing local lawmakers and have successfully sponsored legislation designed to restrict and hinder your ability to hold a negligent doctor or hospital accountable for the preventable mistakes that caused your injury. The result? The system you see above – a system that is so complicated, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not speaking to an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious medical malpractice injury, contact one of the seasoned Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. Contact us today at (305) 653-5555 or fill out our online contact form to get your free, no obligation consultation today!