Answering Common Questions About Negligence and Injuries Sustained in Florida

Come get your personal injury and accident questions answered on topics including motorcycle accidents, automobile accidents, disability insurance, and workers’ compensation matters. We handle cases throughout Florida concentrating on the greater Central and North Florida area, and we have the in-depth answers you need.

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  • Can I sue my employer for my job-related injuries if he failed to provide workers’ compensation?

    injured_workerUnder Florida law, an employee gives up the right to sue an employer for a workplace injury or illness in exchange for benefits through workers’ compensation.

    Through this state-sponsored program, employees are guaranteed access to medical care and payments for time off work, and also cannot be fired while they recover from an injury.

    However, there are a few situations where workers
    could be able to file claims against their companies.

    Injury Claim Options Beyond Workers’ Compensation

    In most cases, employees are required to pursue injury claims through the workers’ compensation system. As long as benefits have been provided, employees must resolve disputes in workers’ compensation court.

    An employee can only file an injury suit in civil court against the company if:

    • The employer failed to provide workers’ compensation coverage. Employers are only protected from work injury lawsuits if they provide fair and timely workers’ compensation benefits. If the employer didn't purchase sufficient workers’ compensation insurance, it broke the law and can be held liable for civil penalties—including injury claims, citations from the state, and fines.
       
    • The employer intended to cause you harm. The intent to cause harm goes beyond negligence, and requires proof that an employer engaged in behavior that was virtually guaranteed to endanger you or your fellow employees. For example, failure to provide a safe workplace isn't a valid reason to bring an injury suit, but your employer pushing you down a flight of stairs certainly is.

    One advantage of filing an injury suit against an employer is that workers aren't limited in the amounts they can be awarded in the case. Workers can collect payment for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages—an amount that can be up to three times the value of compensatory damages in Florida.

    On the other hand, an employee has to prove the employer was negligent or at-fault for the injury—something that's not required in workers’ compensation claims.

    If your employer failed to provide workers’ compensation benefits, we can examine your claim and advise you of the legal options. Call us today, or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation with an attorney.

     

  • Who's liable for injuries when police chases lead to car accidents?

    police_chasePolicemen driving wildly in hot pursuit of a suspect may seem dramatic on television, but it can be terrifying in real life. Drivers of both the police cars and the pursued vehicle may be speeding, failing to stop at red lights, pulling illegal traffic maneuvers, and even traveling on grass and over sidewalks.

    Any one of these behaviors can cause injury to other road users or pedestrians, and even cause the wrongful death of passers-by.

    Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Crash After a Police Chase?

    There are many different ways to determine liability for a Florida crash. In most cases, the party at fault is the one who had a duty of care to the person injured and who's found to be guilty of violating that duty.

    With this in mind, the parties who are typically liable for causing police chase accidents are:

    • The chased suspect. All motorists owe a duty of care to other road users, and the dangerous driving behavior of a chase can be seen as a breach of that duty. The suspect can be named in a lawsuit if he or she collided with another car, or even if the suspect’s illegal maneuvers caused injuries or property damage. If a victim suffered emotional distress as well as physical injuries, the suspect may be liable for the cost of mental and emotional treatments.
       
    • Police officers and departments. While it may be more difficult to sue law enforcement officers for injury compensation, it's not impossible. States have specific requirements detailing pursuit procedures that must be followed—and these involve not placing anyone’s life or property at undue risk. A person who is injured in a collision with the police car; someone who was struck by a car swerving out of the path of the police car; and even the offenders themselves can file suits against police officers or the police department after an injury. Finally, the suspect’s family can pursue a lawsuit against the police officers or their supervisors if the suspect was killed in the pursuit.
       
    • Governmental employers. Depending on the circumstances, the municipalities where the police departments are located can be held liable for crash injuries if there weren't safeguards in place to prevent the behavior or if the crash resulted from a failure to adequately train police officers in pursuit procedures.

    If you were hurt in a car accident, we can help you determine who should pay for your medical bills and lost income. Contact one of our experienced Florida injury attorneys today by filling out the quick contact form on this page.

     

  • How long do I have to file my motorcycle injury claim in Florida?

    It depends on whether you're seeking payment through an insurance company or filing a Florida injury lawsuit for your motorcycle crash.

    Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, most injury victims will only be eligible for compensation through their insurance policies. This system allows victims to get payment for injuries and property damage without the need to file a lawsuit.

    While the time for reporting an accident varies from policy to policy, it's a good idea to report an accident as soon as possible. Many insurers have 24-hour accident claim phone lines or allow online reporting to begin claims processing to begin immediately.

    motorcycle_crashIf the accident resulted in permanent injury, disability, or scarring or disfigurement, Florida accident victims are allowed to step outside of the no-fault system and file an injury lawsuit.

    However, there are still limits on how long a victim can wait before making a claim.
     

    Statute of Limitations on Florida Motorcycle Injury Cases

    Each state imposes different deadlines for the filing of a lawsuit, called the statute of limitations. After this time limit has run out, a court can refuse to hear the case, and the victim won't have a chance to be heard, no matter how compelling the case or how serious his injuries are.

    In Florida, the statute of limitations for car accident cases depends on whether a victim sustained:

    • Injuries. Any driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian is required to file a lawsuit within four years of the date of the accident to be eligible for compensation. This deadline applies to compensation for injury costs as well as damage to vehicles or personal property.
    • Death. If a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian was killed as a result of the accident, his or her family members have two years to bring a wrongful death case against the at-fault party. The two years may start on the date of the accident or the date of the person’s death.

    While you may have several years to file an accident case in court, evidence in the case is lost with each passing day after the crash. For this reason, it's best to speak to an experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney about your options as soon as possible. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to tell us your story for a confidential consultation.

     

  • What should I do when my doctor is reluctant to help me with my Social Security claim?

    doctor says noUnfortunately, not all physicians are supportive of the Social Security disability program. The reasons for their reluctance to help can vary from not having time to fill out paperwork to outright disapproval of public benefits. Whatever the reason, a doctor’s refusal to cooperate can have a significantly negative impact on your claim.

    In many ways, your treating physician acts as your ally against claims examiners who may try to deny your benefits. Your doctor is required to give his professional opinion about your condition and whether or not you can be medically-considered disabled.

    If you and your doctor don't agree on the terms of your disability, it will ultimately be easier for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to deny your claim.

    Your Doctor is Only One Part of Your Disability Claim

    While your doctor is vital to winning your disability claim, there are a number of different parties involved in making the decision about your benefits. The SSA will ultimately make its determination based through:

    • Medical evidence. The SSA will consider the medical opinions from all of your attending physicians, including specialists who have treated your condition. However, these opinions are only valid if they're based on the medical evidence provided in your claim. If one of your doctor’s assessments isn't supported by clinical evidence or test results, it may be overlooked—especially if other physicians’ opinions are supported by evidence.
    • A consultative exam. Many claimants have to undergo a medical examination by a doctor appointed by Social Security. These doctors evaluate your condition and identify your limitations and restrictions. The doctor isn't asked to make a disability decision, but reviews your health and your personal physician's medical report to make sure the conclusions about your condition are supported by medical evidence.
    • Claims examiners. Claims examiners ultimately decide whether you are disabled according to Social Security’s specific definition of disability. They use medical evidence from a variety of sources, and can deny claims for any number of reasons.                                                               

    If your doctor refuses to help you, your best option may be to change doctors. While it may be time-consuming to change physicians, it's often worth it to find someone who is sympathetic to your case to treat you. To find out what the next move in your disability case should be, contact our experienced disability attorneys today by filling out the form on this page.

     

  • How do I qualify for Social Security disability benefits with chronic glomerulonephritis?

    ss_disabilityGlomerulonephritis is one of many kidney disorders that could qualify someone for Social Security disability benefits. The condition causes the filtering tissues in the kidneys (glomeruli) to become inflamed, making it difficult for the kidneys to remove waste products from the body. Chronic glomerulonephritis (CG) can take years to develop and show symptoms, and may be a result of another disease or result from an acute attack of glomerulonephritis in earlier life.

    Social Security Disability Benefits for Chronic Glomerulonephritis

    While the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn't have a specific listing for CG in its Blue Book of eligible disorders for disability payment, a patient may qualify for benefits based on other listings, including:

    • Chronic kidney disease. The prolonged inflammation caused by CG can often cause chronic kidney disease or even lead to eventual kidney failure. If you've been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, the SSA considers you disabled if you're receiving dialysis; have undergone a kidney transplant; or can demonstrate impaired kidney function that includes reduced glomerular function and an underlying complication, such as peripheral neuropathy, bone abnormalities, severe edema, or anorexia.
    • Nephrotic syndrome. You may qualify for benefits under the listing for nephrotic syndrome, a condition characterized by excess protein in the urine. You must have multiple lab tests over the span of one year that show a high level of proteinuria, or proteinuria combined with abnormal levels of serum albumin, a protein produced by the liver and dissolved in blood plasma.
    • Underlying conditions. CG is often a side effect of another disease, including some immune disorders, lupus, diabetes, or cancer. If your CG is related to another medical condition, the SSA can evaluate you under the listing for that condition.
    • Residual functional capacity. If you don't qualify for compensation based on any other listing, you may still be able to collect disability if the symptoms or treatment for CG are severe enough to prevent you from working. The SSA determines your residual functional capacity based on your ability to perform basic work functions despite the limitations of your condition.

    If you've been denied your rightful Social Security benefits, our attorneys can examine your claim and get you the benefits you need as quickly as possible. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation with a Social Security attorney.

     

  • Can I opt out of workers’ compensation and file a personal injury lawsuit against my employer instead?

    work_comp_claimIn most cases, people who are injured on the job in Florida can only recover payment through workers’ compensation law. State law requires every employer to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover the costs of an employee’s work-related accident, injury, or occupational disease.

    In exchange for guaranteed benefits through the employer, an employee must depend on workers’ compensation as the "exclusive remedy" for any injuries.

    However, there are some circumstances when a worker may be entitled to file a lawsuit for work-related injuries, including:

    • The employer doesn't have sufficient workers’ compensation insurance to cover the injury 
    • The injury was caused by extreme negligence or recklessness on the part of the employer
    • The employer caused intentional harm to the employee, such as a manager committing personal violence against a worker
    • The injury was caused by a defective product, toxic substance, coworker, or other third party

    The Different Benefits of Injury Lawsuits and Workers’ Comp Claims

    Even if you can't sue your employer, that doesn't mean you're not entitled to the full costs of your injury through workers’ compensation. In fact, filing a claim has two major advantages over a lawsuit:

    • The employer is required to pay for your income loss and medical benefits, whereas court costs may be lost
    • Payment can begin immediately after the claim is filed

    However, the employee cannot receive any additional amount for his pain and suffering through workers’ compensation—and of course, the claim may be denied.

    If an employee is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer or a third party, he or she isn't limited to the amount that can be recovered in the case. The total amount of the claim can include lost wages, reimbursement for medical costs, permanent disability, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and punitive damages. Punitive damages can amount to a large sum of money that your employer pays as punishment for causing your injury, and serves as an incentive for the employer to improve workplace safety.

    If you have questions after an injury at work, our attorneys can investigate the facts of your claim to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation.

     

  • Do pedestrian right-of-way laws really increase safety?

    ped_rightofwayIn the age of driving while texting, distracted pedestrians, and increased cycling for health, pedestrian accidents happen more frequently than ever. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, one pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash approximately every two hours, while a pedestrian is injured in a crash every eight minutes.

     

    But one study examined whether a comprehensive enforcement and education program would cut down on these deaths—and the answer was a resounding yes.

    Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws Led to Increased Pedestrian Safety

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the results of a follow-up study in 2017, four years after its high-visibility enforcement (HVE) study was implemented in Gainesville, Florida. In the follow-up study, research staff observed natural crossings at select locations before, during, and after the HVE program. Research assistants also performed staged road crossings using a uniform crossing protocol. After the study was complete, the number of pedestrian crashes per year fell from an average of 101 to 83.

    The follow-up study found that the rates of vehicles yielding to pedestrians continued on an upward trend and in most cases, pedestrian incidents in those sites had fallen even lower than those in the original study. Pedestrian yielding was now more common in these crossing sites, despite no new enforcement or additional publicity campaigns.

    Researchers believe the reasons pedestrian accidents went down include:

    • Low-cost education. The earlier study included encouragement of community feedback, signage, and public outreach to inform drivers of the risks to pedestrians and the applicable law.
    • Social norming. Researchers state that yielding to pedestrians encourages other drivers to learn and copy the behavior. If the majority of motorists yielded to pedestrians, it may have served as a strong model for other drivers to follow suit.
    • Fear of a citation. Drivers who fear the police enforcement of pedestrian laws are more likely to yield the right of way.

    The fact that more drivers were readily yielding to pedestrians and the significant drop in pedestrian crashes suggest that similar high-visibility enforcement and education programs could have a long-term effective on pedestrian safety. Do you think the pedestrian crossings near your home are safe? Would you support a similar program in your area? Please leave a comment or share this article on Facebook to let us know what you think.

     

  • What is the Social Security Administration's Compassionate Allowance Program?

    SS_compassionate_benefitsThe Social Security Administration (SSA) was established to provide benefits to people who need them most. While many claimants will receive disability payments within a year of filing for benefits, some applicants may not be able to wait that long for these payments to arrive.

    For this reason, the SSA created the Compassionate Allowances Program—a way for patients with life-threatening medical conditions to get faster approval for benefits.

    Qualifying for Social Security’s Compassionate Allowance Program

    Patients may be able to collect payment more quickly through the Compassionate Allowances Program if they've been diagnosed with a condition that qualifies them for expedited benefits. Over 200 disease and medical conditions qualify for Compassionate Allowance processing, including certain heart problems, organ failure, immunodeficiency, and multiple forms of debilitating cancers. Patients with qualifying conditions could receive a decision on their claims in a matter of weeks instead of waiting months or years for benefits.

    The length of time it takes for patients with compassionate allowance claims to get a decision depends on:

    • How quickly the SSA receives medical evidence. Conditions that qualify for compassionate allowance are so severe that they are automatically assumed to meet disability standards. The faster the SSA receives information from a doctor or other medical source regarding the condition, the faster it can confirm the condition’s eligibility for approval.
    • Whether the claim requires a medical examination. If a condition doesn't meet obvious standards for approval based on objective review of the medical information provided, the SSA may require more evidence to support the claim. This may mean supplemental medical test results and imaging tests or a medical examination of the claimant.
    • Whether the claim is randomly selected for review. The SSA conducts regular quality assurance reviews of the decisions. A file selected for review can delay benefits to the claimant, or even stop benefits that have previously been granted.

    As many of the conditions that qualify for compassionate allowance are terminal, many seriously ill people die while waiting for the SSA to approve their benefits. One of the problems is that the program requires a mandatory six month waiting period, which some patients simply do not have.

    Our attorneys can examine your claim to get you the benefits you need as quickly as possible. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation with a Social Security attorney.

     

  • How does prescription drug misuse affect a workers’ comp claim?

    spilled_pillsAn injury at work can have long-lasting effects, including permanent disability that makes it difficult to pay for increasing medical costs.

    An employee who relies on prescription painkillers to combat physical discomfort may begin to abuse the drugs due to depression or anxiety, leading to an eventual addiction to the medications.

     

    Unfortunately, these kinds of addictions are on the rise—and are complicating workers’ compensation claims.

    Are Employers Liable for Injuries Caused by Prescription Drug Misuse?

    Prescription painkillers can be prescribed as the result of a work injury or for an unrelated condition, and can be used even after the employee returns to work. Employer liability for injuries can be difficult to determine, since the employee is taking the drugs legally.

    If a workers’ compensation claim arises due to misuse of prescription drugs, the claim can be affected due to:

    • Time off work. Many studies indicate that injured workers who are given high doses of opioid painkillers will be out of work for up to work three times longer than workers with similar injuries who are given lower doses. This time off work is more costly to the employer and may not be beneficial to the employee, especially if he develops an addiction or tolerance to the medication. The cost of the claim can go even higher if the employee requires treatment for drug addiction.
    • Workplace safety. If an employee taking painkillers places fellow workers at risk, an employer could be liable for paying benefits to many employees instead of just one. Additionally, while employers are usually required to pay for injuries to coworkers caused by an employee, the at-fault employee could also face legal action from coworkers who suffered in the accident.
    • Death benefits. The bearing of prescription drug use in a workers’ comp claim is currently decided by the courts. A court may decide that medication misuse could affect an employee’s claim for future medical care or a family’s right to death benefits—even if the death is caused by overdose of legally-prescribed medications.

     

    If you need help after a workplace injury, our attorneys can examine the details of your case and help you understand your rights. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation in our law offices.

     

  • What should I do if I am pulled over by a police officer?

    officer_approaching_car

    While people who get behind the wheel after drinking or under the influence of drugs know they're committing a crime, it's possible for a driver to commit a minor traffic offense without realizing it. Traveling too fast for conditions, broken taillights, and other problems with the vehicle are all common reasons for traffic stops, yet many drivers aren't taught how to respond when an officer pulls the car over.

    What to Do If Your Vehicle Is Pulled Over by a Police Officer

    While it can be a frightening experience to be pulled over, drivers can protect their legal rights by following proper protocol and keeping a cool head.

    If a police officer turns on his emergency lights or siren behind you, you should:

    • Find a safe place to pull over. Slow down and find a spot on the right-hand shoulder (to the right of the solid white line) where you and the officer can park without obstructing traffic. Don't stop a bridge or on a curve where it's difficult to see oncoming traffic.
    • Stay in the vehicle. Always remain in the vehicle unless the police officer asks you to step out. As the officer approaches the driver’s side window, keep both hands on the steering wheel in clear view of the officer. If you're pulled over at night, you may turn on the car’s interior light.
    • Comply with reasonable requests. Police officers usually request to see a driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. Only retrieve these items after the officer has asked for them, since reaching into a wallet, purse, or glove box could be misinterpreted as looking for a weapon.
    • Keep answers short and polite. The officer may ask you if you know why you were stopped, or if you know how fast you were going. If you're unsure of the answers, say “I don’t know.” The officer will have to explain his reasons to you.
    • Don't refuse a ticket. If the officer issues a ticket, a driver shouldn't argue his case or refuse to sign for the citation. Signing a ticket isn't proof of a driver’s guilt—it's only proof that the driver received the ticket. Any argument the driver wishes to make should be done in traffic court, not at the traffic stop.

    Does everyone in your family know what to do in a traffic stop? Please share this article by email or on Facebook to make sure your friends and relatives stay safe on the street.