Category Archives: Personal Injury

Understanding Subrogation In Florida Personal Injury Cases.

One of the more complicated things to explain to a client is health insurance subrogation, which is when we have to repay the health insurance provider from the verdict or settlement of a personal injury case before disbursing final funds to the client.

Definition Of Subrogation

What is subrogation? Subrogation is a legal term that can arise in almost any type of personal injury claim. It describes how an insurance company or an entity that pays medical expenses on behalf of an injured person has a right to be reimbursed for any payments made, should another party be found at fault for their injuries.

How Does Subrogation Work?

Someone who is injured through no fault of their own is often confused about who should be paying for their injury-related treatment. When you seek medical care, it is important to submit your bills to either your health insurance or the medical payment coverage under your automobile policy.

It is important to note that subrogation can apply to not only your health insurance or automobile medical coverage but also to federal entities such as Medicare, Medicaid or even the VA.

ANYONE THAT MAKES PAYMENTS ON YOUR BEHALF WHERE A THIRD PARTY IS AT FAULT HAS A RIGHT TO BE COMPENSATED PER YOUR POLICY’S FINE PRINT.

How Subrogation Liens Effect Injury Settlements

Subrogation is not used to collect outstanding financial obligations, but your injury settlement is still subject to liens for your unpaid debts.

  • Medical liens can be placed against your settlement by hospitals and doctors who haven’t been paid for your accident-related medical care.

Regardless of who uses it, subrogation and other liens work the same way, by allowing someone else to take a portion of the compensation paid to you by the at-fault party.

A lien is a legal interest in someone else’s assets. An insurance settlement is an asset. While states have laws limiting subrogation, many also have laws protecting lien holders.

Most of the time, the responsible party’s insurance company is not allowed to release your funds until they verify there are no pending liens.

The insurance company (or your attorney) can’t just pay you the money and take your word for it that you’ll pay off the liens. Some types of liens, like Medicare liens or child support liens, must be released before the rest of the settlement award can be legally disbursed to you.

Subrogation Example:

Jane was in a car wreck that was no fault of her own, and she was injured in the accident. Jane went to the ER and ended up having to have surgery. Jane’s medical bills are paid by her health insurance company. Although Jane is pleased with the settlement from her car wreck case, she won’t be taking home the entire amount. Before she receives settlement funds, her law firm, like Zarzaur Law, must pay back the health insurer for the treatment they paid for first.

Subrogation Prevents Double Recovery

Many injured people are surprised and upset to learn that another insurance company can take some of their settlement. It seems unfair to lose a large portion of their settlement.

Technically, an injured victim doesn’t lose anything due to subrogation. Instead, subrogation laws are designed to keep the victim from receiving a “windfall,” or more than they deserve.

Negotiating Subrogation Liens

Subrogation liens are negotiable. This means an experienced personal injury firm like Zarzaur Law, P.A. can negotiate with the insurance company to reduce the subrogation lien for less than the amount it spent on your behalf. An agreement on a reduced lien means you’ll receive a larger settlement at the end of your case.

It’s often a good idea to have an experienced attorney negotiate on your behalf. Skilled injury lawyers negotiate subrogation liens regularly.

An experienced accident attorney, like Joe Zarzaur, also knows the subrogation lien laws and how to protect your rights.

 

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Topic >

 

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. Consult with an experienced accident  lawyer who has the knowledge and credentials to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website. Offices in Pensacola, Destin and Miami.

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/subrogation

https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/subrogation-claims.html

https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/what-is-subrogation-and-how-does-it-affect-my-car-accident-case-

Negligent Security Injury Cases in Florida.

Negligent security occurs when a property fails to use reasonable care to secure its property and, as a result of that negligence, a client, customer, or guest is injured or killed.

Obviously, Florida is the capital of tourism in the United States, and there are many guests that visit various attractions. This means business owners that invite customers have an obligation to take reasonable precautions to protect those guests.

What Business Fall Into This Category?

Examples of the types of businesses that typically have challenges with their obligation to secure their premises are the following:

– Bars

– Restaurants

– Hotels

– Retail stores

– Apartment complexes

– Condominiums

– Schools

– Gas stations

– and virtually any other establishment inviting customers to their premises for business purposes. Florida law imposes on these business owners the obligation to use reasonable efforts to secure their guests from harm that is foreseeable or should be foreseeable using reasonable care.

Crime, Locations, and Owner Responsibility

Some Florida businesses are located in higher crime areas than others. Tourists are especially vulnerable to this type of harm since they have little if any information about which areas of town are more susceptible to violent activity than others. A history of violent activity at or near a business will impose upon that business owner a higher duty to provide reasonable security. Many times, this means that the business or property owner will be required to hire a security service. Then the security service takes on the legal obligation to provide reasonable services.

Examples of Negligent Security

There are countless examples of instances where you or a loved one can be a victim of negligent security. Here are a few examples,

1. A couple out to dinner at a restaurant are encouraged by the business to park their vehicle in an adjacent lot, and as they walk to their car, they are assaulted. The lighting in the area is not reasonable.

2. Apartment complexes become aware of a frequent trespasser that is burglarizing vehicles and take no steps to improve lighting or security. Then one night, that person or another commits a violent crime against a resident or guest of the complex. The property management company and/or the property owner may be liable in a Florida negligent security case.

3. A bartender who serves someone they know to be intoxicated and then that customer assaults another customer and causes severe injuries. The facility owner could be liable for not having adequately trained bartenders or for not having adequate security to protect customers from those who are over served.

4. A hotel overbooks guests for a big weekend, and their staff negligently provides a key to a room that is already occupied. The room access gives a criminal the ability to commit both property damage crimes and crimes that cause injuries.

Legal Requirements to Prove a Negligent Security Case in Florida

The plaintiff (injured party) must first prove that the property owner or operator had a duty to protect the injured party. This is typically as easy as just being a guest of the business. In fact, just so you are not a trespasser (even though sometimes that is allowed under Florida law), there will likely be a duty to protect you from foreseeable harm.

Once the plaintiff in a Florida negligent security case has established that they are owed a duty of care, They then must prove that the defendant breached this duty of care. This is shown in most every case by showing that the property owner or operator acted unreasonable or negligent in securing the business or acted unreasonable in taking adequate precautions to protect its customers from foreseeable harm. The plaintiff then has to prove that the breach of this duty caused them to suffer injury or damage.

These elements of a Florida Negligent Security case can be proven by submitted evidence in the form of documents, photographs, videos, prior police reports, depositions, and expert witness reviews of the business and its practices. 

Allowable Damages in Florida Negligent Security Cases

The amount of damages available to a victim of a Florida negligent security case would include the following:

1. Medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident

2. lost wages incurred as a result of the negligence-caused injuries

3. Property damage caused as a result of the business owner’s failure to take reasonable precautions.

4. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, disability. disfigurement, emotional distress, and loss of the capacity to enjoy life.

What Counts As Adequate Security?

Adequate security for a particular property will vary from case to case. Some common security features for violent personal crimes are adequately trained security patrols during business hours or when guests are expected to be at the property, appropriate lighting, functioning security hardware such as locks, and restricting the ability to hand out duplicate keys to common areas of residential complexes.

In some states, there are statutes that create an inference of no negligence when a particular type of business takes certain security measures. For example, in Florida, there is a presumption against liability for third party criminal attacks for convenience store owners that take certain precautions listed in Florida Statutes §§ 812.173 and 812.174. These precautions include installing a security camera system, putting a notice in the form of a sign that says the cash register contains less than $50, and using a drop safe.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.justia.com/injury/premises-liability/negligent-inadequate-security/

https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/Chapter768/All

How Does A Personal Injury Civil Trial Work In Florida? Part II: Trial And Evidence, Burden Of Proof, and The Verdict.

While most personal injury cases settle in the pre-suit phase, a small percentage do not settle and then have to be filed in circuit court, where the legal and factual issues are litigated. Most of those cases are settled prior to trial, either through standard negotiations between the attorneys or during a mediation conference. Generally, settlement is in the best interests of both parties in a personal injury lawsuit, but some cases are resolved through a jury trial.

How Civil Trials Work: Part II – Trial And Evidence, Burden Of Proof, and The Verdict.

Opening Statement

After the jury is selected and sworn in by the judge, the attorneys make opening statements. Attorneys often say this is a “roadmap” of the evidence and the issues in the case. While attorneys may not argue the case in the opening, they should discuss the issues in the case and the evidence that will come in as related to the issues in the case. In most personal injury cases, these issues include fault, or negligence, injuries and damages. The attorneys may also explain how the issues and evidence relate to the law in the case and how the trial will proceed.

Attorneys often introduce who their witnesses will be and how they will testify. As the plaintiff has the burden of proof, the plaintiff’s attorney goes first, followed by the defense attorney.

 

The Trial And Evidence

After the openings, the trial begins. As with openings, the plaintiff goes first in submitting evidence to support the claims. Evidence includes live testimony by witnesses, the reading and playing of video depositions, and the introduction of documentary evidence.

The submission of evidence at trial is governed by the Florida Evidence Code and the common law rules of evidence. These rules are complex and require a detailed understanding of the law.

For example, the term “hearsay” is known by most non-lawyers, but it is a specific term for a type of evidence that may not be admitted at trial. Hearsay is an “out of court” statement that is not sufficiently reliable to come in as evidence. A statement by a witness that “he said the light was green” or “my doctor told me I would need surgery” is generally not admissible to prove the assertion. In such a case, the actual witness who said the light was green or the doctor who told the patient “he needed surgery” would need to testify in court about these issues. Otherwise, such testimony will be excluded. There are certain exceptions to the hearsay rules, which require the legal analysis of experienced attorneys.

Testimony

Generally, the attorneys will call witnesses to testify about liability, injuries, and damages. If medical testimony is necessary, doctors may generally testify by video deposition, as they are difficult to schedule for court appearances. The rules of evidence apply to videos as they do to live witnesses. If there are objections, they must be resolved before the video is shown to the jury. The general procedure for witness testimony is “direct” examination, “cross” examination by the opposing party, and “re-direct” to cover issues raised in cross-examination. As with most issues in the trial, any limits on the testimony will be resolved by the trial judge.

Exhibits

In addition to testimony, the parties may submit documentary evidence, or “exhibits,” to prove the case. These may include photos of the accident scene, photos of the vehicles, medical records and bills, and documents to support lost wages. The attorneys may object to this material, but the objections are usually resolved by the parties or the court before trial.

The plaintiff puts his or her case on first, followed by the defense case. After that, the plaintiff may submit rebuttal testimony or evidence. After that, the evidentiary portion of the trial is concluded. Depending on the complexity of the trial, this phase may last a day, a month or more. Regardless, the same rules of evidence apply no matter the complexity of the trial.

Questioning Of Witnesses By The Jury

In Florida, jurors may question the witnesses via written questions. After the witness testifies, the judge will ask the jurors if they have any questions. If there are questions, the court and the attorneys will review them before they are submitted to the witness to answer.

 

The Burden Of Proof

The plaintiff has the burden of proof in civil trials. The burden is the “greater weight” of the evidence. That means the plaintiff must prove the case by the “more convincing force and effect of the entire evidence in the case” (FLA JURY INST 405.3). This has been argued to be “tipping the scales of evidence” in favor of the party.

This burden is much less than the “beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt” that is required in civil cases.

This burden applies to the plaintiff’s claim and any affirmative defenses raised by the defense. All must be proven or else the judge can dismiss the case and the defenses at the conclusion of the evidence. This procedure is called a “directed verdict” and means the court did not think the evidence established the case.

 

Closing Arguments

If the case is not dismissed by the court, the attorneys will make closing arguments. Again, the plaintiff goes first, the defense next, and then the plaintiff may make a rebuttal. In closing, the attorneys will argue the facts and the law (which will be read to the jury in the jury instructions) and ask the jury for a verdict for their clients. While closing arguments may be emotional, there are limits to what the attorneys can do when asking the jury for a favorable verdict. The court will enforce these limits by way of objections and cautionary instructions to the attorneys and/or jury.

In closing argument, the attorneys will often refer to the verdict form when requesting a verdict for liability and damages. The defense attorney has the right to respond and argue the case also. In a rebuttal, the plaintiff’s attorney can respond to the defense as the plaintiff has the burden of proof.

 

Jury Deliberation

After the closing arguments, the judge will read the jury instructions and send the jury back for private deliberations on the verdict. If there were any alternate jurors, they would be excused from the trial at that point. Jurors may deliberate for as long as it takes to get a verdict.

In Florida, a unanimous verdict is required, meaning all 6 jurors must agree. If all cannot agree, the jury may be “hung,” and in a worst-case scenario, the case will have to be retried.

 

Post-Verdict

The case does not end with the verdict. Each side has the opportunity to challenge the verdict through post-trial motions and appeals.

As you can see, the trial of even a “simple” personal injury case is a very complex and uncertain undertaking. That is why most cases settle. An attorney can never know what a jury will do. However, having an attorney who is very experienced in trials will always increase the value of your case, whether at trial or through settlement.

This is why it is important to hire a board-certified civil trial lawyer to handle your personal injury case and navigate the complexities of the trial process.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/cases_pretrial/

https://www.juryduty101.com/states/florida

https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/personal-injury-lawsuit-steps.html

What Is The Florida Good Samaritan Act?

In 1965, the Florida Legislature passed what is known as the Good Samaritan Act. This act was designed to encourage bystanders to render aid to those in need without fear of litigation. While this statute was originally enacted to shield from liability those who “gratuitously and in good faith” render aid or emergency care to those in need when not located at a medical facility, this statute has been amended to greatly expand the scope of protection offered to those giving aid.

What Does It Mean For Health Care Providers?

As it stands today, the Good Samaritan Act also provides “immunity” to health care providers when they are providing “emergency services” at a medical facility.  Fla. Stat. § 768.13 (2011).

Emergency Medical Condition

Essentially, when a person walks into an emergency room with what is classified as an emergency medical condition (An illness, injury, symptom or condition so serious that a reasonable person would seek care right away to avoid severe harm), medical providers are shielded from liability for their own negligence, being only held responsible for actions that amount to a “reckless disregard for the consequences so as to affect the life or health of another.” Fla. Stat. § 768.13(2)(b)(1).

What About Liability?

At what point do medical providers become liable for their negligence again? Based on recent developments in Florida law, it appears that once a patient has become stable and no longer requires emergency treatment, medical providers are again liable for their negligence and held to a traditional standard of care.

However, the definition of “stable” is anything but. Determining at what point medical care is no longer emergent is a question of fact for a jury to decide.

While the law is relatively unsettled regarding the definition of an emergency medical condition, one thing is for sure: it is more important than ever to hire an expert to handle your malpractice case.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident, getting medical attention is of utmost importance. You want to put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

New Year’s Eve Safety – Drinking and Driving, COVID, and Other Considerations

New Year’s Eve can be a fun holiday to celebrate solo or with loved ones. Keep yourself safe by considering all of these New Year’s Eve safety tips.

Drinking and Driving

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 427 people may die on U.S. roads this New Year’s Day holiday period. Holidays traditionally are a time of travel for families across the United States. Many choose car travel, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. Holidays are also often caused for celebrations involving alcohol consumption, a major contributing factor to motor-vehicle crashes.

There Are Many Reasons Not To Drive On New Year’s Eve This Year – Here Are Just A Few:

1. The Cost of a DUI is Not Worth the risk – If you are charged with a DUI it can easily cost you up to $2,000 (just for a first offense), not to mention a night in jail, fines, hours of community service, participation in a treatment program, and your license being revoked.

2. NO traffic – You can skip all the traffic and frustration, by leaving your car in the driveway

3. Celebrate with the Ones You Really Care About (at home) – Cheers to you and your loved ones as you celebrate at home. There is no risk of injury or issues of being around thousands of people you don’t really know. Make your at-home celebration an event.

4. Save Money and Make Better Drinks at Home – The average price of a cocktail (that is normally watered down) is jaw-dropping…. Especially on New Year’s Eve! So buy your own quality ingredients and make your own or even try a new recipe and don’t worry about emptying your pockets on a high-priced cocktail out or the cost of a DUI or even worse a car wreck that injures or kills another person.

COVID – Omicron 

There is uncertainty associated with any estimate. The 90% confidence interval for the estimate of traffic deaths this holiday is 347 to 514. This confidence interval cannot account for the unknown impact the evolving response to COVID-19 will have on holiday travel. 

Because of the unprecedented impact COVID-19 is having on social activities, the uncertainty of this year’s estimate is increased.

You should skip New Year’s Eve parties this year because of the omicron wave, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The omicron variant has been spreading rapidly throughout the United States. In fact, there have been so many cases that airline crews have had to call out sick, leading to hundreds of canceled holiday flights, according to CNBC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking extra precautions during the holidays, especially if you’re gathering with multiple households.

Other Safety Considerations

Champagne

It’s a strange one, but a projectile champagne cork can absolutely be a danger, especially if you are not used to opening bottles! Use the “45 Rules” for bubbly. Chill champagne to at least 45 degrees F, as this will make the cork less likely to pop. When ready to open, place a towel over the top of the bottle and hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, pointing it away from yourself and others.

Fireworks

First of all, make sure to check your local regulations regarding the personal use of fireworks. If it is illegal or if you are unfamiliar with how they work, leave them to professionals! If you still decide to use legal fireworks, make sure to keep children and pets away from the area – even sparklers, which are often used by kids, burn at temperatures of about 2000 degrees and can be incredibly dangerous. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose at the ready. Light fireworks one at a time, then move back away from them. Never attempt to re-light a firework that did not go off the first time; douse them and other spent fireworks with plenty of water before discarding them. And of course, never point or throw fireworks at another person.

Pets

Between fireworks, noisemakers, and general revelry, pets can experience high anxiety on New Year’s Eve. Scared pets can bite or run and potentially get hurt, cause accidents, or become lost. The best way to keep pets safe is to keep them indoors and comfortable; Make sure fences and gates are secure and that your pet has a current ID tag and that all microchip information is up to date. If your pet has shown signs of extreme anxiety in the past, you might also consult your veterinarian and ask for anti-anxiety medications or a thunder coat.

Guns

In some cultures, it was previously a tradition to participate in celebratory gunfire at midnight, shooting handguns into the air. Not only is this illegal, but it can be deadly; falling bullets can be fatal. In Phoenix in 1999, a young teen was killed outside of her home by a bullet that was fired into the air more than a mile away. Deaths have resulted in harsher penalties for this crime, so leave all firearms safely locked inside this holiday.

If you’ve been the victim of an auto accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

 

Sources:

Deaths by Transportation Mode

New Year’s Day

https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/impaired-driving

How Do I Know If I Have a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?

Drivers and vehicle owners faithfully pay their auto insurance premiums monthly or quarterly with the belief they will receive a fair claims payout if the need arises (e.g., after a car accident that was not their fault).

Unfortunately, far too many of our clients here at Zarzaur Law, P.A. learn the hard way that car insurance companies are primarily concerned with their own bottom line.

 

What Is Bad a Bad Faith Claim?

Sometimes, insurance companies like to push boundaries and see if they can get away with not investigating claims or not paying out money owed on a policy after an accident. This is called “bad faith.”

The duty of good faith in Florida provides that insurers owe a “duty to their insureds to refrain from acting solely on the basis of their own interest in settlement,” as was said in State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Laforet. Under Florida’s Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act.

 

Bad Faith Claims Most Often Stem From:

Unnecessary claim delays. Insurers are required to process claims in a reasonable amount of time and without unnecessary delays.

Policy cancellations. Our firm has seen cases where an insured files a claim, and the insurer immediately starts scouring their history for errors or any misrepresentation that might void the policy.

This is common when it comes to death benefits claims. Sometimes, it is for something as simple as a misspelled name – even though they had no problem collecting the monthly premium despite this error.

Misrepresentations of policy. Some insurers will attempt to avoid paying claims by mischaracterizing the terms, requirements, and policy provisions. Many insurance policies are crafted with complex language and insider jargon, much of which favors the insurer. But it is well understood that any ambiguity is supposed to be construed in favor of the policyholder.

Ambiguous policy exclusions. Insurance policies can have all kinds of exclusions. But if an exclusion is ambiguous, it should be decided in the claimant’s favor.

Denies paying for a valid claim on no reasonable basis. Insurers have a responsibility to pay valid claims and offer a reasonable basis when they deny them. Failure to do so maybe bad faith. The same goes for low-ball settlement offers that are not justified.

Low settlement offers are often made without justification and for the benefit of the insurance companies bottom line and without regard for the insured.

 


Bad faith insurance claims are complicated actions and involve a multitude of issues, and that is why it is important to hire the best personal injury lawyer who understands the tactics insurance companies use to delay or minimize the payment of benefits.


 

WATCH AND LISTEN AS JOE ZARZAUR, BOARD CERTIFIED CIVIL TRIAL LAWYER, EXPLAINS “BAD FAITH” >


If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0624/Sections/0624.155.html

What to Bring To The Meeting With Your Personal Injury Lawyer

Whether you have been in a car accident or suffered any type of injury, your first call will be to a lawyer who specializes in personal injury. Navigating the waters of insurance claims can be difficult at the very least and a personal injury lawyer (preferably board certified) can make sure you receive the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party.


YOU WANT A LAWYER THAT IS YOUR ADVOCATE SINCE YOU DON’T WANT TO SETTLE FOR LESS THAN WHAT YOUR CASE IS WORTH.


Time Is Of The Essence

Meeting with a personal injury lawyer right as soon as possible is important since time is of the essence. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, but all personal injury cases do have an end date of when you can start a claim. If you are injured you should also begin treatment right away.

You contact the firm, go through the intake process, and then are scheduled for your first meeting with your lawyer. What should you bring?

What to Bring To The Meeting

1. Photos
Injuries
The cars involved in the accident (all angles and inside and outside)
Seat belt
Body markings
The area where the accident occurred

2. Car insurance info

3. health insurance info

4. Drivers license

5. Drivers exchange form (given at accident scene)

6. ER records / medical records

7. Correspondence

8. A list of facts that you remember from the accident, ER visit, correspondence with the insurance company, etc.

Your Lawyer Focuses On Your Case So You Don’t Have To

After a traumatic experience, the last thing you want to do is spend all of your time and energy fighting for compensation. A personal injury lawyer is there to support you and do all of the hard, legal work so that you can focus on your recovery. 

Your primary job following an accident is to take care of yourself and your family.

If you’ve been injured in an accident – meeting with a personal injury lawyer right away will help take the stress of your case off your hands so you can work towards healing.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Disadvantages Of Trying To Handle Your Own Personal Injury Case

There is a wise old saying “A person who represents himself in a lawsuit has a fool for a lawyer.” In other words, it is much better to have a qualified professional represent you in a legal matter if at all possible.

Misconceptions

Despite the conventional wisdom, many people try and represent themselves in legal disputes. The reasons are many:

It’s a small matter and does not require a lawyer.

I can’t afford a lawyer.

Hiring a lawyer will not make my case easier or more valuable.

All of these reasons are not sufficient. If you have a legal claim that is important to you, you should at least consult a legal professional.

A Financial Mistake

Suppose you try and represent yourself in a personal injury matter, as many do. You justify that by saying you don’t want to pay a lawyer, because your net recovery may be less. That could be a very serious financial mistake.

Any claim for a personal injury requires investigation about liability or fault, injuries and causation for injuries, and availability of insurance or some other method of recovery. All of these issues present challenges to a layperson.

The Recorded Statement

If you represent yourself, the first thing an insurance adjuster will do is try and take your statement, to limit your positions on fault. In fact, they may hire a lawyer to take your statement under oath.


YOU MAY NOT KNOW THAT THE OPPOSING INSURANCE COMPANY HAS NO RIGHT TO TAKE YOUR STATEMENT UNDER OATH IN A STANDARD PERSONAL INJURY CASE.


If you are making a claim against your own insurance company, they have a right to do this. Regardless, a layperson is not generally able to represent themself in a complicated or contested liability case. Moreover, a lawyer will generally have a staff or an independent investigator to take statements of witnesses and document the scene. This is very difficult for a non-lawyer to do.

Proof of Injuries

Proof of injuries may also be an issue in a personal injury case. Again, this can be difficult in many cases. In Florida, you must prove a permanent injury, and without medical knowledge or access to proper physicians, this can be very daunting. If you cannot have a medical provider document a permanent injury, your case is not worth much over the out-of-pocket medical bills.

Availability And Amount Of Insurance Coverage

A very important factor in such cases is the availability and amount of insurance coverage. In Florida, insurers must document coverage if requested according to the procedures outline in the Florida Statutes.

There are also many different coverages available, including:
No-Fault (PIP)
Bodily injury liability
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
Excess of umbrella coverages

There may also be additional at-fault defendants that are not readily apparent to a layperson. Again, an experienced lawyer can lead you through this process.

Hire An Expert

If you have attempted to handle your own case, and you think it’s a significant case, please consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Most, if not all, such lawyers will give you a free consultation.

In most cases, your claim may be much more valuable, and you may net much more from the claim if you hire an attorney. All attorneys in our area will handle your case on a contingency fee basis, and in most cases will maximize your financial recovery.

Refer to the car wreck checklist for more info on what to do right after you’ve been involved in a car accident.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Why You Should Think Twice Before Riding An Electric Scooter.

The fleets of publicly available electric scooters that have popped up in U.S. cities over the past few years have added a new dimension to urban transportation options. Their rapid proliferation has left municipal regulators struggling to keep up with the traffic impact and rising safety problems.

A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that without a clear vision for where and how e-scooters should be operated, e-scooters can pose a safety risk for riders and pedestrians.

“E-scooters can be a fun and useful way to get around, but they can also pose serious safety hazards,” says William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports. “Policymakers shouldn’t treat them just like bikes. E-scooters should be designed, built, and maintained with safety first, and riders should follow best practices to avoid hurting themselves and others.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 41 Americans were killed and about 133,000 injured between 2017 and 2019 in incidents tied to e-scooters, e-bikes and hoverboards.

The toll of deaths and injuries from the devices has been rising, with e-scooters accounting for much of the increase, the federal agency found in a study released in 2020.


THE COUNT OF ER VISITS ATTRIBUTABLE TO E-SCOOTERS ROSE TO 27,700 IN 2019 UP FROM NEARLY 15,000 THE YEAR BEFORE, CPSC FOUND.


 

A separate study by the CDC calculates that for every 100,000 e-scooter trips taken, 20 individuals will end up with some sort of injury. This same study, which surveyed a sample number of injured e-scooter riders, highlighted other interesting findings including:

48% of those injured were between the ages of 18-29

33% of those injured were first-time riders

38% of those injured mentioned they would ride an e-scooter again

Nearly half of those injured sustained a severe injury

The time frame to most likely get injured is between 6 pm-6 am 

 

Legal Outcomes Of Electric Scooter Accidents

Legal outcomes of accidents on Bird scooters, Lime scooters, or any other motorized scooter, will depend largely on who was involved and who is at fault.

Here are some possible scenarios:

– E-scooter hits a vehicle: If an e-scooter swerved erratically causing an accident with another vehicle on the road, the e-scooter is at fault in this case. The rider of the scooter will need to pay for the damages incurred on the vehicle.

– E-scooter hits a pedestrian: Likewise, if an E-scooter errantly crashes into a pedestrian, the rider is liable for any injuries sustained by the pedestrian.

– A vehicle hits an e-scooter: In this scenario, if a vehicle hits an e-scooter and was at fault, the driver of the vehicle must compensate the e-scooter rider. The driver of the vehicle can cover damages through their car insurance.


E-SCOOTER COMPANIES DO NOT CARRY ANY SORT OF LIABILITY COVERAGE FOR RENTERS. ADDITIONALLY, YOUR CAR INSURANCE GENERALLY DOES NOT COVER ANY VEHICLE WITH LESS THAN FOUR WHEELS (I.E. ELECTRIC SCOOTERS).


 


What is a Release of Liability Waiver?

A release of liability waiver is a contract in which a participant in an activity agrees not to sue the activity organizer, institution, or business owner if he or she suffers an injury. Other terms often used to describe this document include:

Release of liability

Waiver

Waiver of liability

Waiver of rights

Indemnity agreement

Assumption agreement

Hold harmless agreement

Pre-injury release

Exculpatory agreement

Assumption of risk

With no insurance coverage, the e-scooter driver takes on tremendous risk if they are found at fault in an accident.

Read Bird’s Rental Agreement/Waiver of Liability and Release here: https://www.bird.co/agreement/

 

Consequences And Injuries From Scooter Accidents

The consequences and injuries from scooter accidents can be significant. In a study conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, the most common type of CT scans ordered involved the head, face, and cervical spine. Traumatic brain injury, which includes concussion and internal bleeding, can also result from e-scooter accidents.

Asides from brain injury, here are other common injury types as a result of scooter collisions:

– Bone fractures to arms and legs

– Abrasions and lacerations to upper and lower limbs

– Nerve or ligament injuries

– Severe bleeding

In the worst-case scenario, death can also be a consequence of scooter accidents.

 

How To Avoid E-Scooter Accidents and Injuries

1. Keep your eyes on the road

2. Don’t ride on the sidewalk

3. Keep both hands on the handle bars

4. Use proper helmet – and wear the helmet at all times!

6. Inspect the scooter before you ride

7. Slow down before looking back or turning

8. Use eye protection

9. Assume that drivers in cars can not see you!

10. Don’t consume alcohol and ride a scooter

11. Use as the manual instructs

12. Don’t ride too fast

13. Avoid heavy traffic

14. Avoid pedestrians

15. Only ride by yourself

WATCH JOE’S VIDEO >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://escooternerds.com/electric-scooter-safety/

https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2021/Injuries-Using-E-Scooters-E-Bikes-and-Hoverboards-Jump-70-During-the-Past-Four-Years

How Do You Prove Future Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case?

Often, when one of our clients is hurt in a wreck, they miss working for at least a little while. Some clients who work in jobs that are physically demanding miss even more time. In the most severe cases, clients are so totally and permanently injured that they cannot ever work again.

Besides the medical costs of their injuries, clients are understandably concerned about whether they can recover their lost wages and to what extent.

Recovery For Past Lost Wages

Lost wages in the past (meaning wages for the time spent out of work from the injury to return to work) are clearly recoverable and usually easy to determine. This determination generally just requires proof of the salary or hourly wage at the time of the incident, multiplied by the number of hours, days, or weeks that the client is out of work.

Future Lost Wages

Lost wages in the future are sometimes similar. If the case involves a short-term absence from work in the future, the above factors apply—we simply ask how long the client is expected to be absent from work and their salary/wage information to make a quick determination.

However, long-term or permanent absences from work can be significantly more complicated.
Factors Such As:
The client’s age
Earning capacity
Likelihood of promotion
Long-term/permanent work restrictions

The value of the future lost wages is the difference between what the person likely would have earned if they had not been injured minus what the person can earn with their injuries and limitations. This determination should take into account all income, including retirement contributions, investment income, interest, and inflation.

How is Future Wage Loss Determined?

While the formula seems simple, a correct determination of this amount depends on many factors.

  • Does the client’s current injury make further acute injuries more likely in the future?
  • Is the client’s current injury likely to cause degenerative disease in the future?

THESE POTENTIAL FUTURE INJURIES CLEARLY HAVE A BEARING ON A CLIENT’S FUTURE WAGE LOSS. MOST OFTEN, THIS TYPE OF EVIDENCE REQUIRES EXPERT TESTIMONY.


Florida Law Requires That Lost Future Earnings:

  1. Be measured by a plaintiff’s diminished ability to earn an income in the future, not the plaintiff’s actual loss of future earnings.
  2. Be directly related to the plaintiff’s injuries; and.
  3. Supported by evidence enabling them to be reasonably calculated.

The attorneys at Zarzaur Law have the network and capability to make sure that the right expert evaluates your case.

Also, not only should your attorney consider factors like promotions, earning capacity, future injuries, and work restrictions, but they should also think about other factors that have less to do with the client themselves. Florida is a large, diverse state. A jury in Santa Rosa County may not award the same amount as a jury in Escambia County, even if the evidence they use is the exact same. Navigating the negotiation process given all these various factors is the reason you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney.

The attorneys at Zarzaur Law are experienced, personal injury attorneys. The Florida Bar, the governing body that makes rules about attorney advertisement, does not typically allow lawyers to hold themselves out as “experts.” However, the Bar does allow lawyers who have extensive experience in personal injury and tort cases to become specialists in civil trial. Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Two out of three of the lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

So, when potential clients ask us about whether or when to hire a lawyer after an accident, we remind them that only a Board-Certified civil trial lawyer is a specialist in this area of the law. Since all injury attorneys have the same “no fee no cost unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Watch the YouTube Video with Joe Zarzaur  >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

 

Sources:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-do-i-prove-future-lost-earnings-in-a-personal-injury-case.html