Category Archives: Personal Injury

How Long Will It Take To Settle My Personal Injury Case?

Very few personal injury cases (which include car accident cases) actually go to trial. Most end in a settlement with the defendant or an insurance company. Unfortunately, the time that it takes to reach a settlement is hard to predict and can vary drastically. A claim that involves substantial injuries and a significant amount of money will take longer to settle because the insurer will fight harder over it. 

A settlement may also take longer to reach if the case is complex or the liability (at fault) is unclear.

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident due to no fault of your own, and you called a personal injury lawyer like Joe Zarzaur to handle your case. It sounds simple, but is not. There are many complex issues in all personal injury cases, even those as seemingly simple as those described.

Many clients are surprised at how long it takes to resolve their car wreck case.

While it is true that the rare case is resolved in a few weeks, most are not, and sometimes take years to settle. Why?

How Much Insurance Coverage is Available?

There are certain procedures that are common in all car wreck cases. After you hire a personal injury lawyer, the first thing to do is find out the insurance details. Florida law requires insurers of Florida residents to disclose all liability coverage within 30 days of demand. While some companies provide this information more quickly, most do not. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer will send a request to your own insurance company to determine the limits of your medical coverage and also if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

This coverage protects you and allows you to make a claim for your injuries if the at-fault driver has little or no bodily injury coverage. The lawyer will also put your health insurers on notice of the claim, as they may also be responsible for paying for treatment after the no-fault (PIP or Personal Injury Protection) coverage is exhausted. This process is extremely important as the value of your claim is often determined by the insurance coverage available. It may be several weeks before your lawyer even knows how much coverage is available.

Treatment and Permanent Injury Diagnosis

If you are injured, you will start treatment with an appropriate specialist. Depending on the nature of your injury, it may be months or even years before you know the ultimate outcome of your injury. For soft tissue or whiplash-type injuries, it usually takes 6 to 9 months before the patient reaches maximum medical improvement. Clients must reach this stage of treatment before the doctor will give an opinion about the permanent injury. Under Florida law, (Florida Statute 627.737) states that you must have a permanent injury to recover from pain and suffering type damages, and you must have this opinion from a licensed physician.

The Demand and Negotiation Phase

After the extent of your injury is known, a demand is made by your lawyer on your behalf to the at-fault party’s insurance company. An experienced and board-certified trial lawyer will have the benefit of knowing the value of such cases and will know how to properly negotiate with the insurance company. Make sure your personal injury lawyer has a reputation as one who will fight to get you the most for your accident claim. Companies know that experienced trial lawyers will take a case to trial if necessary and will pay accordingly.

The negotiation phase may take weeks or months, depending on the nature of the claim along with the availability of medical records and the insurance coverage.

If the at-fault party does not have enough coverage to fairly settle your claim, and you have underinsured motorist coverage, then an additional negotiation will occur with your own insurance company.

What if Your Car Wreck Case Does Not Settle?

A small percentage of cases do not settle at the presuit stage and must be filed in court. In other words, if the insurance company is not fair with its offer, the case must move on to the litigation stage. Your lawyer will file a suit in circuit court seeking damages. This process may take many months to get these cases ultimately resolved.

Litigation Process Includes:

Discovery Phase

To determine the nature of the injuries and the value of the claim.

Mediation

The courts will require a mediation session to try and resolve the case.

Trial

If a case cannot be resolved through mediation, the case will be scheduled for trial in court.

While most cases settle before trial, it may take many months to get this done.

This is a Marathon and Not a Sprint

While your car wreck case may seem simple, even simple cases can take a long time to get resolved. Between treatment, negotiation, possible litigation, or even trial, the process can seem overwhelming. That is why you need to hire an experienced trial lawyer to handle your case.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC

 

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm has been dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defects, 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 for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Offices in Pensacola, Destin, Miami, and Tallahassee.

Sources:

https://www.flhsmv.gov/insurance/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwCo_9H0xM&list=PLnCrJ0tzzzL6mRs3arN7h5wlrAbevkMq0&index=13&t=115s

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liability_insurance.asp

https://zarzaurlaw.com/what-is-um-coverage-and-why-is-it-important/

https://www.justia.com/injury/faqs/

How Can Electronic Discovery Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

Electronic discovery, also called e-discovery, is the process of obtaining and exchanging evidence in a legal case or investigation. E-discovery is used in the initial phases of litigation when involved parties are required to provide relevant records and evidence related to a case.

Everything is discoverable and opposing counsel is entitled to information and evidence held within your electronic devices. 

Evidence On Electronic Devices 

Cell phone records provide information about what time text messages were sent which may correlate to a car crash time. It can also prove if / when someone was logged into social media accounts or other apps. Cell phone records and even Social media posts can inadvertently show the other side what you’re physically capable of doing after your injury. Let’s say you post a picture of your family hiking, the other side might ask who took the picture. If that answer is you, then there is proof that you were hiking, all the while claiming that you have an injury from your accident that prevents you from your normal activities. What you post or share can call your case into question in ways you may not be able to predict.

Unlike many other records,
wireless phone records or
call detail records (CDR) are
NOT protected by
the Stored Communications Act
and are not protected by the
Fourth Amendment.

They can be obtained via subpoena or by request of the account holder via a notarized letter.

What Should You Do (or not do)?

If you’re bringing a personal injury claim in Florida, don’t post anything personal on social media. If you absolutely must use social media, limit your social media use to liking other people’s posts and sharing news articles. Ask your friends and family to also limit any discussion about your injuries or case on social media or via text messages on your cell phone. Even the most seemingly innocent comment or photo can be used in court and possibly complicate and impact your personal injury case.

What Is Discovery?

The term “discovery” is used to describe the pre-trial process of exchanging information between parties to a lawsuit.

Discovery enables litigants to compel adversaries to turn over evidence in their possession before trial. 

For the most part, discovery is a formal process that exists in both civil and criminal cases and takes place outside the courtroom.

What’s The Purpose Of Discovery?

Discovery was designed to prevent a situation where one side doesn’t learn of the other side’s evidence or witnesses until the trial, at which point there’s no time to obtain respondent evidence.

To put it simply, discovery levels the playing field by making all information relevant to the case available to both sides. The hope is that, when parties have access to the same information, the outcome of the case will be decided based on the merits of the case rather than on which party has the most information.

The Basis for Electronic Discovery in Florida State Courts 

In their current form, the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure do not directly accommodate the discovery of electronic data. 6 However, Rule 1.280(b)(1) does state “parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action….”7 Rule 1.350(a) also provides that “[a]ny party may request any other party to… inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things that constitute matters within the scope of Rule 1.280(b)….”8 In 1996, the Fourth District in Strasser v. Yalamanchi, 669 So. 2d 1142 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996), held that both Rules 1.280 and 1.350 are sufficiently broad to include the discovery of electronic materials relevant to the underlying dispute. 9 Subsequently, other courts have found the Florida rules not only allow for the discovery of a party’s electronic data, but also a third party’s data. 10 As long as the files are “readily available” in the electronic form to the producing party, a requesting party may obtain the underlying electronic data (also known as native files) through a discovery request.11 However, such a request should be appropriately tailored to seek relevant electronic materials and not constitute a mere fishing expedition. 12

How Does The E-Discovery Process Work?

The process of discovery begins when a lawsuit appears imminent and ends when digital evidence is presented in court. Attorneys from both sides will determine the scope of e-discovery.

The following is a simple description of the e-discovery process:

Identification. ESI is identified by attorneys. E-discovery requests and challenges are made.

Preservation. Data that is identified as potentially relevant is placed under legal hold so it cannot be destroyed. Failure to preserve data will lead to sanctions and fines if the lost data puts the defense at a disadvantage.

Collection. Data is transferred from a company to legal counsel. The legal counsel determines the data’s relevance.

Processing. Files are loaded onto a review platform. Data is usually converted into a PDF (Portable Document Format) or TIFF (Tag Image File Format) for court.

Review. The review process assesses documents for privilege and responsiveness to discovery requests.

Production. Documents are exchanged with opposing counsel.

Legal Issues With E-Discovery

E-discovery is an evolving field that goes far beyond just technology. It can give rise to many legal, constitutional, political, security, and personal data privacy issues.

Proper E-Discovery Requires A Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert

An experienced Board Certified Professional will produce the correct document files, reviewed by the legal team, and ready for trial. Alex Jones, Trial Lawyer, is a good example of what NOT to do for your client. It was unfortunate and entirely preventable. A competent attorney should be able to know how to acquire, review, and produce the correct records without compromising the client’s privacy. Florida law recognizes a right to privacy, and courts are supposed to weigh and balance the competing interests in protecting personal information with the need to discover relevant evidence—evidence that could be critical in determining fault.

Make sure you hire a board-certified civil trial lawyer like Joe Zarzaur, for your personal injury case. Only about 1% of Florida lawyers are board certified and only a handful of lawyers have the same board certifications as Mr. Zarzaur. 

The firm also has attorneys who are AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell & have been named Florida Super Lawyers®

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Topic >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm has been dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defects, 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 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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/discovery-in-personal-injury.html

https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/electronic-discovery-in-florida/

https://www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/electronic-discovery-e-discovery-or-ediscovery

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/alex-jones-lawyers-accidentally-leak-years-emails-infowars-financial-d-rcna41378

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Taxable In Florida?

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Taxable In FloridaAt Zarzaur Law, we do get a lot of clients asking at the end of their case if their personal injury compensation is taxable. Normally, the compensation you receive for the physical pain and suffering associated with your car accident (or other type of accident that caused personal injury) and attendant injuries is not taxable. This compensation is considered to align with your compensation for medical expenses and, therefore, avoid tax liability. These personal injury awards are reportable, but not taxable.

While we are lawyers and not accountants, we always advise our clients to seek the advice of a tax professional with questions in regards to income from a settlement.

Below is some basic information to help answer this question.

Personal Injury Damages That Can Be Compensated For And Not Taxable Include:

Medical expenses 
Physical and mental pain and suffering
Permanent injuries and impairments

Handling Your Medical Expenses

According to an article by Picnic Tax, the tax treatment of settlements received for an injury depends on how you handle your medical expenses. If you did not deduct any medical expenses related to your physical injury on previous tax returns, the settlement money you receive is not taxable. The IRS won’t allow you to double-dip, however. If you deducted medical expenses related to your injury during the previous year, part of your settlement is taxable.

An Example:

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident in 2020. As a result of the accident, you required surgery that cost $30,000. You paid the hospital bill in 2020 and deducted $30,000 from your income taxes as a medical expense. In 2021, the lawsuit related to your accident was settled, and you received $50,000 for your physical injuries to cover both past and potential future medical expenses. In this case, $30,000 of your settlement is taxable and $20,000 isn’t.

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress settlements related to your physical injuries aren’t taxable. In the car accident example, if you were unable to work for several months after your accident and had subsequent surgery, you were also unable to enjoy life as you normally would. This resulted in severe depression and emotional distress. In this case, your emotional distress settlement isn’t taxable because the distress was the direct result of your injuries.

However, compensation for emotional distress only, without a physical injury, may be taxable. 

Questions To Ask A Tax Professional About Your Injury Settlement

If you are concerned that your Florida injury settlement could have a negative effect on your finances come tax time.

Ask questions such as:

  • What type of information and documentation do you need from me?
  • Is any of the money I received taxable?
  • How does the IRS determine what is and isn’t taxable?
  • What impact does the injury settlement have on other taxes that I may have to pay?

A Florida tax professional can answer these questions, among others, to ensure that you’re making safe financial decisions.

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.

If you’ve been in 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.

Are Legal Settlements Taxable? Tax Implications of Settlements and Judgments

https://www.irs.gov/government-entities/tax-implications-of-settlements-and-judgments

What If I Lose My Job During My Injury Case? 

Personal injuries caused by an accident that was due to no fault of their own, can have significant effects on every aspect of a client’s life.  In many personal injury cases, these effects can include an impact on a person’s job or career.  The loss of a job means the loss of income for the injured person and those who rely on him/her.   Like every other item of damages associated with a traumatic injury, clients want to know whether wage losses or job losses are the types of damages that are available as part of a personal injury case.

Wage Loss And Accident Injury Connection

The key to whether such damages are recoverable in a personal injury case depends upon how much and what type of evidence you have which connects the wage loss to the injury.  For example, if you miss wages as a result of your personal injury (such as a car accident injury), then you must connect your injury or treatment to the wage loss. 

This can be done by showing the following:
1. Your medical appointments required an absence from work.

2. Your treating doctor restricted you from working and it is notated in a medical record. 

Either of these situations can be demonstrated by reference to the medical records or medical appointments. 

What About Job Loss Due To Injury?

Some clients not only miss wages as a result of their personal injuries but end up losing their jobs.  It may appear to be unfair that an employer in Florida can fire you for an injury that you did not cause.  Unless the injury was suffered while working (workers’ compensation injury), the employer has the right to terminate most employees for any reason, including their physical limitations that result from a traumatic injury.  Business owners can work with clients, but most will only tolerate absences and limited work performance for so long before they determine that it is no longer in their best interest to keep you employed.  

Obviously, if your employer can find some position that will allow you to continue your employment, that would be best for you.  If, however, your employer doesn’t have any roles that are less physically demanding  you may find yourself without a job and without an income while you are recovering from the injury. 

Proper Documentation And Proof Of Termination Due To Injury

Lose My Job During My Injury CaseIn order to be able to recover for wage loss associated with any personal injury case, you have to have evidence that connects your wage loss to the injury-causing event.  This means that your termination or resignation should be documented in a way that connects your injury to your inability to work.  These documents should reference a superior at your former employer so that you have not only a document as evidence but a witness that can be called to verify the basis of the termination/resignation.  Ideally, if you can coordinate your departure from employment while your injury case is pending, you and your personal injury lawyer can make it clear for evidentiary purposes. 

For instance, you and your personal injury lawyer can discuss the wording of the resignation letter or the termination notice and make sure that it references your absences since the injury, otherwise you would have remained gainfully employed.  

Mitigating Your Lost Wages

Once you are without a job, it is important that you just don’t give up on making money.  The law will require that you “mitigate” your lost wage damages.  Just like the law requires that you seek medical treatment for your physical injuries, the law also requires that you try and find a replacement source of wages.  This means only that you must make reasonable efforts to find a replacement source of income.  This does not mean that you have to find a job but it certainly means that you have to use reasonable efforts to find any job that you are physically able to do that could replace some of the lost wages. 

So, as you can see, losing a job while you are dealing with your personal injury case is not a simple business.  It is complicated and deserves the attention of a law firm that has professionals working for you and your family.  If you have questions about any personal injury matter, which would include a serious car accident injury, please feel free to reach out to zarzaurlaw.com or call our firm at 855HireJoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS SUBJECT

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 in 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.

Alex Jones Trial: Lessons Learned About E-Discovery

Mobile phones have played a supporting role in eDiscovery in civil cases, while testimonials and data from laptops, social media, and emails have provided more concrete evidence used to defend and try cases.

Over the years, there has been a significant shift in legal matters involving discovery and, more specifically, eDiscovery. Mobile phones and text messages have become an integral part of the litigation process. However, there is so much personal data that could be a liability if produced without going through the proper discovery process.

Alex Jones Legal Team Critical Errors

Making crucial errors in eDiscovery can prove detrimental to both lawyers and their clients. There is no better example of this than in the case of the Sandy Hook parents, who won a $49.3 million judgment, including $45.2 million in punitive damages, against Alex Jones, the InfoWars founder, and commentator.

Alex Jones was ordered to pay $4.1 Million in compensatory damages to Sandy Hook parents and $45 million in punitive damages for claiming the massacre was staged.

Alex Jones’ lawyers accidentally turned over an electronic file containing approximately two years of text messages to trial evidence. Jones’ attorneys inadvertently gave the parents’ lawyer, Mark Bankston, the entire digital copy of Alex Jones’ mobile phone with every text message that had been sent for the past two years. 

What Does ‘eDiscovery’ Mean In Law?

Electronic discovery, also called e-discovery, is the process of obtaining and exchanging evidence in a legal case or investigation. E-discovery is used in the initial phases of litigation when involved parties are required to provide relevant records and evidence related to a case.

How Does The E-Discovery Process Work?

The process of discovery begins when a lawsuit appears imminent and ends when digital evidence is presented in court. Attorneys from both sides will determine the scope of e-discovery. The following is a simple description of the e-discovery process:

Identification.
ESI is identified by attorneys. E-discovery requests and challenges are made.

Preservation.
Data that is identified as potentially relevant is placed under legal hold so it cannot be destroyed. Failure to preserve data will lead to sanctions and fines if the lost data puts the defense at a disadvantage.

Collection.
Data is transferred from a company to legal counsel. The legal counsel determines the data’s relevance.

Processing.
Files are loaded onto a review platform. Data is usually converted into a PDF (Portable Document Format) or TIFF (Tag Image File Format) for court.

Review.
The review process assesses documents for privilege and responsiveness to discovery requests.

Production. Documents are exchanged with opposing counsel.

Legal Issues With E-Discovery

E-discovery is an evolving field that goes far beyond just technology. It can give rise to many legal, constitutional, political, security, and personal data privacy issues.

Proper E-Discovery Requires A Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert

An experienced Board Certified Professional will produce the correct document files, reviewed by the legal team, and ready for trial.

Alex Jones, Trial Lawyer, is a good example of what NOT to do for your client. It was unfortunate and entirely preventable.

A competent attorney should be able to know how to acquire, review, and produce the correct records without compromising the client’s privacy. Florida law recognizes a right to privacy, and courts are supposed to weigh and balance the competing interests in protecting personal information with the need to discover relevant evidence—evidence that could be critical in determining fault.

Make sure you hire a board-certified civil trial lawyer for your personal injury case. Only about 1% of Florida lawyers are board certified and only a handful of lawyers have the same board certifications as Mr. Zarzaur. 

The firm also has attorneys who are AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell & have been named Florida Super Lawyers®

Watch Our 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.

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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/electronic-discovery-e-discovery-or-ediscovery

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/alex-jones-lawyers-accidentally-leak-years-emails-infowars-financial-d-rcna41378

Why Hiring An Experienced Trial Lawyer Is Important For Your Personal Injury Case.

While only about one percent of personal injury cases are resolved by trial, the prospect of a trial has a significant impact on the case, particularly its value. If a personal injury case cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation, the case will go to trial and a jury will hear the evidence, apply the law as instructed by the judge, and decide the case.

The lawyer representing a plaintiff injured in an accident must be ready, willing, and able to actually try their client’s case should it be necessary. That lawyer must be an experienced trial lawyer, not just a personal injury lawyer.

Not All Personal Injury Lawyers Are Trial Lawyers.

Trial lawyers pursue specialized training in client advocacy and have more experience in the courtroom than other attorneys who typically deal with out-of-court settlements. If your case is likely to go to trial or you simply want to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to seek out a board-certified trial attorney in the practice area of your case; this ensures that you are prepared with a highly experienced representative if the case is taken all the way to court and may even serve as a deterrent for low settlement offers from a defendant that wants to avoid a lengthy and difficult trial process.

Your trial lawyer will not settle or pressure you to take an offer that is not in your best interest. The insurance adjuster will tell you that you do not need a lawyer, that it will cost you more than it is worth, and that it will be rare. Don’t fall for this strategy. They do not have your best interests at heart and only want to settle as cheaply as possible. You have an absolute right to consult with an attorney, and you should consult with an experienced attorney to get the best advice. Going to trial is sometimes necessary, and oftentimes, you need to go through with filing a lawsuit to show the other side that you are serious.

Trial Lawyers Are Prepared To Go To Court At Any Time.

Some attorneys may be more likely to settle out of court than take a case to trial; this isn’t necessarily bad, as many cases can be settled fairly outside of court. However, hiring an attorney with no trial experience could make them more likely to settle for a lower number out of court than you could have received in a jury trial.

For personal injury cases, hiring a trial lawyer does not necessarily cost any more than hiring another attorney, but may result in a larger payout if a successful verdict is won. Additionally, trial lawyers will often collect different types of evidence than those collected by other attorneys, as some types of evidence might be more important to have in the event of courtroom litigation.

Trial Lawyers Have More Experience In The Courtroom.

Courtroom litigation differs significantly from out-of-court negotiations like those conducted to reach a settlement. Client advocacy in the courtroom requires not only a strong understanding of trial procedure but the ability to present evidence and arguments clearly and eloquently before a judge and jury; some attorneys may have more experience with this than others.

If you are dealing with a catastrophic injury case or an uncooperative defendant, it may be hard to negotiate a fair settlement without going to court. In this case, having a trial attorney who has spent a good deal of their career in the courtroom, knows the judges, and is confident in presenting evidence to a jury may give you a better chance at success than an attorney who spends more time out of court than in.

Some Insurance Companies Keep Track Of Successful Trial Lawyers To Avoid Drawn-Out Legal Battles.

It may surprise you to learn that some defendants (insurance companies) that frequently find personal injury claims brought against them keep track of successful trial attorneys in the area. If the defendant or opposing counsel is familiar with your attorney’s track record for success and fearlessness in the courtroom, they could be far more likely to make a strong settlement offer upfront rather than risk an equally high verdict on top of additional legal costs in trial.

It Doesn’t Cost Any More To Hire An Experienced Civil Trial Lawyer.

Hiring a trial attorney does not necessarily cost more than hiring another attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency, which means clients don’t pay unless and until they win their case; this rule of thumb applies to trial lawyers as well as other personal injury lawyers, allowing injured parties and their families to benefit from the strength and experience of a trial attorney without paying exorbitant out-of-pocket costs.

In This Business, The Jury Trial Experience Of Your Personal Injury Lawyer Matters.

Trial experience with big jury verdicts matters to the insurance company on the other side of the case, and it should matter to you. If the lawyer handling your case has substantial trial experience, it will matter and affect the value of your case. However, if, on the other hand, the lawyer handling your case does not have substantial jury trial experience with big verdicts, it will also affect your case. Many larger firms will attract you with a senior lawyer’s credentials and then, once you sign with them, your case will be handled by a lower level lawyer without experience with jury trials and verdicts.

At Zarzaur Law, we only take quality cases so that Joe Zarzaur can be the primary personal injury lawyer. Mr. Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer and has recorded jury verdicts in both Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties in injury cases. He obtained a 9.3 million dollar verdict from an Escambia County jury and had a 2.5 million dollar verdict from a Santa Rosa County jury. These were both injury cases that did not involve death. Only about 1% of Florida lawyers are board certified, and between Pensacola and Panama City, only a handful of lawyers have the same board certifications as Mr. Zarzaur.

Watch Our 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. 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 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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

 

Source:

https://www.askthelawyers.com/read-article/what-is-a-trial-lawyer

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.