Tag Archives: Best personal injury lawyer in Pensacola

Car Accident And Injury Caused By A Careless Driver Without A Vehicle Collision: Do You Have A Case?

Many times, car wreck victims are injured and even killed by careless drivers who never actually make contact with their vehicle.


The question then comes from these victims or their families: is there a legal case against the other driver even when there is no actual contact between the vehicles?

The short answer is “Yes, you may still have a case.”


Forced Off The Road By A Careless Driver

Often, careless “phantom” drivers force other drivers to suddenly change direction or force victims off the road. These sudden changes often result in the victim’s car being forced into opposing traffic or even a fixed object like an embankment or bridge pillar. This type of collision can be quite violent and can easily cause significant injury or death.

“Phantom Drivers” are all too real and all too dangerous. The problem is that a phantom driver leaves behind very little evidence, leaving you in a position where you have to prove someone else was at fault for your accident. 

Evidentiary Proof

The evidentiary proof is extremely important in these cases since, most of the time, the at-fault driver may not even remain at the scene. Usually, these at-fault drivers cause the victim to change their direction of travel, which results in a collision with another car or structure. The driver causing the chain of events will typically stop and observe, and then when they realize there was no impact with their vehicle, but they also appreciate the severity of the event, they will leave the scene.

They feel justified in leaving since there is no impact. The lack of impact, however, doesn’t lessen their responsibility for causing the event. It only makes it harder to prove the case. This is where an experienced Florida car wreck lawyer and a car wreck law firm come into play.

Law firms with vast car wreck case experience will have immediate access to resources like investigators and crash scene evidence investigation tools that make the identification of “phantom” careless drivers much more likely.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are commonly involved in these types of accidents since they are smaller in size and much more likely to go unnoticed. Motorcycle drivers are forced in these situations to “lay down” their bikes, which can cause serious injuries or death as they skid with their bikes across pavement and, many times, can collide with fixed objects or other traffic.


In 2021, there were 8,575,569 registered on-road motorcycles in the United States, approximately double the number (4,320,807) in 2002. (IIHS, 2021)


If you or a loved one was injured or killed by a vehicle that did not make contact with any vehicle but was the cause of the accident, please feel free to contact our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


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.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-highway-safety

https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/

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

COVID-19 and Florida Medical Malpractice Cases.

All of us can easily recall the sight of healthcare workers braving the threat of the pandemic to care for the sick and dying. As a country, we were all cheering for our healthcare workers and thankful for their dedication to their professions. At the same time, many state legislatures were busy passing laws that they knew would likely garner public support. 

The Florida legislature, with a Republican majority, was no exception to this desire for attention. When politicians want attention, they think of laws that they can champion that will let them share in the spotlight that is rightfully focused on the healthcare industry.

Civil Immunity From COVID-Related Lawsuits

Florida Republicans decided to pass a COVID-19 medical malpractice law that basically insulated healthcare workers from being sued for malpractice if the matter was related to a COVID-19 diagnosis or treatment. The Florida legislature did in fact pass Florida Statute Section 768.38 Liability Protections for COVID-19 Related Claims.

Complexity And Expense Of A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

First of all, as Zarzaur Law pointed out in several videos during the height of the virus in 2020, medical malpractice lawsuits are already incredibly expensive and difficult to prosecute and win in Florida, even in the absence of this new COVID-19 statute. As we have discussed in many blogs and vlogs before, medical malpractice statutes in Florida make the pursuit of any medical malpractice case expensive and time-consuming.

Generally, the pursuit of a medical malpractice case will cost approximately $100,000.00–$300,000.00 in out-of-pocket expenses to prosecute. No law firm or lawyer in their right mind would ever decide to spend this amount of money on a case that they did not feel they had a better than average chance of winning.

This is why most every medical malpractice case generally requires that the injury be catastrophic or result in death before law firms can even consider handling the case. This is true even in the most egregious cases of medical recklessness.

Liability And The Jury

Obviously, before any health care provider is found liable for negligence, a jury would have to conclude that they were negligent. No jury, we would contend, would find any healthcare worker caring for COVID patients during the pandemic liable for anything short of intentional murder. No jury would ever conclude that a medical provider was negligent for giving care in the midst of the pandemic. For this reason, we feel that passing laws that make it harder is really a solution in search of a problem.

Non-COVID Patients And The Pandemic

However unnecessary we may think it is, Florida now has a statute that makes it nearly impossible to sue a healthcare provider for COVID-related issues. Setting aside all potential medical negligence cases that are related to COVID diagnosis or treatment, the COVID statute also protects healthcare providers rendering NON-COVID care if their negligence was directly related to the COVID pandemic.

So, this allows healthcare providers to argue that non-COVID patient negligence was related to the COVID pandemic, and if so, the healthcare worker will be able to use the statute to shield himself/herself/itself from liability.

Practically, this is how that may play out. A cardiac patient is not cared for properly and dies while an inpatient at the hospital. The hospital could attempt and argue that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t able to provide the amount of care that it would otherwise have provided. This argument could be used to try and use this statute as protection from responsibility.

The section of the statute dealing with these indirect issues reads as follows: “An act of omission with respect to an emergency medical condition… and which act or omission was the result of a lack of resources directly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;”  § 738.38(d)(5) Florida Statutes.

The challenge for the healthcare provider would be to show that the misfeasance was “directly related” to the COVID-19 pandemic. This causation element would likely involve fact issues that would need to be determined by the fact-finder in a case, but if found to exist, would allow healthcare workers to avoid liability for negligence associated with non-COVID patients.

This is obviously a dangerous and expansive argument, but it very well could be used by defendants to try and escape liability for culpable conduct. If you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice and you desire to have a FREE CONSULTATION with a firm that has a medical doctor on full-time staff, please feel free to reach out to our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO WITH JOE ZARZAUR & DR. EVAN MALONE >


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.

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 5 – Your Car Wreck and Personal Injury Protection.

What is personal injury protection (PIP), or no-fault coverage? There are only 13 states in the United States that require every driver to purchase and maintain personal injury protection coverage.

Florida is one of those 13 states. Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage, which is also known as “no-fault” coverage. This coverage is personal and it insures the policyholder for the benefit of the policy.

What Does “No-Fault” Mean?

The term “no-fault” indicates that you do not have to prove fault in order to get this PIP benefit. The $10,000 PIP benefit is available to you if you are involved in a wreck. The money can be accessed in one of two ways.

How Does PIP Work?

Medical Care – First, all medical providers that treat you following a wreck can bill the car insurance company directly. The insurance company will pay 80% of any bills submitted to them for car wreck-related treatment.

Lost Wages – The other item that can properly be paid by pip benefits is lost wages. PIP coverage will reimburse you for 60% of lost wages. To gain access to this wage loss benefit under PIP, you have to fill out a PIP loss form. This lost wage form can be obtained from your PIP adjuster who works for your car insurance company.

Emergency Medical Condition

Florida car wreck laws limit your pip recovery to $2,500 and prevent you from receiving the full $10,000 benefit. It is important that you have this EMC (emergency medical condition) diagnosis so that you can take full advantage of the PIP benefits under your car insurance policy.

Florida Car Wreck Laws and How It Affects Your Car Wreck Case

In return for the PIP benefits, the insurance company got protection from lawsuits. Florida car wreck laws (as well as other states that have PIP laws) prohibit cases against negligent drivers until you have been shown to have a permanent injury. So, the trade-off is this. You as a driver will be granted pip benefits without much resistance from the insurance companies, but you will forfeit your right to sue the other driver unless you have been diagnosed with a permanent injury.

The definition of “permanent injury” is not exactly clear, and you certainly can have a permanent injury without having a fracture or requiring surgery. Since this “permanent injury” item is a legal term, it requires legal analysis under your specific facts. If you have questions about a Florida car wreck injury or PIP coverage, you can find us at zarzaurlaw.com or 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON PIP COVERAGE >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


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.

Women’s History Month: Madeleine Albright – First Female Secretary of State

Madeleine AlbrightMadeleine Korbel Albright, sworn in as the 64th United States Secretary of State in 1997, after unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, became the first female Secretary of State and the highest ranking woman in the United States government. As Secretary of State and as U.S. representative to the United Nations before that, she created policies and institutions to help guide the world into a new century of peace and prosperity.

Achievements

Concentrating on a bipartisan approach to U.S. foreign policy, she attempted to create a consensus on the need for U.S. leadership and engagement in the world. Among her achievements were ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention and progress toward stability in Eastern and Central Europe.

Albright dedicated her life to international study. After receiving her B.A. at Wellesley College, she studied international relations at Johns Hopkins University before earning her M.A. and Ph.D. at Columbia University. Before her appointment as Secretary of State, she had a diverse career.

A Diverse Career

Albright was Sen. Edward Muskie’s Chief Legislative Assistant; a Woodrow Wilson fellow; president of the Center for National Policy, a nonprofit research organization; and Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Women in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. During President Clinton’s first term, Albright served as the United States’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of Clinton’s National Security Council.

International Relations

As a refugee whose family fled Czechoslovakia, first from the Nazis and later from the Communists, Albright represents the highest ideals and aspirations of immigrants who come to America seeking to make major contributions to our society. As a leader in international relations, she has helped change the course of history and, in so doing, has also set a new standard for American women and for women around the world.

After the election of U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1992, Albright’s political star began to rise, and Clinton named her ambassador to the United Nations in 1993. At the UN she gained a reputation for tough-mindedness as a fierce advocate for American interests, and she promoted an increased role for the United States in UN operations, particularly those with a military component. Her nomination to the position of secretary of state was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 1997.

Champion of Democracy and Human Rights

During her tenure in office, Albright remained a proponent of military intervention and a forceful champion of both democracy and human rights. Notably, in 1999 she pushed for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombings in Yugoslavia to halt the ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo by Yugoslav and Serbian forces. The Kosovo conflict, which some came to call Madeleine’s War, ended after 11 weeks of air strikes, when Yugoslavia agreed to NATO’s terms. Albright was also involved in efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear program, and in 2000 she became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country. However, her talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il failed to produce a deal.

The Albright Group

At the end of Bill Clinton’s second term in 2001, Albright left government service and founded the Albright Group, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. She later supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential bids in 2008 and 2016. In the latter campaign, Albright drew criticism when she said that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” a sentiment she had often expressed over several decades. However, some believed she was implying that gender was the only consideration when choosing a candidate, and she later clarified her comments.

After leaving the Secretary of State post in 2001, she authored several bestsellers, launched a private investment fund, and provided global strategy consulting. In 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Drawn To Public Service

Before Dr. Albright, the inner sanctum of U.S. foreign policymaking had been an almost exclusively male domain. In many ways, her politically fraught early life — enduring Nazi and communist repression — impelled her rise to the highest levels of international politics.

Her family, which was Jewish, narrowly avoided extermination at the hands of the Nazis. They fled to England shortly after Hitler’s tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia in 1938.

“I had this feeling that there but for the grace of God, we might have been dead,” Dr. Albright said much later. She said that she was drawn to public service to “repay the fact that I was a free person.”

Her ascent in the foreign policy establishment reflected the traditional roles of women in the 1950s and 1960s and her ambition, which was influenced by the nascent feminist movement that encouraged women to pursue professional careers.

Madeleine K. Albright, who came to the United States as an 11-year-old political refu­gee from Czechoslovakia and decades later was an ardent and effective advocate against mass atrocities in Eastern Europe while serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the first female secretary of state, died March 23 in Washington. She was 84.

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:

Albright, Madeleine Korbel

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/madeline-albright-dead-/2022/03/23/e527816e-8cf5-11e3-95dd-36ff657a4dae_story.html

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Madeleine-Albright

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 4 – Why Does It Matter If You Elect To Purchase Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida is the sixth-highest state with the most uninsured drivers, at 20.4 percent. Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist insurance kicks in to cover the costs of being involved in a car accident when the other driver has little or no insurance.

What is UM Coverage And Why Should You Have It?

This is obviously a concerning fact when you consider that most people have the minimum amount of insurance coverage and it seems that those drivers are the ones that cause most of the car wrecks in Florida. This again means that you should always purchase as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as you can afford.  This coverage is also known as “UM” or “UIM” coverage.

The reason UM coverage is so important is that it functions just like the injury coverage bought by the at-fault driver. So, if you are in a wreck and the at-fault driver is like most in Florida and has either no coverage or a small amount of coverage and your injuries are serious, then UM coverage will provide coverage for the other driver’s negligence.

We have written and spoken at some length about the necessity of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage. The basis for this advice is that most drivers in Florida have only the minimum required insurance.  This means that most drivers have ZERO coverage for car wreck victim injuries, and this is completely legal. In Florida, you are only required by law to have $10,000.00 in property damage liability coverage and $10,000.00 in personal injury protection coverage (which is coverage that pays for the policyholder’s car wreck-related injuries).

So, most Florida drivers will have no coverage for the injuries they cause to you and your loved ones. It is imperative that you secure the most uninsured motorist coverage that you can afford.

Stacked vs. Non-Stacked Coverage

Since we have covered the basis for uninsured motorist coverage, we now should discuss how “stacked” uninsured motorist coverage works. So, when you elect to have uninsured motorist coverage, you are also going to be given the option to have “stacked” or “non-stacked” uninsured motorist coverage.

Stacked

Stacked insurance essentially increases the amount of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage dependent on the number of vehicles insured. In Florida, drivers have the option to stack policies within one policy or across multiple policies.

An example of stacking across multiple policies:

Assume you have two separate insurance policies for two different cars, and each has $60,000 of UM bodily injury (UMBI) coverage. If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and choose to stack your coverage, you can increase the limit to $120,000 to cover medical and/or property payments in excess of the $60,000 policy limit, assuming both vehicles are registered in your name.

An example of stacking within one policy:

Assume you have four cars each with $40,000 of UMBI coverage. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you will be able to combine the coverage of all three vehicles under the policy, giving you $160,000 in coverage instead of just $40,000 for one car.

Non-Stacked

If, however, you buy uninsured motorist but elect to have “non-stacking” coverage or you only have one car in your household, then purchasing $100,000.00 will result in you having only $100,000.00 in coverage. This is true even if you have multiple cars in the same family.

There is an additional premium for “stacked” uninsured motorist coverage, but relatively speaking, the cost is quite minimal considering the large difference in the amount of coverage that is provided if you are in a situation where you need to utilize that amount of coverage. Stacked insurance essentially increases the amount of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage dependent on the number of vehicles insured. 

In Florida, drivers have the option to stack policies within one policy or across multiple policies.

The Pros and Cons of Stacking Coverage:

Pros:

You have higher coverage limits after an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver without raising your liability limits.

Cons:

Results in higher monthly premiums.

However, keep in mind that if you can afford to pay the higher premium, in the long run, if you were to get into an accident with an uninsured driver, it would be much more beneficial than paying out of pocket for all the incurred expenses.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >


If you have questions about UM/UIM coverage as it relates to your Florida automobile policy, you can contact us on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or call 855Hirejoe.

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.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists

How Does A Personal Injury Civil Trial Work In Florida? Part I: Pre-Trial Hearings And Jury Selection.

Personal Injury Civil Trial
A courtroom jury box

While most personal injury cases settle in the pre-suit phase, a small percentage of 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 I – Jury Selection and Pre-Trial Hearings

Pre-Trial Hearings

In order to get a trial date, the plaintiff or defendant must file a motion to have the court set for trial. This is usually filed after the case has gone through discovery, and the courts will always require mediation before setting a trial date. The actual trial date depends on the judges’ calendar. Certain weeks during the year are reserved for civil trials.

After a trial is set, the judge will require the parties to satisfy certain pre-trial requirements and file pre-trial pleadings. These issues are discussed and resolved during a pre-trial conference, which is also set by the judge. At this conference, the judge will resolve pre-trial legal disputes and often get involved in settlement discussions.

Pre-trial Procedures in Civil Cases

Suits begin with the filing of a complaint in the proper court. The person filing the suit is often referred to as the plaintiff, while the person or entity against whom the case is filed is often referred to as the defendant. In some areas of the law, such as domestic relations, the person filing the complaint is the petitioner, and the person against whom the case is filed is the respondent.

The complaint states the plaintiff’s version of the facts, the legal theory under which the case is brought (negligence, for example), and asks for certain damages or other relief. The plaintiff also files with the court clerk a request that a summons (or notice) be issued to the defendant. In many jurisdictions, the summons will be served by a deputy sheriff or special process server. In other jurisdictions, it may be served by mail. It notifies the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him or her.

After being notified, the defendant has a certain period of time to file an answer admitting or denying the allegations made in the complaint.

If the case is not resolved, the jury trial process will commence, usually a few weeks after the pre-trial conference.

The Juror Selection Process, or “Voir Dire”

Personal injury cases may be decided by juries or by judges. The parties must elect the trier of fact when filing their initial pleadings, either in the complaint (filed by the injured party) or the answer (filed by the defendant). If a jury trial is not demanded, the case will be decided by a judge.

If the case involves a jury trial, the jury will decide the issues and award damages if appropriate. 

Where Do The Jurors Come From? 

The clerk of the court randomly picks a number of citizens from the state’s driver’s license records and summons them to court to participate in the process. This is usually called “jury duty.” In this process, groups of potential jurors are taken into a courtroom for jury selection. If they are selected by the attorneys, they will decide the case at issue.

During jury selection, the court and the lawyers will ask questions of the potential jurors to determine if they should be chosen as jurors.

The questions generally concern knowledge of:

The parties or witnesses

Prior jury experience

Prior lawsuit or claim experience

Whether the juror can be fair in the specific case

There are complex court rules that govern this process, and the ultimate goal is to select a fair and unbiased jury to decide the issues in the case. In Florida civil trials, a jury must have 6 members and at least one alternate, who will participate in the verdict if one of the first 6 jurors cannot. For lengthier trials, there may be more alternate jurors. The jurors are not told the identity of the alternate until deliberations begin. After the jurors are chosen, they are sworn in by the judge, and the trial can begin. Jury selection generally takes the better part of the day, and in certain cases, it may take much longer. The jury selection process is extremely important and is governed by court rules to ensure a fair jury.

While Every Case In Florida Is Different, Most Personal Injury Cases Follow These Steps:

  • Filing suit. The first document filed in most personal injury lawsuits is called the “complaint.” The filing of the complaint effectively begins the lawsuit.
  • Discovery. Once the initial pleadings (complaint, summons, answer, counterclaim, etc.) have been filed, the parties begin the process of obtaining evidence from each other. This process is called “discovery.” The idea behind the discovery is that both parties should have access to all relevant information.
  • Depositions. A deposition is the taking of an oral statement of a witness under oath, before trial. It has two purposes: To find out what the witness knows and to preserve that witness’ testimony. The intent is to allow the parties to learn all of the facts before the trial so that no one is surprised at trial.
  • Expert witnesses. If the defendant denies liability for the accident or protests the amount of damages, it may be necessary to bring in expert witnesses. An expert witness is a person with specialized skill sets whose opinion may help a jury make sense of the factual evidence of a case.
  • Settlement negotiations. Settlement negotiations occur during mediation. Plaintiffs, defendants, and their attorneys gather outside of the courtroom to talk through the issues and try to agree on a monetary value. If the parties agree to settlement negotiation, the parties will sign the agreement, and it will act as a contract. If the two parties can not agree, the case will go to trial.
  • Trial. A trial can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the case.

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

Wrongful Death Series Part 10: How Is A Private Forensic Autopsy Different From A Medical Examiner Investigation?

In regards to a potential Florida Wrongful Death case, the case may require a private autopsy to be performed to ensure that critical evidence is collected and analyzed.

A private autopsy is one performed for a fee and usually paid for by a law firm investigating a potential wrongful death case, usually as part of a potential medical malpractice case. The private autopsy is usually performed by a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist who will have no connection to any potential defendant in the case and is usually geographically distant from the county where the case arises. This ensures objectivity on behalf of the examiner and increases the credibility of the eventual court case.

The private autopsy typically follows the investigation conducted by the medical examiner, which did not involve the performance of an autopsy. Meaning, the medical examiner was able to certify the cause and manner of death based upon investigative input from factors other than the autopsy.

A private autopsy may be pursued by the deceased’s personal representative if there is additional question or concern about the cause of death as it relates to the mechanism of injury, illness, or medical intervention. A private autopsy is generally performed by a forensic pathologist specifically trained in this field, akin to a medical examiner.


A medical examiner can perform autopsies and is appointed, not elected. Forensic pathology specifically focuses on determining the cause of death by examining a body.


The Private Autopsy Will Include Exhaustive Documentation Of The Following:

– Chain of custody of the human remains

– Photographic documentation of all aspects of the gross and microscopic evaluation of the human remains

–  Explicit labeling and preparation of tissue or fluid samples intended for further laboratory analysis

The Forensic Pathologist will prepare a full report of the findings that summarizes all aspects of the autopsy process (gross description, microscopic evaluation, toxicologic assays) as well as the cause and manner of death supported by such findings.

It is almost required for any successful medical malpractice case that the plaintiff in a Florida Wrongful Death case has a professional autopsy. This will ensure that the evidence in the case is analyzed and preserved so that the defendants will have a harder time blaming the death on something other than their own carelessness.


The function of a forensic autopsy is to provide information through a postmortem examination of the body and analysis of the fluids to determine the cause of death, manner of death, and mechanism of injury.


It is imperative that an experienced Florida Wrongful Death lawyer be hired to direct the death investigation and ensure that the right expert is hired to perform the post mortem exam. The findings of the private autopsy can make or break a potential wrongful death case, and this examination should be treated with the utmost respect.

If you or a loved one is faced with the unfortunate position of having to consider a private autopsy as part of a Florida Wrongful Death case, you should first discuss the matter with one of our lawyers at zarzaurlaw.com. Call us as soon as possible with any such questions.  855HireJoe

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE >

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://learn.org/articles/What_Certifications_are_Needed_to_Become_a_Forensic_Pathologist.html

 

Most Common Questions About Car Accident Cases

How Long Does It Take To Settle A Car Accident Injury Case?

There is no standard time limit for settling your case. Some settle in a matter of weeks, while some cases go through trial and appeal before they are resolved. Important factors in this include the nature of your injuries, the amount of insurance coverage, and the attitude of the insurance company and/or its lawyers.

For example, if you sustain a serious injury and liability is clear and policy limits are relatively low, your case may settle quickly. However, if liability or injuries from a car accident that was not your fault are not so apparent, it may take many months, and in some cases, years, to get your case resolved. It may take many months of medical treatment to determine the full extent of the injury. The case and the cash value can then be evaluated. Hiring a top car accident lawyer is important because an expert civil trial attorney can usually maximize your recovery.

What Do I Have To Do If A Suit Is Filed?

Many cases are settled before a suit is filed, but many settle only after a suit is filed. Often, the insurance company will not make a fair settlement proposal until a lawsuit is filed and they are facing a trial date. In such cases, what will be your role in the process?

In almost all cases, the first phase is the “discovery” phase. This is the period where both sides gather information about the case. In such cases, you will work with Zarzaur Law’s paralegals and board-certified civil trial attorneys to prepare such information. You will usually be required to help fill out paperwork, also known as “interrogatories” and “requests for production.” You may also be required to give a “deposition,” which is a sworn statement about your case. Your attorney will prepare you for this and be with you every step of the way.

Often, the case will be referred to “mediation” to try and settle the case prior to going to trial. A settlement conference is conducted by a certified mediator, not a judge. At these meetings, no testimony is given, as your attorney will handle the presentation and you will be involved in the negotiations with the advice of your attorney. Many cases settle at mediation or soon after mediation. It is an excellent time to bring both parties together to analyze the case. At these conferences, your attorney will guide you every step of the way through these conferences.

In the rare case that goes to trial, you will testify before the jury. Again, you will be prepped by your attorney for this testimony.

Do I Have To Go To Trial To Receive A Settlement?

The vast majority of cases settle long before suit is filed, and if suit is filed, long before trial. Hiring a board-certified civil trial attorney sends a message to the insurance company that your case will be “trial ready” and this usually leads to a settlement.

The final decision to settle is always yours, with the advice of your attorney. We have been fortunate to settle cases fairly without going to trial, but have taken many cases to trial with excellent results.

In order to be certified by the Florida Bar, you must have proven trial skills and have recommendations from both experienced trial lawyers and trial judges.

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.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/

Wrongful Death Series Part 8: When Is An Autopsy Required In The State Of Florida?

In regards to Florida Wrongful Death cases, it is important for a personal injury lawyer to know the law in regards to when an autopsy is required and when it is in the State of Florida.

In Florida, the Medical Examiner for a particular jurisdiction is held to conduct an investigation yielding both the cause and manner of death.

The Cause Of Death Is Typically An Injury, Illness, Or Pathologic Process.

The manner of death will be classified as one of the following: natural, accidental, suicide, homicide, or undetermined.

The investigation conducted by the Medical Examiner may include: General inquiry (identification of the deceased, terminal circumstances, medical history, social history)

Medical chart review

Evaluation of the death scene

Autopsy of the body

Microscopic tissue examination

Laboratory evaluation (i.e. toxicology).

It is important to understand that the medical examiner does not always deem an autopsy necessary depending on additional factors or variables that constitute the whole of the investigation.

In Florida, The Medical Examiner Is Held To Investigation By Florida Statutes In The Following:

Florida Statutes 406.11 Examinations, investigations, and autopsies.

(a)When any person dies in this state:

1. Of criminal violence.

2.By accident.

3. By suicide.

4. Suddenly, when in apparent good health.

5. Unattended by a practicing physician or other recognized practitioner.

6. In any prison or penal institution.

7.In police custody.

8.In any suspicious or unusual circumstance.

9. By criminal abortion.

10.By poison.

11. By disease constituting a threat to public health.

12.By disease, injury, or toxic agent resulting from employment.

(b) when a dead body is brought into this state without proper medical certification.

(c) when a body is to be cremated, dissected, or buried at sea.

Further, The Medical Examiner Is Held To An Autopsy As Part Of The Investigative Process Per Florida Administrative Code:

Florida Administrative Code 11G-2.003 Investigation (Medical Examiners Commission).

(5) Absent good cause, an autopsy shall be performed when:

(a) A reasonable suspicion exists that death might be by criminal violence or by any violence sustained in prison, a penal institution, or police custody.

(b) A reasonable suspicion exists that the death was by accident, suicide, or poison, unless:

1. The death is by poison and the deceased has survived in a hospital for a period sufficient to metabolize the poison, or

2. The death is by accident or suicide, and the cause of death can be determined from a review of the circumstances, history, and available medical records.

(c) The death of a child is apparently natural and occurs suddenly while in apparent good health.

(d) the circumstances of death are unusual or suspicious by reason of the body’s being unidentified after investigation, charred, or completely or partially skeletonized.

If you or a loved one finds yourself seeking answers following the death of someone close and you are faced with the proposition of having to decide whether the medical examiner will be conducting an autopsy or whether you should seek out a private autopsy, you should call us at 855HIREjoe or contact us via our website at zarzaurlaw.com.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE >

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:

http://flrules.elaws.us/fac/11g-2.003

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0406/Sections/0406.11.html