Tag Archives: Pensacola Personal Injury Attorney

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

Attorney Joe Zarzaur Achieves Recertification In Civil Trial Law With The National Board Of Civil Trial Advocacy.

PENSACOLA, Fla. (JUNE 8, 2022) —  The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is pleased to announce that attorney Joe Zarzaur, founder and lead attorney at Zarzaur Law, P.A., has successfully achieved recertification as a civil trial advocate. The NBTA was formed out of a strong conviction that both the law profession and its clients would benefit from an organization designed specifically to create an objective set of standards illustrating an attorney’s experience and expertise in the practice of trial law.

Joe Zarzaur, is part of a growing number of trial attorneys that have illustrated their commitment to bettering the legal profession by successfully completing a rigorous application process and providing the consumer of legal services with an objective measure by which to choose qualified and experienced legal counsel.

The elaborate screening of credentials that all NBTA board certified attorneys must successfully complete includes: demonstration of substantial trial experience, submission of judicial and peer references to attest to their competency, attendance of continuing legal education courses and proof of good standing.

Board Certification is the highest, most stringent, and most reliable honor an attorney can achieve. Board certifications are the only distinctions awarded by non-profit organizations. The NBTA as well as all board certifying organizations are committed to safeguarding the public’s ability to choose a good attorney.

The National Board of Trial Advocacy originally selected Joe as a member in 2011. This is a group of trial lawyers whose mission it is to preserve the civility in our country’s civil jury system. Members are selected by existing members and must be chosen based upon their competency and professionalism. Joe has been a continuous member of NBTA and has also served as President of the local chapter.  He has also been board certified by the Florida Bar in Civil Trial since 2010.

Giving back to the community is also an important part of the mission for Zarzaur Law, P.A.. Joe has continuously supported local Escambia and Santa Rosa County charities through the Zarzaur Law Legal Graffiti event as well as direct gifts to the firm’s adopted two main charities, Gulf Coast Kids’ House and Favor House.

Approximately three percent of American lawyers are board certified, and Joe Zarzaur is a member of a very select group who has taken the time to prove competence in their specialty area and earn board certification.

For more information on Joe Zarzaur, please visit zarzaurlaw.com and nbtalawyers.org

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About Zarzaur Law, P.A.

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

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.

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

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 3 – Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive CoverageComprehensive coverage is important optional coverage that all Florida insureds should consider purchasing. Comprehensive coverage basically covers any damage to your vehicle caused by virtually anything other than a collision with another vehicle.

What Does This Insurance Cover?

Your comprehensive auto insurance policy is like a bubble around your vehicle protecting it from harm. Unlike your liability insurance, which covers anything involving personal injury or property damage, comprehensive insurance covers non-vehicle related accidents, including:

  • Earthquakes
  • Falling objects (i.e., tree limb)
  • Fire or explosions
  • Floods
  • Hail
  • Hitting an animal
  • Lightning from thunderstorms, hurricanes, etc.
  • Theft
  • Tornadoes
  • Vandalism and other cases of civil disobedience (i.e. riots)
  • Windshield damage

Comprehensive auto insurance is just that — comprehensive. But it doesn’t cover everything. Damage to your car or another person’s car from a collision are still going to cost you, as are medical expenses for you and your passengers.

These hazards are generally rare occurrences, and that is what makes them relatively inexpensive coverage.

Comprehensive vs Collision Insurance Coverage

There’s more than one way to expand your insurance coverage to protect your assets against the unexpected. Collision insurance will help you pay for any needed repairs in the event of a car-on-car accident. It covers collisions with other vehicles and collisions with stationary objects (i.e., fences, light poles, etc.). It also covers single-car rollover accidents, which can be beneficial for those navigating Florida’s slick highways during during the summer months.

Similar to comprehensive coverage, collision coverage will require the policyholder to pay a deductible in order to receive the actual cash value for any necessary repairs or replacements for a damaged vehicle. What it does not cover is damage to another person’s vehicle. In other words, if you were involved in a crash with another driver, and it was later determined that you were at fault for the crash, your collision insurance would cover your vehicle exclusively.

Again, comprehensive coverage is not required by Florida law, but when you request “full coverage,” it comes with a full automobile policy in Florida.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >

If you have questions about comprehensive automobile 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.

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 2 – What Is Collision Coverage And Why Is It Important?

So, as we have discussed elsewhere on this site, Florida automobile insurance is not a “package deal”. Apart from the two items required by law, it is more of an a la carte purchase in which you, the consumer, can pick and choose which coverage you want.

What Is Required?

Florida law requires that everyone purchase $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage (aka no-fault or PIP coverage), and $10,000 in property damage liability.

What Does PIP Cover?

PIP coverage covers your injuries related to a car wreck. Your own policy will pay your medical expenses and lost wages, capped at $10,000. This is called “no-fault” coverage because it doesn’t matter who is “at fault” for the wreck since each party gets the benefit of this coverage on their respective policy so long as they are involved in a car wreck and they are in the car that has the Florida car insurance policy.

What Does Property Damage Liability Cover?

Property damage liability coverage is also required by Florida law. The law requires a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. Property damage liability coverage is coverage for the other party’s car when you are at fault for a wreck. So, if you cause a wreck in Florida, you are required to at least have $10,000 in coverage for the damage to the victim’s car.

Collision Insurance

Collision coverage is an optional coverage you can purchase that serves basic functions. First, if you are at fault for a wreck, having collision coverage will allow you to get your car fixed and paid for by your insurance company. Second, if you are the victim of a car wreck and the at-fault party only has the $10,000 minimum property damage coverage, having collision coverage will allow you to collect in full for your vehicle damage.


Your Collision Coverage Should Be Carried At An Amount Equal To The Fair Market Value Of Your Car.


This will assist in the event that it is totaled in a car wreck and the at-fault party only has $10,000  in coverage.

If you or a family member has questions about collision coverage, please feel free to contact our firm at zarzaurlaw.comor call us at 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR 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.

Wrongful Death Series Part 6: Why Does Age Matter In Florida Wrongful Death Cases?

Why Does Age Matter?The simple answer as to why age matters in Florida Wrongful Death cases is that Florida’s Wrongful Death Act makes age matter.

First, age matters in relation to whether a person has a claim and what type of damage the person may claim. As we have discussed in other blogs, Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is a creature of statute and not common law. This means that the rights provided to bring a Florida Wrongful Death case come exclusively from the words in the statute, and the law should not be read any less or any more. The judicial system is there to interpret the laws, but if they are clear, then the judges are simply there to give effect to that language in the form of their rulings.

Minor Child Defined In Florida’s Wrongful Death Act

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act makes it clear that minor children are defined as children under the age of 25. The wrongful death act goes on to prescribe that only minor children can qualify as survivors in regards to certain types of wrongful death claims. For this reason, a seasoned and experienced lawyer who has handled many Florida Wrongful Death cases is necessary to ensure the advice you and your family are receiving is expert advice.

Even though some laws define that age of majority as 18 years old in Florida, the only statute that matters for purposes of Florida’s Wrongful Death Act is the age set out in that law. In fact, the legislature included in the Florida Wrongful Death Act a line that says exactly that. That language reads, in relevant part, “The term “minor children” is defined as children under the age of 25, regardless of the age of majority established by any other statute. Fla. Stat. § 768.18(2)

What Type of Damages Can Be Recovered?

Damages that are most often sought after in wrongful death lawsuits include compensation for:

  • Funeral, burial, medical, hospital expenses
  • Pain & suffering experienced prior to death (degenerative diseases / debilitating injuries)
  • Losses incurred by the deceased’s family: loss of wages; mental anguish; financial support; companionship; parental guidance (in cases where deceased has children)
  • The pecuniary compensation provided for by wrongful death lawsuits serves to void any financial issues related to the passing of a loved one.

What Can A Minor Child Recover?

A child of any age may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to the date of death, with interest. He may also recover for future loss of support and services from the date of death, but his recovery will be limited to the present value.

What If No Surviving Spouse?

If the decedent dies without leaving a surviving spouse, a child of any age may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance, as well as for mental pain and suffering from the date of the decedent’s injury. 

However, adult children may not recover these damages if the death was caused by medical negligence. Fla. Stat.  § 768.21(8).

Death Of A Child

Parents of a child of any age may recover from loss of support and services, future loss of support and services, and mental pain and suffering. However, unless there are no other survivors, parents of an adult child may not recover damages for mental pain and suffering.

If the adult child dies as a result of medical malpractice and dies without other survivors, the parents may not recover damages for mental pain and suffering since those are prohibited by Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act.

So, as you can see from this brief overview, Florida’s Wrongful Death Act makes the age of the decedent and the survivor relevant for evaluation. If you or your family is dealing with a potential wrongful death case and desires a free consultation with a board-certified Florida personal injury lawyer , please do not hesitate to contact us on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or by phone at 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.

Wrongful Death Series Part 2: In A Florida Wrongful Death Case, What Does The Probate Process Involve And Why Is It Necessary?

The stress of a recent death in the family is enough to deal with even without legal considerations. The idea that a wrongful death case also means that there has to be a probate proceeding sounds even more menacing. For law firms that are experienced in handling Florida wrongful death cases, they have probate court issues worked into their internal process so that you only have to hire us to handle both the wrongful death case and the probate action.

The Necessity of the Probate Court

Let’s first discuss the necessity of probate court in a Florida wrongful death case. First, while we are alive, a person (unless adjudicated incompetent) handles their own business.

For example, you open checking or savings accounts, buy and sell property, enter into service agreements, apply for and use credit cards, and make other personal and financial decisions. When a person dies, and until a probate court has determined who should act on behalf of the estate, no one can legally do these personal and financial activities on behalf of the decedent. So, the law allows a living person to be granted authority by the probate court to act on behalf of the decedent. This person in Florida is called the Personal Representative.

Naming a Personal Representative in Your Will

How someone becomes a representative depends upon the facts of each case. The most direct way to become a personal representative is for the decedent to name a personal representative in his or her will. Then the probate court will review the will and a presumption will be made by the probate court that the person named as the personal representative by the decedent will be the personal representative.

This presumption can be rebutted by evidence showing that the person named in the will is not qualified to be a personal representative in Florida (i.e., a felon or minor), but most of the time, the probate court will defer to the choice of the decedent as personal representative. As you can imagine, however, most people that die unexpectedly (most of our wrongful death clients) do not have a will.

What If A Person Dies Without Naming A Personal Representative?

If a person dies without a will specifying a personal representative, then the choice is up to the probate court. The court will have a strong preference for a surviving spouse or an only adult child, but otherwise, the probate court will conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine the person best suited to handle the job of a personal representative.

The Job of the Personal Representative

The job of a personal representative is to basically serve as a trustee on behalf of the estate and all of the survivors of the estate. The personal representative must keep and safeguard all property of the estate and must provide regular reports to the probate court about the winding down of all business of the estate.

If there is a wrongful death case related to a decedent, then that too becomes the business of the estate and the personal representative is charged by probate law to manage that case on behalf of the survivors and the estate.

Given the important nature of the personal representative and how they act as trustees for the estate and the survivors, the probate court is there to ensure that the person serving has the character and capacity to serve on behalf of others.

Details Are Important To The Wrongful Death Case

The probate court will require the personal representative to provide a detailed accounting of all of the assets and liabilities of the estate and will trust that the personal representative will take no action that is adverse to the interests of the estate or the survivors. In a wrongful death case, the personal representative acts as the plaintiff’s representative and often has no financial stake in the outcome of the lawsuit.

Acting on Behalf of All of The Survivors

Sometimes the personal representative is also a survivor of the decedent, and then they do have a financial interest in the lawsuit, but as the personal representative must act on behalf of all survivors, they cannot take any action that would unfairly deplete another survivor’s share of the estate.

As you can see, handling a Florida Wrongful Death case includes having a good handle on the probate process.  The entire case flows through the probate court process, and it is imperative that the lawyer handling your family’s wrongful death matter also have a really good grasp of the probate issues that will be involved in order to provide the best advice possible.

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Many times, the personal representative is not even a survivor and cannot collect any damages for the wrongful death action, but the probate court feels they are best suited to manage the case affairs and, therefore, they are named the personal representative.

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 is in need of a FREE legal consultation in regards to your wrongful death case, speak with Zarzaur Law’s Florida Wrongful Death Act experts. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyers – Car Accident, Wrongful Death, Malpractice

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyers – Car Accident, Wrongful Death, Malpractice

 

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.

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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.

Attorneys Joe Zarzaur and Steve Bolton Achieve Board Recertification in Civil Trial Law By the Florida Bar

Board Recertification in Civil Trial Law By the Florida BarAttorneys Joe Zarzaur and Steve Bolton have received their board recertification in Civil Trial Law by the Florida Bar.  Board certification recognizes attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Certification is the highest level of evaluation by the Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys and helps consumers identify specialists in various areas of law.

Mr. Bolton originally earned Board Certification in 1991 and Mr. Zarzaur originally earned Board Certification in 2006. Both Zarzaur and Bolton have achieved recertification every five years since originally achieving Board Certification as Civil Trial Specialists.

The Florida Bar Board Certification – What Is It About?

Board certification is a voluntary program for lawyers. Approved by The Florida Supreme Court and established in 1982 board certification is administered by The Florida Bar to help the public choose a lawyer. Certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification.

The Florida Bar evaluates all certified lawyers for experience and expertise in a particular area of law as well as for professionalism and peer acknowledgement. After successfully undergoing the certification process and becoming board certified, a board certified lawyer may say that they have been “Evaluated for Professionalism and Tested for Expertise.”

The Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) of The Florida Bar governs the rules and policies for each of the certification areas and oversees the committees that implement each area’s standards. A lawyer must be a member in good standing of the Florida Bar and meet the area’s prescribed standards to become board certified. Standards for each area vary but each area maintains common minimum standards including:

– A minimum of five years in law practice.
– Substantial involvement in the field of law for which certification is sought.
– A passing grade on the examination required of all initial applicants.
– Satisfactory peer review assessment of competence in the specialty field as well as character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law.
– Satisfaction of the certification area’s continuing legal education requirements.

Board certification is valid for five years, during which time the attorney must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar approved continuing education courses. To be re-certified lawyers must meet requirements similar to those for initial certification.

Why Is Board Certification Important? 

Board certification establishes an independent measure of competence, professionalism and peer acknowledgement which helps clients and fellow lawyers set expectations for professional abilities. This level of verifiable expertise can help both prospective clients and counsel seeking to refer legal matters and can help lawyers grow their practice with matters in which they can best utilize their expertise. 

What Does All Of This Mean To Potential Clients?

“Members of the public may feel confident that when they speak with a board certified lawyer, they are speaking with an expert in the field,” said Jack Pelzer, 2013-2015 BLSE Chair. “Board certification not only recognizes past accomplishments and expertise, but provides opportunities for further growth in an area of specialization through interaction with other dedicated and exceptional lawyers.”

Only about one percent of Florida lawyers are board certified and it is the only designation that Florida lawyers can utilize when comparing themselves to other lawyers.

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

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