Tag Archives: Personal Injury

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


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.




Who Pays For Medical Treatment If My Child Is Injured At School?

School InjuriesAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20,000 children experience traumatic brain injuries, with many of the accidents that cause these injuries happening at school.


Common Causes of School Injuries

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Playground injuries
  • Fighting

It’s a phone call every parent dreads—the call from their child’s teacher or principal saying that their child has been injured at school. The possibilities are nearly endless. Accidents can happen on the bus, in the classroom, on the playground, or in P.E.  It is easy to panic in this situation. However, it is important to preserve your and your children’s rights if they are injured at school. 

Below, we answer some of the more common questions that our clients have when their kids are hurt while at school. 

Tend To Your Child

The first step is obvious: tend to your child. Assess the severity of the injury. Is it something that can be taken care of with first aid, or is it serious enough to warrant a trip to the doctor or even the Emergency Room? 

Get Information About The Incident

– What happened

– Where and when the injury took place (During school hours? On school property? On a field trip?)

– Who was present at the time of the injury

– What actions were taken to help your child

– If any other children were involved

Many injuries may appear to be no big deal at first, but if they progress and cost you in the long run, you will want to have all of the details documented as soon as possible.

Hire A Lawyer

If the injury is severe enough, or treatment is costly enough, the next step is to hire a lawyer to represent you and your child’s interests. The school district has legal and risk management teams ready to help defend them the second a potential claim arises, so it’s important to fight fire with fire and hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. 

Common Types Of Injuries Sustained At School

The type of injury will largely depend on where and how the injury occurred. The most common injuries sustained on school grounds include:

– Cuts, scrapes, and bruises

– Sprains and strains

– Broken bones

– Head injuries

– Neck and back injuries

– Brain injury or trauma

– Dislocations

– Black eyes

– Emotional and/or psychological injuries

The Process of Bringing A Case Against A School

My Child was Injured In The School PensacolaOnce hired, your lawyer will navigate the treacherous waters of making a claim against the government. Suing the school district is not like suing anyone else. The government has put hurdles in front of anyone that wishes to sue it.

First, a successful claimant must send what’s called a “claim letter” to the agency they wish to sue within 3 years of the injury. They must also send a copy of this letter to the Florida Department of Financial Services. This requirement is separate and apart from the statute of limitations, which is generally 4 years for a personal injury. 

Once the claimant has sent a claim letter, the government has 6 months to respond to the claim. The government rarely does so, and the claimant must usually file suit to have the possibility of any recovery. Once in suit, the plaintiff is usually prevented by law from recovering more than $200,000 to $300,000 in damages, depending on the circumstances. If the plaintiff wants to recover more, he or she usually has to petition the Legislature to make up the difference. 

Zarzaur Law has the necessary experience to maximize your recovery against the government. Two of three of the attorneys at Zarzaur Law are board-certified as Specialists in Civil Trial—a certification only held by 1% of lawyers statewide. The lawyers at Zarzaur Law have handled many claims against school districts for injuries as diverse as car wrecks, sexual abuse, and injuries caused by school bullies. Since every plaintiff’s law firm works under the same “no fee unless you win” structure, there is no reason not to hire a specialist. 

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

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




What Types of Damages are Available in a Car Accident Case?

Car Accident Case

Different Types of Damages In a Car Accident.

After the initial questions about what medical treatment to seek and where to seek it, the first question our clients usually ask is this: what types of damages can I recover from the at-fault party in a car wreck? Like many legal issues, the answer depends on the type of injury, the treatment plan, and the conduct of the at fault driver.

Economic Damages:

Every person who suffers injuries from the fault of another driver can recover economic damages. Below are certain categories of expenses you can recover:

Medical Expenses

All medical costs caused by the injury. this category includes not only the costs for services at the hospital right after your wreck, but also ambulance bills, co-pays, prescription costs, and fuel costs for traveling to doctor appointments

Property Damage

This category includes the value of the replacement of the vehicle if your vehicle is totaled

Lost Wages and Benefits

Includes any wages that you were unable to earn because you missed work. This category also includes the value of any lost vacation days and/or lost contributions to retirement funds

Cost of Services

Includes any costs of having to hire someone to perform tasks that you ordinarily performed. For instance, if you are unable to perform basic tasks around the house, unable to care for your child, or unable to run errands, the cost of having to hire someone to perform these tasks is recoverable.

Pensacola injury lawyer


Non-Economic Damages:

Non-economic damages are damages that you may experience on a more emotional level than the direct impact on your wallet. Crucially, you can only recover these damages if you experience a “threshold injury”—that is, if a doctor diagnoses you with a permanent injury or significant scarring or disfigurement.

Pain and suffering

Includes the pain that you suffered as soon as the wreck happened, any pain you experienced during recovery, and any pain you will suffer in the future as a result of the wreck.


Includes any permanent scarring, as well as any loss of bodily function such as loss of taste, smell, eyesight, or hearing, loss of limb, or any other permanent loss of function

Physical impairment

After your wreck, you may not be able to perform certain tasks or recreational activities as well as you previously could—or even at all. this type of recovery tries to compensate you for the value of your lost ability to work or play like you were previously able to.

Mental suffering

This category of damage attempts to compensate a plaintiff for the stress and anxiety caused by the accident—whether it stems from an inability to perform tasks like you could previously, fear of hospitalization, or any other mental issues you suffer as a result of the wreck.

Loss of consortium

This category of recovery attempts to compensate spouses and children for the loss of support, companionship, and household services commonly provided by family members. This claim can only be brought in the name of the child or spouse so they will have to sign up separately.

Punitive damages

Punitive damages are a different beast altogether. These damages are only available when a defendant has acted in a “grossly negligent” way or has intentionally caused damage. The most common scenario where punitive damages are available in a car wreck context is when the at-fault driver is intoxicated. Frequently, these damages will be excluded from an insurance policy.

If you’ve suffered injuries from a car wreck, it is important that you hire a lawyer right away. Most often, the at-fault party is going to quickly hire their own lawyer to get you to agree to small settlements or to make statements that hurt your case. It’s important in this situation to fight fire with fire and hire your own lawyer.

We also remind potential clients that they shouldn’t just hire any lawyer. Not all lawyers are equal in their training and qualifications. The Florida Bar does not typically allow lawyers to hold themselves out as “experts.” However, the Bar does allow lawyers who have extensive experience in personal injury and tort cases to become specialists in civil trial. Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Two out of three of the lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

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

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

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






Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals recently held that a 13 year old customer of a trampoline park that fraudulently signed his parent’s name on a waiver at the park was prohibited from arguing that the document was void based upon his status as a minor. The Court held that since the 13 year old was acting fraudulently his family could not take advantage of his “infancy” to get out of the waiver form.


As most parents understand, when you allow your kids to participate in activities like those at trampoline parks or water parks, you are routinely asked to review and sign waiver of liability forms. Many of these businesses, like the trampoline park in this case, have ways to review these waiver forms on your phone or via a kiosk at the business. These waivers usually severely limit the liability of the business even if the company or its employees are negligent. As you can imagine, serious injuries can occur at these activity parks and many of them are caused by the negligence of the park. However, these waiver agreements are commonly upheld by Florida courts and either limit recovery, waive your right to the court system, or both.

In the last few years, emergency room visits caused by trampoline park injuries has skyrocketed. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the numbers have shot up from 2,500 in 2013 to almost 18,000 in 2017.


In the case recently decided by the Fourth District Court of Appeals, the child’s family was arguing that their 13 year old son did not have their permission to go to the park and that the park should be paying more attention and realize when a minor fills out a form with a parent signature that is not with him. The appellate court disagreed and held that since the 13 year old planned this visit out and used a real driver’s license number for a family member, he was acting fraudulently and it would be unfair to allow his family to take advantage of this fraudulent conduct.


The family argued that the park should have been more aware of minors using their parents information especially when making kiosks available. The court rejected this argument stating it is unreasonable to expect the business to watch these kiosks that closely. The takeaway from this case is clear, if the court has evidence that the minor planned out, in a fraudulent manner, to use an adult’s driver’s license and date of birth and does so, that can amount to fraud and if so, fraud dissipates the incapacity of a minor to sign an effective contract. Basically, the court concludes if they are old enough to commit fraud they are old enough to suffer the consequences of the contract they are signing. This is not a great case for public safety since the loser in this are kids that are not capable of understanding the true lifelong effects that their injuries at these parks could bring about.

If you or a loved one is serious injured at any activity park, water park, or any other business that requires the signing of a waiver and you have legal questions, please feel free to contact us at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HIREjoe.




Trampoline Injuries and Statistics 2020 (Head, Neck, Back, Legs & Spine)

Zarzaur Law, P.A. To Host 2nd Annual FREE Kid’s 
Halloween Event in Downtown Pensacola.

Zalloween Event on Oct. 30 to Include a Kid’s Costume Contest with $100 First Prize.

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2019) — Zarzaur Law, P.A., a personal injury law firm based out of Pensacola, Florida, has once again partnered with local downtown businesses to host the 2nd annual “Zalloween” event. “Zalloween” is a FREE, safe and fun filled kid’s Halloween event on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 4-6p.m., The event will be held at the intersection of Palafox and Romana Streets in Downtown Pensacola. “Zalloween,” hosted by Zarzaur Law, will include candy, games, a fire truck that kids can explore from the Pensacola Fire Department, meet and greet the K-9 unit from KlaasKIDS Search and Rescue, arts and crafts stations with First City Art Center and Blue Morning Gallery, a pumpkin patch, and more! A kid’s costume contest will kick-off at 5p.m. with four age group categories and a $100 first prize for each age group. The first 250 kids in costume will also receive a reflective trick-or-treat bag and a pumpkin strobe light.


“Last year was a smashing success, and we hope to have an even bigger crowd this year.” Joe Zarzaur, owner of Zarzaur Law, P.A.

In addition to the fun and games, the KlaasKIDS organization will be on hand to provide fingerprinting for any children (parents or legal guardian must be present). The parents will receive a fingerprint card that they will take home that will have their child’s picture and fingerprint on the card.

Participating businesses include:
Gulf Coast Kid’s House
The Tin Cow
Pen Air Federal Credit Union
Dog House Deli Downtown
First City Art Center
Pensacola Fire Department
Pensacola Police Department
KlaasKIDS Search Center for Missing & Trafficked Children
Blue Morning Gallery
Properly Posh Baby
The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart | Ascension

Event details can be found on Zarzaur Law’s Zalloween event page on Facebook, or call 850-444-9299.








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

The Alarming Truth About Smoke Detectors.

Prior to this particular case, all smoke detectors were the same to me. Then in 2010, I was called on to assist in a case involving the untimely death of a family in a house fire.

The family was sleeping in their home when a fire in the living room started because of a surge protector device malfunctioning. A spark from this power strip ignited a couch cushion and a fire ensued. When a fire starts in a couch cushion the smoke that is created is some of the most dense smoke from any fire. Unfortunately, this same smoke is also the most fatal type of smoke in that it literally smothers those around it.

This particular family was in a house that was equipped with ionization smoke detectors.

What is an Ionization Smoke Detector?

Ionization smoke detectors are just one of two types of smoke detectors.  Ionization smoke detectors work by having a unit within the detector that contains specially charged particles that are affected by the presence of smoke particles.  Once the smoke particles enter the detector and effect the particles within the unit.  Once those particles are impacted by the smoke particles, it breaks the circuit and the alarm sounds.  Photoelectric detectors work by having a beam of light between two mirrors and if smoke particles break that beam in any way then the dectector will alarm.

The thing that is not clear about these detectors is that the company like to sell them as “smoke alarms” and since the ionization detectors is an older technology the manufacturers have developed a more efficient and cheaper method of producing them.  They are cheaper and the companies make more money when they sell them since, by volume, they move more of these.
The Issue
The issue is that ionization detectors are slow at detecting slow smoldering fires and better at detecting fast flaming fires.  Slow smoldering fires are deadly fires since they would include furniture fires that are deadly even before there are any significant flaming.  Since most folks think that all smoke alarms are the same they generally purchase the cheapest of the smoke detectors.  This would mean that most are ionization detectors when they only protects the house from smoke from fast flaming fires.
This family was killed from a slow smoldering fire that started near a couch and the house was filled with toxic smoke killing the occupants from smoke inhalation before there was any substantial flaming.  The ionization detectors in the house were recovered and were powered up and only began to alarm when the fire department arrived on the scene.
Capitalizing on the Ignorance of Consumers
The case against the manufacturer of the smoke detectors centered around the defects in the design and marketing of these products since they were capitalizing on the ignorance of the consumers and not adequately informing the consumers to the dangers of only having one type of smoke detectors.
Of course, the manufacturer argued that their packaging insert clearly described the difference between the two types of detectors.  They moved for summary judgment and the court denied their motion.  The case was later settled for a confidential amount that included non monetary requirements that the manufacturer provide educational services to the general public concerning the difference between the tow type of detectors and the recommendation that consumer purchase detectors that have both technologies.
Check Your Smoke Detectors
For the best protection of your family, you should make sure that you have smoke alarms that have both photoelectric and ionization technologies.  The companies now make detectors that have both technologies contained in the same unit.
The recovery for this family was significant to both the survivors and the public since we were able to affect consumers moving forward.  There is still much to do since many still do not appreciate the difference between the two types of smoke detector technologies.

Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law, P.A., a Pensacola Personal Injury law firm, has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer. For more information, visit: https://www.zarzaurlaw.com

11 E Romana Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Telephone: 850-444-9299
Email: info@zarzaurlaw.com


Florida Supreme Court Rules Medicaid Liens Cannot Be Applied To Future Medical Expenses

On July 5, 2018, the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Giraldo v. Agency for Health Care Administration. The case dealt with the federal Medicaid Act, a joint federal-state cooperative program that helps states provide medical services to residents who cannot otherwise afford treatment; the Medicaid Act is part of the broader Social Security Act.

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court held that “under federal law, AHCA (the Agency for Health Care Administration) may only reach the past medical expense portion of a Medicaid recipient’s tort recovery to satisfy its Medicaid lien.” In deciding to limit the lien rights of AHCA, the Court cited the federal Medicaid Act’s “anti-lien” provision, noting that the federal Medicaid Act preempts the Florida Medicaid statute on this issue. The ruling is a major victory for plaintiffs with severe injuries or large future medical treatment costs; the ruling prevents AHCA from putting a Medicaid lien on a plaintiff’s future medical treatment received under a settlement or judgment.

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, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you have any questions about this recent Florida Supreme Court ruling or about an injury that you or someone you know has sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence, please do not hesitate to contact Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Joe Zarzaur, and the firm of Zarzaur Law, P.A. at 855-hirejoe or on the web at www.zarzaurlaw.com.


Florida Car Wrecks and Health Insurance

What legal role does your health insurance have in your Florida car wreck and/or personal injury case?

So, you are the victim of a careless driver or other negligent actor and as a result, you have medical bills, and lots of them.  Fortunately many victims already have a health insurance policy that covers them for all of their healthcare needs.  Once an accident happens and medical treatment is needed, what happens if your health insurance company pays any of the bills?   The short answer is that the health insurer is entitled to be reimbursed at the conclusion of your legal case.  

When you enter into the health insurance agreement one of the terms of every policy is the insurance company’s right of subrogation.  This is a fancy legal term that means you can’t be compensated twice for the same item of expense.  In terms of medical expenses this means that if the insurance company pays your medical bills related to your accidental injury then it is entitled to be reimbursed out of your settlement.  Otherwise, you would be recovering twice of the same injury, once by the payment of the bill and second by the recovery from the careless driver/party.  

A good personal injury law firm handling a Florida car wreck case, will have years of experience in dealing with these reimbursement or subrogation issues.  Most times the health insurers will permit discounts to be negotiated by the law firm which maximizes the recovery for the client.  So, even after a long fight with the insurance company for the at-fault party, the lawyers and staff at Zarzaur Law continue the fight until even the health insurance companies reduce their subrogation interest to the lowest possible amount.  

To add a bit of complexity to this discussion is the function of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in Florida car wreck cases.  Florida’s car wreck law provides that each insured driver in Florida must purchase at least $10,000.00 in PIP benefits.  These PIP benefits must by law pay for 80% YOUR car wreck related medical bills up to $10,000.00.  Even if you have the best of health insurance policies, being involved in a wreck immediately makes your own car insurance the primary payor of your medical bills.  To say it another way, your health insurance will not honor any car wreck related claims until your car insurance has used the entire PIP benefit.  This is important for several reasons.  First, using PIP benefits instead of health insurance benefits means that the right of subrogation held by the health carrier is not permitted by the car policy.  So, this means that once your Florida car wreck case is concluded, you will not be required to reimburse the PIP (auto) carrier.  Unlike health policies, car insurance policies in Florida do not have rights of the insurance company to subrogate.  In essence, this permits the Florida car wreck victim to achieve double recovery for at least the first $10,000.00 in medical expenses.  In practice however, the value of the case will likely not be increased by this $10,000.00 since the at fault insurer will be negotiating settlement terms knowing that this $10,000.00 in bills has already been paid by the auto carrier.  

In some cases, Florida car wreck victims end up not using all of their PIP benefits and their health insurer overlooks this and starts paying expenses.  The case is concluded and the health insurance wants their reimbursement.  Florida car wreck lawyers who know their business will recognize this issue and make sure that the PIP carrier reimburses the health carrier so as to maximize the total recovery.

Zarzaur Law prides itself in making certain that all of these medical/insurance issues are handled in the most professional way.  For more information about Florida car wreck cases, feel free to contact us at zarzaurlaw.com or by phone at 855-Hire-Joe.

Local 15: Law Call Featuring Joe Zarzaur & Personal Injury Questions

Local 15 Law Call: Answers To Your Legal Questions

What do you do if your medical bills are piling up after a personal injury accident?  If you can’t afford to talk to a lawyer about your personal injury claim – think again. Watch this video featuring Pensacola’s Joe Zarzaur of Zarzaur Law P.A. and learn why most personal injury lawyers will talk to you for free.