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What is a Consortium Claim?

By Law, Personal Injury

What is a consortium claim?

A consortium claim is a type of personal injury claim that allows a spouse or other close family member to recover damages for the loss of companionship, care, and assistance caused by the injury or death of their loved one. The term “consortium” refers to the benefits of marriage, such as companionship, love, and support.

Spouses most commonly bring loss of consortium claims, but claims may also be brought by other close family members, such as parents, children, or siblings. To recover damages for loss of consortium, the claimant must show that the injury or death of their loved one has caused significant disruption to their marital or family relationship.

Damages

The damages that can be awarded for loss of consortium vary from state to state, but they typically include compensation for the following:

  • The loss of companionship, love, and affection
  • The loss of sexual relations
  • The loss of household services
  • The cost of hiring care providers
  • The emotional distress caused by the injury or death

The amount of damages a claimant is awarded for loss of consortium depends on the specific facts of their case. Ultimately, the more severe the injury or death, the higher the damages award will be.

Situations

Some examples of situations warranting a loss of consortium claim include:

  • A spouse experiencing an injury during a car accident. They can no longer provide their partner with the same level of care and support.
  • A parent dying in a workplace accident, leaving their spouse to raise their children alone.
  • A child experiencing an injury in a schoolyard accident. They can no longer participate in activities that they used to enjoy with their parents.

If you have been injured in an accident, and your spouse or other close family member has suffered a loss of consortium as a result, contact my office today to discuss your legal options.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents: Who’s Responsible?

By Car Accidents, Law
Liability for Property Damage in Multi-Vehicle Accidents

When you are in a car accident with multiple vehicles, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault and who is responsible for paying for the property damage. In Florida, the law of negligence determines liability for car accidents. Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care, which results in harm to another person.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents: Who’s Responsible?

In a multi-vehicle accident, there may be multiple drivers who were negligent. For example, if one driver was speeding and rear-ended another, both drivers may be found negligent. In this case, the insurance companies for both drivers would be responsible for paying for the property damage.

The amount of property damage covered by insurance will depend on the specific policy. Most insurance policies will cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle, as well as the cost of rental car expenses if your vehicle is not drivable.

Liability for Personal Injury in Multi-Vehicle Accidents

In addition to property damage, you may also be injured in a multi-vehicle accident. If you are injured, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the driver or drivers who were negligent. In Florida, personal injury claims are typically filed under the theory of negligence.

To prove negligence in a personal injury case, you must show that the other driver(s):

  • owed you a duty of care;
  • breached that duty of care;
  • their breach of duty caused your injuries; and
  • you suffered damages as a result of your injuries.

If you can prove these elements, you can recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

The Role of Insurance in Multi-Vehicle Accidents

In most cases, the insurance companies for the drivers involved in a multi-vehicle accident will be responsible for paying for the property damage and personal injuries. However, there may be cases where the insurance company for one driver is not willing to pay for the damages. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver in these cases.

If you have been injured in a multi-vehicle accident, speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial as soon as possible. An attorney can help you to understand your legal rights and options and can help you to file a claim for compensation.

We Can Help

Determining liability for property damage and personal injuries in multi-vehicle accidents can be complex. However, with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.

If you have been injured in a multi-vehicle accident, don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your case. I will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

A young man on the phone in front of a car accident

Don’t Settle For Less! Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

By Law

We can help you get up to 3.5X more while handling all the details.

Multiple studies confirm it. People who hire a personal injury lawyer wind up with settlement amounts that are typically 3.5 times larger on average compared to those who choose to represent themselves*. This holds true for nearly every type of personal injury case, including:

  • Car Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Wrongful Death
  • Workers Compensation

At Greg Linehan Law, our attorneys have the experience, expertise, and resources to secure a more significant settlement, cover all up-front costs, and take care of every detail.

You don’t pay a cent when we take your case unless we win. We pay all the costs of pursuing the case, which can be substantial. We stay on top of every detail, an often complex and time-consuming process that can include research, investigation, interviewing witnesses, expert assessment of damages, numerous procedural steps, negotiation, courtroom litigation, and more.

After all, depending on the circumstances, you’ll probably want to focus on recovering and healing – physically, emotionally, or both – and getting back to living your life. Taking on the burden of trying to represent yourself would likely be a very draining and costly mistake.

If you’re injured in a car accident or workplace incident or are otherwise victimized, don’t be tempted to go it alone. Get the support you need – and, most importantly, the outcome you deserve – by contacting Greg Linehan Law anytime for a free consultation.

 

*Source: Insurance Research Council

A first person view of a motorcycle ride

Motorcycle Riding Laws in Florida

By Law, Motorcycle

Motorcycle riding is a popular form of transportation and recreation in Florida. However, there are certain laws and regulations that riders must abide by to ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road. This article will discuss motorcycle riding laws in Florida, including helmet laws, insurance requirements, and licensing requirements.

Helmet Laws

In Florida, helmet laws have been a topic of debate for years. Unlike many other states, Florida doesn’t require riders over the age of 21 to wear helmets, provided they have medical insurance coverage of at least $10,000. However, riders under 21 must wear helmets while riding a motorcycle or moped. Although wearing a helmet is not mandatory, research has shown that helmets are essential in preventing serious injury or death in the event of an accident. 

Insurance Requirements

Technically, Florida does not require motorcycle riders to have motorcycle insurance. However, if a rider causes an accident they will be financially responsible for any damages or injuries they may cause while riding. In Florida, motorcycle insurance options include purchasing coverage for bodily injury liability, uninsured motorist coverage, and underinsured motorist coverage.

Licensing Requirements

To legally ride a motorcycle in Florida, riders must obtain a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. To obtain a motorcycle endorsement, riders must pass a motorcycle safety course or a skills test issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. There are also certain age restrictions for obtaining a motorcycle endorsement. Riders under the age of 18 must hold a learner’s permit for one year and complete a motorcycle safety course before obtaining a motorcycle endorsement.

Other Laws

There are other laws that motorcycle riders in Florida must abide by. For example, it is illegal for riders to weave in and out of traffic or to lane split in Florida. Additionally, riders are required to have working headlights, taillights, and turn signals on their motorcycles. Finally, riders are not allowed to carry passengers unless their motorcycle is designed to do so.

Penalties for Violating Motorcycle Riding Laws

Violating motorcycle riding laws in Florida can result in serious consequences. Riders who violate helmet laws or fail to obtain the proper licensing can be fined or even face criminal charges. Additionally, riders who do not have insurance or carry inadequate insurance may be responsible for all damages and injuries caused in an accident. It is essential that riders follow these laws to ensure their safety and financial security.

A Real Connection to the Sarasota Motorcycle Community 

Greg Linehan has been involved in the motorcycle community in the Sarasota area for over ten years. Our firm has sponsored countless events and rides with local groups, including Nite Train Express and the Blue Knights. We have also donated to charity drives organized by local motorcycle groups, like the upcoming School Supply Run we are collecting donations for and the Blue Knights annual 9/11 ride. We have been a major sponsor of Thunder by the Bay for ten years and look forward to continuing to do so for many more years in the future. Greg has also attended meetings of various local motorcycle organizations to help educate riders on Florida laws and what insurance policies will help to cover them in the event of an accident. 

If you’re looking for someone with firsthand motorcycle experience and a compassionate advocate for your case, contact us today.

Who is responsible for dog bites on the job?

What to Do if You’re Bitten by a Dog on the Job

By Tort, Workers Compensation

Being bitten by a dog while working can be a scary and traumatic experience. Whether you work for a postal service, delivery company, or any other occupation that requires you to enter people’s properties, there is always a risk of dog bites. If this happens, it is important to know what actions to take next.

If you are bitten by a dog while working, it is typically considered a workers’ compensation claim. This means that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance would cover medical expenses and lost wages related to the injury. However, if the dog was owned by a third party and not related to your job duties, it may also be considered a personal injury claim. It is important to report the incident to your employer immediately and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Does Worker’s Compensation Apply?

Worker’s compensation is a benefit provided to employees who are injured at work as a result of their job duties. When it comes to dog bites, worker’s compensation may only apply if the bite occurred while the employee was carrying out their job. If an employee is bitten by a dog while working, their first step should be to seek medical attention immediately. Even small bites can quickly become infected, and it is essential to get appropriate care as soon as possible.

After seeking medical attention, the employee should inform their employer right away. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover any medical expenses and lost wages if the employee is required to take time off work to recover from their injury. However, a workers’ compensation claim may not apply if the employee was bitten while not in the course and scope of their work.

Personal Injury vs. Worker’s Compensation

In some situations, a dog bite at work may not be eligible for worker’s compensation and may instead be considered a personal injury claim. This is particularly true if the bite occurred on a property outside of the employee’s job duties.  If a dog bites an employee off the clock or during their lunch break, they may still seek compensation from the owner of the dog under the premises liability doctrine.

It should be noted that worker’s compensation cases may be paid out more quickly than personal injury claims. Personal injury claims can be lengthy, requiring extensive documentation and investigation. While the victim will likely recover more financial compensation in personal injury cases, these claims can take years to resolve.

Who’s Responsible?

Florida Statute 767.04 states that: “The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness”

In plain terms, if a dog bites someone, regardless if it is a worker or not, the owner of the dog is strictly responsible for the injury caused. The responsibility extends to any medical expenses incurred by the victim, lost wages, and even damages for pain and suffering. If the owner has homeowner’s, business, or renter’s insurance, the claim would be made against the owner’s policy, which typically includes third-party liability.

To avoid dog bites in the workplace, employers should have proper training procedures and protocols in place for their employees. Employers must also be cautious when interacting with dogs and are expected to follow any policies imposed by building owners where the employee is working.

We Can Help

Ultimately, if bitten by a dog while working, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure medical treatment is received as soon as possible. Employees should inform their employers about the incident and seek medical attention immediately after the incident. The employer or employee should contact an attorney to determine whether the dog bite constitutes a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim against the dog owner.

If you or someone you know has experienced a dog bite while on the job, contact our office today, and our team will help you establish a path forward.

 

Workplace accident

Top Mistakes Made in Workplace Injury Cases

By Law, Workers Compensation

Workplace injuries can be a significant challenge for employees. Therefore, having access to worker’s compensation benefits can help individuals navigate the recovery process by providing financial support while they’re unable to work. Nevertheless, obtaining these benefits can be challenging if the application process is not carried out correctly. Sadly, many potential claimants make several mistakes that can hurt their case. Here are the most common workplace injury claim mistakes that can impact your case for worker’s compensation.

Delaying your claim

Delaying your worker’s compensation claim can significantly impact the success of your case. Some employees may hold off on filing a claim, hoping that their injury will heal on its own. However, most workplace injuries will not heal overnight, and it can be increasingly challenging to prove that your injury is work-related as time goes by. Filing your claim immediately not only strengthens your claim but also ensures that you will have access to compensation and medical benefits as soon as possible.

Not reporting your injury immediately

When you sustain a workplace injury, ensure that you report it to your employer immediately. Reporting your injury as soon as possible helps ensure that your employer investigates the accident and helps you complete the claim process. Employers have an obligation to investigate reports of workplace injuries to maintain employee safety and ensure that hazards are identified and resolved. Ultimately, if the injury is not reported within the company’s defined timeframe, it can be challenging to prove it’s work-related, and this can reduce your chances of success on a worker’s compensation claim.

Not seeking medical care

If you’re injured while working, seek medical care immediately, even if you don’t believe the injury to be severe. By seeking medical care, it ensures that you receive necessary medical treatment and creates a paper trail of evidence that you can use to prove your claim. Additionally, not seeking medical care can hurt your claim by signaling that your injury is not severe enough. Failing to do so may reduce your chances of receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.

Not following the doctor’s orders

When you’re injured while working, it’s essential to follow the doctor’s orders strictly. Failing to do so can be detrimental to your claim and hurt your chances of receiving your worker’s compensation benefits. A lack of compliance with your physician’s recommendations signals that your injury is not severe or that you’re not trying to recover fully. It may also make it seem as if you’ve not sustained a compensable injury.

Not documenting all the details of the accident

Documenting all the details of the accident is essential when it comes to filing a worker’s compensation claim. If possible, take note of all the circumstances surrounding the accident, including the safety hazards that may have caused the injury, the location where the injury occurred, and the people who witnessed the incident. Furthermore, gather and keep any documents and reports written up by employers and supervisors, as well as any contact you’ve had with worker’s comp insurance representatives.

Not hiring an attorney

Filing for worker’s compensation can be challenging, especially if your claim is denied or rejected. In such cases, it’s essential to have the support of an experienced worker’s compensation attorney. An attorney can help you understand the complexities of worker’s compensation laws and review your case to ensure that you’re adequately represented. Besides, an attorney can negotiate with your employer or its insurance provider to ensure that you receive a fair settlement for your injuries.

Navigating the worker’s compensation process is not easy, and making any of the above mistakes can have a significant impact on the success of your claim. It’s vital to act quickly, report the incident right away, seek medical care, follow the doctor’s orders, document all details surrounding the accident, and have an experienced attorney by your side. By avoiding these mistakes, you can strengthen your chances of success with worker’s compensation claims.

If you have experienced a workplace injury, contact our firm today to review your options before it’s too late.

A school bus stop sign

School Zone and Bus Stop Rules of the Road

By Law

National Bike & Roll to School Day is May 3, and with more kids expected to be on the loose that morning, it has our team thinking a lot about the rules that are in place to protect our children on their commutes to and from school.

Florida has strict rules that govern school zones and bus stops in order to ensure the safety of children. These rules apply to every driver, whether you are a resident or just visiting the state.

School Zones

School zones are designated areas near schools where drivers must slow down and be extra cautious for the safety of children. Florida law mandates that the speed limit in a school zone be 20 miles per hour, but this can vary depending on the location, so it is important to look out for signs that indicate the applicable speed limit.

In addition to obeying the speed limit, drivers must also comply with other rules when entering and exiting a school zone. Passing is strictly prohibited, and U-turns are also not allowed in school zones, even if there is no signage prohibiting them.

It’s also important to watch out for pedestrians, especially near schools. Children are often not aware of the dangers of the road and can be easily distracted, so it is crucial to be alert and vigilant when driving through a school zone. Drivers should also always use their turn signals when entering and exiting a school zone, particularly when turning into a parking lot.

Additionally, Florida Statute 316.306 states that it is a noncriminal traffic infraction to use a wireless communication device while driving through a school zone or school crossing unless the device is used in a hands-free manner. 

Bus Stops

Bus stops are another critical area where drivers must exercise caution. Florida law requires drivers to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off children, regardless of which direction they are traveling in. The only exception to this rule is when drivers are on a divided highway with a physical barrier that separates the road.

When a school bus activates its flashing red lights and extends its stop sign, all traffic must come to a complete stop until the lights stop flashing and the sign is retracted. Even if the school bus is in the opposite lane, drivers must stop.

Finally, do not attempt to maneuver around a school bus that is stopped if you’re too close to it on a two-lane road. Children can often be unpredictable and may run into the street when exiting the bus, so it is essential to exercise caution and wait patiently.

In Florida, penalties for passing a stopped school bus include:

  • Moving violation subject to citation;
  • Requirement to complete a basic Driver Improvement Course upon conviction;
  • Four points on your driver’s license; and
  • Minimum fine of $165, if you pass on the side where children enter and exit, you will receive a minimum fine of $265.

On July 1, 2017, the Cameron Mayhew Act took effect in Florida, which increases the minimum penalty for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus, resulting in the injury or death of another person. Cameron Mayhew was killed by a motorist that failed to stop as he was walking to his stopped school bus in 2016.

Penalties for passing a stopped school bus that causes or results in serious bodily injury or the death of another person include:

  • Serving 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital;
  • Participating in a victim’s impact panel session, or if such a panel does not exist, attending an FLHSMV-approved driver improvement course;
  • Six points on your driver’s license;
  • Suspension of license for a minimum of one year; and
  • $1,500 fine.

It’s Up to Us to Keep Our Children Safe

Drivers must follow specific rules around school zones and bus stops in Florida. Failing to adhere to these rules puts children and other drivers at risk of harm through speeding, passing a stopped school bus, or not stopping at all. Drivers need to be attentive, slow down, and watch carefully for children whenever they are driving through a school zone or approaching a bus stop. It is up to all of us to make sure our roads are safe for our children while they are commuting to school.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by the failure of a driver in a school zone or at a bus stop, contact us today for a consultation.

Close up of the definition of the word tort

The Florida Tort Reform Bill

By Law, Tort

Our team has been cautiously observing the developments of the New Tort Reform Bill. This new legislation imposes several changes to the current tort laws, which will decidedly impact how personal injury cases are litigated in the State of Florida.

Synopsis of the Florida Tort Reform Bill

The bill is a comprehensive reform in seven areas of the insurance claims process and the associated lawsuits filed by claimants in Florida. There are some “easy” examples as to how this will affect you and some extremely complex/nuanced examples as well that are hard to grasp unless you’ve been through a claim before. I will attempt to break down the two major changes of this bill that will affect every Floridian.

Examples To Help Understand Changes

Underpaid and Denied Insurance Claims

First, the bill is going to take away any practical ability for you to fight a denied or underpaid insurance claim unless you are able to afford an attorney out of your pocket. This means when a tree falls on your house that results in $15,000.00 worth of damage, the insurance carrier can (and will) offer any amount they want (say $5,000.00 in this example). When you argue with the insurance carrier about the fair value of the claim, their response will be “sue us.” Currently, when that happens if you prove there was an underpayment of even a dollar, the court awards you the rightful amount of claim and a separate amount for the attorneys’ fees that you incurred fighting the underpayment. During the debate on the floor, Representative Gregory (house bill sponsor) and Representative Hutson (senate bill sponsor said) said it is time for Florida to go back to the “pay your own attorney” system. This means that you will now have to either 1) pay an attorney out of your pocket without the ability to be paid back for that expense to pursue the insurance carrier’s underpayment or 2) agree to have the attorney take a portion of the claim for their fees (in the above example that means that you would agree to pay the attorney their fees and costs out of the $10,000.00 that you would recover in the lawsuit).

The practical ability of this is that the general public will not have the money to fight underpayments of claims. A similar (but significantly smaller) type of reform recently went into effect for hurricane claims, and the insurance carriers immediately started to underpay and delay claims since there was no practical way for the common Floridian to fight them.

The above example will apply to health insurance denials and underpayments, renters insurance claims, life insurance claims, total loss claims for vehicle accidents, repairs for vehicle accidents, and any other insurance claim that you may make directly against your insurance company.

When You Cause an Injury

Second, in claims where you did something wrong and are ultimately sued, the bill takes away the current protections requiring your insurance company to defend you and attempt to settle the claim within your policy limits. Using an auto accident example, if you rear-end someone your insurance carrier has a duty to defend you and attempt to resolve your claim within whatever policy limits you have (this is referred to as the “duty of good faith”). I can assure you unless you are vastly underinsured, every personal injury attorney in Florida will provide an opportunity for your insurance carrier to resolve the claim within policy limits at some point in the claims process (explained further below).

If the insurance carrier fails to settle your claim and your case proceeds to trial resulting in a judgment above your policy limits, you can then point the finger back at your insurance company and say “Why didn’t you settle my claim within policy limits when you had the opportunity to?” If the insurance carrier didn’t act in “good faith,” the insurance carrier will then be responsible for the full payment of the judgment, regardless of your policy limit (this is referred to as “bad faith”). The new law eviscerates the practical ability to raise any bad-faith argument, meaning that the insurance carriers will be off the hook for excess judgments. Under the new law, after a judgment is entered against you the insurance carrier will pay your policy limit, then you’ll be responsible for the remaining judgment amount. You will (practically) no longer be able to point the finger back at the insurance carrier for failing to settle the claim within your policy limits. Unfortunately, this is going to devastate small businesses when their employees cause accidents and also result in garnishments and asset forfeitures against people who cause accidents.

Other Provisions Included in the Tort Reform Package

There is a lot more to the bill, including limitations on medical damages recoverable in personal injury cases (without any ability for an injured person to apply those limitations to the bill they have to pay), takes away the attorney-client privilege in certain situations (meaning that you will not be able to openly speak with your attorney about certain aspects of your claim), creates an absolute bar to recovery if you are found to be 51% for causing your injury (this will apply mainly to premises liability/slip-and-fall cases which result in some of the worst injuries I see as an attorney), provides a pass to landlords who do not keep their property safe from known dangers as long certain, very minimal, security measures are met (locks and lights along with some other requirements), reduce the time to file a claim from 4 years to 2 years (candidly this is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme), and will make it virtually impossible for victims of crime to receive compensation for their injuries (the Parkland parents adamantly opposed this bill alongside Miya Marcano’s parents).

Overview

    1. The statute of limitations for all negligence causes of action accruing after 3/24/23 was changed from four years to two years;
    2. Safe harbors and a clearer standard for insurance bad faith claims were enacted, and, the insured’s and his representative’s conduct are now relevant;
    3. Efficient options were created for fast-tracking court or arbitration resolution of coverage disputes where a declination of coverage has been issued (and a reservation of rights does not constitute a declination for this purpose);
    4. Comparative negligence is now hybrid; if a plaintiff is more than 50% responsible, recovery is barred, and in a related provision, judges or juries may consider the liability of bad actors who cause intentional harm in their assessments of liability;
    5. Fee multipliers are largely eliminated, and one-way attorney’s fees opportunities are greatly restricted;
    6. Greater transparency about and reasonableness keyed to amounts actually paid or payable by health care coverage, CPT codes, and Medicare/Medicare schedules are mandated as to medical bills and Letters of Protection;
    7. New protections have been created for certain premises liability defendants who institute enumerated safety precautions; compliance with some is required now, and compliance with others is required by January 1, 2025.
    8. In addition to substantive changes, the new law addresses procedural issues as well; significant litigation is expected over whether some of the procedural changes will apply retroactively, even if the substantive changes do not.
    9. Legal challenges to the new law are expected and imminent;
    10. Different approaches will be required for cases filed before and cases filed after 3/24/23.

It is our belief that state legislators should propose legislation that focuses on protecting the rights of the people and ensuring that they receive fair compensation for injuries caused by others’ negligence. It is our obligation as lawyers to fight for our clients’ rights and advocate for justice, and we stand ready to do so tirelessly.

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