Injuries can happen in places and ways you’d never expect. The Terrell • Hogan personal injury and wrongful death law firm has been digging out the facts and showing them to juries for more than 40 years. In law, as in journalism, finding “who, what, when, where and why” is critical in finding the truth. Terrell • Hogan has been dedicated to answering those questions and our experience, resources and swift action, joined with the determination of our clients, have helped achieve consistent success over the years.
Who is responsible?
Who is responsible? Liability is a word for legal responsibility and requires finding out whose fault resulted in injury or death. The facts of your injury claim are vital. An accident causing injury can be the fault of more than the obvious wrongdoer, so identifying other contributing causes is important, since the one most obviously at fault may have a limited ability to compensate for the serious harm you have suffered. And, in Florida, the Legislature has passed laws meaning that all at-fault parties should be identified and held responsible.
What happened is often more complicated than it seems at first. Even when people see the same thing, they can see it differently. What might seem obvious in negligence cases must be investigated to be proved in court. It’s not enough to assume the facts. The trial attorney must dig deeper — to the facts behind what seems obvious — to get what can be proved in court. We say at the courthouse, “It’s not a fact unless you can prove it.”
Just so, the facts of an accident require investigation and explanation so jurors can decide what happened. The legal test in an accident case, or product defect or professional malpractice, is proof by the greater weight of the evidence. This means helping the jury decide what probably happened.
When did it happen?
Florida, has statutes of limitations that set time limits. Once the statute of limitations has expired even the most negligent, reckless or intentional offender can escape liability.
When your accident happened typically starts the clock on the statute of limitations, but there are exceptions. The statutes of limitations set the time after an event for how long you have to sue.
These limitations were created because, over time, evidence can be destroyed, memories can fade, and records may be purged. Another reason is to require the injured party to avoid sitting on his or her rights in order provide certainty and finality so that people can live their lives without fear of suit from events that happened long before.
So consulting an attorney soon after the injury or death is very important.
Where did it happen?
Highway? … Hospital? … Home? … Work? Where negligence causes injury or death makes a difference in the law that applies, and in the result.
Auto Accident Claims: If a driver is negligent and causes an accident, he or she will be liable for the injuries. Florida is a comparative fault state. This means that for trial or settlement the case will focus on the percentage of responsibility by each party that contributed to causing the injury. Also, negligent drivers who hurt you may have limited insurance coverage, so your attorney will need to know whether you have protected yourself by having “uninsured motorists coverage” to provide the insurance the other driver should have had. Because many things can come together to cause an accident, your attorney will go beyond the obvious. Here’s an example: a driver runs a red light. Careless, yes, but suppose the driver was drowsy because of being given the wrong medication when a pharmacy filled a prescription. Then your attorney will look into whether the pharmacy should be held accountable too.
Medical Malpractice Cases: These are injuries that occur when a medical professional fails to meet the standard expected of them within their profession. These cases are difficult to prove. Medical providers usually have access to qualified testifying witnesses who are willing to say the doctor or hospital met the standard of care. Also, the Legislature has created numerous hurdles to cross to even begin a medical malpractice cases. Having a “bad” result does not mean there is a prosecutable malpractice case; instead, your attorney must investigate to determine if the doctor breached the standard of care and be prepared to provide expert testimony that the standard has been breached.
Slip and Fall Accidents: If a party is injured on the property of another due to that person’s negligence, the homeowner or renter or both may be liable for negligence under what’s called premises liability. The injury may not have happened in a home; it may have happened in a store or other commercial property. The same rules apply, but there may be a greater ability of the commercial property owner to adequately compensate the injured for the harm.
Worksite and Product Liability Lawsuits: Construction sites are filled with dangers and many rules and regulations are in place to protect against injury, but too often those safety standards are ignored. When that happens and a person is hurt, liability can often be proved. Many other workplaces are subject to safety rules and regulations, and all are subject to the requirement to use reasonable care to prevent injury to people who are there. Also, if a product fails in its design, manufacture or distribution and the result is serious injury or death, the manufacturer or distributor is usually strictly liable to the party injured by a defective product. And many such product failures happen in the workplace. This is a complicated area of the law, but attorneys with experience know how to investigate and find the cause or causes of such events.
Clients are hallowed individuals at Terrell • Hogan. We feel a great responsibility to those who entrust their cases to us. We know that you are coming to us at a very difficult time and rely on our expertise and guidance to help you through it. So, when we become your attorneys, we devote our time and attention to building the strongest, most solid case we can.
When we take on a case, we are determined to win it. Our experience teaches that we must start preparing for a trial as soon as the client asks us to represent them. That preparation for trial is the key to producing deserved settlements for our clients. Ours is not a 9-to-5 job. Above all, we are committed to our clients, all of them. We fight just as hard for a “small” case as we do for a big case.