How do I Prove my Pain and Suffering?

Florida pain and suffering lawsuit

Florida pain and suffering caseConsult an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney TODAY!

Imagine that you are walking by a construction site when you hear a loud noise. You turn around in time to see a large piece of equipment hurtling toward you, out of control. You are struck and injured, requiring hospitalization. Even after you are able to return to work, you have lingering pain in your knee and elbow, and your doctor says that this pain might never go away. When you’re able to get to sleep at night, you are plagued by nightmares. You can’t quite bring yourself to walk by another construction site. You used to run every morning, but the pain is too much now.

The construction company doesn’t dispute that it is responsible for your injuries, and it is willing to compensate you for your hospital bills and your time off work… but is that all you’re entitled to?

Damages that result from an injury can be tangible or intangible. Tangible damages are normally economic: Your medical bills, time lost from work, medications, and other monetary losses fall easily into this category. Tangible damages are relatively simple to prove, because there is normally a bill, a paystub, or a receipt you can produce to show how much you should be paid.

Intangible damages are harder to prove for a number of reasons, including because you may not know yourself the full toll they will eventually take on you. Your pain and suffering looms large in your life each day, but how much do they cost you? If you have returned to work, your economic damages might be as good as resolved, but it’s hard to say or feel  that you have been made whole.

Florida law recognizes the burden that pain and suffering can bring after an injury, and it allows monetary awards to compensate you. Because it is more difficult to prove pain and suffering, however, be sure that you collect and preserve the following evidence from the outset of your case:

  • Keep a log of your daily pain.
  • Record any prescriptions for pain medications, along with how often you took them and how much over-the-counter medication you used.
  • Make a list of the activities you enjoyed before your accident that are difficult to enjoy after the accident.

The best thing you can do after an accident is to consult an experienced attorney as quickly as possible. Your attorney will be able to guide you throughout the process and can work to ensure that you receive full compensation for all of your tangible and intangible damages.

At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we have been representing accident victims for years, and we would be honored to assist you with your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Amusement park injuries Florida lawsuit
Amusement Park Injuries

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt

Contact the Tampa Premises Liability Attorneys TODAY!

Of the thousands of people who flock to Florida’s amusement parks each year, very few will be injured on a ride. For those who are, however, a dream vacation or fun outing with the family can turn into a nightmare.

The nature of amusement park rides can spell disaster following any minor mistake in operation of the ride. Though most parks establish strict training and safety procedures to ensure the safety of their guests, a ride doesn’t have to crash to generate an actionable injury.

Imagine, for instance, that you are with your family at an amusement park and that you wait in line to ride a popular roller coaster. When your turn to board finally arrives, you approach the ride car and start to climb aboard. Just as you place your first foot in the car, however, the ride operator accidentally hits the wrong button on the ride control, and the car lurches forward. You are thrown off balance and fall, breaking your ankle and striking your head on the car behind you.

Because you are an invited guest of the amusement park, the doctrine of premises liability dictates that the park is responsible to ensure that any ride you ride and any path you walk on is safe and unlikely to injure you. Though amusement parks might not be held liable for injuries you sustain while you are breaking their rules (such as not keeping your hands and arms inside the car at all times during the ride), any time you are injured due to operator negligence or other negligence by park employees, you are entitled to compensation.

If you have been injured on a Florida amusement park ride, call the law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore. We have experience in personal injury relating to premises liability and would be honored to help you receive the compensation you are due. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Scary lawyer, dirty legal tricks vs ethical rules

Legal Dirty Tricks vs Ethical RulesWork with the Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore attorneys who understand and implement the Florida Bar Ethics Rules.

When some litigants describe their ideal lawyer, they picture a “bulldog” attorney who will fight a no-holds-barred, guerrilla-type campaign designed to flatten the other party and leave them begging for mercy. Some litigants believe that, to be truly effective, lawyers must whip out an arsenal of tricks to bully the other side into submission.

The reality, fortunately, is that rules of the Florida Bar – together with other bar associations across the country – actively prohibit just this type of unfair legal practice.

Florida Bar Rule 4-8.4(d) directs that a lawyer shall not:

[E]ngage in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including to knowingly, or through callous indifference, disparage, humiliate, or discriminate against litigants, jurors, witnesses, court personnel, or other lawyers on any basis, including, but not limited to, on account of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, employment, or physical characteristic.

This rule has been used both broadly and specifically, and it serves to curb any tendency within the legal community towards harassment, bullying, or other dirty tricks. Rule 4-8.4(d) has been used, for example, to discipline a lawyer who frivolously reported the other party to the U.S. Attorney merely in an effort to intimidate her. Other attorneys have been disciplined under this rule for dishonest conduct surrounding their decisions to leave their old firms and take clients with them. Yet another attorney was disciplined because his inability to work with other attorneys delayed the administration of justice and increased the costs to his client.

Though it can be tempting to want to employ an attorney who works harder to get around the law than to obey it, most clients find that, in the end, such a lawyer is less effective at achieving the desired result. What is best is to seek an attorney who understands the laws relating to your case as well as the rules of ethics, through his or her long experience practicing to uphold them.

At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we strive to zealously and ethically represent our clients and to gain them every benefit allowed by the law. Because we understand the law and the rules that govern the legal practice, we can spend our time correctly applying the law to your case. If you have need of a personal injury, medical malpractice, or legal malpractice attorney in the Tampa, Florida area, contact us today for a free consultation.

sovereign immunity- can I still sue a government agency?

Sovereign ImmunityIt used to be that citizens in Florida were barred from suing the state or any of its agencies or subdivisions. Until the mid-1970’s, if you were injured or damaged in any way by negligent governmental action, you could not recover any amount of money from the state because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

In 1975, however, Florida enacted Florida Statutes section 768.28, which provides a partial waiver of Florida’s sovereign immunity. Since then, Florida citizens have been able to recover damages from the state, subject to a few very important exceptions and limitations.

Certain Actions Only

Florida, along with its subdivisions and agencies, may be sued for some negligent or wrongful acts or omissions, but generally may not be sued for bad policy decisions. For example, the state is typically immune from suit for the decision not to place a stoplight at a busy intersection but is liable for its negligent failure to maintain a stoplight at a busy intersection. Police officers are often immune from liability, as demonstrated by court cases protecting the state from liability in cases ranging from ordinance enforcement decisions to prisoner transfer to firefighting. This immunity isn’t absolute, however, and state agencies have been found liable for such actions as failing to detect child abuse or for failing to correctly follow police procedures in a traffic stop.

If you have been damaged because of the negligent decisions or actions of a state agency, your ability to recover will depend in large part upon the type of action or decision that is at the core of your injuries.

The State or the Employee

Your attorney will have to advise you as to whether you should sue the state or its employee or both. Florida Statutes section 768.28(9)(a) provides that officers, employees, and agents of the state may only be sued personally if they “acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property.”  If that happens, or if the employee acts “outside the course and scope of her or his employment,” then the state is not liable for damages resulting from that employee’s actions.

Damage Caps

Even when a state agency or employee may be held liable for negligence, the damages that an injured person may recover are limited to a total of $200,000 per person and $300,000 per incident. If your damages exceed those amounts, you can only be paid for the excess amount after the case is referred to the legislature for further action, or if the agency has insurance with a higher coverage limit and decides to use it to settle your case. Keep in mind that even if the agency has insurance with a higher coverage limit, its use of that higher coverage is discretionary: The state does not waive its liability limits by obtaining insurance with greater coverage amounts.

Florida’s sovereign immunity law contains hotly debated gray areas and shifting Supreme Court positions. If you have been injured by the actions of the State of Florida or by one of its agencies or subdivisions, you will need to obtain the advice of an attorney who understands the current case law and has experience in tort actions against the State. At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, our experience in this area will help guide you in recovering the full amount allowed by law. Contact us today.

florida auto accident comparative negligence

Contact a Tampa personal injury litigation attorney today!

When more than one person is at fault in an accidentComparative Negligence, Florida, along with only twelve other states, holds to a doctrine of comparative negligence, which apportions a party’s share of the damages according to each party’s share of the blame.

While some states hold that any shared blame results in no recovery at all and other states have a tiered system for apportioning blame, comparative negligence states require each party to take responsibility for their portion of the damages, whether that share is determined to be large or small.

Consider, for example, that you are driving the speed limit and trying to be cautious, but you glance occasionally at your cell phone. You come to a full stop at a four way stop, but a new text comes in as you pull into the intersection. Because you’re distracted, you don’t see another vehicle approaching at a high speed from the right. The other vehicle runs the stop sign and impacts the passenger side of your car, causing damage and injuries totaling $100,000. You hire an attorney, and she sues the other driver on your behalf and proves at trial the full amount of damages. If a jury determines that you were 1% to blame, and the other driver was 99% at fault, then that other driver (or his insurance) would be required to pay $99,000 of the damages. If the jury determines that you were 20% at fault, the other driver would have to pay $80,000, and so forth.

Understanding comparative negligence is important because, particularly in two-car auto accidents, it is not uncommon for both parties to have done something wrong. Therefore, when negotiating a pre-trial resolution to your case, you must gauge the likelihood that the jury could find that you contributed in some way to the damages – either before or after the accident – and take that into account in how you make and respond to settlement offers.

An experienced attorney is an important resource when evaluating the strength of your case and the likelihood that a jury might assign you some portion of fault. At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we are highly skilled in personal injury litigation, with a full understanding of what elements might factor into a jury’s decision and how juries decide comparative negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation.