Articles Posted in Trial

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We are pleased to bring back, by popular demand, our anonymous insurance defense trial attorney for more “confessions”. These pieces inform and instruct clients and litigants on areas that Defense Lawyer’s capitilize on. To prepare and protect you, our clients. Because we only represent victims. Today’s topic is preparation and what every injured person can do to avoid inadvertently sabotaging their own case. While your personal injury lawyer is responsible to guard your best interests and to achieve justice, the attorney cannot do it alone. You are partners with different responsibilities. Your main responsibility is to avoid common mistakes that could end up destroying your case in front of a jury. According to our insurance defense attorney here are a few basic things to avoid:

 

GO TO ALL OF YOUR DOCTOR AND THERAPY APPOINTMENTS

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In teaching young attorneys how to try cases, much of the instruction centers on preparation. An important aspect of Trial Prep are timelines of events such as litigation and medical treatment. If you are able to look at the timelines individually and collectively you will often see a different picture. This view is analogous to viewing art in a museum. Look from a distance. Then walk up close for another look. Then finally return to the distant view and with the knowledge of the detailed view you will see a “third” view of the art.

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juryYou just got your summons for jury duty and your first thought might be “How do I get out of jury duty in Miami?” But if you really think about it, is that the right thing to do? What if you had a personal injury case that needed to be tried before a jury and no one showed up? What if you were the victim of a crime and were relying upon good intelligent jurors to weigh the evidence in your case against the Defendant? Or, even worse, what if you were a wrongly accused Defendant and you were innocent and needed smart jurors to see that?

Trial by jury is the cornerstone of our judicial system. We here at Wolfson Law Firm are trial lawyers who represent people who suffered personal injuries due to the negligence of others. We consistently rely on the good citizens of Miami-Dade County to serve as jurors. We always encourage our clients, employees and attorneys to serve when called.

We also believe that everyone who is eligible should serve as a juror because we all count on each other to get through this life. One day you might be a juror. The next time you might be a plaintiff or a defendant and you will be counting on a jury to deliver justice. We all need each other and our system of justice counts on all of us.

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Insurance companies classify injury claims for evaluation and efficiency. One of the main categories are MIST (Minor Impact Soft Injury) or LIST (Low Impact Soft Tissue) claims. Once a claim is designated as a MIST claim, the insurance company will set a value based on other MIST claims and rarely increase the offer unless there is a significant and serious change in the facts of the claim.

M.I.S.T – MINOR INJURY SOFT TISSUE CLAIMS Jonah Wolfson Miami

One of the goals of an insurance company is efficiency. It is how they maximize their profits. Think about how insurance companies encourage or reward you for going online to self-service your policy and premiums. Every time you handle your insurance issues online, you are not costing the company any employee time – and time is money.

By classifying cases insurance companies, reduce your claim to simple numbers. There is no consideration of the shock, pain or emotional toll caused by the accident as it is irrelevant to the insurance company. They can give a young claim representative hundreds of MIST claims with talking points and marching orders to handle all of the claims the same way.

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If you settle your personal injury claim, you will need to sign a release to get the money. A release basically means that you are releasing, or letting go, your claims against the responsible party. In a car accident, that usually means the owner and operator of the other vehicle as well as their insurance company. In a slip and fall injury, it would be the property owner. In a medical malpractice case, the doctor and possibly the hospital would want a release in exchange for a settlement.

Miami Accident lawyer Jonah Wolfson

Releases are covered by basic contract law. There is an offer to settle and, if agreed, an acceptance of that offer. But there must be what is called a “meeting of the minds” which means that the terms of the offer and acceptance must be agreed to by both parties. If the acceptance does not match or “mirror” the offer, then there is no agreement.

In a recent Florida case, the importance of having a “meeting of the minds” was clearly demonstrated. After a car accident, the injured party offered to settle her claim against the other driver for his policy limits with USAA Insurance Company. In addition, she offered to release her claims against the other driver. However, her attorney specifically advised USAA that she would not sign a release containing a hold harmless agreement nor an indemnity agreement. The attorney also warned USAA that any attempt to release anyone other than the other driver would act as a rejection of her good faith offer to settle.

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If you are injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to damages which can include future medical expenses and loss of earning capacity. However, Florida law requires that you must present sufficient evidence that a jury could, with reasonable certainty, determine the amounts of future damages.  Florida courts will not allow speculative future damages that are unsupported by the evidence – no matter how seriously a person is injured.

Consider the case of Erin Joynt who was severely injured when she was run over by a Volusia County Beach Patrol truck while sunbathing at the beach. She was vacationing with her husband and children from Kansas when a lifeguard ran over her head and body. Ms. Joynt suffered a fractured skull, memory loss, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. She continued to have a lingering paralysis on the left side of her face. Her story received international attention.

Miami car accident lawyer

Joynt filed a negligence suit against the County, seeking damages for the injuries she suffered. After a four-day trial, the jury awarded $2.6 million in compensatory damages, broken down as follows: $2 million for past and future pain and suffering; $500,000 for diminished earning capacity, and $100,000 for future medical expenses.

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If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be facing a range of new concerns—from lifestyle changes related to your injuries to lost time at work and medical expenses. The last thing from your mind may be your social media posts or that golf accident you had two years ago. Yet, if you are seeking representation from an accident lawyer in Miami to receive a recovery for your injuries, your social media use, prior injuries, and even the kind of medical care you receive can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. Here are five things to be aware of if you’re in the process of working with or finding a car accident attorney.

Miami Personal Injury  Lawyer

  1. Disclose all prior injuries. You must let your attorney know about any injuries you may have suffered before your accident—even if they are minor. If these injuries come up in court and aren’t previously disclosed, they can hurt your case. An extreme example of this was recently reported in the Miami Herald. A man won a $184,429 personal injury recovery, but had this verdict thrown out when it came to light that he had sustained injuries when he was tackled by police officers after taking a drunken golf cart joyride through the city.
  2. Avoid posting to social media. Anything you say in social media may be used against you—whether or not it pertains to your case. Even an innocent vacation photo can impact how a judge or jury perceives your claim. You can significantly damage even a straightforward case if you post the wrong picture or say the wrong thing. Your best bet is to avoid social media until your case is over. Or, if you must post something, pass it by your lawyer first.
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A chiropractor and his wife were awarded $14.5 million in their lawsuit against GEICO in Miami-Dade County. The jury’s verdict was based on a December 2004 highway collision with an uninsured motorist. Dr. David Zucker and his wife filed their lawsuit in 2006 and finally received their verdict over 9 years later.

geico gecco

The jury found in favor of Dr. Zucker and awarded him damages for:

  • $767,740.00 in Past Lost Wages: The amount of money he lost as income because of the crash
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A jury told GEICO to pay $9.6 million because it failed to help its own policyholder settle a claim following a fatal accident. When an insurance company pays its policy limits that does not settle the case. Insurance companies have to try to get a release for its policyholder whenever it can. That is the duty it owes to the people who pay for their insurance.

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James Harvey was insured with GEICO with $100,000 policy limits. He had crashed his Hummer into motorcyclist John Potts and killed him. GEICO sent a check for the $100,000 policy limits to the attorney who represented Mr. Potts’ estate. The estate’s attorney properly requested GEICO to make Mr. Harvey available to answer questions about any other assets he might have to compensate the estate. GEICO said no and advised Mr. Harvey to not give a statement.

The GEICO adjuster ignored the estate’s attorney. If GEICO had allowed and encouraged Mr. Harvey to provide asset information to the estate attorney, then the estate would have executed a release for the $100,000 policy limits. After weeks of no response from GEICO, the estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the GEICO insured and obtained an $8.47 million verdict against Mr. Harvey.

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EVIDENCE OF FUTURE MEDICARE BENEFITS AT IS NOT ADMISSIBLE AT TRIAL

State Farm took a father and his developmentally disabled adult son to the Florida Supreme Court and lost. The son was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in 2007. Since he was disabled, his father, as his parent and natural guardian, sued State Farm for uninsured motorist benefits in the case of Joerg v. State Farm.

Miami Car Accident Lawyer

Before the accident, the son was entitled to Medicare benefits because of his disabilities. At trial, the father and son asked the trial court to prevent State Farm from telling the jury about his benefits under Medicare and Medicaid. The trial court agreed with the father and his son. After a four day trial, the jury awarded a total of $1,491,875.54 which included $469,076 for future medical expenses. State Farm appealed the case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.

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  If you were injured in a car accident in South Florida, then you need a lawyer. But what kind of lawyer should you get? In personal injury, there are basically three types of lawyers: claim attorneys, litigators, and trial lawyers.

Lawyer and the law with a justice scale made of brass gold metal on a glowing background as a symbol of the legal advice, system in government and society in enforcing rights and regulations.

Claim attorneys can handle your case up to settlement or the filing of a lawsuit. They refer unsettled cases to litigators or trial attorneys.  Litigators file lawsuits and work to settle cases but do not go to trial. They will refer the case to a trial attorney if they cannot settle a case. Trial attorneys represent you before a jury and, hopefully, achieve the best result possible.

Generally, claim attorneys do not litigate and litigators don’t try cases. On the other hand, trial lawyers will handle your case from the beginning through settlement or trial. Generally, the referral of a personal injury case does not change or increase the amount of the attorney’s fee in accordance with the Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct.

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