Florida Legal Topics

DeBary Legal News - Negligence

The Law Office of Paul Bernardini

Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse

On May 16, 2016, a jury in Colorado awarded a family of a former patient of Life Care Centers of America, Inc. (LCCA) $5.5 million. The horrible conditions and indignity Sophia Maria Alcon lived through until her death as a result of her lack of care at Life Care Center of Pueblo resulted in one of the higher court decisions against a nursing home for abuse and neglect. LCCA owns more than two dozen nursing homes in Florida, two in Orlando. If you have a loved one in a nursing home anywhere, please know the signs that can indicate a problem and address them right away. Nursing home abuse and negligence include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bedsores, also called decubitus ulcers or pressure ulcers
  • Staff refusing or delaying visits by family to see resident
  • Overmedicating patient
  • Falls with injuries
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Emotional abuse
  • Signs of emotional trauma
  • Sudden changes in patient behavior or prognosis
  • Rapid weight loss or malnutrition
  • Cracked lips or dehydration
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Inadequate staffing or poor quality of staff
  • Signs of sexual abuse, venereal diseases or genital infections
  • Transfer to hospital for infection, wound care, or malnutrition
  • Transfer to wound care clinic for wound care, debridement, or flap surgery
  • Financial exploitation
  • Unexplained death
It is important to make sure your loved one is being treated with the respect and care they deserve. Visitation by you and other family and friends is crucial. If you believe your loved one is suffering from any of these symptoms, or has had an unexplained death, please, please call me right away at 386-258-3453.

Florida’s statute of limitations on nursing home abuse is only two years, and it is essential that you act right away to gather evidence and witnesses. There is no time to lose. One of the first orders of business is to remove the patient from the facility as soon as possible. The sooner we can meet with you, the sooner we can user our experience to get you the help you need.

The consultation is always free.

Paul Bernardini

Rear-End Collision and Florida's Comparative Negligence Standard

Although most people assume that the last car in a rear-end collision is always 100% at fault, in 2012, the Florida Supreme Court cleared the way for the rear driver to present evidence as to the partial fault of the front driver in causing such a collision.

In Cevallos v. Rideout, et al., the Florida Supreme Court overruled the 4th District Court of Appeal’s decision to attribute sole fault to the rear driver in a collision. This case involved three drivers. The one in the middle had been on a cell phone and abruptly hit her brakes, colliding with the car in front of her. This resulted in the rear car colliding with her.

This decision means that now the rear driver can pursue damages, even if partially. Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence standard, which allows proven fault to be split between drivers (here, the middle driver), allowing the third car to recover a percentage of the damages. Of course, this must be argued by a competent lawyer.

Keep this in mind if you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision and you believe that the car you hit has been negligent in any way. Call us right away before you admit fault or talk to the insurance company, and never sign anything. Our consultations are always free.

Slip/Trip and Fall Injuries and Liability (Premises Law)

It is often difficult to prove who is at fault in a Slip/Trip and Fall injury. The property owner/renter or employee (hereinafter the “owner”) will not always be responsible for a situation that a reasonable person would and could have avoided. But if the owner caused and/or knew about the situation, he must fix it – or at the very least, post a visible sign of caution, or be liable for any consequences that may occur.

Many of these cases are decided by the perception of reasonableness. In order for a slip/trip and fall suit to be successful, the following may have to be proved by the plaintiff:

1. The owner created the situation;
2. The owner knew about the unsafe condition and failed to correct it in a reasonable, timely manner;
3. The owner reasonably should have known about the condition, foreseen the danger, and corrected it before your accident;
4. The owner did not have in place safety measures to reasonably check for hazards.

But could the owner have avoided the condition? Was the owner guilty of negligence and have a record of such negligence? Did he know about it and have sufficient time to rectify the situation? Did he do all he could to prevent injury, such as posting a sign until the danger was either fixed or removed? Was the lighting adequate and working, or was the area poorly lighted?

The injured party must prove negligence on the part of the owner. The injured party will also have to anticipate that the defense will be claiming the injury is due to some carelessness on the part of the plaintiff:

1. Did being on a cell phone or otherwise being distracted prevent him from noticing the hazard, when another person who was paying attention noticed the hazard?
2. Did the plaintiff have permission to be on the premises?
3. Did he ignore the perfectly adequate signage warning of the hazard?

Slip/trip and fall law, also known as premises law, can be complicated. There are many factors to consider, evidence to be gathered, and questions to be answered. You need a qualified personal injury attorney – and as soon as possible – if you believe you have been injured due to the negligence of the owner.

Please call me, Paul Bernardini, at 386-258-3453, and come in for a free consultation, before it’s too late. Your injuries must be addressed and your situation evaluated to determine the best plan of action. Don’t wait!

Negligence - Injuries Due To Mistaken Idenity

Action against bank by Plaintiff who suffered personal injuries at the hands of the police when bank mistakenly reported plaintiff to be a bank robber. A person cannot be held liable for simple negligence when contacting police in good faith to report suspected criminal activity. Bank of America Corp. v. Valladares, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D1390 (3rd DCA Opinion on July 11, 2014).

Negligence - Intoxication Defense

The intoxication defense, provided in Fla. Stat. 768.36, has become a strong tool for defendants, allowing them to close the door on any recovery should the jury find that the plaintiff was primarily at fault for his or her own injuries as a result of intoxication.

Section 768.36, entitled "Alcohol or drug defenses," provides that:

(2) In any civil action, a plaintiff may not recover any damages for loss or injury to his or her person or property if the trier of fact finds that, at the time the plaintiff was injured:

     (a) The Plaintiff was under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug to the extent that the plaintiff's normal faculties were impaired or the plaintiff had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher; and

     (b) As a result of the influence of such alcoholic beverage or drug the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for his or her own harm.

Negligence and Evidence

Fifth District holds plaintiff should have been permitted to amend complaint to allege comparative negligence; also error to admit DCF shelter orders without hearsay exception. Hartong v. Bernhart, 38 FLW D2571 (Fla. 5th DCA 12-6-2013).