Monthly Archives:' April 2016

What You should know about Florida’s Personal Injury Protection Law

In March of 2012, the Florida State Legislature passed Bill HB119, the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Law, which went into effect in January of 2013.  While the insurance companies hailed this as a major victory, it placed limitations on the benefits, litigation, and monies that were paid out in a personal injury claim or lawsuit settlement.  Many individuals believed that the increased insurance premiums were directly attributed to the abundance of PIP lawsuits in the state of Florida and the passage of HB119.

Being a “No-Fault” state, Florida requires that all motorists carry the basic $10,000 minimum PIP insurance coverage.  However, prior to the passage of the new law, there were really no guidelines to speak of where a lawyer’s fee limits or the types of medical treatments that would be covered by a personal injury protection policy.  Consequently, the insurance companies felt that the old system was riddled with flaws and loopholes, and that reform was needed. That is why there was a modification done to cater to the current scenario. This has tightened the rules and ensured justice is delivered faster.

Impact on Motorist’s No-Fault Coverage

According to the insurance companies, the old PIP laws permitted “excessive medical treatment” and provided too many “opportunities for unwarranted litigation.”  But with these recent changes in PIP laws, it is the injured motorist who could be coming out on the short end of the stick.  Basically, these changes could have a profound impact on keeping or losing your no-fault coverage, depending on the situation.  As a result, you should be aware of the following 3 important points:

  • Delays in your care and/or diagnosis – you could lose your coverage if you wait to have your injuries diagnosed and treated.  The new law states that you must seek medical attention for your injuries within 14 days of the accident.  If you don’t, your insurer can legally deny paying you any benefits.
  • Limitations on care provider choices – the list of medical professionals who are now covered under the newly changed PIP laws has been shortened and no longer includes acupuncturists and chiropractors.  Ironically, these are medical professionals that are oftentimes involved in the care of accident injury victims.
  • Reduced coverage amounts – injury victims could rely on the basic no-fault coverage minimum of $10,000.  This is not the case any longer.  With the changes in the PIP laws, coverage can be reduced up to 75% of what the minimum was.  So, if a medical professional does not deem your injuries as an “emergency medical condition”, your coverage benefits could be decreased to $2,500.

If you have recently been injured in an auto accident that resulted from the careless, negligent, or reckless actions or behavior of another individual, you should talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately.  It is the only way to ensure that you will get the compensation you are deserving of.

Understanding the Basics of Personal Injury Law in Florida

In the state of Florida, most personal injury lawyers will take cases on a contingency basis meaning that if you lose your case, you pay the lawyer nothing.  Instead of taking a retainer up front, they will take a percentage of the proceeds from your case if and when you come to a settlement amount.  Keep in mind that the primary goals of the right personal injury lawyer is to ensure that your rights are always protected and that you receive the compensation you are deserving of.

The state of Florida also places a deadline of 4 years from the date you were injured for filing your personal injury claim.  This is more commonly referred to as a Statute of Limitations.  If you fail to file your claim by the deadline, you relinquish your right to sue the defendant.  Certain personal injury cases that involve boat accidents on the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico may have a shorter Statute of Limitations.  The key is to hire the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer that has experience in similar cases.

Compensation or Damages

If you have any intention of winning your personal injury case and getting compensated for your injuries, you must prove, according to Florida personal injury statutes that the

“defendant had a duty not to injure you but failed in that duty; the failure of that duty is directly related to your injuries; and you suffered damages.”

However, vehicular accidents are the one exception in personal injury law cases.  This is a no-fault state, meaning that your insurance must pay for damages and injuries incurred in an accident, regardless of which party was at fault.  Furthermore, motorists are required a minimum of $10,000 coverage per person/per accident in personal injury protection (PIP). You might want to discuss your case with an expert lawyer.

You are allowed to file a claim, if your injuries are classified as serious.  In this case, “serious” is defined as personal injuries resulting in one of the following:

  • permanent injury other than disfigurement or scarring
  • permanent and significant loss of any of the body’s important functions
  • permanent and significant disfigurement or scarring
  • death

In any case, the best course of action is to speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer.  This is the only way to truly ensure that your rights will be protected and that you will get the compensation you deserve.

Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Personal injury victims oftentimes ask what their case is worth.  In a single word, the answer is “damages” – the emotional, mental, and physical cost of your injuries.  In some cases, they will ask for the defendant’s conduct to be punished.  Finally, there are 2 types of damages awarded in personal injury lawsuits – compensatory and punitive.  The former is intended to make the injured person whole again while the latter punishes their behavior monetarily.

Trial Attorneys Willie Gary and Son Sekou Gary File $250 Million Lawsuit for 66 Year-Old who Suffered Multiple Catastrophic Injuries due to Honda Motors Company’s and Takata Corporation’s Defectively Designed Airbag

Trial attorneys Willie Gary and his son Sekou Gary of the Florida-based law firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson and Gary, P.L.L.C., filed a $250 million lawsuit on behalf of their client, 66 year-old Zainab Prowell.  Prowell was headed to visit her mother in a Broward County, Florida nursing home, when the Honda Accord that she was driving at less than 15 miles per hour, collided with a concrete utility fixture.  The vehicle’s airbag immediately and with excessive pressure deployed, causing life-threatening injuries.

The lawsuit alleges that as a result of the aggressive and unnecessary manner in which the airbag deployed, the client lost her left eye, lost hearing in her left ear, fractured nearly every bone in her face which is now disfigured, lost all of her teeth, and suffered permanent brain damage after being in a coma for over 30 days.  Following the incident, Prowell was never able to return to her home in New York and has had to relocate to Florida for ongoing medical care.  The suit contends that Ms. Prowell’s medical care, to date, exceeds $2 million and it is expected that she will incur another $50 million over the span of her lifetime.

Willie and Sekou Gary contend that Honda Motor Corporation and Takata Corporation, the manufacturer of the airbag found in the client’s Honda vehicle, negligently designed, manufactured, produced and distributed the airbag, which caused Ms. Prowell’s and thousands of other similar occurrences.  Gary and Gary argue that the airbag was defective and dangerous and should not have deployed with such aggressive force at less than 15 miles per hour collision.  The claim further details that even though there has been an airbag recall in Broward County, Honda and Takata knew of this defect but refused to make the necessary corrections.

“Takata took a calculated risk by manufacturing defective airbags and Honda took a risk by knowing the airbags were defective and allowing them to be placed in their vehicles,” commented Gary.  “As a result of their negligence, our client lost an eye, lost hearing in her left ear, lost all of her teeth and is permanently brain damaged.  There is no amount of money that will ever be able to replace her quality of life.  We hope that the filing of this lawsuit will send a message to Honda and Takata and will force them to stop putting the lives of innocent people in jeopardy,” continued Gary.

Attorney Willie E. Gary and his legal team are no strangers to seeking justice. Mr. Gary is known for taking on some of the nation’s most powerful corporate giants. In 2014, a jury awarded Gary and team an unprecedented $23.6 billion verdict against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.  In 1995, a jury awarded Gary and his legal team a record-breaking, half-billion dollars against one of the world’s largest funeral chains, The Loewen Group. In addition, Gary is noted for winning a $240 million jury verdict in Orange County against the Walt Disney Corporation for his clients who alleged that Disney stole their idea for a sports theme park. In 2001, a jury awarded Gary a $139.6 million verdict for the Maris Distributing Company against Anheuser Busch.

Recent Jury Instructions provide Clarity in Personal Injury Lawsuits

In March of 2015, an opinion to adopt a new set of instructions for jurors in personal injury lawsuits, specifically those involving claims for defective products or product liability, was issued by the Supreme Court of Florida.  This issue began roughly 10 years ago when the Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases began revamping the instructions for jurors in these types of court actions.  However, the instructions for jurors of defective product / product liability cases were omitted with the approval of the first changes in 2010.

In 2012, a new set of revisions was proposed but it took another 3 years before the court adopted those newer changes to the instructions.  According to a number of different sources, the new instructions are better suited for capturing the law as it applies to personal injury cases involving product liability and adequate warnings.  For all intents and purposes In the state of Florida, a product that lacks adequate warnings can be classified as a defective product.  On the other hand, the old law for product liability only applied to defects in design and manufacturing.

Types of Claims in a Product Liability Case

With many consumers facing issues with the products they have bought, defective product/product liability cases can be extremely broad and complex, there are typically 3 categories that they fall under:

  • Defective design
  • Defective manufacture
  • Failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings

Depending on your case and the severity of your injuries, you’ll want to retain the legal services of a personal injury lawyer who specializes in defective product/product liability claims and cases.  Remember that the classification or definition of a defective product can be very broad and include anything from the brakes or tires on a vehicle to cribs or toys and just about everything in between. Thus, it is important that you work with a good lawyer.

Identifying Defendants in a Product Liability Claim

If you’ve recently been injured when you used a defective product and want to sue for compensation, you’ll need to identify the companies and individuals that may be liable so they can be named as the defendants in your claim and lawsuit.  Depending on the type of product, this can be a daunting task.  So seeking the legal assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer is usually the recommended course of action.  This will greatly increase your chances of receiving the compensation you are deserving of.

As a general rule, there could be several defendants in a product liability case with the 3 most common being the designer, manufacturer, and the retailer.  However, the chain of distribution could also include additional manufacturers who are responsible for different components in the product.  It could also include consultants, contractors, suppliers, and vendors.  Your personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine who is a defendant in your product liability case.

Attorney Willie Gary and Team File Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit against Jacksonville University and the Jacksonville University Sports Medicine Program for Negligence, Disregard and Failure to Properly Evaluate and Monitor Star Football Player’s Concussions and other Related Injuries

Jacksonville University and Head Athletic Trainer Failed to Properly Evaluate, Monitor and Follow Acceptable Guidelines Regarding Player Safety

Trial attorney Willie Gary of the Stuart, Florida-based law firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, P.L.L.C., and attorney Charles Emanuel of the Orlando, Florida-based The Emanuel Firm, filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit on behalf of Jacksonville University football star, Jarrius Lindsey.  Lindsey was a scholar-athlete recruited by Jacksonville University to play football from 2011 – 2013.  During the spring 2012 football season, Lindsey participated in a scrimmage game, in which he sustained a concussion after a significant blow to the head by a teammate defender.  Video of the collision shows Lindsey lying motionless on the field following the hit.  He subsequently blacked out and suffered a life-threatening concussion.  After the 2012 concussion, Lindsey was allowed to return to play and suffered multiple subsequent concussions.   The lawsuit was recently filed in Duval County Circuit Court against Jacksonville University, the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program and Doug Frye, the Head Certified Athletic Trainer for Jacksonville University Football.

The lawsuit details a series of flagrant violations, misconduct and negligence of Jacksonville University and Head Athletic Trainer Doug Frye that caused Jarrius Lindsey to suffer long-term brain damage, including diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from concussion, Major Neurocognitive

Disorder due to TBI, memory loss, insomnia, inability to concentrate, headaches, depression and anxiety.

Among other things, the lawsuit contends that Frye incorrectly administered the Concussion Checklist test that was developed to assess the injured athlete’s mental status during the acute period after a concussion.  The results of the test indicated that Lindsey had not returned to baseline status.  Furthermore, the post-injury report detailed that Lindsey was having a difficult time responding to questions and his overall reaction time was delayed.  The lawsuit argues that despite Lindsey’s repeated complaints of headaches, Frye never referred or recommended that Lindsey see a neurologist or a neuropsychologist for evaluation.

Despite the history of Lindsey’s concussions, injuries and reported headaches, which were disclosed at the time he was recruited to play for Jacksonville University, Frye never attempted to look further into the severity of his injuries.  Frye ultimately released Lindsey to return to play in practice and games.  Gary and team contend that had Frye properly evaluated and monitored Lindsey through the use of proper and adequate post-concussion testing, Frye would Frye would have recognized that Lindsey had not recovered from the brain injury.  Additionally, Frye did not counsel or discuss with Lindsey or his parents, the risk of returning to play given his history of concussions.  In September of 2012, in a Jacksonville University home football game, Lindsey suffered a shoulder injury, which required surgery and ended his football career.

“Jacksonville University took a calculated risk by not implementing the necessary safety precautions for student-athletes,” commented Willie Gary.  “As a result of their negligence, this young man will never be able to fully enjoy life.  For the remainder of his years, he will suffer from a traumatic brain injury, memory loss, excruciating pain throughout his body, headaches, depression and anxiety.  There is no amount of money that will ever be able to replace his quality of life, but we hope that our pursuit of justice will force Jacksonville University to stop putting the lives of their student-athletes at-risk,” continued Gary.

Attorney Willie E. Gary and team are no strangers to seeking justice.   Mr. Gary and his legal team are known for taking on some of the nation’s most powerful corporate giants. In 2014, a jury awarded Gary an unprecedented $23.6 billion verdict against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.  In 1995, a jury awarded Gary and his legal team a record-breaking, half-billion dollars against one of the world’s largest funeral chains, The Loewen Group. In addition, Gary is noted for winning a $240 million jury verdict in Orange County against the Walt Disney Corporation for his clients who alleged that Disney stole their idea for a sports theme park. In 2001, a jury awarded Gary a $139.6 million verdict for the Maris Distributing Company against Anheuser Busch.

Winn-Dixie under Fire for Alleged Religious Discrimination and Retaliation against one of the Grocery Chain’s Long-Term Employees

Client Hopes Trial Attorney Willie Gary and Team are the Answer to her Prayers

Trial attorneys Willie Gary and Larry Strauss of the Stuart, Florida-based law firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, PLLC, are pursuing religious discrimination and retaliation claims against Winn-Dixie Stores, hoping to bring justice to client Shirley Owens. The suit is an effort to expose the alleged discriminatory actions taken by Winn-Dixie against Ms. Owens, an employee at the grocery chain for 18-plus years.

The lawsuit contends Winn-Dixie regularly gave Ms. Owens off on Sundays as a religious accommodation so she could attend services and volunteer at Golden Heights Church of Christ – the Fort Lauderdale church that’s like her second home. In August 2012, Winn-Dixie unilaterally informed Ms. Owens it would no longer offer her the accommodation of having Sundays off, claiming its “business needs have changed.”

If Owens needed every Sunday off, Winn-Dixie’s “business needs” required she give up her full-time, quasi-management position and work part-time as either a cashier or in guest services. After she filed a complaint with the EEOC in October 2012, managers backed off.

The lawsuit reflects Owens was advised to apply for numerous other store positions, encouraged that in doing so, she could obtain another full-time position which would not require Sunday hours. Despite numerous applications, no position could be obtained. Instead, Owens was transferred to her current store – one known for incidents of violence and crime and located in a high-crime area.

By May 2014, however, Owens alleges Winn-Dixie revisited the issue, informing her if she wanted to remain a full-time employee, she must work two Sundays a month on either a morning or evening shift. Having every Sunday off would require she both go part-time and have her hourly wage reduced by more than 25 percent. The case hinges on whether those two choices amounted to a “reasonable accommodation,” the legal standard applied in such religious discrimination cases.  If it was not, the next thing to consider is whether other reasonable options existed, and gauge whether such alternatives imposed an “undue hardship” on Winn-Dixie.  If so, the company could use that as a defense.

“Winn-Dixie was effectively telling Ms. Owens to choose between her job and her God,” commented Willie Gary.  “For her, there is only one choice: God. Winn-Dixie is trying to be the gatekeeper to her worship – to set a timeclock on her faith.”

Gary notes Owens’s religious freedom is a fundamental right founded upon the U.S. Constitution and set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Winn-Dixie does not get to judge her beliefs or how long on Sunday she gets to practice them.”

So instead of a full-time Customer Service Lead making $14.25 an hour, in July 2014 Owens became a part-time Customer Service Associate for $10.60 an hour. Though there were no such positions available at the time, Winn-Dixie suggested Owens could apply for other full-time positions which would not require her to work every Sunday. Though she has applied repeatedly, Owens has never been able to obtain another full-time position which does not require her to work Sundays.

At present, Owens continues as a part-time Customer Service Associate. Notwithstanding the reduction in hours worked and hourly wage, her duties mirror those of when she was a full-time Customer Service Lead – notably, finalizing the day’s receipts and closing the store.

“Winn-Dixie cut her pay, cut her hours, and cut her title,” says Gary. “Yet it has her doing the same work. So Winn-Dixie is getting the benefit of Ms. Owens’s Customer Service Lead training and skills, but paying much less for it.”

Attorney Willie E. Gary and team are no strangers to seeking justice.   Mr. Gary and his legal team are known for taking on some of the nation’s most powerful corporate giants. In 2014, a jury awarded Gary an unprecedented $23.6 billion verdict against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.  In 1995, a jury awarded Gary and his legal team a record-breaking, half-billion dollars against one of the world’s largest funeral chains, The Loewen Group. In addition, Gary is noted for winning a $240 million jury verdict in Orange County against the Walt Disney Corporation for his clients who alleged that Disney stole their idea for a sports theme park. In 2001, a jury awarded Gary a $139.6 million verdict for the Maris Distributing Company against Anheuser Busch.