Frequently Asked Questions
The attorneys at Donoghue & Associates have put together a list of frequently asked questions. If you do not see your question below or have additional concerns about your legal situation, please do not hesitate to call us. You can reach us in Melbourne at (321) 725-1499 or toll free at (888) 366-6448. You can also contact us online for a free consultation.
What can be recovered as damages when a family member is killed in a car accident or other accident caused by the negligence of another?
When a loved one sustains fatal injuries because of another person’s negligence, whether in a car collision or another type of accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The Florida Wrongful Death Act permits many different kinds of damages, including damages for loss of spousal or family companionship.
Another significant damage is for “Net Loss of Accumulations.” According to the statute, this is the part of the decedent’s income that she likely would have saved and left as part of her estate if she had lived out her normal life expectancy.
How would the court determine this amount? It’s part of the decedent’s probable gross income (excluding income from investments) after deducting her personal expenses and support obligations. Other significant damages can include loss of companionship for the decedent’s spouse and minor children.
While the Act also allows damages for the decedent’s lost earnings, medical expenses, and funeral expenses, these typically are not the most significant damage. Lost earnings only include what the decedent would have earned between the time of her injury and her death. In a wrongful death case, this often is not a very long time.
Who can recover damages? Even if the decedent has adult children, parents, and other relatives, in most cases the surviving spouse and minor children of the decedent will be the ones to recover damages.
What if the other driver says the accident was not their fault, or partially my fault?
When you’ve been in a car accident, the first thing to remember is that liability for the crash is ofter disputed. The other driver’s insurance company will often accept what their driver says regardless of the true facts because it saves money. Insurance companies want to act in their best interest, and that means paying out as little money as possible. As such, it’s very important to speak with an experienced Melbourne car accident lawyer at Donoghue & Associates before speaking with any insurance company on investigation.
At the same time, if another driver’s negligence had any role in the car accident, you still may be able to recover some of your damages. Florida is a comparative fault state. While this term can seem complicated, it simply means that driver’s may share fault for the accident. However, what you end up recovering will be reduced proportionately by your degree of fault.
At Donoghue & Associates, we will advocate for your rights and will help to ensure that you’re not deemed at fault when the other party’s negligence caused or contributed to the crash.
Am I allowed to sue for an on-the-job injury, or am I limited to workers’ compensation benefits?
It depends on who you want to sue and why. Workers’ compensation benefits provide compensation to employees who sustained an injury at their place of employment without that employee proving any fault of the employer. In other words, these benefits help to ensure that employees are covered for injuries that happen by accident, as long as the employees meet the requirements for compensation.
Yet it’s important to know that you may be able to file a lawsuit in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Many different scenarios exist in which you could bring a lawsuit to recover damages. Here are some examples:
- Third-party negligence claim: If someone other than your employer or a co-employee caused your injury you may make a claim against them and still maintain a workers’ compensation claim. This is very commonly the case when another driver’s negligence caused a car accident while you were driving for work purposes.
- Product liability lawsuit: If a detective product caused your injury, such as a faulty machine part or a defective auto part, you may be able to file a product liability claim. These lawsuits usually fall into three different categories: 1) claim against the designer of the product (if the product had a flaw in its very design, before it ever reached the stage of manufacture); 2) claim against the manufacture (gift the defect occurred during the manufacture of the product); 3) claim against the
distributor (if, for instance, the distributor failed to warn those using it of a serious risk).
- Personal injury lawsuit against your employer: in cases where your injury resulted from your employer’s intentional or egregious behavior—in other words, if your employer did something on purpose to cause your injury or your employer’s negligence was egregious—you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. Suing your employer is not possible in most cases of on the job
These cases can be complex, and you should always discuss your situation with an experienced Melbourne workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Donoghue & Associates.
If the neighbor’s dog bit me, is the owner liable even if the dog never bit anyone before?
In Florida, dog bite injuries fall under a “strict liability” standard. Strict liability is a legal term that imposes liability on a party regardless of whether that party acted negligently or intentionally. In the case of dog bites, this means that an injured person must only prove the following:
- the dog bite occurred; and
- when the bite occurred, the victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place (this can include the property of the dog owner).
The Florida statute governing dog bite injuries specifically states that, if these two conditions are met, the dog owner is liable “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”
Keep in mind, however, that contributory negligence can play a role. To be sure, if your own negligence played a significant role in the bite taking place, your damages may be reduced by the percentage for which you’re deemed responsible. If you sustained injuries from a dog bite, you should discuss your case with the experienced legal team here at Donoghue & Associates to determine your eligibility for compensation.
In some insurance dispute cases, the insurance company simply acts in bad faith. Under Florida law, if an insurance company doesn’t act fairly or behaves dishonestly, you may be able to file a bad faith claim. Florida law requires that an insurer act “fairly and honestly toward its insured,” and it requires insurers to attempt “in good faith to settle claims when, under all the circumstances, it could and should have done so.”
It’s important to remember, however, that many lawsuits concerning insurance companies aren’t bad faith claims. You should discuss your particular situation with an insurance dispute attorney who can advise you about the distinctions among different types of claims, including breach of contract, unfair claims denial, and bad faith.
If you’ve submitted a claim to an insurer and they have denied the claim outright, it may
be due to:
- Your situation simply doesn’t fall within the scope of what the policy covers; or
- You failed to pay your premiums on time, and your insurance coverage lapsed.
Contact Donoghue & Associates today if you feel you’ve been unfairly denied insurance benefits, at (321) 725-1499, or toll-free at (888) 366-6488.