Robert E. Turffs

Attorney At Law

 

1444 1st Street, Suite B
Sarasota, Florida 34236


Phone: (941) 953-9009
Fax: (941) 953-5736

F.A.Q.'s

For our firm to represent you in a personal injury case, you must have been seriously injured through the fault of someone else.  The injuries may be physical and/or mental or emotional.

Personal injury victims are entitled to financial compensation for elements of damages including, but not limited to the following:

  • Lost wages in the past, including overtime and benefits
  • Lost wages in the future, loss of the ability to earn money in the future
  • Medical expenses in the past
  • Medical expenses in the future
  • Physical disability
  • Permanent and significant scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Aggravation
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life
  • Embarrassment
  • Mental disability
  • Emotional trauma
  • Property damage
  • The expense of having somebody else perform chores such as home maintenance and cleaning and yard maintenance.
  • The expense of having somebody else perform tasks at your business, if you are self employed.

In Florida, even if an accident was partially your fault, you still may have a claim based on the concept of comparative negligence. The term "comparative negligence" refers to negligence by an injured person that may have contributed to causing that persons own injuries. Under comparative negligence concepts, the fault of all parties is compared and the amount of the recovery for damages sustained by the injured victim is reduced by the percentage of his or her own fault. In this way, each person is held accountable for the amount of damages that they caused.

 

In Florida, comparative negligence concepts may apply to cases other than negligence cases. For instance, even where there is "strict liability" on the part of the person or company that caused the injuries, comparative negligence may be a consideration.

 

Generally speaking, where someone intentionally hurts another, comparative negligence in not an issue.

If you have been seriously injured or are unsure as to whether your injuries will permanently affect you, then you should consult and experienced personal injury before you give any statements or sign any papers.

 

Insurance companies have conducted studies showing that they generally pay injured people less money if the injured people do not have lawyers. This is why insurance companies often encourage injured people not to hire lawyers.

From the insurance companies perspective, it makes good business sense to discourage injured people from hiring competent help.

 

But from the standpoint of the injured person, it is important to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Our firm offers a free consultation, with no obligation to higher us. If you have questions about an injury claim, you should contact a law firm as soon as possible after you are injured so as not to do anything (such as giving statements or signing papers) that might limit your ability to make a claim.

While most injury claims are settled out of Court during discussions between lawyers and the insurance companies, some cases do go to trial. The decision of whether to submit your case to a jury, as opposed to accepting a settlement offer, is your decision. The lawyer acts as an advisor, but the final decision is made by the client.

In Florida, as in other states, statutes of limitations limit the time within which a party can take legal action. If the appropriate action is not taken before the statute of limitations elapses, the claims will be barred.

The time it takes to resolve a claim depends on many factors. Generally, more complicated cases take longer to settle than simpler ones. Likewise, cases with very serious injuries take longer than those with less serious injuries. Claims can be resolved within a couple of years of the incident.

Under Florida law, if a person is injured in a collision, or if there is significant property damage, the police must be called to investigate the accident. Even if the police do not come, it is essential that you obtain the name, address, insurance company and policy number of each person involved in the accident. You should also get the name and address of the owners of the vehicles in the accident and the tag numbers of all the vehicles in the accident.

 

If there are independent witnesses to the accident, you should get their names, addresses and telephone numbers as well.

 

While you must report a collision to your auto insurance carrier in order to preserve your right to make a claim under your policy, generally speaking there is no obligation to speak with the insurance carrier of the other driver. Often it is not in the best interest of an injured person to speak with the opposing insurance carrier without the advice of the lawyer.

Business owners and home owners have a duty to those they expressly or implicitly invite onto their premises, to take reasonable care to prevent the existence of dangerous condition on their property. This duty includes not only refraining from creating dangerous conditions but also inspecting their property at reasonable intervals to make sure dangerous conditions have not arisen by the acts of others. Further, property owners have an obligation to invitees to warn them of hidden dangerous conditions that the property owners know of or would know of if they exercised reasonable care.

 

The field of the law is referred to as "Premises Liability." Typical examples of Premises Liability include instances where a grocery store owner fails to inspect his floor for slippery debris at reasonable intervals, where a business owner creates a dangerous condition such as placing an electrical cord across a doorway or where a business owner fails to provide reasonable security, taking into consideration the amount of crime in the neighborhood where the store is located.

Malpractice, generally speaking, is a failure to use a reasonable level of skill and diligence in treating a patient. This standard of care is based on the prevailing level of skill and diligence of medical professionals in the same or similar fields.

 

Before a patient may sue a doctor, the patient must obtain a sworn affidavit from a medical professional which testifies that the accused doctor breached the standard of care. Without this document and without meeting other procedural requirements, there can be no medical malpractice law suit in Florida.

The lack of a successful result does not necessarily mean that malpractice occurred. Many times doctors exercise the highest possible level of care, using up to date knowledge and outstanding skill, but the optimal result does not occur. Under these circumstances, malpractice does not occur. On the other hand, if a treatment is not successful because a doctor provide care below prevailing standards in his field, there very well may be malpractice.

Before treating you, doctors must obtain consent to the treatment. The consent is valid only if the doctors have given you enough information to allow you to make a reasoned decision under all of the circumstances of your condition. This generally to requires a doctor to advise you of the risks of treatment, the potential complications of treatment, alternatives to the proposed treatment, etc.

While there are a multitude of ways a physician can commit malpractice, there are a number of typical types of malpractice. For instance, sometimes doctors will fail to diagnose a curable condition where they should have diagnosed it. This sometimes is seen in the context of cancer.  Also, sometimes doctors damage the body in surgery in ways that are preventable by exercising reasonable skill.  Additionally, sometimes doctors perform surgery on the wrong body part or fail to obtain proper consent for a given procedure.

 

These examples are illustrative but they do not represent every type of malpractice possible.

Under Florida law, there are time limits on when a person can file a malpractice lawsuit. Deadlines are imposed both by statutes and by case law interpreting statutes. Both a "statute of limitations" and a "statute of repose" may apply, in calculation of deadlines can be very complicated. If you believe that you have been a victim of malpractice you should consult a lawyer immediately so as to avoid having your claim barred by legal deadlines.

A hospital may be responsible for physicians actions, depending on the relationship between the physician and the hospital. Generally speaking the hospital is responsible for its employees, whether they be physicians, nurses or other staff members. This liability may be extended to physicians practicing in the hospital not actually employed by the hospital.

 

Hospital liability for the actions of its employees or agents is called "vicarious liability." IF you believe a hospital may be vicariously liable for harming you, you should speak with a lawyer.

The most obvious claims against nursing homes involve providing poor care to residents. For instance, sometimes nursing homes allow residents to get bed sores when they should not, and sometimes nursing homes fail to feed and provide baths for residents. Other claims against nursing homes involve outright abuse to the elderly. This can include verbal abuse or physical abuse.

 

In addition, federal and Florida statutes and rules create duties of the part of nursing homes to provide adequate staffing, nutrition, medical care and otherwise to meet the reasonable needs of the residents.

 

Frequently, nursing homes neglect law suits rely heavily on the documentation provided by the nursing homes. Nursing home patient records, "charts," are voluminous and contain a great deal of information about the care given to the patient. The law requires that copies of these charts be provided within a specified period of time after a patient or personal representative requests them.

 

If abuse is suspected, it is wise to obtain the charts quickly, as doing so reduces the opportunity for a guilty party to alter the contents of a chart.

 

It should be remembered that there is no substitute for visiting relatives in a nursing home. Doing so not only brightens the day of the nursing home resident but it also puts the nursing home on notice that relatives are observing the care given to the resident. Moreover, it shows the nursing home workers that the resident is loved by his/ her family and it has the effect of encouraging the workers to do a better job caring for the resident.