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What Is a Fabre Defendant in Florida?

When you or someone you love gets injured in an auto accident or suffers an injury in a slip and fall or any other type of accident involving negligence, Florida law has specific provisions to determine who was at fault. Imagine an accident involving several cars: it’s not just about blaming one driver. Instead, the law looks closely at what an at-fault driver was doing. Were they speeding? Not paying attention? Were the roads slippery? All these details are necessary to establish the liability of each negligent party.

Determining who is at fault is important because it ensures everyone is treated fairly. The goal is to make sure that no one is unfairly blamed for something they did not do or only partly did. This is where the “Fabre Doctrine” comes in.

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Who Is a Fabre Defendant Under Florida Law?

The Fabre Doctrine was established by the Florida Supreme Court case “Fabre v. Marin,” decided in 1993. The court ruled that the liability in a personal injury lawsuit could be assigned among all responsible parties, including those not named defendants in the lawsuit.

Essentially, this doctrine allows the court to consider the fault of all parties involved in an accident, even those who are not directly being sued. The defendant can legally point out that other parties not involved in the lawsuit might also be responsible for the damages. These other parties are referred to as “Fabre defendant” or “non-party at fault”.

For example, if the other driver whom you are suing believes that another person or entity also contributed to your car accident injury, they can ask the court to consider this other party as a Fabre defendant. Of course, they must provide concrete evidence to support this claim.

Unlike an affirmative defense in personal injury cases, the Fabre doctrine does not excuse the defendant’s behavior but instead seeks to distribute the blame among multiple parties.

Note that Fabre defendants are not physically part of the lawsuit. They do not come to court or participate in the legal proceedings. They are more like a concept used to measure how much each party is at fault.

How Does the Fabre Doctrine Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

When a Fabre defendant is introduced in personal injury cases, the amount of damages you can recover can be reduced. If a jury finds that the non-party-at-fault shares some of the responsibility for your accident, your damages will be divided. For instance, if the Fabre defendant is deemed 40% at fault, you can only recover 60% of the total damages from the defendant in your lawsuit.

To obtain the full extent of what you are owed in this case, you might need to initiate a separate lawsuit against this Fabre defendant. So now, you not only have to prove the fault of the defendant you are suing but also contend with the defense’s arguments about the fault of this other party.

The defense might use a Fabre defendant as a strategy to shift blame and reduce their financial liability. As the plaintiff, you and your Florida personal injury lawyer will need to carefully strategize how to address this, either by minimizing the perceived fault of the Fabre defendant or by reinforcing the primary defendant’s liability.

The presence of a Fabre defendant can also affect settlement negotiations. Knowing that the liability might be shared with another party, the defendant might be less inclined to offer a high settlement, expecting that the jury might not hold them fully responsible for the damages.

Protect Your Right to Compensation with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Florida

Sometimes, when an accident happens, the obvious negligent party is not the only one at fault. There could be Fabre defendants — parties you might not know yet, but who share the fault.

At The Law Offices of Scott J Senft, our legal team specializes in identifying and proving such hidden liabilities by:

  • Investigating the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries
  • Visiting the accident scene to collect physical evidence
  • Collecting all available documentation (police reports, medical records, witness statements)
  • Consulting with experts (accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals, engineers) to get the full picture of what happened and who might have contributed to it
  • Reviewing all the relevant laws to understand who might be liable under current legal standards
  • Negotiating with the insurance company and the defendants to achieve the highest possible settlement
  • Staying prepared to go to trial, if a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached (and aim to get a verdict form in our client’s favor)

Throughout the process, we look beyond the obvious parties to identify other individuals, businesses, or even government organizations for apportioning liability. If the named defendant claims that a Fabre defendant is responsible, we know how to counteract any attempts to shift blame unfairly. If you are not sure where to start or who to blame, give us a call at (954) 505-2183 to set up a free consultation.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Florida?

In the aftermath of a car accident — especially in Florida, where healthcare costs are notably high — the impact on the injured victim’s life can be profound. Not even counting the physical injuries and all the pain that comes with them, a simple emergency room visit can cost thousands of dollars. If you need specialized treatment or surgery, the bills can skyrocket. The average cost of a three-day hospital stay is around $30,000.

Florida is a no-fault state, which means your own insurance company pays for your medical bills up to a certain limit after a crash, regardless of who is responsible. However, this coverage can be quickly exhausted with high medical costs. If expenses exceed your policy limits, you could be left to cover the rest of the costs on your own.

Car accident injuries may not merely lead to mounting medical bills but also cause loss of current and future income, leaving you struggling with prolonged pain and suffering along with financial burdens. Considering these harsh realities, you must take the right steps after your accident to ensure you are not overwhelmed by the financial and legal repercussions that can follow.

Remember, every car crash is different, and these steps might vary slightly depending on your situation. Following this guide should help you follow a structured approach to protect your well-being and your right to financial compensation.

Photo of Head-on Collision Between Two Cars

Safety First

After the crash, check if you or anyone else is injured. If there are injuries, call 911 or the Florida Highway Patrol without delay. Some injuries might not be immediately apparent due to the shock and adrenaline rush, so seeking medical treatment should be a priority.

Under Florida law, if your vehicle is involved in a crash and is obstructing traffic but can be driven safely, you need to move it out of the road. If, however, your car cannot be moved due to damage or safety concerns, turn on your hazard lights. This alerts other drivers to your presence and can help prevent additional collisions.

Report the Accident

It is mandatory to report a car accident in Florida to law enforcement officers under certain circumstances. Specifically, if the accident results in injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage (commonly defined as damage exceeding $500), you are required to notify the police.

After ensuring everyone’s safety, wait at the scene for the police to arrive. Leaving the scene can result in legal consequences. Once the police arrive, provide them with an accurate account of what happened. Your statement, along with those of others involved and any witnesses, will be included in the police report. You can typically request a copy of this report from the police department or through online portals.

Exchange Information

Share the following details with the other driver(s) involved in your accident:

  • Full names, phone numbers, and addresses of all drivers
  • Other driver’s insurance information (company name and policy number)
  • Vehicle registration number along with the make, model, color, and year of the other vehicle(s) involved
  • License plate numbers
  • Witnesses’ contact information

When communicating with the other driver, avoid discussing fault or liability for the accident. This can be determined later by insurance companies or law enforcement.

Document the Scene

High-quality pictures of the crash site will be invaluable during the insurance claims process and any legal proceedings as they provide an objective record of the accident. They can support your version of events and help in accurately determining liability and damages.

Take photos of all vehicles involved, especially showing how they are positioned relative to each other. Take some close-up shots of the damage to each vehicle. If there are relevant road signs, traffic signals, or road markings near the accident scene, photos of these can provide context about the driving conditions, right-of-way, speed limits, etc. If your injuries are visible, take photos of these as well.

Take photos from various angles and distances to give a comprehensive view of any skid marks, debris, or damage to surrounding property. Remember to safely store these photos and back them up if possible.

Get a Full Medical Check-Up

The reason for this is simple: some injuries, particularly those like whiplash, do not show symptoms right away. It is like a hidden problem that might emerge later. By then, it could be more serious.

In Florida, there is an extra layer of urgency due to the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws. Under PIP, if you are injured in a car accident, you are required to get medical care within 14 days to be eligible for insurance benefits. If you wait longer than those 14 days, your medical expenses may not be covered by your PIP insurance.

Notify Your Insurance Company

As soon as you can, inform your insurance company about your collision. This initial contact is more about letting them know the accident occurred, rather than going into all the details. Most insurance policies have a clause that requires you to report any accident promptly; not doing so can complicate your claim. 

Be upfront about the facts of the accident, but do not admit fault or give detailed statements until you seek legal counsel. Anything you say here could be used in the insurance process or even legal proceedings later on. A Florida car accident lawyer can give you advice on how to communicate with them so you do not unintentionally say something that could be misunderstood.

Photo of a Car Crash

Consult with a Lawyer

If there are disputes about who is at fault, you suffered severe injuries, or you are facing a large financial burden, contact a dedicated personal injury lawyer. The statute of limitations for car accident claims in Florida has been reduced from four years to only two years, so delaying getting legal representation is not a good idea.

Top lawyers have the skills, experience, and resources to gather and interpret evidence that proves liability. Most lawyers representing car accident victims in Florida work on a contingency fee structure — they get paid only if you win your personal injury lawsuit or settle.

Remember, insurance companies often try to settle quickly and for much less than what might be fair. A car accident lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, ensuring that your right to maximum compensation for your injuries and losses is protected.

Choose Florida’s Top-Rated Car Accident Attorney to Maximize Your Compensation

All drivers have a responsibility to be careful on the road. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident because the other driver was not paying attention or was driving dangerously, you could get compensated for your damages. In the unfortunate event that you lost a family member, you might have a claim to recover wrongful death damages for your loss of companionship, financial support, medical and funeral costs, and more. 

At The Law Offices of Scott J Senft, we have successfully represented numerous car crash victims and their families over the past 25+ years in Florida. Our legal team will leave no stone unturned to collect strong evidence and hold the negligent parties liable. Call us at (954) 505-2183 to schedule your consultation and learn your next steps.

How Long Do You Have to Report a Slip and Fall?

Walking through the palm-lined streets or busy malls in Florida, you rarely anticipate tripping over something and suddenly finding yourself on the ground. Yet, slip and fall accidents are common and often much more serious than a mere stumble. Luckily, accident victims have legal options.

Florida’s laws have recently changed, tightening the timeframe to act after such accidents. This new update adds another layer of urgency to an already stressful situation. If you have suffered a slip and fall injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact us at The Law Offices of Scott J Senft for a free consultation.

Photo of Slip and Fall Accident Report

Premises Liability Law in a Slip and Fall Case in Florida

Slip and fall cases in Florida involve someone getting injured by slipping, tripping, or falling because of a hazardous condition on someone else’s property. This could be a wet floor, a loose carpet, an uneven sidewalk, or anything that makes the property unsafe.

Premises Liability

Slip and fall cases are part of a bigger area of law known as “premises liability,” which deals with accidents occurring on property owned by someone other than the injured party (plaintiff). The key legal concept here is that property owners, managers, and occupiers have a duty to keep the said property safe. This means they should regularly check for hazards and either fix them or warn people about them.

Establishing Negligence

To recover compensation for your medical bills and other damages, you must prove that the other party knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to address it or warn about it. This is known as proving negligence.

Proving Damages

Imagine you’re in a grocery store and there is a spilled liquid on the aisle that has been there for a while. If you fall and get injured because the store did not clean it up or put up a warning sign, you might have a personal injury case to recover financial compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

That said, the most important thing to keep in mind here is the time limit. Florida has specific rules regarding how long you have to take legal action for damages.

The Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Accident Cases in Florida

What is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Think of it as an alarm clock that starts ticking the moment an accident happens. If the deadline to file a slip and fall claim is missed, you may be barred from suing for damages for your slip and fall accident. This rule exists to ensure fairness. As time passes, evidence might get lost, memories can fade, and it could be difficult for someone to defend themselves against old claims.

When does the Statute of Limitations Apply?

In slip and fall claims, this statute comes into play from the day your injury occurs. This is when you can start legal proceedings against the negligent property owner or manager for their actions — or lack thereof — that led to your injuries. If this time limit expires, the court is likely to dismiss your case.

Shortened Deadline to File a Claim in Florida

According to the Florida Tort Reform HB 837 that went into effect on March 24, 2023, the statute of limitations for premises liability claims has been reduced from four years to two years. With the previous four-year window, fall victims had a relatively long period to decide whether to pursue legal action. This longer duration offered more time for obtaining evidence from the scene, collecting witness statements, obtaining medical records, and negotiating with the defendants.

Now, with only two years to do this all, the timeline for action has become more pressing. This means you must act more swiftly to assess your situation. Consult with a Florida slip and fall lawyer to discuss filing a lawsuit. The shorter window has already started affecting how insurance companies approach these accidents. Many insurers offer lowball settlements because the injured victims have less time to prepare for a slip-and-fall lawsuit.

Shorter Notice of Claim Period if the Accident Occurred on a Public Property

You Can Sue for Injury on a Public Property

Different statutes of limitations apply when you fall on premises owned by the government, such as public sidewalks, parks, and libraries. Historically, governments were protected by a legal doctrine known as “sovereign immunity,” which essentially meant that the government could not be sued without its consent.

However, over time, statutes have been enacted that waive this immunity to some extent. It is now possible to file charges against government organizations, but there are limitations on the time window and the amount of recoverable damages.

Notice of Claim in Florida

When suing a federal, state, or municipal agency in Florida, your slip-and-fall lawyers need to send a formal notice of the claim to the correct government office within a certain timeframe, which is usually shorter than the regular two-year statute. This may be anywhere from 30 days to 180 days depending on the agency.

Notifying the State Agency and DFS

If you are injured by a state government agency, you must notify that agency as well as the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) in writing within three years of the accident. After the notice is submitted, there is a mandatory 180-day investigation period. You cannot file a lawsuit until this investigation period has ended unless your slip and fall claim is formally denied during this period.

Get a Dedicated Slip and Fall Attorney in Florida on Your Side

Tackling slip-and-fall lawsuits is a race against time as important evidence could be lost and you might also lose negotiating power with the defendants. The sooner your fall accident lawyer files your claim, the better your chances of obtaining the maximum fall settlement. At The Law Offices of Scott J Senft, we have more than 25 years of experience fighting for and winning fair compensation for injured victims. Give us a call at (954) 505-2183 to schedule your free consultation today.

Average Florida Truck Accident Settlements

Florida’s roads see an alarming number of truck accidents each year, with the aftermath often measured in more than just repair bills. The reality behind these statistics is full of complicated legal procedures, insurance claims, and settlement negotiations. On the bright side, as a crash victim, the law gives you the right to seek compensation for your injuries, not just from the truck driver involved but the trucking company and any third-party contractors responsible.

On the downside, it can be difficult to get the at-fault party to agree to a fair settlement. Although out-of-court agreements are quicker and less costly than going to trial, insurance companies are notorious for forcing accident victims to accept low offers.

At The Law Offices of Scott J Senft, we have over 25 years of experience handling truck accident claims in South Florida and have successfully settled numerous cases on our clients’ behalves. If you or your loved one has been injured by an 18-wheeler, reach out to us to discuss your case.

Photo of a Truck Accident

What Is the Average Amount for Florida Truck Accident Settlements?

There is no minimum settlement amount for truck collisions in Florida — just like there is no maximum limit on damages payouts. Based on truck accident settlements from cases in recent years, the average settlement amount for crashes involving semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other heavy or commercial vehicles involved could be anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million. It is important to note that this includes a wide range of settlement amounts, from relatively minor truck accidents to those involving more severe injuries and damages.

Of course, the amount can be much higher in particularly catastrophic truck accident cases. In a recent Miami case where a semi-truck fatally struck a woman as she was riding her bicycle, her family received a $10 million settlement. In another incident, an elementary school teacher in Sarasota was awarded $5.95 million for her devastating injuries after being hit by a utility truck.

Factors that Impact Your Florida Truck Accident Settlement

When you are seeking compensation for your truck accident injuries, several factors come into play to determine the amount you might receive:

Liability Under Florida Law

As of March 24, 2023, Florida has transitioned from a pure comparative negligence system to a modified comparative negligence system. This means your compensation amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 20% at fault for the accident, your settlement will be reduced by 20%. Also, you can only recover damages if your responsibility for the crash is 50% or less. If you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover anything from the other party.

The Severity of Your Injuries

The more serious your injuries, the higher the potential compensation for your truck accident claim. This is because these injuries are bound to result in higher medical bills for ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, or long-term care. If you are so injured that you must take extended time off work or you are left permanently disabled, your damages will be even higher to reflect your lost wages, future earnings, and previous quality of life.

Your Medical Expenses

Average truck accident settlements include direct reimbursement for all medical costs related to the accident. This covers emergency care, hospitalization, doctor visits, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, and any other medical treatments. If you will need continuous treatment for the foreseeable future, its estimated cost will also be factored into the commercial truck accident settlements.

Keep in mind that the recent changes to Florida’s personal injury protection laws impact the way medical bills are processed. Now, the amount considered for compensation will be the actual amount paid or expected to be paid by your health insurance, rather than the amount billed by healthcare providers. To get a more accurate picture, it’s best to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney.

Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

If the semi-truck accident affected your ability to work, either temporarily or permanently, you might be compensated for lost wages. The compensation for lost wages is calculated based on the income you lose due to your inability to work. This includes not only your regular salary or wages but also any overtime, bonuses, or other income you would have reasonably earned had you not been injured. The longer you are absent from work, the higher the potential compensation for lost wages.

If you return to work in a limited capacity (e.g., part-time or in a different role that pays less due to your injuries), you can claim the difference between your current and pre-accident earnings. If your injuries impact your ability to work in the future, you can also claim financial compensation for future lost wages as part of your truck accident case.

Photo of a Truck Accident

Insurance Coverage

The insurance company policy limits of the truck drivers and the trucking companies also play a role in your compensation amount. If your damages exceed these limits, it might be challenging to recover the full amount solely from the insurance policy. Under Florida’s no-fault insurance system, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will cover some of your expenses, regardless of who was at fault. However, PIP usually has its limits and may only cover a portion of your total losses.

Choose an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer to Maximize Your Compensation

Several other aspects go into determining how much commercial truck accident victims can get paid for their physical, financial, and emotional losses due to accidents involving trucks.

For example, if your personal injury claim seems likely to go to trial and be successful, the defendant might be more inclined to offer you a much higher truck accident settlement to avoid the unpredictability of a jury decision. Similarly, if the court determines that the driver or hauling company behaved in an especially appalling way, you might be awarded punitive damages on top of the regular compensation.

Remember, you are probably up against a large trucking company and powerful insurers with vast resources. Entities like these are determined to reduce their liability and shift the blame to the injured victim. Without a skilled and resourceful truck accident lawyer in Florida, you could be at a disadvantage.

A personal injury firm like The Law Offices of Scott J Senft can level the playing field for you. Backed by extensive skills, experience, and resources, we are equipped to take on powerful defendants and prove their liability. Our track record of large settlements and verdicts and our trial readiness also give us strong negotiating leverage.

The statute of limitations for truck accident claims in Florida has been reduced from four years to only two years as per House Bill 837, so do not delay. Call our law firm at (954) 505-2183 to schedule your free personal injury lawsuit consultation.

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