Fort Lauderdale Woman Awarded Over $300,000 In Judgement Against City
Recently, a Fort Lauderdale woman seriously injured in a 2010 crash involving a police cruiser received a $306,000 verdict in her favor. The Broward County jury hearing the case determined the officer involved in the crash, Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Daniel Gowans, to be 90 percent at fault in the accident.
The case began in 2010 when the plaintiff and her son were struck by Gowans as the officer raced through the intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and Southeast Fourth Avenue. Gowans was responding to a domestic violence call despite receiving communications from police dispatch informing him another officer was already on the scene.
The plaintiff suffered eight fractures to her wrist and incurred over $80,000 in medical bills. The plaintiff was uninsured at the time and unable to pay back most of her treatment costs despite reductions by the hospital. Jurors awarded her $40,000 in past and future medical costs and $300,000 for pain and suffering.
Florida comparative negligence laws
Florida’s comparative fault statute holds plaintiffs may have tort awards reduced should they have contributed to their own injury in some way. In this case, because jurors ruled the officer to be 90 percent at fault and the plaintiff 10 percent at fault, her award was reduced by 10 percent.
Blaming victims for their own injuries is a standard tactic defense lawyers representing negligent parties will often use to skirt liability. Injury victims should always consider hiring an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer to handle their case and refute comparative negligence claims.
Fort Lauderdale sovereign immunity laws
Despite a jury verdict affirming the complaint, the plaintiff’s award may be in jeopardy due to a little known law known as sovereign immunity. Florida law puts caps on claims against governmental entities and restricts the types of damages plaintiffs may receive.
Florida statute 768.28(5) states:
- Government entities are not liable for punitive damages;
- Individual claims may not exceed $100,000 and a total of $200,000 for all parties involved in the same incident; and
- The Florida legislature must issue a special claims bill to pay for damages above cap levels.
Furthermore, the city of Fort Lauderdale has the right to challenge the ruling of the case through appeal. Although the city has yet to file an appeal, the law affords defendants this right.
Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers
Although The Pendas Law Firm did not provide legal representation to any of the parties in this particular case, our office regularly represents auto accident injury victims hurt by the carelessness and disregard for public safety of negligent parties. Victims hurt in auto crashes are entitled to file claims to recover compensation for property damages, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one was seriously hurt in an auto accident, contact The Pendas Law Firm for a consultation about your case. Our office represents clients in Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.