State Legislature Prepares to Authorize Award to Florida Crash Victim

According to the doctrine of sovereign immunity, lawsuits against the state are subject to different rules than those that apply to suits against private citizens. Sovereign immunity is a concept that essentially means that the government cannot be sued by citizens. However, in the United States, this doctrine can be abrogated where the state agrees to waive immunity. Most states and the federal government have passed legislation that allows at least some causes of action to be brought against the government.

Because states have the authority to grant or deny permission to bring suit against them, they also have the authority to determine the conditions under which such suits can be brought. In Florida, citizens are permitted to bring lawsuits against the state, but those suits must conform with certain requirements and are subject to some restrictions. One such restriction involves the amount of money damages that the state can be required to pay in the event that a lawsuit results in a judgment against it. Florida law requires legislative approval in order to allow the state to pay out any damages in excess of $200,000. In essence, once a judgment that exceeds that amount has been entered against the state, the Florida legislature must pass a bill authorizing the payment of more than $200,000 to the winning party. If the bill does not pass, then the plaintiff will only be permitted to collect the first $200,000 of the awarded damages. gavel.jpg

Our Florida injury attorney recognizes that many lawsuits take time to be resolved, especially where the defendant attempts to deny liability. However, those suits often taken even longer when part of the judgment must be approved by the legislature before being paid. In fact, according to an story by local Fox News 29, one Florida car accident victim has been waiting for more than a decade to receive the judgment he was awarded by a jury.

Thirteen years ago, Eric Brody was injured in a car crash involving a Broward County sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle. His injuries resulted in severe, permanent brain damage. Brody and his parents brought a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, which resulted in a jury awarding Brody $30.6 million. Because of Florida’s limit on damages payable without legislative approval, most of this judgment has not yet been paid. This week, however, Senate President Mike Haridopolos has announced that he plans to push for a bill to be passed in order to give Brody the compensation that he deserves in 2012. During the last legislative session, the bill did pass in the Florida Senate, but it was never voted on in the House. Haridopolos wants to avoid letting the bill languish any longer, and he is hoping to get it through early next year.

The law is full of special rules and nuances like this one, which is why it is important to always speak with a Florida injury lawyer about your case, rather than trying to settle it with the insurance company or the other party on your own. The insurance companies may not protect your interests or inform you of special circumstances that apply to your case. Having your own Florida accident attorney advocating on your behalf is the best way to protect your rights and help make sure that you get the compensation you receive for your loss is fair.

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