All You Need to Know About Real Estate Law In Florida

Buying or selling a property can feel like an expensive and complicated process. Some people believe that they can save money by not hiring a real estate attorney. However, real estate attorneys are incredibly beneficial, and they can save you money and help you protect your assets. As a state, Florida does not legally require parties to hire a real estate attorney when purchasing or selling their home, but let us make a case why you always should.

What does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

Real estate law is a type of civil law that handles the buying, selling, and title disputes of properties and land (both commercial and residential). Real estate attorneys specialize in real estate law cases and protect their clients against any legal issues that might arise during the buying or selling of a property, or resolving real estate disputes.

What are the Benefits of Using a Real Estate Attorney?

A real estate attorney is an additional layer of security when making one of the largest purchases of your life. Your real estate lawyer will help you throughout the entire process and has your best interests in mind.

From beginning to end, your real estate lawyer will review all paperwork to identify mistakes or areas of concern. Before you sell a property, your real estate attorney may go over the listing agreement you made with your real estate agent to ensure the terms are in your favor. As offers come in, your lawyer will inspect the documents to identify any red flags or highlight tax considerations that will impact you later. If you are a buyer, your real estate attorney will research the history of the property, ensure the zoning is up to code, identify any unpaid property tax or utility bills, and inspect the title and title insurance documents.

When it comes time to the final step, real estate attorneys will draft contracts including the review title, mortgage transfer documents, write the deed and check the final breakdown of the settlement to ensure correct payment of funds. Some examples of the contracts your real estate lawyer will draft for you include the Agreement of Sale, the Agreement of Purchase, and the title and closing documentation.

If issues arise, such as alien or judgment on the title, or issues around disclosure, your real estate attorney will protect your best interests. At times, some real estate disputes will go to court, and your attorney can represent you.

While real estate attorneys are optional in Florida, you should always hire an attorney if you are facing a foreclosure, you’re considering a short sale, there are liens or judgments on the title, you’re selling on behalf of a deceased owner, you’re going through a divorce, you have rental tenants, or you expect the sale to be complicated for one reason or another. A real estate attorney is almost guaranteed to be needed at some point, especially if the sale is complicated in some way.

Real Estate Law in Florida

There are two important aspects to real estate law in Florida you should keep in mind. Firstly, Florida has one of the most favorable homestead exemptions in the country. Homestead laws enable people to safeguard their homes by allowing homebuyers to keep a portion of their homes protected. In Florida, there is no limit to the portion of your home that can be protected. This essentially means your entire home could be protected from creditors, even after filing for bankruptcy in Florida. However, keep in mind that property lines established before the homestead take a precedent over the homestead.

Secondly, Florida has adverse possession laws that allow an individual to be granted the title to a neglected property. Individuals can qualify for possession if they have: lived on the property for at least seven years, paid the property taxes during that time, and have significantly improved the state of the home. The adverse possession laws in Florida are complicated. Whether you are trying to claim property, or dispute another individual’s claim to your property, a real estate attorney is necessary.

Thompson & Thompson, P.A.

At Thompson & Thomspon, P.A., the client’s needs are our top priority. With over 40 years of experience, there isn’t a real estate case we have not dealt with before. When it comes to buying, selling, or disputing a property issue, there is a lot of money on the line. Protect yourself and your assets by hiring a qualified and experienced real estate attorney. Call us today for your free initial consultation at 561-295-3530.

5 Reasons You May Need A Florida Workers Compensation Attorney

5 Reasons You May Need A Florida Worker’s Compensation Attorney

A worker’s compensation attorney helps workers who are injured at the workplace to recover compensation for their injuries, ensuring that they are made whole. The right attorney can help recover compensation due to medical bills and lost wages. Depending on the injury, the attorney can help build a case for you to obtain permanent total disability benefits, medical benefits, and vocational rehabilitation benefits.

In the state of Florida, temporary disability benefits are calculated as being two-thirds of average weekly wages just before the injury occurred, with it maxing it out $939 a week for 2019. For more debilitating injuries, the benefits are higher – you’re owed 80% of pre-injury wages for the first 6 months. There are many moving parts when it comes to securing compensation as a worker in Florida, with an attorney being able to demystify the process.

5 Reasons You May Need A Florida Worker’s Compensation Attorney
1. Obtaining adequate compensation for work-related injuries. The job of the employer’s insurance company is to assess injury claims and to get it settled at the lowest possible cost. As an employee, this means that you might be left with the short end of the stick. A compensation lawyer will guarantee that you receive fair compensation, taking all expenses into consideration.

2. Without an attorney, your claim might be denied. Obtaining compensation after an injury is stifled with the bureaucracy that can make it difficult for a lone worker to obtain proper reimbursement. An attorney will help appeal any denials through the workers’ compensation system, which will require you to file paperwork, and use legal tools to gather and secure evidence.

3. Injured at the job, and you haven’t been made whole yet. Under section 440.19, an injured person has two years after a work-related injury to file for compensation benefits. Sometimes employers will suggest that you do not file for a claim and are willing to distract you past the two-year mark. This happens too often, with workers trusting their employers to do the right thing. Unfortunately, you will be left high and dry, with injuries incurring costs.

4. The case of pre-existing conditions. If you have a pre-existing condition, it will be much more difficult and complex to secure workers’ compensation. The insurance companies will blame your injury on these pre-existing conditions and ignore or minimize how the work environment contributed to it. This is especially true if you work in an industry where you are exposed to repetitive stress injuries. An attorney will be able to gather adequate evidence and demonstrate how any pre-existing conditions did not contribute to your injuries.

5. Ability to perform has been negatively impacted. Even if you were able to recover enough to go back to work, there will be cases where you will deal with the injury and its long-term ramifications. If you cannot work again, you will need to maximize your compensation benefits and structure them to last. If the injury requires that you leave your industry and work in another, an attorney can assist with that.

Thompson and Thomas are experienced lawyers in the field of workers’ compensation in the state of Florida. If you are having a hard time securing compensation after a work-related injury, contact us.

Understanding Your Rights As A Victim Of A Personal Injury

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A personal injury can change your life and your goals. After an injury, you may be forced into a situation where you have no choice but to go through medical treatments like rehabilitation or surgery. You may not be able to work, and you might have trouble doing the things that you enjoy in your everyday life.

For someone who is in your situation, it is important to hold the person who hurt you responsible for their actions. Part of that responsibility is paying for your medical care and the losses that you have suffered. In some cases, other people in your family may be entitled to compensation of some form as well.

How do you deal with a personal injury?

The first thing you have to do is go to the hospital or a doctor’s office. You need to make sure that you have a medical exam and that you receive a diagnosis for whatever injury that you suffered. This initial diagnosis may change, so it is important that you go to all follow-up medical appointments.

If you have to have surgery following an incident, make sure you understand what happened and how it could potentially affect you in the future. With any of these medical treatments, you must keep the documentation. The documentation, along with a police report and other paperwork, is important for your claim against the other party.

After you receive medical care, what’s the next step?

After you receive care for your injuries, you should consider speaking with your attorney prior to involving the police or other professionals. If the other party’s insurance agency contacts you, make sure you do not agree to speak with them until you understand your legal standing. You don’t want to say or do anything that could result in losing the right to your claim.

Should I take a settlement if it’s offered?

Do not accept a settlement, especially if you don’t know the extent of your injuries and how they’ll impact your life. Your attorney can help you negotiate for a fair settlement and for the coverage of your medical bills as soon as it is clear how the injury will affect your life. The first settlement offered may not be fair and could leave you with more bills than funds. That’s the last thing that anyone wants to see happen to you as the victim of a reckless act.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Workers’ Comp And The Ability To Sue An Employer

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Normally, employers in Florida are protected from personal injury litigation if they have valid workers’ compensation coverage. This is because the worker’s comp system is set up so that injured workers give up their right to sue in exchange for receiving benefit payments. It’s referred to as a no-fault system because it doesn’t matter who is at fault. However, there are instances when there may be some exceptions.

For example, an employee may be able to go beyond filing a workers’ compensation claim and initiate a lawsuit for a wrongful civil action if it’s believed that an employer intentionally caused them harm. “Tort injuries” include both physical injuries and emotional distress. Actions that might warrant pursuing a civil claim include physical assault or threats of assault, confining an employee against their will without legal authority, intentionally lying to an employee in a way that contributed to a sustained injury, or harm caused by someone at work spreading false allegations.

It’s also possible for an employee to pursue legal action against a third party who may have been responsible for injuries sustained while on the job. Situations like this might include legal action taken against the manufacturer of defective equipment that resulted in a worker’s injuries. However, part of any awarded damages may have to be given to the employer to repay workers’ compensation benefits already received. The employer and their insurer may also opt to become part of the lawsuit against a responsible third party.

Since it’s not always easy to determine if a workers’ compensation claim is appropriate or if there is just cause to pursue civil actions against an employer or third party, it might be helpful for an injured employee to consult with an attorney. A lawyer may get involved with denial or termination of benefits cases if all administrative processes have been exhausted. Appeals are generally made to either a special workers’ compensation board or a special type of court. An attorney may be able to guide an injured worker through the claims process, especially if there are certain documentation requirements.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

When Is Workers’ Compensation Coverage Necessary?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When workers suffer injuries on the job, they may need to seek medical care. There is no reason for them to be responsible for the cost of this care, but some employers might not have the cash to be able to pay for it either. This is where workers’ compensation coverage comes into the picture.

Workers’ compensation coverage is a program that covers medical bills related to the on-the-job injury and can provide other benefits that help injured employees. Understanding some of the basic information about workers’ compensation can help some individuals who need to count on the benefits.

Which employers must have coverage?

The type of business has a part in when they are required to have coverage. The number of employees also matters.

Agriculture businesses that have at least six regular employees must have coverage. If they have at least 12 seasonal workers who work more than 30 days in a season but not more 45 days per year, they also need coverage.

Construction workers who have at least one employee, which includes an owner who is non-exempt, needs coverage. If the company employs subcontractors, the subcontractor is responsible for the coverage but the company must verify that the coverage exists.

Other companies must have coverage if they have at least four employees. A nonexempt owner is considered an employee when determining whether a policy is needed.

Who pays for the coverage?

Employers must pay for workers’ compensation policies. They can’t pass the cost along to employees since this is considered a regular operating cost. Employees can’t be expected to pay any of the costs related to the work-related injury medical bills, so employers bear the burden if there isn’t a suitable policy in place.

Are any conditions excluded?

Florida law doesn’t allow for workers’ compensation payments to be made because of nervous or mental conditions that are due to excitement, stress or fright. Injuries caused intentionally by a worker and those that occur when a worker is intoxicated aren’t covered. Workers’ compensation won’t pay for pain and suffering damages.

These laws are meant to protect the workers and businesses. There might be instances in which a person is denied benefits they should receive. These individuals can file an appeal of the ruling as long as they follow the proper procedures and file their appeal within the established time limits.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

ZF External Airbags May Keep Occupants Safer In Side Collision

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The ZF Group has come up with some definite data about the benefits of external airbags; namely, that they can reduce the severity of occupant injuries by as much as 40 percent. Florida residents should know that while external airbags, like self-driving cars, are still a long way from becoming reality, ZF has a strategy that could soon yield real results.

ZF has designed external airbags that deploy from the side of a vehicle, adding to the crumple zone and absorbing some of the impact of a side collision. The challenge, of course, is to get a vehicle to determine when a crash will occur and then deploy the airbags a split second before.

One external airbag model is approximately 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide. It weighs about 13 pounds. Despite its size, it can inflate the airbags in 15 milliseconds, which is around the same time it takes for a steering wheel airbag to inflate.

Some vehicles already have crash predictive systems, which can cause the seat belts to tighten or adjust the suspension based on the data it receives through its cameras and sensors. Since external airbags can be more drastic, however, there is a greater concern about seeing them deploy when they are not needed.

Side collisions often result in serious injuries, and without any advanced safety features to mitigate them, victims may be left with permanent conditions requiring lifelong medical care. However, compensation may be garnered through a personal injury claim. Filing a claim is a complicated process, so victims may want legal representation. After a thorough evaluation, a lawyer could proceed to build up a case.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How Is Liability Decided In The Wake Of A Mass Shooting?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When first responders reached the Jacksonville Landing Complex on August 26th, 2018, they had close to a dozen victims with varying degrees of injury. A 24-year-old gunman had opened fire at an online video game tournament, killing two before taking his own life. During his shooting rampage, the gunman injured nine others who required medical treatment.

In the months that have passed since this tragic event, victims fortunate enough to survive have been focused on both their physical and mental recovery. For the loved ones of the victims who died, they have no choice but to carry on without them. This is so small task.

As of now, ten lawsuits have been filed against the owners of the outdoor mall, where the killing spree took place.

Liability in the wake of a mass shooting

Of the ten known lawsuits, one is for wrongful death and nine involve personal injury claims. This raises many questions about who, exactly, is liable after a mass shooting. Every tragedy has unique factors requiring close examination by experienced attorneys, and at this point, it is too early to speculate about liability in the case of the tragedy on August 26th.

Instead, here are five examples where a shooting victim or their loved ones could pursue a case for either wrongful death or personal injury. This list is not exhaustive.

  • A school resource officer fails their duty to protect
  • Law enforcement ignored tips about the gunman
  • School administrators ignored mental health complaints or concerns
  • Building owners breached their duty of providing reasonable care
  • Survivors feel the gun manufacturers are to blame

Victims or their loved ones want nothing more than to turn back the hands of time. With that not being possible, it is reasonable to pursue compensatory or punitive damages. Compensatory damages cover medical expenses, time lost at work, or compensation for the physical or mental pain and suffering in the wake of the event. Punitive damages exist to punish the responsible party.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Keeping Outdoor Workers Safe During Winter

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]OSHA has listed some of the top hazards of winter outdoor work at its Winter Weather resource site. Employers in West Palm Beach, especially those whose employees might drive a snow blower or remove snow off roofs, will want to know what some of the organization’s safety tips are. The first step is to follow OSHA’s guidelines regarding personal protective equipment, hazard training and fall protection.

PPE should include things like insulated gloves, steel-toed boots and coats. Hazard training should cover specific tasks as well as orient any employees who come from areas with less severe winters. Guidelines for fall protection systems, ladders and aerial lifts must be followed. Ideally, workers who engage in roof snow removal should not have to go on the roof; they could instead apply de-icing materials from a ladder or use snow rakes and drag lines.

Employers should have a qualified employee inspect all vehicle systems, focusing on the brakes, exhaust, tires, oil and visibility systems. Vehicles should have winter windshield wipers installed. When snow blowers get jammed, workers should turn them off first and then use a long stick to clear out the snow and debris.

If workers need to remove trees or tree limbs in the snow, they should use powered equipment that’s designed for wet conditions. Again, PPE is essential, especially eye, ear and head protection.

Those who are injured on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation regardless of who, if anyone, was at fault. Victims may also opt for a lump-sum settlement instead; a lawyer may explain what the pros and cons are. Workers’ comp benefits might cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages, but victims can only file for them when they have reached maximum medical improvement.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Avoiding Accidents When Driving In Direct Sunlight

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many residents of West Palm Beach who head out on the road during the early mornings or late afternoons find themselves unprepared to face the bright sunlight. This is dangerous; bright sunlight can increase the chances of a life-threatening car crash by 16 percent because of the visual illusions it can create and the harm it can do to one’s eyes.

The following are some safety tips for those who drive in direct sunlight. One tip is to avoid driving in such conditions or, if that’s not possible, to wait until the sun has risen or set below the horizon. Inside the vehicle, drivers should always keep a pair of sunglasses ready because these can reduce brightness and guard the eyes from harmful UV rays. Drivers can also use their sun visors, which are all designed not to hinder visibility.

On the road, drivers are encouraged to keep a distance greater than usual from the vehicles in front because bright sunlight can slow down reaction times. They should exit the road if the rays hurt their eyes; the sun will reposition after 10 or 15 minutes.

Window tinting is effective, too, and any specialty auto repair shop can install it for a few hundred dollars. Drivers should note that having overly darkened windows could result in a traffic citation, so it is important to follow the legal requirements for tinting.

Those who fail to make provisions for the sunlight and collide with another vehicle could be held liable. Those who incur a personal injury might want to ask a lawyer about whether they should file a claim. In this state, victims have their damages reduced based on the percentage to which they themselves were negligent. A lawyer might hire investigators and other third parties to ensure a strong case and a reasonable settlement. If a settlement cannot be negotiated, the victim may choose to litigate.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Truck Accidents In Florida

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Sharing the road with a semi or large truck is not uncommon, especially if you are on the highway. While you may think nothing of it, large trucks can cause serious car accidents.

There were nearly 300 fatalities involving large trucks in 2017, which does not count crashes that did not result in death. What do you need to know about large truck accidents in Florida?

Types of accidents

Just like car-car accidents, there are many ways that large truck-car accidents can occur. Some common ones include:

  • Rear-end accident: If the car in front of a large truck slams on the brakes or the truck driver does not see a car slowing down in front of them, a rear-end accident may occur. It takes a lot of time and space for a large truck to come to a complete stop.
  • Blind spot accident: Unlike typical cars, large trucks have blind spots on all sides. If they do not see a car when they are merging, the results could be disastrous.
  • Jackknife accident: This type of accident happens when the trailer swings out to the side of the main part of the large truck. It can occur due to weather or the speed of the truck. However, it is almost impossible to control the truck once the trailer is swinging.
  • Rollover accident: Sometimes, trucks can roll over, which can be dangerous for any vehicle in its path. Often this happens when trucks take tight turns and the force of the turn tips the vehicle, making it roll.

Effects of accidents

Often, the result of a large truck accident is death. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these types of accidents cause one in ten highway deaths. Due to the size and weight of large trucks, the effects of an accident on individuals in a smaller car can be devastating. Catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are unfortunately common.

How to avoid an accident

While not all accidents are unavoidable, there are some things you can do to stay safe and avoid a crash.

  • Stay out of the blind spots
  • Do not cut off or tailgate
  • Keep your distance from the truck and trailer
  • Try not to stop suddenly when you are in front

Thinking about getting into an accident with a large truck or semi is terrifying, but knowing that there are ways to avoid them is helpful.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]