June 10, 2020
On June 3, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court announced a pilot program for “virtual” civil jury trials in Florida. The program will be tested in five of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits. The five circuits were selected by the Court’s Workgroup on Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After Covid-19. The Workgroup was created by Chief Justice Charles Canady to advise the Court during the pandemic.
The circuits were selected because they vary in size and technological capabilities. Each circuit in the pilot program will utilize a variety of approaches so that the Court can evaluate the effectiveness of different practices.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Florida courts have been limiting in-person court activities. Essential court business has continued with most court activities taking place by telephone or via Zoom. Telephonic hearings are not new to Florida. However, prior to the pandemic, most court business was conducted in person. Attorneys and court personnel believe that remote court hearings will be more commonplace, even after the pandemic is over. Previously, attorneys would often travel to a courthouse, sometimes an hour or more away from their office, for a brief court hearing that might last ten minutes or less. The pandemic is demonstrating that attending these hearings by phone can be more efficient.
Remote jury trials, however, have never been attempted in Florida. The Workgroup has not yet announced any procedural details. Initially, the program will be limited to civil jury trials, like personal injury lawsuits. There is concern that remote criminal trials might violate a criminal defendant’s constitutional rights.
June 25, 2019
After someone else injures you through negligence or recklessness, proving that person’s liability could lead to compensation for your damages. A personal injury lawsuit can result in payment for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages.
In Florida, winning a personal injury claim typically requires proving four main elements as the plaintiff, or injured party. You may need legal assistance with this burden of proof.
- Duty to exercise reasonable care
The duty to exercise reasonable care refers to the responsibility someone may have to you to prevent injury. Reasonable care is the amount of care a prudent party would provide in the same circumstances. In a car accident case, for example, duties of care include paying attention to the road and driving safely.
- A breach of duty of care
A breach of duty refers to an act or omission that falls outside the defendant’s legal duty of care to you. The basis of most personal injury claims in Florida is negligence. This refers to a failure to uphold a standard of care. Proving someone else’s negligence during your injury claim may take accounts from eyewitnesses, testimony from subject-matter experts, surveillance footage and other forms of evidence.
Causation is the link between the defendant’s breach of duty and your injuries. You or your attorney must show a causal relationship between the defendant’s actions and the accident or injuries in question. The defendant must have caused or considerably contributed to your damages. If causation is not present, the defendant may not be liable.
- Specific damages
The last element of proof is damages. The Florida civil justice system requires proof of real, specific damages if you wish to bring a personal injury claim. Without compensable damages, you do not have grounds for a lawsuit. Damages may include physical injuries, pain and suffering, emotional distress, property damage, lost wages and lost quality of life. The value of your case depends on the circumstances of the accident.