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Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Comment on Court Affirmation of Summary Judgment Against Teen Killed in Fatal Skateboarding Accident

Our Miami personal injury lawyers express our condolences to the family of a teen who died in a fatal skateboarding accident.  The family members were denied compensation for the death of their son when the Supreme Court of California upheld summary judgment in favor of a public entity.  The boy was riding a skateboard up and down a hilly street while his parents visited a family living in a nearby condominium.  The fatality victim and his brother admitted they were skateboarding for fun to pass the time.  During one of the trips down the hill, one of the boy’s skateboard wheels got caught in a gap between the pavement and the edge of a manhole cover.  When the skateboard got caught, the boy was propelled from the skateboard and struck his head on the concrete.  He was hospitalized for several months with a severe traumatic brain injury before passing away from his injuries.

Miami Personal Injury Attorneys Note the Impact of the Assumption of the Risk Defense

The surviving family members of the boy filed a wrongful death lawsuit naming the public entity responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining the roadway as a defendant.  The public entity filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that the claim was barred based on the assumption of the risk defense.  Because the boy was engaged in a dangerous leisure activity, the trial judge granted summary judgment and ruled the claim was barred because the boy assumed the risk of serious injury or wrongful death. 

The surviving family members appealed the summary judgment to the state’s highest court, arguing that the boy was injured during transportation via skateboard, rather than participation in a leisure activity.  However, the court emphasized evidence supplied by the plaintiffs conceding that the boys were skateboarding for fun.  The court also noted that evidence indicating the boys repeatedly road the skateboard up and down the same hill undercut any claim they were engaged in transportation when the accident occurred.

Pure Comparative Fault Rule in Florida Might Have Led to Recovery

The tragic result of this ruling is that the surviving family members might not receive any compensation for the death of their son.  If this case occurred in Florida, the result could have been more positive for the plaintiffs.  Unlike California, Florida law does not recognize the assumption of the risk doctrine.  Our state uses the “pure comparative negligence rule.”  While this rule also permits a judge or jury to consider the negligence of a plaintiff in contributing to his or her own injury, the plaintiff is not automatically barred from recovery.  Rather, the amount of the damage award will be reduced based on the proportion of fault assigned to the plaintiff and the defendants respectfully.  In other words, the recovery in Florida might only have been reduced as opposed to the claim being barred by summary judgment.

This case demonstrates how subtle legal distinctions can have a profound impact on the result in a Florida personal injury case.  If you or someone you love suffers serious injury because of the careless, inattentive, or intentional misconduct of another, you should seek prompt legal advice to evaluate your right to compensation.  If the percentage of risk assigned to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is extremely high (e.g. 90 percent), the potential net recovery might become too low to justify the cost of suit in light of the potential risk of not obtaining a substantial recovery.  However, the magnitude of damages will also affect this evaluation, so you should seek prompt legal advice if you have concerns about comparative negligence issues.

Whether you have been injured while operating a motor vehicle, riding a skateboard, or walking across the street, the Florida personal injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire.  With over 130 collective years of experience representing commercial trucking accident victims across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence.  Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights.  Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald.   Put our exceptional injury lawyers to work on your case.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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