The Burden Of Proof In Florida-It Depends

The Burden Of Proof In Florida-It Depends

By Joshua Wintle, Esq.Did you know that under Florida law, depending on who causes an injury, the injured person may have to prove dramatically different facts in order to recover for her loss? Under certain circumstances, Florida provides employers with immunity from claims and lawsuits.To illustrate this point, consider the following three scenarios. First, a machine press worker, Jim, is injured when his arm is caught in the mechanical press. In order to recover for his pain and suffering and disability, Jim will have to prove that his employer, the machine press owner either intentionally hurt Jim or knew from previous incidents or warnings that Jim’s injury was virtually certain to occur. Jim also has to prove that he could not realize the risk because his employer misrepresented the danger. This is an exceptionally difficulty standard to prove.Second, consider Hector, a plumber injured when a backhoe operator, employed by a different company but working on the same construction job, struck Hector’s foot with the backhoe’s bucket. Under Florida law, Hector is required to prove that the backhoe operator was grossly negligent in his operation of the backhoe. To do this, Hector will have to prove that the operator’s conduct was such that a reasonable person would know would probably and most likely cause injury to Hector. This standard will be difficult for Hector to meet.Lastly, consider Sally, a pedestrian walking past a construction site where a crane is in operation. Sally is injured when the crane operator accidentally bumps a stack of pipes and causes those pipes to roll off the jobsite and onto the sidewalk, injuring Sally. In order to recover for her pain and suffering, disability, medical expenses, and lost wages, Sally need only prove that the crane operator was negligent. Meaning, Sally must show that the crane operator’s actions fell below the standard of care used by a reasonably careful crane operator. Sally need not prove that there were prior similar accidents or that the crane operator had previously injured anyone in this manner. She does not even need to prove that the likely result of the crane operator’s actions was injury to her on anyone else. She only must prove that the crane operator failed to do what he was supposed to do. Sally will have little difficulty proving her case.Recently, Brett Panter and Joshua Wintle of Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A., successfully resolved Hector Sosa’s case. Hector was a plumber working on the Trump Towers construction project. On the day of his injury, Hector was trying to repair a broken pipe. The pipe had to be excavated for Hector to complete his work. The construction managers brought in a backhoe operator to dig up the broken pipe.While the backhoe operator worked, Hector and his assistant, Odlanier, stood out of the way on an elevated concrete platform. Without warning or justification, the backhoe operator raised the backhoe bucket above the level of the concrete platform and brought it down on Hector Sosa’s right foot, pinching his foot between solid concrete and the metal teeth of the backhoe. The impact crushed two of Hector’s toes.Hector’s doctors did everything they could to save Hector’s toes, but gangrene set in and Hector’s two toes were amputated. As a result of his injuries, Hector was unable to work in his field and continues to suffer pain and disability.

Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A. hired experts to prove that the backhoe operator was grossly negligent in his operation of the backhoe and that his gross negligence was the major contributing cause of Hector’s injuries. The defendant strongly contested this argument, claiming that Hector’s injuries were partly his and his employer’s fault. The defendant also argued that the backhoe operator was merely negligent, rather than grossly negligent.

Because of the efforts of Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A. Hector Sosa received a settlement of nearly half a million dollars. This settlement will help pay Hector’s medical bills. Hector will also receive monthly payments for years to come to compensate for his inability to earn his previous wages.


Joshua Wintle, Esq is an associate at Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A. Mr. Wintle can be reached for more information at or (305) 662-6178. Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A. is located at 6950 North Kendall Drive, Miami, Florida 33156.