Wittmer & Linehan Bring Home a Complex Accident Case Abroad
Rachael Esposito left Fort Lauderdale on a 45-foot sport fishing boat owned by a Maryland resident. Their final destination was a stop in the islands of the Bahamas. Upon arrival, all passengers were required to clear customs and immigration. The owner of the boat instructed his captain to go and rent a golf cart to transport Rachael and himself to the Customs and Immigration Office. On the way to the office, the captain drove the golf cart in a reckless manner and hit a pothole. His overly fast driving speed caused the golf cart to roll over. Rachael was seriously hurt in the accident and sustained a fractured hip.
There was not a hospital on the island, and with her serious injury, Rachael became very nervous. The boat owner contacted a private company and arranged transportation via plane back to the United States. Rachael was admitted into a Fort Lauderdale hospital, where she spent the next several days recovering from her injuries. Upon her release, her medical bills began to mount and she became concerned that the boat owner never followed up on her condition. She reached out to the boat owner and captain, but never received a return call. Exasperated and worried about the mounting bills, Rachael first contacted a local Fort Lauderdale law firm to initiate a claim against the boat owner and captain.
All settlement efforts were exhausted, and the boat owner, captain and their insurance company refused to resolve Rachael’s claim. A lawsuit was filed and the defense initiated typical tactics. First came efforts to get the case dismissed, claiming any lawsuit needed to be filed in the Bahamas. The Fort Lauderdale firm was not equipped to handle the barrage of defense aimed at removing venue to the Bahamas. The case sat dormant for months. Rachael feared that her case would be lost, so she contacted Wittmer & Linehan PLLC for help.
After overcoming any defense to shift venue to the Bahamas, the Florida courts agreed that Florida was the appropriate venue for the lawsuit. After the venue defenses failed, the remaining defenses also fell and we were able to obtain a satisfactory settlement that fully compensated Rachael.
This case highlights the fact that when you retain a law firm to handle your case, you need to be certain that the firm is equipped to handle its complexities. Ask all the tough questions before you retain any firm, and make sure the firm is willing to review their prior case results with you before you sign any contract. If they will not, or if they cannot answer each of your questions, call Wittmer & Linehan.