“Stand Your Ground” and Personal Injury Cases

Jun. 12th, 2014   /   ,

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Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” rule is the controversial and headline-grabbing law that has raised voices and inspired protests all around the country, most notably in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen gunned down by a man claiming to have shot in self-defense. Indeed, as outlined in Chapter 776 of the Florida State Statutes, the law does allow for the lawful use of force, including deadly force, by someone in order to defend himself or herself against someone using imminent, unlawful force.

While the aforementioned criminal case rattled the airwaves and opinions of criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors all over the country, our experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know that the Stand Your Ground law has implications in other areas of the law, namely in personal injury cases, various forms of which our lawyers have been handling for years.

The interaction between this criminal law-focused statute and the realm of civil suits came to light in a recent ruling by a Florida Appellate Court. The case involved a personal injury suit stemming from a criminal case in which a man was charged with aggravated battery for seriously beating a co-worker of his with a baseball bat; the attack took place at the involved individuals’ place of employment, a roofing company’s store in Miami, Florida.

In the criminal trial, the judge – after reviewing evidence including testimony from both parties involved – decided to dismiss the lawsuit against the attacker on the grounds that he was justified in using the baseball bat to attack his co-worker under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

While the criminal case was ongoing, though, the victim filed a personal injury lawsuit against both his attacker and his employer, claiming (among other things) battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The victim also accused his employer of negligently hiring and retaining the attacker who, evidenced by the attack, was a violent individual.

The roofing company and the attacker challenged the lawsuit by arguing that the Stand Your Ground law, which got them off the hook in the criminal trial, should serve as a total legal defense. The judge in the personal injury case disagreed rejecting the motion to dismiss outright without an evidentiary hearing, and the defendants appealed. Citing a lack of precedent in Florida, the Appeals Court judge reversed the Trial Court’s decision to rule-out a dismissal on the basis of the Stand Your Ground defense without an evidentiary hearing.

The Third District Court of Appeals, in their decision, spent time discussing how judges should handle the issue of the Stand Your Ground law defense in this case and in future cases. Basically, the Court held that in these types of cases, a trial judge is to review the evidence to determine if a defendant is entitled to the immunity that is potentially provided to them by the Stand Your Ground law.

Our time-tested personal injury lawyers know the law here in Florida, and we know the intricate ways in which criminal law often affects personal injury law. If you’ve been injured due to the negligence or illegal actions of another, please contact our attorneys to schedule a free consultation. You can reach us by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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