Should You Give a Recorded Statement?

Shortly after an accident occurs, the adjuster working for the at-fault driver’s insurance company will begin to investigate the accident. As part of this investigation, you may be asked to provide a recorded statement concerning your car accident.

The most important fact to know about this request is this: you do not have to provide the insurance company an opportunity to do this. The insurance adjuster cannot deny the claim based upon a denial to provide this statement. It is possible that the recorded statement will be used against you at a later point. In most cases, the adjuster’s goal will be to find any weakness in your story and use it against you to either deny the claim or lower the offer of compensation to you. It is possible that the recorded statement will be used against you at a later point.
Although it is generally a bad idea to agree to be subject to a recorded statement without an attorney, if you are represented, a recorded statement in the presence of your attorney is far less likely to harm your case. If you do decide to give a recorded statement, please keep the following things in mind:

1. Ask that the statement not be recorded.
2. Answer the question asked concisely and precisely, and avoid rambling.
3. Avoid giving an explanation unless you are asked for one.
4. Do not argue with the adjuster.
5. It’s ok to say “I don’t know.” Avoid guessing. If you cannot provide an estimate, then do not do it. If you must guess, use educated guesses. Explain that the answer is a guess.
6. Speak slowly and coherently.
7. Tell the truth.
8. Avoid absolutes such as “always” and “never”.
9. Do not admit partial or complete fault.
10. Do not sign anything or accept a quick settlement unless an attorney has reviewed it.
11. If you are dealing with your own insurance company (generally, in the context of an Underinsured or Uninsured claim, or perhaps a PIP claim), it is very likely that you will be required to give a recorded statement based upon the insurance policy. It is best to ensure an attorney is present to protect your rights.

Fulgencio Law, PLLC represents clients who have experienced losses as a result of the car accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of such an accident, please contact our office as soon as possible and speak with attorney Felipe Fulgencio. We offer free consultations.

Tampa Floods Lead to Thousands of Car and Home Damage Claims

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere at any time. The constant rain Tampa Bay experiencWestshore Floodeded during the past few days (or is it weeks?) has lead to a record number of flood-based and water damage claims for motor vehicles and homes. It is estimated that half a billion dollars of losses have been claimed as a result of the recent floods. Entire towns, such as Elfers,Fla., were evacuated, and many roads were closed. At one point, even Tampa International Airport closed.

The average amount of rain in Tampa during the month of August, according to US Climate data, is just below 8 inches. During the first four days of August, some area in Tampa Bay got as much as nine inches of rain. That’s a month of rain in less than ninety-six hours. Unfortunately, the ground was already saturated from the heavy rain the area experienced during the month of July.

If you need help with your claim for water damage, whether it is a car that flooded, water entered your home, or another type of water damage loss, it is important to ensure you have appropriate legal representation to ensure your claim is fully compensated.

Fulgencio Law, PLLC represents clients who have experienced losses as a result of the recent flood. If you or a loved one has filed a claim, or would like help in filing a claim, please contact our office as soon as possible and speak with one of our attorneys, Felipe Fulgencio or Bethany Wharrie. We offer free consultations.

Fulgencio Law files lawsuit against Busch Gardens Theme Park on behalf of man who lost part of his finger (amputation) on Serengeti Safari Ride

On December 12, 2014, our client was enjoying Busch Gardens’ Serengeti Sarafi open-air ride. When the driver of the vehicle improperly negotiated a turn, the vehicle struck a 7-foot eucalyptus pole, crushing and severing a part of our client’s left ring finger. Busch-Gardens-Giraffe-encounter

As a result of the accident, our client has suffered debilitating, permanent injuries. His young daughter was a witness to the accident, and remains psychologically affected by the traumatic incident. Unfortunately, despite the seriousness of the injury, Busch Gardens chose not to do the right thing, and never offered to resolve our client’s injury claim, or to even pay for his medical bills. So, to protect our client’s rights, our firm had no other choice but to file a lawsuit here in Hillsborough County.

A key component of this lawsuit will be proving the park’s negligence – showing that the accident and injury suffered by our client was avoidable, but occurred as a result of Busch Gardens’ carelessness. If negligence is shown, the park will likely be held financially responsible for the injury and the costs associated with it. Each year, millions of people, many of them foreign tourists, visit one of Florida’s many theme parks. Although the parks are generally safe, the number of injuries sustained at these facilities is on the rise. If you or a loved one suffered an injury at Busch Gardens, Sea World, or another theme park in Florida, call Fulgencio Law for a free consultation at 813.463.0123.

Fulgencio Law files first state court lawsuit in Florida against Lumber Liquidators

On June 23, 2015, Fulgencio Law, PLLC attorneys Bethany Wharrie and Felipe Fulgencio filed the first state court laswsuit in Florida against Lumber Liquidators for the unsafe levels of formaldehyde found in its flooring. Fulgencio Law Toxic-sign-articlerepresents a family who purchased Lumber Liquidators’ flooring from one of Lumber Liquidators’ Hillsborough County stores. After the family had the flooring installed in their home, the family’s youngest member, a two year old child, developed signs and symptoms of formaldehyde exposure including sore throat, coughing, congestion, headaches, itchy eyes, fatigue, stomach pains and vomiting. After watching CBS News’ 60 Minutes’ segment regarding the unsafe levels of formaldehyde found in Lumber Liquidators’ flooring, the family decided to have their home tested. They contacted Lumber Liquidators who sent them an at home test. The family performed the test and sent it back to Lumber Liquidators per its instructions.

After a month passed with no response from Lumber Liquidators regarding the formaldehyde test, the family hired a private company to test the flooring and air in their home. The test results indicated that the Lumber Liquidators’ flooring had formaldehyde levels ten times the targeted levels and the family’s home air had formaldehyde levels four times the targeted levels. The family immediately moved out of their home and stayed with relatives until the Lumber Liquidators’ flooring was removed from their home and replaced with safe flooring. Since moving out of the house and replacing the flooring, the family’s two year old child has not has any more symptoms of formaldehyde exposure.

ABC Action News has a short piece on the issue, which can be seen here:

Anyone who has purchased or installed Lumber Liquidators’ flooring and is concerned about possible formaldehyde exposure can contact Fulgencio Law at 813.463.0123.

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Fulgencio Law files suit against large Organic Food Company

Fulgencio Law has filed a lawsuit against one of the country’s largest organic food companies. But the company is not the only defendant in the case. Often, food sold under a brand name is not actually made by that company. Rather, the company “holds” the recipe, and contracts the manufacturing out to another company. That’s what happened here. In Florida, however, both companies will share liability for the damages caused by the product. Both companies were sued after a child was given the Rice Milk product and fell sick shortly thereafter.

Upon inspection, it became clear that there was mold inside the container, but no recall has been issued by the company. Always check to see if mold or other foreign substance is present in pre-packaged food you are about to consume.

Felipe B. Fulgencio is a food poisoning attorney and available to serve consumers throughout the state of Florida who have experienced similar issues. Any person with concerns about recalled or contaminated food products may contact the firm at 813.463.0123.

BP Oil Spill Claim Payments to Resume

Courts Decide Not Delay Payments to Deserving Businesses Any Further

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a mandate vacating the injunction that imposed a Stay on claim payments back on October 3, 2013, and District Court Judge Barbier followed-up with an Order directing the Claims Administrator to resume payments.  This came only one day after BP’s motion to keep the Stay in place was denied by the Fifth Circuit Court.

In a short response, the Fifth Circuit issued this mandate:  “The injunction prohibiting payment of the relevant claims is vacated.”

Judge Barbier then ordered “that the injunction regarding BEL claims is DISSOLVED & VACATED. The Claims Administrator is instructed to resume the processing & payment of claims in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.”

BP has been continuously shot down in its attempts to change the terms of the deal that governs the operation of the Settlement Program.   While it agreed to objective, transparent formulas backed by financial data to support economic loss claims, it has attempted to undue this reasonable and fair approach to claims processing in order to minimize its financial responsibility for the Gulf oil disaster.

As expected, BP also today filed with the Supreme Court its “Application to Recall and Stay Mandate Pending the Filing and Disposition of a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari.”  In short, it is seeking a new injunction to try to stop payments while the High Court considers whether to hear its case.

BP’s appeals have been denied by the District Court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the entire En Banc panel of the 5th Circuit, so we remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will follow the lead of three separate courts holding BP accountable.  Statistically, it is reported that the Supreme Court accepts 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review each year.
We are optimistic that the Supreme Court will put an end to BP’s attempts to claim victim while thousands of businesses that were harmed through no fault of their own still await legitimate payments more than four years after the spill.
It’s time for businesses to be fully and fairly compensated.  As you know, the window for submitting claims remains open, likely through Fall 2014.  Fulgencio Law continues to encourage all businesses to hold BP accountable for its actions and seek evaluation for a claim.

There Is Still Time to File your BP Claim

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied BP’s Hail May request for its previously denied appeals to be reheard by the entire panel of appellate judges, leaving BP with possibly no further legal options to avoid paying the economic damages caused by the spill.  As per a prior Order by the Court, now that the issue is resolved, claim payments are expected to resume in short order as the Stay is lifted.  8 of the panel’s 13 judges voted to deny BP’s request.

BP has tried to argue that it didn’t really mean what it said when it agreed that the objective formulas included in the Settlement Program were sufficient to prove a link between a businesses damages and the effects of the oil spill.  Over the course of a year, BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee met 145 times to iron out a 1,000+ page Settlement Agreement, which was then approved by the Court on May 2, 2012.  Once BP realized the magnitude of the spill’s impact on businesses, it attempted to back out of the deal.  Fortunately, it seems it was too late.

The settlement agreement “is not fundamentally flawed,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick. BP agreed that claimants wouldn’t have to prove losses were caused by the spill if their losses matched mathematical formulas, the judge said. “Causation is established by certain factors set out in Exhibit 4B that the parties agreed were a sufficient indirect way to satisfy the goal of connecting a claim to BP’s conduct in the Gulf.  The parties did not reject the need to establish a connection.  Instead, they agree to a means for doing so that sufficiently satisfied each party’s litigation interests.”

As pointed out in a recent USA Today article, BP also gained quite a bit by agreeing to this Settlement.  The article states, “They got to placate their shareholders, who were nervous about how much this was going to cost them through the years going through litigation; they got to settle their criminal and environmental fines on very favorable terms with the federal government; they got to get 100,000 residents along the gulf coast to join the settlement and forever give up their rights to sue BP in court.  Each of those items is worth billions to BP.”

BP reportedly has two options:  appeal to the Supreme Court (another extreme long shot), or pay the claims as agreed. On behalf of our clients, we are thankful to the Fifth Circuit Judges for standing up for Gulf Coast businesses and residents and holding BP accountable for their actions.  Businesses endured the spill, struggled to stay afloat through the aftermath, and have been forced to wait and wait for justice.  We are happy to say the wait is likely almost over.

While we still expect BP to try and slow the process down, the Claims Administrator is no doubt ready to see this Program kick-start and move through to the end.  Now is a great time to share the good news with any additional potential clients you may know. With the additional six month window in which claims can still be filed, Fulgencio Law is eager to continue to help Florida business and individuals file claims. Contact our office now for a free consultation regarding the BO Pil Spill and how you can qualify for compensation.

Fulgencio Law Secures Settlement in Food Poisoning Case

Fulgencio Law secured a confidential settlement for our client who fell ill after consuming Defendant’s applesauce. The tests showed that mold was present in the applesauce, but the Defendant never made an offer of settlement until after our office filed a lawsuit on behalf of our client.

It was only after a lawsuit was filed that the defendant realized our claims had legal bite, and that we were willing to pursue the case in court. Soon after the complaint was filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Defendants made an offer that the client accepted.

The lesson is simple: make sure your attorney is willing to file a lawsuit and pursue it on your behalf. If you have been a victim of food poisoning, please contact Fulgencio Law at 813.463.0123.

Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment on Sinkhole Loss Claim

Liberty Mutual Insurance put up a fight but Federal Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich granted our motion for summary judgment today. Several attorneys and law firms were responsible for representing the plaintiffs. That is not uncommon, especially since insurance companies often also employ the same strategy and hire a number of attorneys and law firms to ensure that they can avoid paying out claims. The full text of the Order can be found here: Order Granting Pf’s MSJ.

In the end, the Court, in its wisdom, ruled that “structural damage” means “damage to the structure.” To us at Fulgencio Law, it sounds about right.


GM Recalls 1.5 Million Vehicles

In the past month alone, GM has issued a recall for over 1.6 million of its vehicles, claiming defects in the ignition system. Now, GM announces it will recall 1.5 million more.

The ignition system defect has been linked to at least 12 fatal car accidents. Nevertheless, GM has waited nearly a decade to issue the recall. As a result of this recall and the underlying safety issues, Congress will hold hearings on the matter, and GM will likely face a series of lawsuits from the injured victims of the defect.

In an attempt to side step similar issues and stop the damage to tits reputation,General Motors has decided to be more proactive in addressing this new set of problems with their vehicles. The most recent recall includes:

  • 2008-2013 Buick Enclave
  • 2008-2013 GMC Acadia
  • 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse
  • 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook
  • 2013-2014 Cadillac XTS
  • 2009-2014 Chevrolet Express
  • 2009-2014 GMC Savana

The Cadillac XTS vehicles have been recalled due to a loose brake booster pump plug that can generate enough heat to cause a fire. The Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vehicles have been recalled because the passenger-side front air bag plastic covers do not meet federal standards of safety. The other vehicles recalled have defective side air bags which may not deploy properly in the event of a car accident.

In addition, GM has set aside $300 million this quarter to pay for repairs to the recalled vehicles.

While this is a positive first step, it still does not excuse GM for its failure to act on  knowledge of the ignition system defects over the past decade. Had the auto manufacturer recalled these defective vehicles in a more timely manner, many lives would have been saved.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by one of these defective General Motors vehicles, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages. Our legal team at Fulgencio Law will work with investigators and accident reconstruction experts who can help determine whether your injuries were caused by one of these vehicle defects. This will give you the edge you need when seeking to maximize the value of your compensation.

Please contact Fulgencio Law today to schedule your free car accident consultation. We serve clients in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and surrounding counties.