At Glassman & Zissimopulos Law, we file lawsuits to hold insurance companies responsible for injuries that their insureds have caused. Whether it is a car accident or injury that occurred on a property, one of the first steps is to figure out the correct legal entity to file the lawsuit against.
Resources like sunbiz.org is a Gainesville trial lawyer’s best friend. It certainly was not as easy to find corporate entities and owners twenty years ago when Dan Glassman started his career holding insurance companies responsible for the injuries caused to his clients in our community.
However, even with the advancement of technologies, there are times when it can still be challenging figuring out the correct legal defendants. In a recent case that Glassman & Zissimopulos Law filed, we noticed that one potential defendant had insulated himself with upwards of 100 different corporations. We even found online proof of the primary corporate owner bragging about insulating himself and his corporations.
One issue that has come up during the research on this issue is that of apparent authority. Can a legal entity, whether it be a person or a corporation, have a legal responsibility to an injured party because of representations it has made to an injured party?
Trial lawyers look to prior cases for guidance in answering these types of questions. Years ago these cases were recorded in legal books that lawyers proudly displayed in their offices. Now, these cases are all available on powerful online search engines like Westlaw.com. When I did the research on apparent authority, the case that would be controlling in a Gainesville courtroom is Florida State Oriental Med. Ass’n, Inc. v. Slepin, 971 So. 2d 141, 145 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007), in which the First District Court of Appeals said, “an agency relationship based on apparent authority exists only if the party asserting the existence of the relationship proves all three of the following elements: (a) a representation by the purported principal; (b) reliance on that representation by a third party; and (c) a change in position by the third party in reliance on the representation.”
Florida courts have been clear that the labels do not matter. If a business claims that one of its agents is an independent contractor that claim alone not enough to relieve the business from being held responsible for the third party’s negligence if, in fact, the third party is an agent of the business.
Why should you care about any of this? If you have been injured in a car accident or an interstate crash or had a family member injured while visiting a business in Gainesville, then you want to make sure the right groups are held responsible.
As a practical matter, different corporations may have different applicable insurance policies that provide coverage for injuries. The person who physically injured you may have no assets and no insurance, but the business he works for may have significant resources and liability insurance. If your attorney does not bring the lawsuit against the correct legal entity, you may be forfeiting thousands and thousands of dollars that could assist in the recovery of your injuries.
If you live in Gainesville and have been injured in a car accident, an interstate crash, or at a business, visit us at PutClientsFirst.com or call us at 352-505-4515 to see how Glassman & Zissimopulos Law can help you today.