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Just Because You’re A Tourist, Doesn’t Mean The Law’s Not On Your Side


Florida is, like a few other states in the country, a vibrant place with a healthy economy that enjoys a boost from tourism. Because of the reputations of cities like Miami, the beauty and warmth of the keys, and, of course, the numerous amusement parks, Americans from all over the country descend to this state. However, this is a global reputation as well, and visitors from other continents are eager to visit and see what the state has to offer. Combined with “winter birds” that come down to live here from the northern states and even Canada, and you have many visitors coming to Florida throughout the year.

All of this can mean one thing. With so many visitors to the state, it’s a statistical likelihood that someone may get hurt in an accident. And it’s just as likely that the person harmed in that accident may be the victim of someone else’s negligence. If that happens, it can present some real challenges for the victim.

The Visitor’s Dilemma

One of the biggest hurdles that any victim of an accident has to deal with is the burden of proof. If someone is injured through the negligence of a driver on the road, or improper attention or maintenance on someone’s property, financial compensation is due to that victim, but only if the negligence can be proven to the satisfaction of a jury in a court of law.

Unfortunately, for tourists who are victims of negligence, this presents an additional, considerable challenge. If a negligence case is going to move forward to prove personal injury and/or premises liability, this normally means that the people involved will go to a local court to resolve the dispute. For a person that is being sued, who happens to be a Florida resident, this doesn’t present much of a problem.

However, for visitors that may be out of state, or even international visitors from another country, going to court now presents serious issues. Trying to resolve a legal dispute, for example, for a British visitor who was injured through negligent premises liability while visiting Sarasota, becomes a long-distance problem. The international visitor will, understandably, want to return home, but if the negligence took place with a resident on a local property, the courts would want to air out the grievance here.

The Jurisdiction Question

It’s important to understand, however, that just because an accident takes place in Florida, that doesn’t always mean that a visitor has no choice but to go to court within the state of Florida. There are a few factors that can change the location of where a lawsuit will take place.

For example, if a company is involved, this may change the location. A New York resident visiting Florida and staying at a chain hotel that has branch offices, or even a corporate headquarters in New York City, for example, may have the option of going to court in the state of New York, because the organization cited in the lawsuit has an administrative and legal presence in that state.

On the other hand, if there’s an accident that occurs between two tourists, one from Europe and one from Asia, in a car accident, this presents another level of complexity. Even though the accident itself took place in Florida, neither participant is a resident. However, in situations where the defendant against whom a lawsuit is being carried out is a local individual or a local company, the likelihood is that the court case will take place within Florida legal jurisdiction.

Getting Experienced Help

Fortunately, in the state of Florida, there are plenty of experienced personal injury attorneys that know how to work with local, out of state and even international visitors when it comes to personal injury or premises in Florida. Any accident that takes place within Florida will require local investigation, and thus tap into local resources. The same is true for any immediate medical treatment, though of course, further surgery or additional treatment may be necessary back in the country of residence.

For visitors to Florida, the key is maintaining an open line of communication with an experienced local attorney. Concerns and questions can always be handled through phone, email, or other communication, and that doesn’t necessarily require a visitor to return to Florida to consult with an attorney. The actual investigation, working with an accident reconstruction expert, or cooperating with an insurance adjuster investigation, will be conducted locally and can be liaised with a local attorney.

This is why if you find yourself injured in Florida, but you’re not a local; you should, first and foremost, seek out medical attention for you and your loved ones. Once any immediate medical issues are addressed, it’s time to talk to someone that understands the legal landscape of Florida in general, and personal injury, or premises liability in particular. This way you’ll know how to proceed, and whether any additional travel commitments will be required to resolve the dispute.

Michael J. Babboni's wide-ranging legal career is based on the strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and have access to effective legal help. Michael began putting his beliefs in action by helping the people of St. Petersburg Florida get what they are owed in civil trials fighting to protect families by making corporations pay, and honor their obligations.

Just Because You’re A Tourist, Doesn’t Mean The Law’s Not On Your Side

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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