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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102185
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Dear Attorney: A welder, contracted by a Florida boat yard,

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Dear Attorney:
A welder, contracted by a Florida boat yard, cut through a live wiring harness, setting my contracted work boat on fire, while cutting out a steel plate, from outside the boat. The fire totally gutted my boat. The welder had no fire watch. Fire department was not called. Dry chemical and water was throughout entire boat. There are eye witnesses. My contract was lost, yard did not make good on it,s promise to repair, and charged me for the work they did not do. All is documented with surveys and photos. After months, I was able to find out yards insurance co., who said they could not be sure there was a fire. Can I sue the boat yard, the owner and the yards insurance co. The welder and the welders insurance co. Am I limited to sue only yard. No one is to be trusted. I worry I will win and collect nothing. Is loss of income, loss of signed contract to be added to loss of boat? A year has passed, I have almost completed repairs, and will soon be back to work, if all goes well. I have all repair receipts and upcoming bills, that I am putting off as long as possible.
Thank you
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation. Can you please tell me:

1) Was the welder sub-contracted by the boat yard that you contracted to do work on the boat?
2) How much was actual damage to the boat OUT OF POCKET?
3) How much lost income due to damage (if this boat was used for employment)?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The welder was hired and paid by yard
Out of pocket is over 150k
Contract was for 211,000.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX in advance for the momentary wait as I am typing out your answer because this leaves me with a lot of ground to cover.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you
Standing by
How an Insurance Company Works
Please understand how this works. Once someone injures you and they have insurance, the insurance is liable for the judgment that you'd get against the insured if you sue them (in limited amount, but usually pretty high). Ergo, to avoid paying out huge sums from a judgment where their insured is likely responsible, the insurance company likes to settle the claim to avoid litigation. Once an agreement is reached, you sign a release and waive your rights to sue in exchange for the payout.

But, how does one reach that settlement? The insurance adjuster. The adjuster's job is to make you miserable. They will ignore you, confuse you, and ask for redundant and seemingly needless paperwork in an effort to talk you into a small settlement or have you give up all-together. And remember, statute of limitations usually only gives you a limited time to file suit, which is four years per §95.11(3)(h). They know this; they hope you do not. If you miss the four year mark, you can no longer file against their driver, which means they do not even have to work with you.

What they are offering should at least cover the boat. Not that they have to, but because they know that you'll at least get that in Court, plus attorney/legal fees.

An attorney usually cuts through this malarkey since the adjuster knows counsel does not put up with this and WILL file suit if needed (whereas here, they do not see you as much of a threat without an attorney since you filing or winning a suit without counsel is unlikely). Then a settlement is usually reached. The attorney should take this on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless you do. Usual set up is their take is 33% settlement, 40% win at trial, 45% at appeal; plus some office costs. Everything is negotiable.

May I recommend the FL Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

Causes of Action
To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one.

Here, the likely cause of action is NEGLIGENCE. The four elements of negligence are (1) a legal duty owed by defendant to plaintiff, (2) breach of that duty by defendant, (3) an injury to plaintiff legally caused by defendant's breach, and (4) damages as a result of the injury. Paterson v. Deeb, 472 So. 2d 1210 - Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 1985.

Who Can You Sue
Not the insurance company. They are not a party to the matter. However, you can likely sue:

1) The WELDER (for negligence);
2) The BOAT YARD (ordinarily, the contractor is not liable for their sub-contractor's negligence, but if the activity is ultra-hazardous, then they may be).

Finally, yes, loss of income CAN BE INCLUDED in the suit if tied directly to the loss of the boat. As such and if so, it should also be included in negotiation for settlement.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.

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Ely and 11 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you

When I stated: "If you miss the four year mark, you can no longer file against their driver," I meant "If you miss the four year mark, you can no longer file against their insured."

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Thank you for your gratuity.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank You Ely, good information and to the point.


Thank you for your kind words, Richard.

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