VERNIS & BOWLING offers a wide range services involving admiralty & maritime claims both domestically and abroad. The Admiralty & Maritime Department is familiar with handling claims involving shippers, charterers, consignees, carriers, vessel owners and their insurers. VERNIS & BOWLING offers the experience necessary to handle maritime claims involving personal injury, wrongful death, the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, cargo loss, salvage, general average, product liability, collision, wreck removal, Limitation of Liability and other maritime related claims. The Admiralty & Maritime Department routinely handles cases in both state and federal court and before administrative panels.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
We work with our clients to find solutions to insurance policy and coverage disputes before lawsuits are filed. We are available to attend settlement conferences, presuit mediations or arbitration to resolve insurance policy and coverage disputes prior to legal action. Our attorneys have participated in thousands of mediations and arbitrations. We are committed to furnishing cost-effective alternatives to lawsuits.
VERNIS & BOWLING is experienced in trial and appellate practice. This experience is essential in the development of a record in the lower court and critical if the case reaches the appellate level. The firm’s attorneys are proficient in both written and oral advocacy, which ensures a benefit to our clients. Vernis & Bowling has handled hundreds of appeals throughout our territories.
Commercial & Complex Litigation
An aggressive and informed approach to litigation is necessary to achieve results, and the firm’s attorneys strictly follow this approach. Commercial Litigation is another of our specialty areas, including matters involving: Contractual Disputes Contract Negotiation Derivative Litigation Director and Officer Liability Shareholders’ Rights and Remedies Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Litigation
VERNIS & BOWLING offers a wide range of services dealing with the area of Construction Law, including pre-contract consultation and planning, zoning, drafting of contracts, subcontracts and construction related documents, through dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration. We also represent our clients in litigation, trial and appeals. Our experience in handling construction litigation ranges from the representation of developers of large residential luxury projects to commercial developments of all types. We also represent sureties, general contractors, sub-contractors and materials suppliers in various aspects of construction law. We offer our clients guidance and consultation to protect their rights by the strict application of the Florida Construction Lien Law. Through our representation of clients involved in construction we provide a wide range of services including: Chinese Drywall Litigation Pre-Construction Consultation Preparation for Contracting Licenses and Certification Building Permits and Code compliance Zoning Disputes, including Hearings before Municipalities Drafting and Review of Contracts and Construction Related Documents Consultation throughout the duration of projects Dispute Resolution through Mediation, Arbitration and Litigation Representation of Developers, Owners, General Contractors, Sub-Contractors and Material Suppliers Representation of Sureties Consultation and enforcement of the Florida Construction Lien Law Defense against Fraudulent Liens Foreclosure and Lis Pendens Actions Claims for Non-Performance Claims for Non-Payment Claims for Misapplication of Construction Funds Claims for Civil Theft Claims for Slander of Title Claims for Breach of Contract, Warranty and Defects Claims for Extras, Modifications and Delays Claims on Performance and Payment Surety Bonds Claims involving Construction Lenders Claims involving Architects and Engineers Claims involving Personal Injuries or Property Damage resulting from Construction
VERNIS & BOWLING practices in a wide range of criminal law including violation of probation evidentiary hearings, juvenile, misdemeanor and felony trial work. Our trial, hearing, and/or appellate experience includes murder, drug charges, violation of probation, capital sexual battery, burglary and theft, lewd & lascivious conduct, exposure, driving under the influence (DUI), driving with license suspended or revoked (DWSL), fleeing and eluding, and other charges. Additionally, we are available for pre-trial work such as probable cause hearings and bail reduction motions. We will handle both jury trials and non-jury trials. Our charges for criminal cases are usually based on a flat fee, which is considered earned when paid. For this fee, we will handle your case all the way from first appearance (the first time you see a judge after being arrested) or arraignment (when you are asked to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest, also called nolo contendere) all the way through a trial. This includes discovery, plea bargaining (if applicable), and, for our clients in jail, as many visits to the jail as required. Criminal appeals and post-conviction relief (Rule 3.850, sometimes called 3850) are negotiated separately. In any criminal case, there are always things which should be looked at, such as evidence search-and-seizure issues and Miranda violations (whether the police read you your rights before questioning or interrogation). If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you need to get an experienced lawyer who will protect your rights and evaluate your case effectively.
Director & Officer Liability (D&O) / Errors & Omissions (E&O)
We take great pride in the quality of our attorneys, both for their skills as trial lawyers and for their ability to work well with claims professionals to effectively and efficiently resolve matters during the litigation process. Our Director & Officers and Professional Lines Practice Group has enjoyed great success in trying or resolving matters insured by ACE, Chartis Insurance, Argo Group US, Carolina Casualty, Colony Group, Darwin, Gen Re, GeneralStar, Monitor Liability Managers, QBE Insurance Group, Travelers, U.S.L.I., XL Insurance and several other specialty carriers. We have most commonly defended insureds and entities in the business areas listed below. Our practice has seen an increased volume of litigation involving those professions related to real estate transactions. With the market changes, this has meant an increase in claims across the industry with a dramatic increase in claims involving fraud allegations. Accountants Architects and Engineers Attorneys Broker Liabilty Condo Associations and HOAs Dentists Home Inspectors Insurance Agents and Brokers Mortgage Brokers Real Estate Agents and Brokers Real Estate Appraisers Staffing Services and PEOs Third Party Administrators and MGAs Title Agents Various For Profit Businesses Various Non-Profit Organizations Various Public, State and Municipal Entities Various School Boards
The practice of Elder Law is an umbrella encompassing various legal specialty areas that address the needs of the aged. These areas include, but are not limited to: Advanced Health Care Directive Planning – Ensures that your personal wishes are followed and taken into account on decisions dealing with health and finances. This would include Florida Living Will, Florida Health Care. Surrogate Power of Attorney, and Financial Durable Power of Attorney. Estate Planning – Designs disposition of estate assets upon the death of an individual. This would include wills and living trusts. Contracts – Helps the aged understand contracts associated with nursing homes, personal services, and assisted living arrangements. Contracts dealing with the sale of personalty and real property associated with moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Insurance and Governmental Services – Review of health insurance, long-term care coverages, home care policies, medical equipment leases, HMO plans and other health related arrangements. Encompasses litigation, as needed. Also review of and assurance of client’s eligibility for government-related services and benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Real Estate – Reviews and counsels the elderly on real estate matters such as life estates, condominium laws, joint ownership, sale and purchase of personalty and real property. Counseling – The Elder Lawyer listens to the client and may become a trusted advisor on issues unique to elders. Living Arrangements – Providing counseling and information about where to go, why and how to pay for ALF’s and Nursing Homes. Probate – Handling the assets and legal probate for survivors and the estate.
Employment Related Practices & Civil Rights
Employment related issues and claims have been increasing and have become more important to the future of companies and insurers. VERNIS & BOWLING offers a wide range of employment related services including consultations, counseling, and the defense of litigated matters. Our experience in employment related practices issues ranges from counseling clients from the inception of the charge or complaint to the company, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the Florida Commission on Human Relations, through litigation. Avoiding and defending employment related claims require education and experience. We offer both federal and state court experience in wrongful discharge, sexual harassment and discrimination matters involving: Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 (FCRA) Federal Civil Rights Act of 1866, 1964 and 1991 (Title VII) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Rehabilitation Act Section 1981 & 1983 Whistle Blowers Public/Private Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
VERNIS & BOWLING realizes the extreme stress most clients feel as a result of divorce and child custody disputes. Our Family Law attorneys have the necessary experience to represent your interests during these difficult times. Whenever possible, we attempt to reach fair and amicable resolutions that help to preserve your assets, and your rights involving children. When necessary, we vigorously prosecute and defend your rights before the trial and appellate courts. VERNIS & BOWLING can represent your interests in the following Family Law areas: Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, and Marital Settlement Agreements Separation and Maintenance of Spouse and/or Children Paternity issues Dissolution of Marriage Equitable Distribution of the marital and non-marital assets, Lump Sum Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, Permanent Periodic Alimony Child Custody, Visitation, Parental Alienation, Dependency proceedings, Adoption; Rights of Grandparents Child Support Modification and enforcement proceedings involving prior settlement agreements and court orders Domestic violence proceedings
Insurance Fraud Defense/S.I.U.
Fraudulent insurance claims are prevalent throughout the entire nation and cost insurers and honest policy holders tens of billions of dollars each year. Fraudulent insurance claims activities have reached epidemic proportions in Florida, and are becoming more common in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama. Insurance fraud rings are highly organized networks of interlocking runners, public adjusters, roofers, water remediation contratctors, attorneys, auto body shops, doctors and medical clin- ics. Fraud can also permeate individual injury claims and property losses. Also, Workers’ Compensation premium avoidance. Areas of fraud that we handle include: Arson Claims (Commercial and Residential) Automobile Body Shop Fraud Automobile Insurance Fraud (Including PIP, BI, UM and Material Damage Claims) Automobile Staged Accidents Business Fraud (Including Embezzlement, Defalcation and Theft) Catastrophe & Hurricane Claims Declaratory Judgment Actions and Examinations Under Oath Homeowner Policy Fraud (Including Theft, Fire, Water Damage and Sink Hole Claims) Insurance Agent/Broker Fraud Insurance Application Fraud and Misrepresentation Inter-Company Investigations & Prosecutions Medical Provider Fraud Minimal Injury/Impact Claims Pre-Suit Investigations and Consultation Workers’ Compensation Claim Fraud Workers’ Compensation Premium Fraud VERNIS & BOWLING approaches fraudulent claims aggressively and thoroughly, combining cutting-edge technology, industry networking and resources with old-fashioned, hard-nosed lawyering. We combine our aggressive litigation style with our proven trial court record as well as our strong relationships with local law enforcement and regulatory agencies, to produce speedy and favorable results. By working in concert with claims professionals and investigators, we constantly strive to present a consistent and effective front against all forms of fraud. This approach impacts not only those claims already presented against our clients, but it also influences decisions to bring new claims in the future. VERNIS & BOWLING’s S.I.U/Insurance Fraud attorneys are comprised of trial attorneys whose individual practices include the handling of insurance fraud cases. Our members supplement their litigation experience with up-to-date knowledge of the current trends in insur- ance fraud detection and prosecution areas. They regularly attend, speak at, and participate in seminars given by industry organizations such as the following: National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the International Association of Special Investigation Units, and Certified Fraud Examiners. In addition, they also attend and speak at numerous local conferences and association meetings throughout the country. Our S.I.U/Insurance Fraud attorneys also provide valuable input in the investigatory stage and prosecution of affirmative fraud actions against organized groups or “rings”. By litigating these actions on behalf of our clients, we are able to pursue the recovery of benefits and costs paid out to individuals, companies and conspirators for fraudulent claims. Significant fees and penalties can also be recovered in certain cases. We also maintain an internal communication system to enable our clients to benefit from the exchange of information with other clients investigating the same individuals and businesses. Access to this information, as well as a constant dialogue between attorneys and internal training, allows them to immediately incorporate current law and recent events in the fraud industry into defense strategies. We, in turn, enable our clients to incorporate this knowledge and experience into investigations by providing them with updates concerning recent developments in the industry.
The firm offers experienced attorneys to assist its insurance industry clients with issues including: Bad Faith Litigation Cancellation Issues Coverage Issues Declaratory Actions Material Misrepresentation Personal Injury Protection Policy Interpretation Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Issues
VERNIS & BOWLING offers representation in all matters pertaining to the area of Labor Law. The Labor Law Department is experienced in negotiating collective bargaining agreements, filing and defending unfair labor charges brought pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act, as well as providing assistance and representation through the grievance and arbitration process. The Firm’s attorneys have represented clients in a variety of labor related issues before the National Labor Relations Board, and in federal and state court.
Each office is staffed with experienced, qualified attorneys and support staff capable of handling all types of insurance litigation from the beginning of a claim to the conclusion of an appeal, if necessary. The firm’s experience in liability defense matters include: Admiralty Law Assault and Battery Automobile Liability Aviation Liability Bad Faith Litigation Civil Rights Litigation Condominium and Homeowner’s Association Liability Electromagnetic Field and Power Line Liability Employment Liability of Negligent Hiring, Supervision and Retention Environmental Law Errors and Omissions Liability Garage Liability Malicious Prosecution/False Arrest The firm’s liability department offers an aggressive, yet practical and cost-effective approach to litigation. By working closely with its clients as a unified team, the firm provides an integrated and logical approach to every defense. Further, the firm’s attorneys are experienced in handling complex cases including individual claims, multiple party claims, and class action suits involving damages, such as: Attorney’s Fee Catastrophic Loss Personal Injuries Property Damages (1st and 3rd Party) Punitive and Treble Damages Wrongful Death and Survivor Actions Negligent Security Nursing Home Liability Premises Liability Product Liability Professional Malpractice including Medical, Dental, Accounting, Legal, Architect, Agent, Real Estate Appraiser and Real Estate Broker Public Law including State, County and Municipality Liability
Local Government Law
The firm has the privilege of representing several local governments, as well as the State of Florida. Whether it is general representation or litigation, the firm’s statewide network is capable of handling: Administrative Law Bidding and Bid Protests Career Service Employment Government in the Sunshine Land Use Property Acquistion (Capital) Public Finance Public Records Law
All offices provide full service workers’ compensation defense representation, including the defense of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act claims. The Workers’ Compensation Department offers an aggressive, yet practical approach to the defense of workers’ compensation claims. Our attorneys offer a multi-disciplined approach to workers’ compensation defense from the initial review of the file to the hearing and through the appellate process, if necessary. Our attorneys maintain a unique level of accessibility by focusing strongly on active and responsive communication with clients including employers and insurance professionals. Our attorneys have extensive experience as regular speakers at accredited in-house and regional seminars throughout the country on pertinent, timely legal issues affecting employers and insurers. Our consistent analysis and research keeps us aware of the changes in the workers’ compensation field including statutory law, case law, and legislative proposals. This gives our lawyers the ability to keep our clients aware of these changes and to better serve their employers/insureds. We have earned our clients’ respect and loyalty through our commitment to meeting our clients’ needs, goals and deadlines. Appeals Certified Legal Education Seminars Claims Litigation Claims Prevention Defense of Retaliation Claims Defense of Workers’ Compensation Claims Liens Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Medicare Set Asides (MSA) Premium Audit Collection and Fraud S.I.U. Matters Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Defense Representation of state and local governmental agencies Special Disability Trust Fund (SDTF) Workers’ Compensation Coverage Issues