If you enjoy a good night of gambling in South Florida, chances are you’ve been to, or heard of, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.
You might know that the casino is on tribal land, but did you know this makes it subject to different laws than the rest of the United States? It’s not something you’ve likely given much thought to – but you should.
Why? Because if you head to an Indian casino like the Seminole Hard Rock and get hurt, the rules of getting compensation are different. What are those rules?
What Happens After You Are Injured On Tribal Land?
The Seminole Tribe has specific laws about how to file a claim after an injury. First things first, you only have six months after your injury to file a claim. If you file six months and one day after you are injured, you will not have a chance at receiving compensation. This is quite a bit different than the personal injury statute of limitations for non-tribal land in Florida, which gives you several years to file.
Once the claim is filed, you will negotiate with the insurance provider of the tribe. Just like any negotiation with an insurance provider, we recommend that you negotiate while consulting with your lawyer. In most cases, you and the insurance carrier will come to a mutual decision on how much compensation you will receive for your injuries.
If, however, you are not happy with the negotiation, you have four years to file a lawsuit and ask for additional compensation. Before you file, you have to ask yourself, “Where in the casino was I injured?”
That’s right. Just like walking onto Seminole land subjects you to Seminole law, walking onto the gaming floor has big changes for the type of compensation you can receive from a lawsuit, thanks to the rules of sovereign immunity.
What Is Sovereign Immunity?
If an area or government is given sovereign immunity, then they are immune from lawsuits or legal actions that are filed without their consent. Basically, you can’t sue the Seminole Tribe – but there are exceptions.
Sometimes, this immunity is waived or given up in negotiations. To build the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, for example, the tribe waived their sovereign immunity. However, the waiver is limited to certain areas of the casino.
According to the tribe, “the Tribe has waived its immunity ONLY as to injuries to persons or property that occurred ‘in an area of the Facility where Covered Games are played.’ This means only the actual gaming floor area where slot machines are offered or areas of the facility where banked card games and/or high-stakes poker games are played (if any). It does not include other areas of the Facility, such as walkways, restrooms, restaurants, hotel facilities and areas where only non-Covered Games are played.”
So if you were injured in a slip and fall next to a poker table, you can take the casino to court. If you were injured in the bathrooms, you’re out of luck.
Where the Hard Rock Is Concerned, the Time to File a Claim Is Now
Six months isn’t a very long time to begin with, but there’s an even more pressing reason to file your claim against the Seminole Hard Rock as soon as possible – it’s closing down. Because of this, it’s time to get your claims in and begin negotiations.
If you want to learn more about filing a claim after an injury on tribal land, or how to begin negotiations with an insurance provider, contact a Florida personal injury lawyer.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.