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The Virginia Supreme Court reversed a $20 million product liability verdict favoring a woman seriously injured when her Mazda convertible rolled over. Justices ruled trial court abused discretion in allowing plaintiff’s expert witness to testify, and further, defendant manufacturer had no legally recognized duty to design or supply a soft top to a vehicle that would provide protection to occupants in the event of a rollover crash.

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This was a major decision, particularly given that, with interest, the actual payout in this case would have been well over $30 million.

The injury lawsuit stemmed from a single vehicle accident that occurred when the 26-year-old driver swerved to avoid an object on a dark roadway. The object reportedly flew off the back of a truck ahead of her. She took the risk of swerving because there was no oncoming traffic on the two-lane road. This led her up a slight grassy incline. Her convertible rolled, landing upside down, with the driver’s side up against a tree. The convertible top was up, but the force of impact caused the windshield to separate from the roof. When it collapsed inward, her head was forced down so severely it caused a condition known as hyperflexion. Continue reading →

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When you purchase a bicycle helmet, you are making a commitment to safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 818 bicyclists died on U.S. roads last year – an increase of more than 12 percent – the highest uptick since 1995. Another 45,000 were injured. Research from the same agency revealed helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.bicyclehelmet

In order to be effective, bicycle helmets need to meet certain criteria. Bicycle helmet standards are set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These set minimum impact absorption requirements (via drop heights on various surfaces), strap strength jerk, roll-off risks and coverage.

Despite these very specific requirements, there continue to be some manufacturers that fail to ensure their products meet these standards before sale to consumers.  Continue reading →

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Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal affirmed a recent judgement in favor of an injured worker who prevailed in a third-party lawsuit against a large fast-food chain after suffering an eye injury while cleaning equipment in the restaurant. While normally work-related injury claims would fall strictly under the purview of workers’ compensation, this was a third-party claim because the injured plaintiff did not work directly for the defendant. Rather, his employer was a contractor of the fast-food chain. This was the reason plaintiff was able to file – and prevail – in a workplace injury lawsuit, despite the fact the incident occurred in the course and scope of employment. cleaning2

Although the court affirmed judgment, it did reduce the overall amount of damages, finding the awards for past and future medical damages to be excessive and unsupported by facts. Still, this did not significantly reduce plaintiff’s total damage award which was $838,00 (or 90 percent of liability) plus $100,000 in attorneys fees and costs.

Plaintiff in Burger King Corp. v. Lastre-Torres suffered severe eye injury while cleaning the hood of a fryer. He was reportedly using a degreaser to accomplish this job, and some of that chemical dripped down into his eye. He alleged he’d requested a face mask numerous times prior to his injury, but his requests had been refused by his employer. As the appellate court noted, this was disputed by defendant, who presented evidence that inspections were done weekly and masks for cleaning were on site. Nonetheless, the appellate court noted, it was not in a position to re-try the facts – only to review potential abuses of discretion and errors of law.  Continue reading →

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Headlines recently centered on a pregnant reality television personality who is being sued in connection with a car accident – despite the fact that she was nowhere near the scene when it happened. caroncurve

Blac Chyna has been named in a personal injury lawsuit that seeks damages for medical expenses, lost wage and pain and suffering. The makeup artist and fiancee of Rob Kardashian reportedly allowed a friend to drive her BMW last November. That friend was later accused of felony hit-and-run when she allegedly ran a stop sign and struck plaintiff’s sport utility vehicle, causing injury to herself and a passenger.

Now, plaintiff alleges the owner of the vehicle should be liable for negligent entrustment, which is that defendant knew or should have known the person to whom she loaned her vehicle was a poor driver but allowed her to drive the car anyway.  Continue reading →

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The Florida Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on whether to revert to an older, less rigid system of vetting expert witnesses, or to keep the newer, higher standard imposed by state legislators three years ago. gavel21

The former is known as the Frye standard, while the latter is the Daubert standard. Both standards are named after court cases, and Daubert is the standard used by federal courts.

Now, before we lose everyone here, we fully concede this sounds like the sort of dry, technical legal argument no one but lawyers care about it. But in fact, it’s something all Floridians should care about. That’s because at some point in your life, you are probably going to wind up in court. Perhaps you will file a personal injury lawsuit. It’s possible you might someday be accused of some type of negligence as a defendant in such a case. Maybe you will be accused of a crime or perhaps you are the victim. Both the criminal and civil justice system often rely heavily on the testimony of expert witnesses – from forensic experts to car accident reconstructionists to medical doctors to mechanics. The standard the court chooses to apply to vet such witnesses will affect whether their testimony is allowed, which has the potential to swing an entire case.

Continue reading →

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Bicycle accidents and aggression against cyclists by motor vehicle drives are nothing new on Florida roads, though there has been some increase for the simple fact more people are riding. However, there is one element that has dramatically shifted the dynamic of these encounters: Cameras.bicycle

An increasing number of bicyclists are donning GoPro cameras or others like it, mounted to the cyclists’ helmets, filming every moment. Cycling cameras were first sold primarily for recreational riders as a means to allow them to capture images of their journey. However, they have been more often cropping up on social media sites, showing just how badly drivers are behaving. The footage may not shock some who ride on a regular basis, but they are grabbing the attention of the public and law enforcement. They are also being used in an increasing number of both criminal and civil cases.

Cyclist-versus-car crashes were often he-said-she-said ordeals in court. These cameras are changing the game. Continue reading →

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As we embark on another school year, transportation safety is at the forefront of parents’ minds as they send their kids off to school each day. The good news is, school buses are one of the safest modes of travel for young people. However, that does not mean there is no risk of an accident. The 2014 school bus accident in Nassau County is proof. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today, the man driving the logging truck that slammed into that packed school bus is now serving a 20-year prison sentence. Although he pleaded no contest to the charges of reckless driving and serious bodily injury, he blamed his former employer, Mo’s Trucking, for failure to properly maintain the truck. The tractor-trailer rig rammed into the school bus as it stopped to drop off students on a rainy afternoon. Seven of the students were seriously hurt, though authorities say it could have been much worse if the 37-year-old bus driver hadn’t suddenly stepped on the gas as she realized what was about to happen as the truck barreled toward the rear of the bus.

Although thankfully all survived, the crash was described by those who saw it, “horrific.” The truck driver was reportedly operating erratically just prior to the crash. His wife, who was seated next to him, was naked. Neither were wearing seat belts and both were seriously injured. The driver’s wife would later say she was hot in the cabin, so she took off her clothing. Continue reading →

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In its most recent CDC Vital Signs update, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that while the reduction of motor vehicle deaths over the last 50 years was one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century, we’ve still got a long way to go. carwithkeys

Each year, more than 32,000 people are killed and another 2 million are injured in traffic collisions in this country, and as of 2013, the fatality rate in motor vehicle accidents was double that of other higher-earning nations. Part of it is that we have a lower front seat belt usage rate than other countries, and still 1 in 3 of all our deadly crashes involves a driver who has been drinking. One-third also involve speeding.

The Vital Signs report was about highlighting some of these achievements, and underscoring what needs to be done to further drive down the numbers, which have hovered around this 30,000 mark for years now. If the U.S. was on par with 19 of the other high-income nations in terms of motor vehicle deaths, we’d be saving 18,000 lives every single year, bringing our annual total down to about 14,000 motor vehicle deaths yearly.  Continue reading →

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A boy in Connecticut was just 13 when he suffered severe and disfiguring injuries when a Labrador retriever allegedly attacked him without provocation three years ago while he was visiting a friend. Today, at 16, he has endured 10 surgeries and will likely need to undergo at least two more. After surgeons reattached skin around his eye that was ripped off in the attack, he has a permanent scar around his mouth. His lip bulges out and droops when he smiles. He has a raised, red scar on his chest and other reminders of the attack. labrador2

Now, a judge has announced the owners of that dog must pay $1.4 million in damages. Of that, $250,000 is supposed to go to his parents for medical bills. The rest is to compensate him for his pain and suffering, according to TheDay.com.

How much of that money they’ll actually see, however, isn’t clear. The owners of the dog were living in a rented apartment at the time of the incident, and they didn’t have renter’s insurance. Typically, renters’ insurance or homeowners’ insurance would cover damages in these cases. In the absence of that type of coverage, the victim can pursue recovery of damages directly from the dog owners. In this case, plaintiff’s attorney said the family will be working with another lawyer to collect as much as possible, which will involve an assessment of defendant’s earnings and assets.  Continue reading →

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An elementary school student’s mother has filed a lawsuit against a Connecticut school district, alleging that last school year, her 5-year-old daughter was seriously and permanently injured in a playground fall. playgroundswings

The child was running from the playground to the school building when she fell, hitting her stomach on the sharp edge of a concrete step. Despite the girl complaining of severe abdominal pain, the school didn’t contact anyone for medical assistance, nor did they call the girl’s mother. The girl told her teacher she had begun to feel worse after returning to class. Then, she developed a fever and began vomiting. By then, four hours had passed. Finally, the teacher contacted a nurse.

The girl was rushed to the hospital, where she ultimately lost one of her kidneys, an injury her mother has characterized as not only permanent, but disabling. The family has spent enormous sums of money on hospital bills, medical care and physical therapy, according to the personal injury lawsuit.  Continue reading →