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Evidence that is submitted for consideration of a judge or jury in a car accident case must be stipulated as a true and accurate representation, to the best of knowledge available. photos

When evidence is not properly represented, it deprives jurors of the opportunity to fully weigh the facts. If such an error is allowed to proceed uncorrected, it could be grounds for a mistrial or a retrial.

That’s what happened in the case of O’Connor v. George, before the Montana Supreme Court. Continue reading →

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Florida is the No. 1 worst place for bicyclists who prize their safety. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics revealing the bicycle death rate in this state is 0.57 deaths per 100,000 people – the highest of anywhere in the nation. In fact, the state with the second-highest rate, Delaware, clocked in at 0.38 deaths per 100,000 people.bicyclists3

There are a number of issues, including the fact that we have an abundance of tourists, who are unfamiliar with the area and driving patterns. Distracted driving is a major problem, and we have cyclists year-round, so there are bound to be more crashes.

News-Press Reporter Janine Zeitlin noted all of this a few years ago, and quit riding her bicycle on public roads because of the risks. But then, as the number of bicycle-versus-car accidents continued to mount, as did severe injuries and deaths and light penalties for drivers, she began to aggressively report on the issue. According to a new article by the Columbia Journalism Review, with backing from her editors, Zeitlin not only delved into a long-term, in-depth progress on the issue, she helped set up a “Share the Road” page on the newspaper’s website, a community page on Facebook and engaged with bicycle safety advocacy groups across the region to raise awareness of the problem. Continue reading →

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Property owners are responsible for maintaining the site in a way that ensures it is safe from unreasonable hazards for guests. When it comes to businesses and public buildings, that includes the parking lot area. pavementcrack

That means owners have a duty to fill cracks and holes in the walking surface. That means making sure any variations in walking surface height should either be gradual or there should be a warning to pedestrians about the potential hazard. It also means making sure there is adequate lighting, adequate security and regular inspections for areas or aspects that might pose a fall risk, such as oil, cracked wheel stops or other debris.

Failure to do this can result in litigation if someone is injured as a result, and the danger wasn’t obvious to the person who was hurt. Continue reading →

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The General Motors ignition switch defect linked to 124 deaths and many more injuries resulted in a criminal case by the U.S. Department of Justice, which is now being settled for $900 million.ignition1

That may sound like a lot of money, but those who have lost loved, were injured or even faced felony charges for crashes they did not actually cause, say it’s of little solace. Primarily, their issue is not so much with the dollar amount, though it is 25 percent less than the $1.2 billion Toyota agreed to pay last year for the fatal flaws in its vehicles. Rather, the issue is the fact that no one with the company will face criminal charges.

In fact, the DOJ has agreed to defer prosecution of the company for three years. If the company abides by the terms of the agreement – which include an independent safety practices monitor – the company will walk away with a clean record. Continue reading →

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When a tornado struck at an air show in Polk County four years ago, a worker took shelter inside a security guard shack. But that shack did not provide the protection she’d hoped. It was instead lifted off the ground, overturned and tossed into a nearby ditch by the powerful storm. tornado1

The injuries she sustained were clearly compensable under workers’ compensation laws. After all, there was no dispute she had been working (as a security guard) at the time of the incident. She made a claim for – and received – workers’ compensation benefits from her employer, a security firm.

However, the question that would later arise in Slora v. Sun ‘N Fly-In, Inc. was whether the organizer of the airshow was also considered an employer. Of course, it was not her direct employer. But when the injured security guard filed a third-party liability lawsuit against the air show organizer, the company asserted it was a contractual employer. Continue reading →

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A new study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reveals bicycling injuries in the U.S. have risen astronomically in the last 15 years.bicycle

Sifting through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data, researchers wanted to find out more about trends in adult cycling injuries and related hospital admissions.

What they discovered was that in 2012-2013, there were 15,427 hospital admissions for bicycle injuries. That was a significant uptick than what was reported in 1998-1999, when there were 8,791 hospital admissions. Another revelation was that the age of cyclists has shifted dramatically. While the majority of victims used to be primarily children, we now see that figure has dropped dramatically. This is good. But the number of over-45 cyclists who suffer serious injury and death sharply rose. Continue reading →

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Lee County is on track this year to have the most traffic deaths reported since 2006. That year, there were 121 people in this county killed in auto accidents. So far this year, we’re up to at least 74 (higher when we count the recent Labor Day traffic death toll). Unless our trajectory slows considerably, we’re going to have some 110 traffic fatalities in 2015. crashedcar

Already, the number of auto accident deaths in this county is 42 percent higher than it was during the first eight months of 2014, when there were 52 deaths. In fact, in all of 2014, there a total of 81 traffic deaths in Lee County. We’re dangerously close to hitting that mark, and we still have four more months left in the year.

Statewide, the number of fatal crashes has gone up 21 percent. Continue reading →

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A boating accident lawsuit stemming from a crash resulting in the amputation of a 9-year-old girl’s thumb is likely to settle for $1 million, according to local news sources from Myrtle Beach.boating

According to, the defendant in the case of Georgino v. Murrells Inlet Epiphany Inc. is the tourism leader of the popular South Carolina city. He also works as the managing partner of a resort management company there. The lawsuit was filed in federal South Carolina District Court.

The accident occurred in late May 2014. According to the girl’s mother, who is the plaintiff on her behalf, the child’s hand was resting on the side of her father’s boat. It was in the process of being moored and rafted alongside a number of other vessels situated in an inlet. The family was attending an event for wounded veterans.

Suddenly, according to the complaint, the wake caused by defendant’s yacht caused the girl’s father’s boat to slam into another vessel. The lawsuit alleges the yacht was being operated at a high rate of speed, very near to boats that were moored and rafted. Continue reading →

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While a woman has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence following an incident in which her vehicle struck and killed a physician bicyclist, the victim’s husband has filed a civil lawsuit against the driver.bicycleocean

Although the cases are proceeding in different courts – one criminal, one civil – they are overlapping in ways that make the case rather complex.

Florida has the highest incidence of bicycle injuries and fatalities. Although this accident occurred in Vermont, there are elements of law that are applicable to bicycle accident cases in Florida. Continue reading →

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Headlines made it sound like a barroom brawl, the kind of thing a young man might expect to encounter on a night out. One stated, “Man Gets $5 Million in Miami Club Punch,” as if enduring a simple punch could easily result in such a substantial damage award. nightclub1

The reality is that punch was unprovoked, at the hands of a bouncer who was much larger than the victim, a 22-year-old college student vacationing from Rhode Island to ring in the New Year. That punch resulted in his skull being cracked on the pavement. He spend three months in a coma. He nearly died. Now, he’s learning how to use the bathroom again. He can’t walk. He is totally reliant on others for basic tasks. His parents, of Morocco, have had to move to the U.S. while he undergoes exhaustive rehabilitation. His doctors say he will likely need medical care the rest of his life.

So for this, yes, there was a $5 million settlement agreement reached with the victim’s father (acting on his behalf) and the company that owns the now-defunct nightclub. This nightclub employed the bouncers, and it was alleged they were improperly trained. Continue reading →