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A school district in California agreed to pay $10.5 million to a former student who suffered a brain injury after he was violently mobbed by classmates while dressed in a mock mascot uniform of the rival team.The traumatic brain injury occurred after the student begged school administrators to let him take the chicken suit off after he’d suffered an initial beating while wearing it. School officials, however, coerced him to go back out with it.football2

In Carter v. Kern High School District, the 24-year-old plaintiff, just 17 at the time of the 2010 attack, asserted he wore the chicken suit to the pep rally to make fun of the rival team. When he first did so, he was attacked by two students. He went to the school activities director, who forced him to continue wearing it by threatening him with having to pay the $75 rental fee if he refused to keep it on. He did as he was told.

However, during the rally, a number of students – including several of the school football players – dog piled up on top of him. He was hit, kicked and punched. It was supposed to be a “mock fight,” so officials never stepped in to intervene. After suffering a traumatic brain injury, plaintiff had to spend six months in a brain injury treatment center. He lost out on his senior year of high school. His classmates surpassed him in heading off to college. He continues to suffer the effects of the brain injury. His medical costs are expected to reach more than $5 million in the course of his life. The attack reportedly also damaged his pituitary gland, and he will be required to take growth hormones for the rest of his life. He also reportedly will require special education classes and ongoing therapy. Continue reading →

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It seems such a common-sense measure for rental car companies: Don’t rent out vehicles that have been recalled until they’ve been repaired. drive7

But until June 1, 2016, there was no law stopped from them from doing so. Many rental car companies routinely rented to customers vehicles they knew were unsafe. Very few faced any consequences for it.

Then in 2004, two sisters, ages 20 and 24, picked up a rental car they assumed was safe. Little did they know, it had actually been recalled for leaking steering fluid. They were the fourth customers to rent the vehicle after the recall was announced. As they were driving, the steering fluid began to leak. The sister who was driving lost control of the car and slammed into a semi-truck before the car burst into flames, killing them both. Since then, their mother has been fighting to hold the rental car company accountable and to enact legislation that would ensure this never happened again.  Continue reading →

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The family of a 7-year-old girl is reeling from an unfathomable loss after she was struck and killed by an alleged distracted driver in front of her Fort Myers home. childhand

It happened near her father’s house on Jupiter Road, where she was riding her tricycle.

The suspect, a 27-year-old man also from Fort Myers, was reportedly driving his work van, which belongs to a local roofing company. Witnesses told Lee County Sheriff’s deputies the driver, a relative of the girl, was distracted and waving to family members when he struck the girl. Authorities later discovered an open container of alcohol inside the work van, but investigators do not believe the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash. However, he did not have a license.  Continue reading →

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Motor vehicle accidents are known to be the No. 1 killer of children in the U.S. under the age of 14. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates every year that more than 1,100 children are killed and 167,000 are injured in traffic crashes. childhand

So it makes sense that a fair amount of car accident settlements would involve minors as interested parties. Florida law requires that anytime there is a settlement with a gross amount that meets or exceeds $50,000, the court must appoint a guardian ad litem to ensure the child’s interests are protected. This is outlined in F.S. 744.3025(1)(b). The law also allows the courts to appoint a guardian ad litem in any case for personal injury, property damage or wrongful death that exceeds $15,000 if the court believes it’s necessary to protect the minor’s interests. However, once that gross amount hits $50,000, the appointment is mandatory.

This was a sticking point in the recent case of Allen v. Montalvan, before Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal. This was a tragic case in which a grandmother was killed while her two children (one adult) and two minor grandchildren were injured when a drunk driver slammed into their vehicle. The passengers, including the underage children, all suffered varying degrees of personal injury.  Continue reading →

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It was December when the 20-year-old young man from Tallahassee had just plunked down a down payment for his first motorcycle. He had some previous experience on the bike and was ready to commit to being a responsible bike owner himself. The bike was so new, in fact, he was on his way to the insurance office to obtain coverage when the motorcycle accident happened. motorcycle1

According to The Tallahassee Democrat, the driver behind the wheel of that Dial-A-Ride bus pleaded no contest in connection with the crash. A judge found her guilty of failure to yield to oncoming traffic with serious bodily injury to the victim.  According to records, the bus driver for the service, which offers curb-to-curb pick-up for the elderly and those with disabilities, was making a left turn when she struck the young motorcyclist.

The same day she was adjudicated in court and her license was suspended for 90 days, she was assigned to other duties at the service – but not fired. In fact, the driver has a history of preventable collisions while driving city buses – seven total going back to 1998. Among those cases, reporters noted:

  • Striking a Honda Civic in 2006;
  • Slamming into the mirror of a parked sport utility vehicle;
  • Rear-ending another vehicle in 2012.

Continue reading →

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A Collier County jury recently awarded $5.1 million the family of a 91-year-old woman killed in a Marco Island car accident caused by a man reportedly traveling 77 mph in a 30 mph zone before running a stop sign in November 2013. road7

The civil judgment comes almost exactly one year after the conclusion of the criminal case, in which the defendant, also from Marco Island, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. This was just one year less than the maximum 15 years he faced on the charge of vehicular manslaughter. Defendant had three prior DUI arrests and two tickets for excessive speeding. He was not charged with DUI manslaughter in this instance, prosecutors say, because only one official at the scene detected signs of impairment that might warrant a blood draw. Without that evidence, proving defendant was drunk at the time of the fatal crash was nearly impossible. Nonetheless, the criminal court judge apparently wasn’t swayed by his pleas for leniency that pointed out his participation in half a dozen charitable golf outings annually. His attorney asked for a maximum of three years. The judge gave him nearly five times that.

At the civil trial, plaintiffs attorneys presented evidence that defendant had consumed five shots of liquor and three beers in the hours just before the crash. A bartender at the establishment defendant had earlier patronized testified at trial.  Continue reading →

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Half a dozen concussion lawsuits have been filed against colleges and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), claiming negligence for the handling of their sports-related head injuries.football1

According to The New York Times, this marks the latest effort by former college athletes who are seeking financial compensation for what they say are the lasting effects they suffered as a result of undiagnosed and improperly treated concussions. The lawsuits name Penn State, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Georgia, Oregon and Utah, as well as three major football conferences: the Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten and Pacific-12.

These lawsuits follow a proposed federal class action settlement covering all collegiate athletes who suffered concussion-related head injuries and the NCAA. However, that settlement, later approved by a federal judge, only included updated safety protocols – no actual payments made to former players. It did include setting aside $70 million for medical screenings of former college athletes.  Continue reading →

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The organizational structure of nursing homes and long-term care centers throughout the country has created challenges for nursing home negligence lawyers seeking to hold these companies and staffers accountable for abuse and neglect of the elderly. oldwomanwheelchair

It used to be that in most cases of nursing home abuse or neglect, plaintiffs could be relatively certain that a lawsuit naming the facility and/or its staffers would generally cover all possible defendants. What we are seeing more frequently is a situation where nursing homes use complex management structures that obscure the entities responsible for delivering care. They often set up a number of sub-companies that de-centralize ownership and separate real estate ownership from operations, etc. All that can make it difficult for residents and their families to seek compensation from the appropriate parties through litigation.

That was an issue that cropped up in the case of Maree v. Neuwirth, recently before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Continue reading →

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A car accident victim in New Jersey has just been awarded $1.2 million from her own insurance company after fighting for years following a 2013 crash with an uninsured driver.

Why would one need to battle their own insurer?carcrashinsurance

It’s especially common in Florida, a no-fault state when it comes to insurance. That means the first $10,000 paid out to car accident victims is through personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. PIP benefits cover 80 percent of your reasonable medical expenses related to the accident, 60 percent of wage losses and $5,000 for death benefits. When you are seriously injured, your damages are inevitably going to exceed that.

Also in Florida, 25 percent of drivers do not have insurance. That is 1 in every 4 motorists you pass on the road. Even those who do carry insurance are only required to maintain $20,000 in bodily injury liability insurance. That is probably not even going to scratch the surface of your medical bills in a bad wreck. So what option do you have at that point? Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist Coverage (also sometimes written UM/ UIM coverage).  Continue reading →

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The Florida Supreme Court has struck down a 2003 legislative change to state workers’ compensation law arbitrarily cutting off temporary total disability benefits after 104 weeks, opting instead to reinstate the previous law, which allowed such benefits to be paid out for a maximum of five years. worksign

The ruling was a huge victory for injured workers in Florida, who have been victimized by numerous efforts to whittle away their workers’ compensation protections.

Of course, that has not been a trend unique to Florida, as a recent ProPublica investigation revealed. Workers’ compensation is supposed to be a “grand bargain” between workers and their employers. It’s original intention was to reduce civil litigation between workers and their bosses by prohibiting the worker from filing an injury lawsuit against the company in exchange for expedient, no-fault benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages. But increasingly, lobbyists have successfully pressed for legislation that has tipped the scales more heavily in favor of the employers, leaving many workers struggling.

That’s why the decision in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg was such an important one. It was actually the second of great importance before the court in as many months. Continue reading →