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The number of people killed in Florida motorcycle accidents is on the rise. bikers

Florida reported that from 2014 to 2015, the number of people killed on motorcycles went from 449 to 554. That’s a more than 23 percent increase, according to early statistics gleaned from accident reports across the state.

Despite only accounting for 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the state, they account for 19 percent of those involved in deadly crashes. That is deeply troubling to our Fort Myers motorcycle safety advocates, who have for decades fought for the rights and well-being of riders.  Continue reading →

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Boating in Florida was more dangerous last year, with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reporting the number of boating accidents statewide shot up by 23 percent compared to the prior year.. boating1

Lee County was singled out as one of the most dangerous cites, ranking No. 4 behind Miami-Dade, Monroe and Broward counties for having the most accidents on the water – 48 for the year.

There was one death reported in Lee County as a result of a boating accident last year, and also 20 injuries. Statewide, there were 737 boating accidents – far more than 634 reported in 2014. However, it is worth noting that between 2011 and 2013, the average number of collisions was 727. That is to say that 2014 saw a marked decrease in the number of boating accidents we typically see statewide. We had hoped this would signal a downward trend, but the final 2015 figures show that is not the case.  Continue reading →

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Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal recently weighed the issue of whether it was proper to grant default judgment against the owner of a vehicle in a car accident lawsuit when there had not yet been a determination on the liability of the alleged negligent driver.gavel21

The court’s answer: No.

Beyond that, the court determined the insurance company seeking subrogation in this action, Kotlyer v. Metro Casualty Insurance Co., had wrongly characterized the damages as “liquidated” when in fact they were “unliquidated.” The reason that matters is that courts can’t issue a default judgment without a hearing on unliquidated damages because a hearing is required to determine the exact amount. No hearing had been granted in this case before the judgment was rendered.

A default judgment is a binding judgment in favor of one party on the basis of some failure to take action by the other party. In most cases, default judgment is issued when one party fails to respond or appear before a court of law. Continue reading →

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It’s common knowledge that distracted driving is dangerous. Yet that doesn’t seem to deter Floridians from injuring and killing each while distracted by smart phones or other technology.iphone6

A recent analysis by The Palm Beach Post found that between 2012 and 2015, the number of distracted driving crashes in that county spiked 30 percent. That’s according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. It’s worth pointing out that those distracted driving accidents are only the ones about which we know. Almost certainly, the numbers are much higher because distraction at the time of impact is not easily measured or often reported.

“No one is going to tell (the cops), ‘Hey, I was on the phone,’ or ‘I was texting and driving and caused that crash.’ That’s not going to happen,” said Florida Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton. Slosberg and some of his colleagues have been pressing for a tougher Florida texting and driving law that might serve as an effective deterrent.  Continue reading →

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In Florida, as in many states, there are legal requirements that identify mandatory reporters who must report suspicions of abuse of children or vulnerable adults – including elderly adults residing in a nursing home. Professionally mandated reporters include (but are not limited to):crutches

Staff at adult day care centers;

  • Bank officers;
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A seven-car pileup in Fort Myers on Summerlin road killed one and injured several others after a semi-trailer truck rear-ended a passenger car, setting off a fiery chain-reaction crash.


Officials with the Florida Highway Patrol were investigating the details, but  The News-Press  reported all vehicles involved were traveling northbound on Summerlin Road near Winkler Road in South Fort Myers. All were in the process of slowing down for impending traffic congestion, as it was shortly before 4 p.m. They included a tractor-trailer ruck, two vans and four cars.

The tractor-trailer truck driver reportedly failed to stop in time for the traffic ahead of him. He slammed into a Town Car. That vehicle was driven by a 70-year-old man. A 38-year-old woman was riding in the rear passenger seat of that vehicle. The Town Car burst into flames. The 38-year-old woman, from Iowa, died instantly.  Continue reading →

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Auto insurance policies all carry limits, which specify the maximum insurer will pay per person who is injured and how much it will pay for the entire accident. stop

So for example, a policy with a $125,000 per person limit and a $250,000 per accident limit will pay a maximum of $250,000 – no matter how many people get hurt. So the fewer victims there are, the more they stand to receive – up to the per-person limit of $125,000. However, if three people are injured and each of their injuries are equal and exceed $125,000, the most each stands to receive under that policy would be $83,333.

But as in any policy or contract, the language must not be ambiguous. Any ambiguity in a policy should be skewed in favor of the plaintiff.  Continue reading →

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The Florida Supreme Court recently rendered its decision in one of three key challenges to the state’s workers’ compensation law. gavel21

In a 55-page opinion, the court in Castellanos v. Next Door Company et al., ruled F.S. Section 440.34(1), which pertains to the structuring of plaintiff attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases, is unconstitutional and a violation of due process.

Just a week earlier, the 1st DCA issued a 26-page ruling in Miles v. City of Edgewater in which appellate justices reached the same conclusion regarding the provision that bars workers from paying retainer or hourly fees to attorneys upfront.  Continue reading →

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Mandatory arbitration agreements have become so commonplace, it’s often almost a given that people will enter them any time they:

  • Purchase a product;
  • Renting a car;
  • Seek admission into a nursing home;
  • Enter a facility/ venue. sadsillouhette

These agreements serve to block access to a dispute resolution through the civil court system, instead requiring anyone with a problem to seek redress through a skewed arbitration system in which arbitrators view corporations as their “clients.” Continue reading →

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Punitive damages can be awarded in Florida personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in which a defendant acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct. The definitions of these terms are set forth in F.S. 768.72. carcrash9

But while punitive damages may substantially increase the amount of a certain damage award, the Fourteenth Amendment blocks these awards from being “grossly excessive.” But what does that mean? There is no dollar figure that establishes what is “grossly excessive,” which means the courts have to interpret legislative intent and rely on prior case law.

One Florida injury case where this became necessary was  State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company v. Brewer, recently before the Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals. In this case, defendant and his insurer sought review of a final judgment entered in favor of plaintiffs in an injury case arising out of an automobile accident. The court affirmed judgment in favor of plaintiffs as well as the compensatory damages awarded. However, with regard to punitive damages, the court ruled the award was excessive to the point of being unconstitutional. For this reason, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Continue reading →