May 18, 2015

Social Media Analyzed in Fort Myers Injury Lawsuits

It's become common knowledge that police investigators and prosecutors will sift through the social media posts and pictures of people suspected of crimes, searching for evidence that might bolster their case.
What is somewhat less well-known is the fact that personal injury victims are also likely to become the subject of such scrutiny. In fact, it is an increasingly common practice for defendants early on in a case to request access to all of plaintiff's social media postings within the previous year or more - even if those pages have strict privacy settings. And judges are granting those requests with increasing regularity.

The value of these postings for defendants goes beyond simply trying to find photos of a plaintiff being more physically active than they claim they can be (though there is that). Rather, they are looking for evidence of happiness and quality of life. In many personal injury cases, clients will seek damages not just for medical bills or lost wages, but for things like pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment and loss of consortium. These elements require an examination of the quality of life and personal relationships one had before the accident or illness that is the subject of litigation, as compared to the quality of life after.

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May 16, 2015

Insurers Sued by Auto Repair Shops Alleging Practices Put Motorists at Risk

Following an auto accident, it's common practice for drivers to file a claim with an insurance company to cover the cost of repairs. After all, that's why we have insurance.
But insurance companies are always looking for ways to cut costs, and for a long time, one way they have done that is by demanding auto repair shops use after-market or recycled parts - rather than replacements from the manufacturer - to make repairs. This in turn makes the insurance claim less costly.

But now, in a federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, hundreds of auto repair shops in 36 states are suing dozens of automobile insurers (including Progressive, Geico and State Farm) alleging that all too often, these cheaper parts are substandard - and that means consumers are put at risk of serious injury if those parts fail.

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May 14, 2015

Civilian Construction Injury Results in Complex Litigation

Most injury-causing construction accidents involve workers. After all, they are the ones most closely working with raw materials from extreme heights and under other dangerous circumstances.
However, when a construction site isn't properly sealed off or if adequate warning signs aren't posted to inform the public to keep a certain distance from the site, innocent passersby may be hurt as well.

We saw this alleged in Cape Coral following a 2008 hit-and-run crash in which a 3-year-old boy was severely injured after he was struck by a pickup truck driver as the boy and his aunt ran across a construction site on Del Prado Boulevard at the north end of the city.

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May 12, 2015

Truck Accident Defendants Argue Inefficient Counsel After $35M Plaintiff Verdict

Defendants in a trucking accident lawsuit that left a mother-of-four with traumatic brain injuries, unable to walk and relegated to a nursing home, are now fighting against their own lawyers after jurors awarded plaintiff a record $35 million in damages for her injuries.
The facts giving rise to this case began in October 2010, when a 53-year-old woman operating an 18-passenger bus slammed into a tractor trailer that had jackknifed ahead of her from the opposite direction on a highway in California. She had no time to stop or avoid a head-on crash.

Having once enjoyed an active social life, a 30-year marriage and four children, she was debilitated with multiple skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken ribs, a broken jaw, numerous facial fractures, a lacerated liver and other injuries. She was in a coma for a month and hospitalized in intensive care for four months. She was paralyzed from the waist down. Once released, she was unable to afford the daily care she needed at home, she was essentially warehoused" in a nursing home, away from her family and without access to necessary therapies. Her days instead were spent watching television, staring at white walls and sleeping alone.

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May 10, 2015

Harris v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. - New Trial in Train Derailment Case

A woman seriously injured when a train derailed in West Virginia will have to endure a second trial after a federal appeals court ruled the trial court erred on an essential legal question.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found no fault with the trial court in its determination that the train operators breached its duty of care to properly inspect the track where the derailment occurred. However, it was decided on appeal in Harris v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. that the court did not properly consider whether that breach of duty proximately caused the derailment that led to plaintiff's injuries.

This is a critical point because in any negligence case, one has to show:
--A duty of care exists;
--The duty was breached;
--The breach proximately caused plaintiff injury.

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May 8, 2015

Florida Bicycle Safety: Improvements on the Horizon

There are still plenty of reminders in the headlines that Florida is not a safe place for bicyclists.
For example, there was the fatal bicycle crash on the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami in which a cyclist in his 20s died after being a struck by a vehicle after another driver cut off that motorist. In Palm Beach County, there was a cyclist flown to a nearby hospital in serious condition after being struck on Beach Road near U.S. 1. In Bradenton, a bicyclist was struck and killed trying to cross the street in a crosswalk when he was struck by a Jeep. And in Delray Beach, a prominent New York bank executive was killed after being struck by a vehicle as she road in the bike lane on State Road A1A in Highland Beach.

All of this backs Florida's reputation as the No. 1 most dangerous place for bicyclists in the country. But even in light of all this, there is evidence the situation may be improving. That's the assertion made by bicycle safety advocates writing a special feature in The News-Press.

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May 3, 2015

Westin v. Groh - Hotel Liability for Drunk Driving Injury

The Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled a young women severely and permanently disabled in a drunk driving accident may proceed with her case (via her parents) against the hotel from which she and several friends were evicted around 3 a.m. after a night of partying - despite pleas from the group that they were drunk, in no shape to drive and temperatures outside were freezing.
The case of Westin Operator, LLC v. Groh underscores the special relationship that exists between innkeeper and guests. The court was careful to say this was not a mandate that hotels evicting guests have a responsibility to call a taxi or to ensure former guests safely get to their next destination. What they do have a responsibility to do is evict a guest in a reasonable manner, and that means not kicking someone out into a foreseeably dangerous circumstance, which could result either form guest's personal condition or environment.

The court didn't say the hotel was liable. Rather, the evidence is sufficient to overcome a defense motion for summary judgment because a reasonable jury could find in plaintiff's favor. Thus, the case will proceed to trial.

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May 2, 2015

Fatal Florida Crash at Closed Race Track Raises Questions

Drivers who want the thrill of getting behind a luxury car or revving the engine on a high-powered vehicle have the option of patronizing one of 50 race tracks located throughout the state - including one in Naples and another in Immokolee.

But these experiences are not without risk, as a recent incident at the Walt Disney World speedway revealed when a novice driver paid for the chance to take the wheel of a Lamborghini to celebrate his 24th birthday. A professional driver was seated next to him.

According to news reports and for reasons that aren't clear, luxury vehicles on the track traveled the opposite direction from which the track was designed. Actual race cars went in the correct direction (though not at the same time as the luxury cars). Although we don't yet know how or why this practice started, it's been called into question since that 24-year-old driver lost control of that Lamborghini before slamming into a guardrail that impaled the vehicle and killed the instructor.

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May 1, 2015

Broom v. Wilson Paving & Excavating - Trench Collapse Injury Spurs Third-Party Lawsuit

A temporary laborer hired to help on a high school stadium construction project sustained serious injuries his first day on the job when a trench collapsed.
He ultimately secured a $1.15 million judgment against the paving company in a third-party lawsuit, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled those funds can be garnished from the firm's insurance policy.

Workers who excavate or dig in trenches are at risk of death if they enter a trench that isn't protected and the walls collapse. It may seem a few feet of dirt isn't that dangerous, but consider that a single cubic yard of dirt can weigh more than 3,000 pounds. That's enough to easily suffocate or fatally crash a worker. Between 2000 and 2009, more than 350 workers in the U.S. were killed in trenching and excavation cave-ins. Hundreds more were seriously injured.

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April 27, 2015

Evans v. McCabe - Florida Dram Shop Lawsuit to Proceed

Florida dram shop liability laws exist so that those harmed by drunk drivers may collect damages from entities that knowingly served alcohol to minors or people known to be habitually dependent on alcohol. Dram shops are any establishment that serves alcoholic beverages to the public.

In addition to allowing an avenue of recovery for victims of drunk drivers, F.S. 768.125 is intended to deter bars and restaurants from simply selling as much alcohol as possible to whomever without regard for the consequence to the public.

The law holds businesses accountable under one of two conditions:
--Drunk driver was not yet of legal age to consume alcohol (21) and the bar employees knew or should have known this fact;
--Drunk driver was habitually addicted to alcohol and bar staff knew or should have known this fact.

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April 26, 2015

South Florida Tourist Injury Critical, Driver Arrested for Hit-and-Run

Florida is a prime destination for people from all over the world at all times of the year. In addition to warm sandy beaches and popular theme parks, there are countless music festivals and concerts, art shows, cruise line departures, resorts, boating, water sports, diving, race tracks, casinos, golf courses and water parks.
Most of the time, our tourists leave with a tan and a lot of good memories.

Unfortunately, that's not true for everyone. For visitors, a serious accident not only wrecks their vacation, it can result in substantial medical bills and other costs - which are all complicated by the fact that home and family is far away.

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April 25, 2015

Bartlett v. Commerce Ins. Co. - Timely, Properly File Auto Insurance Claims

As far as insurance coverage goes, plaintiff in Bartlett v. Commerce Ins. Co. was fairly well situated to fully recover damages for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.

After all, she had a total of five insurance plans that provided some degree of coverage for her injuries. However, because not all claims were filed properly and/or timely, it appears she may only collect from one of those, which will not cover all the injuries she sustained.

This case is proof that just because you pay for a good auto insurance plan doesn't mean you can assume those companies will take care of you. More times than not, it's your personal injury attorney who must go to bat for you to ensure you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.

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