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Proponents of tort reform are pressing forward with a series of bills that, if passed, would make it increasingly difficult to file an injury lawsuit, to pursue class action litigation or to obtain just compensation. gavel

The term “tort reform” is a tidy way of explaining efforts that make it harder for those who have suffered serious injury due to someone else’s negligence to seek and obtain justice. It’s wrapped in a pro-business agenda, and is predicated on the notion that plaintiff attorneys are greedy and frivolous claims are rampant and plaintiffs unfairly are awarded millions – even when it was largely their own fault for being hurt. This characterization overlooks the reality of our civil justice system and the fact that it can already be an uphill climb for many injury plaintiffs. Yet it’s been very successful. Look no further than the so-called “McDonald’s coffee case,” wherein an elderly woman was awarded $1 million (or two days’ coffee sales) after she was so severely burned by the company’s hot coffee that she nearly died. The fast-food restaurant was selling coffee far in excess of what would be considered safe temperatures and thousands of people had suffered burns in the year prior. Yet tort reform proponents managed to successfully rewrite the script for the American public, who now generally look back on that case as a class “frivolous lawsuit.”

Now, with politicians friendly to tort reform now controlling both houses of Congress and a president considered pro-business, tort reform supporters are pressing forward with their agenda.  Continue reading →

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A bill that would require all those convicted of DUI in Florida – including first timers – to have ignition interlock devices installed has successfully made it through its first hurdle in the state House of Representatives. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved House Bill 949 by a unanimous vote of 10-0. beer

Now, the measure has to be approved by two more committees before it is debated by the full House. In the coming weeks, the measure will be weighed by the Judiciary Committee. From there, it will need approval from the Government Accountability Committee.

Florida statute at this time does not automatically require ignition interlocks for first-time offenders caught driving under the influence of alcohol. Instead, F.S. 315.1937 and F.S. 322.2715 hold that a first-time offender may be required to have the device installed, but only if:

  • His/ her blood-alcohol level exceeded 0.15 (nearly double the legal limit of 0.08);
  • Was accompanied at the time of the offense by a person under the age of 18.

Continue reading →

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April is distracted driving month. phone

Officials with the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association and AAA are teaming up to promote Distracted Driving Awareness month, and urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

Last year in Florida, approximately 50,000 crashes involved a driver who was distracted. It’s an action that substantially impairs reaction time, resulting in an estimated five crashes in this state every single hour.  Continue reading →

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A family in Illinois has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home, alleging staff at the center misread her chart and failed to resuscitate her after she was found unconscious. ambulance

The patient was just 52 when she died, and suffered from kidney disease and diabetes. She was reportedly initially admitted to the center due to a rare bacterial infection that had caused her to come down with a bad case of pneumonia. Her stay was only supposed to last three weeks. However, her family says it was extended to six months after she suffered a nursing home fall while unattended and broke her hip.

Then one morning in March 2016, a staffer reportedly found the woman unconscious. A full half hour passed before a call was made to emergency services by a staff member who told dispatchers a resident had died, and there was a do not resuscitate order. Ten minutes after that, another call was placed to 911 reporting the employee had misread the chart and pleading for paramedics to come right away. Continue reading →

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A new study by researchers at Wayne State University reveals a “substantial amount of costs” to the U.S. healthcare system due to fall-related injuries in nursing homes. hand

Specifically, the study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, focused on facial injuries. Looking at emergency room data from 2011 to 2015, they found approximately 110,000 nursing home residents in their 60s who were treated for facial injuries. The risk of facial injury increased with age and for female residents.

Facial trauma among the elderly is reportedly “largely neglected” in previous studies, and researchers asserted additional focus on this problem will be imperative as our population ages and more people reside in nursing homes.  Continue reading →

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Businesses in Florida have a responsibility to their patrons to make sure the site is reasonably safe and there are no concealed dangers. If there are hazards, the property owner/ manager has a duty to warn patrons about it so they can protect themselves. pallets

This is the crux of premises liability law in Florida. However, it’s not without exception. In addition to F.S. 768.0755, which limits the conditions under which a property owner can be liable for slip-and-fall injuries, case law has established that businesses are not responsible for warning patrons about dangers that may be open and obvious. This is widely recognized affirmative defense in premises liability cases known as the “open and obvious doctrine.” Essentially, people have a responsibility to use reasonable care to avoid injury. A defendant (business) may not be liable where plaintiff (the injured person) acts in a manner that disregards ordinary caution or reasonable care in the face of a known or obvious dangerous condition.

In a recent case before Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal, justices affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendant in trip-and-fall case wherein a plaintiff tripped over an empty pallet just outside the entrance/ exit doors of a grocery store.  Continue reading →

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A school bus accident in Naples recently resulted in injuries to two students, and the driver of the bus has been found at-fault. school bus

WINK News reports the crash happened one Monday morning as students were being transported to Lely High School. The Florida Highway Patrol initiated an investigation after the students were transported to a local hospital. Authorities have characterized student injuries as minor, but it’s worth noting not all injuries are apparent immediately after a collision.

The 61-year-old driver of the bus was cited for failure to yield the right-of-way at U.S. 41 and Broward Street. The bus was turning left and did so directly into the path of a 20-year-old motorist operating a Jeep Cherokee. That driver was seriously injured and was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital. Although both drivers had a green light, the bus driver was at-fault for making a left turn into oncoming traffic. Continue reading →

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Florida senators overseeing the state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved a bill that would establish regulations and insurance mandates for popular ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. driver at a glance

SB 340 passed by a margin of 7-2.

If the bill makes its way through the entire state senate, it would establish a statewide regulatory framework for all drivers of the ridesharing service. This would include parameters regarding how much insurance coverage drivers would need to carry when they are not covered by the rideshare service’s plan. Continue reading →

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Last month marked the 76th annual Daytona Bike Week, where hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists thundered into Florida to enjoy the warm climate and camaraderie. motorcycle accident

While initial reports were that motorcycle accidents surrounding the event had tapered off, this news was dampened by recently-released figures from AAA, which reported Florida had a stunning 30 percent uptick in motorcycle deaths in 2015. Perhaps not surprising given that number, Florida was also reported to have the highest number of motorcycle deaths in the nation. It held the same top spot last year.

AAA reported there were 26 motorcycle accident deaths in Lee County, which means it tied for sixth place statewide for the most rider deaths in 2015. Miami-Dade reportedly ranked No. 1 with 67 motorcycle crash deaths that year, and Hillsborough ranked No. 2 with 48 fatalities.  Continue reading →

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Nationally, workplaces are getting safer. The chances of dying on-the-job have decreased across the board. construction

But in Florida, there is actually a different trend being realized. According to The Orlando Sentinel, workplaces in the Sunshine state are becoming less safe.

In the most recent year-long reporting period, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the rate of Florida’s workplace fatalities climbed from a rate of 2.7 for every 1,000 full-time workers to 3.1 for every 1,000 workers. Meanwhile, the national fatality rate nationwide dropped, from 3.43 to 3.38.  Continue reading →