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An $11 million verdict stemming from a claim of a defective vehicle resulting in a fatal crash was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Among the plaintiffs were family members of decedents, as well as one of the drivers, who was originally convicted of vehicular homicide. That conviction was later vacated after the vehicle manufacturer began recalling vehicles for the same defect involved in this case – unintended acceleration. car accident

The three-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of plaintiffs, who alleged the vehicle malfunctioned, leading to three deaths and the driver’s imprisonment.

At trial two years ago, driver was found 40 percent at-fault and vehicle manufacturer deemed 60 percent at-fault. Total damages were set at $14 million, but that was reduced to $11 million based on damages obtained in previous settlements with other defendants. That $11 million will be divided among plaintiffs. Continue reading →

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The explosive power of fireworks is an effective means to evoke strong emotions – including excitement and patriotism. That’s part of why they are so popular around the Fourth of July. fireworks

But fireworks liability is an important topic of consideration this time of year too because all too often, negligent use or reckless mishandling of firearms can lead to serious injuries.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) reports fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fireworks in the U.S., including 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires and 14,000 outside and other fires. In addition, hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks-related injuries just in a single year. The majority of those were burns. Injuries were inflicted mostly to hands and fingers, but also to head/ face/ ear and also to eyes. Arms, legs and trunks suffered the rest. Continue reading →

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You may recall several months ago in Fort Myers the case of the a North Fort Myers mother who lost her legs after a horrific collision on I-75 when she pulled over and assisted the victim of a previous car accident. She survived the crash and has since returned to work, though she will require ongoing treatments and assistance.car accident

A very similar situation occurred several years ago in Rhode Island and now, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has decided that the Good Samaritan victim in the crash is entitled to collect underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage from the insurer who provided a policy for the vehicle in which she was a passenger prior to being struck. Insurer initially denied the UIM claim, asserting victim was not “occupying” the insured vehicle at the time of the crash, and therefore was not entitled to coverage.

While the trial court agreed with defendant insurer, the Rhode Island Supreme Court vacated, holding plaintiff was entitled to recover UIM benefits under the terms of the policy. Continue reading →

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Dogs can be our best friends – but also the source of legal liability if they bite someone undeserving.dog bite

Florida law establishes a system of strict liability when it comes to the responsibility of the owner to cover damages caused when their dog bites someone – even if the dog had never bitten anyone else before or previously showed aggression or viciousness. However, with landlords, it is a bit different.

You may have noticed that some landlords are reluctant to rent to tenants who have dogs – or certain types of dogs – and that is due to concern that if the dog injures somebody, the landlord could be found legally responsible. However, it’s not as cut-and-dried as it is for the dog owner. Continue reading →

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Expect tighter rules regarding sleep apnea testing among truck drivers, intended to reduce the number of drowsy driving trucking accidents in Florida and across the country. truck accident

These rules were challenged by a trucker who alleged mandated testing of drivers at-risk for sleep apnea violated his civil rights. Both the trial court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit disagreed, and more recently, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request for review, meaning the appellate court ruling stands. What that means is trucking companies will feel free to test drivers and prospective drivers who may be at risk for the condition, potentially even at the driver’s own expense.

This is good news for those of us who share the road with big rigs for a number of reasons. The first is that people who have sleep apnea are prone to sudden bouts of extreme fatigue during the day. For truck drivers, this is more than just an annoyance; it could prove a potentially fatal occurrence. Beyond that, it may give injury lawyers grounds to assert a trucking carrier was negligent in hiring or retaining drivers who either tested positive for the condition and didn’t receive treatment or who were at risk but were never tested.  Continue reading →

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The massive recall of defective Takata airbags last year underscored a major ongoing issue with unsafe motor vehicles and related devices that has dogged the auto industry in recent years.airbag

The one bit of good news is that since awareness of the problem has grown, vehicle owners are informed about proper corrective actions to ensure the defective airbags (prone to high-force explosion even in low-impact collisions) can be removed from the vehicles. However, The New York Times recently highlighted a startling scenario in which vehicle owners may have no clue one of these ticking time bomb devices is sitting right in front of their faces.

Used cars. It is legal per federal law for air bags or other parts that may be subject to recall to be taken out of vehicle that have been in collisions and sold to junkyards and even repair shops. Neither the shops nor the buyers may have any idea that the devices were recalled – and there is no government agency that monitors such transactions to be able to tell them. Further, there don’t appear to be any states that have passed any laws barring the reuse of recalled auto parts.  Continue reading →

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A recent nursing home negligence lawsuit out of Massachusetts underscores how important it is to promptly consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Specifically, it’s imperative that all claims be filed within the appropriate statute of limitations, which can vary depending on the type of claim, where the claim occurred and the identity of the defendant.

old man

In a case of alleged nursing home negligence, plaintiff’s claim for damages due to wrongful death failed after claimant reportedly missed an important statute of limitations deadline. The reason he missed it, according to court records, is that defendant nursing home in this case was operated by a branch of the federal government. As such, it was subject to certain statutory provisions that differed from state statutes. Specifically, the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions.

State law in Massachusetts requires all wrongful death actions be brought within three years of when the cause of action arises, meaning either when the death occurs or when its cause (in this case, nursing home negligence) becomes known or was knowable. Meanwhile, federal tort law (like Florida law) requires all wrongful death actions be filed within two years of when the cause of action accrues. Continue reading →

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While nearly 10,000 dog bites every year in the U.S. require emergency medical treatment, only a small percentage are fatal. According to DogBites.org, at least 31 people died in dog bite-related incidents last year. dog bite

In a recent wrongful death lawsuit before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, the widow of an elderly man who died after he was viciously attacked by several dogs while walking near his home sued the county and the county’s dog warden alleging negligence in performing statutory duty. Specifically, the widow asserted the dog warden allowed the vicious dogs to remain at-large, resulting in wrongful death. The warden was sued both personally and in her individual capacity. Plaintiff sought compensatory as well as punitive damages, alleging the violations were willful, wanton and reckless.  (It should be noted that while the homeowner where the dogs resided was acquitted of criminal wrongdoing, but the owner of the dogs pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanors, including involuntary manslaughter. All the dogs were euthanized.)

The county moved to dismiss the wrongful death dog bite lawsuit, citing the public duty doctrine.  Continue reading →

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Landlords and other property owners have a duty of care to maintain their site in reasonably safe condition for those who enter lawfully. Landlords in particular have a statutory responsibility under F.S. 83.51 to maintain their premises, which involves compliance with all applicable building, housing and health codes and maintaining all structural components in good repair, capable of resisting normal forces, loads and plumbing. Florida law also requires the extermination of certain insects, including wood-destroying organisms. defective stairs

Wood-destroying organisms, or more specifically, termites, were at the center of a recent defective staircase lawsuit in Rhode Island, where a woman fell through a stair board that had rotted through due to termites. She suffered a myriad of injuries and sued her landlord for damages. However, the trial court ruled in the landlord’s favor, finding plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence of actual or constructive notice of the defect. The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed.

We should point out that case law and statutes vary from state-to-state, but some of these same general provisions outlined in this case are applicable here in Florida too.  Continue reading →

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A man in New Jersey is suing two bars he alleged served him alcohol in the hours before he was involved in a single-vehicle motorcycle accident in which he was seriously injured. According to news reports, the 28-year-old plaintiff alleges he was downing Tequila at two local bars, and left both sites intoxicated. Around 3:20 a.m., upon leaving the second site, he reportedly crashed his motorcycle, suffering a severe leg injury. His blood-alcohol level was below the 0.08 threshold, but he claims he was still impaired (an instance our own Florida law recognizes as possible in F.S. 316.193). Further, he says his breath-alcohol test wasn’t given until several hours after the crash. His criminal charge was dismissed. drunk driving accident

There are of course many people who take the stance that drunk drivers deserve what they get. We won’t dispute that in some cases, but as drunk driving accident lawyers, we used this example to point out the viability of such a claim here in the Sunshine State. Based on the facts we know of this case, it would not succeed in Florida – and not because drunk drivers can’t sue for injuries. They can, but only in limited circumstances. The same in fact is true of drunk driving accident victims when it comes to third parties.

It all comes down to Florida’s dram shop law, found in F.S. 768.125. A dram shop law is the avenue through which drunk driving accident victims (including, in some cases, the driver) can seek damages from the bar, restaurant or vendor that served alcohol to the drunk driver.  Continue reading →