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Anyone who lives in Fort Myers knows U.S. 41 is a nightmare for motorists. Lanes are narrow. Traffic volumes are atrocious, especially at rush hour. There are few crosswalks and drivers routinely speed or tap away at their phones as they weave in-and-out of traffic. Worse, there is very little alternative, as the thoroughfare, also known as Tamiami Trail, is one of the main in the Southwest Florida. Car accidents occur with regularity.car accident

Perhaps it should surprise none of us, then, that it is ranked as the No. 2 most dangerous road in the country. Further, most Floridians would probably not be shocked to learn that four of the top five most dangerous roads are in Florida, as reported by NBC-2, which detailed the findings of a new study by Geotab. Six of the top 10 most dangerous highways are in Florida.

While car accident rates have spiked everywhere in these last two years, with increasing driver distractions and lower gas prices, Florida has been acutely affected.

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Proximate cause is a legal concept that limits liability along the chain of causation. In order to establish that one person’s negligence is the proximate cause of another, a plaintiff must show there was:motorcycle

  • Defendant’s negligent act was the cause-in-fact (i.e., a reasonable certainty defendant’s actions caused the injury and injury would not have occurred but for defendant’s conduct);
  • Defendant’s negligent act was the legal cause of injury (i.e., The injury was foreseeable/ of a type that a reasonable person would see as the likely result of his or her conduct).

Questions regarding proximate cause come up a lot anytime there are chain reaction collisions. However, the farther apart in space and time the crashes occur, and the more that happens in the meantime (i.e., superseding causes), the lesser the chance that an act of negligence will be deemed the proximate cause of another’s injury. This is what was seen in a recent case out of South Dakota involving a motorcycle accident wherein two bikers crashed on the same road, near the same curve, but a 40-minute time span apart. The two motorcyclists never collided with each other. Still, the second motorcyclist (plaintiff) alleged the negligence of the first (defendant) created a dangerous condition that was the proximate cause of his crash. Continue reading →

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Summer is on the horizon, which means many families will have more free time to explore the outdoors, taking advantage of Florida’s many parks, campgrounds and beaches. camping

However, there is something important visitors – including locals and tourists – need to understand about the risk they are assuming when venturing onto these sites for recreation. Florida’s recreational use statute, F.S. 375.251, limits liability of property owners who make public certain areas for recreational use without charging them. The purpose is to encourage those who own land, water and park areas to make those sites available to the public for outdoor recreation by limiting the owners’ liability for persons injured on those sites.

Essentially, visitors to these sites can’t make the presumption that any of these recreational areas are safe for any purpose. The property owner doesn’t owe a duty of care to the people who go to that area, and he or she won’t be liable or responsible for any injuries to people who visit the site. The only real exception to this is liability for deliberate, willful or malicious injury to persons on the property – and that is a difficult assertion to make.  Continue reading →

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Florida is second only to Louisiana when it comes to the worst states for distracted driving. That’s according to a new study conducted by an online insurance company that used an app called EverDrive to measure behaviors like speeding, aggressive turning, sudden acceleration, hard braking and other dangerous movements while the motorist’s phone was being used behind the wheel. Study authors made sure to exclude measurements of movements that occurred in the car when the phone was in sleep mode or when it was used in hands-free mode (which we know still is not as safe as you might think). iphone

The analysis proved that more than 90 percent of drivers across the country with cell phones have used them while in a moving car at some point in the previous month.

When it came to state rankings, Florida was placed at No. 2. This was based on data from 2.7 million trips and 230 million miles driven, according to the company.  Continue reading →

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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.

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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 →