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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.

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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 →

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People think of summer driving as easy sailing: Clear skies, downtime and road trips.car accident

Unfortunately, some of the most popular summer holidays are also incredibly dangerous on the roads. In fact, a new study by Value Penguin ranks all major holidays by their potential for a fatal crash. No. 1 on the list was Memorial Day, followed by Labor Day at No. 2 and 4th of July weekend at No. 3.

This is a bit jarring for some because people generally associate holidays like New Year’s Eve as being the deadliest. In fact, it’s the summertime holidays – when the weather is nice, more people are outdoors, many people are drinking and teens/ young adults are off school that are the most hazardous.  Continue reading →

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Comparative negligence is the legal theory that a plaintiff is at least partially to blame for his/ her own injuries. In some states, that fact alone can prohibit a person from collecting any damages whatsoever (pure contributory negligence). In other states, a plaintiff’s own negligence can’t be more than the negligence of other parties (modified comparative fault). In Florida, which follows a pure comparative negligence standard, any amount of comparative negligence won’t bar the claim, but it will proportionately reduce damages (per F.S. 768.81).car accident

Recently, the South Carolina Supreme Court weighed a case that asked whether the doctrine of comparative negligence applied in a crashworthiness product liability lawsuit against a vehicle manufacturer. That state follows a modified comparative fault model.

Although this is an out-of-state case, it’s worth examining because state supreme courts will often consider the rulings of sister courts in weighing similar circumstances. In this case, the court ruled that comparative negligence does not factor in a crashworthiness case. Further, public policy in that state doesn’t prohibit a plaintiff who was allegedly intoxicated at the time of a crash from bringing a claim of crashworthiness against the manufacturer of the vehicle. Continue reading →

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Tragedy struck recently when a motorcyclist was killed in a Florida motorcycle accident in Melbourne, leaving behind to mourn him his pregnant 22-year-old wife and their 1-year-old daughter.motorcycle accident

Florida Today reports the 22-year-old welder had just finished work for the day and was on his way home when the crash happened. News accounts have few details, but here’s what we can say: Motorcycle accidents claim far too many lives in Florida every year.

May was Motorcycle Accident Awareness Month, but the truth is, this is an issue that affects Floridians daily – directly or indirectly. These are people’s fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands. They are the people we rely on, and those we love. This young man who had his whole life ahead of him has now become a statistic in what is an appalling toll of casualties in Florida and nationwide.  Continue reading →

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A man is suing his former girlfriend’s father after a boating injury in which he suffered paralyzing injuries and is now a quadriplegic.boating

According to news reports, the lawsuit (filed in New Hampshire by the 27-year-old) alleges he was spending time with his girlfriend at her father’s lake house, where father/ defendant owned a boat. The group took the boat out to a sandbar, where the plan was to anchor. Plaintiff, inexperienced in boating, was helping defendant drop the anchor, at defendant’s request. Defendant, a regular boater, did not inform plaintiff of proper boating procedures, particularly for sandbars, and plaintiff dove into the water to help with the anchor. The problem was the water was only 3 feet deep. Plaintiff’s injuries were catastrophic. He now alleges defendant violated boating regulations by standing on the gunnel while the boat was in motion, and also in directing him to jump in when the water was so shallow. Plaintiff’s attorney said the dangers of this were not obvious to an inexperienced boater.

Florida is no stranger to cases like these, considering we lead the nation in total number of registered vessels – 932,000 in 2016, according to the latest figures from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). There were a total of 714 reportable boating accidents in the Sunshine State last year. Of those, one quarter involved a collision with another vehicle. A third of the fatal accidents involved falls overboard, and overboard boating is the No. 1 cause of fatalities in Florida boating. Continue reading →