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FT. LAUDERDALE

PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY

Accidents at School can Leave Children with Serious Injuries

Accidents at School can Leave Children with Serious Injuries

With the impending arrival of fall, many school-aged children will start a new school year, complete with new classes, new friends, and unfortunately, new risks of sustaining serious injuries. School administrators, faculty, and staff have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their students and protect them from an unreasonable risk of injury. Unfortunately, these parties do not always live up to their duty, sometimes with devastating consequences. Below is some information about some of the more common types of accidents that occur at school as well as some of the legal considerations that may arise when pursuing legal action against a school. Playground accidents Playgrounds are a common fixture at most preschools and elementary schools. These areas often have equipment that allows children to climb, jump, slide, crawl, and otherwise engage in physical activity and play that is essential to their personal and physical development. Unfortunately, playgrounds also expose children to a serious risk of injury. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates [1] that more than 200,000 children sustain injuries that require treatment in an emergency department each year. When these accidents are the result of the negligent act or omission of a school or school district, victims can often recover for their injuries through a personal injury [2]  lawsuit. Some of the kinds of hazardous conditions that may result in a playground accident are detailed below: • Improperly installed equipment • Improperly maintained equipment • Inadequate shock absorbing material • Defective playground fixtures • Playgrounds too close to structures • Exposed hardware • Inadequate premises maintenance • Inadequate supervision After a playground...
DUI In Florida

DUI In Florida

Drunk driving, or driving under the influence (DUI), is one of the single most dangerous actions one can be guilty of without malice being a factor. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports approximately 9,900 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in 2014 (the most recent available data), and while this is a decrease from previous years, it is still far too high. Understandably, given that the cost in lives, time and money is so high, civil and criminal punishment for driving under the influence can be extremely high. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, there are multiple legal theories that you may be able to use to make your case and receive compensation that can help pay the bills. Negligence Law In a civil suit, perhaps the most common theory under which drunk drivers are sued is that of negligence law. If you want to try and prove that you were harmed due to a drunk driver’s negligence, there are four things you must be able to prove to the court: That a duty of care existed between you and the drunk driver (in other words, that the driver had an obligation to exercise reasonable care in interacting with others on the road, as did you); That the duty was breached; That the breach happened solely because of the drunk driver’s conduct, with no other intervening cause; and That you suffered tangible harm (not necessarily physical, but tangible; something more substantial than a mild shock or cuts and bruises). Florida common law does establish a duty of care between motorists, requiring that everyone exercise reasonable care...
TBI 101: Traumatic Brain Injuries & Their Effects

TBI 101: Traumatic Brain Injuries & Their Effects

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that according to the most recent available data, as many as 1.7 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) every year. The groups with the most common occurrence of TBI are very young children, older adolescents and elderly adults over 65 years old – three of the most common population demographics in the state of Florida. Given that TBIs can occur very abruptly, with minimal warning, it is generally a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms and also with the potential liability for such injuries, especially if you or your loved ones fall into those age groups. Most TBIs Are Minor But Serious By far the most common type of TBI is a concussion, which as most people know can range from very mild to life-threatening in terms of the amount of damage done. The concerning aspect of concussions is that they can occur in a variety of different ways, engaged in a variety of different activities, including some that one would not imagine to be that dangerous. It can be possible to not even be aware of a mild concussion for quite some time if you are not aware of the risk of injury from whatever activity you are engaged in – for example, tripping over a crack in a sidewalk and landing in exactly the wrong way may lead to a mild concussion, but because such an injury is not very foreseeable, it may go some time without being reported. It is important to keep in mind, however, that even a minor TBI can lead to significant neurological...
That’s No Myth: Distracted Driving in Florida

That’s No Myth: Distracted Driving in Florida

With all the talk about distracted driving on U.S. roads in recent years, some people have started to tune out the statistics and horror stories. Some people might even characterize the alleged epidemic of distracted drivers as a myth. However, statistics show that it is decidedly not a myth, and indeed, the tendency to drive while multitasking is actually increasing in frequency. It is one of the most common causes of automobile accidents across the country, and in Florida, the problem is exceptionally relevant for a variety of reasons. Patterns Are Clear While most people think of distracted driving as using a smartphone or other electronic device while driving, in reality, anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road can qualify under Florida law. Texting qualifies, and it is perhaps the worst offender in terms of causing accidents – studies have shown that more than 50 percent of people have used a mobile app beyond GPS while operating a motor vehicle. For the last four years of available data, the overall crash rate in Florida has risen, with a significant rise between 2015 and 2016. The numbers of injuries have risen slowly but steadily – from 39,141 in 2013 to a record-setting 49,231 in 2016. In terms of texting or smartphone use specifically, the numbers give one pause for concern. A recent study conducted nationwide gave Florida the second-worst percentage of distracted drivers, second only to Louisiana. However, there are demonstrably fewer consequences for distracted drivers in Florida because it is one of only five states where texting while driving is not a...
Unique Issues in Florida Boating Accidents

Unique Issues in Florida Boating Accidents

Florida has the most miles of coastline in the continental United States, and as such, it is a veritable haven for swimmers and boaters, with the highest number of registered vessels in the country. However, accidents happen, especially when tourism season gets into full swing. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, it can sometimes be difficult to get the information and support you need. A knowledgeable attorney can help. Multiple Different Possible Causes Boating accidents can be innocuous, or they can be severe, not unlike automobile accidents. However, there are factors at play that can make it more difficult to assess causation. Causation can be complex at the best of times, but certain unique factors are seen with boats that simply do not occur on land. For example, in recent years, boating laws have been seen almost as guidelines rather than laws that must be obeyed, and as a result, people do not slow down or observe caution as they perhaps ought to. Operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol is common, and studies show that approximately one-third of all boating fatalities involve either the victim or the boat operator being intoxicated. The fairly lax licensing requirements mean that inexperienced boaters are common. Vessels must be titled and registered unless they meet an exemption, but in Florida, only those born after January 1, 1988, must have a Boater Safety Education Card. People who are older than that do not require any kind of proof of education or training. It is, of course, possible to be inexperienced or reckless despite...
Florida Slip and Falls

Florida Slip and Falls

Especially for the elderly, slip and fall accidents can be dangerous and even life-changing. However, many people are unaware of the specific regulations surrounding these common accidents and how to go about asserting their rights if they believe someone has been negligent. Consulting an experienced attorney can make a big difference in your case and may even be the difference between being awarded compensation and receiving nothing. Florida Law Falls are the most common cause of emergency room visits, making up approximately 20 percent for the general population, with an even higher percentage for those over age 65. Most slip and falls are caused by an unknown substance on the floor of a business establishment or pathway. The relevant statute governing these “transitory” substances lays out the requirements in a straightforward manner. In order to recover, the injured person must show that the business had constructive knowledge (that is, that workers ought to have been aware) of the substance being on their floor. Given that it is difficult to establish constructive knowledge without resorting to circumstantial evidence, the statute sets out ways in which circumstantial evidence can be used. There are two situations in which a court will likely ascribe constructive knowledge to a defendant business or landowner. The first is if the condition occurs regularly – for example, if ice crystals form each winter on a particular stretch of sidewalk or pathway. In a case like this, the owner of the land would be said to have constructive knowledge of the “transitory substance” (in this case, ice) on the path it is his or her responsibility to maintain....
How to Minimize Your Risk as a Florida Pedestrian

How to Minimize Your Risk as a Florida Pedestrian

In recent years, Florida pedestrians have had an increasingly difficult time. The most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that pedestrian accidents have risen nationwide, with fatal accidents rising approximately 9.5 percent in one year, which is statistically significant. While the cause of this spike in fatal accidents is only partially known, it is incumbent upon you and other pedestrians to know your rights. If you are injured, it can make a difference if you and your attorney have a good grasp of the fundamentals. Statistics Show Disproportional Danger While the national statistics show a sharp increase, Florida’s increase from 2014-2015, which is the most recent available data, is somewhat slower. Pedestrian accidents rose around 3 percent, while pedestrian fatalities rose 4.3 percent from the previous year. However, the data still shows an increase in pedestrians being injured on Florida streets, and it is important to try to figure out why such a phenomenon may be occurring. In Broward County, the rate of pedestrian accidents rose by approximately 3.5 percent, but in terms of total numbers, the county is second in the state in accidents (1,079). It is somewhat hazardous to be a pedestrian in Broward County. A yearly study done by Smart Growth America (SGA) charts the rise of pedestrian danger in communities as a method of guiding potential urban planning. The trends found among both drivers and pedestrians give cause for comment. Perhaps most importantly, in almost 75 percent of accidents, the speed limit on the road was 40 mph or higher. This makes sense in terms of the percentage of...
Nursing Home Injuries in Florida

Nursing Home Injuries in Florida

Mistreatment and neglect of the elderly is an endemic problem, especially in a state like Florida that has a higher elderly proportion than average. However, neglect takes many forms, including institutional neglect that can lead to accidents and long-term injuries. Incidents that might seem minor to a younger person can cause more physical and/or emotional harm in an elderly person, and whether something happens due to intentional malice or due to neglect, it nonetheless may be actionable. Injuries Due To Negligence Florida nursing homes have racked up a disturbing pattern of abusing and neglecting their patients. The state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman report for FY 2016 shows approximately 9,600 complaints filed statewide with both nursing homes and assisted care facilities, and of those filed against nursing homes, the number one complaint cause was “Dignity and Respect.” Staff attitudes can contribute to an atmosphere of negligence around both the building itself and around its residents. Florida is also somewhat unique in that the law establishes a specific civil cause of action for abuse of the elderly, as opposed to making those aggrieved bring suit in general negligence law. The statute holds that any vulnerable adult who has been “abused, neglected or exploited” has a cause of action against the perpetrator, and may recover both actual and punitive damages if the facts warrant. The victim may bring suit, or their legally recognized guardian or conservator may do so. One important thing to remember, however, is that under this cause of action, the perpetrator’s employer may not be held vicariously liable for his or her actions, unlike when a suit is brought in...
Can Florida Businesses Be Liable for the Actions of a Drunk Person?

Can Florida Businesses Be Liable for the Actions of a Drunk Person?

It is an obvious fact that drinking and driving is a deadly combination and can result in a very preventable tragedy.  Tragedies are only magnified when a drunk driver kills multiple people, such as when on New Year’s Eve, 2016, an alleged drunk driver killed five individuals when driving the wrong way down I-95 in Florida, or when two young children died and six others were hospitalized from an alleged drunk driver in October of 2016. For those who survive a drunk driving accident, life is irrevocably altered but they must pick up the pieces and find a new normal without their loved ones or learn to live with their new injuries and physical limitations.  When the driver’s insurance only covers a small portion of the damages or when the drunk driver ends up in jail and with no assets, where do the injured and aggrieved parties turn to in order to pay for the injuries and losses?  If a mother or father of a household can no longer work, it is a legitimate question to ask as to how the family will survive financially. In many cases, it may be necessary to prove liability beyond the drunk driver themselves and look to the establishment that served the driver the alcohol.   Dram Shop Actions Florida’s Dram Shop law is limited compared to other states and only covers two specific circumstances.  In Florida, a bar or establishment that serves or sells alcohol may be liable for the damages or injuries caused when they do either of the following: Willingly and unlawfully sell or furnish an underage person alcoholic beverages; or When...
Amusement Park Liability in Florida: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt

Amusement Park Liability in Florida: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt

Amusement parks and theme parks are by definition supposed to be fun for all and a pleasant distraction from life.  As with many things in life, however, going to an amusement park is not without risks of injury.  It is difficult to quantify the risk of amusement park and theme park rides because there is no single, central clearing house that collates such statistics, such as exists for traffic accidents. However, in Florida, injuries happen regularly on the premises of amusement parks for a variety of reasons.   The Florida State Department of Agriculture oversees some amusement park safety, but only for smaller, traveling carnivals.  Larger theme parks are not legally mandated to have their equipment inspected by a neutral third party, with the threat of sanctions for failure to adhere to basic safety features.  There is some limited federal oversight by the Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), but that agency generally gets involved only after an accident occurs in order to rectify the problem and prevent further injuries.  That means that even one simple shortcut employed by a theme park manager or employee can potentially mean life-altering injuries for you or your child.   Legal Liability for Amusement Parks and Theme Parks There are three general grounds for which an injured party can recover from an injury sustained at an amusement park or theme park: Simple negligence Premises liability actions Products liability The following is a brief overview of each of these causes of action stemming from amusement park accidents and injuries.   Negligence at Amusement Parks and Theme Parks As for negligence, it is a general, all-encompassing legal...

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