15-Passenger Vans Among the Most Deadly Vehicles on the Road

April 14, 2015

The safety of 15-passenger vans has once again been called into question following three fatal crashes in the Southeastern U.S. - including two in Florida - which killed 14 people and injured dozens more over the course of just two weeks.
These vans, popular for use among church groups, sports teams, senior travelers and large family vacationers, are notoriously poorly-weighted, with a heightened risk of rollover. There are also increased risks of tire blow-out and driver error, as the vehicles are known to be difficult to control.

Safety advocates have seized on these incidents as an opportunity to encourage authorities to warn the public regarding the dangers of these vehicles and the importance of proper maintenance, not overloading and always wearing a seat belt.

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Bicycle Crash Reporting Needs Improvement, Study Suggests

April 12, 2015

Bicycling has become an incredibly popular form of transportation and recreation across the country, but particularly here in Florida, where the weather permits riders to enjoy the activity year-round. In fact, between 2000 and 2013, there was a 62 percent spike in ridership in the U.S.

However, this has inevitably led to an increase in bicycle accidents, particularly because our streets weren't designed to safely accommodate cyclists and because most drivers still don't look twice for them.

A recent study has now identified another issue: The outdated way in which police departments around the country are reporting these crashes is failing to provide crucial information that could help make our streets safer for cyclists.

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Palm Beach Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents Target of Safety Campaign

April 10, 2015

A number of cities throughout Palm Beach County are pledging to take significant, tangible action in an effort to forge safer streets for both bicyclists and pedestrians.

Florida - and South Florida in particular - has an abysmal record with regard to bicycle and pedestrian safety. The Florida Department of Transportation reports this state is No. 1 in the nation for bicycle deaths and No. 2 for pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian fatality rates are double the national average while bicycle fatality rates are triple the national average.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties have the highest rates of bicycle and pedestrian deaths in the state. This has got to change, and increasingly, a number of city leaders are willing to take steps to make it happen.

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Fort Lauderdale Dog Bite Injuries Hospitalize Mother, Child

April 5, 2015

A 9-year-old boy and his mother were rushed to the hospital recently after a Fort Lauderdale dog attack that reportedly ended only when a neighbor subdued the animal with his bare hands and a belt. pitbull.jpg

The boy was "severely injured," according to responding officers, while his 35-year-old mother suffered a leg wound.

Based on witness reports, the boy was riding his bicycle in the driveway when the pit bull mix dog circled him. The boy fell of his bike and the dog attacked, biting him on his right leg, left arm and shoulder as the boy tried to fight him off. His mother rushed to his aid, and she too suffered bites on her right leg and left arm.

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Hodson v. Taylor - Boating Injury Case Weighed

March 30, 2015

Florida is renowned for its water sports and boating activities. It's a huge draw for the millions of tourists who flock to the state each year.

Most people walk away from the experience with a rush of adrenaline and fond memories. However, when negligence during boating results in personal injury, victims can be left with permanent, debilitating losses.

Such was the case for plaintiff in Hodson v. Taylor.. Victim suffered permanent paralysis from the chest down after a water-related accident as a teen. The incident and lawsuit took place in Nebraska, and the Nebraska Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on the case against a number of defendants, affirming summary judgment for one and reversing and remanding against two others. The case can now proceed to trial.

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Book v. Voma Tire Corp. - Injury Lawsuit Against Tire Company to Proceed

March 26, 2015

So many of the products we buy and use every day are manufactured outside the U.S. While these products must adhere to certain safety standards, sometimes they fall short, resulting in injury.

Pursuing litigation against foreign companies can pose challenges, as the recent case of Book v. Voma Tire Corp. et al. illustrated. The case, before the Iowa Supreme Court, almost did not make it to trial, at least where one foreign company was concerned, due to an alleged lack of jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction is the right of a court to oversee a lawsuit against an individual or business. A foreign company may have grounds to assert lack of jurisdiction in state court, although the precedent set in this case means they will be less likely to succeed, at least in Iowa.

Still, it's important for injury attorneys to closely examine the facts of the case to determine the appropriate court in which to file suit.

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Florida Parasailing Injury Settlement Reached

March 22, 2015

Florida is a welcome respite for visitors from around the world, and the widespread availability of watersports is a major draw. Unfortunately, those who offer excursions such as wakeboarding, parasailing or scuba diving sometimes put profits before people.
That is what was alleged in a horrific July 2013 parasailing accident in which two teen girls, both 17, were left in critical condition after their parasail snapped from the boat while they were in mid-air. The girls continued to soar through the air on 35-mile-an-hour winds that caused them to be thrown against the 13th floor of a condominium complex before they were sent crashing down into the parking lot below, slamming onto the top of a vehicle.

The friends were vacationing from Indiana at the time of the incident.

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Crusoe v. Davis - Police Report as Hearsay in Car Accident Lawsuit

March 14, 2015

In some civil cases, there may exist a relevant police report. An example would be an accident report generated by a police officer following a crash.
Whether that report will be allowed admission into evidence will likely depend on whether the report contains hearsay. What the court does not want is a "he-said-she-said" situation involving statements made out of course.

In order to overcome these hurdles and secure admission into evidence, plaintiffs may need to seek a qualified exception. Per state and federal rules of evidence, this usually means it must be proven the report was prepared in the regular course of official business and soon after the crash. In many cases, it's also necessary to have the author of the report - i.e., the police officer - testify in court.

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Peninsula Logistics v. Erb - Truck Accident Liability Waived

March 12, 2015

Commercial truck accidents can result in major property damage and serious injuries to those involved. semitruck4.jpg

What often surprises many victims is the fact that because truck drivers are often independent contractors, it can be difficult to hold trucking companies - or insurers - liable for damages. In many cases, victims are dealing not only with the truck driver, but also the owner of the truck, the owner of the rig and the agency that connects truck drivers with various assignments.

The organizational structure can seem convoluted, but there is a reason for it: To reduce the potential for liability in the event of a crash. These firms know how much victims rack up in medical bills and lost wages, and they don't want to be the ones to pay for it.

If a trucker is not technically an employee, the hope (for the company) is it cannot be held vicariously liable. The owner of the truck might still be liable, but it depends on the contract that existed between the driver, the owner and the assigning agency.

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Glaze v. Chick-Fil-A - Florida Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit Stumbles on Law Change

March 10, 2015

Prior to 2010, the burden of proof for plaintiffs in slip-and-fall lawsuits in Florida was much lower. One needed to prove only the plaintiff encountered a slippery foreign substance on the ground, fell as a result and suffered injury.
However, the new statute placed a greater responsibility on the injured person to prove the business knew or should have known about the existence of the substance that proximately caused the fall, and also that the business failed to clean it up.

This has meant slip-and-fall accident claimants have a higher hurdle to overcome in proving their case. However, Florida's First District Court of Appeal recently ruled in Glaze v. Chick-Fil-A et al. the new statute, F.S. 768.0755, can't be applied retroactively. That means the old law, F.S. 768.0710, is the applicable law.

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L.E. Myers Co. v. Young - Court Reverses $5M Wrongful Death Verdict

March 7, 2015

Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed a $4.8 million judgment favoring the estate of a man who died as a result of injuries sustained in a horrific crash at a roadway construction site several years ago.
In L.E. Myers Co. v. Young, the appellate court ruled summary judgment favoring plaintiff on certain issues was improper and further, trial court should not have allowed plaintiff to seek punitive damages.

Essentially, the appellate court held there were genuine issues of material fact that remained in dispute that should have precluded summary judgment on certain allegations and further, plaintiff hadn't met the high burden of proof necessary to show gross negligence warranting punitive damages. (Punitive damages are those intended to punish defendant, as opposed to compensatory damages, intended to compensate plaintiff for economic and personal losses.)

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Kallal v. CIBA Vision Corp. - Contact Lens Product Liability

March 5, 2015

The expectation consumers have when they purchase a product is it will work as stated when used as intended. In the legal world, this is called implied warranty of merchantability, and a breach resulting in injury can be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

However, plaintiffs in these product liability lawsuits must be able to prove causation.

In the recent case of Kallal v. CIBA Vision Corp., before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, causation was the primary issue that resulted in affirmation of summary judgment for the defense.

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