A Florida man alleges he suffered permanent personal injury in a pedestrian accident he says occurred when two police officers left him intoxicated by the side of U.S. 98 North last summer. The 29-year-old says he’ll never walk again without assistance, and is seeking to collect damages from the department that employed the officers, as well as from the officers personally. crosswalk

He was one of 7,870 people injured in pedestrian accidents in Florida last year, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). The agency’s latest traffic accident statistics report indicates there was a nearly 2 percent increase in pedestrian injuries in the Sunshine State last year. There was a 3 percent increase in the number of overall pedestrian crashes (from 8,838 in 2014 to 9,085 in 2015), as well as a 4.3 percent increase in the number of pedestrian accident fatalities (from 606 in 2014 to 632 in 2015).

The total number of traffic accidents last year was 374,342 – a 9 percent increase from the year before. Pedestrian accidents comprised 2.4 percent of all traffic crashes, but 23.6 percent of all fatal crashes last year.  Continue reading

A horrific school bus crash in Tennessee made international headlines when the driver, ferrying 37 children, strayed from the route and crashed, leaving six children dead and dozens injured. Questions have been raised as to whether the 24-year-old driver intentionally crashed the bus and whether the district should have been aware that he was a possible risk on the road.school bus

The reality is that school bus accidents – especially fatal ones – aren’t all that common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that between 20004 and 2013, there were 1,214 school-transportation related fatal crashes. Approximately 134 people die in school vehicle-related crashes and about 8 percent of those are actually on the bus. About one-fifth are pedestrians and bicyclists. Most are people in other vehicles.

In the recent Florida case of Davis v. Baez, plaintiff was a student pedestrian who was injured when she was struck by another vehicle while crossing a darkened, busy street early one morning to get to her bus stop. Normally, the school bus driver wouldn’t be liable in a case like this, but the driver – allegedly and against the school district’s policy – instructed students at this particular stop to cross the street and be waiting for him at the bus stop on the east side of the street when he arrived. He told them if they didn’t cross before he got there, he wouldn’t stop to pick them up. However, school policy required that the students be allowed to wait on the east side of the street until the bus arrived, at which time the driver would extend his flashing stop sign to halt traffic in both directions so students could cross safely to the stop.  Continue reading

There are approximately 4,000 large truck and bus crashes annually in the U.S., with most resulting in at least one serious injury or death. These vehicles are prevalent on our nation’s highways, where they cause significant wear-and-tear on the roads. Poor road conditions contribute to about half of all fatal crashes in the U.S., according to a study by the Transportation Construction Coalition, making it a more significant contributing factor than drunk driving, speeding or failure to wear seat belts. trucks

All this makes the latest report from TRIP all the more troubling. TRIP is a national research group based in D.C. The latest study opines a $740 billion backlog in infrastructure spending in order fr our nation’s roads, bridges and highways to be safe. Researchers further noted that the deterioration of roads is going to happen even faster as the rate of vehicle travel continues pick up and local and state governments find themselves coming up short to fully fund needed maintenance and repairs.

The shortfall was tallied by an analysis of data complied by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), as well as state and federal bridge and road condition information.  Continue reading

Another Florida appellate court has struck down a state law that restricts the amount of money that can be awarded for pain-and-suffering in a medical malpractice lawsuit that results in injury. The Florida Supreme Court had already declared that medical malpractice damage caps on such cases resulting in death were not constitutional. However, the question of whether damages could be capped in cases that “only” resulted in injury was left unanswered. gavel

Now, the 2nd District Court of Appeal joined the 4th DCA’s prior opinion, holding that these non-economic damages are also not constitutional. The Florida Supreme Court is still weighing the 4th DCA’s opinion on the issue.

This could result in the biggest change in Florida injury litigation in more than a decade. Two years ago, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in McCall v. U.S. that medical malpractice damage caps – imposed by a 2003 state law under then-Gov. Jeb Bush – were not constitutional in cases where the patient had died. Now, the 2nd DCA has ruled in Port Charlotte HMA v. Suarez that the same is true when the patient survives medical negligence. This backs the findings of the 4th DCA in North Broward Hospital District v. KalitanContinue reading

Insurance companies – whether they are dealing with first-person or third-party claims – owe a duty to act in good faith toward an injured person. Generally, though, the duty owed toward an insured is greater than that owed to a third party. In general, adjusters are not acting in bad faith simply because there is a difference of opinion about the value of the claim. However, improper settlement tactics, withholding specific reasons for a very low settlement offer and some other actions, could be evidence of bad faith.car accident

This is why it’s often beneficial for car accident victims to seek assistance in settlement negotiations with insurance companies, particularly if the injuries involved are serious and the effects long-lasting. There is much at stake in bad faith insurance claims, which can sometimes result in plaintiff being awarded triple the amount of damages.

In the recent case of West v. United Services Auto Ass’n, there were numerous parties involved in this car accident injury lawsuit. Although the district court granted a summary judgment for the plaintiff, holding the insurance company was liable for bad faith and ordered payment of $1.4 million to his guardian ad litem. The state supreme court in Montana reversed.  Continue reading

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused a review of a Florida case that challenge the state’s entire workers’ compensation system. That means the lower court’s ruling in Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital will stand. worker

The ruling was not wholly unexpected. Stahl was essentially an indictment of the entire workers’ compensation system in Florida. The case stems back to 2003, when plaintiff began working as a nurse at a mid-sized hospital and he suffered a work-related back injury. This occurred just a few months after state legislators had enacted a series of changes to the state’s workers’ compensation program. Two years after his injury, his physician determined that he had reached maximum medical improvement. Unfortunately, that rating – and his injury – was essentially career-ending because, being unable to lift above a certain weight, he could no longer be a nurse. He was then awarded just 12 weeks of impairment benefit income and $5,472 – for an injury that permanently locked him out of his field. Later, the workers’ compensation board determined plaintiff didn’t meet the definition for permanent total disability and his claim for those benefits were denied.

What he argued in his case was that this award of just $5,472 was not adequate for the injury he sustained. Therefore, it could not be the exclusive remedy plaintiff had as recourse. Florida, like so many other states, recognizes an exclusive remedy provision that prohibits injured workers from suing their employer for negligence in exchange for a system of no-fault benefits. However, those benefits are supposed to fairly compensate workers for their losses. It was supposed to be part of a “grand bargain,” but as workers’ compensation protections are being steadily whittled away, it’s more of a bargain for companies and more of a raw deal for workers.  Continue reading

A man who successfully sued a hotel chain and several other defendants for third-party liability stemming from a criminal attack at a hotel has now won another victory for attorney’s fees before the Florida Supreme Court.parkingbumper

At issue was F.S. 768.79 and whether a trio of defendants – named as one entity in jury instructions – received sufficient offers of settlement to trigger the requirement that they cover plaintiff’s lawyer fees.

The statute allows that if an offer of settlement is made (by either side) and isn’t accepted within 30 days and the matter then goes to trial and is decided in favor of the opposite party (at least 25 percent less than the offer made by a defendant or 25 percent more for an offer made by plaintiff), the losing side has to pay the attorney’s fees of the other party. The goal is to encourage litigants to accept reasonable offers and thus reduce the time and expense of a trial. (It should be noted that most civil injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means they are only paid a percentage of your total damage awards if you win, but nothing if you don’t win. An award of attorney’s fees means your financial obligation to your lawyer wouldn’t be taken out of your final damage award.)  Continue reading

Community growth can be seen in almost every area in South Florida. This growth means we need to expand our roads, update our bridges and install new traffic features. All of this involves construction as a near constant element of our commute. For motorcyclists, riding in construction zones can be especially hazardous. motorcycleaccident

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were approximately 68,000 collisions reported in work zones nationwide. A higher proportion of fatal work zone crashes occur on the interstates, followed by urban arterials. Motorcyclists in construction zones have to continuously scan for debris, milled road surfaces, steel plates, loose gravel, road sealants and other dangers that could result in an edge trap (a sudden cut or drop in the road that might catch the tire of the bike).

We’re seeing more of these instances as construction picks up and we have more people riding motorcycles than ever before. The Federal Highway Pavement Monitoring System reports there was a 90 percent uptick in motorcycle registrations between 1997 and 2007, and motorcycle crashes overall make up an increasing percent of roadway fatalities and serious injuries. Just recently, a motorcyclist critically hurt in a construction zone settled his lawsuit against the state DOT, its construction contractor and a dump truck driver for $18.5 million.  Continue reading

It was late September when Miami Marlins’ star pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends were killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach. Now, the latest report from the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office is that Fernandez was legally drunk with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.147, and he also had cocaine in his system. However, authorities have not yet been able to determine who exactly was driving the boat at the time it crashed into a rocky jetty around 3:15 a.m. The two others who died had blood-alcohol levels that were below the legal limit. Fernandez was the owner of the boat. boat

Last year, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) there were 737 reported boating accidents, resulting in 55 deaths and 438 injuries. Miami-Dade County had the highest number of accidents and injuries (96 total accidents and 74 injuries and 3 fatalities), while May was the month with the most accidents overall (92). Alcohol or drug use was reported to have played a role in 19 percent of all fatal Florida boating accidents.

A pair of bills proposed during the 2015 state legislative session would have aligned BUI (boating under the influence) with those of DUI (driving under the influence). As it now stands, both first- and second-time offenders of both crimes face the same amount in fines and jail time. However, DUI repercussions are lot more severe than those received for BUI. For example, BUI does not affect a person’s driving record. What’s more, BUI convictions are not considered to be “prior convictions” in future DUI cases. Additionally, BUI convictions aren’t reported to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. To treat these two offenses the same, said state Rep. Gayle Harrell, sponsor of one measure, “just made a lot of sense.”  Continue reading

A horrific, pre-dawn bus crash involving a tour bus full of sleeping passengers on their way back from Los Angeles resulted in 13 deaths and dozens of injuries. bus

Officials told The Washington Post that the bus collided with a tractor-trailer truck that was traveling on the interstate going approximately 5 mph. The bus, which was going much, much faster, slammed into the rear of the truck with such force that the entire front of the bus became enmeshed in the trailer of the truck – a full 15 feet into the back of the rig. Authorities report a total of 13 people were killed and another 31 were seriously injured and taken to area hospitals – all adults with injuries ranging from minor to critical. Of those 13 who lost their lives, 10 were women. One of the three men killed was the driver of the bus.

Now, The Los Angeles Times reports so far two of those families have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the bus company that was chartered to bring them safely home from an L.A. casino. Plaintiffs allege the bus company, USA Holiday, and the driver personally failed to:

  • Travel at a safe speed;
  • Brake to avoid a crash;
  • Properly maintain the bus.

Continue reading