Every year, thousands of people in the U.S. die in distracted driving accidents – 3,400 in 2015, to be exact. While most states, including Florida, have some type of law on the books that aims to curb these incidents. But there are plenty of traffic safety advocates who say these measures aren’t doing enough. phone

Just take Florida, for example. F.S. 316.305 went into effect in 2013 (and was one of the last texting-and-driving bans in the country to be enacted). The statute prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a phone or wireless communication device. So far so good, right? But there are a few issues. First off, it’s a secondary offense, which means police can’t initiate a traffic stop on this basis alone; they can only issue a citation if they stop a driver for another offense. Even if they do ticket the driver, it’s only a $35 citation for a first-time offender. Not much of a deterrent. Beyond that, the law doesn’t ban talking (which studies have shown can be just as distracting) or dialing a number (and it can be tough for an officer to discern the difference between that and texting from outside the vehicle, especially if it’s moving). Also, it doesn’t address the expanding technology, which includes video chats.

Now, there are two bills on the table to enhance penalties for those who violate Florida’s current ban on texting and driving. HB 47 would increase the fine (doubling it for offenses in school zones or designated crossings) and also make the violation a primary offense, as opposed to a secondary offense. Meanwhile, HB 69 targets drivers 18 or younger, and would make the offense primary only for these motorists.  Continue reading

Good Samaritans are often lauded when they intervene in potentially perilous situations to help others. But are there grounds to assert negligence for those who fail to intervene in such circumstances? gun

This is what is being alleged in a wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio, where a woman and her two daughters were gunned down by her husband at a Cracker Barrel restaurant after a heated confrontation that ensued when she told him she was leaving him. The family had gone to the restaurant for a birthday dinner with their two 10-year-old girls when the events took a turn. The husband reportedly threatened to, “kill them all,” shouted an expletive while paying for the bill, accidentally dropped several shotgun shells from his pocket. According to the wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the woman’s brother, the girls’ uncle, the mother called a friend and the police and begged the manger to allow her and her daughters to hide in the restaurant’s walk-in cooler. The manager allegedly refused the request, telling her the restaurant doesn’t get involved in domestic disputes.

Her husband returned with a shotgun and killed her and her two daughters, who were hiding in the restroom. Police then shot and killed the gunman. An attorney for plaintiff alleges the woman and her daughters were left to take care of themselves in a dangerous situation. He cited the protocol that many chain restaurants and retail facilities have to deal with violent or active shooter situations, and argued that such incidents, while terrifying, are in fact foreseeable.  Continue reading

The family of a 5-year-old girl killed in a car accident by a driver who was reportedly distracted is suing technology giant Apple Inc. for wrongful death. Plaintiffs allege Apple officials knew its FaceTime app, in use by the at-fault driver at the time of the fatal crash, was being used by drivers in a dangerous manner. Further, plaintiffs say, Apple had the technology needed to make the app inaccessible to drivers (while still allowing passengers to access it), and yet chose not to implement it. sad

Specifically, plaintiffs say the company failed to install and implement a safer alternative design that would have halted a driver from accessing the app while speeding down the highway.

According to court records in Modisette v. Apple Inc., filed in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County, the girl was in a booster seat in the rear passenger seat, behind her father, who was driving. He slowed his vehicle because traffic ahead on the highway was backed to a standstill. However, the driver behind them, a 22-year-old from Florida in a sport utility vehicle, apparently didn’t notice the slowed traffic as he barreled down the road at 65 mph. He slammed into the back of the car. Everyone was injured, the little girl and her dad most severely. He survived. She did not.  Continue reading

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a rule that would accelerate the kind of vehicle-to-vehicle technology that would allow cars to “talk” to one another, and ultimately prevent accidents.drive

Under the proposed rule, all new cars and like trucks would communicate wirelessly not just with one another, but with traffic lights and other roadway infrastructure. NHTSA officials say the technology has the potential to transform driving and dramatically slash the number of traffic deaths every year. The rule would be mandatory for all new model vehicles, if the rule is approved.

So how exactly would this work? Well first, it’s important to outline what V2V is. It is a type of crash avoidance technology that hinges on the communication of information between nearby vehicles that can warn drivers about possibly hazardous situations that might lead to a collision. For instance, V2V technology could alert a driver that the vehicle up ahead is breaking, so they need to slow down. It could also inform a motorist that it isn’t safe to go through an intersection because another vehicle – one that can’t yet be seen by the driver – is fast approaching that same intersection. The information communicated would involve short-range data (about 300 meters) that would include other vehicle information such as:

  • Location
  • Speed
  • Direction
  • Breaking status

This information exceeds what can be gleaned from the current cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors that many vehicles are currently affixed with. V2V communications can also detect a threat much sooner than camera sensors or radar. In fact, the data is shot out at a rate of about 10 times per second. Continue reading

Personal bankruptcy filings have been declining in recent years – which is an indicator of national recovery. But there were still 3,440 filed in Florida just in January 2016. Such filing are popular in the first month of the year, when consumers begin to carefully assess their finances after the holidays. Bankruptcy, of course, should be the last and final option for anyone facing financial hardship, as so many personal injury victims do after suffering from severe injuries. sad

In most situations, people who have obtained a favorable judgment for that personal injury are allowed to claim an exemption to be able to retain those damages, instead of having to dole it out to creditors. However, there could be some variation of this from state-to-state.

In Florida, you can keep the money you get (or will get) as a result of a lawsuit or settlement award – if that money is exempt under state and/or federal statutes. Florida’s personal injury exemption is listed in F.S. 769.05, which protects settlements or awards received if you are injured in a hazardous occupation. The law also allows you to keep up to $1,000 of your own personal property, up to $1,000 of a lawsuit or settlement and up to $4,000 of personal property (which includes a lawsuit or settlement award). Keep in mind that if you have commingled your funds, you may potentially lose your settlement or jury award. A bankruptcy attorney can help you sort this all out, but if you are considering bankruptcy prior to filling a personal injury lawsuit, you may want to discuss this with your injury lawyer to make sure you’ll be able to keep whatever you win.  Continue reading

The holidays are a time to spend with family and loved ones and celebrate the season. People especially look forward to New Year’s Eve and the chance to start all over again with a clean slate. But sadly, for far too many people, New Year’s is a time of endings. That’s because there is a surge in drunk drivers. Revelers are out late to ring in the New Year, and fail to plan ahead, call for a ride or just stay where they are. Instead, they risk their own lives – and the lives of their companions and everyone else sharing the road – to make it to their destination. newyearseve

Technically and statistically speaking, New Year’s Eve isn’t actually horrible when to impaired drivers. The worst comes after midnight, on New Year’s Day. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than half of all fatal crashes on New Year’s Day involve a driver who was drunk or impaired. Intoxication by alcohol is typically measured by whether one had a blood-alcohol concentration that exceeded 0.08.

New Year’s Day exceeds even July 4th when it comes to the percentage of fatal crashes stemming from alcohol intoxication. On that day, 42 percent of all deadly accidents involve a drunk driver. The third is St. Patrick’s Day, on which 40 percent of all roadway deaths involve impaired motorists.  Continue reading

It was supposed to be one of those memorable nights you look back on fondly with friends years later. Instead, it was the last night of Mason Zisette’s life. The 16-year-old was killed while on a double-decker, open air tour bus in California in the summer of 2014. He was aboard celebrating the 16th birthday of a female friend. As the bus passed under a pedestrian bridge, Zisette stood up. His head struck the bridge. At first, it seemed only like a small bump on his head. But he lost conscious almost immediately. He never woke up. He suffered a traumatic brain injury from which he ultimately died. teen

Now, following a jury trial that named the girl’s parents, the tour bus company and the driver, his parents have been awarded $26 million in damages. It’s believed to be the largest amount ever awarded in California for the wrongful death of a minor. The bus company was assigned 70 percent of the blame. The girl’s parents shouldered 25 percent of the blame. Zisette, meanwhile, was just 5 percent negligent for his own death.

His parents say the money is not going to bring their son back. However, they intend to use it to help press for legislation that will help change the laws and improve bus safety, which the parents say his sorely lacking. They don’t want another child to suffer the same kind of wrongful death as their beloved son, whom they called “exuberant” and “full of joy.”  Continue reading

People shopping for the holidays – or really any time – have an expectation that they’ll be reasonably safe when they go to the store. That means the boxes will be safely stacked, spills will be cleaned up and the walkways cleared of debris or other hazards. It also means that businesses take care to avoid creating a condition that would invite violent crime on customers. grocerystore

Failure to provide adequate security – whether in the form of armed guards or staff or lighting – is a form of premises liability. That means if you suffer a violent attack while at a shopping center, the store could be responsible to pay you damages. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to security, though, and that’s where these cases can get tricky. One of the ways that plaintiffs can prove the store knew or should have known about the risk is by showing a pattern of similar activity in the recent past either on site or nearby or at similar kinds of stores. 

Recently, there has been scrutiny on one of the largest retailers in the country to address ongoing problems with crime at it stores that have drained law enforcement resources, bled into neighboring communities and jeopardized the safety of customers. Bloomberg recently chronicled the issue. This time, it’s labor activists pushing for action from the corporation. Specifically, the labor groups want the retailer to improve security in its stores and in its parking lots nationwide. Continue reading

A motorcycle accident effectively ended the football career of a UCLA offensive lineman seven years ago in California. Amir Ekbatani’s leg was severed when a taxi van driver who failed to yield the right-of-way while making a left turn. The impact of the collision severed the football player’s left leg. He would undergo a total of 13 surgeries and he know walks with a prosthesis. He is fortunate to have emerged from the wreckage with his life. motorcycle

But now, it’s not just the other motorist whom he blames. It is also the State of California, the government agency responsible for maintaining the road on which the crash occurred. Specifically, he alleges poor road design that made it difficult for the taxi driver to see the plaintiff as he traveled north on the state highway.

There had reportedly been numerous complaints made to the state’s Department of Transportation regarding the condition of the intersection, but the government agency failed to take action, according to the injury lawsuit.  Continue reading

The central question in a Florida injury lawsuit is whether a plaintiff’s paralyzing spinal cord injuries in June 2012 were the result of medical negligence or the crash for which she was being treated. doctor

The case is Silkworth v. Boca Raton Regional Hospital. The South Florida woman alleges her injuries were caused by failure of the hospital staffers to adhere to appropriate medical guidelines in immediately immobilizing her spine in the wake of a horrific car accident. She had been a passenger in the backseat of a taxi late one night when the vehicle was T-boned by another motorist. She was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. She concedes she was in serious condition when she arrived at the hospital, but the standard of care in her case dictated that medical workers immediately immobilize her spine. But they didn’t do that, and now, she says, she is permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

Medical reports indicate plaintiff didn’t have any symptoms of paralysis until long after she got to the hospital and underwent treatment – without her spine first being immobilized.  Continue reading