A personal chef who sustained severe personal injuries following a trip-and-fall while at work in a private home was awarded $1.5 million in damages as part of a settlement agreement in exchange for voluntarily dismissing his claim in court. chef

According to the Greenwich Time, the settlement was reached between the chef and the remodeling company, which allegedly laid down a dangerous plastic runner on a set of stairs in the rear of the kitchen. The remodeling firm was contracting with the homeowner to carry out a series of residential renovations.

This settlement was important for the worker because in Connecticut, similar to in Florida, homeowner do not have to purchase workers’ compensation coverage for domestic workers they hire. The exemption laid out in F.S. 440.02(15)(c)1 specifies that domestic servants in private homes are exempt from the definition of “employment.” But homeowners who choose not to buy workers’ compensation insurance for housekeepers, personal chefs, nannies and others may find they are personally liable for injuries suffered by these workers on their properties. Granted, the worker would have to prove negligence on the part of the homeowner (something they don’t have to do in typical workers’ compensation claims), but if that worker prevails, he or she will be able to collect all of their lost wages (as opposed to just a portion), all medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium. These payouts would most likely be made through the homeowner’s insurance policy.  Continue reading

Plaintiffs in a recent wrongful death lawsuit before the Kansas Supreme Court argued that the township, the county and the state department of wildlife and parks were liable for the fatal car accident. Claimants attributed the crash to the failure to provide adequate barriers, signs or other warnings along sections of the road where the crash happened. roadsign

These kinds of cases can be challenging because there are special rules to abide anytime you sue a government agency. Most government agencies and government workers are protected by sovereign immunity statutes, but these are waived in some cases under certain circumstances.

In this situation, plaintiffs sued a number of government entities alleging liability in the deaths of two people on a road in Kansas. One of those was a young man who was a father to two children. His mother filed the claim on behalf of those children. The other was a young woman whose mother filed the claim on her behalf.  Continue reading

Life for a 14-year-old boy and his family was forever altered the day he tried to catch a county bus in Fort Lauderdale.bus

The teen had been walking to the Broward mass transit bus stop site with his mother when she had a problem with her shoe and fell. She urged him to hurry and catch the bus so he wouldn’t be late. He ran to the side of the large glass doors. A passenger shouted to the driver that there were “runners.” For reasons that aren’t clear, the driver shut the doors, closing in on the teen’s hand. Then, the bus pulled away, dragging the teen alongside and then partially running over him, all while his terrified mother watched and horrified bus passengers could hear his cries.

That was four years ago. Now 18, the boy has graduated from high school, but his life has been forever altered by the severe injuries – including traumatic brain injury – that he suffered that day. He was in a medically-induced coma for a full month. He struggles with neurocognitive disorder. He grapples with depression and central auditory processing disorder, which means he has trouble understanding speech. He also contends with neurospychological impairment in processing speed and memory. His motor dexterity is impaired, and he suffers with a wide range of other physical limitations.  Continue reading

In Florida slip-and-fall cases, the negligent mode of operation rule was developed initially through common law, later codified in F.S. 768.0710(2), which described the “mode of operation” as a possible cause of action a property owner could face in negligence actions that involved slips and trips on transitory foreign substances on the floor. As the Florida Supreme Court ruled in the 2002 case of Markowitz v. Helen Homes of Kendall Corp., the negligent mode of operation theory centers on the mode of operation used by the property owner, which resulted in the creation of an unsafe condition.oil

However, that provision was later repealed in 2010 and replaced with F.S. 768.0755, which omitted the “mode of operation” language completely, which defendants have argued means that state courts don’t recognize it anymore. Specifically, they’ll cite the 2015 ruling in Woodman v. Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, decided by the U.S. District Court of for the Middle District of Florida, which granted a defense motion to strike a claim citing negligent mode of operation on the grounds it could not longer serve as a basis for proving premises liability. Still, the state supreme court hasn’t ruled on it as of yet, and plaintiffs continue to assert it as a cause of action in injury complaints, although there is generally no getting around F.S. 768.0755 and the requirement to prove defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged dangerous condition.

Other state courts continue to wrestle with this issue too. Recently in Rhode Island, the state high court weighed a case that involved a woman who slipped on oil and cucumber near a self-serve salad bar section in a grocery store, causing her to suffer serious personal injury.  Continue reading

A new analysis conducted by the Federal Insurance Office reveals millions of Americans live in swaths of the country where car insurance is not affordable. In an analysis of 9,000 ZIP codes with high numbers of “underserved” people, including those with low-to-moderate incomes and minorities, approximately 10 percent lived in regions where auto insurance cost them 2 percent or more of their household income. That equates to 19 million people nationally.traffic

Here in Florida, the percentage of uninsured drivers in Florida was approximately 24 percent, or about 1 in 5. That’s the second-highest uninsured driver rate in the country. The cost of insurance can’t be discounted as a primary reason for this. The federal researchers concluded that a 40-year-old man with a clean driving record and a strong credit score would pay $1,655 annually for car insurance. That’s 25 percent more than the national average.

When researchers looked at Florida ZIP codes, they found that among all of Florida’s 19 million residents, about 41 percent – or 7.9 million people – live in ZIP codes that have high concentrations of people who are considered under-served. Nearly 30 percent of all people in those ZIP codes pay more than 2 percent of their income on car insurance, which amounts to about 3 million people. Continue reading

There several dozen valet services in downtown Fort Lauderdale that offer assistance to motorists who need help parking their vehicles in the crowded urban streetscape. Often, these vehicles are parked off-site of where they are dropped off. The valet driver must drive the car to the off-site location and then return them. carandbike

For the most part, these workers are diligent in doing their job safely. However, there have been some cases reported where the drivers are careless with property or in abiding basic traffic laws.

One such case was recently chronicled before a trial court in Seattle, where a bicyclist was awarded $38 million by a jury in a claim against a valet company whose drivers routinely took illegal shortcuts in dropping off and picking up vehicles. Continue reading

Florida lawmakers are slated to begin considering whether to repeal the state’s long-standing no-fault auto insurance requirement. On average, this additional protection costs drivers about $81 per policy, according to recent research. The question legislators have to decide is whether those savings are going to be worth it in the end due to the fact that it will likely result in an uptick of car accident lawsuits.car

The no-fault insurance for motor vehicles allows that there is “no-fault” when it comes to paying out an auto insurance claim following a car accident under a certain amount. Instead, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which extends payment for any medical expenses and certain non-medical costs associated with the crash, such as lost wages or replacement benefits (i.e., having someone come help you clean your house while you are unable to do so). All Florida drivers are required to carry a minimum level of PIP benefits in addition to liability insurance requirements. Then if they are involved in a crash, they file a claim with their own auto insurer. The only way they can pursue a claim outside that no-fault system is if the injuries are considered permanent or permanently disfiguring/ scarring or if there is some significant or total loss of an important bodily function. Drivers have to carry at least $10,000 in PIP benefits.

Legislators have decided that in the spring, they will mull a proposal to scrap the no-fault insurance law that has been followed in the state since the 1970s.  Continue reading

An $11 million injury verdict was affirmed recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which held there was sufficient evidence plaintiff in Baugh v. Cuprum proved his injury was owed to the defective design of a ladder from which he fell. ladder

Ladder falls are a major problem at American workplaces, but they are also problematic for those off-the-clock as well. Every year, more than 90,000 people are treated in U.S. emergency rooms due to ladder-related injuries. Elevated falls account for 700 work-related deaths every year, which account for 15 percent of all occupational fatalities. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports ladder-related accidents have increased by 50 percent over the last decade.

Some of the issue involves user error. This could mean using the wrong ladder for the type of task at hand. It could also mean improperly placing the ladder or not using the ladder the right way. It could be the fault of the ladder owner for failure to maintain the ladder or allowing one to be used that is damaged or worn. However, there are also a fair number of these cases that stem from use of ladders that are defectively designed or defectively manufactured.  Continue reading

Work is a dangerous place for many in South Florida, and there are numerous opportunities to get hurt, depending on the field. Falls are typically the most common, but motor vehicles accidents are a significant source of workers’ compensation claims too. Workers’ compensation benefits are typically the only source of money one can get from an employer for a work-related injury. The good news is employees don’t have to prove the company was negligent, but they are usually only entitled to coverage of medical bills and a portion of lost wages. driveInjuries caused by co-workers – even negligent co-workers – usually fall under this exclusive remedy umbrella.

However, if a worker is injured by a co-worker who was not acting in the course and scope of employment, then the injured worker may be able to pursue a claim directly against that co-worker.

This was the situation in Entila v. Cook, recently weighed by the Washington Supreme Court. Although the ruling doesn’t have a direct bearing on cases in Florida, it’s known that state high courts will often look to the rulings set by other state supreme courts in deciding similar cases.  Continue reading

Pedestrians aren’t safe in Florida. In fact, this state – and the Southern part of it in particular – is the most dangerous place in America for people to venture out on foot. crosswalk

That’s according to a new study, Dangerous by Design 2016, conducted by SmartGrowth America, in concert with the National Complete Streets Coalition. In fact, eight of the ten most dangerous metro areas to walk in the nation are in Florida. Those regions in the top 10 are:

  • Fort Myers
  • Palm Bay/ Melbourne
  • Orlando
  • Jacksonville
  • Daytona Beach
  • Lakeland/ Winter Haven
  • Tampa/ St. Petersburg
  • North Port/ Sarasota

The Miami/ Fort Lauderdale/ West Palm Beach region was listed at No. 11 nationally. This was out of the 104 largest metro areas in the country.  Continue reading