Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Proponents of tort reform are seizing on their opportunity with a GOP-controlled Congress to push forward with a series of measures that would make it harder to win medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits, as well as to obtain just compensation. congress

As The New York Times reported, one of those measures would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care that is covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance subsidized by the Affordable Care Act, with some limits applying to product liability claims as well as medical malpractice litigation involving physicians, hospitals and nursing homes. In effect, it is lower income and older people who would find it the most difficult to win lawsuits for injuries caused by defective drugs, defective medical devices or negligent medical care. This bill is part of the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Proponents of the measure say it is a necessary means to lower the number of “frivolous lawsuits” that drive up health care costs for everyone else. Of course, this assertion has been disproven time and again. Take for example the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 rejecting a 2003 medical malpractice law and lambasting the legislature for manufacturing an alleged medical malpractice crisis that didn’t exist to pass unnecessary tort reform. In a 5-2 ruling, the court suggested lawmakers created the crisis to cap damages on medical malpractice cases, which saves a modest amount of money for many at a “devastating” cost on a few – namely those who have suffered the most severe and egregious injuries due to medical negligence or defective medical products. The law was ultimately deemed unconstitutional under the state’s equal protection clause.  Continue reading

Stem cell research holds a great deal of promise in addressing some of the most problematic conditions and ailments of humans. That said, it’s still a relatively new science, and treatments haven’t been thoroughly vetted. Initially, this spurred wild growth of stem cell “treatment” clinics in countries like Mexico and China, where medical standards can be more lax than in the U.S. However, we are finding a number of clinics have cropped up in the states as well – sometimes with troubling outcomes. eye

In fact, as recently reported by Scientific American, there are more than 550 clinics across the country that offer interventions for everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease – and all of these treatments are unproven. Most of these clinics offer help with orthopedic procedures, such as sports injuries or joint pain, and there are some that offer cosmetic procedures, such as face lifts.

In South Florida, as reported recently in a case study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most serious instances of these rogue treatments was detailed after three women were permanently blinded after undergoing an unproven stem cell “treatment” that was advertised as a clinical trial.  Continue reading

The Florida Highway Patrol is starting a new effort to solve hit-and-run crash cases and compel drivers involved in collisions to remain on scene. police light

It’s a major problem in the Sunshine State, where more than 99,000 hit-and-run accidents were reported just last year. That is fully one quarter of the total number of crashes, law enforcement officials say. Yet it only accounted for 15,900 of the charges filed last year. Mostly, that’s because the at-fault driver(s) took off and were never found.

In Broward County alone, the Sun Sentinel reports, 14 people were killed and 119 injured in the approximately 12,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2016. Palm Beach County officials, meanwhile, logged 8,000 hit-and-run crashes there resulting in a dozen deaths and 102 injuries. In Miami-Dade County, it was reported there were 19,000 hit-and-run crashes resulting in 20 deaths and nearly 150 injuries.  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

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

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

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

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

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