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Florida impact ruleMental and emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, anger, fear, and insomnia, are common experiences among those who have suffered a personal injury. Florida is one of just five remaining states that subscribe to something called the impact rule when weighing claims of emotional distress.

Also known as the physical impact rule, it requires plaintiffs who are seeking financial compensation for non-economic damages (namely, emotional distress) to prove they also experienced some physical impact or that their emotional injuries somehow physically manifested.

South Florida personal injury lawyers frequently request compensation for emotional distress as an element in injury lawsuits, but claims that solely involve emotional distress can be a bit trickier. This is not to say it is impossible, and the Florida Supreme Court has in recent years relaxed the guidelines for applying the impact rule. Still, it is important for anyone considering filing a claim for emotional distress in Florida to understand a bit about the legal standards that must be met. Continue reading

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Florida boating accidentsWe all know distracted drivers pose a serious threat on South Florida roads, but did you know distracted boating is also a significant and growing problem that sharply increases the risk of boating incidents?

A recent analysis of Florida boating incident statistics by Treasure Coast Newspapers revealed that operator inattention was by far the No. 1 cause of South Florida boating incidents – exceeding other factors like speeding, weather, failed mechanics, hazardous water and alcohol use combined. Nationally, operator inattention and improper lookout have accounted for nearly a quarter of all boating incidents over the last five years.

Distractions that Lead to Florida Boating Incidents

So what else has captured the attention of so many Florida boaters? Smartphones, mostly. Texting while boating has rapidly become a top concern of state and federal boating safety officials. The assistant director of boating safety for the BoatUS Foundation was quoted as saying, “If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat.”

Our Key West boating accident attorneys note too that unlike cars traveling on a highway, boats have the potential to approach from all directions. They come in widely varying sizes and move at different rates of speed. Boat operators must be paying close attention at all times, especially when waves, wind, sun glare and vibration are factors too. Continue reading

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Fort Myers injury lawyerFlorida property owners owe a duty of care to protect invitees from third-party criminal attacks – where the assault was reasonably foreseeable. This principle was affirmed recently by the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s reversal of summary judgment favoring a Florida business owner accused of negligence in an injury lawsuit.

As our South Florida injury lawyers can explain, key issues in these types of premises liability cases are:

  • Reasonable foreseeability of the attack.
  • Duty of care the property owner owed to the plaintiff (designation of invitee, licensee or trespasser, depending on the plaintiff’s purposes on-site). Age and special relationships can also be factors.
  • Whether the defendant property owner’s actions proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

The defendant in Bryan v. Galley Maid Marine Products, Inc. argued it owed no duty of care to the plaintiff, who was on-site drinking with the owner and three others when he was attacked, twice. He suffered a broken neck, nerve damage, and facial fractures. The defense asserted there was no way the property owner could have reasonably foreseen what would happen because it occurred suddenly and without provocation. Furthermore, the defendant argued the victim was a licensee rather than an invitee, meaning the only duty business owner owed was to refrain from wanton negligence, willful misconduct or intentional exposure to danger.

The court noted there were seventeen (17) minutes between the first attack, which left the plaintiff unconscious and with missing teeth, and the second attack, which resulted in another bout of unconsciousness and even more serious injuries. No one called 911, according to court records, because those present were reportedly afraid of the assailant (who was later arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison). Continue reading

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Florida personal injury lawsuitsMany people with strong claims to financial damages in Florida personal injury lawsuits are very reluctant to explore the possibility, and it largely has to do with some common myths and misconceptions of the process. They are:

  • Assuming it is going to be extremely expensive;
  • Thinking their injuries are not serious enough;
  • Hesitant to “punish” the at-fault person;
  • Reticent to seem “greedy”;
  • Presuming their insurance will cover it all anyway.

As our South Florida injury lawyers can explain, while the individual facts and circumstances of the situation ultimately determine the viability of your claim, by-and-large: These notions are incorrect or exaggerated. Some of these myths are rooted in a simple misunderstanding of the law. Others can be traced to an aggressive push for tort reform messaging.

Let us address them one-by-one: Continue reading

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Florida driveway accidentsPeople often consider their driveway as part of their “safe zone.” It is an extension of their home, and the only traffic – if any – is typically slow-moving, either pulling in or backing out. That is why driveways are fairly popular outdoor spaces for children to play – drawing with sidewalk chalk, shooting hoops or playing with water hoses.

The unfortunate truth is driveway accidents are far too common. According to KidsandCars.org, approximately 2,400 children in the U.S. are injured every year in driveway accidents. That is 50 every week, 2 of those dying from their injuries. Small children are at the highest risk of serious injury and death in driveway accidents, accounting for 64 percent of all non-traffic related auto fatalities.

In November of 2019, The News-Press reported the death of a 5-year-old girl in a Fort Myers driveway accident on Cypress Drive. She was playing in a driveway when the homeowner returned and made a left turn into his parking spot. His view of the girl was reportedly obstructed by a sport utility vehicle parked on the right side of the driveway. The girl was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead – the 79th road fatality in Lee County as of the end of November. Continue reading

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Cape Coral dog bite injuriesFloridians are at higher risk of dog bite injuries compared to those in most other states. During National Dog Bite Prevention Week, the Insurance Information Institute revealed Florida ranked No. 2 for dog bites and other dog-related injuries.

In 2018, there were 1,281 Florida dog bite injury claims filed with homeowner insurance companies, making it second only to California, where 2,166 claims were filed. The good news is reports of Florida dog bites are down slightly from 1,345 in 2017, but there were still 6 bites reported for every 100,000 residents. Comparatively, there were  5.5 per 100,000 in California and 3.2 in Texas.

About 78 million dogs live in U.S. households, and about 4.5 million dog bites are reported annually, according to data from the American Veterinary Medical Association. That works out to approximately one dog bite victim for every seventeen (17) dogs owned.

The average cost of a dog bite injury claims in Florida is $44,000, higher than the national average of $39,000. In all, homeowners insurers paid out more than $675 million for dog bite injuries in 2018. Continue reading

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Florida medical negligenceThe notion of the “ideal” body shape is ever-changing, and in Florida, plastic surgeons are in high demand. However, it appears the lure of steep profit margins has led some physicians who are not uniquely qualified, experienced or careful to offer complex medical procedures at rock-bottom prices – often with tragic results. A recent series of botched cosmetic surgeries in South Florida has led to a spate of medical negligence lawsuits, a change in Florida law (effective 1/1/20) and a pending Florida Supreme Court ruling.

Our South Florida medical malpractice attorneys know the one procedure sparking the greatest concern of late is the “Brazilian butt lift,” or BBL. The procedure, which aims to enhance one’s rear with a transfer of fat to the gluteal region from the abdomen, lower back, thighs and/or hips, requires precise and careful application. The greatest risk is the possibility of a heart or pulmonary fat embolism. This happens when the fat is accidentally injected deep into the muscle tissue, making its way into the bloodstream and causing obstruction of major blood vessels of the heart or lungs. Another potential danger is that of punctured internal organs. Both have proven life-threatening and/or fatal.

NBC-6 reports more than a dozen women have died in South Florida in recent years during or shortly after having a BBL. Several of their families have filed medical negligence /wrongful death lawsuits. They assert that the deaths and injuries that occurred were not the result of unavoidable complications, but rather serious mistakes by the medical professionals involved.

Factors that led to a higher risk of complications in BBL procedures included:

  • Performance of the procedure by an unlicensed practitioner;
  • Using injectables and fillers instead of fat;
  • Unsterile instruments/operating area;
  • Intramuscular injection of fat.
    Continue reading
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Fort Myers tourist injury lawyerFederal job site safety regulators declined to fine an Orlando water park after closing an investigation into a series of electric shocks sustained by guests and workers earlier this year, but personal injury lawsuits could still be filed if any guests were hurt. Five lifeguards were reportedly hospitalized and several visitors were shocked, but media reports do not indicate anyone suffered a serious or lasting injury.

Florida theme parks are a significant draw in the Sunshine State, and owners/operators owe their guests a substantial duty of care to ensure they are not faced with unreasonable danger.

In this case, guests and lifeguards at Universal Studios’ Volcano Bay water park reported feeling the shocks – in the water and on the wet pavement near it – for hours before the park shut down.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded the danger arose from a  grounding rod that was mistakenly driven through an electrical conduit way back when the park was being constructed. This led to damage to the electrical wiring, resulting in an electrical current being fed through the ground – ultimately reaching water and wet ground surfaces. Electrical readings on the sidewalk’s edge of the water measured between 20 and 30 volts of electricity.

Even 2nd graders know water-plus-electricity is a dangerous combination. This can be true even at relatively low voltage. As explained by The Ohio State University’s Department of Physics, the body’s actual resistance to an electric shock depends on the point of contact (where on the body it happens) and the condition of the skin (whether it’s wet or dry). That is why a 75-volt shock can be just as deadly as a 750-volt shock. Continue reading

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Cape Coral bicycle accident lawyersDrunk driving has long been a serious problem on Florida roads, but increasingly, so is drunk bicycling. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports alcohol intoxication was a factor in 37 percent of all deadly bicycle crashes in 2017. That includes both motorists and cyclists.

As our Cape Coral bicycle accident lawyers can explain, not only can bicyclists be arrested for DUI just like drivers, the fact of a bicyclist’s intoxication can hurt the chances of securing a favorable verdict or settlement in the event of a crash with a car.

That is not to say it is impossible for a cyclist to win a bicycle accident lawsuit if he or she consumed alcohol prior to a crash. Frankly, it can make for a tougher case resulting in a reduced damage award. It is a fact that can alter your attorney’s strategy during settlement negotiations and at trial, so it is important to be forthright with your lawyer early on when discussing your legal options. Continue reading

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Fort Myers medical malpractice wrongful deathA state appellate court in Lee County urged the Florida Supreme Court to revisit the question of whether a largely debunked “insurance crisis” still justifies limiting – or altogether prohibiting – damages to survivors in some medical malpractice wrongful death cases.

As our Fort Myers medical malpractice attorneys can explain, state law currently bars adult children from recovering any non-economic damages in wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuits. The effect of this is that a negligent doctor or hospital may be held liable to pay non-economic damages for a patient who lives, has minor children and/or a surviving spouse, but not if that same patient dies with only adult children as survivors. This raises equal protection of constitutional concerns.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal has asked the state high court to reconsider this, calling it “a matter of great importance,” after ruling it had no choice but to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the surviving adult children of a woman who allegedly died as a result of medical malpractice. Continue reading

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