Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Fort Myers injury lawyerDespite warm-and-fuzzy slogans such as “like a good neighbor” and “you’re in good hands,” insurance companies are not, in fact, looking out for your best interests. In fact, adjusters actively pursue every opportunity to minimize or deny claim payouts at every turn possible; most often they are looking out for their shareholders or the interests of the corporation. As Fort Myers injury lawyers, we’ve become closely familiar with all the ways in which insurance adjusters lull claimants into a false sense of security as they seek out the slightest inconsistency that may allow them to cite a coverage exemption or a reduction in payout.

On the other hand, Insurance companies do have a legal responsibility to act in good faith, per F.S. 624.155. Examples of bad faith insurance would be things like unnecessary delays on claims, misrepresentations of coverage, ambiguous policy exclusions, denying valid claims without just cause, or extremely lowballing payouts.

But even when insurers don’t cross the threshold of bad faith, they can still undermine your claim in a number of ways.

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Fort Myers golf cart injury lawyerGolf carts were designed with the goal of making it easier for golfers to efficiently traverse the long stretches on the green. But here in South Florida, they’ve become fairly ubiquitous in residential neighborhoods, with operators ranging from spritely senior citizens to carefree kids as young as 8 or 9. It’s also not uncommon to spot them in mobile home communities, airports, sporting events, or at amusement parks. As a Fort Myers golf cart injury lawyer can explain, the presence of golf carts on Florida roadways has led to an increase of dangerous collisions with cars and pedestrians, as well as tipping and rollovers.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database reports that between 2010 and 2019, there were more than 63,000 reported golf cart injuries in the U.S. The annual figure has risen steady during that time, from about 5,500 in 2010 to more than 6,500 in 2019. Kids under 12 suffered the highest percentage of injuries, with most of those occurring on school campuses or at sporting events. More than 40 percent of reported injuries involved head and neck injuries.

Florida Golf Cart Rules

State law on golf cart operation is spelled out in F.S. 316.212, and stipulates that golf carts can be operated on certain public county roads, municipal streets, and state highways – but only after consideration by local government leaders about whether golf carts can safely travel and cross those thoroughfares. There should also be signs present.

Under current law, operators don’t need a driver’s license (though they should be at least 14). Nor do golf carts need to be licensed or insured like a car. But if a golf cart is allowed to be driven on the road, the operator must obey all traffic laws – including prohibitions on things like careless driving, failure to yield, running a stop sign, improper turning, and driving under the influence. Such actions could be used as evidence of negligence against the operator if his or her actions cause injury to another.

In Southwest Florida, local county and city governments have a patchwork of rules for when and where golf carts can be operated. For example, Lee County ordinance as of 2009 allows golf carts to be operated from sunset to sunset on county roads on Captiva Island. If the cart is equipped with headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and windshields, it may be operated at night. Operators under 17 with a driver’s license can operate golf carts on those roads from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., but only if they’re accompanied by an over-21 licensed driver; exceptions are made if the youth is going to or from work.

Meanwhile in Cape Coral, golf carts used to be allowed on certain city roads, but city council reversed course last year and banned golf carts on all city streets.

Recently, council members for the City of Fort Myers have been mulling the possibility of allowing golf carts on certain roads. Proponents argue the carts are easy to drive, energy efficient, and convenient. Those opposed to the measure cite the potential dangers. Discussion on the proposal has been tabled for the time being, but if ultimately approved, the ordinance would allow golf carts to be operated on roads with speeds of 35 miles-per-hour or less. Operators would need a valid driver’s license, and all carts would be outfitted with the proper safety lights. Residents and the City of Fort Myers has continued to debate whether or not this is a good idea on the bike paths in and around McGregor Boulevard.

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South Florida Airbnb injury lawyerAirbnb is a household name – a wildly popular online platform for parties arranging vacation stays or experiences. According to insurance comparison site The Zebra, Airbnb has nearly 6 million active listings worldwide, operating in at least 100,000 cities with over 1 billion guests staying at these properties. But what happens if you suffer a Florida Airbnb injury? As our Naples personal injury lawyers can explain, there are some unique aspects of these cases, so it’s important to discuss your rights with a civil trial lawyer who practices in the region where the accident or injury occurred. If you’re hurt in a Florida Airbnb injury, you should be consulting with a Florida injury lawyer.

Recently, a Florida man filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Georgia against the California-based Airbnb and a pair of its hosts after the man was injured while riding a tree swing on the property. According to Law.com, the man’s premises liability lawsuit alleges the property owners bear responsibility for the property’s maintenance – and that includes the tire swing on site. The property owners installed the tire swing and maintained it, and it was advertised on Airbnb as an amenity that business invitees were enticed to use. Yet, that swing was in “unreasonably dangerous condition,” according to the plaintiff. According to the complaint, the tree limb to which the swing was attached was rotten, fragile, and otherwise incapable of supporting the weight of an adult person. Plaintiff, unaware of this, was using the swing when the branch from which it hung broke, causing him to fall “violently” to the ground, suffering injury to his leg, knee and back. He’s seeking more than $100,000 in compensation for his injuries.

There have been many other reported incidents of Airbnb injuries in recent years. Among these:

  • A 35-year-old Canadian woman died of carbon monoxide poisoning at a Taiwanese Airbnb. The company offered her family $2 million to settle (denying liability by calling it a “humanitarian gesture”), but her family opted to continue with their wrongful death lawsuit.
  • A 37-year-old California man suffered a spinal injury after falling into a pool at an Airbnb home in Cancun.
  • Two teens were killed and several injured at a party thrown at an Airbnb-rented property in Pennsylvania. The incident prompted Airbnb to make permanent its ban on parties at Airbnb rentals (initially a public safety measure at the start of the pandemic).

As property owners making a profit off guest stays at their home, Airbnb hosts are going to be held to a higher legal standard than your typical homeowners. They’ll be viewed more in line with business owners. In Florida, business invitees to a property (those invited for the financial benefit of the property owner) are owed the highest duty of care. That means property owners must take care to regularly inspect the property and address any known or foreseeable safety issues. If such issues aren’t addressed right away, they have a duty to adequately warn guests of a potential hazard. Naples injury lawyer

When someone suffers a Florida Airbnb injury, they may be entitled to collect damages under Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance. This plan automatically provides Airbnb hosts with $1 million in coverage in the event a guest is hurt while they’re staying at an Airbnb host’s site. Host liability covers hosts if they’re found legally responsible for bodily injury to guests or others. It generally doesn’t cover damages for things like: Continue reading

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South Florida truck accident lawyerLarge truck accidents, frequently resulting in substantial property damage, serious injuries, and fatalities, have a unique set of complicated insurance and liability issues. In fact, collecting financial damages following a Florida truck accident can be much more complicated than a basic car crash crash.

In a single recent year, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported more than 4,100 people died in large truck crashes nationally. Of those, nearly 70 percent were people in other vehicles. Another 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. The number of people killed in large truck crashes rose more than 30 percent just from 2009 to 2019.

After a commercial truck accident, it’s imperative to work with an injury lawyer who has extensive experience handling these types of claims. The reality is that pursuing any claim for personal injuries can become complicated rather quickly, but crashes involving commercial vehicles are often even more complex. Continue reading

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Florida premises liability lawsuitFlorida premises liability law places certain legal responsibilities on property owners to use reasonable care in protecting lawful guests from foreseeable dangers. Trespassers, however, are given very few protections, aside from the duty to avoid willful harm. The primary exception, as our Fort Myers child injury lawyers can explain, is with regard to young children.

It’s called the “attractive nuisance doctrine.” Although trespassers have no right to expect landowners to maintain a safe property on which they can trespass, it’s different for young children. Unlike adults, it’s understood small kids lack the ability to perceive danger or make reasonable judgments about how to protect themselves. Therefore, if there is something dangerous on site that might be interesting to curious youths, landowners have a responsibility to take measures to keep them out and protect them from their own misjudgment.

As noted in the 1990 Florida Supreme Court case of Martinello v. B&P USA Inc., attractive nuisance isn’t a separate cause of action or theory of liability. Instead, it’s a doctrine that imposes a duty on the landowner or occupant to trespassing children that otherwise wouldn’t exist under circumstances of non-liability to trespassers. The exception is spelled out in F.S. 768.075. Continue reading

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Fort Myers injury lawyerOne of the most difficult aspects of recovery from an extended illness or serious injury is the mounting hospital bills. If one’s poor medical condition was the result of another’s carelessness or negligence, these bills might be covered by the at-fault party’s insurer. When it comes to Florida personal injury litigation, medical bill reimbursement is often a key part of any case. It should be understood by plaintiffs, however, that whatever financial recovery you obtain in a settlement for prior medical expenses must usually be repaid to the health care provider, hospital, or insurer that initially covered them. Those entities will often argue that they have a “lien” on your personal injury settlement or verdict. These bills or liens can quickly become complicated matters, resulting in a great hassle – and a potentially much smaller sum of money in your pocket – if you don’t deal with them promptly and properly. As a Fort Myers injury lawyer, I’m familiar with the nebulous tactics used by both insurers and providers in these situations, as well as the ever-shifting policy and precedent. At the time of publishing the Florida Supreme Court has recently invalidated the Lee Memorial Hospital Lien law.

When you bring forth an injury lawsuit, your attorney has an ethical obligation to put forth reasonable effort to resolve any disputes between you (the client) and any third-party lienholders (most commonly hospitals, insurers, and health care providers). Where disputes can’t be resolved, we may recommend depositing the disputed funds into the court registry while the case continues. Sometimes, these situations drag on long enough to prompt litigation over unfair/deceptive billing practices, unfair debt collection practices, overcharging, etc. Such action, however, should be a last resort. Ideally, you’re working with a competent civil injury lawyer who will help you resolve these outstanding claims as soon as possible so you can move on with your life. It’s one of the reasons we strongly urge potential clients to hire injury lawyers with proven experience in this particular field of law, rather than jack-of-all-trade law offices.

Disputing Unreasonable Hospital Bills

The issue of unreasonable medical billing has become an increasingly relevant issue in Florida and across the country. It’s gotten so bad that some individuals and families actively seek care in foreign countries. However, that isn’t a realistic option for most folks.

Hospital charges often have little connection to the actual internal costs of services – or even the amounts they typically negotiate with insurers. In most cases, even when patients are asked to pay the bills in full as charged, it goes unpaid. However, plaintiffs injured in third-party liability situations are among those that may get charged the full amount of the care they receive.

What works in the favor of my Fort Myers injury lawyer clients is the fact that patients are allowed to challenge hospital charges that are unreasonable. Continue reading

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dangerous exercise equipment Naples injury lawyerPhysical fitness hype – as well as exercise equipment purchases – soared the past few years, as Americans sought ways to get in shape while also spending more time at home. While cardio and lifting are undoubtedly good for your health, it’s worth pointing out that dangerous exercise equipment has been known to lead to serious injury, sometimes leading to regulatory interventions and lawsuits.

As our Naples injury lawyers can explain, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has regulated workout equipment since the 1990s, has in the last two decades issued more than 80 recalls of exercise equipment and collected millions in civil penalties. Some of these cases have been fairly recent. Among them:

  • A $7.95 million civil penalty against Cybex International, Inc. for failure to immediately report defects of two of its machines: The Arm Curl and Smith Press machines. The CPSC says each created an unreasonable risk of serious injuries. According to the agency, a weld on the Arm Curl machine can fail, causing the handle to unexpectedly separate and strike the user in the face. The company received 85 consumer reports of broken handles and serious injury – including one person who permanently lost their vision. Yet the manufacturer didn’t inform federal safety regulators, as required by law. Same with the more than two dozen reports the company received involving a weight bar on its press machines. Customers had been paralyzed and suffered spinal fractures when impacted by the bar, but the company didn’t issue a recall or even a notice to the CPSC. Eventually, the arm curl machine was recalled in 2015. The press machines were recalled three years later. Now, in addition to the CPSC’s civil penalties, the company – under new ownership – is enrolled in an enhanced safety compliance monitoring program.
  • A $6.5 million civil penalty against Core Health & Fitness LLC for failure to immediately report a defect creating an unreasonable risk of serious injury involving its Dual Adjustable Pulley Machines and Cable Cross Over Machines. According to federal product safety regulators, the fitness equipment manufacturer knew that the height-adjusting carriages on its machines had the ability to loosen and fall, potentially causing serious injury risk. The company had fielded 55 user injury reports pertaining to this issue – including nearly a dozen that resulted in lacerations to the head, some requiring staples or stitches. Yet the company didn’t turn this information over to safety officials, as required by law.
  • The popular Peloton Tread+ was recalled by the company last spring after the CPSC issued a warning following numerous instances where small children (and one pet) were injured after being trapped, pinned, and pulled under the rear roller of the machine. At the time of that warning, there were at least 39 incidents of it happening – and one child’s death. Consumers using the product in a home with children were urged to immediately stop using the device. Further, all objects – including exercise balls and other equipment – were urged to be kept away from the treadmills.

These are just a few of the recently-reported exercise accident incidents, injuries caused by dangerous or malfunctioning workout equipment are nothing new.

Who is Liable for Dangerous Exercise Equipment Injuries?

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South Florida construction accident lawyerAs far as workplaces go, construction sites are among the most precarious. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that of the more than 300 workers who died on-the-job in Florida in a single recent year, the private construction industry had the highest number, accounting for 91 percent of those. The risk of a Florida construction accident is heightened when work is done at significant heights, next to a busy roadway, down in trenches, and with toxic materials, hazardous chemicals, and live electricity. The number of workers who survive – albeit with serious injuries – is even higher.

Among recent incidents of construction accident injury in Florida:

As our Fort Myers construction injury lawyers can explain, it is possible for workers injured in Florida construction accidents to sue. However, most cases are typically third-party liability lawsuits as opposed to direct lawsuits against an employer. That’s because Florida workers’ compensation laws – F.S. 440.11, in particular – holds that no-fault workers’ compensation coverage is the exclusive remedy for injury claims an employee may have against an employer. There are, however, some exceptions and (more commonly) situations where third parties are liable.

Legal Options After Florida Construction Accident Injury

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Fort Myers car accident lawyerAnother rainy season is just around the corner here for us in Southwest Florida, where an average of 56 inches of rain falls annually. Just as safely navigating snow and ice are critical skills for drivers up north, careful driving in severe thunderstorms is imperative for motorists in South Florida. As a longtime Fort Myers car accident lawyer, over the years I’ve seen too many preventable crashes caused by drivers who failed to use adequate caution during heavy rain.

Although turbulent weather can be cited as a factor in a collision, it doesn’t negate the fault of drivers who operate their vehicles with less care than they should during a downpour.

If you drive in Florida, you owe certain reasonable duties of care to your passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, construction workers, bicyclists and anyone else sharing the road. Drivers are expected to take any and all precautions to drive safely at all times. Reasonable care is expected with regard to every vehicle or person in the foreseeable zone of danger. That means mostly driving at a speed that is reasonable for the amount of traffic on the road, but it also means adjusting one’s speed and driving behavior in accordance with weather conditions.

For example, a driver caught in a sudden rainstorm may be moving at the speed limit but still deemed to be negligently operating their vehicle because of the significantly reduced visibility and increased potential to skid and slide. Continue reading

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Florida salon injuries lawyerPeople patronize Florida salons and spas with the goal of looking and feeling their best. Operators have a responsibility to follow professional guidelines and best practices and avoid using products or processes that will put their clients at risk of physical harm. Unfortunately, as our Fort Myers injury lawyers can explain, when salon service providers fall short, the outcome can be far worse than a bad haircut. Practitioners are working with dangerous, caustic chemicals, lasers, sharp instruments, and extreme heat/UV lighting. Salon injuries can be the basis for litigation and sizable damage awards.

Examples of salon injuries resulting from salon and spa negligence in Florida can include the following:

  • Burns (chemical, laser, heat, electrical, or wax).
  • Cuts from sheers, nail clipping/filing tools, or scissors.
  • Scalp injuries leading to permanent loss of hair or scarring.
  • Staph and bacterial infections.
  • Eye injuries (as a result of eyebrow and eyelash treatments).
  • Back and neck injuries.
  • Slip-and-fall injuries.

Recently, a South Florida salon injury resulted in a $1.75 million settlement after a cut during a pedicure resulted in a foot injury that ultimately forced doctors to amputate her leg. Continue reading

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