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Florida emergency vehicle accidentsWe all know that when an emergency vehicle approaches with its lights flashing and sirens blaring, other motorists should make way – and fast. But what if you cannot move quickly enough? What if you did not see the lights or hear the sirens before it was too late? What if there were no lights or sirens activated at all?  As our South Florida injury lawyers can explain, state law allows for legal accountability in Florida emergency vehicle accidents in some circumstances. Proving it will likely require an extensive investigation, expert witness testimony, and an experienced legal team.

According to the National Safety Council, emergency vehicle crashes – those involving police vehicles, ambulances or fire trucks – caused 168 U.S. deaths in 2018. Of those, less than half (48 percent) occurred while the authorized vehicles’ lights and sirens were in use. Most of those who died were either an occupant of non-emergency vehicles or pedestrians (69%). Police vehicles were involved in the most fatal crashes (64%), followed by ambulances (28%), and then fire trucks (8%). These numbers provide some insight but do not give us a full picture as non-fatal crashes are not included.

F.S. 316.072 allows emergency vehicle operators some leeway when it comes to traffic rules. For example, they can proceed past a red light or through a stop sign – but only after slowing down as necessary for safe operation. They can exceed the maximum speed limit – so long as the driver does not endanger life or property. They can also disregard regulations governing direction, movement, or turning – but only so long as life or property is not endangered. Many departments also have written policies that outline the caution their employees should use when responding to an emergency.

What the law makes clear is that while these first responders are tasked with critically important duties for which seconds count, they do not have free reign to drive recklessly on our roads or needlessly endanger others.

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Fort Myers injury lawyerRoughly 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses occur annually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. One-third of these incidents caused employees to miss at least one day at work. Those in agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, retail trades, transportation, and warehousing are at the highest risk for work injuries. As a Fort Myers injury lawyer, one question I am sometimes asked is whether or not someone can file a lawsuit following a work-related injury. The answer will depend on circumstances under which the person was injured, whether dangerous machines/products were involved, and who was responsible for safety at the place where it happened.

Let us start by making it clear that in the state of Florida, F.S. 440.11 makes it clear that workers’ compensation is considered the exclusive remedy for work related injuries. However, this does not mean you cannot file an injury lawsuit. What it means is that you probably cannot file an injury lawsuit against your employer or co-worker. The trade-off, as stated in F.S. 440.15, is that employees get the benefit of quick, efficient receipt of medical and wage loss benefits without having to prove they were blameless, while the employer enjoys immunity from work injury lawsuits. There is, however, a very narrow exception to this rule that involves employers who cause worker injuries with deliberate intent, and your injury probably does not qualify. (If your employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance or you were an independent contractor/not an employee, that may be another matter entirely.)

Still, what you do not want to discount is the potential for a third-party liability claim. The fact is, even if you do collect workers’ compensation, it is not going to cover as much as a personal injury lawsuit would. Workers’ compensation claims do not allow for damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, or a loss of consortium claim from your spouse. Continue reading

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furniture tip-oversHome furnishings retailer Ikea has recalled 820,000 chests due to the risk of furniture tip-overs that could endanger young children. The IKEA Kullen dressers have been sold nationwide, and the danger is that if they tip over, they can crush kids. According to the Ikea recall notice, the three-drawer version of these chests is unstable if not anchored to a wall and they were not in compliance with voluntary performance standards. Consumers are advised to stop using them immediately and can receive either a repair kit or a refund.

Every year, thousands of children are treated in emergency rooms because of furniture tip-overs – dressers, chests, bookshelves, cabinets, desks, television stands, and televisions being particularly deadly. Consumer Reports indicates that since 2000, there have been more than 200 deaths, almost all of them younger than 6. Young children often are not able to think about or react to danger to themselves. They cannot consider the consequences of climbing up or down a piece of furniture, and they are not fast enough to react to one falling on them or strong enough to lift it off themselves if they are trapped.

Federal public health officials report 40 children every day are injured in furniture tip-overs.

This recall is the seventh involving chest and drawers for tip-over risks – since September.  Continue reading

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South Florida nursing home abuse attorneyThe prevalence of Florida nursing home abuse is one of the primary reasons people have such a difficult time deciding to relocate a loved one there in the first place. One of the biggest indicators of whether a facility is safe is how well it is staffed. The government-run Nursing Home Compare website makes research much easier and more transparent by publishing everything from staffing levels in comparison to the state average to details contained in health and code inspection reports. Recently, it has gone a step further, with a bright red warning icon indicating nursing homes that have failed to protect its residents from being neglected, exploited, or abused.

There are reportedly 697 nursing home facilities in the State of Florida. Nursing Home Compare marked 25 of the state’s 697 nursing homes with the red-and-white “halt” hand icon on the first day the system went into use late last year. Two of those were in Southwest Florida: ManorCare Health Services in Fort Myers and Lakeside Pavilion in Naples. Both of those facilities were already at a two-star rating, indicating the quality of their care is below average. They have also both been on the state’s “watch list” of nursing homes that red flag facilities and that have been cited for failing to protect residents from Florida nursing home abuse.

The red warning icon is assigned to those nursing homes that have “severe abuse citations,” which usually involve serious abuse or neglect, typically leading to injury or death. However, less serious violations of “potential harm” could warrant a warning icon if it is repeated two years in a row. Continue reading

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