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Fort Myers bicycle accidentThe coronavirus pandemic has spurred a nationwide biking boom. Bike sales nationwide have doubled in recent months compared to last year. Some cyclists like cheap transportation while others find it safer to cycle right now than take a public bus or subway. Many simply welcome a healthy outdoor respite from social isolation. Numerous Florida cities have seized on the reduced traffic counts as an opportunity to get a jump start on building new bicycle lanes or connecting existing ones to create a more expansive, safer biking network. However, South Florida is still one of the most dangerous regions in the deadliest state for bicyclists and the risk of a Fort Myers bicycle accident remains high.

The Miami Herald reports that despite the high demand for bike infrastructure, few South Florida cities are taking the initiative to make biking safer. Transportation safety advocates note that in many communities throughout the state, there is no network of safe bicycle pathways. Instead, we have these fragmented stretches of random bicycle lanes that do not connect to one another, are often not separated from traffic, and are far too frequently ignored by careless motorists.

Our South Florida bicycle accident attorneys know that many communities from Tampa to Miami have made big plans when it comes to bike safety, but many have stalled if they were ever begun in the first place. There has been discussion of expanding and connecting the Gulf Coast Trail, which would serve as a Southwest coast connector from Clearwater to Naples, with segments adjacent to motor vehicle traffic. WINK News reports the last time the City of Fort Myers created a plan to make biking and walking easier was in 2007, though they did recently release a survey asking residents to chime in with suggestions for improvement. Meanwhile, there has been little movement on Miami Beach’s nearly-200-page bicycle master plan for Miami Beach. So far, the city’s only built one-tenth of a mile of the 17 miles of protected bicycle lanes promised back in 2009.

Bicycling is great for individuals and communities in a number of ways, but there is cause for concern when there is an uptick in ridership combined with a lack of safety infrastructure – especially because Florida does not have a great track record when it comes to preventing bicycle accidents. Continue reading

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Fort Myers injury lawsuitA Fort Myers injury lawsuit resulted in a jury verdict of more than $5 million in damages, which included $2.25 million for past and future pain and suffering a few years back.

The Daily Business Review reported that in 2017, a driver in Fort Myers was reportedly high on heroin when he crashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff and her two children, who were in the backseat, were seriously injured. Initially, the other driver was arrested for driving under the influence, but he later pleaded guilty to lesser charges. His auto insurance company agreed to cover the cost of the children’s injuries but argued their mother’s injuries were mostly the result of a pre-existing condition. She filed a Fort Myers injury lawsuit. The defense conceded liability, but the plaintiff still had to prove the full extent of her damages – which included pain and suffering.

Here our South Florida injury attorneys explain what pain and suffering are in the context of tort law and what legal recourse you have to be compensated for it.

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Naples injury lawsuitSuccess in a Naples personal injury lawsuit is going to depend on dozens of factors that are specific to your case. These can include the degree of the other person’s carelessness, what type of insurance you have, what pre-existing conditions you have, and whether there were complaints or verdicts against the defendant for similar conduct.

Some of these elements are more nuanced than they initially appear. That is why it is so important to consult with an injury attorney who has extensive experience handling tort claims before writing off your chances of winning.

Understand that personal injury attorneys in Florida accept these cases on a strict contingency fee basis, meaning they are not paid unless you prevail. That means injury attorneys have ample incentive to be frank about your chances of winning, and it helps to know some of the aspects they are considering. 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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nursing home injury lawsuitNursing homes are on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, with patients in long-term care facilities reportedly comprising one-third of the virus’s fatalities in most states. Though this situation is unprecedented, the pandemic has highlighted problems the industry grappled with long before the novel coronavirus hit. Issues like staff shortages and staff who are poorly-trained and inadequately-supervised have always been problematic. They have just become more exacerbated by the health crisis. This is why families, patient advocates, and personal injury lawyers are alarmed about a wave of requests from the nursing home industry to state governments to free them of “any liability, civil or criminal,” under certain conditions for nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities.

As USA Today recently reported, The Florida Health Care Association recently sent one such request to Governor Ron DeSantis. The executive director for the Florida nonprofit Families for Better Care characterized the request as “asking for forgiveness in advance.” The FHCA counters that in the midst of a public health crisis, health care workers should be granted the ability to direct their attention and skills to help people – without having to worry about, “being sued for making tough decisions while trying to comply with government directives.”

Our team at The Garvin Law Firm has a great deal of respect for the nursing home employees doing their best to care for the elderly and disabled in a difficult and dangerous situation. The problem our Fort Myers nursing home injury lawyers see with a blanket request for nursing home immunity is that it exaggerates the industry’s vulnerability to frivolous injury lawsuits. At worst, it gives poorly-run facilities an excuse to skimp on care, leaving patients victimized by abuse or neglect with no legal recourse. Continue reading

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Florida slip-and-fall lawsuitGuests who are injured on someone else’s property may have the option of filing a claim to be compensated for injuries by the property owner. These are a type of premises liability claims, and one example is if a patron at a grocery store is injured in a slip-and-fall accident on a “transitory foreign substance”. To prevail in a Florida slip-and-fall lawsuit, F.S. 768.0755 requires the plaintiff’s needs to show the defendant property owner/manager had either actual or constructive knowledge of the slipping hazard. A “transitory foreign substance” was defined by the Supreme Court of Florida as “any liquid or solid substance, item or object located where it does not belong.” Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc., 802 So.2d 315, 317 (Fla. 2001)

Actual knowledge means the property owner was fully aware of that particular danger at that specific place and time. Proving this can be tough. Constructive knowledge is how most of these cases are established.

Constructive knowledge can be established by laying out circumstantial evidence that shows:

  • The hazardous condition existed on site for so long that the business establishment should have known of it were they exercising ordinary care;
  • The dangerous condition occurred with such regularity that it was foreseeable.

This element is critical. Recently, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of a Florida slip-and-fall lawsuit of Oliver v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. on the basis that the plaintiff had failed to establish defendant’s constructive knowledge of a slip hazard. Continue reading

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pedestrian accident lawsuitsEven as the number of fatal traffic accidents has fallen over the last 10 years, pedestrian accident deaths have spiked more than 35 percent. Florida claims 8 of the Top 10 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians, according to Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design report. Cape Coral-Fort Myers ranked No. 8.

Of nearly 50,000 pedestrians killed between 2008 and 2017, more than 5,400 died on Florida roads. Tens of thousands more suffered serious injuries.

Filing Florida pedestrian accident lawsuits is slightly different than filing car accident lawsuits. Part of this is because no matter who was at-fault in a pedestrian accident, it is almost always the pedestrian who suffers the injury, and those injuries are often severe. That means there is much at stake in these cases.

A Fort Myers injury attorney can help answer your questions and fight for just compensation on your behalf. Continue reading

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Florida premises liabilityProperty owners in Florida are expected to maintain their site in a condition that is safe for patrons, guests, and residents. However, in premises liability cases where an injured person knew or should have known the potential for danger, property owners often raise something called the “assumption of risk defense.”

Assumption of risk is a legal doctrine that holds that a person cannot recover compensation for injuries they suffered by voluntarily exposing themselves to a known hazard. In other words, the property owner argues that the person who was injured knew about the risk but took the chance of being injured anyway.

In some states, if a property owner can prove the assumption of risk, the plaintiff will not be allowed to recover any damages for their injuries. In Florida though, it works a little differently because of something called, comparative fault;  as outlined in F.S. 768.81. Comparative fault allows individuals to pursue claims for damages – even if they are partially to blame. However, the amount they can collect will be reduced by their percentage of fault. So if a plaintiff wins $100,000 in damages, but the court finds the plaintiff was 30 percent at-fault, the most plaintiff will be awarded is $70,000.

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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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Florida car accident lawyerA jury recently awarded a plaintiff $202 million in damages for a Florida car crash that left her seriously injured and her son with permanent, catastrophic injuries. Law.com reports the at-fault driver slammed into the passenger side of a vehicle, where the plaintiff, then 8-months-pregnant, was sitting, causing her to suffer placental abruption. She suffered serious injuries. Her baby, born prematurely, barely survived. The plaintiff reports the child, now 4, is blind and non-verbal with permanent brain damage and suffering some 20 seizures daily.

The defendant was convicted of drunk driving. He was negligent in the crash. Yet as the article notes, “The defendant … was uninsured and unrepresented, so the damages award of $202 million is likely unrecoverable.”

Uninsured drivers are indeed a serious problem in Florida. We have the highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the U.S. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 27 percent of motorists in Florida do not have auto insurance – even though it is required by law. Continue reading

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