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Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident attorneys know electric scooters and pedestrians don’t make for the safest mix on our sidewalks. Fort Lauderdale commissioners acknowledged as much in a recent two-hour meeting. However, as the mayor noted, officials don’t have any interest at this point in banning the e-scooters. One commissioner even tested a model before the meeting, concluding it wouldn’t be in the city’s best interest to eliminate e-scooters as a transportation option, particularly one that gives the city a “cool vibe.” Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident attorney

Officials did say they eventually want to enact a measure that would require the e-scooters to reduce their speed (currently at 15 mph, which is too fast to mingle with pedestrians) and also be relegated to bike lanes. The latter is within the purview of the state legislature, which is in the early phases of passing such a measure. For now, scooter riders must stick to the sidewalks.

Our city is the first in Florida to allow e-scooters, even as the metro area was named in a recent Dangerous by Design 2019 report as being among the worst in the country for deadly pedestrian accidents. Although city officials reason that e-scooters could help us carve out a tourism market advantage over other surrounding communities, being the first means we’re facing a host of regulatory and safety issues for the first time. Continue reading

Not every estate of every decedent in Florida is going to wind up in probate court. As Fort Lauderdale probate attorneys can explain, it’s only when an estate gets somehow “stuck” in the process that administration through probate becomes necessary. One of the most common reasons an estate ends up in probate? The decedent never paid bothered to designate a beneficiary on basic banking and retirement accounts. If a person dies and no beneficiary is named or the form wasn’t updated to reflect new beneficiaries, that estate will likely need to go through probate if the contents are going to be appropriately released to heirs. Fort Lauderdale probate lawyers

Most people assume that any kind of estate planning solely involves the creation of wills and trusts and that probate litigation involves parties warring over who-gets-what. However, a fair amount of cases that wind up in probate involve some type of bank account or retirement account that didn’t list any designated beneficiary. Determining who has access to those accounts can be dicey.

A designated beneficiary on one of these forms is critical because not a will or even a court order will trump it. The accounts will be distributed according to the decedent’s designated beneficiary form.  Continue reading

A new report indicates walking may be hazardous for your health – in Florida, anyway. pedestrian accident attorney

Florida has long ranked among the most perilous places for people to move in non-motorized vehicles, and pedestrian accidents in Fort Lauderdale have been a major problem for residents and tourists alike. Now, the newest Dangerous by Design report by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition found 8 of the 10 deadliest metro areas for pedestrians were right here in the Sunshine State. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area ranked No. 14. The other Florida locations where hazards were even higher were:

  • No. 1. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford
  • No. 2. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach
  • No. 3. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
  • No. 4. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton
  • No. 5. Lakeland-Winter Haven
  • No. 6. Jacksonville
  • No. 8. Cape Coral-Fort Myers
  • No. 8. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater

Bakersfield, CA and Jackson, MS rounded out the top 10.

Between 2008 and 2017, U.S. pedestrian deaths spiked by nearly 36 percent. Nearly 50,000 people lost their lives in pedestrian accidents during that decade, which works out to more than 13-a-day, noted The Miami Herald. Put a different way: That’s the equivalent of a large jet going down once a month. If we had 5,000 people dying every single year in plane crashes, air travel would come to an immediate halt and we’d be looking into swift and decisive policy changes. Yet the problem is getting worse.  Continue reading

“Electronic wills are coming, whether lawyers like it or not,” blared a recent Forbes Magazine headline. The tone implies this is a definite “don’t like” for Florida estate lawyers. There is truth to this, but not for the reasons one might presume. Fort Lauderdale estate attorney

Electronic wills, or e-wills, are boilerplate legal documents purchased online, electronically signed and for a fraction of the cost of visiting an estate planning attorney. (These documents also exist for things like Florida power of attorney, health care power of attorney and even prenuptial agreements, but each is a separate discussion).

The presumption is estate attorneys may have their feathers ruffled that potential business is going to a bot. However, the real reason so many Florida estate attorneys are concerned about the prospect of widespread e-wills is their potential for serious error, abuse and fraud.

The worry is that this could lead to a substantial uptick in otherwise preventable Florida will contests (where the validity of a will is challenged on grounds like undue influence, fraud, lack of capacity or lack of formalities). Objectively by comparison, estate planning services are generally less expensive-time consuming.  Continue reading

A Florida teacher sexually assaulted by an 18-year-old student is trying to collect on a $3 million settlement from her former employer, the Miami-Dade School District, accused of endangering her and breaking the law, opening the door to a violent attack and serious injuries. Although sovereign immunity laws cap liability for government agencies (like school district) at $200,000 per individual, more can be awarded through the passage of a state lawmaker claims bill, for which the district lobbied and a legislator from Broward has already sponsored. Miami teacher injury lawyer

As Miami school injury lawyers, we are struck by a few different unique elements in this case. Firstly, most school assault injury lawsuits in Florida involve students who are either injured by other students or teachers. Schools unquestionably owe a duty of care to students over whom they have control and can be held liable in some circumstances for criminal assaults that occur on school property or are the perpetuated by school employees or contractors. It’s less common that claims are filed by teachers suffering injury by student. Not that it’s unheard of. An article published last year in Education Week revealed an estimated 6 percent of the nation’s nearly 4 million teachers were attacked by a student during the 2015-2016 school year. Another 10 percent were threatened with violence by a student. The article also highlighted a 2017 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence indicating female teachers were more likely to be attacked than male teachers, with new teachers especially vulnerable to threats and violence.

This case hit all those marks. However, teacher injuries sustained in the course and scope of employment – whether a slip-and-fall or an attack by a student – are typically covered by no-fault workers’ compensation. For most work accidents and work injuries, this will be the exclusive remedy (only legal recourse) a teacher or school employee has against an employer district. Work injury exclusive remedy in Florida is spelled out in F.S. 440.11. The only exception is when the actions of an employer, as proven by clear and convincing evidence, reveal the employer deliberately intended to hurt the employee OR engaged in conduct employer knew (based on prior similar accidents or explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger) was virtually certain to result in an employee injury or death AND that risk of danger wasn’t apparent to employee AND employer deliberately misrepresented or concealed the danger to prevent the employee from making an informed judgment about whether to perform the work.

Since changes were made to this state law in 2003, zero Florida work injury cases have met this exception to exclusive remedy threshold. Arguably, there is a good chance this teacher injury case might have met the proof burden, which is likely why the district chose to settle the case pre-trial for an amount in significant excess of statutory damage caps.  Continue reading

Lifeguards posted at beaches throughout Fort Lauderdale are supposed to save lives and reduce the risk of serious injury. However, for one sunbathing tourist, the actions of an on-duty lifeguard nearly ended in tragedy. Local media reported the North Carolina woman was soaking up the sun on Fort Lauderdale Beach in 2012 when a patrol vehicle ran over her. After deliberating for about three hours, jurors awarded her $250,000.

However, our Fort Lauderdale tourist injury lawyers know it’s likely that the damage caps applicable to Florida state and local government agencies in injury lawsuits, as imposed by F.S. 768.28, will reduce that award to $200,000 (the maximum any one person can receive in such a case; It’s possible more could be secured with a successful claims bill passed by state lawmakers, though that could take years). The problem with such caps, of course, is they are not only arbitrary but sometimes serve as a lawsuit deterrent, preventing all the most severe catastrophic injury claims. Further, they can make government agencies less likely to address dangerous conditions that threaten the taxpayers footing the bill.Fort Lauderdale tourist injury lawyer

In this case, plaintiff testified she’d been lying in the sand with her shorts draped over her face when a lifeguard operating a patrol vehicle drove over her. But it didn’t end there. The now-49-year-old says she was trapped under the vehicle. City officials dispute the claim the truck tires came in contact with plaintiff, instead arguing the bulk of her injuries, defense asserted, was the undercarriage of the truck. Still, the city accepted liability in the case.

The issue jurors were left to decide was whether plaintiff was entitled to recover monetary damages for her injuries and if so, how much. A doctor testifying for the defense argued the woman still had full range of motion in each of her limbs and neck and had suffered no permanent scarring form the incident. While the woman’s attorneys sought $1 million in damages, the city’s lawyers initially offered her just $40,000. That offer was increased the week before trial to $100,000. Jurors awarded her 150 percent more than the city’s most recent settlement offer. It appears they gave greater credence to the expert witness testimony of plaintiff’s physician, who testified about the ongoing health effects of the incident, as well as plaintiff’s own testimony, in which she showed the jury visible scars on her body she insisted were the result of the city-owned truck running over her. According to her account (supported by her doctor) the woman suffers permanent neurological damage and chronic pain, for which she routinely receives painful cortisone injections.  Continue reading

Working hard your whole life, sacrificing, saving, investing wisely and also managing by acumen, sheer dumb luck or some combination to avoid pecuniary pitfalls that might otherwise have left you practically penniless, of course you want as much of your estate as possible to reach the people and causes that matter most to you. That means in part avoiding probate if you can and minimizing the tax hit your heirs will take on whatever gifts they inherit. Ensuring the most expedient possible estate transition usually involves (at minimum) some combination of a will and a revocable and/ or irrevocable trust.Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer

Occasionally our Fort Lauderdale probate attorneys are queried about a the prudence of early inheritance, also referred to as pre-death transfers and gifts prior to death. The short answer is: It really depends, but it can be very risky.

There are a number of factors to consider when weighing early inheritance as an option. Let’s say we’re talking about transfer of your Florida home. The reason we’ve heard most commonly cited for sharing or transferring the deed of a Florida residence to children or grandchildren before death is that heirs are then spared cumbersome estate taxes and potentially draining probate litigation. Perhaps, the homeowner thinks, they can safely bypass Florida estate planning altogether with this option. However, early inheritances really should be avoided least until you’ve discussed it at-length privately with your own estate planning attorney. Get a second opinion if you still aren’t convinced. Because while savings for an heir could prove worth it, the elderly benefactor may be taking a major risk. Sometimes, even the most loyal, honest heirs can end up making a mess of things, even unintentionally.  Continue reading

Following several tourist injuries and at least one death, a Bahamian-headquartered cruise line docking in the Port of Miami is being sued by multiple plaintiffs who say they encountered an unreasonable risk of danger at an on-shore zip line excursion in Honduras. As with many excursions advertised by large cruise lines, this one was offered by a third-party independent contractor. However, plaintiffs allege firstly they were misled in marketing materials to believe the cruise line itself was the operator. Furthermore, these tourists say the cruise company should have known the zip line excursion wasn’t safe because numerous cruise ship guests suffered tourist injuries on it. Miami tourist injury attorneys know that if they can prove both of these elements, they may have a decent shot at recovering damages for their injuries.Miami tourist injury lawyer

In July, a newlywed groom on that zip line crashed into his brand new bride, suffering serious injuries that proved fatal. The Miami New Times reports that prior to that incident, there were at least 10 people who sustained severe injuries while on the excursion facilitated by Royal Caribbean, which received complaints after each incident.

Zip lining is arguably one of those recreational activities, such as rock climbing or mountain biking or snow skiing, that by their very nature present some sort of risk of an accident or injury. Defendants will often argue the “assumption of risk” doctrine, meaning they assumed the inherent risk when they chose to do that activity anyway. Such assertions can be especially bolstered if the claimant signed a waiver of liability. Such waivers don’t completely shield defendants from liability (particularly for gross negligence), but they can be useful for the defense. However, in the case of this Honduran-based excursion, the numerous federal lawsuits indicate a pattern of problems that went beyond what one might assume while zip lining. Rather, the allegations are that this particular zip lining excursion was especially dangerous – even for zip lining – and that Royal Caribbean knew about it yet failed to protect future guests from being hurt either by terminating their contract with the zip lining company or warning guests of the potential dangers or prior accidents.  Continue reading

Florida theme parks – Disney, Universal, Legoland and more – owe a duty of care to adequately warn visitors of possible danger, whether it’s a slippery walking surface or a ride with jerks and jolts that could be dangerous to someone with a heart condition or who is pregnant. In fact, as businesses that invite members of the public on site for the benefit of the property owner, these companies owe visitors the highest duty of care to patrons. But what does it mean to provide “adequate warning”? Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers know there is a good argument to be made that an adequate warning at a theme park that attracts visitors from around the globe is one that is provided in numerous languages.amusement park injury lawyer

This is the allegation in a recent wrongful death lawsuit filed against Universal Studios Orlando by the family of a Guatemalan man who suffered a fatal heart attack in 2016 shortly after exiting a suspense-filled roller coaster-type ride featuring animatronics and 3D screens, the rider seated in a “truck” as they speed through the scenes of the recent King Kong films. Decedent, a man in his 50s, reportedly had prior heart problems – a risk factor outlined in prominent warning signs just before riders board. However, decedent was unable to read those warnings because they were written entirely in English, while he understood only Spanish.  Continue reading

For decades, native Floridians commented on how it seemed “everyone” was moving to South Florida. Recent data lends some truth to that. As Palm Beach probate attorneys, we encourage those who are relocating to Florida from across state lines to consider meeting with a local probate lawyer to review important estate planning documents, such as wills, revocable living wills and durable powers of attorney.Palm Beach probate attorney

As the new year kicks off, it’s a great time for all Floridians – but especially those who moved to Florida in 2018 or within the last couple years – to review their important documents, ensure personal representatives and powers of attorney are up-to-date and that wills and trusts reflect your true intentions and align with Florida law.

An analysis of U.S. Census data by the National Association of Realtors found the No. 1 most common migration pattern in the U.S. was New Yorkers moving to Florida – some 33,400 between 2011 and 2016. Another 16,400 moved from New Jersey, 12,500 from Pennsylvania, nearly 9,000 from Michigan and about 7,800 each from Ohio and Illinois. Many are lured not just by Florida’s beautiful beaches, but also the low personal income tax rate. It’s the most popular destination for people from northern East Coast and Midwest states.  Continue reading

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