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Florida wrongful death lawsuits can help families obtain a measure of accountability from those whose wrongdoing took their loved ones from them. But beyond that, they can make the future safer by compelling changes that may prevent someone else from being harmed in the same way. Through all this, it is our hope as Broward wrongful death attorneys, that surviving family members find some measure of peace and closure. Florida wrongful death lawsuits Broward wrongful death attorney

An example of this was seen recently in the $8.2 million Florida wrongful death lawsuit against a bridge operation company facing allegations of negligence in the death of a 79-year-old West Palm Beach bicyclist who died after plummeting from a bridge that was abruptly raised while she was in the midst of crossing it. She’d been just 10 feet away from the edge of the bridge when she fell to her death in the gap. The bridge tender at the time of the incident has been arrested and faces a single count of manslaughter by culpable negligence. (She told investigators she had gone outside to visually check that the bridge was clear before raising it, but video evidence and other testimony have thus far contradicted this, according to local news sources.)

Meanwhile, the decedent’s family filed a Florida wrongful death lawsuit against the bridge tender’s employer, a company called Florida Drawbridges, Inc. Plaintiffs in this case not only sought monetary damages for their lawsuit, but also industry-accepted safety changes to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again to another Florida family. In their filing, the family specifically stated they wanted an outcome that resulted in “change to preclude this preventable tragedy from occurring in the future.”

Ultimately, that’s what they got in addition to the $8.2 million settlement. Among the procedural changes that the defendant drawbridge company agreed to undergo:

  • Subjecting all bridge tender applicants to successfully pass criminal background checks.
  • To schedule recertification training with all current bridge tenders.
  • To facilitate periodic audits of operations with out-of-area supervisors.
  • To require all bridge tenders to watch a 23-minute video on the decedent’s life, driving home the profound price one family paid because one of its bridgetenders allegedly failed to use due caution.

The family reportedly donated a significant portion of the settlement proceeds – including the creation of an annual $30,000 scholarship that will carry on for the next three decades. As the family’s wrongful death attorney was quoted as saying, the family wanted fundamental changes to be central to this settlement agreement. “At the end of the day, we got those changes. Hopefully at the end of the day, this never happens to another family.”

Damages in Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Proving wrongful death in Florida (as codified in F.S. 786.16 – 786.26) requires evidence that: Continue reading

Large trucks pose an outsized safety risk on Florida roads, mainly because of the size disparity compared to other vehicles and the fact they frequently travel at such high speeds. But there’s another – often overlooked safety issue that truck crashes present: The risk of underride.truck underride accident

As our Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers can explain, underride collision truck accidents occur when a passenger vehicle collides with a semi truck and is forced underneath the trailer. Whereas an average passenger vehicle is about 40 inches high, the lowest point of the average trailer is about 45 inches off the ground, meaning the smaller vehicle can get trapped underneath. During these crashes, the trailer or truck might “intrude” into the passenger compartment, which almost always leads to either severe injuries or death.

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized a rule updating two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards intended to bolster protections for drivers and passengers in rear underride crashes where the front end of the smaller vehicle crashes into the back of a larger vehicle (such as a semi truck) and slides under that vehicle.

Noting that truck underride crashes are often fatal, the new rule requires rear impact guards on trailers and semis with sufficient strength and energy absorption to protect occupants of passenger vehicles in multiple crash scenarios, keeping drivers safe and preventing deadly crashes. The final rule amends FMVSS No. 223 and FMVS No. 224 pertaining to rear impact guards and rear impact protection.

In addition to setting these new standards, the rule also requires more research on these crashes and establishes an advisory committee on underride protections. Rear impact guard designs are going to be more closely studied, with state tracking of underride crashes more systematic. Continue reading

Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car accident claims. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue monetary damages from negligent drivers. It also doesn’t mean you can’t be held responsible (at least partly) for your own injuries. The seat belt defense is a good example of the latter, as our Broward car accident lawyers can explain.Broward car accident lawyer

Let’s start with the fact that with very few exceptions, seat belts are required by Florida law for all drivers and passengers in motor vehicles.

Florida’s no-fault car insurance law holds that all vehicle owners must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that provides up to $10,000 in compensation for any insureds injured in a crash with that vehicle – regardless of who was at-fault in causing the crash. An injured person can step outside the state’s no-fault PIP system and pursue a claim for additional monetary damages against any at-fault parties IF their injuries meet the serious injury threshold. As set forth in F.S. 627.737, they must prove their injuries – caused by the crash for which the defendant is responsible – resulted in significant/permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, significant/permanent scarring/disfigurement or death.

It’s worth noting that Florida is recognized as a pure comparative fault state when it comes to negligence claims. Per F.S. 768.81, that means each person/entity can only be held legally responsible to pay for the damages they caused. So for example, if one suffers $100,000 in damages and Defendant A is responsible for 40 percent and Defendant B is responsible for 60 percent, Defendant A will be ordered to pay $40,000 and Defendant B will be ordered to pay $60,000.

But what if one of the people responsible for a plaintiff’s injuries is the plaintiff themself? That is what we call contributory negligence. By way of their own negligence, they contributed to their own injuries. So if you suffered $100,000 in damages – but are 20 percent responsible for your own injuries – the most you can expect to be awarded is $80,000.

That brings us to the seat belt defense. Continue reading

If you’re injured in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, you may be aware that your first avenue to collect damages is personal injury protection (or “PIP”) coverage. This is state-mandated auto insurance that you pay for that will cover a portion of your medical bills and lost wages if you are injured in a Florida car accident – regardless of who is at-fault. However, as our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can explain, PIP is not likely to cover all of your damages – particularly if it was a serious wreck. That is why if someone else caused the crash (or exacerbated your injuries from it), you will want to explore stepping outside of that no-fault system and filing a claim against the at-fault driver. Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

What PIP Does NOT Cover

Although PIP is the go-to for no-fault accident coverage in Florida, it does not cover every scenario, every type of loss – or even every person. The following is a list of what PIP won’t cover:

  • Property damage. If your car is damaged in the crash, you’ll need to file a separate claim with your own insurance company (or the insurer of the at-fault driver) in order to be compensated for necessary repairs. Florida law requires drivers carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage.
  • Motorcycle operators. PIP coverage is not mandated – or even available – to owners/operators of motorcycles or other self-propelled vehicles. Motorcyclists must rely on other types of auto insurance coverage.
  • More than $10,000 in medical expenses. No matter how serious your injuries are, PIP is only going to cover up to $10,000 in medical expenses. In fact, PIP is only designed to cover up to 80 percent of “reasonable medical expenses.” Furthermore, if your injuries are not “emergent,” PIP may cover no more than $2,500 in medical expenses. Unless you take legal action against the at-fault driver, you and/or your health insurer will be liable for the rest. If your injuries are “serious and permanent,” as outlined in F.S. 627.727, you may step out of the no-fault system and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for damages for the full amount of your losses. If they do not have insurance or lack enough insurance, you may file a claim with your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) carrier for the difference.
  • More than 60 percent of your lost wages. PIP will cover up to 60 percent of your lost wages if you can’t work due to your injuries – but not if it equals more than $10,000 (and usually far less because that is all that’s available to cover your medical expenses too). If you can’t return to work at all or must take a lower-paying job as a result of your injuries, you could be facing substantial income losses. These are recoverable from the at-fault party if you step outside the no-fault system and pursue damages.
  • Pain and suffering. PIP coverage only covers economic losses. This would include things like medical bills and lost wages. But Florida car accident victims are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. The law recognizes the impact of this, which is why crash victims can pursue damages (compensation) for pain and suffering – but only in a civil claim. You won’t recover pain and suffering damages from your PIP carrier.

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A spate of deadly Florida motorcycle accident reports during Bike Week 2022 throws into sharp relief the danger many two-wheeled riders face when taking to the streets of the Sunshine State. The Daytona News-Journal reports there were six motorcycle deaths during the annual motorcycle enthusiast gathering in Daytona Beach this year. Two of those deaths (plus two injuries) occurred in a single crash when a car driver drove into an opposing lane of traffic where a group of motorcyclists were traveling.Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer

In a single recent year, more than 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives while riding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports Florida has more motorcycle fatalities than any other state – with 591 reported in a single recent year. That’s more than either California or Texas – both of which have substantially higher populations.

For survivors of motorcycle accidents and their loved ones, knowing the basic steps of a claims process following a serious crash can help ease some of the mental load that can feel insurmountable those first few days. As longtime Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident attorneys, we can explain that these aren’t handled like your typical Florida car crash claim. There are unique considerations, and it’s worth taking a few moments to better understand them before beginning the process.

What Makes Florida Motorcycle Crashes Different From Others?

The reality is any car accident has the potential to turn your whole world on its axis. With motorcycle crashes, though, there are a few differences. Those include:

  • Severity of injuries. Motorcycle operators and passengers lack the same level of protection as other motorists. Helmets aren’t required for adult motorcyclists in Florida, but even with them, riders don’t have the benefit of steel cage protective layer between them and the pavement. The severity of injuries in these cases means they tend to be inherently higher stakes.
  • Motorcyclists cannot purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage is required under Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law, extending up to $10,000 in compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was to blame. Without this, many motorcyclists tend to rely heavily on their own health insurance plans. But that won’t cover things like lost wages and other damages. This makes it all the more imperative to closely examine fault of all involved parties – and hold other drivers accountable. Claimants can step outside the no-fault system when they’ve meet the serious injury threshold, as spelled out in F.S. 627.737.

I’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident – Now What?

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The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a question that concerns Florida personal injury plaintiffs. Specifically, should the state’s Medicaid program be allowed to seek reimbursement for past medical care by siphoning personal injury lawsuit settlement funds that are expressly dedicated to future medical expenses? Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer

As our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers can explain, this could impact how we as attorneys approach settlement negotiations.

The case that kickstarted the dispute in Gallardo v. Marstiller is a tragic one. A 13-year-old girl has been left in a persistent vegetative state after she was hit by a truck while getting off a school bus. She received a settlement of $800,000 against the owner of the truck, the driver, and the school board. (The cost of catastrophic injuries like this for someone so young can easily stretch into many millions of dollars over her lifetime.)

But then, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration imposed a lien on her settlement money, asserting that it was entitled to seize $300,000 of the money that was set aside for past and future medical expenses. The district court in Florida ruled against the state, arguing the federal Medicaid Act barred the state from being reimbursed for past paid medical expenses from the portion of the settlement that is set aside for future medical expenses. In the summer of 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed in favor of the state’s action.

It was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in January and is expected to rule in the coming months. Continue reading

No matter how you dice the statistics, Florida has the highest rate – and number – of bicycle accidents in the entire U.S., a fact that has remained fairly consistent for years, illustrated by the growing number of white-painted “ghost bikes” dotting the urban landscapes and intersections. Florida bicycle accidents lawyer

Bicyclists remain among the most vulnerable road users on South Florida streets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports in its latest analysis of the issue that of the 856 bicyclists who died in the U.S., 161 of them lost their lives on Florida roads. The only other state that even comes close is California, a state with nearly double our population that reported 131 fatal bike crashes. Of the 3,183 total traffic deaths reported in the Sunshine State in a single recent year (third only to California and Texas), 5.1% of those were bicyclists. The national rate is 0.26%. Delaware technically has a higher percentage rate in this regard, but had 7 total bicyclist deaths that year, compared to our 161. Plus when factoring population, our rate is higher.

This is not a badge we wear proudly by any means, and of course every preventable crash death is one too many – no matter where it is. But our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers know that this recurring fact does beg the question: What is Florida doing wrong? This question is particularly poignant in areas like Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Jacksonville, where rates are the highest. Continue reading

Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident victims may find it difficult to obtain full and fair financial compensation after their ordeal. For one thing, 1 in 4 Florida pedestrian accidents are hit-and-run crashes, meaning the driver who caused the crash fled the scene. Secondly, even if the driver stays, 1 in 5 are uninsured, despite statutory requirements. Finally, Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, meaning crash victims’ own insurer covers up to $10,000 in damages, and it’s only if you’re seriously injured that you can step outside of that no-fault system. Pedestrians aren’t required to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, though they can use it if they or a member of their household has it. More likely, they’d be relying on the driver’s PIP. But if the driver doesn’t have insurance or flees the scene, securing compensation becomes more challenging. Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident lawyer

Working with an experienced Fort Lauderdale injury attorney helps ensure you’re leaving no opportunity for compensation off the table.

Fort Lauderdale Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Walking is dangerous business in South Florida, the state that ranks No. 1 in pedestrian deaths in the United States, according to thinktank Smart Growth America. Continue reading

South Florida nursing home abuse and neglect is too often being hidden from public scrutiny, thanks to a private federal appeals process that keeps incidents of sexual assault, lack of infectious disease control, and absconding patients. That’s according to a recent investigation by The New York Times, which took a deep dive into such incidents and their impact on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) rating system for nursing homes. The rating system has been touted as a tool the public can use to reliably assess the safety of long-term care facilities for elderly and vulnerable loved ones. Prior incidents of abuse and safety lapses are supposed to be included in the star-based rating system. But as the journalists uncovered, at least 2,700 dangerous incidents involving nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence were not factored at all. nursing home neglect Fort Lauderdale attorney

Many of the incidents were identified by state inspectors and verified by the superiors in those agencies. Yet the secretive appeals process meant that those incidents were never made public or counted in the rating system.

The Times and other media outlets have previously identified issues with the system (erroneously entered data can make nursing homes appear both safer and cleaner than they are, and issues with overuse of antipsychotic medications are poorly documented). However, as our Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse lawyers can explain, the omission of thousands of validated problems uncovered during inspections is deeply troubling because inspections are at the core of the rating system on which the public relies.

On-the-ground inspections of nursing home facilities are the very basis for Care Compare, the site that rates nursing homes throughout the country. These are part of a process intended to improve transparency in facilities that promise to care for society’s most vulnerable. But state inspectors very rarely issue severe citations as it is – even when egregious offenses involving abuse or neglect occur. But even when there are penalties, The Times reported that nursing home administrators have the opportunity to appeal those rulings, almost entirely in secret. When the informal reviews don’t result in the nursing home’s desired outcome, they can appeal to a federal court that is part of the executive branch (in what seems to be a breach of the separation of governmental powers) in a process that is concealed from the public.

Furthermore, even when such citations are affirmed in this secretive federal court process, some of them still never make it into the rating system. In one example, a nursing home in Washington State was slapped with a major penalty for allowing COVID-19 to run rampant in the early days of the pandemic. Yet that citation does not appear on the Care Compare site, on which the facility retains its 5-star rating. The fact that this pattern was noted again and again reveals why nursing homes have a powerful incentive to appeal such allegations – even when wrongdoing appears glaring. Even if they ultimately lose, there’s a decent chance that report will never become public.

Nursing home executives say they should be granted the ability to appeal citations prior to them being made public, as they can be either overturned or downgraded. What they fail to acknowledge, though, is that the appeals process rarely allows patients or their families to participate in the proceedings. Continue reading

South Florida car accidents involving dump trucks have been piling up in recent years, prompting concern about why these commercial vehicles in particular pose such a serious threat to the public as well as workers.Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer

Dump trucks carry heavy, uneven loads and are known to make frequent stops. They’re often out early in the morning, when streets are still dark. Drivers who work long hours, making them more prone to fatigued driving. All these issues lead to outsized danger when you’re dealing with a dump truck, a Class 8 vehicle that can weigh 33,000 pounds or more.

Dump Trucks and Garbage Trucks are Considered “Large Trucks”

Dump trucks and garbage trucks aren’t the same as the big rigs and 18-wheelers you spot barreling down the highway, but legally, they’re in the same category as other “large trucks.” Weight is the primary determining factor in terms of what is considered a “large truck” by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Vehicles with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more is considered a “large vehicle.”

Per the FMCSA, Large Truck Traffic Safety Facts, more than 70 percent of the people who die in crashes involving large trucks are the people in the other vehicle. Nearly 160,000 people are injured in large truck accidents each year in the U.S. In three-fourths of deadly crashes involving large trucks, the truck involved weighed more than 26,000 pounds, placing them in the “heavy” large truck category.

Despite the massive size and weight, dump trucks are used to make repeated trips between construction sites, suppliers, and waste drop-off points. Repeated trips increase the potential for collisions. Drivers are often under significant pressure to get the job done, leading to dangerous actions behind the wheel, including speed, distraction, and aggressive driving.

Another significant danger with dump trucks is that in their rush, dump truck drivers sometimes travel with loads that are uncovered. This can result in debris falling off onto the road – and into the path of falling traffic. This creates a serious road hazard that puts others’ lives at risk.

Garbage trucks, meanwhile, are similar to dump trucks in that they are considered heavy vehicles, though as Class 7 vehicles, they tend to weigh in at slightly less, between 26,000 to 33,000 pounds. The disparity of weight and mass between a garbage truck and passenger vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist makes a collision with one incredibly dangerous. Data from the FMCSA reports that in a single recent year, more than 100 garbage/refuse truck deaths and more than 1,400 injuries. A quarter of those killed were sanitation workers. An analysis by OSHA on garbage truck accidents reveals dozens of fatal or serious injuries among employees in one year. Continue reading

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