Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

When a Florida drunk driver causes serious injury to his or her passengers, occupants of other vehicles or non-occupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, it is likely that driver will be named as a defendant in both a criminal and civil case. As Florida DUI injury lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm can explain, these are two totally different processes in different courts pursued for different purposes. However, that does not mean one will have no impact on the other. One of the most notable is the issue of compelling defendant’s testimony in a civil lawsuit, which then becomes public record that can be used against him or her in the pending criminal case. But of course, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives those accused of criminal wrongdoing the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. That silence and refusal to answer questions cannot be used against them for the jury to infer wrongdoing.Fort Lauderdale DUI injury lawyer

Courts in Florida have held that defendants in wrongful death lawsuits can invoke their Fifth Amendment right during the civil litigation process if compelling that testimony could potentially amount to self-incrimination in the pending criminal case. However, as noted in the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Baxter v. Palmgiano, the Fifth Amendment doesn’t guarantee negative inferences against a defendant in a civil lawsuit when they refuse to answer pertinent questions regarding the evidence against them. This doesn’t mean the judge or jury in the civil DUI injury lawsuit can simply point to defendant’s refusal to answer questions and declare that alone as basis for a decision in plaintiff’s favor. However, the court is entitled to draw inferences against a defendant who chooses to invoke the Fifth Amendment right to silence. In U.S. ex rel. Bilokumsky v. Tod in 1923, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, “silence is often evidence of the most persuasive character.”

Fort Lauderdale DUI injury lawyers can use this to their advantage in drunk driving civil litigation.  Continue reading

Florida wrongful death cases involving nursing home patients is often the result of sepsis, a blood infection that can stem from untreated bedsores – among other signs of abject nursing home neglect. That’s according to a recent analysis reported by Kaiser Health News, which took note that nursing home resident hospitalizations for sepsis-related care ending in death were much more common than those for other conditions. Nursing home wrongful death attorneys in Fort Lauderdale recognize that while no one is nationally tracking how often these infections turn fatal, one recent federal report by Definitive Health Care revealed care related to sepsis was the No. 1 reason given for transfers of nursing home residents to hospitals. wrongful death sepsis

Many Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawsuits stem from the fact that year after year, nursing homes are failing to prevent bedsores and other sorts of infections known to lead to sepsis. These patients endure, painful, stressful hospital treatments for sepsis, with injury and wrongful death attorneys often arguing it should never have happened in the first place.

The analysis examined data related to nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals and later died. Of those, roughly 25,000 suffered from sepsis (among other conditions), costing medicare some $2 billion a year (based on four-years’ worth of information). Of those who suffered from sepsis, 1 in 5 did not survive. The scope of such a public health problem, researchers say, is “enormous.” Just a single sepsis-related hospital stay at the end of one nursing home patient’s life cost more than $400,000.  Continue reading

Families of four tourists who died in a South Florida truck accident are seeking damages in a negligence lawsuit filed in a federal court against the company that employed the truck driver who struck the tourists’ vehicle in a rear-end collision. The impact launched the women’s car into oncoming traffic, where they were again struck, killing them all instantly.Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney

The Miami Herald reports the women were attempting to make a left turn on Tea Table Bridge in the Florida Keys in March. As they waited to make their turn, the large truck hauling portable toilets hit them from behind, propelling their small car into the opposing lane, where it was then struck by the driver of a mobile home. The women were all wearing their seat belts, but according to state highway patrol investigators, it didn’t matter because the impact to the passenger side was so severe and so deep. It was so horrific that it was only once the troopers had cleared the scene they discovered the body of the fourth victim inside the vehicle. They had been visiting from Spain. The driver of the truck that rear-ended them was given a citation for careless driving. Continue reading

In any Florida wrongful death lawsuit, we’ll need to decide which claims are viable – and who the claimants should be, as only certain individuals and entities have a legal right to pursue damages after someone’s death. With some exceptions, these include the decedent’s:

  • Surviving spouse;
  • Children in being at death (with the law considering them minors until age 25 and no recovery allowed for adult children if action is based in medical malpractice);
  • Parents of a minor child under 25 (may recovery mental pain and suffering);
  • Decedent’s estate. wrongful death attorney

That last one can be tricky because it may ultimately benefit some of the same survivors who collected under other claims. While survivors may claim lost wages and loss of consortium, the estate in some cases may have a separate claim that might consist of lost earnings, lost net accumulations and medical or funeral expenses. An estate’s lost earnings of decedent would span from the date of injury to the date of death – less any amount of monetary support – that a survivor lost during that period. Continue reading

It’s estimated that nearly 50 percent of all pedestrian accidents involve some type of alcohol use – either by the motorist or the pedestrian. This can become a point of contention in an injury lawsuit because evidence of impairment – even if it’s not an illegal, given the circumstances – can still be used to discredit a witness or to show a person at-fault or at least comparatively at-fault. However, the mere fact of impairment – even if it’s against the law – does not decide liability in a civil case. That’s why even civil cases involving drunk drivers aren’t a shoe-in. pedestrian accident attorney

In Florida, a finding of comparative fault (meaning plaintiff shares some of the blame for what happened) will not prohibit a plaintiff from pursuing the case or from collecting damages. However, per F.S. 768.81, Florida’s comparative fault law, it will proportionately reduce the amount of damages to which one is entitled. So for instance, if a plaintiff is deemed 30 percent at fault and defendant 70 percent at fault, plaintiff will only be able to collect damages on that 70 percent.

In a recent pedestrian accident case out of Pennsylvania, a major sticking point was whether evidence of a decedent pedestrian’s blood-alcohol level was rightly allowed into evidence by the trial court, or whether it was unfairly prejudicial an inadmissible absent any other independent corroborating evidence.  Continue reading

Florida has the highest child drowning rate in the country, with the Florida Department of Health reporting enough children under 5 die this way every year to fill three preschool classrooms. Not only is it devastating, it’s infuriating because virtually every one of these instances is preventable. This is not to say anyone intends for this outcome, but there simple precautions go a long way.wrongful death attorney

Many of these incidents occur when there are many people around, such as family gatherings or holiday celebrations. Often it comes down to a miscommunication between adults who are supposed to be supervising the child. Property owners can be held accountable in some cases on the theory of premises liability or negligent supervision. However, it will come down to the individual facts of the case. If there is no defect in the pool, it often comes down to negligent supervision. If a homeowner assumes responsibility for supervision of young swimmers and then breaches that duty, he or she may be held liable. However, if another guest steps in an assumes that responsibility, the homeowner may no longer have a duty of care to supervise.

This was the case recently in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the father of a young boy who drowned in a backyard pool at a family gathering. Continue reading

The state fair – and many of the other local fairs held throughout Florida and the country – are heavily anticipated and fondly remembered. However, the risk of potential injury and death cannot be overlooked, particularly when it comes to the safety of the amusement rides. From the Ferris wheel to the Fire Ball, these rides may be thrilling – but they can also be extremely dangerous, as highlighted recently after a tragedy in Ohio. fair injury

There, at the state fair, an 18-year-old U.S. Marine recruit lost his life when the ride he was on malfunctioned and he fell from his seat. Seven others, ages 14 to 42, were seriously injured. Investigation into the accident is ongoing, and fairs across the country have taken similar rides out of commission while they conduct more thorough inspections. The ride involved in the fatal accident had been inspected several times as it was being erected, and was permitted by an inspector the day of the accident.

Part of the problem, engineering experts and inspectors told USA Today, is that there are too few inspectors and a patchwork of safety regulations that are decided on a state-by-state basis. Congress relinquished control of fair safety oversight to the states back in the 1980s, so there are no concrete, uniform standards for fair and ride safety and inspections.  Continue reading

The Fourth District Court of Appeals has reversed a $3.6 million damage award in the case of a pregnant woman killed while lounging poolside by a hotel, where she was struck by a drunk driver. Plaintiff, decedent’s husband and father of their unborn child, who also died, alleged the hotel was negligent in failing to create a barrier between the cabana and the road, which plaintiff alleged was known to be a hazardous condition.criminal defense

Although the trial court decided the case in plaintiff’s favor, finding the hotel 15 percent at fault, the appellate court reversed, finding the trial court should have issued a directed verdict on the issue of negligence and also addressed a number of impermissible comments made by plaintiff’s attorney during both opening and closing arguments.

Though the outcome is disappointing for plaintiff, it’s important to highlight why the court decided the way it did, as it’s likely to affect future cases. While this case began with the irrefutable negligence of the drunk driver, this claim at its heart was one of premises liability. The assertion was there was a dangerous condition on the property, defendant hotel knew or should have known about it and yet failed to address it or warn patrons of it.  Continue reading

Proponents of tort reform are seizing on their opportunity with a GOP-controlled Congress to push forward with a series of measures that would make it harder to win medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits, as well as to obtain just compensation. congress

As The New York Times reported, one of those measures would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care that is covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance subsidized by the Affordable Care Act, with some limits applying to product liability claims as well as medical malpractice litigation involving physicians, hospitals and nursing homes. In effect, it is lower income and older people who would find it the most difficult to win lawsuits for injuries caused by defective drugs, defective medical devices or negligent medical care. This bill is part of the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Proponents of the measure say it is a necessary means to lower the number of “frivolous lawsuits” that drive up health care costs for everyone else. Of course, this assertion has been disproven time and again. Take for example the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 rejecting a 2003 medical malpractice law and lambasting the legislature for manufacturing an alleged medical malpractice crisis that didn’t exist to pass unnecessary tort reform. In a 5-2 ruling, the court suggested lawmakers created the crisis to cap damages on medical malpractice cases, which saves a modest amount of money for many at a “devastating” cost on a few – namely those who have suffered the most severe and egregious injuries due to medical negligence or defective medical products. The law was ultimately deemed unconstitutional under the state’s equal protection clause.  Continue reading

Stem cell research holds a great deal of promise in addressing some of the most problematic conditions and ailments of humans. That said, it’s still a relatively new science, and treatments haven’t been thoroughly vetted. Initially, this spurred wild growth of stem cell “treatment” clinics in countries like Mexico and China, where medical standards can be more lax than in the U.S. However, we are finding a number of clinics have cropped up in the states as well – sometimes with troubling outcomes. eye

In fact, as recently reported by Scientific American, there are more than 550 clinics across the country that offer interventions for everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease – and all of these treatments are unproven. Most of these clinics offer help with orthopedic procedures, such as sports injuries or joint pain, and there are some that offer cosmetic procedures, such as face lifts.

In South Florida, as reported recently in a case study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most serious instances of these rogue treatments was detailed after three women were permanently blinded after undergoing an unproven stem cell “treatment” that was advertised as a clinical trial.  Continue reading

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