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A new government audit points the finger at Medicare for failure to enforce federal law requiring immediate law enforcement notification of any sexual or physical abuse against nursing home residents. nursing home abuse

The Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General put forth an early alert on preliminary data on the issue, based on sizable samples from cases in 33 states. Just based on those results, the IG reports, there is a pressing and immediate need for rapid corrective action.

The IG is responsible for investigating abuse, waste and fraud within the health care system. This audit was part of a much larger investigation that is ongoing, so we can expect to hear more once researchers conclude their analysis.  Continue reading

In a recent ride-along with Florida Highway Patrol troopers in South Florida, an NBC affiliate news crew took note of numerous drivers texting, scrolling and talking away behind the wheel. Despite observations of this extremely dangerous behavior, the trooper was without an actionable cause to stop these drivers. That’s because Florida has one of the weakest distracted driving laws in the country, despite this being a serious problem known to be even more prevalent than drunk driving. distracted driving lawyer

Florida is one of a handful of states where texting-and-driving remains a secondary offense. That means an officer must also observe some other traffic offense before a traffic stop can be initiated and a texting-while-driving citation issued.

 F.S. 316.305, also known as the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law, prohibits the use of an electronic device (manually typing, sending, reading or researching data or interpersonal communication) while operating a motor vehicle. There are a number of exceptions to this rule (i.e., researching traffic or weather alerts, those who are searching radio broadcasts use of a system for navigation), but the biggest issue is the fact that it’s a secondary offense. Plus, even if a fine is issued, it’s only $30 for a first-time offense.  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

The criminal and civil justice systems are separate and serve very different functions. While the criminal justice system seeks enforcement of our laws and ordinances, civil liability exists to allow individuals, families and businesses to be compensated for civil wrongdoings. In addition to serving different purposes, they also hold different proof burdens.injury lawyer

This is why a person can be deemed liable in civil court, even if they’ve been found not guilty in criminal court.

Recently, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that there must be separate determinations for immunity in civil Stand Your Ground self-defense cases and criminal Stand Your Ground self-defense cases. In other words, a finding of immunity in one does not automatically confer to the other. This settled the matter after several Florida appellate courts had reached different conclusions on this issue. Continue reading

As far as dram shop laws go, Florida’s is pretty weak. It’s not that F.S. 768.125 isn’t worth considering in your drunk driving accident claim, but it can only be applied in limited circumstances. A dram shop law is one that allows claimants to hold a bar or liquor license holder accountable for failure to prevent a patron from becoming inebriated before getting behind the wheel and seriously injuring himself or others. injury lawyer

The circumstances under which drunk driving accident victims in Fort Lauderdale can assert a dram shop claim are when:

  • The driver was served alcohol, despite being under the legal age of 21.
  • The bar staff knew or should have known driver was a habitual alcoholic, and yet continued to serve him drinks anyway.

Continue reading

An auto insurer’s failure to comply with the state’s Claims Administration Statute, F.S. 627.426, meant  no genuine issue of material fact was left to consider regarding insurance coverage of an absconded drunk driving suspect who allegedly killed five people in a horrific crash.car accident

Plaintiffs, parents of one of those killed, sued defendant driver for wrongful death resulting from the crash. The incident happened on I-95 outside Miami, when defendant drove his mother’s vehicle onto the shoulder of the highway, plowing into seven other vehicles that had just been involved in a chain reaction collision and had parked in the emergency lane. Victims ranged in age from 22 to 57. (Plaintiff’s son was a recent university graduate.)

Defendant driver’s blood alcohol level was 0.127, well above the legal limit of 0.08, and that was several hours after the crash. He also smelled of alcohol, a trooper noted, and allegedly admitted to drinking at a local nightclub prior to the collision.  Continue reading

Almost every public service announcement warning regarding drunk driving in Florida suggests finding a designated driver. This is a person who agrees to be sober in order to safely drive another person or group of people after they’ve been indulging in alcohol. All drivers owe a duty to use reasonable care on the roads. But by taking on this responsibility, does a designated driver owe a higher duty of care to intoxicated passengers? car accident

This was a question recently considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, which answered: No.

The driver in this case was the designated driver among a group of young adults who were drinking at a house party. The group was rowdy, and when it was time to go, two of the passengers opened the trunk and piled in, their back to the rear windshield. Driver instructed them to get out, but the two passengers refused, insisting they would be fine. They weren’t going far and she could drive slow. Not wanting to argue, she relented.  Continue reading

Your auto insurance policy is a contract. It outlines your rights and your obligations, and as long as it isn’t ambiguous or contrary to public policy, the terms of it are most likely binding. One of the common terms is the obligation of insured to cooperate with the investigation.car accident

This does not mean you are required to give a statement before talking to an attorney. But it does mean you may be required to testify under oath at the request of the insurer, or else risk foregoing coverage.

This was exactly what happened in a recent Kentucky Supreme Court decision wherein substantive issues of material fact relating to the crash were in question.  Continue reading

To win a slip-and-fall lawsuit in Florida, plaintiff (the injured person) must prove defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard and failed to address or warn about it. slip and fall lawyer

Actual knowledge means the business was aware of that particular hazard in that place and time. Constructive knowledge, per F.S. 768.0755, is proven with circumstantial evidence that shows:

  • Dangerous condition existed for a period of time wherein, in the ordinary exercise of care, the business should have known about the condition;
  • Condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

The dangerous condition alone or even the fact that plaintiff was hurt – even severely – isn’t enough to prevail. One must show either actual or constructive knowledge. Most slip-and-fall cases are based on constructive knowledge, as actual knowledge can be difficult to prove.  Continue reading

A trucker deemed negligent in a trucking accident lost his appeal on a $3.3 million verdict favoring the driver of a minivan who suffered serious injuries in the crash. Part of that appeal was based on the assertion that trial court wrongly excluded evidence of plaintiff’s marijuana use prior to the crash. Defendant also argued against the medical necessity of future shoulder surgeries. The California appellate court affirmed.trucking accident

Although California was the first state to legalize marijuana as medicine (and one of a handful now to allow it for recreation), it’s not the only one now grappling with traffic-related issues involving marijuana – both in the civil and criminal courts. It is a much more complex issue than alcohol impairment of a driver because with marijuana (and many other drugs), traces are left in the system long after consumption. That means one may test positive for marijuana – even at a higher level – and not necessarily be impaired. One can have relatively high levels of marijuana in the blood and urine even if they have not consumed the drug within days or weeks – by which time the psychoactive effects would have worn off.

Therefore, determining when marijuana in the system is “active” versus “inactive” can be tricky. We are likely to see it play it an increasing number of personal injury cases here in Florida, now that the drug has been approved as a prescription for certain conditions.  Continue reading

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