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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

Falls are one of the most common causes of serious injury in the U.S. About 8 million people are treated in hospital emergency rooms annually due to falls, and approximately 12 percent of those are slip-and-fall accidents. Fort Lauderdale slip and fall lawyer

You may be aware that if you’re injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident that you may have grounds to pursue a premises liability claim against the property owner for your injuries. But what if there was a sign indicating the floor was wet?

As our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers can explain, there is no hard-and-fast rule about when business owners or property managers are required to post a sign indicating the floor is wet. That said, lack of a wet floor sign where the floor was, indeed, wet can be evidence that the business failed to provide guests with adequate warning of a dangerous condition when they had a duty to do so. This an form the basis of a negligence claim.

However, the presence of a wet floor sign in the area where you slipped and fell doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t recover damages. It’s going to depend on the totality of the circumstances. Having successfully pursued many South Florida premises liability claims stemming from slip-and-fall accidents, we recognize these cases are often more complex than they might appear initially. The outcome of these cases depends largely on the totality of the evidence, and a wet floor sign is just one piece of that puzzle. Continue reading

Car accidents are traumatic experiences. They can be frightening, stressful, and disorienting. In the immediate aftermath, when you realize not everyone is Ok, it can be an almost automatic response to blurt out, “I’m sorry.” Even if you know you haven’t done anything wrong, even if you know it was the other driver’s fault, you might still slip and say, “I’m sorry.” Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

Lots of us were raised to apologize anytime we think someone has been hurt or inconvenienced, even if we didn’t directly cause their pain. And it’s one thing to say you’re sorry if you accidentally bump into someone in the grocery store or step on their toe in a movie theater aisle. But offering a mea culpa following a Fort Lauderdale car accident can cause you problems down the road when it comes to determining legal responsibility for the crash.

To be clear, whatever spontaneous utterances you make at the scene of the crash won’t be the last word in the case. Liability (or fault) is going to be based on the totality of the evidence. But an apology from one of the drivers involved can be used as a piece of evidence. Continue reading

Florida motorists take on numerous responsibilities every time they get behind the wheel. One of those is carrying the statutory minimum amount of insurance coverage, or having the ability on their own to cover losses up to a certain dollar amount. Unfortunately, there are far too many motorists who fail to do either. Per the Florida Insurance Council, the Sunshine State has one of the highest rates of uninsured motorists anywhere in the country. If the driver who hit you was not insured, you may still have several options for financial recovery. It’s important to discuss these with an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney.Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

Florida Law Requires Vehicles Be Covered by Car Insurance

Before you registering a four-wheeled vehicle in Florida, you need to show proof of both personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability. PIP is going to cover 80 percent of what are considered “necessary and reasonable medical expenses” up to $10,000 – no matter who caused the crash. The property damage liability will cover damages to another person’s property if you or someone else cause a crash driving a vehicle insured by you.

You may notice that what is not required is bodily injury liability (unless you’re driving a taxi or commercial vehicle or if you’ve been convicted of a DUI). Bodily injury liability is the kind of coverage that will go to cover the expenses of others injured in a crash you cause. Continue reading

Following a car accident it’s wise to be wary of insurers. No matter how friendly they seem or how much they insist they’re there to help, an agent’s loyalty is to their employer. Saving the insurer money is their primary goal, and they do it by figuring out ways to pay you less.Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer

Protecting yourself involves not providing any details to which they are not entitled. It’s important that you appreciate you do have a contract and legal obligation to honor. You are required to inform the insurance company about the accident. That means providing the basic necessary information. Beyond that, your lips should stay sealed until you’ve talked to a personal injury attorney.

Note too that you don’t have this same obligation to the other drivers’ insurer. You benefit nothing from giving that insurer a statement or signing any paperwork they send you. All you need to do is get the insurance information from the other driver. You don’t need to provide them with information. Continue reading

Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accidentTaking a stroll in South Florida could be hazardous to your health. Smart Growth America, an organization dedicated to pedestrian safety, ranks the Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach-Miami metro area as 13th in the country for the most dangerous to those  traversing traffic on foot.

In its Dangerous by Design 2021 report, Smart Growth America notes that 1,675 pedestrians have died in Florida from 2010 to 2019, which amounts to 2.8 pedestrian accident deaths per 100,000 residents. The analysis establishes a Pedestrian Death Index to assess the risks and rank the road safety status in cities and states. It looks at how dangerous it is for people to walk in a given area based on the number of people injured and killed in pedestrian accidents controlled for the population and the number of folks who walk to work as a measure of average overall walking in the region. South Florida’s PDI was 171.9. The metro area with the highest PDI was Orlando, with a PDI of 295 and 3 deaths per 100,000 people.

Among states, Florida was once again No. 1, with nearly 5,900 people killed and a PDI of 201.4. Most other states with high pedestrian danger were in the South, including Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas. New Mexico, Arizona and Delaware were also high on the list. Among the top 13 most dangerous metro areas, regions in Florida held nine of those slots. Continue reading

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