Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A fatal Florida parasailing accident involving a vacationer in the Florida Keys has raised questions about the enforceability of liability waivers. Florida parasailing injury lawyer

Liability waivers are standard operating procedure for companies that offer inherently risky excursions and activities, including those that rent out/offer charter boats, parasailing, wakeboarding/tubing, jet skis, scuba diving, sky diving, etc.

But as our Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, although Florida courts have upheld the viability of these waivers, they aren’t necessarily a catch-all for every scenario. There are situations where a liability waiver can be successfully challenged. This is particularly true when gross negligence is at issue. Gross negligence is a lack of care that is so egregious, it demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others. It amounts to a conscious violation of other people’s right to safety.

In the most recent case, a 33-year-old Illinois woman died Memorial Day weekend while parasailing with her two kids. Police reported the boat’s captain cut the cable that tethered the woman and her kids to the boat. They plunged into the water, and then were dragged along the surface until they slammed into a bridge. The mother died and her two kids were injured.

For legal experts specializing in catastrophic injury cases, there is a strong argument to be made that people who do not know how parasails are operated shouldn’t be compelled to sign waivers of liability allowing parasailing companies to profit handsomely from these ventures while evading responsibility for skirting basic safety measures. In terms of legal enforceability, much of it is going to come down to the exact language in the waiver and the details of what happened. There’s also still an open question about whether a parent can waive a child’s rights in a liability waiver.

Are There Florida Parasailing Safety Laws?

There are safety laws in Florida that pertain specifically to parasailing – and they came about after several previous tragedies.

The White-Miskell Act, named after two tourists who died in Florida parasailing accidents, requires: Continue reading

Good Samaritan laws have been enacted throughout the country with the initial intention of protecting medical personnel from legal liability for rendering aid to someone in a medical emergency outside a traditional hospital setting. Here in Florida, F.S. 768.13 protects not only health care providers and those licensed to practice medicine but any person from liability when they gratuitously and in good faith rendered emergency medical care or treatment either in direct response to an emergency situation or arising out of a declared public health emergency. West Palm Beach injury lawyers

While a health care professional’s code of ethics might compel them to offer medical assistance in an emergency situation, the state’s Good Samaritan law does not require anyone to help others in an emergency situation. However if they choose to do so, they must exercise reasonable care. The law will impose liability when someone’s failure to exercise reasonable care exacerbates the risk of injury to another person. It doesn’t apply in cases where the victim rejects help or when the volunteer is somehow compensated for their help.

But what happens when the Good Samaritan is the one injured?

As South Florida car accident lawyers, we’ve come across this scenario more than once. Recently in Riverview, Florida, a Good Samaritan in his 20s was killed while assisting others just after a multiple vehicle crash on I-75 just before 3 a.m. Local news outlets reported a 19-year-old in a Toyota swerved out of his lane, striking the back of a semi-truck before overturning in the outside lane of the highway. The semi truck driver, who was not hurt, stopped and pulled over on the shoulder to assist. The driver of a third vehicle then slowed down to pull over onto the shoulder when a fourth vehicle failed to slow down and rear-ended the third vehicle. Then the Good Samaritan approached and pulled over to help the other motorists. Just then, a semi truck carrying plywood approached, struck the first vehicle that was turned over on its side, then the back of the next car which was shoved into the next car. The Good Samaritan was struck by that third vehicle. The semi truck pulling the plywood crashed into a guardrail, where the load separated and fell into a ravine. The Good Samaritan was the only one killed. Continue reading

Florida personal injury lawsuits are efforts to compel a negligent party (defendant) to pay monetary compensation for causing some preventable harm to the person who was hurt (plaintiff). There are, however, a number of legal defenses that can be raised to either prevent the defendant from being found legally responsible (liable) or reduce the amount of money they have to pay. One example is called the “alcohol defense.” It was recently raised in the case of Mainstreet Entertainment Inc. v. Guardianship of Jacquelyn Faircloth before Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal. The court tossed a $28 million+ verdict against two bars because the lower court improperly prohibited one of them from asserting the alcohol defense.Florida injury lawsuits

As West Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, the alcohol defense is outlined in F.S. 768.36. It states that in civil actions, a plaintiff can’t recover for any damages for loss or injury if the court finds that at the time the plaintiff was injured:

  • They were under the influence of any alcohol or drug to the extent their normal faculties were impaired OR their blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or higher AND
  • As a result of that intoxication, the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at-fault for their own injuries.

This is especially noteworthy in Florida because our courts otherwise abide by a system of pure comparative fault, per F.S. 768.81. What that means is a plaintiff’s financial damages will be reduced by whatever percentage of the fault they shared – up to 99 percent. So if you’re 75 percent liable, you can still collect damages for the other 25 percent that is someone else’s fault. Many other states won’t let a person recover any damages at all if they are more than 49-51 percent liable for their own injuries. A few states won’t let you recover anything at all if you are even 1 percent at-fault. In Florida, you can theoretically be 99 percent at-fault and still recover on that 1 percent of damages (though that scenario isn’t ideal).

The alcohol defense, however, can eliminate your right to compensation entirely if you 51 percent or more at-fault for what happened because of alcohol or drug intoxication.

So that brings us to the Mainstreet Entertainment case. This was a drunk driving tragedy involving two young people – one a pedestrian and one behind the wheel – both allegedly intoxicated. The question was apportionment of liability. Continue reading

Recently in another state, a hospital admitted a patient received a kidney meant for someone else. The hospital released a statement apologizing for the medical error and said two employees were placed on leave. The only good news is that while the kidney was given to the wrong patient, it is compatible with that person, who is expected to recover. Meanwhile, the surgery for the intended patient has been delayed. NPR reports the hospital is reviewing what went wrong and how to prevent similar mistakes.Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

Such incidents are what are referred to by healthcare professionals and medical malpractice lawyers as “never events.” These are errors in medical care that are:

  • Clearly identifiable.
  • Preventable.
  • Serious in their consequences for patients.
  • Indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility.

These can include wrong side, wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient. Simply put, they are things that should never happen. When they do, patients adversely affected are rightly entitled to some form of compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, loss of consortium (spouse) and wrongful death. Continue reading

What was supposed to have been a day of fun, splashing and sun took a tragic turn recently when a 3-year-old girl drowned and a 4-year-old nearly died at a pool party at an apartment complex in Tampa.child drowning death

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a release that the children’s flotation devices slipped off of their arms and the two went underwater. Minutes passed before anyone noticed they were at the bottom of the pool, where 10 children were being monitored by three adults.

Several people rushed to help, giving CPR to both girls. The younger of the two was pronounced dead at the hospital. The other is said to be alert and awake and is expected to make a full recovery. Continue reading

Your Florida injury lawsuit is over. The judge has made a final ruling. Whether you won or lost, there is still something that needs to be resolved: Taxation of costs.injury lawyer West Palm Beach

But what are costs in a tort case? What costs are taxable? Which are considered non-taxable costs?

It’s important to point out that “taxes” in this case aren’t referring to a cut owed to the Internal Revenue Service. The question is whether the losing party can be “taxed” for certain costs associated with the litigation process incurred by the prevailing party.

For example, expert witness fees – paid to an expert witness for their services before or during trial – can be either a taxable or non-taxable cost (depending on a host of factors). These have to be paid whether you win or lose. If you win and the court decides that cost is taxable, the defendant pays.

Despite some clear lines drawn in both case law and statute, the question of taxable/non-taxable costs – and whether a person should have them covered – can still be a matter of sharp dispute.

Recently, the Alaska Supreme Court in King v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co. was asked to settle an argument over whether a plaintiff who won her drunk driving injury lawsuit was entitled to certain taxable costs. The court ruled some couldn’t be collected because plaintiff didn’t timely file the request, but the lower court had erred in denying her others. Continue reading

Professional golfer and Florida resident Tiger Woods and his girlfriend, who manages a restaurant owned by Woods, have been named defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the drunk driving death of an employee in December, The Miami Herald reports.Florida drunk driving death lawyer

When drunk driving results in death, there are a number of avenues through which a Florida wrongful death lawyer may seek to establish liability. Typically, this includes the drunk driver, the owner of the car, the host of an underage party and sometimes, the vendor that sold or served the alcohol.

That last one is formally known as a “dram shop lawsuit.” Continue reading

Florida medical malpractice law needs to change. That’s the stance of the surviving family of a U.S. Marine veteran who died after allegedly receiving negligent medical care following a South Florida motorcycle accident. Despite this, the man’s survivors haven’t been able to file a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit because of a provision of Florida statute that prevents such claims from being brought by anyone accept for a spouse, minor children or parents of an adult under the age of 25. West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

The specific law in question (which our West Palm Beach wrongful death lawyers can explain has been in place for nearly three decades) is F.S. 768.21. Its effect is that if a person dies as a result of suspected medical malpractice, there will be no recourse if the patient was unmarried, over the age of 25 or had no minor children. It is a law ripe for challenge considering the very same acts of negligence that would underlie a medical malpractice injury lawsuit would be grounds for litigation – if the person lives. There are no available avenues for accountability, however, if that same individual dies as a result of medical negligence.

NBC-5 in West Palm Beach reports the patient in question was a 32-year-old man from Port St. Lucie, a veteran with a fiancee who was helping to raise her 3-year-old daughter, whom he planned to adopt. He was involved in a Florida motorcycle accident. He reportedly hit a deep pothole, swerved to avoid striking a friend’s motorcycle and in so doing put his leg down when he crashed, resulting in a broken leg. Continue reading

A state supreme court in the Midwest recently affirmed an insurance subrogation claim brought by a homeowner’s insurer against a commercial liability insurer following an accidental shooting death at a farmhouse property insured by two policies. The decision by the Iowa Supreme Court noted the commercial liability insurer’s obligation to cover the wrongful death claim on the basis of premises liability for having a dangerous condition on the property.personal injury attorney

As our Palm Beach wrongful death lawyers can explain, it’s not unusual to make claims against homeowner insurance policies, given that homes are where so many potential hazards exist – from aggressive dogs to slippery floor to untended pools. If a person gets hurt on private residential property, a homeowner’s insurance policy (often required for any who still owe a balance on their mortgage) will provide coverage – up to the policy limit.

Homeowner insurance claims often will not cover damages for injuries that were intentionally caused, such as those inflicted by a criminal assault. The exception would be claims for third-party liability, where the property owner/insured was liable for something like inadequate security or some other theory of premises liability.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that over a four-year period, almost 6 percent of insured homeowners filed a claim, and about 0.13 percent were for liability, with the average payout for those being about $17,000 ($23,000 for cases involving bodily injury). Claims involving wrongful death will likely have much larger payouts. Florida ranks No. 3 in terms of the average homeowner insurance premiums. Continue reading

Sometimes when folks read that the statute of limitations on Florida personal injury and wrongful death claims is two and four years respectively, they figure they’ve got some time before they need to bother reaching out to a South Florida injury attorney. And while it is true that you technically have that time span in which to file a claim, our Naples injury lawyers know what that timeline fails to take into account is:

  • The faster you act, the more likely your attorney can gather important evidence, talk to key witnesses and best preserve your case.
  • In most all cases,  you won’t be able to file a claim at all unless you have properly provided notice to defendants in accordance with Florida law. The timeline for notice is shorter than the statute of limitations period, and the requirements can vary depending on a host of factors.injury attorney Naples Continue reading
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