Articles Posted in News Topics

Earlier this month, the Florida State legislature approved a settlement with the family of a teen who was crushed when the branch of a city-owned tree fell on top of him. Thankfully, the boy lived, although he was permanently paralyzed as a result of the incident. According to one local news source, the family’s settlement was hung up for several months in the State Legislature while it was waiting to be approved.

In Florida, there is a limit on the amount of money a person can receive from a government entity in a personal injury lawsuit. However, the legislature does have the ability to grant an exception to this limit when all the parties agree that there should be a higher amount paid out to an individual.

In this case, the city council was on board with the settlement award. Indeed, the city immediately accepted responsibility for the accident, acknowledging that the tree had rotted out and that the city had received numerous complaints from neighbors but had not yet removed the tree.

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Three people were killed last week when a Robinson R44 helicopter crashed into a guest house just north of downtown Orlando, starting a fire and partially destroying the guest house.

What Causes a Helicopter Crash?

Local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration are still investigating the cause of the crash, and it is difficult to speculate what may have happened from the limited witnesses and information available, but it is known that the helicopter took off from the Orlando Executive Airport about two miles from the crash site and crashed shortly after take off. Under such circumstances, it appears that the crash was caused by either pilot error (including a potential medical emergency) or equipment failure. These same two problems are also the largest contributing factors to roadway accidents and the injuries and deaths they may cause.

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A recent research study indicates that Florida is one of the worst states to be involved in a car accident. According to a local Florida news report, the study was conducted by a well-known financial planning website and useD insurance information to come to its ultimate conclusion.

The report relayed an anecdote by a woman who was in a car accident in Florida. Apparently, the woman was coming home from work one evening when another car hit the side of her recently paid-off Ford. Unfortunately, the other driver did not have a license, was driving someone else’s car, and was from a foreign country. The ordeal took over six months and many thousands of dollars before the accident victim was able to get back to her normal life.

The research study explains that over 23.8 percent of drivers in Florida do not have car insurance. That makes Florida the second-highest state in the country in that category. Additionally, Florida has a very permissive policy on the amount of insurance that drivers are required to have, meaning that drivers can carry insurance with very low limits. As a result, there are many situations where damages go unpaid and people (and insurance companies) are not held accountable.

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Early last week, a Florida State Trooper was involved in a car accident with another vehicle causing injuries. According to a local news report, an SUV was driving on Del Rio Boulevard, with the state trooper following. As traffic began to slow down, the SUV driver slowed down as well.  The trooper’s car hit the back right side of the SUV causing  the SUV to overturn.

There were two people in the SUV, and they were both taken to the hospital. Additionally, the state trooper was taken to a local hospital. Reports indicate that the injuries were minor, and no names have been released. Currently, charges are pending against the trooper and the investigation is ongoing.

Florida and Vicarious Liability

Like many states, Florida follows the theory of vicarious liability. This explains that a person other than the actual wrongdoer may be liable to the plaintiff for his or her injuries. Some instances where vicarious liability applies are in a parent-child relationship, or more commonly an employer-employee relationship. This is often referred to as “respondeat superior”, which basically means that an employer may be responsible for its employees’ actions to those to whom it owes a duty of care. For this theory to apply, the employees must be working within their scope of employment.

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Late last week, the founder of the International Polo Club was found guilty in a fatal drunk-driving crash. A local news report explained that the defendant was found guilty in 2012 for the accident, but it was overturned after juror misconduct was discovered. The case was retried, and after four hours of jury deliberation the defendant was found guilty of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter.

Apparently, the defendant ran a stop sign while drunk and slammed into a 23-year-old recent college graduate. He left the scene of the crime and did not call 911 until approximately one hour later, at which point the victim had already passed.

His attorneys attempted to argue that the test that gauged his blood alcohol concentration was inaccurate and that his car may have malfunctioned. However, even after his retrial he was found guilty.

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Late last week, a local newspaper reported that a jury awarded a total of $16 million to the families of four individuals who were killed in a helicopter accident back in 2011.

A couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, as well as a pilot, were killed near Lake Mead in the fatal accident. The crash was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. Evidently, the Board found that there was “inadequate maintenance” of the helicopter. The investigation found that there was a faulty bolt that was not found during routine inspections.

Sundance Helicopters owned and managed the helicopter that crashed. They denied any responsibility or liability for over three years. However, a jury finally determined that the company was negligent and that its negligence caused the untimely death of these individuals.

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Approximately one year ago, a Florida college football player was shot and killed by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer. In the time since that shooting, two other young, unarmed, men have died because of actions taken by a police officer.

A local news source reported that on September 14, 2013, the young football player crashed his car into the side of a house. The young man then went around the neighborhood trying to seek assistance. However, a neighborhood homeowner called the police because she believed that the young man was attempting to break into her home.

Police arrived shortly afterward, and one of the officers began shooting rounds at the young man. The man was killed after being shot ten times. The police officer claims that the man was running toward him.

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Back in 2006, the Florida Supreme Court issued a decision that “decertified” the class of people who were suing big tobacco companies for the injuries they sustained after becoming addicted to cigarettes. The decertification of the class meant that individual plaintiffs were then permitted to pursue their claims against the tobacco companies alone, rather than as a part of a class action lawsuit.

When the court decertified the class, the lawyers in charge of representing these plaintiffs as a class, were now representing approximately ,500 individual plaintiffs.

Several hundred of these lawsuits were dismissed recently. The Winston-Salem Journal released a report recently that outlines why the judges in charge of these suits dismissed so many at one time. Much of it had to do with questionable lawyering.

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Earlier this month in St. Petersburg, a tragic accident took the lives of three women, all related and all single mothers with children at home. According to a report by the New York Daily News, the women were all in a car together, driving around 3 a.m. in a Saturn passenger vehicle when they were involved in an accident with a Chrysler. The woman who was driving the Saturn was the aunt of the two passengers.

The aunt was flown to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead after her family decided not to continue life support; her nieces were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Chrysler did not stop after causing the accident and fled the scene. Police immediately began an investigation into the accident, hoping to identify the hit-and-run driver. Recently, the police issued a warrant for the driver and are hoping to apprehend him shortly. Once arrested, the driver will face charges of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and driving on a suspended license.

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According to a recent report released by the United States Coast Guard, the state of Florida has the highest number of boat-related accidents and deaths. This may not come as a surprise to those who know Florida and its massive coastline. In fact, Florida is second only to Alaska for states with the largest coastal area.

The study notes that there were 682 boat accidents in 2013, a rise from the previous high in 2012 of 662. This figure represents the highest number of accidents by far, with other states not even close. To give the reader an idea of the percentage of accidents that occurred in Florida alone, there were a total of 4,062 accidents nationwide. Therefore, the 682 that occurred in Florida represent over 16% of the accidents across the entire country.

As far as boating-related fatalities, the US Coast Guard reports that Florida had 58. While this figure represents a low for the past five years, it still puts Florida at the top of the list for boating fatalities.

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