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According to one news source, a settlement was recently reached between three of the largest tobacco companies in the country and the approximately 400 plaintiffs who sued them for smoking-related injuries and deaths. The settlement, which resolves only cases pending in a Florida federal court, is believed to be worth $100 million. Thousands of other cases filed against the tobacco companies in Florida state courts are not affected by the settlement. Those cases will proceed unabated.

The cases that settled in federal court were the outgrowth of a 2006 case decided by the Florida Supreme Court. While the court in that case agreed that the tobacco companies knowingly hid the dangers of smoking from the public, it also ruled that the plaintiffs who joined together in that suit could no longer proceed as a class. This meant that the plaintiffs were left to file individual cases in federal court.

To take effect, the settlement must still be approved by all of the plaintiffs with cases in federal court. After the settlement was announced, lawyers for the tobacco companies vowed to zealously fight the cases that are still pending in Florida state courts.

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Earlier this week in Glades County, Florida, a church van packed with 18 people ran a stop sign and plunged into a ditch that was partially filled with water. According to one local news source, eight of the 18 passengers died in the accident. The other 10 passengers were taken to four area hospitals with varying injuries.

Evidently, police are still trying to determine what caused the accident. What investigators do know is that the van was traveling eastbound on State Road 78 when it ran a stop sign at the intersection of US Highway 27. After running the stop sign, the van continued through four lanes of traffic before it plunged into the partially filled ditch. No one saw the van crash; the only witnesses were those aboard the van. It is unclear why the van ran the stop sign, although investigators did tell reporters that the van was rated to carry 16 people and there were 18 inside at the time of the fatal accident.

At the time of the most recent publication, eight people inside the van had died and 10 were still suffering from their injuries. Of the 10, all but two were in stable condition. The other two remain in critical condition. Police are continuing their investigation and will update the news media when more is learned about the tragic accident.

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Earlier this week, a Miami man was struck and killed while he was riding his bike along Bird Road. According to one local Florida news report, the man’s body was discovered 30 seconds to one minute after the fatal accident. The discovering officer passed the scene of the accident, thought he saw a body, and turned around. However, by the time he arrived on the scene, it was too late.

At first, the officer was unsure how the man died, since there was no bike nearby, he had only one shoe on, and he had a backpack on him. The victim did not have identification on him at the time, but he was estimated to be in his late 30s.

However, not long after the investigation was begun, police found a bicycle and a shoe that matched the victim’s a few blocks away from the accident. Police then found a groove in the pavement near the man’s body, indicating to them that the man’s death was the result of an accident between a bicyclist and a car. Police believe that the bicycle got caught in the grill or underside of the car after the accident and that the driver stopped after a few seconds and had to pull out the bike.

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A Florida mother participated in some particularly egregious behavior that resulted in a disturbing accident earlier this month. According to a Florida news report, the 28-year-old pregnant mother of two was driving her vehicle drunk when she rear-ended a Buick. The impact of the accident caused one of her twin babies to be ejected from their seat and land on the floor of the car. Police reported that when they pulled the woman over they only noticed one of the children because the other baby was on the floor next to a beer can. Neither of the children were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.

Reports indicate that the woman’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit of .08. It seems that she was engaged in a verbal argument with other individuals in the car right before the accident occurred. Police officials explained that when they tried to question the mother she was not coherent. The woman has been charged with driving under the influence. The children’s father took the infants to the hospital, and the Florida Department of Children and Families has since become involved.

Drunk Driving Laws in Florida

Driving entails a certain amount of risk, since drivers cannot control the actions of others. However, this risk is exponentially increased when other drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Florida, unfortunately, many fatal car accidents each year are a result of a driver being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. Florida, like many other states, categorizes a person as “under the influence” if their blood alcohol content is .08 or higher. These limits can differ, however, depending on the age of the individual and the type of vehicle the person is driving.

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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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Earlier this month, a recently retired man from Maine was killed when a car jumped the sidewalk and struck him as he was walking near the Harbor Island Bridge in Tampa. According to one local news source from the man’s home state of Maine, the man was with his wife and one other person near the Tampa Convention Center when the fatal accident occurred.

Evidently, 68-year-old driver of the car suffered some kind of medical episode, causing him to lose control of the car and sending it up over the nearby curb. Before hitting the three pedestrians, the car slammed through two poles. One nearby witness told reporters that he saw people “flying” and that it was “something you never want to see.”

The two others who were with the deceased that day suffered serious injuries but are currently in stable condition. Police are currently conducting an investigation into the accident to determine whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of the driver.

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When a pharmacy customer goes to their local pharmacy to get a prescription filled, they assume that the medication they are being provided by the pharmacy is the same one that their doctor prescribed. However, according to a recent news article, the rate of error in pharmacies has recently gone up, and continues to do so at an alarming rate.

According to a recent report by CBS Miami, patients have been noticing that they are being provided different medications, incorrect doses, or the wrong number of pills when they go to get their prescriptions refilled. The report illustrated as examples three recent situations where a local pharmacist provided his or her patient with the wrong medication:

  • In one instance, allergy medication was provided to a patient who had actually been prescribed blood-pressure medicine;
  • In another case, the patient received acid-reflux medication instead of the depression medication he had been prescribed; and
  • In a third report, an arthritis medication was provided to a patient who in actuality needed seizure medication.

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In a recent case, the Florida Supreme Court determined drivers cannot be prosecuted for leaving the scene of a car accident unless they knew they were involved in the accident when it occurred. The case involved a truck driver who hit a teenage boy on his skateboard on highway A1A in Boca Raton in 2007. The boy fell into a crosswalk and was struck by the driver, who was pulled over by police after the boy was dragged some 90 feet under the truck. The driver was not found to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but he claimed he was not aware of the accident because his radio, air conditioning, and windshield wipers were all on at the time of the accident, which occurred in the rain.

One witness saw the back tire run over the boy, and another witness saw the skateboard jettisoned out from beneath the truck and split into two pieces. The truck showed no signs of damage from the accident, and police found no skid marks at the site of the crash. Unfortunately, the boy suffered severe brain injuries as a result of the accident and was in a coma for several weeks.

Automobile Accident Victims’ Rights in Florida

Although the state Supreme Court ruled that, in order to convict a driver of leaving the scene of a crash, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver is aware of the accident at the time it occurs, Florida law still allows accident victims and certain family members to sue a driver for monetary damages without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver is aware of the crash.

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A two-year-old toddler died under extremely tragic circumstances early this month. One local Florida news report indicates that the toddler was killed because of a 24-year-old drunk driver. Florida Highway Patrol reported that the drunk driver was driving a Ford Expedition north on 1-75 around 5:00 p.m.on March 1st. Evidently, the woman veered off of the road and onto the shoulder of the highway. As a result of her sudden turn and loss of control, the SUV flew off the ground and became airborne. The SUV then began to roll over several times until it finally came to a stop after hitting several trees.

The car was filled with several people, including nine children and three adults. None of the minors were restrained with seat belts. Unfortunately, one toddler was declared dead at the scene of the accident, and an infant was severely injured and taken to a children’s hospital in St. Petersburg. The remaining children all suffered minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals. Additionally, the driver and the other two adults sustained serious injuries and were hospitalized as a result.

Florida Highway Patrol stated that the driver is currently facing several charges, including one count of DUI Resulting in Serious Injury, nine counts of DUI Resulting in Injury, and one count of DUI Manslaughter.

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Earlier last week, a fatal accident on Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville claimed the lives of four individuals and seriously injured three others. According to one local news report, the accident occurred on a Monday afternoon around two o’clock.

Evidently, an SUV was coming to a stop on the bridge when it was struck from behind by a semi-truck. The SUV caught fire soon after the initial collision. Tragically, all four people inside the SUV—including two adults and two minors—were pronounced dead at the scene.

A third vehicle was also involved in the accident. Thankfully, all occupants of that vehicle were able to make it out with non-life-threatening, although still serious, injuries. The driver of the semi-truck was also injured as a result of the accident.

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