June 28, 2007

Careless Motorcyle Stunt on Florida Roadway Causes Death

A motorcycle accident in Coral Springs left one person dead and another in critical condition. The driver who was performing a wheelie when he lost control and hit a tree

We can't understand why so many people continue to endanger themselves and others by driving motorcycles in an irresponsible and dangerous manner. In this case, as you can imagine, neither the driver nor passenger were wearing a helmet.

Florida law allows a motorcycle rider not to wear a helmet if they have $10,000.00 in medical coverage insurance. With numerous motorcycle accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries, such as in this situation, the minimal insurance required barley covers the bills of even a emergency room visit.

While many Floridians enjoy riding responsibly, it is the activities of riders such as these which cause such tragic losses and compel non-riders to think all motorcycle riders are careless, which is certainly not the case.

June 27, 2007

Florida Supreme Court Holds Cruise Lines Not Liable for Doctor's Errors

In yet another blow to Florida residents and visitors, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that on-board doctors are not considered employees of the cruise lines who hire them. This means that the cruise lines are not responsible if those doctors commit malpractice while treating a passenger on board their ship.

The effect of this ruling is simple, if you are mistreated or injured due to the negligent actions of an on-board doctor, you cannot sue the cruise line for that doctor's negligent actions. Considering that most on-board doctors are from other countries and do not have malpractice insurance, it is likely that the injured victim will be unable to recovery anything for the damages they suffer at the hands of an on-board doctor.

Having represented dozens of cruise ship passengers, we cannot understand how an on-board doctor, who is specifically placed on a ship by the cruise line, for the benefit of their paying passengers, cannot be an employee of that cruise line. Cruise line passengers have no choice in the medical care they receive as they are essentially captive and in many instances, unable to leave the ships. If a passenger falls victim to illness, or sustains an on-board injury, such as a slip and fall, their only hope for medical care is with the on-board doctor.

Now, given the Court's ruling, passengers on cruise ships, whose tickets require them to file lawsuits in Florida, will be unable to hold the cruise line responsible for an on-board doctor's negligence.

June 25, 2007

Palm Beach Jury Verdict Finds Driver on Cellphone Liable

A Palm Beach County Jury found a driver, who was talking on her cellphone at the time she rear-ended another vehicle, responsible for causing a multi-vehicle collision which resulted in the death of a Lesley Beers, a wife and mother.

The verdict, of just over 21 million dollars, clearly demonstrates the jury's disapproval of the driver's cellphone use, and how its accompanying distraction caused the collision. This is yet another example of the public's continuing outcry that too many car accidents are the result of inattentive drivers using cellphones.

While cellphones certainly are a convenience, we agree with the sentiment of the jury's verdict, that is, that too may drivers concentrate on dialing and texting rather than watching the roadway. We have a number of seriously injured clients whose car accidents could have easily been avoided if the other driver was not using their cellphone.

This verdict is one of a growing number of verdicts which not only compensates seriously injured victims, but also seems to punish a driver on a cellphone. We can only hope that drivers, and those companies whose employees drive extensively, pay particular attention to not only this verdict, but the roadway.

June 23, 2007

Adult Children of Florida Malpractice Victims Cannot Recover Damages

Florida Laws relating to medical malpractice cases do not allow adult children, whose parents die from medical malpractice, to recover damages from the wrongful death of their parents. In all other types of cases, in which a parent dies from the negligence of another, including car accidents, truck accident or even boating accidents, an adult child, that is, someone older than 25, may recover for their parent's wrongful death, assuming that parent is unmarried at the time of their death.

A number of years ago, doctors and hospitals convinced the Florida Legislature to pass a law excluding adult survivors of medical malpractice victims as Plaintiffs. This means, if you are 25 or older, and your parent is divorced or a widow(er) when they die from medical malpractice, then you are precluded from recovering pain and suffering damages against the doctor or hospital who caused their death.

The Florida Supreme Court has also recently issued an opinion holding this law, which protects doctors and hospitals, to the detriment of all surviving adult children, is constitutional. We have had to regrettably turn away numerous clients, who not only suffered due to the loss of their parent, but are doubly injured by their inability to seek justice on behalf of their deceased parent.

We can only hope that enough Floridians become aware of this limitation and write to their legislators to try to correct this inequity.

June 21, 2007

Florida Car Drivers No Longer Required To Have Insurance

We can't believe it, but due to the Florida Legislature's inactions, the requirement that Florida drivers have car insurance, to pay their medical bills and to protect others involved in car accidents, will expire on September 30, 2007. On that date, the so called, Florida "No Fault" law is going to expire, as the legislature has not re-enacted it, nor have they passed a replacement law.

For more than the past 20 years, all car owners and drivers in Florida were required to have a minimum of $10,000.00 of insurance coverage for personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage. But now, unless the Florida Legislature has another special session to address the issue of car insurance, Florida drivers will not have any such requirement.

What does this mean to you? First of all, unless you have health insurance, it will be more difficult to find a doctor who is willing to treat your injuries following a car accident, as the person who caused the accident will not be required to pay anything until your case is settled. This means, doctors may not want to treat car accident victims because they will have to wait an extended period of time before they are paid.

Secondly, and of greater concern to all Floridians, is the loss of revenue that all trauma hospitals will suffer due to the lack of payments from automobile insurance companies.

We can only hope that the Florida Legislature does something to correct this impending crisis, otherwise, we suggest all Florida drivers purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as they can.