July 24, 2007

Florida Drivers Convicted of DUI Required to Carry Increased Car Insurance

In some good news for Florida car accident victims, Governor Crist just signed into law, a bill which will require all drivers convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, to carry a minimum of $100,000.00 in bodily injury liability insurance and $50,000.00 in property damage insurance.

This new law, known as Florida House Bill 359, significantly increases the amount of car accident insurance convicted drunk drivers are required to have, as the old law only required $10,000.00 in bodily injury liability insurance. This new law will further protect Floridians, by requiring the convicted drunk driver to keep this insurance in effect for a minimum of 3 years, assuming they have no other similar drunk driving issues.

In our practice, we have had too many occasions to represent the innocent victims and surviving family members of such car accidents. Having seen our clients suffer brain injuries, personal injury and death, we are all too familiar with the escalating medical costs and damages caused from these types of accident. We are certainly thankful that the Florida Legislature took up this matter and mandated this increased protection for all Floridians.

July 19, 2007

Another Florida Jet Ski Accident Ends in Death

In an alarming trend, another Florida jet ski rider died, and another passenger was critically injured, when their Jet Ski collided with a dock in Pompano Beach. This was at least the third such death caused by a jet ski accident in South Florida over the past few months.

Considering the number Jet Ski operators in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties who are untrained and inexperienced, we, unfortunately, expect these types of accidents resulting in wrongful deaths to continue. As such, it is not surprising that Miami-Dade and Broward Counties dubiously rank in the top ten Florida Counties for such boating accidents.

Currently there are no mandatory training requirements for Jet Ski operators in Florida. In fact, Florida Law allows anyone over the age of 14 to operate one of these personal water crafts, some of which reach speeds of greater than 30 m.p.h., without any adult supervision. Sadly, many victims learn too late that these vessels usually will not respond or turn if the throttle is not engaged.

In our practice we have representing a number of unfortunate families who endured the catastrophic injury and death of a loved one at the hands of such untrained operators. Given the frequency and severity of these type of accidents, we remind everyone to be particularly aware of Jet Skis, and to use the utmost care while operating them.

July 17, 2007

Florida Doctor Continues to Operate Despite Involvement in Patient Deaths

In another example of the State of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration's continuing failure to adequately monitor physicians under its charge, Dr. Alex Zakharia is still on the active staffs at numerous Miami hospitals despite an admitted memory problem and pending perjury and fraud charges.

Dr. Zakharia, age 69, a Miami surgeon specializing in heart surgery, apparently suffers from increasing memory losses, due to a number of TIA (trans ischemic attack) he suffered in the last few years. Despite those worsening memory problems, and his role as the surgeon involved in a number of patients' deaths, a number of which resulted in medical malpractice claims, the State of Florida has not seen fit to suspend his ability to operate.

We are continually amazed at the State's lack of action in their monitoring of physicians, especially those involved in multiple patient deaths. We have unfortunately represented a number of families whose loved ones died from egregious malpractice. Yet despite our reporting those incidents to the State, including one doctor who changed medical records following the death of an infant, the State never issued more than a slap on the hand. Hopefully, as the public's awareness regarding such doctors grows, the State will be forced to deal with these matters in a manner which will better protect the public.

July 11, 2007

Florida Injured Workers Get a Break

In some good news for workers injured in Florida, the Florida Supreme Court ruled, in Bakerman vs. The Bombay Co., that when an employer's actions are substantially certain to result in injury or death, that the injured worker is not required to prove that their employer concealed the dangerous condition from them.

Too often Florida workers, many of whom are our clients, are forced to work in overly dangerous conditions and when injured, are limited to the minimal recoveries, of partial lost wages and medical payments, provided under the workman's compensation statutes. This decision should provide some relief to seriously injured workers, by providing them with a greater ability to sue employers who place them in conditions which are likely to result in serious injury or wrongful death.
Unfortunately, this decision is limited to accidents which happened before 2004, which is when the Florida Legislature, in another blow to injured workers, changed the laws to require the injured worker prove their employer concealed the dangerous condition from them.

July 10, 2007

Florida Victims of Accidents Caused by Governmental Negligence Face Limited Recoveries

Many of our client's are surprise to learn that anyone injured by the negligent actions of any employee of the State of Florida, any of its political subdivisions, including those employees of a County or City, is limited, regardless of how seriously they are injured, to a maximum recovery of $100,000.00. This limitation or cap, which applies to car accidents, slip and falls, and even medical malpractice occurring at a County run hospital, is known as sovereign immunity.

The Florida Legislature passed this law, known as Florida Statute section 768.28, to shield governments from paying for all of the damages caused by their employee's negligence, while allegedly giving accident victims a source of recovery. Unfortunately, for Florida accident victims, especially those who are catastrophically injured, the $100,000.00 cap is woefully inadequate.

Only in the rarest of circumstances does the Florida Legislature entertain, much less pass, a "Claims Bill," which may provide an accident victim with a greater recovery, only if the Legislature and the Governor enact a specific law to help a specifically injured person. Even when the governmental entity, which caused the catastrophic injury, wants to pay the accident victim more than the $100,000.00 cap, the victim must go through the difficult process of pursing a Claims Bill.

We represented an unfortunate boy who sustained a near drowning, resulting in him being in a coma and ultimately dieing. Despite the agreement of the school district responsible for his brain damage, to pay an increased amount, the Florida Legislature delayed our client's recovery for more than 2 years.

We strongly believe this law and the procedures necessary to pursue claims against the government, needs to be changed.

July 3, 2007

Miami Disabled Children Group Home Shut Down Due To Neglect

In yet another example of the lack of supervision and inspection by the State of Florida, a group home for disabled children was finally closed down after a 12 year old autistic boy stopped breathing on a filed trip, and is now on a ventilator. Employees of the Rainbow Ranch Group Home attempted to forcibly restrain the child while in the group home's van.

Despite numerous past allegations of malpractice, including over medication, sexual abuse and malnourishment, The State of Florida did not close this facility until after this this tragic incident.

In our practice, we have unfortunately assisted numerous families with disabled children who are victims, either intentionally or negligently, of abuse and neglect at the hands of under-trained and not supervised group home workers.

Unfortunately, this is just another incident, in a long line of catastrophic injuries and deaths, which have occurred in disabled homes in Florida. We can only hope that the State of Florida will finally pay the proper attention to this growing epidemic and properly monitor these facilities.