August 30, 2007

Two Year Old Drowns in Family Pool in Miramar Florida

In yet another tragic situation involving a family pool, a two year old child drown at his home in Miramar, Florida. The child apparently slipped out of his house, through an unlocked sliding glass door, and fell into an unfenced pool. The child was pronounced dead at Broward General Medical Center.

According to the American Red Cross, more than 350 young children drown in pools each year. Those of us living in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach need to be particularly vigilant in protecting children and keeping our pools inaccessible to unsupervised kids.

Unfortunately in our practice we have represented families who suffered through the loss and catastrophic injuries caused by drowning and near drownings. Too often, we have seen the devastating consequences of failing to install a pool fence or due to the negligence and momentary inattentiveness of those charged with supervising our children. Given the significant number of pools here in South Florida, we must all remember our obligations to children, that is, to teach them to swim at a young age, and to constantly supervise them in and around pools and lakes.

August 13, 2007

Lack of Security Results in Deaths at Palm Beach County Nightclub

Gunfire at a Riviera Beach nightclub late Sunday evening, due to an apparent lack of proper security, resulted in the wrongful deaths of two club patrons. The Caribbean Club in Palm Beach County was the location of the early morning incident in which an 18 year old and a 24 year old died.

Unfortunately, these types of incidents occur frequently at clubs and bars that negligently disregard their responsibility to provide proper security. In our practice we have seen too many premises liability cases in which club owners, looking to make a quick buck, disregard the safety of their paying patrons by failing to hire enough or properly qualified security guards.

Florida Law provides recourse to such injured customers, and their surviving family members, by requiring businesses to take reasonable steps to protect their customers from known or likely dangers. These dangers include attacks by other patrons and from people who are looking to rob customers as they enter or leave the businesses or use ATMs. In many situations, a review of the criminal history of a particular location will reveal that the business disregarded past criminal attacks and subjected their customers to a foreseeable criminal attack.

We can only hope that those businesses who benefit from their customers, will use some of their profits to take the necessary steps to deter these types of tragedies in the future.

August 7, 2007

Two Miami Motorcycle Accidents Result in Death

Sunday evening was a deadly night for motorcycles in Miami, as two separate motorcyle accidents ended in the wrongful deaths of a passenger and a driver.

The first accident occurred on I-95 when a drunk driver struck a motorcycle from behind, killing the passenger. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the passenger was not wearing a helmet. The second accident happened a few hours later on another Miami-Dade County expressway, when a speeding driver could not manage a turn onto a highway ramp, crashed and died.

In our practice, we have represented too many families who needlessly lost loved-ones in motorcycle accidents. Considering the number of drunk and careless drivers on Florida roadways, we cannot understand why motorcycle drivers and passengers ride without wearing helmets. As indicated in The Journal of Trauma, the medical costs associated with unhelmeted motorcycle riders involved in accidents is almost 50% higher than than for those riders who were wearing helmets when their accident happened.

August 6, 2007

Florida Hospitals Not Responsible for Doctors' Lack of Medical Malpractice Insurance

In yet another blow to Florida victims of medical malpractice , the Florida Supreme Court ruled that hospitals are not required to verify that their staff physicians carry medical malpractice insurance. This ruling essentially allows doctors to disregard Florida Statute Section 458.720 which requires them to have medical malpractice insurance if they are on a hospital staff. Without hospitals verifying that their staff doctors are complying with their statutory insurance requirements, those doctors will have one less reason to purchase malpractice insurance.

Too often in our practice we see Florida doctors going "bare," that is, not having medical malpractice insurance to protect their patients in the event a procedure or treatment is performed negligently and results in personal injury or wrongful death. Usually it is the office based doctor, one who doesn't venture into hospitals, who has chosen not to carry insurance; but now, with this ruling, there will certainly be a significant increase in surgeons who decide not to get insurance, leaving their patients without an avenue of recovery if something goes wrong.

Considering the profits hospitals make by allowing doctors to operate in their facilities, we would certainly hope that the legislature acts to rectify this omission in Florida Law.

August 1, 2007

Florida Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Required to Prevent Injuries

In an effort to protect Florida residents and visitors from further personal injury and wrongful death from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, Florida Governor Crist recently signed the Carbon Monoxide Prevention Bill into law. As of July 1, 2008, carbon monoxide detectors will be required in all new buildings.

The bill requires all buildings in Florida, whether commercial or residential, if they have fossil fuel burning heaters, appliances, attached garages or fireplaces, to have carbon monoxide detectors. On the heels of last years' death at a Key West Hotel, due to carbon monoxide poisoning, we are certainly glad to see the legislature is taking a proactive step to prevent further tragedy, and to protect Florida residents and visitors.

Considering the number of Floridians who have recently purchased home and portable generators, in preparation for our infamous hurricanes, we all need to be particularly vigilant in using those machines as instructed, and never indoors.