July 29, 2013

Summer Time Slip and Fall Accidents in Miami

As we South Floridians know too well, with increased summer rains come many slip and fall accidents. Often these falls result in serious injuries, including fractures, sprains, abrasions, torn ligaments and even death. In fact, statistics prove that premises liability accidents such as slip and falls are a leading cause of these personal injuries.

The act of slipping generally happens when your shoe’s heel slides on a walking surface causing you to lose your balance. Slips usually occur as your heel hits the floor, and your weight is on that foot. Most often, slips happen because there is insufficient traction between your shoe and the floor. The most frequent cause of slips result from hazardous weather, foreign substances such as water or oil on the floor, poorly maintained or inappropriate flooring and improper footwear.

It is not unusual particularly in Miami, to find buildings which use indoor tile on outdoor surfaces. Given our humid weather and frequent rains, the use of such indoor flooring materials frequently result in unsafe friction, meaning unreasonably slippery walking areas. Despite the availability of slip prevention additives which are easily applied to such walking surfaces, businesses often fail to apply these friction adders and cause their customers to slip and fall. As businesses have an obligation to provide safe means for customers to enter and exit their property, the use of such inappropriate flooring is negligent, and may result in liability.

Businesses have had the Florida Legislature pass many recent laws which place a large hurdle in front of personal injury slip and fall accident victims, to wit: proving the business owner or operator either knew or should have known of the dangerous condition which caused their fall. This burden rests solely upon the injured victim; the business does not have to prove anything. This is the precise reason why consulting with an experienced Miami slip and fall lawyer shortly after a fall is critically important; as an immediate investigation into the cause of the fall, and preservation of photographs or surveillance videos of a fall area must be pursued. Incredibly, Florida Courts have recently held that businesses do not have an obligation to preserve accident videos, that is, unless they receive a written request for such preservation shortly after an accident.

This is the precise reason why it is imperative that all accident victims contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney shortly after their accident.

July 22, 2013

Children Injured by Improperly Secured Televisions

Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney Joseph Lipsky has had to help families overcome the serious injuries their young children suffered because a business, such as a restaurant or hotel, failed to properly securing a tabletop television to prevent it from falling. Recent studies have shown a significant increase in the number of children being injured by the failure to take a basic safety measure.

The Journal of Pediatrics recently determined that over 12,000 children were treated at emergency rooms over the past year for injuries caused by falling televisions. This represented an increase of more than 125% for such injuries over the past decade. Incredibly, studies show that a child is killed in the United States from an improperly secured television at least every month.

With the increasing prevalence of flat screened televisions, more families are placing older model large televisions onto furniture not intended to hold such televisions, such as a desk or dresser. As any parent knows, young children can easily open drawers and climb them to reach a newly placed television, causing it to tumble upon them.

As expected, the study found that children under 5 were the victims of such accidents almost two thirds of the time. Also not surprisingly, the most commonly treated injuries were to the head and neck. As a parent, Miami personal injury attorney Joseph Lipsky hopes that television manufacturers and retailers undertake a campaign to promote greater public awareness of this problem.

April 11, 2013

Personal Injury Victims To Repay Medicaid Less

As personal injury attorneys representing seriously injured victims of car accidents and fall downs throughout Florida, including, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches, we know that most of our clients are surprised when we inform them that they must repay their health insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid for any payments they made towards medical bills for treatment of injuries suffered in an accident.

This repayment requirement is based upon the legal principle of subrogation. Essentially, this means that the health insurance company stands in the shoes of the accident victim. Most states have specific laws which protect the rights of the health insurance companies and Medicaid; Medicare is protected under Federal Law. When we are able to settle an accident victim's case, we attempt to reduce the amount being sought as repayment by these payers. And, while Florida Law requires private health insurance companies to take various factors into consideration in reducing their subrogation interest, including the attorney's fees and the injured person's comparative negligence, state laws protect Medicaid from such equitable reductions.

Now, thanks to a recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court, Medicaid will have to take these factors into consideration in reducing their subrogation claims. In Wos vs. Ema, the Supreme Court held that Federal anti-lien laws prohibit states from enacting their own laws which fail to take determine what portion of an accident victim's recovery was for the medical bills, versus their lost wages or pain and suffering.

We are hopeful that this "law of the land" will assist us in helping our client's maximize their net recoveries, by repaying less of their case compensation to Medicaid. Although, given Florida Medicaid's prior stance on such negotiations, we anticipate needing the presiding judge in each case to Order Medicaid that they must follow the law, just like everyone else.

May 24, 2012

Enforcement of Safety Laws Would Lessen Personal Injuries

According to a recent study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research, if states, including Florida, monitored and forced compliance with safety laws, they could prevent millions of unnecessary personal injuries annually.

As personal injury attorneys representing victims of accidents in the Palm Beaches, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, we know too well that the leading cause of wrongful deaths of people age one to 40 years are accidental injuries. Yet amazingly many states, including Florida, refuse to pass common sense laws which would prevent injuries, save lives and lower overall health care costs.

While Florida does have mandatory seat-belt laws, which are proven to prevent about 12,000 annual car accident wrongful deaths; our legislature passed a law allowing motorcycle riders not to wear a helmet. Considering that helmets prevent approximately 1,5000 lives annually, and given the state's obligation to pay the enormous medical bills incurred by those who sustain brain injuries from head trauma, such lack of legislative action is certainly reckless .

Not all blame falls upon the state, as national injury prevention funding has decreased almost twenty five percent over the last five years. We can only hope that the Florida Legislature will have the fortitude to disregard lobbyists and take aggressive action to pass and enforce needed safety laws.

May 18, 2012

Government Seeks to Lower Wrongful Deaths Caused by Drunk Drivers

As personal injury lawyers helping the innocent victims of deadly car accidents throughout Florida, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches, we are certainly glad to hear that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is seeking to take action to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths.

Although the number of wrongful deaths caused by drunk drivers has dropped from an annual high of over 18,000 in the late 80s, to just over 10,000 in the past year, the needed decrease has plateaued over the past 8 years.

Proposed solutions include ignition locks which stop an impaired driver from starting a vehicle, and increased enforcement of drunk driving laws.

We commend the NTSB for their proactive attempts to reduce the deadly consequences of drunk driving.

April 21, 2010

Accident Victims Can Sue Florida For More Money

In what is being claimed as a victory for victims of personal injury caused by the negligence of employees of the State of Florida or any of its counties or cities, the Florida Legislature agreed to raise the sovereign immunity limits of compensation from $100,000.00 to $200,000.00 per person. This is the first increase of these limits in thirty years.

For too long, those who suffered severe and life altering injuries as a result of the negligence of sovereign employees, such as police officers and bus drivers who cause many car accidents due to careless driving, and doctors who commit malpractice at State funded hospitals, were limited in their recovery to the wholly inadequate sum of $100,000.00. Any additional damages required the legislature to pass a "claims bill," a process which places an undue burden, with little chance of success, upon the injured victim.

These new damage limits, assuming the Governor signs the bill into law, will go into effect for accidents occurring after October 2011. While these damage limits remain too low to adequate compensate those victims whose lives are turned upside down when a government employee carelessly disregards their obligations, at least the accident victims have an opportunity to receive some more compensation.

December 11, 2008

Florida Court Says Injured Kids Can Sue Even if Parents Sign Waiver

In some great news for children who are unfortunately injured in Florida, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that parents are not authorized to sign a personal injury or accident release/waiver on behalf of their minor child. As Florida Lawyers, we commend the Court's ruling, which will allow children injured while participating in a commercial activity, such as at amusement parks, to seek compensation for damages caused by the negligence of the business operator.

The Florida Supreme Court said there is injustice when a parent agrees to waive the personal injury claims of a minor child, depriving the child of the right to damages when they are injured as a result of another party’s negligence. The Court reasoned that when a parent executes such a release and a child is injured, the operator of the activity escapes liability while the parent, and on many occasions, the State, is left to deal with the financial burden of an injured child. Therefore, when a parent signs a pre-personal injury or accident release on behalf of their minor child, the parent is not protecting the welfare of the child, but is instead protecting the interests of the activity provider.

We can only hope that this ruling will finally force operators of businesses which cater to minors to take the necessary precautions to protect their young patrons.