Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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 .

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.

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.

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.

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