Though most attorneys are truly committed to assisting their clients with their cases, occasionally there are times when a case may not be the right fit. These scenarios are not personal; most times, an attorney denying your case may be in your best interest.
South Florida is ripe with personal injury law firms. However, as with most professions, not all firms offer the same experience and results.
Peter Hunt, J.D,. has been working with LaBovick Law Group for more than a year in the maritime and personal injury division. His main practice area of focus is transactional maritime law.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Master Isolated Images
At the beginning of this year, there was a huge amendment made to the Florida personal injury protection (PIP) insurance statute. Under this new amendment came significant changes involving what care and treatment is reimbursable to an injured patient and his/her medical doctor, and who can render the care.
Tara Kopp, Esq. is the Director of PIP Suit Litigation at LaBovick Law Group. Ms. Kopp's practice area focuses on Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Bad Faith claims against insurance carriers by medical providers.
Recently, there has been extensive coverage in the news about the release of millions of gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee into the Indian River Lagoon.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) have gone on record as stating that this has become a necessary action because the lake levels have gotten too high, causing concerns with the integrity of the dyke surrounding the lake.
The problem with this undertaking is that the runoff has caused a notorious plume of green toxic algae. Protesters have become more visible and visits from Tallahassee politicos are becoming more frequent. As expected, lawsuits are starting to get filed by local businessmen claiming a loss of earnings due to the plume and run off.
However, who do they sue? The Army Corp? The SFWMD?
These entities are protected by Florida and national immunity statutes with damage caps. Suing them will prove difficult.
How does one attribute the losses to these entities? The water travels though a canal system where farm, ranch and residential run off adds chemicals to the water. It may be challenging to identify potential defendants. In order to successfully prosecute a claim, a plaintiff must have an identifiable defendant.
In the case of those who are claiming to have fallen victim to the environmental disaster, that requirement may prove too complicated.
As a personal injury lawyer, I have seen countless individuals who have been injured in car accidents. Oftentimes, I am told their neck pain did not commence until a few days after the accident.
Surprisingly, this is a very common occurrence. Based on numerous sources, whiplash injuries can remain dormant for weeks after a car accident.
Why does this happen?
According to medical literature, whiplash results from the stretching of ligaments and muscles that can occur from a jarring trauma, such as the sudden forward movement of a rear-end auto collision. In severe cases there may be tearing of the tissues, but most often the injury is mild to moderate.
There are several reasons why pain is often delayed:
1. Inflammation may occur gradually and eventually cause swelling of the tissues
2. Swelling may lead to muscle spasm and nerve root irritation over time
3. Pain may evolve over the course of a few days as the body responds to the damage, much likea cold develops over time after initial infection
As such, if you have developed neck pain days after a car accident, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Make sure to let your physician know you were the victim of a car accident and explain when the pain started.
Auto accidents are chaotic events for all involved. Often times, there are various things being taken care of by numerous people at the scene of an accident – paramedics, police officers, bystanders, and of course, the accident victims, themselves.
The commotion at an accident site can sometimes lead to improper handling of the situation, including misstated facts and muddled information.
So, what happens if are in an accident and the police officer inadvertently misstates the facts or puts you down in the report as the at-fault driver? Have you lost your chance to make a claim?
The short answer is no.
Florida statutes make any conversation between the accident-involved parties and the officer inadmissible in court while an investigation is taking place. This applies to both criminal and civil court. Additionally, the crash report itself is not considered evidence and cannot be used at trial.
How do you protect yourself?
1. Take photos of the scene and cars involved before the cars are moved.
2. Ask witnesses for their names and contact information, assuming you are physically able to do so. If not, it still doesn't mean you have no case.
3. Hire an experienced trial attorney who practices in the area of auto accidents. He or she will assist you in collecting any information that will be needed to rectify the miscommunicated report.
Choosing your attorney carefully can make all the difference in your case. As always, search for an attorney that has proven experience and is the right fit for you.
Have you heard of a modified golf cart? They are more common than you think. Golf carts can be used as daily forms of transportation, like in assisted living facilities, and they can also be made into multi-purpose vehicles when upgrading the lift, wheels, lights, etc.
Modified golf carts that are capable of exceeding 20 miles per hour can fit within the statutory definition of a "low speed vehicle" and, as such, a motor vehicle.
Golf carts that fall into this category may require the owner to acquire the same type of insurance that is needed for a motor vehicle. This can be an important distinction as most homeowners’ policies don't cover claims for motor vehicles.
In a situation in which a golf cart has a motorized combustible engine, persons should always confer with their agent and insurance company (in writing, of course) to clarify that they are fully covered for any injuries caused by the operation of the modified golf cart.
In the case Angelotta v. Security National Insurance Company, this very point was illustrated. The 5th District Court of Appeal ruled that, due to the modifications made to the golf cart, it had to be classified as a “motor vehicle” and coverage could not be denied by the insurance company for injuries caused by the cart collision.
Last week we discussed a captain's responsibilities during lobster mini season; now we'll discuss a diver's responsibilities.
- A diver must possess a crawfish endorsement with his/her fishing license to legally hunt lobster. This can be bought at most bait shops and sporting goods stores.
- To dive on compressed air, a diver must be certified to do so and carry the appropriate certification card. No responsible dive shop will sell air to a person without one. Additionally, it is a civil infraction to fail to produce the card upon law enforcement request.
A diver must follow the following rules for lobster hunting:
- Bag limits for any county other than Monroe is 12 legal-sized bugs. Monroe's County is 6. The carapace, or head section, must be at least 3 inches. Measuring devices are available at dive shops, bait stores and most sporting goods outfits.
- No egg-bearing lobsters may be taken.
- No spears or puncturing devices may be used.
- Finally, the tails cannot be wrung until after you return to land.
Any failure to follow the rules may lead to at least misdemeanor charges and some felonies. This may apply to confiscation of all the equipment, including the boat. Following the rules makes it safe and fun, but also protects our natural resources.
Commercial jet/airplane accidents are always someone's fault. There is never a time when a commercial airline flight should "go down." It is either a matter of pilot error, in which case the airline is at fault; or maintenance, in which case the airline and its maintenance company are at fault. Almost never is it the fault of an air traffic control person, but when that occurs the airport is at fault. The fact still remains that in no cases are the passengers at fault.
Fortunately for the passengers in Asiana Flight 214, there were only two confirmed deaths, but there were unfortunately 180 injuries. It could have been far worse. The truth is this should never have happened! Every one of these passengers needs help now. They will have lost wages, medical bills, lost business opportunities, lost vacation time and horrible injuries as well as terrifying mental images that will remain for the rest of their lives.
Many airline passengers, especially those who are international, may not be fully aware of their rights under US and aviation laws. For example, it’s important to know that in aviation accident litigation, there is a time limit in which a lawsuit can be filed. This is called “Statute of Repose,” and it is based on how long the airplane or part in question has been in service, the jurisdiction of the accidents and potential liable parties.
The passengers of Asiana Flight 214 and any other plane accident victims need to know their legal rights. They should choose a reliable law firm to represent them and to give their families the attention they deserve. It will be a long and hard road, and the airline industry takes precautions to protect itself. You need to protect your family and get the justice and compensation you deserve.
The verdict is in: energy drinks are dangerous, and in some cases, deadly. While the popularity of extreme caffeine drinks has been on the rise over the past few years, so have personal injury lawsuits against energy drink manufacturers and efforts to raise awareness over the hazards of these risky beverages.
Firework safety is an important part of enjoying your Fourth of July celebrations, but so is caution in regards to food preparation and water safety. Keep the holiday weekend’s beach and backyard cookouts memorable (in a good way!) by arming yourself with a few simple tips that will keep the festivities safe and fun!
After several years of litigation, Bayer has finally decided to pay the damages its blockbuster birth control pill Yasmin has caused. This month we settled our first Yaz case! This birth control pill goes by a number of names, including Beyaz, Yasmin, Yaz and Ocella.
Chrysler has finally reluctantly agreed to recall 1.56 million cheap vehicles because of a potential problem with exploding gas tanks. Evidently, the vehicles have performance and design defects that could cause deadly fires in rear end collisions. This harkens back to the days of the Ford Pinto and the exploding gas tanks.
It is odd that large manufacturers appear to be reluctant at first in recalling products. One would think that a company like Chrysler would want to put into commerce the safest product that they could create. However, when a problem is discovered such as an exploding gas tank, the companies go through a cost and benefit analysis in determining whether or not it would be cheaper to repair the vehicles or pay lawsuit damages. These types of conditions can result in catastrophic losses for anyone involved in an accident with an exploding gas tank.
Product design cases are very tough and costly to prosecute. However, it would seem that these types of corporations could avoid liability lawsuits if they recognized the problems early on and correct them in a responsible fashion. However, this is an assumption that does not always bare itself out. Contrary to tort reformers, liability lawyers who vigorously pursue product liability cases that result in catastrophic losses are important in keeping corporations in check and operating safely. Consider these attorneys the watchdogs of consumer safety.
It’s so easy to become injured. You can slip and fall on the sidewalk, or you can be traumatically injured in a car accident. Your health can change at the drop of a hat. If you are the victim of the negligence of others, you should consider hiring a personal injury attorney to represent your case to ensure you get fair compensation for your injuries.
Floridians are subject to a variety of personal injuries. Any injuries sustained in a traffic accident, boating accident or pedestrian accidents are considered personal injuries. Injuries involving nursing home abuse, defective drugs, or simple slips and falls are also classified as personal injuries. No matter how big or small the personal injury may be, you owe it to yourself and your family to seek justice and compensation.
Sometimes you have to deal with a variety of people following a personal injury situation. For example, you may be required to speak with law enforcement, hospital staff and/or the other involved parties. Having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side can alleviate some worry about speaking with others and can ensure you are treated fairly.
Following an accident or other personal injury scenario, you may not be able to return to work. This will obviously put financial strain on your household, which can then cause emotional damage. You may also incur physical symptoms like neck or back pain that will require multiple doctor visits. You should hire an attorney experienced in Florida personal injury laws to make sure you’re treated fairly and receive just compensation for your injuries.
If a loved one passes away due to personal injury, you have the right to fight for compensation. Death is heartbreaking, and the financial burden can be heavy. You will be faced with making funeral arrangements as well as dealing with any financial burdens the deceased has left behind. Personal injury attorneys are trained to handle this type of devastating situation to make sure you receive fair compensation.
If you’re the victim of a personal injury, you should hire an attorney to represent your case. Personal injuries include injuries sustained during a traffic accident, from nursing home abuse, or from a simple slip and fall. All of these scenarios can be devastating, both physically and financially. An experienced attorney can help alleviate your worries by pointing you in the right direction to getting fair compensation for your injuries. Florida is a great place to live, but accidents happen everywhere. If you or a loved one sustains personal injuries, there are a variety of lawyers experienced in Florida personal injury who are willing to help represent your case.
Reference: Personal injuries can be devastating, both physically and financially. Following an accident where you or a loved one sustained personal injuries, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. Palm Beach, Florida is home to many experienced personal injury lawyers who are ready to represent your personal injury case.
The current national outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a spinal injection with a contaminated steroid produced by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts has recently been commented on by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). The CDCP is suggesting that those that may be infected by the injection within the past six weeks but have no symptoms follow two options:
1. The first option is to keep watch for symptoms (e.g., headaches, stiff neck, dizziness, fever and sensitivity to light) and to perform a spinal tap if they occur.
2. The second option is to perform the spinal tap even if there are no symptoms present.
The CDCP went on to further note that spinal taps are NOT RISK-FREE. There is a remote chance that someone who was injected with the contaminated drug may transfer the infection to the spine via the spinal needle. In other words, directly infecting the patient with meningitis by way of a test meant to detect a meningitis infection. Another side effect of spinal taps is headaches, which is one of the symptoms of meningitis.
As of the writing of this blog, Florida has seen its twenty-third case of meningitis allegedly brought on by an infected injection. Of those 23 people infected in Florida, three have died as a result. There have been a reported 340 reported cases nationwide in 18 states.
If you have any questions or concerns about this outbreak, legal or otherwise, give us a call, and we will lead you in the right direction. www.labovick.com
1) Driving: The heavy weight king of kids liability is driving. New drivers are simply dangerous. New drivers in hot rod cars pumped up on teenage testosterone and texting all at once is a disaster waiting to happen. I didn't say it in the last blog because I thought it obvious at this point, but just in case: distracted driving does worse things than kill others, it makes them, baron damages them to the point they sit in a wheelchair and need millions in medical care. It ruins lives. It is NOT worth it. Put the phone away. If someone important calls about something that can't wait, there is a grocery store parking lot or gas station or some safe place to pull over. Stop the car, and deal with it - all within 60 seconds of wherever you are. No excuses!
2) Parties: Oh yes, we all believe our kids aren't the ones who would have a party when we are out of the house. I thought it. My kids were quiet honor students in the IB program at school. They are going to college next year - on the Florida Smarty Pants Scholarship! Really serious. Really trustworthy. Not really interested in drinking. Or drugs. Or really even interested in parties. Soon to be Big Wigs, Indian Chiefs and possibly even astronauts or brain surgeons! OR MAYBE they are just teenagers who would have a party about 3 hours after we left them (a 17 year old and a 15 year old) alone for 1 night while we were just an hour or two south! Coming home to broken beer bottles and stolen property because they lost control of the number of kids they either invited or who just showed up wasn't too bad. The fact that some punks stole some expensive jewelry was distressing. But the best thing was that no one was hurt driving home drunk or high or rolling or tripping or whatever else may have gone down at what my neighbor said was a real "barn burner." Had anyone hurt or killed another person after drinking my beer out of my refrigerator, I would have been sued to the ends of my policy and likely a bit more for allowing these children access to the house for a party. Certainly we didn't plan it, condone it, permit it, or even desire it; but a solid personal injury attorney will hook me in anyway.
3) Bullying and Social Media: There is a wave coming, maybe a tidal wave, of bullying-related injury lawsuits and actions. Gary Namie is a nationally known bullying expert. He is working for legislation to prohibit bullying. But even without anti-bullying laws, the present laws of defamation and libel all work to help stop nastiness over the web. Emails, blogs, tweets, YouTube videos, tumbler, and who knows all the new ways people communicate cause the worst of what's written to go viral and spread like wildfire. As the parent of a teen you buy the nastiness of your child's web rants. So monitor what the say. Monitor and spy on what they do. Let them know the serious nature of what defaming a teacher or another student can do. In our family the law is clear. You live in a communist dictatorship. Each gets what they need with little to no right to privacy and choice only over issues we permit. All other orders need to be obeyed. All Internet activity shall be monitored. You must give us your password. You must give us access to your social media profiles. If you are caught sneaking around without disclosure you will be executed. Ok. Not executed. But your social profile will die, and you won't get access for a long time. If you are the type of parent who believes their child is responsible and sweet and deserves some rights to privacy then there is only one thing to say... You're WRONG. Sorry, but you need to hear that. If you don't believe me, then I am pretty sure it's your kid who is selling pot to the rest of the school.
4) Other Activities: Not to belabor the liability point, but pretty much anything your kids do can cause you liability. So whether it's water skiing or snowboarding or horseback riding you need to explain to your kids that they must try hard to be responsible because risky behavior can hurt others. I must admit, I'm a bit of a hypocrite here because I also believe we are teaching our kids not to take chances and take risks. I know there is a balance. Just be wary, and stay on the lookout for unwarranted risks.
Brian F. LaBovick
This is part two of a three part series on bullying, and anti-bullying initiatives. In this article, we will look at the signs to look for that your child is being bullied, what cyberbullying is, and how to stop both.
Bullying Is A Serious Issue
In part one of my series, I gave a definition of bullying: bullying is aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress. If this has happened to your child, they are not alone. Over one third of teens have reported being bullied while at school. Bullying is a significant and pervasive problem that affects children of all ages, with serious short term and long term consequences.
Signs That Bullying Has Occurred
There are many signs we can look for, as parents, to recognize whether or not our child is being bullied. Signs to look for in your child include:
- Coming home with damaged clothing.
- Missing items such as books and electronics.
- Physical injuries.
- Loss of appetite.
- Loss of sleep.
- In extreme instances, child may begin to discuss suicide and feelings of hopelessness.
Ways to Stop Bullying
The best way to fight bullying is to work as a family. The parent must sit down and have a very honest discussion with the child in order to find out where the bullying is taking place, and the identity of the bully. If it is in the context of school, the parent should meet with the school authorities, and explain the situation completely. The school undoubtedly has a "No Bullying" policy. Public schools take these policies very seriously and enforce them. However, the child must be taught how to protect themselves from bullies.
First, they should know not to engage the bully. Teach your children to walk away whenever possible. If it is not possible, children must protect themselves until they can get away. It is also a good idea to instruct your child to stick to a group as to not become singled out. Children should tell an adult at the school about the problem. Put the complaints in writing and keep a copy.
Other times, the bullying occurs over social networking sites. This is known as cyberbullying. As a parent, it is your responsibility to monitor your child's use of the Internet. You must have all your children's passwords to the social networking sites they're on, and review them religiously. This type of bullying is most insidious because it can be done without physical injury and cause tremendous emotional damage to a child. Because the lack of physical injury, parents are less likely to discover cyberbullying as they would physical bullying. Cyberbullying can be done by other children who are less likely to engage in physical bullying. If cyberbullying is occurring, the child should disengage the social networking site or "un-friend" the bully.
Parents who discover their child being cyber bullied should do their best to identify the bully at the other end of the computer and ask for a meeting with the bully's parents. Most likely, the parents of the cyber bully have no idea what their child has been doing and would be more than happy to assist in ending the bullying.
In part three of our series, I will discuss bullying in the workplace and what steps one needs to take.
Our legislation is on the verge of gutting our auto personal injury protection (PIP) statutes to make it nearly impossible for policy holders to force their insurance company to abide by the terms of the policy. You see, every driver in Florida must have PIP, and it goes to pay medical expenses for the injured insured. Carriers have historically avoided their obligations by cutting off benefits illegally and stiffing healthcare professionals. When that has happened, the insured could force the carrier to do the right thing and also pay the insured attorney's fees as a deterrent to this illegal activity. But the insurance lobby has a friend in Gov. Rick Scott, and they want attorney's fees capped. They say it's part of an overall plan to get rid of fraud; it's really a plan to allow the carriers to go back to the business of screwing their insureds and the health profession without fear of reprisals.
A colleague of mine from Broward County wrote the following to help you contact your state rep and let them know why these changes are bad. The credit goes to Cris Boyar and is as follows:
Introduction as to why Florida Provides Legal Fees to a prevailing insured
In order to understand why artificial caps on attorney's fees in PIP cases are a bad idea it is necessary to look back and see why fees are awarded to people who sue their insurance company when the insurer wrongfully denied the claim. Early on our legislature recognized that unless something was done to level the playing field between insurer and their policyholders, the insurers could deny claim after claim with impunity.
Recognizing the unfairness of the system and the financial disparity between the insurance industry and its policyholders, the legislature enacted a law that allows policyholders the right to have his or her attorney's fees paid by the insurer in the event they had to sue the insurer and prevailed in their suit. These legal fees are paid only after the case is over and there is a determination the insured prevailed by proving the insurance company wrongfully denied the claim. It often takes years for a case to resolve, and the lawyer incurs all the fees and costs until he or she wins the case.
Much to the dismay of the insurance industry, the very vast majority of suits filed against insurance companies result in favorable outcome for the policyholders, requiring the insurers to pay claims they should have paid in the first place as well as the insured's attorney's fee. This has not resulted in deterring insurers from wrongly denying claims. Now, in the guise of saving policyholders money in premiums, there is an attempt to place a cap or limit on the amount of money an insurance company would be required to pay a policyholder who was forced to sue an insurer.
It should be pointed out that this cap would apply only to the amount of money an insurance company would have to pay for the policyholder's attorney fee and would allow insurance companies to continue to pay their own attorneys any amount necessary to "wage the war." The defense lawyers get paid regularly and even if they lose the case.
Why Capping Attorney Fees is a bad idea
Caps of legal fees will prevent injured citizens and healthcare providers from suing to recover insurance benefits that have been wrongfully withheld by PIP insurers. There is no evidence judges are awarding unreasonable fees and costs to a PIP lawyer that ultimately wins a case. Insurers should avoid denying claims. The best way to keep insurers honest is by forcing them to face the risk of paying the legal fees to the patient/provider if the insurer wrongly denies the claim. We know the State of Florida has no track record of assisting Floridians in getting insurers to pay claims.
The prospect of having to pay reasonable attorney's fees if the insurer is found by a court to have wrongfully failed to pay benefits is what keeps them honest. Without the potential for this adverse consequence, we will undoubtedly see an increase in denied claims, resulting in increased profits for insurers and hardship for Florida's citizens and small businesses owners.
In reality, doctors cannot afford to pay lawyers to force insurers to pay the medical bills for Floridians that are buying insurance that is mandatory. Insurers get the benefit of selling a product every driver must purchase. If they deny a claim, and they were wrong, it is only fair they pay the patient/medical provider's reasonable fees and costs.
Why limiting hourly rates is a bad idea
If you lower the hourly rates to an unreasonably low amount, it will deter the most qualified lawyers from accepting PIP cases. Why would a lawyer that can bill $300 an hour take on a personal injury protection case for just $200 an hour, then face reductions by a judge and be subject to a maximum recovery? PIP cases can be complicated. It is in the best interest of Floridians to have the most qualified lawyers representing the small business owners and individuals that take these cases where they recover a fee only if they prevail.
Why limiting or capping the total amount of fees is a bad idea
PIP insurers are virtually always the driving force in the number of hours spent prosecuting the PIP suit. We know an insurer can avoid paying legal fees if they pay the claim or pay the claim once they receive a pre-suit demand letter. The insurer can pay virtually no legal fees if they pay the claim once they are served with the lawsuit.
Then the insurer can limit what it pays in legal fees without legislative help. They can avoid invoking the rules of civil procedure in cases that are in small claims court. They do not have to demand a jury trial, like they do in virtual every case. They can avoid filing unnecessary affirmative defenses that causes hours and hours of litigation. During the litigation process, it is not uncommon for an insurer to schedule numerous depositions, hire expert witnesses, file countless motions, take appeals in the middle of the case and then appeal once the case is over. There is nothing in the house bill that would deter this activity or limit the legal fees of the defense lawyer that gets paid even if the insurer loses. Insurance companies have no motive to require their lawyers to narrow the issues and avoid unnecessary litigation because if the insurer loses, and has to pay the legal fees, the insurer simply uses these costs to raise premiums.
If the legislature were to cap the amount of fees without preventing the insurer from forcing unnecessary litigation then you will be encouraging insurers to engage in unfair litigation practices because they know the lawyer for the plaintiff would never be able to prosecute the case and fend off the unnecessary litigation. The longer the insurer drags out the litigation the less per hour the lawyer earns. This would discourage competent lawyers from taking these cases which is not in the best interest of Floridians.
Plus, PIP cases are often appealed in the middle of the case and at the end of the case. No lawyer would be able to handle a PIP case if the insurer was allowed to appeal, and the fees were capped. PIP cases can reach the Fl Supreme Court.
Fees cannot be based on the amount of the recovery.
The proposed House attorney fee caps also apply to cases where an insurer has denied coverage. The way the House attorney fee caps are written, the attorney fees are limited to the lesser of $200 per hour or 15 times the monetary amount recovered by the attorney, if the amount in dispute is less than $500. When an insurance company denies insurance coverage and the lawsuit is only to obtain a finding that there is insurance coverage, there is no monetary amount that will be recovered by the attorney. Under the House proposed attorney fee caps, insurance companies can deny coverage, and if they lose they pay zero attorney fees.
Comparing doctors as equal to an insurance company is wrong.
The argument that is made by some that this is litigation between two corporations, akin to litigation between IBM and Microsoft, is a fallacy. The vast majority of PIP providers in Florida are small business owners. These "corporations" typically have only a handful of employees and, as such, it is a fallacy that they have resources to match the behemoth insurance companies in litigation.
The argument that the provider can simply pay its own attorney's fees if it wishes to litigate is also disingenuous. Doctors cannot afford this prospect. If an insurer simply refused to pay a few hundred dollars to each provider, the insurer would save millions. This is the very result that the insurance companies desire. If this passes, insurance companies will be able to deny, delay and defend claims denials with virtual impunity.
Insurers can recover their fees in two ways.
If the insurer makes a reasonable offer and the patient/healthcare provider does not beat the offer by 25%, the insurer gets its fees and costs paid for by the patient/provider. If the lawsuit is determined to be frivolous, the insurer will get its fees paid by the patient/provider and the lawyer representing the patient/provider.
Limiting attorney fees does not prevent fraud.
There is no correlation between fraud and legal fees. There are no examples of cases where the lawyer was arrested for filing a PIP for treatment related to a staged car accident. According to the latest statistics provided by The Office of Insurance Regulation/Robin Westcott, on February 29, 2012, Plaintiff's attorneys' fees represented 2.4% of auto carriers' expenses. There is no reasonable argument that can be made that attorneys are part of the fraud, contribute to the fraud or that capping their fees will reduce fraud.
The reasonable attorney's fee provision currently in place under PIP was established to level the playing field between the Goliath insurance companies, which have unlimited resources, and the individual citizen or small business person, who would have no prospect of obtaining counsel to pursue wrongfully-denied claims in the absence of such a provision.
Ladies, we know you truly enjoy going to your favorite nail salon to get a pedicure. But did you know that you can easily contract a skin infection from an average spa experience? In fact, it is not uncommon for patrons of nail salons to contract skin infections caused by rapidly-growing mycobacterium fortuitum.
Don’t shave your legs right before going to get a pedicure! The problem begins when the patron shaves before getting the pedicure. Trust me; I get it. You do not want to have hairy legs while the pedicurist massages your legs and polishes your toes. However, the act of shaving your legs causes microscopic cuts and abrasions. Now, unbeknownst to you, the foot spa you are about to put your feet in has not been properly disinfected. As a result, the foot spa has become a festering cesspool of bacterial growth. As you put your feet into the bacteria-ridden water, the bacteria will enter your skin through the microscopic cuts and abrasions caused by shaving.
According to Board Certified Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Juan Diaz, “initially, the infection may look like insect bite.” If left untreated, the site of infection may increase in size and become filled with puss. Sadly, the infection can lead to serious illness or even death. In fact, patients may require having to undergo surgical removal of the infected skin. Fortunately, there are things one can do to prevent infection.
- Microorganisms in foot spas can enter through the skin, so broken skin (i.e. cuts and abrasions) should not come into contact with foot spa water.
- Do not shave; use hair removal creams, or wax your legs 24 hours before receiving treatment in a foot spa.
- Do not use a foot spa if your skin has any open wounds such as bug bites, bruises, scratches, cuts, scabs, poison ivy, etc.
- Ask salon workers how the foot spas are maintained and how often.
- Make sure your salon uses an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant.
Photo courtesy of TiffaniKimInstitute.com
How many times do we see people riding motorcycles without wearing a helmet? The answer is unfortunately way too often. Florida Statute 316.211 allows anyone more than 21 years old to operate or ride on a motorcycle without a helmet as long as they have at least $10,000 in medical benefits insurance. While helmets no doubt reduce injury, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study shows helmets are only about 29% effective in preventing crash fatalities. This may seem low to most of us, but this means that almost 1 out of every 3 motorcyclists involved in a crash will die. If you knew that you could increase your odd of living by almost 1/3, would you? Of course you would. So why do people still not wear them? Those opposing mandatory state helmet laws suggest that helmets interfere with the operators ability to see and hear surrounding traffic. Another NHTSA study shows this is not the case. Fifty motorcyclists were tested while riding their own motorcycles along a prescribed route. Each rider drove the route 3 times, once with a full coverage helmet, once with a partial coverage helmet and once with no helmet. Test results showed that wearing helmets do not restrict the ability to hear or see surrounding traffic. Unless and until Florida enacts mandatory helmet laws, the better and safer practice is to wear a helmet anytime you are operating or riding on a motorcycle.
Imagine you are at your favorite restaurant on a Saturday night. You have just waited 35 minutes to finally be seated. However, you’re not upset because you truly enjoy dining at this restaurant. As usual, you order the boneless grilled chicken with vegetables. As you sink your teeth into a piece of chicken, you hear an unusually loud CRUNCH. You immediately find yourself in excruciating pain. Unbeknownst to you, the boneless grilled chicken had a concealed bone inside. Congratulations, you just broke a tooth and will incurthousands of dollars in dental bills.
As you can imagine, this is quite common. In fact, many jurisdictions in the United States permit the injured patron to recover. However, before any recovery is permitted, a legal hurdle must be passed. Specifically, many jurisdictions will allow recovery if the harmful substance in the food is foreign to the food. This test is commonly known as the “foreign-natural” test. Under the “foreign-natural” test, if the substance is natural to the food recovery for injuries is not permitted.
In Florida, the “foreign-natural” test is not followed. Nevertheless, one may still recover for injuries caused by harmful substances in food as long as a different hurdle is passed. This hurdle is called the “reasonable expectation” test. In other words, was it reasonable to anticipate the item to be in the dish? According to a Florida court decision, the harmful substances found in a food “must be based on what the consumer might reasonably expect to find in the food as served.” Thus, this test differs from the “foreign-natural” test because while one may anticipate chicken bones in chicken, the expectation may be different when one orders a boneless grilled chicken dish. As such, one may recover for damages in Florida but be barred from recovery in other states.
Are business owners always responsible when someone slips or trips on a foreign substance in their store or on their property?
Before July 2010, Florida Statute 768.0710 controlled this issue. The statute said business owners must use reasonable care to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. In order to recover for your damages as a result ofinjuries from slipping or tripping on a transitory foreign substance, you had to prove the business acted negligently in failing to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance, inspection, repair, warning or mode of operation. The statute specifically stated that “actual or constructive notice of the transitory foreign object or substance is not a required element of proof to this claim.”
With a push from “big business” and the insurance industry, the Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statute 768.0755, which took effect in July 2010. This statute changed the evidence requirements, as well as the burden of proof requirements for what an injured party needs to show in order to recover for their damages. This new statute requires an injured party to prove actual or constructive knowledge, on behalf of the business, of the dangerous condition. Remember, the old statute did not require this actual or constructive notice in order to maintain a cause of action. This change in the law has made it much easier for businesses to now deny liability when one of their customers is injured on their property. Actual knowledge means just what it says, the business actually knew of the dangerous condition – they either created it or at least saw it. This is much harder to prove. The statute says that constructive knowledge may be proven circumstantially by showing the dangerous condition existed for long enough that with ordinary custodial care, the business should have known about it or could have foreseen the issue if this was the regular condition.
The bottom line is that with this change in the law, businesses will be able escape liability for customers’ injuries.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 1.8 million intersection crashes occur each year, costing more than $7 billion and resulting in more than 1,000 deaths.
On April 7, 2009, Jamie, a 39 year-old-wife and mother of two, was on her way home from work when her life changed forever. Another driver ran a red light and crashed into the back of her vehicle. The crash caused her car to spin 360 degrees. An independent witness confirmed the other driver ran the red light and did not so much as hit his brakes or take any evasive action to avoid this crash. The victim suffered neck and upper back injuries, as well as a closed head injury. Having gone through months of physical therapy, she eventually ended up having a two-level fusion surgery to her neck. She now has a metal plate and screws in her neck. She continues to experience neck pain on an almost daily basis. She also suffers from memory loss and dizziness, as well as from post-concussion syndrome, which is a mild form of traumatic brain injury sometimes referred to as “shell shock.”LaBovick Law Group filed suit against the at-fault driver for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Liability was not an issue in this case, and the defendant attempted to downplay the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant tried to argue the plaintiff’s current condition was related to her neck-pain treatment fours prior and not related to this horrific crash. After litigating the case for almost a year and just weeks before the case was set for trial, LaBovick Law Group settled on the case behalf of Jamie for $500,000. With this settlement, the client will be able to pay off the mortgage on her house and have money for her children’s college education.
More red-light-running facts from the FHWA:
- In 2000, there were 106,000 red-light-running crashes that resulted in 1,036 fatalities.
- Overall, 55.8% of Americans admit to running red lights. Yet, 96 % of drivers fear they will get hit by a red-light runner when they enter an intersection.
- One in three people claim they know someone who has been injured or killed in a red-light-running crash -- similar to the percentage of people who know someone who was killed or injured by a drunk driver.
- About 21% said they felt that drunk-driving incidents are decreasing, but only six% felt that red-light-running incidents were decreasing.
- Red-light runners do not conform to a set demographic. This dangerous practice reaches across drivers of all ages, economic groups and gender. The perpetrators are everyday people: professionals, blue-collar workers, the unemployed, homemakers, parents and young adults.
As we approach the July 4 weekend, I am reminded of a case I handled several years ago in which a young man was severely injured when illegal fireworks he was watching exploded a few feet off the ground. The shrapnel from the illegally obtained "commercial" firework exploded in all directions, injuring him and several others.
Fireworks used for entertainment purposes are illegal under Palm Beach County and Florida laws. As a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer and a parent, I urge you to remember that fireworks can be dangerous and can cause serious injuries, even death. Over the years, I have seen first hand, severe injuries from fireworks that could have been prevented.
June and July are Fireworks Safety Months. Use common sense and exercise safety and caution while using fireworks. Read the CPSC fireworks safety tips listed below:
In the CPSC "2010 Fireworks Annual Report", research shows that there were an estimated 8,600 hospital injuries in 2010 and three reported deaths due to fireworks. In 2009, the CPSC reported two deaths and an estimated 8,800 injuries. In 2008, CPSC had reports of seven deaths and an estimated 7,000 injuries.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum stated the following:
"Consumers need to heed our warning: fireworks related incidents, especially those involving illegal fireworks, can be fatal," said "Only use legal fireworks and follow CPSC's tips to ensure your holiday remains festive and safe."
CPSC Fireworks Safety Tips:.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them
Click on the following to read more on Fireworks Safety:
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office URGES Fireworks Safety - Treaurecoast.com
Palm Beach County Brush Fires Are Out; Now Let's Blow Up Some Fireworks - Palm BeachPost.com
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Promotes - Fireworks Safety - ABC- WPBF.com
Fireworks Safety Tips and The Fourth of July - LaBovick Injury Law Blog
Fireworks haulers get driving rules exemption for July 4th holiday; safety group voices worry - Washington Post
Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July weekend.