Monday, November 21, 2011

Miami Beware: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Leading Cause of Poisoning Deaths According to New CDC Study

This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its report on deaths by poison in this country, and it has been confirmed that carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States.

Hundreds of people die each year from inhaling carbon monoxide without knowing it. Thousands must be hospitalized after breathing these toxic fumes. The CDC numbers are not from exposures that are intended (e.g., suicide attempts or homicides). These are accidents, unintentional breathing of carbon monoxide.

What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide kills humans and other animals that breath it in. It is a poisonous, toxic gas that is especially dangerous because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

There is no way to know if it is present in a room unless technology helps with a CO monitor.

What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning?
If you have inhaled toxic carbon monoxide fumes then you may first experience some or all of the following:
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • light headedness/dizzyness
  • flu-like symptoms (aches, pains, congestion)
Left in the presence of CO, you can lose consciousness and eventually die.

Miami, Do You Need to Worry About This? Yes, You Do.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning does not sound like something that the sunny beach communities of South Florida need to be concerned with, right? Isn't this something that happens to people living in snowy winters trying to stay warm with open ovens or faulty space heaters?

It's true that colder climates do see more heater accidents and CO poisonings due to heating needs, but that doesn't make Miami immune. Florida does get cold in the winter.

By Bryant Esquenazi on August 9, 2011 12:51 PM

Government Extends Deadline Requiring Toys to Be Independently Tested Before American Kids Can Play With Them

Children are hurt, seriously injured, or killed by toys every day - and this is becoming a growing danger as more and more children's products are being manufactured overseas and then imported and sold in the United States.

Toys Can Be Deadly
Fun, friendly childrens toys can cut, electrocute, or otherwise seriously injure kids of all ages. For example, the consumer advocacy group W.A.T.C.H. has published its annual most dangerous toys list at, with the 2010 lineup including:

1. SPY GEAR SPLIT-BLASTER (eye injuries)
2. SUPASPLAT SPLATBLASTER (eye, face impact injuries)
3. KUNG FU PANDA SWORD OF HEROES (impact injuries)
4. MY FIRST MINI CYCLE (head, impact injuries)
5. PULL ALONG CATERPILLAR (choking injuries)

Government Will Require Third Parties to Check Toys for Safety Before They Are Sold
With the growing problem of toys hurting kids, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved new third party testing requirements for the toy industry.

However, according to its latest press release, the CPSC has voted to give manufacturers, importers and private labelers additional time to put a third party testing program into place. This, even though they've already had 2 years to get ready for this double-check. From the CPSC:

CPSC has approved a stay of enforcement on the requirement for third party testing and certification of children's toys until December 31, 2011. The Commission will enforce third party testing and certification of compliance based on the testing for toys manufactured or imported after that date.

In the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), Congress required that the existing voluntary standard become a mandatory standard and directed CPSC to require testing to that standard. In May 2009, the Commission adopted the updated voluntary ASTM standard known as F 963-08 as the mandatory safety standard for toys and ASTM F 963-07ε1 as the mandatory safety standard for toy chests.

Safeguards in the mandatory toy standard strive to eliminate electrical, thermal and mechanical hazards, including cuts from broken wires, strangulations from long cords, burns from heating elements, shocks from electrical circuits and suffocations from hemispherical-shaped objects.

If your child is hurt by a toy, then you may have a claim for justice against not only the toy manufacturer, but also the distributor and the store where you purchased the product. Make sure your child is safe, then safeguard the toy (it may be evidence). Then, call your lawyer if you think you have a claim. Oftentimes, it is only from courtroom lessons that these toy makers learn to put people over profits.

By Bryant Esquenazi on August 4, 2011 1:57 PM

Miami Beach: Get Ready Now for Hurricane Damage, Tropical Storm Emily Headed Our Way: What to Do After the Storm Hits

In a prior post, we discussed what to do in preparation for a hurricane - something that we all expect to happen in our lives sooner or later, here in South Florida.

Today, the Miami Herald is reporting that Tropical Storm Emily is increasing in power, and will be a hurricane soon. Emily is tracking a course that may bring her to landfall here ... or very close to South Florida.

What Should You Do After the Hurricane Hits?
Hopefully, Emily won't be as powerful or as devastating as storms of the past but we can expect some Floridians to have serious property damage in even the mildest of hurricanes.

So, assuming that you and your loved ones are safe and secure while a hurricane lambasts your Florida home, what should you do when you return to find your home, car, boat, truck, etc. damaged by the winds and rain?
  • First, since you have prepared in advance, you will have an insurance policy that covers this sort of thing. You'll gather all the information that you can about that policy (a copy is best; even the name of the agent or company may have to suffice).
  • Second, you can contact the insurance company yourself about filing your claim. Many do. However, it may be wise to contact an injury lawyer first, who can go over the legalese with you regarding coverage as well as help in the negotiations with the insurance company.
  • It may also be smart to get estimates, etc. from contractors if you can, to give you an idea about your damages before you start dealing with the insurer. Time is a factor in filing your claim, too, so be prudent here.
  • Third, remember that you will be entering into negotiations with an adjuster who has suddenly been given a huge caseload because his region has been hit by a hurricane. Money in settlement will be a big concern for the company big wigs who will want to keep the overall cost of this storm to their company at a minimum. These companies spend lots of time and money worrying about the outlay of a future hurricane - and they will be monitoring their own bottom line after the storm hits.
Negotiations can include not only the value of the damage and reimbursement for a lost asset, it can also involve an argument on whether or not something is legally covered by the policy. Your insurance company is not on the same side of the table as you are: if there is a lawsuit, you will be plaintiff and the company, the defendant. Your insurance agent's interests are not that of a best friend helping you through a crisis, no matter how they look in the TV commercials.

Emily may hit Miami Beach, or she may not. Maybe no hurricane will hit Florida this year. However, it's better to be safe that sorry -- so get ready now for the big storm, and if we are hit, then call a lawyer if you need help with your insurance claim.

By Bryant Esquenazi on August 2, 2011 3:53 PM

Miami, Be Careful: Kids Are Dying In Cars From Heat Exposure - Feds Call Meeting on Increasing Danger

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) invited car makers, safety advocates,and consumer interest groups to meet in a precedent-setting "round table" discussion about how to combat the growing danger of kids under the age of 14 dying in cars from heat exposure, aka "hyperthermia."

Feds Are Worried About Number of Kids Dying From Heat in Cars
In 2011, 21 children have died so far from heat-related deaths and that number is expected to almost double during this fluke heat wave that is hitting parts of the country that isn't used to 90-100 degree temperatures. NHTSA is reporting that hyperthermia kills more kids 14 years old and under in cars than anything other than major car wrecks.

Miami, it's dangerous to leave kids in cars - even when the thermostat reads as low as 70 degrees
According to the research, even a mild day with temperatures as low as 70 degrees outside can still mean a child can die from heat exposure if they are left in a car setting in the sun. Floridians understand this: the sun beating down on a metal car can heat that interior quickly; here in Miami, we know to leave the windows open just a bit, for example, or risk returning to the car and finding the windshield or a door window cracked from the heat.

  • dizziness
  • disorientation
  • agitation
  • confusion
  • sluggishness
  • seizure
  • hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • loss of consciousness
  • rapid heart beat
  • hallucinations.

NHTSA is meeting with experts in this area to brainstorm ways to increase public awareness and to save kids from preventable injuries and death from heat exposure.

Please spread the word on this very real danger - and don't leave your kids in the car.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 28, 2011 1:51 PM

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Boogie Board Injuries: Christopher Schwarzenegger Accident Should Bring Spotlight to Dangers of Boogie Board Serious Injury

The 13-year-old son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Schriver, Christopher Schwarzenegger, was released from the hospital last night after suffering serious injuries while boogie boarding near Malibu.

Life-threatening injuries from Boogie Board accident
Schwarzenegger was reported to have suffered multiple broken bones and a collapsed lung - and spent several days in the Intensive Care Unit - after he had a bad spill on his boogie board while boogieboarding, crashing head-first into an object on the beach.

Boogie Board Injuries Are Often Serious - Especially for Teens
Boogie boards are popular here in Miami, as well as on most Florida beaches, and elsewhere around the world where ocean waves beckon. However, boogie boards are also well-known among injury experts -- medical experts, legal experts -- as being dangerous, especially for teenagers. Consider the 2002 discussion by Australian medical researchers on the likelihood that children and adolescents who ride boogie boards are especially vulnerable to severe abdominal injuries.

What To Do If Boogie Board Accident Happens To Your Loved One
If your day at the beach takes an unexpected turn because of a boogieboard accident, then remember to remain calm, and get medical help for the victim as soon as possible. Call 911, and be aware of the possibility of multiple broken bones or injured internal organs before attempting any type of movement of the injured person. Ask for directives from the 911 operator on how best to help the victim until Emergency Medical Care arrives.

It is also important, from a legal perspective, to document the scene as soon as possible. Have someone take photographs of the boogie board (is it cracked?) as well as the state of the beach (is it littered with debris?) and the height of the waves. Take the names and contact information from those who witnessed what has just happened.

It may sound callous, but having the facts as soon as possible can mean all the difference when an insurance claim is filed and an adjuster begins questioning whether or not coverage is available, etc.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 26, 2011 2:36 PM

Ford Recall July 2011 - Another Big Ford Pick-up Truck Recall, Miami Ford Truck Drivers Take Note

Ford Motor Company just announced another big recall for Ford vehicles. Another one.

Back in March 2011, we posted about the Ford recall of Ford pickup trucks because their tires could blow out and cause accidents.

The very next month, April 2011, Ford Motor Company announced another recall - this time, 1.2 million of Ford's F150 pickup trucks were recalled because of an electrical wiring problem. Seems that the Ford F150 pick-up truck airbags could just pop open on a whim, causing accidents or injuries.

Now, here it is: July 2011, and Ford Motor Company is recalling Ford pick up trucks again. This time, Ford Ranger pickup trucks, Ford Excursion SUVs, and a variety of Ford F-series pickup trucks (F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550) are being recalled because of a problem with an electrical gizmo that could make the tail lights not work. Which might cause a wreck, say, if no one sees the brakes are on because the truck's brake lights don't work, right?

For details on all these Ford Pick-up Truck Recalls, check out or go to the Ford Motor Company website's recall information page.

And remember: products can cause serious harm or injury, and defective products do kill people. It's wise to respond to a product recall.

If you drive a Ford pick-up truck, then drive by your dealer and get it checked out - you never know what wreck you may be preventing just by doing this one little chore. And, sure, with this record it sounds like you might be dropping by the dealership every month to six weeks ... if Ford's recall track record stays on its monthly schedule.

What if you were in a wreck while driving a Ford pickup truck?
The product (here, the truck) might be a contributing factor to your accident and something you need to investigate, discuss with your injury attorney. Product liability claims are possible and are different from filing claims against the negligent driver, etc., in a crash.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 21, 2011 2:54 PM

Caylee's Law - Full Text of Proposed Florida Law (HB 37) and Is There a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Casey Anthony?

Casey Anthony has been found not guilty and as this post is being typed, she is walking free somewhere, in an unknown location. Civil lawsuits have been filed against Casey Anthony - the defamation personal injury lawsuit by Zenaida Gonzalez is active now.

Other civil lawsuits are being discussed, particularly a wrongful death lawsuit brought against her on behalf of Caylee Anthony - and in that civil personal injury wrongful death suit, the burden of proof would be the lesser "preponderance of the evidence standard" not the higher "reasonable doubt" standard that the criminal jury found so insurmountable.

One key to that wrongful death case: who would file it? Under Florida law, as discussed here in a prior post, only certain family members may file a lawsuit seeking damages for the death of someone that has been proximately caused by another.

The most obvious party to file that suit? The baby's father. However, no one knows who is the father of Caylee Marie Anthony. Another clear possibility: the Executor of the Estate of Caylee Marie Anthony, whomever that might be (maybe one of the grandparents?). Will another family member file a wrongful death lawsuit against Casey Anthony on behalf of Caylee? No one has so far.

Another hurdle: what's their deadline to file?
The standard limitations deadline for a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, based upon an accident, is two years. Last year (July 2010), then-governor Charlie Crist signed into law the "Jeffrey Klee Memorial Act" which removed any deadline for a party to file a wrongful death lawsuit when the death was caused by homicide. The acquittal of Casey Anthony cleared her of homicide, so any suit against her for wrongful death arguably would not have the protection of the Klee Law.

Full Text of Proposed Florida Caylee's Law
In the aftermath of her surprising acquittal, grass roots campaigns across the country have sprung up, pushing for versions of "Caylee's Law" to be passed by state legislatures as well as the federal government. In Florida, that proposed legislation is HB 37 -- and you can read the full text here.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 19, 2011 3:12 PM