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

Hot Cars are Death Traps: Babies Left in Cars Will Die From Heat - Miami's Dominicue Andrews Tragedy One More Example

Every year, babies die from heat stroke after being left in a hot car. And while the Miami Dade medical examiner has not released findings yet, it appears that the tragic death of little Dominicue Andrews, 22 months old, may be added to those statistics.

Dominicue Andrews was pronounced dead earlier this week after he was discovered near a van parked outside his daycare, the Jomiba Learning Center. His parents have announced that they will be suing the daycare facility.

This is a national problem. And, responsible personal injury attorneys applaud the efforts to educate the public and to help busy parents in eradicating this modern-day dilemma - no one wants to hear of a baby dying, and no one wants any parent to have to deal with the aftermath of this situation.

According to one study, a baby dies from heatstroke after being left in a hot car EVERY TEN DAYS in this country. There are even more instances of near-death accidents, where babies are found before heatstroke has caused them to perish in the hot sealed environment of a motor vehicle.

How does this happen?
  • Sometimes the parent forgets that the child is in the backseat, drives to work, and leaves the child in the car for the entire workday;
  • Sometimes caretakers forget a little one is in the hot car and cannot exit the vehicle on his/her own;
  • Sometimes the child manages to get inside the car through an unlocked door or open window and then cannot get back out of the vehicle.
Efforts to Stop These Kinds of Infant Deaths
Several efforts have been undertaken across the country to fight against these horrific deaths. There have been media campaigns designed to make everyone aware of the dangers of babies left in cars -- not only to help parents but to encourage all of us to check the cars in the parking garage or mall parking lot for babies in the backseat.

NASA developed the "Child Presence Sensor" - a mechanism that alerts parents when babies are in the vehicle.

And, personal injury wrongful death lawsuits have been filed - as it's suggested will happen in the Dominicue Andrews case - to pursue justice in infant heatstroke deaths. There are those that argue these cases are just for money but that's not true.

Wrongful death litigation serves society by not only focusing upon circumstances that need to be changed, but (though "punitive damages") providing an example to an industry that better consumer safety protections are just and right to implement.

By suing one day care, for example, maybe the lives of babies in the future will be saved because caregivers across the country will institute car checks, vehicle monitors, or other safety checks to insure that toddlers are not inside a hot vehicle during their watch. (If only to avoid being sued themselves.)

Our sincerest condolences to the family of Dominicue Andrews and all others who have lost little loved ones in this sort of tragic way.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 14, 2011 1:48 PM

Sports Injuries Can Be Serious, Even Deadly: Jury Awards $10 Million in Wrongful Death of Florida College Football Player UCF's Ereck Plancher

Last week, an Orlando Jury Awarded $10 Million to the Parents of a College Freshman Who Died During Football Practice at the University of Central Florida

Ereck Plancher was only 19 years old when he died during a football practice (he was a wide receiver) at the University of Central Florida and last week, the jury came back with a $10 million verdict in the wrongful death personal injury lawsuit filed by Mr. and Mrs. Plancher against the University of Central Florida Athletics Association. The jury, however, did not award any punitive damages.

It has been reported that the jurors did not award any punitive damages because there was insufficient evidence that the school's football coach withheld water from Plancher as well as keeping team trainers from the boy after he had collapsed in an off-season workout designed to build the players up before the actual football season begins.

The National Center for Sports Safety keeps statistics on American kids who are injured or killed during sporting events every year, and according to their site (sourcing to Safe Kids USA):
  • Over 3,500,000 kids aged 14-18 are injured while playing sports each year with injuries that are serious enough to need professional medical treatment
  • Almost a fourth (21%) of all traumatic brain injuries suffered by kids in the United States each year are the result of sport injuries
  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of injuries sustained during organized sports happen during practices and not the official games, even though 33% of parents don't take practices as seriously as games and don't take the same safety precautions for practice.

Of course, the University will appeal the Plancher verdict, and it may be years before the family actually sees any money from this case. And if you find this cruel and heartless, you are not alone: CBS News Commentator Gregg Doyel has spoken for many when he has labeled the University, where the young man died under their watchful eye, shameless.

Lessons for Parents of Kids Playing School Sports From the Ereck Plancher Lawsuit
For parents in Florida and across the country, it's time to take heed of the jury verdict in the Ereck Plancher lawsuit and recognize that kids need protection during practices as well as games at any school sporting event. This doesn't just apply to football, and it doesn't just apply to college-level competition.

However, it's also important to recognize this country's organized sporting industry and the importance of sports to school districts as well as colleges and universities. There's money to be made, and profits to be protected.

Which means that if a child is tragically injured or killed when he or she is practicing a sport or playing a game, then the parents may have a long, hard fight to get justice: they, too, may face a "shameful" appeal.

It's always shocking when deep pocket defendants try and avoid responsibility for their actions because of monetary concerns, but it's especially true when children have been the victims. Something that personal injury lawyers, unfortunately, see happen all too often in this country today.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 12, 2011 11:23 AM

Class Action Lawsuits Can Be Only Hope for Some Injury Victims, Now U.S. Supreme Court Slams Door on Easy Access to These Kinds of Shared Group Lawsuits, Congress Investigating

Class action lawsuits will be harder to pursue in the future, because the United States Supreme Court has issued two rulings making it much more difficult for plaintiffs to group together into one, big lawsuit and pursue justice against evildoing defendants.

This is not good news for injury victims and their families in Florida or elsewhere in the United States.

Think Erin Brockovich without the ability to get all those folk together into one big lawsuit - the real Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) class action made the basis of that Julia Roberts movie may be the most well-known class action lawsuit among Floridians today.

Class action lawsuits allow a number of injured plaintiffs to group together into one big, fat lawsuit (the group is called a "class") and pool their efforts in pursuing justice. Usually, these class action lawsuits are against huge, rich, powerful corporations, like auto makers or drug manufacturers.

The two cases are Wal-Mart v. Dukes and AT&T v. Concepcion and many people are arguing that this is all politics -- that the conservative majority on the High Court have made life easier for Big Pharma and other big corporate defendants in the future.

Congress is Investigating What the Supreme Court Has Done to Average Joe Plaintiffs
In fact, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has already begun investigating the impact of these rulings with a hearing on June 29, 2011, where the SJC began gathering witness testimony and evidence on these two cases and how their negative impact on class action lawsuits is really barring access of citizens to the courts to address and right bad behavior by huge, powerful corporations.

The Legislative Branch does have the ability to pass laws that could bring protections back to American Plaintiffs that have been hurt by these two opinions. Hopefully, justice will prevail -- but for now, the Supreme Court has curtailed the ability of plaintiffs to sue as a group, and this is good news only for big business defendants.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 7, 2011 1:48 PM

Miami Beach Cop Crashes ATV: Miami Police Causing Personal Injuries - What is Sovereign Immunity and When Can the Government Be Sued for Injury or Death?

Over this past Fourth of July weekend, a veteran Miami Beach cop named Derick Kuilan who was on the job (on duty) left a local hotel bar with a young woman, giving her a ride on the beach on his ATV.

They sped along, this cop and his lady friend, and they were going fast. It was dark. The ATV's lights were off.

The ATV was going so fast, in fact, that Luis Almonte and his girlfriend Kitzie Nicantor couldn't get out of the ATV's way in time, and both were run over by the police officer (again, who was ON DUTY) and seriously injured. The cop's friend, Adelee Sharie Martin, was reported thrown from the ATV but not hurt very badly.

If This Were Not a Cop....
If this were not a police officer, then this would be a straight-up personal injury law example: an ATV crash where the duty of the driver to be safe as he operated his all-terrain vehicle would be examined, to see if the driver breached that duty and caused the injuries sustained by the victim. If negligence was found, then the driver (and his insurance coverage) would have to cover the damages sustained by those who had been hurt.

When a Government Employee Is Involved in a Crash, It's a Different Situation
Things are different in a personal injury situation where a government employee is involved as the person operating the vehicle that crashes. Whether it is a car, an ATV, a motorcycle, or an SUV, if that government vehicle is involved then something called "sovereign immunity" may apply.

Or not. It's been reported in the Miami Beach ATV crash that officer Kuilan was seen fleeing the scene of the accident after it happened -- a key fact -- and that tests of his BAC levels (blood alcohol content) are being done by Internal Affairs, as he is on administrative leave from his job.

What is Sovereign Immunity?
The idea of "sovereign immunity" has been a legal concept since ancient times, where it was more commonly known as "the king can do no wrong." Today, it is a legal concept, or "doctrine," that bars anyone from suing a governmental agency (like a police department) unless there are laws on the books that allow that lawsuit to be filed.

In other words, if the State of Florida does not have a law that lets an injured person sue the Miami Beach Police Department -- or any other state agency, even the Governor himself -- then that lawsuit cannot be filed.

Why not? There are several reasons for sovereign immunity, including protecting taxpayer money. If the accident happened in the course of a proper governmental action, then in the balance, it may be seen as better to protect the taxpayers as a whole than allow lawsuits for damages against a state entity.

For more details, check out this summary of sovereign immunity prepared by the Florida Senate.

Florida Statute 768.28 - Limited Ability to Sue Florida Government for Personal Injury
The Florida Legislature has passed a law that allows injured victims in Florida to sue for damages, waiving sovereign immunity in some situations. Of course, this law limits who can be sued, how much attorneys' fees can be awarded, etc. - but Florida does have laws on the books waiving sovereign immunity in some situations.

One of the Keys to Sovereign Immunity is Scope of Employment
One of the first questions to ask when a government agency, like a police department, is involved in a personal injury claim, is whether or not sovereign immunity bars the suit, and one of the key issues in that analysis is this: was the government employee acting in his scope of employment at the time of the accident?

Was a Miami Beach police officer in the scope of his employment, allegedly drinking at a hotel bar on a holiday weekend before taking a female passenger on a fast ATV ride in the dark, without headlights at five in the morning?

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 5, 2011 1:16 PM

FDA Panel Revokes Avastin for Breast Cancer Treatment Despite Patient Outcry

This week, an FDA Panel made up of independent experts unanimously voted that the cancer-treatment drug Avastin (bevacizumab) no longer be sold as a treatment for breast cancer in the United States. It will now be up to the FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, M.D., to review and decide upon the panel's recommendation - and if the Commissioner agrees, then the FDA will remove Avastin from the market.

Last December, as we detailed in our post, "Today's Recall of Breast Cancer Drug Avastin: Scandalous FDA Drug Recall That Many Deem "Death Panel" Decision," there was a recall of the drug - which was met by huge patient outcry and many pointing to Avastin as the first example of Death Panels in this country.

Despite that huge backlash in December, this FDA panel has issued its conclusion that Avastin offers "no substantial benefits" while it has "substantial risks" to victims of breast cancer. Interestingly, the panel okayed Avastin for other cancer treatments, such as lung cancer, colo-rectal cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and cancerous brain tumors.

Want to make a comment to the FDA Director on Avastin?

By Bryant Esquenazi on June 30, 2011 1:15 PM

Is Florida No-Fault Car Insurance Doomed Because of Claims of Insurance Fraud?

Across Florida, lots of people are filing fake car insurance claims and the insurance companies are arguing that this is due to no-fault insurance: the insurance industry does not like no-fault auto insurance policies. (For an explanation of P.I.P. coverage, read our earlier post, "What is PIP Insurance Coverage - and How Insurance Companies Just Lost Their Latest Try at Getting Florida to Gut PIP Coverage.")

It's easy to understand why. The insurance company does not investigate or question claims that it receives after an accident to try and place blame: instead, under Florida's no fault laws, when there is a car wreck, each policyholder is paid by their own insurance company for their injuries. You get hurt, your car gets damaged: you file a claim with your carrier.

It means that injured people in Florida get insurance coverage fast because there is no fight between two insurance companies about who is going to be responsible for paying the medical bills. That's a good thing.

However, apparently there are people who are taking advantage of the system in this bad economic time and the Florida insurance companies want to change the playing field. They don't want no fault insurance any longer.

According to a recent FoxBusiness news story, Florida leads the country in car insurance fraud. Criminals stage car crashes just to file the P.I.P. claims and the National Insurance Crime Bureau representative is quoted as saying that organized crime is involved. Apparently, there is an organization of car drivers and grifting medical clinics working together to systematically bilk millions from national insurance companies, all because of the no fault protections.

Reform? No, the insurance companies want to end no fault insurance in this country. Which means more fights before claims are paid for injured victims who are already suffering through no fault of their own. That is not good for honest Floridians who get hurt in accidents and need fast, dependable insurance help.

The fight to end Florida No Fault Car Insurance isn't over just because the lobbying failed with the Florida Legislature this spring. There is a huge public campaign backed with lots of power and clout, focused and fighting not to fix, but to end no fault coverage in this state. Be aware.

By Bryant Esquenazi on June 28, 2011 2:09 PM

'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn Dies in Drunk Driving Accident: Will the Bar Be Sued? Will His Friends Who Let Him Drive Away? Lessons on the Law of Duty

Ryan Dunn, best known as one of the stars of the movie "Jackass" was put to rest yesterday at a memorial service attended by several celebrities as well as many fans. The rumors that the Westboro Baptist Church would show up to protest didn't pan out: there were no protesters there.

At this point, pretty much everyone knows that Ryan Dunn died while driving drunk, with a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit, after losing control of his car while going between 130 and 140 mph, killing both Dunn and his passenger, Zach Hartwell, in a fiery one-car crash after the car veered off the roadway.

We also know that shortly before the crash, Ryan Dunn was seen at a local bar, partying with friends, and the latest tally was that he had 6 shots and 2 beers before getting behind the wheel. There are photos.

Meanwhile, renowned movie critic Roger Ebert backpedaled on his Twitter tweet published shortly after the news of Dunn's death hit the airwaves: he first tweeted, "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive," and after worldwide backlash, Ebert apologized with "I should clarify: Anyone who drinks and drives is a jackass. That included me in my drinking days. Some are lucky enough to find sobriety," as well as writing a blog post on the subject. To read all his tweets, check out @ebertchicago.

Will the Bar Get Sued? No
There has already been an announcement that the bar where Dunn was seen drinking will not be held liable for contributing to this accident because there is no evidence that the bar employees or management were aware that Dunn was drunk. He didn't look drunk, he didn't weave or slur his words or anything like that ... so the police have released the bar folk from liability.

Why? If the bar is not aware that someone is under the influence, then they don't have a duty to step into the situation and stop serving the customer. Or to call a cab. Or chat with pals. No duty.

Will His Pals Get Sued? No.
There is no duty under the law to proactively step in and protect someone else. His friends shoulda coulda woulda ... but the law does not impose a duty on a citizen to invade the freedom of another citizen by taking their keys or driving them home. It may be the right thing to do, but it's not the legal thing to do. No duty.

Will the Estate of Ryan Dunn Get Sued? Maybe Yes.
There is a legal duty of a driver to protect those in his or her vehicle. It's negligence, maybe gross negligence, maybe more to drive drunk with someone sitting in that passenger seat. You have a legal duty to drive safely. You have a legal duty to obey the law -- no speeding, no driving while under the influence.

So, in this terrible tragedy, the only clear legal duty right now is the one owed by the driver to the passenger. And that duty looks to have been breached by the driver when the car crashed and killed Zach Hartwell.

Prediction: The Estate of Zach Hartwell will seek wrongful death damages from the Estate of Rick Dunn. Sad, but true. Legal duty.

By Bryant Esquenazi on June 23, 2011 2:25 PM

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hot Coffee Documentary on HBO Next Monday: Slant and Distortion of Plaintiffs Personal Injury Lawsuits Is Intentional - Watch This Show

Hot Coffee is a documentary film that has already won lots of awards for filmmaker Susan Saladoff - and hopefully its debut next Monday, June 27, 2011, on HBO will bring it great exposure and success.

Why? Because Hot Coffee brings to light the slant and distortion that has pervaded the media as well as public perception not only of the McDonald's Hot Coffee case (which was far from a frivilous suit, this woman was severely injured) but to all the attempts to limit an injury victim's rights to justice in the American courtroom.

Last summer's post, "In Defense of the McDonald's Coffee Cup Case - Again," discussed the McDonald's Hot Coffee case and how people simply don't know the real story of what happened in that case. It's amazing how wrong the perceptions are, almost like that 'telephone' game we all played as kids. With each messenger, the message gets changed just a bit.

Hot Coffee, the HBO Documentary, Sheds Light on How Truth Has Been Hidden From You
"Despite the fact that federal legislation has never been successful, big business interests have won in the hearts and minds of average people. They launched a public relations campaign starting in the mid-80's and continuing over the last two decades to convince the public that we have out of control juries, too many frivolous lawsuits and a civil justice system that needs reforming. They have used anecdotes, half-truths and sometimes out and out lies in their efforts, for one purpose - to put limits on people's access to the court system, the one and only place where an average citizen can go toe to toe with those with money and power and still have a shot at justice."

By Bryant Esquenazi on June 21, 2011 2:46 PM