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Happy Thanksgiving wooden letters with an autumn pumpkin and leaves corner border against old wood
In collaboration with “Feeding South Florida,” Cecere Santana, P.A. is hosting it’s 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Please bring non-perishable items, such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, boxed potatoes, etc. to our offices.

We will be collecting these items until Monday, November 21st. Items may be dropped-off between 9 am – 5 pm at:

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Erick Santana & Michael CecereAccording to an October 12, 2016 CBS News article, the number of teenagers involved in deadly car crashes is rising for the first time in nearly a decade. In 2015, there was a 10-percent increase in teen driving deaths. “In fact, teenage drivers are more than one-and-a-half times more likely than adults to be involved in a deadly crash,” said personal injury attorney Erick Santana, a founding partner at Cecere Santana.

To help prevent fatal accidents involving teens, Santana and Cecere Santana co-founder Michael Cecere share the following three tips:

No. 1: Always wear your seat belt. “Of the teens who died in passenger vehicle crashes, approximately 55% were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash,” said Cecere. “Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.”

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has expanded the existing provisional waiver process to allow certain igavel-1017953_960_720ndividuals who are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and those who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas to more easily navigate the immigration process. The new law promotes family unity by reducing the time that eligible individuals are separated from their family members while they complete immigration processing abroad.

“Until now, only the immediate relatives of American citizens were eligible to seek provisional waivers before departing the U.S. for the processing of their immigrant visas,” said attorney Carlos E. Sandoval. “The law now expands eligibility to all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the waiver of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility.”

What this means in practical terms is that if an applicant can demonstrate extreme hardship to a United States citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent, that applicant may apply for and receive a provisional waiver, whether the basis for the immigrant visa is a family-based petition or an employment-based petition, or even to diversity lottery or special immigrant classifications.

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Earlier this month in Ohio, a woman recovered over $1.3 million for the injuries she sustained in an accident that occurred at a local supermarket. According to an industry news source reporting on the case, the woman was injured when another customer accidentally struck her with a motorized grocery cart. The plaintiff claimed that the supermarket chain was negligent for failing to provide adequate instructions for the customers who used the motorized carts.

Grocery StoreDuring the discovery process of the woman’s lawsuit, it was uncovered that there were 119 other accidents in the same grocery store chain involving electric shopping carts. The woman used this fact to argue that the store’s management knew that there was a danger in providing the carts to customers, but it failed to do anything to remedy the situation. After hearing all the evidence, the jury returned the $1.3 million verdict, which included $125,000 in compensatory damages and another $1.2 million in punitive damages. If not for the evidence of the previous accidents showing the defendant company’s knowledge of the dangers associated with the carts, it is not likely that the woman would have recovered any punitive damages.

The Availability of Punitive Damages in Florida

Unlike compensatory damages, which are designed to make the plaintiff whole again, punitive damages are designed to deter the reckless conduct of the defendant that gave rise to the lawsuit. As a result, punitive damages in Florida can be significantly higher than compensatory damages in some cases.

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Earlier this year, one state’s supreme court had the occasion to discuss and adopt the continuing course of treatment doctrine in a medical malpractice case. In the case Parr v. Rosenthal, the court adopted the doctrine, which holds that a medical malpractice claim does not accrue for the purposes of the statute of limitations until the defendant doctor stops treating the plaintiff for the condition giving rise to the lawsuit. However, the plaintiffs were ultimately unsuccessful in their case because, although the court adopted the doctrine, the court also determined that the plaintiffs’ case was not a proper application of the doctrine.

Alarm ClockThe Facts

The plaintiffs were the parents of a young boy who was born with a large bump on the back of his leg. After several years of trying to figure out what the bump was and whether it was potentially harmful to their son, it was diagnosed as a desmoid tumor. The plaintiffs were referred to the defendant doctor who was experienced using a novel technique called radio frequency ablation to treat tumors, however, he had never used the technique on a desmoid tumor.

The plaintiffs agreed to have the defendant operate on their son. However, during the operation the boy was badly burned and the procedure could not be completed. The boy was treated by other doctors within the defendant doctor’s practice group, but the defendant was not involved in any of the boy’s follow-up care. Ultimately, the boy’s leg became infected and he needed to have his leg amputated above the knee.

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Under Florida law, all personal injury cases must be brought within a certain amount of time. Normally, this time frame is called the statute of limitations, and while there are some exceptions, the general rule is that a late-filed case cannot be heard by the courts, and the plaintiff will be without recourse for their injuries. While this concept is a straightforward one, determining which statute of limitations applies in a specific case is not always an easy task.

AmbulanceDifferent types of cases have different statutes of limitations. One of the strictest statutes of limitations is for medical malpractice cases. In many states, including in Florida, the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case is two years. Compare that with the statute of limitations for general negligence cases, which is four years, and it is clear why it is important to determine at the outset which statute of limitations applies. Below is an example of one plaintiff’s experience bringing a traditional negligence case against a paramedic that initially was classified as a medical malpractice case.

Aldana v. Stillwagon:  The Facts

Stillwagon, an on-duty paramedic, caused an accident when he struck Aldana’s vehicle after running a red light. At the time, Stillwater was on his way to the medical emergency. Aldana filed a personal injury lawsuit against Stillwater 17 months after the accident, arguing that his negligence in running the red light caused his injuries.

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Insurance contracts can be confusing. Often, the party purchasing the insurance only reads the “declarations” page, which is only a very brief overview of what their coverage entails. However, the actual insurance contract itself is often much longer and much more complicated, and it may even contain seemingly contradictory clauses.

Farm TrailerWhen an insurance contract contains a clause that seems contradictory, the court system often must step in to resolve the conflict if the insured and the insurance company cannot agree. In most cases, if the court determines that there are contradictory terms, the conflict will be resolved in favor of the insured. However, the plaintiff does have the initial burden to prove that a contradiction exists. If no contradiction exists, the court will likely interpret the contract as it was written, even if this seems unfair because the insured thought that they were entitled to more coverage. A recent case decided by a federal court of appeals illustrates how a court may be asked to make a final interpretation of an insurance policy.

ACE Fire Underwriters v. Romero

Romero was the executor of an estate belonging to a man who was killed after he was involved in a tractor-trailer accident. There was no dispute that the operator of the tractor-trailer was at fault. However, since the accident was caused when the tractor became disconnected from the trailer, the issue arose of what the insurance pay-out limit was. Specifically, Romero claimed that it was $2 million, $1 million for each of the two vehicles involved. The insurance company, on the other hand, claimed that the policy maximum was $1 million, regardless of how many vehicles were involved.

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Earlier this month, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case, dismissing the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant grocery store because the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence that the defendant caused, or even knew of, the dangerous condition that precipitated her fall. As a result of the court’s decision in the case, Edwards v. Hy-Vee, the plaintiff will not be entitled to recover compensation for her injuries.

Slice of WatermelonA Woman Slips and Falls on a Piece of Watermelon

Edwards slipped and fell on a piece of watermelon as she was leaving a grocery store that was owned and operated by Hy-Vee. After Edwards got up, she not only noticed that there was a watermelon seed stuck to the bottom of her shoe but also noticed that there was a store employee handing out free samples near the store’s exit.

After recovering from her injuries, Edwards filed a premises liability lawsuit against Hy-Vee, alleging that the store was negligent for either causing the dangerous condition to be present in the first place or failing to clean up the condition.

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The United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently released an opinion affirming a federal district court’s decision to award a Colorado accident victim a $2.25 million verdict against his auto insurance company. The plaintiff had initially sought only the $750,000 policy limit for the uninsured motorist coverage purchased from the defendant, but his successful claim that the defendant unreasonably denied his initial claim resulted in a judgment three times that amount. With the Tenth Circuit’s decision to affirm the lower court’s rulings, the plaintiff will receive the $2,250,000 he was awarded by the trial judge.

Damaged Front EndThe Plaintiff Suffered a Serious Back Injury after He Was Rear-Ended by an Underinsured Driver

The plaintiff in the case of Etherton v. Owners Insurance Company was injured in a rear-end collision in December 2007. Although the damage to his vehicle was relatively minor, he suffered a back injury in the accident and underwent three back surgeries to repair disc damage in his spine. The plaintiff initially sought damages from the driver at fault for the accident and received the policy limit amount of $250,000 in compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.

The Plaintiff’s Initial Insurance Claim with the Defendant

The plaintiff’s insurance coverage with the defendant included uninsured/underinsured motorist protection and covered additional uncompensated expenses from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver up to a maximum of $1,000,000 (including any amount received from an underinsured motorist). The plaintiff made a claim under this coverage and requested $750,000, his policy limit minus the amount he’d received from the other driver. The defendant denied the plaintiff’s claim, offering only to pay $150,000, one-fifth of his requested amount. After negotiations stalled, the plaintiff filed a breach of contract lawsuit, seeking damages in the amount of his policy limits.

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