Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Earlier this month, a pedestrian bridge on the campus of Florida International University collapsed, killing six and injuring several others. According to a recent news report, students and teachers on campus identified several cracks in the bridge before its collapse. However, no action seems to have been taken amid reports of the cracks.

As students prepared to go back to school four days after the tragic accident, the first lawsuits started to be filed. One man who was riding a bike near the bridge at the time of the collapse recently filed a Florida personal injury claim against the firm that designed the bridge as well as the company in charge of its construction.

University GroundsThe bridge was constructed using a new method of construction called accelerated bridge construction. While a former president of the American Society for Civil Engineers told reporters that accelerated bridge construction does not result in a more dangerous bridge once construction is complete, he did acknowledge that moving the bridge into place can put stress on the bridge, leaving it more vulnerable to collapse until final installation is complete.

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Over the past few years, the popularity of rideshare apps, such as Uber and Lyft, has skyrocketed. Indeed, last year, over 45 million people used a rideshare app at least once to get to their destination. However, drivers who are employed by these companies do not need to meet any special criteria other than having three years of driving experience and a clean driving record. The result is that, in too many cases, inexperienced drivers looking for a quick buck end up causing Florida car accidents while transporting passengers.

Steering WheelThe rideshare movement, has raised a number of questions involving who can be held responsible when an accident occurs. The two main rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, each maintain $1 million insurance policies to cover drivers, riders, and even third parties, such as pedestrians or other motorists. However, that policy is only in effect once a driver has accepted a passenger’s request for a ride.

If an accident occurs while a driver is waiting for a passenger to contact them, or is using their vehicle for personal reasons, the companies’ $1 million insurance policy will not provide coverage. However, there may be other options for accident victims, including filing a claim under their own insurance policy, filing a claim with the driver’s personal policy, or filing a claim with the rideshare company under their liability-only policy. The companies’ liability policies, however, offer only the greatly reduced coverage limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.

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When someone is injured due to the reckless, intentional, or negligent conduct of another party, they may be entitled to monetary compensation from the at-fault party through a Florida personal injury case. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the severity of the accident victim’s injuries, and the defendant’s level of culpability, an accident victim may be entitled to one or more of several types of damages.

Dollar BillsTypes of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

The most common and straightforward type of damages in a Florida personal injury case is compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are designed to restore the plaintiff back to the situation in which they were prior to being injured. Of course, courts cannot go back in time and make a plaintiff “un-injured,” so instead courts estimate the costs that have been incurred by the plaintiff in the past and estimate the plaintiff’s expenses moving forward. Thus, compensatory damages include award amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering endured by the accident victim as a result of the defendant’s conduct.

In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded in a Florida personal injury case. While the purpose of compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff whole again, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for especially egregious behavior and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct. Due to their nature, punitive damages can be quite substantial; however, they are only available in limited circumstances.

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The highways of South Florida see a large number of commercial trucks every day. As a result, it isn’t surprising to learn that there are a significant number of truck accidents across the state. Indeed, according to a recent government study, there were nearly 300 fatal Florida truck accidents in 2016 alone. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties see the highest number of fatal Florida traffic accidents each year.

HighwayDue to the dangers presented by large trucks, Florida truck drivers are required to obtain a special license prior to operating a large truck. In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license, an aspiring truck driver must pass several written tests, as well as a pre-trip inspection test and a road test. In addition, truck drivers who plan on carrying hazardous materials, school children, or extra-long trailers must obtain additional endorsements.

When it comes to determining whether a truck driver can be held liable for an accident, courts apply the law of negligence. Essentially, to establish that a truck driver is liable for injuries related to an accident, the accident victim must prove that some negligent action taken by the truck driver resulted in the accident victim’s injuries. This is normally broken down into four segments:  duty, breach, causation, and damages.

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The Florida state government wants to encourage people to be active and to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather by rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, or engaging in other recreational activities. However, the government seemed to notice that there were becoming fewer and fewer places to partake in these activities because landowners were prohibiting people from engaging in these recreational activities on their land, due to the liability they may face if someone is injured.

Skate ParkThe Florida Legislature’s solution was to pass Florida Statute 316.0085, which provides immunity to certain landowners who open up their property for the public’s use. While there are other recreational use statutes in Florida, this particular statute pertains to rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, and paintballing.

The statute provides broad immunity to government landowners, stating that no government entity or public employee can be held liable for injuries sustained by someone who is rollerblading, skateboarding, mountain biking, or paintballing on government property. At first glance, it would seem that anyone who is injured while engaging in any of those activities would not be able to seek compensation for their injuries; however, that is not necessarily the case.

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Mike-200x300A Miami-Dade jury awarded this week a $9.3 million verdict to a 24 year-old man involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury.

On the morning of March 16, 2014 Dylan Machado, who was represented by attorney Michael Cecere from Cecere Santana Castrillon, PA, was traveling on his motorcycle near SW 67 Ave and 32 Terrace in Miami, when the defendant, Maria Rodriguez, changed into his lane, crashing into his motorcycle. The force of the impact caused Mr. Machado to fly off his motorcycle onto the pavement. Mr. Machado’s injuries resulted in him spending more than two months in the hospital and several months of rehabilitation.

During the one week trial, the attorney representing the defendant argued that Mr. Machado was negligent for not seeing Ms. Rodriguez and was negligent for not wearing his helmet. Mr. Cecere, along with attorney Henry Seiden, argued that Mr. Machado was indeed wearing his helmet and he did not contribute to the accident. In addition, Mr. Cecere contended, the defendant’s negligence had caused Mr. Machado’s severe and irreversible injuries that resulted in a lifetime of challenges and limitations for him.  The Miami-Dade jury only attributed 12% fault to Mr. Machado resulting in the multimillion dollar verdict.

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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 Castrillon.

To help prevent fatal accidents involving teens, Santana and Cecere Santana Castrillon 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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Professional sports associations have come under fire in recent months for the undisclosed and minimized risks of traumatic brain injury and related conditions that can arise from participation in professional sports. These days, it seems that athletes should know the risks associated with participation in a professional sport, but that was not always the case. Even 10 years ago, the culture of professional sports and the “tough guy” mentality encouraged by the leagues was pervasive and prevented an intelligible discourse on the safety techniques and preventative measures that are just now coming into use.

football-380388_960_720Professional sports associations, like other employers, have a duty to their “employees” – or players – to fully inform them of the risks they face while participating in the league. If a league hides known information about a certain risk, or if it encourages continued participation in the face of known risks, the league may be held responsible for the player’s injuries. Indeed, this is exactly the case in a recent lawsuit brought by over 5,000 former NFL players against the NFL.

New Research Indicates Traumatic Brain Injury May Be Present in 40% of Former Players

According to a recent news report coming out of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, some 40% of former professional athletes may have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The study looked at 40 former players who played for an average of seven years and had been out of the league for five years.

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Over the past several years, numerous studies have been conducted on the link between playing high-impact sports such as football and hockey and the presence of a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Up until recently, professional sports leagues have denied that there is a link between CTE and participation in sports. However, earlier this month that changed.

football-560473_960_720According to a recent news report, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety admitted in a congressional committee’s roundtable discussion that there seems to be a link between CTE and football. The NFL spokesperson credited the research of a Boston University professor and researcher that dissected the brains of 90 former professional football players, finding the presence of CTE in many of the subjects.

The NFL’s new position on CTE still remains somewhat of a mystery, but the spokesperson did qualify his statements, saying that there are also a number of other questions that need to be looked into.

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Earlier this month, a 16-year-old boy was struck and killed by a motorist driving a Hyundai Sonata while he was skateboarding. According to one local news report, the accident took place at around 9 p.m. in the area of NW 12th Avenue and NW 108th Street.

skateboard-1558896Evidently, the driver was heading northbound as he approached a slow-moving vehicle ahead of him. As he approached, the driver decided to attempt to pass the slow-moving vehicle in the southbound lane of traffic. However, when he changed lanes to pass the other vehicle, he ended up striking the teen.

Rather than stopping to see if the teen he just hit needed any assistance, the driver sped away, fleeing the scene of the accident. It wasn’t until a few hours later that the driver turned himself in to police, telling them where they could find the vehicle and confessing to hitting the teen. Investigators told reporters that the driver was visibly upset as he was discussing the accident.

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