Florida Injury Lawyer Blog
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In a heart bypass, surgeons are able to bypass blocked arteries so that patients with heart conditions can continue to enjoy a good quality of life. Now, researchers have found that by using a similar process they are able to help spinal cord injury patients in Miami and other cities. Researchers at Battelle have found that by using electronic neural bypass, they can help spinal cord injury patients reconnect the muscles and the brain directly, allowing patients to regain mobility.

So far, researchers have five potential participants in the clinical study, with one patient already moving his hand after the procedure. According to researchers, the process allows surgeons to bypass injured areas, creating a connection between the brain and the muscles. To complete the procedure, the patient needs brain surgery and needs a port screwed into the skull. A microchip is then connected to the port to complete the procedure.

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Researchers are very excited about the initial success of the technology, which has allowed one quadriplegic to move his hand. The man had been paralyzed for four years following a swimming accident. If the clinical trials continue to go well, it is possible that spinal cord injury patients who have been injured in car accidents in Miami and other incidents will eventually be able to use the technology to regain mobility and even walk again.

For people who have injured their spinal cord in workplace accidents in Miami or in any incident, the new technology is exciting for a number of reasons. Unlike other treatments, it can be applied years after the initial injury, which means that even if it takes some time for the technology to be available some spinal cord injury patients injured today could potentially take advantage of the procedure.

Unlike other treatments, the technology also gets to the root of the problem rather than trying to help patients regain some mobility through physical therapy. There is also the undeniably futuristic “cool” factor to the technology. Patients who have the microchip and port can essentially move previously paralyzed limbs just by thinking about it, much as they could before they were injured.

The microchip technology, known as Neurobridge, has been in development for ten years, and essentially works by interpreting brain commands. The chip is about 0.15 inches and the first patient who used the technology responded well to the surgery needed for the chip. He was able to make a fist by concentrating on images of a fist closing, and noted that the process was different than moving his hand before the surgery.

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The “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida is contained in Florida Statute Section 776, and it allows people to use force, including deadly force, to defend themselves from perpetrators threatening them or their property. The law is intended to allow homeowners and Florida residents to defend themselves, their families, and their homes without having to worry about criminal persecution.

The law is also often used in personal injury cases in Homestead and other Florida communities. In the event of an assault and battery charge in Homestead or another community, some defendants will claim that they used physical force in self-defense.

Recently, a case before the Florida appellate court involved just this type of situation. A Miami roofer beat his co-worker with a baseball bat but alleged that he was acting in self-defense. The case resulted in criminal and civil charges. In the criminal trial, a judge deemed that the roofer’s actions were justifiable under the “Stand Your Ground” law.

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While the criminal case was ongoing, however, the roofer and the roofing company both men worked for were charged in civil court by the victim. The defendants in that case evoked the “Stand Your Ground” law and stated that since a judge had already found the actions of the roofer defensible, the “Stand Your Ground” law could serve as an absolute defense. A judge in the civil trial denied that the “Stand Your Ground” law applied in civil court, but the defendants appealed. A Third District Court of Appeal appellate court decided that the use of the “Stand Your Ground” law could not be dismissed in civil court because Florida has not yet determined how civil liability works with that law. The judge also deemed that the parties were different in both cases, since the plaintiff in the civil case was the injured co-worker while the plaintiff in the criminal trial was the State of Florida. The judge deemed that this difference meant that the criminal trial’s conclusions could not simply be used in the civil proceedings.

What does the decision mean for those who have suffered an injury due to an battery in Homestead or another community? Long term, it is unclear. The case will likely be in courts for some time and could impact how the “Stand Your Ground” law is interpreted in future cases. Personal injury attorneys in the state are in support of the most recent court decisions, with some arguing that the “Stand Your Ground” law should not be applied in civil court automatically, even if a defendant has been found not guilty in a criminal court.

Currently, if someone has been injured in an assault and the defendant alleges that they were acting in self-defense, the injured party can still seek damages in civil court. In these cases, it is best to consult with a personal injury attorney to determine what legal options are available.

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In assault and battery cases in Hollywood and other Florida communities, the defendant in the case will often allege that they acted in “self-defense” because they felt threated. In Florida, it is legal to use force when defending oneself or one’s property and under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Florida clarifies that people do not have to retreat if they are threatened.

Recently, HB89 was signed into law to clarify the rules. HB89 confirmed that all self-defense laws apply to situations where there is a threat of force and to situations where there is actual force. This means that in a situation where someone is threatened verbally or has warning shots fired at them they are protected to the same extent as someone who is subject to actual force.

HB89 also removes the mandatory minimum sentenced in cases where a person is found guilty of imperfect self-defense. In these cases, someone honestly believes that they are threatened but that belief turns out to be incorrect and an innocent person is injured as a result.

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These legal changes may affect some legal cases in Florida. However, someone who has been injured in an assault and battery in Hollywood or another Florida community still has access to the civil court system and not just the criminal court system. In cases where someone is injured in an attack, the attacker may be charged in criminal court. Whether they are found guilty or not, the person who has been injured can still seek compensation through a civil court claim for any damages. These may include income loss, the cost of medical care, pain and suffering, and property damage. Whether a person claims they were acting in self-defense or not, they can still be held liable if their actions are found to be negligent and if their recklessness leads to injuries.

Often, these cases become situations of finger-pointing, with the accused claiming that the injured person did something wrong that provoked the attack. The attacker may allege that they felt threatened or that the injured party did or said something threatening. In these cases, it is important for the injured party to work with a personal injury attorney in Hollywood or their community. An attorney can hire investigators to interview witnesses and to otherwise seek evidence in the case.

Attorneys can also help find all liable parties in the case. In cases of violence, injured victims sometimes also have a case against the owner of the property where the incident took place. If a property owner knew of similar crimes in the area but failed to act to protect visitors to their property they may be held partly liable for injuries. This can be the case even in cases where the perpetrator is never caught.

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If you have been injured in a car accident in Miami or any other type of incident, an investigation will usually be launched. For example, if you have been injured in a roadway accident or workplace accident in Miami or another city, you will generally qualify for insurance benefits and the insurance company will launch its own investigation into the incident. If there is a suspicion that your injuries were caused by a criminal act, there may also be an investigation launched by authorities, although in some cases authorities rely on insurance company findings for their own investigation.

If you work with a personal injury attorney in Miami or your community, your personal injury attorney will likely work with accident reconstruction experts, private investigators, and other professionals to investigate your case. This is important since it can bring evidence to light that was not uncovered in the official investigation or the insurance investigation.

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Both in the insurance investigation and in any investigation overseen by an attorney, the main goal is often to decide liability. This is because in order for plaintiffs to succeed in recovering damages, they must prove damages as well as liability. In any investigation, investigators are also typically trying to find a link between an injury and the accident. For example, in an intersection accident in Miami or another city, investigators may try to determine how the collision caused a spinal cord injury or other trauma.

The investigation itself will usually involve:

•Speaking to witnesses
•Gathering evidence, including multiple and detailed photos of any damages
•Gathering clues, such as trademarks or metal deformation in a car accident case
•Getting an expert’s opinion about injuries and the causes of an injury
•Seeking other victims who have been injured in the same way (for example, seeking others who have been injured using the same product in a products liability case)
•Getting information about the plaintiff, including medical history and any previous legal claims or felonies
•Getting medical records or securing medical testing to determine the nature, costs, and cause of injuries sustained
•Interviewing the plaintiff
•Interviewing the defendant or running a background check on them
•Researching known associates and neighbors of the parties involved
•Securing police records and any information regarding a police investigation
•Interviewing first responders at the scene
•Securing a truck’s “black box” and driver logs in the event of a trucking accident
•Securing any security or surveillance camera footage of the area where the incident took place
•Hiring a forensics investigator to look into the finances or phone or computer records of people pertinent to the case
•Compiling evidence of a plaintiff’s losses and damages
A good personal injury attorney in Miami will act quickly to launch an investigation and will have access to the professionals who can handle the investigation well.

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Personal injuries in Homestead and other communities are a special concern in the summer. Not only are children around more often in the summer – meaning that they are more at risk for injury in the home – but barbecues, fireworks, and other summer activities bring their own risks, as well.

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Unfortunately, sometimes attitudes create a risk. There are several assumptions that homeowners can make, for example, that could put families at risk:

1) “We have smoke alarms – somewhere – so we’re safe from fires.”
It is not enough to have fire alarms in your home. They also need to be checked regularly and you need a fire plan as well as fire extinguishers in your home to keep your family safe. Thanks to thunderstorms, barbecues, and fireworks, summer can create a higher risk of fires, so this is a good time to make sure your home is safe. Start by walking through your home and checking smoke alarms. Make sure you have enough alarms and if the batteries have not been changed in a while, check them. During your walk-through, keep an eye out for fire hazards – such as frayed cords – and fix them. Be sure to have fire extinguishers in the kitchen and outside by the grill. Review your fire escape plan with your family so that everybody knows how to get out safely in the event of a fire.

2) “Barbecues are a casual way to have fun.” Barbecues can be fun but they also pose a big risk. If you have a grill, make sure that it is well away from your home and from any flammable surfaces. Only use your barbecue outdoors and always keep the cooking area supervised.

3) “Our guests are responsible and can get themselves home safely.” If you are hosting a party, make sure that you take away the keys of any guest who has been drinking or make sure that everyone has a safe ride home. Preventing drunk driving accidents in Homestead and Florida is everyone’s responsibility.

4) “My pool area was safe last year, so it’s fine.” Pool injuries and drowning injuries in Homestead and Florida are all too common and even if you have created a safe pool area, it may not stay safe. Gates can be compromised by weather, as can alarm systems. Be sure to check the integrity of the fence and gate around your pool. A self-locking gate with an alarm is best as it can let you know quickly if someone enters the pool area.

5) “I don’t need a lifejacket because I know how to swim.” Fatalities in boating accidents in Homestead and other communities most often occur due to drowning. Knowing how to swim does not always help, either. If you fall out of a boat and hit your head, you may be unconscious and unable to swim to shore. In these instances, a life jacket can keep you afloat (and visible) until help arrives.

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With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, many boaters are thinking about heading out on the water, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would like to warn boaters to take steps to prevent boating accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other cities. According to safety experts, there are several things that boaters can do to prevent boating accidents and injuries:

1) Review safety information. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website at myfwc.com offers safety tips and more information for boaters.

2) Treat boating as seriously as you would driving a car. Many people are far more casual about boating, but both tasks require the same motor and cognitive skills and both tasks can be just dangerous.

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3) Get formal safety lessons.
Under laws passed in 2010, if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 you must take an accepted safety course for boaters if you want to operate a watercraft. Even if you do not need to take a safety course by law, however, you will still want to sign up for one. Just as driver’s education can reduce your risk of causing a car accident in Fort Lauderdale or your community, safety instruction can help keep you from being in a boating accident.

4) Wear life jackets – and insist your passengers also wear them. Drowning in Fort Lauderdale and Florida can happen in even shallow water and it is one of the leading causes of boating fatalities. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 61% of boating deaths in 2013 were caused by drowning and 49% of victims were not wearing life jackets at the time of death. Many people assume that they do not need floatation devices or life jackets if they can swim, but life jackets can help you survive if you sustain a head injury in Fort Lauderdale or your community after falling from a boat and lose consciousness.

5) Do not drink and boat. Anything that puts you at risk of a traffic collision in Fort Lauderdale or your community can also put you at risk on the water. Distraction, drinking, and fatigue, for example, are all closely linked to many boating accidents each year, as is speeding.

6) Be prepared. Your boat should have a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, a paddle for any engine problems, an anchor and anchor line, a pump, a light for bad conditions, and a communication device so that you can call for help if you need it. Each person on the boat should have a life jacket and a whistle to call for help if they fall overboard.

7) Do consider the effects of the water and the sun. The sun and the glare off the water can exacerbate the effects of alcohol and can also make it harder to focus or to stay awake while fatigued. The movement of the water can also mask the effects of drinking. Often, boaters will not feel the effects of alcohol until they return back to land.

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The Florida Supreme Court will likely be issuing rulings about limits on medical malpractice damages in Miami and across the state. The rulings stem from a case that involves a woman who received what she believed to be unnecessary leg surgery. After the surgery, the patient suffered from complication and was awarded $1.5 million by a jury for pain and suffering. However, caps on damages in medical malpractice cases were passed in 2003 and as a result a lower court reduced the woman’s damages to $500 000. One of the decisions the Florida Supreme Court will need to decide is whether to apply the medical malpractice caps retroactively.

The cap that was instituted in 2003 was itself controversial. Then-governor Jeb Bush as well as Republican lawmakers worked to limit the non-economic damages possible in medical malpractice cases. Doctors and medical facilities supported the move, stating that medical malpractice claims were increasing insurance costs. In the end, non-economic damages in the state were limited to $500,000 or $1 million in medical malpractice cases, depending on the number of parties involved and the severity of the injury.

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Attorneys and injured patients, however, disagreed with the caps, saying that the limits would deprive injured patients of their rights. While the caps do not affect economic damages – which means that patients who have been injured by medical malpractice and misdiagnosis in Miami and other cities can still claim damages for income loss, future expected wage losses, and medical costs stemming from their injuries – the non-economic damages are important in medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages help patients recover compensation that can help pay for the many incidental costs patients sustain after medical issues. These damages also send a message to doctors who are negligent when it comes to patient safety and health.

In March of this year, the Florida Supreme Court claimed part of the new cap was unconstitutional. That claim arose from a birth injury case in which a mother died in 2006 due to complications. The family initially won $2 million in pain and suffering damages but a judge reduced the amount to $1 million, citing the 2003 law.

What does the Supreme Court deliberation mean for patients who suffer from misdiagnosis and birth injury in Miami and Florida? While it is too soon to tell, attorneys agree that anyone who thinks they have a claim should contact a personal injury attorney in Miami or their community. Even if the $500 000 and $1 million caps remain in place, patients who have been injured due to negligence and recklessness deserve justice and compensation. There are still options available for patients who have been injured.

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The recently released Hospital Safety Score by the Leapfrog Group ranks hospitals on 28 factors, including how often hospital employees wash their hands. A number of Florida hospitals in the most recent score system ranked “A” on an “A” to “D” scale. Florida Hospital Lake Placid, NCH Healthcare System, Baptist Health South Florida Baptist Hospital of Miami, Raulerson Hospital of Okeechobee, Florida Hospital Wauchula, Fawcett Memorial, and Florida Hospital Heartland all received “A” rankings. Overall, Florida hospitals ranked eleventh in the country.

Some hospitals are not ranked in the study. For example, Highlands Regional Medical Center has been ranked is a Joint Commission accredited facility but is not ranked by Leapfrog Group. Some hospitals are also too small and are not ranked for that reason. Other hospitals received low rankings from the Leapfrog Group but high ratings elsewhere. Lee Memorial, for example, had its hospitals graded from B to D but noted that another organization, Healthgrades, named Lee Memorial one of the top 50 hospital systems in the country this year.

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Medical malpractice cases in Miami
and other cities are a real concern – as are medical errors. Patients enter hospitals for treatments, birth, testing, and to get better. It can be upsetting to find that preventable errors lead to complications, injuries, and even fatalities.

Safety experts agree that there are many things that patients can do to improve their chances of a positive outcome when they visit a hospital – even if they live in an area with hospitals that have lower ratings:

1) Check hospitals ratings. You can visit leapfroggroup.org and other sites online to see surveys and rankings of hospitals. You may wish to check for specific risks. For example, if you are heading to the hospital for surgery, check to see what the rate of surgical error is at the Miami hospital you are considering.

2) Choose hospitals where you can. Of course, in some cases you may have an emergency and be taken to the nearest hospital. In many cases, you can ask your doctor for their opinion about the best hospitals for your specific needs. For example, if you are expecting you may wish to ask for recommendations for hospitals with low numbers of birth injuries in Miami or your community.

3) Ask questions and confirm information.
Even if you go to a top-ranked hospital, errors and problems can still occur. If you have a question or concern, speak up. One of the big problems with hospitals is that many people will be responsible for your care and not all of them will be familiar with your case. For this reason, you may wish to confirm allergies, medication and dosages, and other details with each new person handing you medication or helping you with treatment.

4) Take a friend with you when you need to go to the hospital. If you are too injured to be able to take notes, provide information, or ask questions, your friend can assist.

5) Avoid visiting the hospital at times when medical mistakes are most likely to happen. Mistakes and errors may be more likely at night and on weekends (especially holiday weekends) when there is a smaller number of staff on hand.

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According to a recent report published by the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America, Florida leads the nation when it comes to the most dangerous areas for pedestrians. In fact, according to the report, the top four most dangerous regions in the country are all located in the state, with South Florida ranking fourth. In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach South Florida area, pedestrians are injured by cars at almost triple the average national rate for pedestrian accidents.

Rather than disputing the claims, representatives from Florida Department of Transportation have acknowledged that there are some real concerns when it comes to pedestrian accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and other South Florida areas. According to the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America, 47,000 pedestrian died in accidents between 2003 and 2012. In South Florida in the past ten years, there have been 1,539 pedestrians killed, numbers that compare to much denser populations such as Los Angeles and New York.

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According to the report, part of the problem may have to do with road design in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and other areas. Florida expanded rapidly following Word War II and at the time the focus was on rapid expansion, suburbs, and making auto-friendly routes. Unlike older developments, the focus was not on pedestrians but rather on making areas accessible to drivers. As a result, pedestrian-safe design was not a high priority and many areas were built up without much access for people on foot.

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America, another issue that could be contributing to high rates of pedestrian and car accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and other cities is the larger elderly population. Of all states, Florida has the highest number of residents over 65. People in their senior years are more likely to be pedestrians, especially if illness prevents them from driving. At the same time, their age and some pre-existing conditions can mean that the elderly are more likely to suffer fatal or serious injuries in a pedestrian crash.

The report had a number of recommendations to make to improve pedestrian safety in South Florida and across the state. Among them was reducing the number of high-speed arterial lanes with many lanes. According to the report, this is where many fatal pedestrian accidents take place. The group also recommended adding more sidewalks and crosswalks to create safer areas for pedestrians to walk.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, some changes have already been made in the state after a similar report in 2011 pointed out the dangers for pedestrians in Florida. However, the agency noted that it would take time to fix the problem. So far, engineers and the agency have been identifying areas where pedestrian accidents are a high risk and have been considering ways to slow traffic, reduce speed limits, limit right turns, and take other steps that could help prevent future collisions.

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A new report by the League of American Bicyclists sheds light on why bicycle accidents and fatalities occur. The report was compiled by examining bicycle accident fatalities reported largely in 2012 by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the League of American Bicyclists, however, the government needs to do more to gather information about bicycle accidents in Miami and across the country, as the group found that information about these types of collisions was lacking.

According to the League of American Bicyclists report, the most dangerous bicycle accident and the one most likely to lead to fatalities was the rear-end crash. This type of collision accounted for about 40 percent of the total number of fatal bicycle accidents. Bicyclists are also at risk of broadside collisions in Miami and other cities. According to the report, about 10 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents involved this type of crash. A further eight percent of fatal bicycle collisions involved head-on accidents.

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The report found that many accidents – about 44% — occurred on city arterial streets while rural arterial streets were the site of 12 percent of fatal crashes. Rural local roads amounted to about 11 percent of total bicycle accidents. On city streets, intersection and intersection accidents were represented about equally, but rural road fatalities were more likely to occur away from intersections. In about 9% of fatal bicycle accidents, bicyclists were traveling on sidewalks rather than on roads. The report also found that bicyclists were wearing helmets in about 57% of fatal bike accidents, although data about helmet use was incomplete.

In terms of causes of bicycle accidents, the report found that many of the things that cause motor vehicle crashes in Miami and other Florida cities are also responsible for fatal bike crashes. About 42% of fatal bicycle accidents studied were caused by negligent driving while 36% involved hit and run crashes and a further 12% involved drunk driving. In about 23% of the accidents, bicyclists were traveling in the wrong direction while 17% of cases involved bicyclists failing to yield.

The report clearly shows that everyone plays a role in preventing bicycle accidents and fatalities. As the authors noted, one of the big problems with bicycle accidents is that relatively little information is gathered about these types of crashes and there is less anger and response to these types of accidents when compared with car crashes. The authors called for more action to prevent collisions in the future.

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