Archive for January, 2009

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Restaurant Slip And Fall Case – Expert Advice

January 31, 2009

Subject: BBQ Restaurant Slip And Fall Case

Question: On the way out of a BBQ chain in Texas, I slipped and fell on their wet concrete floor (enterior entrance freshly mopped). I ended up twisting, falling, and landing on my back. The Manager immediately filed an incident report. He even got after his employee for not having the wet floor sign out. He then promptly offered me a free meal for my troubles. I woke up in the morning stiff as a board, lower back pain, and pain at the base of the neck. After a visit to the doctor later that morning, the results included a sprained knee, a slipped disc that pinched a nerve (causing numbness in my left thigh), as well as a neck sprain from a whiplash motion from hitting the floor. The doctor says that I will need therapy 3 times a week for several months for the back and knee injury, with a series of cortizone shots as well. I have talked to a lawyer, but haven’t signed nothing yet. My question is, do I have a good case to get the BBQ chain restaurant in question to pay for my doctor bills (which I have been currently using a co-pay with my insurance), and what other options do I have? I’ve missed a couple days of work already (doctor’s orders, as well as several classes (master’s program) at the state university in town. I hope you can help.

Answer: I am an attorney in Florida, and I don’t know Texas’ laws, but usually a slip and fall case as you have described in Florida creates liability against the person that owns and/or maintains the property. Because of that, the BBQ Chain should be responsible for your medical bills. My advice to you is to retain an attorney that specializes in slip and fall personal injury cases in your area. He/she will be able to tell you whether there is any “medical payments” insurance coverage which applies to injuries that occur at the restaurant, and which may be available to pay for your medical bills. However, you may be entitled to money damages above and beyond just reimbursement for medical bills, such as past and future lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering. It is important to speak with an attorney shortly after the slip and fall case occurs to understand all your legal rights, and get advice on how to protect your rights, and recover whatever damages may be available to you. Additionally, your attorney can move quickly to get photographs of the area, secure statements from witnesses whose memories fade over time, or witnesses that disappear over time, and research whether incidents like yours have happened in the same area before. Most Florida personal injury attorneys work on a contingent basis, meaning you don’t owe an attorney’s fee unless the attorney is successful in recovering money for you from your fall. I assume Texas personal injury attorneys work the same way, so there is really no downside to speaking with an attorney in your area to find out whether you have a slip and fall case that should be pursued.

Good Luck. Joseph M. Maus Joseph M. Maus, PA

For more information about a slip and fall case, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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Expert Advice About A Slip And Fall Claim

January 31, 2009

Subject: Fell in restaurant at Gaylord Palms Resort

Question: I was meeting my co-workers for dinner at a restaurant inside a hotel resort.  One second I was walking with the Hostess, the next I was on my back.  I injured my lower back and hip area pretty bad.  The Restaurant Manager told me (in front of my co-workers) she knows the floor is slippery as she has slipped several times.  She explained that the floors are not sanded well enough.  My lawyer here (Mass.) tried to settle the case but the insurance rep for the hotel is denying liability.  He states he spoke with the restaurant manager as well as my witnesses (they have never spoken with him) and all state that there was nothing on the floor that I slipped on.  I need to find a lawyer in Fl in the area of the hotel.  Before I get another lawyer, do I have a case?  They have not paid for anything (not even medical).

Answer: I am a lawyer in Florida, but I need more information to be able to give you advice on how to proceed with your slip and fall claim.  Your attorney in Mass would also have to consent to me, or any other attorney in Florida, speaking to you while you are currently represented.

An unreasonably slippery floor can form the basis for a claim if you slip and fall because of the slipperiness, and get injured.  A landowner generally owes two duties to business invitees – to maintain the
premises in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn people of dangerous conditions on the property which business invitees may not be able to appreciate. If the floor was unreasonably slippery and people had slipped on the floor previous to you, you may have a claim to pursue. You probably want to do a site inspection, or even have an expert go to the hotel and inspect the floor, assuming it has not been changed since your accident occurred.

If its the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, that is a very large resort which probably has many slip and fall claims and trip and fall claims annually.  However, it is not unusual for an insurance company to deny liability for a slip and fall, especially when you are represented by an attorney from out of state.

Whether you have a slip and fall claim worth pursuing depends on the specific facts of your case.  I would be happy to talk to you further about the circumstances surrounding your fall, and your injuries and medical care. You can contact me toll free at (866) 556-5529.

Good Luck.

For more information about a slip and fall claim, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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Facts About Settling Workers’ Compensation Claims In Florida

January 28, 2009

Most clients that come to South Florida Workers Compensation Lawyers Joseph Maus are having difficulty getting the benefits they deserve from the workers comp insurance company.  The clients are looking for an aggressive South Florida Workers Compensation Lawyer to fight for them to help obtain their benefits quickly.

One of the facts about workers compensation is that there is a procedure in Florida Workers Compensation that allows an injured worker to file a Petition for Benefits (“PFB”) to contest an insurance company’s denial of benefits.  The insurance company can choose to provide medical benefits, yet deny wage benefits; provide wage benefits, but deny medical benefits; or deny a workers compensation claim entirely.  A PFB is a formal complaint filed with the State of Florida that sets forth the benefit that is being sought.  Once the PFB is filed, the workers compensation Judge is required to schedule a mediation within a certain time period after the filing of the PFB.

Mediation is a face to face negotiation with the insurance company to attempt to resolve any benefit disputes that may exist.  It is also the time when you will have a chance to obtain a “lump sum” settlement of your case.  The mediation will take place with an impartial mediator employed by the State of Florida.  Sometimes the insurance company will agree to pay for a private mediator for more complex cases, or for cases that appear as if they may settle.  It is at mediation that a discussion of settling your claim usually will take place.

When dealing with workers compensation, facts will tell you that insurance companies are interested in settling workers compensation cases for a variety of reasons, but usually because the insurance company can limit any future financial exposure to paying benefits to the injured worker.  When an insurance company and an injured worker in Florida agree to settle the workers compensation claim, the insurance company will pay a lump sum of money in exchange for the injured worker to close his/her workers compensation claim, and agree to not seek any further medical treatment or wage benefits through workers compensation.

The amount of money a workers compensation insurance company will pay to settle a claim varies from case to case.  The settlement amount is based primarily on the amount of financial exposure an insurance company has to any particular claim in the future.  For example, for an injured worker that has completed his medical care, has had an excellent recovery and returned to work without any need for future medical care, wage benefits or vocational re-training, an insurance company will not offer a large amount to settle because there is very little future benefits it will have to pay for.  However, for an injured worker that has been placed at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), but still needs more medical care, is not physically able to return to work, or needs job re-training to return to work, an insurance company will be more motivated (i.e. will pay more money) to settle the claim because it realizes its exposure is much greater.

One issue that always is raised in a Florida workers compensation settlement is whether the injured worker has to resign his position when settling his workers compensation claim.  The facts about this worker’s compensation requirement varies from employer to employer, and from insurance company to insurance company, but an injured worker should seek advice from an experienced Florida workers compensation attorney before settling his/her claim to make sure you obtain the maximum amount without giving up very valuable rights.

Joseph M. Maus is an experienced Florida work accident compensation lawyer who knows the facts about workers compensation and has recovered millions of dollars in work accident compensation for his clients.  Mr. Maus is an AV rated attorney by Martindale Hubbell, a rating that signifies the highest skill and ethics rating among Florida Workers Compensation lawyers.  Contact Mr. Maus for a free consultation at (866) 556-5529, visit his web site at http://www.jmmlawyers.com or email him today.

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Expert Answer: Personal Injury Protection Advice

January 25, 2009

Subject: Accident at Wal-Mart

Question: What Happened:  While shopping at Wal-Mart on December 17, 2008, I was involved in an accident at my local Wal-Mart. My wife and I were standing in the back toy aisle looking for last minute gifts for our daughter when an employee came bursting out of the back room without so much as a beep from his pallet jack or a quick look to see if anyone was there. Now I was standing towards the end of the aisle but by no means standing in the doorway to the backroom at the time, but still the door hit me in the back of the head and the buttocks. This itself I may have said something to
a manager about carelessness and then shrugged off. Unfortunately for me the employee’s carelessness extended beyond not looking where he was going. On top of the pre-packed pallet the employee was pulling he had thrown a number of boxes rather haphazardly. (Stacked way past the clearly marked "Do Not Stack Above This Point" mark on the top row of pre-packed boxes, resting at odd angles, etc…) Several of these boxes fell and struck me in succession in the lower back from the center of the back to the right side. The entire area went numb for a few minutes after the impact but by the time I got to the end of the next aisle on my way to the customer service desk the numbness was replaced by severe pain throughout my back that started at the impact area and spread from there and pain that I couldn’t explain started shooting down my legs.  I filled out an accident report and heard the manager call to security to save the footage from the door going in and out. I called my doctor and made an appointment for later that day. (About an hour later, good doc) The end result is that the impacts caused a disk just above my pelvis bone to swell and protrude between it’s vertebra. Being
pressed between the vertebra was causing it to swell which is putting pressure on the spinal column. That is what is causing all the pain and weakness. He put me on Roboxin (muscle relaxer) and Vicodin (pain killer) and I have been on both since. He has also sent me to physical therapy to fix the problem, I have another 5 weeks of that.   I have been out of work since the accident but fortunately I have been put on FML (Family Medical Leave) so my job will still be there when I get back. The scary part is that both my doctor and physical therapist have told me separately that I will never be fully healed from this. Physical therapy will get me as far as I can go but the exercises and stretches will need to be kept up with once I’m released from their care, but the damage that has been caused to the nerves by the impact and subsequent pressure will never heal and I can expect some amount of pain the rest of my life. (to a greater or lesser degree depending on how hard I push my back. I have also been told by both doctor and physical therapist that I will not be able to return to job and need to get retrained to do something that will keep off of my feet.  What should I expect or ask for?

Answer: Patrick, I can provide some suggestions for you to pursue regarding this area of personal injury protection.  However, as I do not represent you, or know whether you are currently represented by an attorney, please consult with an attorney in your area to get more details on what your legal rights may be.  My first suggestion to you is to speak with an attorney that specializes in personal injury protection cases as soon as possible.  I don’t know whether you have had any contact with Wal Mart since 12/17, but you need to make sure Wal Mart saves the security video which apparently was in the area.  A personal injury attorney, particularly one that has handled claims against Wal Mart before, will know exactly what to do to preserve the video.  However, unless they are asked to preserve the video, Wal Mart and many other stores, will destroy it after a certain period of time.  An attorney will also be able to answer your ultimate question, which is, what your options are at this point.  Your email doesn’t indicate where this happened.  I am located in Florida, so the laws in your state may be different.  However, generally a store such as Wal Mart owes a duty to its customers to maintain the store in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn customers of dangerous conditions that a customer might not be able to appreciate on their own.  By running a pallet jack through a set of doors with boxes piled too high, and with customers in the area, it is my opinion that Wal Mart has breached their duties owed to you as a customer. By hiring an attorney specializing in personal injury protection claims, you can move forward with attempting to recover damages you suffered in this claim.  In Florida, you would be allowed to pursue a claim for lost wages, loss of future earning capacity (if you are unable to return to your level of income because of your injuries), past and  future medical bills, and for pain and suffering, and loss of ability to enjoy your life.  You should also have a personal injury protection attorney check to see whether the Wal Mart in which you were injured has "Medical Payments" (MedPay) insurance coverage.  MedPay is a part of a general liability policy that will cover your out of pocket medical expenses.  I have handled several claims against Wal Mart and have found some stores have MedPay, and some do not.  You will need to write to Wal Mart and ask them whether they have this type of coverage.  Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.  

For more information about personal injury protection, contact South Florida injury attorney Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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Workers’ Compensation Facts

January 24, 2009

Worker’s Compensation was founded in Wisconsin in 1911 and all 48 then-existing states had a form of worker’s comp on their law books by 1948. The system is actually based on a German system started by Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck. He introduced a compulsory state run accident compensation system in 1884 and the program was financed by workers and employers. The U.S. version of Worker’s Compensation (originally called Workman’s Compensation but changed in the 1970s to a more gender-neutral name) is the oldest social insurance program in the United States. It was created to compensate for the increasing amount of workers that were injured on the job as industry grew in the U.S. Before Worker’s Compensation was put in place, the only recourse for an injured worker was to hire a lawyer and prove malice or negligence on the part of the employer. Most workers didn’t make enough money to hire a lawyer in those days, and many people did not even know that attorneys could be used to help them win an injury case. Even if the injured worker did hire an attorney, it often took years for a case to be settled, leaving the worker to take care of his family and pay his bills while trying to recover in the meantime. Ultimately, there was such a burden of indigent, injured workers that it became a drain on society to support them. Worker’s Compensation laws were passed so the injured worker could get some relief regardless of fault.

It is a fact – worker’s compensation is still needed today. Even with the advent of monitoring systems like OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act), there were still over 60,000 workplace illnesses or injuries in 2006 in the state of Florida and almost 400 fatalities. In 2007, there were 362 workers compensation deaths in Florida. It’s a good thing, then, that Worker’s Comp covers 98% of workers! The primary goal of the law is to get an injured worker back to work as soon as possible, even in a limited capacity, so they do not become a burden on the state.

  • An interesting fact is that worker’s compensation laws are established by each individual state – there is no Federal control or regulation over worker’s comp laws from state to state. So, if you are injured on the job, the first thing you should do (after visiting a doctor or hospital) is to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your state to get facts and answers about your case.
  • In the state of Florida, work accident compensation laws have strict timelines and rules for reporting an injury claim and for how and when the employee can obtain medical treatment.
  • Did you know that you are entitled to compensation for mileage to and from a doctor’s office or medical facility? The insurance company has to pay this as part of your claim.
  • In Florida, you are only allowed to change the treating physician once in a case. If you unknowingly change to a doctor who doesn’t want to provide you with additional care or benefits, you are most likely stuck with them,so make any physician change carefully!

If you have a work-related injury, you may be entitled to compensation, but it is best to consult an attorney who knows about worker’s compensation facts . They can guide you through the trickier aspects of it and can help you get the funds you deserve. You are most likely entitled to benefits for injuries such as:

  • a disease contracted from exposure to toxins as part of normal working conditions.
  • an injury that results from physical or mental strain due to work-related duties or stress. This includes disabling mental conditions related to job demands or harassment.
  • injuries occurring during breaks, lunch hours, and work related events such as the company holiday party.
  • preexisting conditions that the workplace accelerates or aggravates.
  • injuries that occur on the workplace property, such as tripping and falling while in the company parking lot.

If you have been injured on the job, be sure to:

  • report your injury to your employer in writing (keep a copy for your records).
  • have your employer fill out a "First Report of Injury". The injured worker is required to sign the Report so make sure the information on the Report is correct. If your employer will not
    fill out the Report, you can contact the workers compensation insurance company directly to ensure one is filled out.
  • don’t wait to report your injury. Report the injury to your employer the same day it happens.
  • don’t rely on your employer or their insurance company to be "on your side". Check out the facts of your worker’s compensation with an attorney who is experienced in worker’s comp – your employer and their insurance company want to settle everything for as little money as possible and will be looking out for themselves, not you!

For more information about worker’s compensation facts, contact Florida work accident compensation lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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Workers Compensation Facts – Questions And Answers About Workers Comp

January 23, 2009

Commonly Asked Questions And Facts About Florida’s Workers Compensation

1.  Is the insurance Company allowed to pick my doctors?

        One of the Florida workers compensation facts is that, in most circumstances, the insurance company gets to pick your initial medical provider.  If you have been referred by a hospital or workers compensation clinic to a medical specialist, the insurance company gets to pick the particular doctor as long as he/she falls within the medical specialty.  In limited circumstances when an insurance company fails to schedule a doctors appointment in a timely manner, you may be able to choose your own doctor.

2.  What is my AWW? 

        AWW is a term commonly used in workers compensation.  It is an abbreviation for your average weekly wage.  Your work accident compensation, either temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) is based upon your AWW.  The AWW is calculated by averaging your wages during the 13 week period immediately preceding your date of accident.  If you are injured before you have worked a full 13 weeks, the employer can provide wages from another employee that has worked 13 weeks and is employed in the same position as you.

3.  Can wages from my second job be used to calculate my AWW?

        Yes, a Florida workers compensation lawyer should make sure that all your wages are used to calculate your AWW.  By using all your wages you are ensured of receiving all the work accident compensation you deserve.

4.  What does MMI mean?

        Another commonly used term in Florida workers compensation.  It means an injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement.  What this means is that your doctors have basically provided all the medical care they think is necessary, and that you can return to work.  When a doctor places you at MMI, it also means that your work accident compensation wage benefits through workers compensation will stop, and you may begin receiving impairment benefits (see below).  MMI does not mean that you cannot go back to the doctor any more.  You can continue to go to the doctor and the insurance company will pay for your visits and treatment, but you will be responsible for a $10 co-pay.

5.  What is an impairment rating and what does it mean to my case?

        An impairment rating is a way for a doctor to rate the severity of your injury.  It is given at the end of your medical treatment.  If your doctor or doctors provide an impairment rating as high as 20%, you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits.  You are also entitled to receive impairment benefits once you are given a rating.  Florida Statutes section 440.15(3)(c) establishes the formula for you to get paid your impairment benefits.  Benefits are paid bi-weekly at the rate of 75% of your average weekly temporary total disability benefit not to exceed the maximum weekly benefit under section 440.12.  Impairment benefits (or IB’s as they are referred to) are another form of Florida work accident compensation.

6.  Is the insurance company required to reimburse me for my gas driving to and from my doctors?

        Yes, one of the nice facts about Florida’s workers compensation program is that you are entitled to mileage for doctor visits. You should be provided a mileage log by the insurance company, or by your attorney, for you to fill out every time you go to the doctor or for physical therapy appointments.  The insurance company will reimburse you 44.5 cents per mile for every mile you drive to these appointments.

7.  Can I change my doctor?

        Yes, but one of the tougher Florida workers compensation facts is that you can only change your doctor one time.  When the workers compensation statutes were last changed in 2003, many options for switching doctors, or getting a second opinion were removed from the statute.  Now, an injured worker can exercise a one-time change of doctor only.  If you switch to a doctor that you don’t like, or are not satisfied with the medical care he/she is providing, you are stuck with that doctor.

8.  Can I receive job re-training if I can no longer do my job?

        Not through workers compensation, but through the State of Florida once you are placed at MMI, and if you have a high school diploma or GED.  If you are accepted into the State’s vocational retraining program you may be entitled to an additional 26 weeks of work accident compensation from workers compensation.

For more information about worker’s compensation facts, contact Florida work accident compensation lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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Did You Know Cruise Ship Accidents Can Happen On Dry Land?

January 16, 2009

Florida ports are cruise ship meccas. Between the three major ports (The Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), and the Port of Miami), more than 4 million people start or end cruise ship vacations annually. With such a large number of people taking cruises, accidents and injuries occur frequently. Most people don’t think much about it, but cruise ship accidents can happen at any time during their vacation: when they are boarding or disembarking the ship, when they are walking up or down stairs on the ship or down a hallway, when they are getting on and off a launch or tour bus in an exotic port, or during a ship-sponsored tour or trip into a foreign city.

Many examples can be found if you take time to read about cruises. The following are just some of the reports of cruise ship accidents taken from CruiseJunkie.com:

  • On 9/17/08, the Celebrity cruise ship Constellation, was delayed leaving port due to tour bus accidents: a passenger reported from their Blackberry "There were 4 accidents involving tour buses:  1) bus hit a car which caught on fire; 2) Another bus hit a car and the car’s driver stopped in front of the bus and acted very threatening to the passengers;  3) A independent mini excursion bus was sideswiped by a large tour bus severely damaging the sides of both buses; 4) following that accident, the mini bus ran over the foot of a pedestrian which was badly crushed".
  • On August 8, 2006, a tour bus accident injured 15 passengers while on excursion in Juneau, Alaska.
  • Twelve people died and two were injured in a ship-sponsored tour bus accident in Arica, Chile.  According to local news reports, the bus went off a steep cliff on March 23, 2006.
  • There are reports of people who were injured after leaving a tour bus and being hit by a truck while on excursion and reports of people falling off the gangway of docked ships.
  • A 65 year old man died on a snorkeling expedition and a 68 year old man disappeared while snorkeling in the same area of Shark Bay Alley in Belize on a ship-sponsored excursion.
  • A sightseeing float plane crashed in Ketchikan, Alaska, killing passengers from a cruise ship.
  • On March 17, 2005, a group of divers missed being hit by the propellers of the Carnival Lines’ Inspiration, as she was leaving the port of Cozumel, by only 1 1/2 meters (60 inches!).

If you are injured while on a cruise, what can you do about it? Because cruise ships operate under different laws, you should contact a competent attorney about any cruise ship accidents. Joseph Maus, a Florida cruise ship accident lawyer says, "depending on when and where your accident occurs, your claim may be controlled by Florida law, Federal Maritime law, or a law from a foreign port. Accidents and injuries which occur on Cruise Ships can be won and lost on requirements which apply only to Cruise Ships. Take a look at your Cruise Ticket for some of these "special" requirements".

  • For example, Maus says:
    "Cruise lines often insert special provisions into their passenger tickets that shorten the time in which a passenger may file a law suit against the cruise line to one year. (The normal statute of limitations for admiralty and maritime matters is three years; for a typical car accident claim it is four years!)".
  • These same provisions generally require you to give notice of a claim for injury or death due to negligence against the cruise line within 6 months!
  • Maus also says: "Cruise lines also designate within their passenger tickets the only location where they can be sued. (Take a look at the tiny print on the back of your ticket). Most of the major cruise lines are based in Miami, Florida and designate Miami, Florida as the location where they must be sued." This means that if you live in Maine and vacation on a cruise, you may have to litigate in Miami at considerable cost and time to you.

This article isn’t meant to make you cancel your cruise reservation, but it is meant to make you aware that if you are injured while on vacation, you need to talk to an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer immediately upon your return from your trip!

For more information about cruise ship accidents and advice about accident claim, contact cruise ship accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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