Archive for October, 2009

h1

Checking Office Email on Your PDA? You Might be Owed Overtime Pay Under the Florida Overtime Wage Laws!

October 30, 2009

Let’s face it – the PDA the office gave you can be both a blessing and a curse! So can your office cell phone or Blackberry, for that matter. While it is great to be able to work from home and access your office information at any time, these devices are "electronic leashes" that can keep you plugged into the company 24/7. There are many employees out there who are still checking office email and returning phone calls from home long after the work day has ended. Because this type of technology is still fairly new, the laws are scrambling to keep up with the changes. The bottom line, though, is that your employer may owe you a Florida overtime wage if you check office email, text, or answer work-related phone calls after hours or off the clock.

  • If nothing else, employers should be aware that their exposure to overtime liability increases when employees use company PDAs.
  • Recently, several large companies such as T-Mobile, Verizon, BD Richard Ellis, and Lincare have been sued for back overtime pay resulting from employee use of cell phones and PDAs to text and to check email after working hours.
  • Lower-level workers (meaning non-executives) are often classified as non-exempt employees when it comes to the Federal overtime wage laws. If you are a non-exempt employee and have been issued a PDA, it increases the possibility that you won’t be properly compensated for time you have worked because of the need to frequently check the device for new messages. Checking email with a PDA is considered "work" and the practice can violate Federal Labor Standards Act and state wage laws due to adding extra working time to your day.
  • Working on a time-sensitive project? On-call? Often, an employee who carries a PDA or Blackberry can feel the need to constantly monitor and respond to emails and texts received on their PDA. After all, it would seem to be a hallmark of a good employee, right? While this may seem harmless because text messages and emails can be read and responded to quickly, it can lead to an employee who is "constantly" working. A prime example is the employee who carries a PDA and receives a message – just the act of reading the message, even without responding to it, can mean the employee was considered to be working. A message here, a message there – they can add up over the course of a week, month, or a year.
  • Checking email for updates, even during a lunch hour or a break period can mean you end up working more than the standard amount of hours per week. Things can get even more out of hand if you work for a company with a nationwide sales staff. This might mean checking in with employees on the opposite coast before or after your normal work hours because of time differences.The FLSA and Florida overtime wage laws require non-exempt employees to be paid for all time actually worked.

About 86% of the American workforce falls under the category of non-exempt employees according to the U. S. Department of Labor. If you have been given a PDA and you check office emails and send and receive work-related text messages, doing so may extend your work week beyond the standard of forty hours a week. The 20-30 or so minutes per week you innocently spend on office email after hours can add up to a lot of overtime during the course of a year. And, that means you may be entitled to overtime under the FLSA and the Florida overtime wage laws.

If you have a question or need information about PDA use and the Florida overtime wage laws, contact Florida overtime attorney Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today. The Law Office of Joseph M. Maus and Associates has handled some of the largest Florida overtime wage claims. Attorneys in their office were recently appointed in Federal Court as lead counsel in an Overtime Class Action against a large Fortune 500 Company. Call their offices today for a free consultation or to obtain more information on Florida overtime wage claims.

h1

Florida Personal Injury Cases – Expert Advice – Finger Injury

October 17, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Premises Liability Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Subject: My son was injured at school

Question: My son was in school when his finger got slammed in the door, which led him to having his finger partially amputated. From my understanding, there were no security guards around or teachers around when this happened. Someone gave me the advice to sue the school…Is this possible?

Answer: Your email does not indicate what state you live in.  I am a Florida personal injury attorney specializing in Florida personal injury cases, auto accident injuries, and Florida workers compensation claims.  I can only advise you on what the law is in Florida, so it is best that you speak to an accident attorney in your area to find out what rights you may have.

Your son may have a claim against the school, but his claim would need to be investigated more fully.  Your email does not indicate how old your son is, or how the incident occurred.  I would be interested in speaking with you further if you’re located in Florida.

A school is held responsible for dangerous conditions which they know about, or should know about, and their failure to protect the children at the school from the dangers.  A door that swings shut too rapidly, or too harshly, putting the kids at risk, would be the type of dangerous condition the school should know about, and should repair so the kids do not get hurt. I have handled cases before very similar to this where many people that had observed the door shut too quickly before the accident, so as to put people at risk when it slams, yet the school did not fix the door.

Most school have insurance for the type of incident you have described. Their insurance usually includes "medical payments coverage", or Medpay. Medpay is a type of insurance coverage that pays for medical bills which arise out of an injury that occurs at the school.  If you have incurred out of pocket medical bills, you should speak to the school to find out whether they have medpay coverage.  If so, you need to submit the bills to the school’s insurance company and you will be reimbursed.  The school should also have liability insurance coverage which would cover your son for his injury and pain and suffering.  He obviously has a very serious injury.

If your son does have a claim, you would not sue right away.   Most claims get resolved without having to file a lawsuit.  Once your son finishes his medical treatment, your accident lawyer would get the medical records together, photos of the injury, and copies of his medical bills, then submit them to the school, or its insurance company in an effort to settle the claim.  If the school doesn’t settle the claim, then you would file a lawsuit.

You should contact an attorney soon.  There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company for the school, and find out what types of coverage are available.  There are also statutes of limitations which may apply and preclude you from bringing a claim if you wait too long.  In Florida personal injury cases, an accident or injury lawyer would verify the statute of limitations for a negligence claim is four years, unless it is a public school.  There are special rules for Florida personal injury cases which apply to governmental entities such as public schools, including when you have to notify them.  If it is a public school in Florida, there are also other entities that you have to put on notice of your claim, so it is best to speak with a accident injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Most attorneys specializing in premises liability claims handle the claims on a contingent basis,i.e. the attorneys fee is a percentage of any money they recover for you, and offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss whether you have a viable case.

For more information about Florida personal injury cases, contact Florida premises liability lawyer, Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at mauslawfirm.com or email him today.

h1

Florida Personal Injury Accidents – Expert Advice – Elevator Accident

October 9, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Personal Injury Accidents Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Subject: Elevator Accident

Question: I was in an elevator accident in early 2007 where the elevator
fell with me in it.  This took place in Florida. I started on the third
floor and it was going normal at first and then dropped from an unknown
height and hit the ground hard. My injuries range from 2 herniated disks in
my neck, pain in my arms, diagnosed carpel tunnel and extreme pain in a
section between my shoulder blades which feels like I am being stabbed
(maybe a torn disk but undiagnosed as of now). I have pain in most of my low back
diagnosed as bulging disks and stenosis and into my legs, diagnosed as
radiculapathy.  This affects every aspect of my life and I am on constant
medication for pain and it helps me maintain my sanity.

I was under work comp for a year and a half because it happened in a
commercial building while I was working and they did absolutely nothing but
testing and tell me that nothing could be done at this time.  I changed
careers and went from construction to an office job.  After finally going to
a doctor the attorneys set up and paid for, I was given steroid injections.
The first one helped my leg pain tremendously but soon wore off and the
night after I went in for the second one, my heart started beating over 300
per minute and I passed out and hit the floor.  When I came to, I rushed to
the hospital where of course, at first they treated me like a drug addict
but soon realized it was a severe case of A-fib.  I spent two days in the ICU
and they had to give me drugs to get my heart back on track. The medical
bills from this hospital stay were around 7-8 thousand dollars so I had to
settle my work comp for 15k to avoid bankruptcy.

Then I went to two orthopedic surgeons who recommended spinal fusion for my
neck.  I am in my 20s so I decided to first try minimally invasive
techniques.  I just recently had Lumbar, Thoracic and cervical surgery which
helped some but still leaves me in severe pain.

Would punitive damages apply in this case?
Could product liability law apply in this case?
Is there a cap on pain and suffering?  I am not even thirty and what might
seem like a lot now will not be when I am suffering decades from now.

Answer:

I am a Florida accident lawyer specializing in premises liability claims such as elevator incidents, Florida personal injury accidents, Florida car accident injuries, and Florida work accident injuries.  I am located in South Florida, but handle claims statewide.  Your inquiry says the accident occurred in Florida but doesn’t say in what city.

You have a pretty complicated factual and medical scenario, but I will try to answer your questions.  If you would like to discuss your claim in more detail, please give me a call.  If you are currently represented by a lawyer for either the work comp or a third party claim for the elevator accident, you should speak to your Florida personal injury accidents attorney to get more information.

Based upon what you have described in your email, I don’t see how punitive damages apply in your case.  There may be more factual information that would allow you to seek punitive damages, but the case would have to be investigated in much more detail to know.  A count for punitive damages in Florida may be allowed by a judge if a party can show the defendant’s conduct "transcended the level of ordinary negligence and entered the realm of willful and wanton misconduct, which the courts define as conduct that is of a gross and flagrant character, evincing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or there is that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard of the safety and welfare of the public, or that reckless indifference to the rights of others which is equivalent to an intentional violation of them."

This is a very high standard to meet.  It is based upon an evaluation of the facts of your case, and can only really be determined once you have fully investigated the causes of your accident.

Your second question is whether product liability law applies in this case. I’m not sure what product you are referring to – the elevator or the epidural injection.  Product liability laws probably do not apply to a claim against the manufacturer of the injection, but they may apply to the manufacturer of the elevator.  Again, you need more facts about how and where your accident occurred.  Was it a brand new elevator?  Had it been serviced any time recently before your accident?  Had the building owner neglected to have the elevator serviced even though there had been other complaints about the elevator?

Because of the injuries you have mentioned, and your young age, you should definitely look into a liability claim against the manufacturer of the elevator, the owner/manager of the building, and/or any company that serviced and maintained the elevator.

With regard to your reaction to the epidural injection, you could look into a medical malpractice claim against the facility and doctor that administered the injection.  Epidural injections are fairly complicated procedures that come with many risks.  Before undergoing such an injection, most facilities explain the potential risks with the patient.  However, in order to fully investigate whether a claim exists against the facility or doctor, you would need all the medical records to evaluate exactly what was done, or not done.

If you were to make a claim against the building owner, elevator manufacturer, or the maintenance company, there is no cap on pain and suffering.  Any settlement or verdict you obtained would need to compensate you for future medical care, and pain and suffering, for the rest of your life.

You definitely have a Florida personal injury accidents claim worth looking into.  If you would like to pursue the claim, or at least investigate your options further, please give me a call.  I handle all claims on a contingent basis which means there is no attorney’s fees owed if there is no recovery.  Please give me a call if you would like to discuss the claim.

For more information about Florida personal injury accidents, contact Florida premises liability lawyer, Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at jmmlawyers.com or email him today.

h1

Tips For Minimizing Your Chances Of Being Injured In Cruise Ship Accidents

October 8, 2009

The summer vacation season of 2009 is wrapping up, but there are those out there who are still waiting to sail off into the sunset with a loved one on a cruise vacation. With the recent downturn in the economy, the cruise industry has recently been offering great rates to passengers. Because of this, many people have postponed their summer vacation to take advantage of these relaxing, fun-filled vacations. But, did you know that cruises can be a source of accidents and injuries which can put a big crimp in that dream vacation? After all, more than four million people cruise annually during a good economy, and that means cruise ship accidents can occur more often than you might think. These accidents don’t even have to happen on the high seas – many people are unaware that accidents involving shore excursions are also considered cruise ship accidents if the excursion is sponsored by the cruise line you are sailing with.

There are ways to minimize your potential for being injured in cruise ship accidents:

  • Verify that any onshore excursion you are going to participate in has insurance which will cover you or your family if an accident occurs.
  • Check with your cruise line for safety information on the onshore excursion vendor; you may be surprised to learn that your cruise ticket restricts you from making a claim against the cruise line company for an injury which occurs during an onshore excursion.
  • Be aware of where you are and what you are doing. CruiseShipJunkie.com reports the latest in cruise ship accidents. One story they have posted tells of a passenger who drank more than his share of alcohol and decided to go swimming in the ship’s pool. The problem with this idea was that the pool had been drained for repairs, so the inebriated passenger ended up diving headfirst into an empty pool. The moral of the story is: don’t overindulge even on vacation!
  • Follow all posted warnings on board the ship.
  • You will be walking on a moving ship that is sailing on the high seas. There is a chance that water will be in your path at some point, so it is a good idea to wear rubber-soled shoes that can give you traction on a wet deck surface.
  • Use handrails to help you with your balance when the ship is under sail. You never know when the ship may list to one side or hit a rough patch of sea.
  • If you use the on board sports facility, only use the equipment for its intended purpose. The same thing goes for deck chairs, sporting equipment, etc.
  • Follow crew directions and instructions in the event of a power outage, fire, engine problem, or other emergency situation.
  • Secure your belongings in the cabin’s closets or drawers so you aren’t hit by flying or falling objects if the ship encounters rough seas.
  • While on shore excursions, listen to the directions of the tour operators, and follow their instructions.
  • Be honest about physical abilities required for some shore excursions (or the lack thereof) that might cause you harm if you try to do something you are not capable of doing. For instance, if you last rode a horse twenty-five years ago, don’t be daring and ask for a spirited horse for your ride down the beach!
  • Wear seat belts and proper restraints while on a tour and be sure your children do the same.

Hopefully, you will never have to worry about injury resulting from cruise ship accidents. However, if you are injured while on a cruise, you need to know that cruise ships operate under different laws than the rest of the vacation and tourism industry. "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, says Florida cruise ship accident lawyer, Joseph M. Maus. "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".

  • Passenger tickets often have special provisions put into the fine print within the ticket which shortens the time in which a cruise ship passenger may file a law suit against the cruise line – usually this limit is one year. To give you an idea of how this differs from "regular" law, Maus says that 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 six months.
  • Cruise lines also designate within their passenger tickets the only location where they can be sued. Read through your ticket and you should find this suit location. Since most of the major cruise lines are based in Miami, Florida and will designate Miami, Florida as the location where they must be sued, this means that if you live in Wisconsin and sail on a cruise vacation, you may have to bring suit for an injury in Miami (we might add that this will be at considerable cost and time to you).

Enjoy your cruise vacation and see all those wonderful sights that a cruise ship can take you to. Take some time to relax on the ship and unwind from your stressful life. Take precautions to be sure your vacation isn’t tainted by an injury. But, do be aware that if you are injured while on your cruise vacation, you need to talk to an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer immediately upon your return from your trip in order to preserve your rights!

For more information about cruise ship accidents and advice about an accident claim, contact cruise ship accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

h1

Florida Personal Injury Accidents – Child Injury – Expert Advice

October 7, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Personal Injury Accidents Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Subject: Child Arm Injury and more

Question: My daughter, who just turned 4, was hit on the elbow by another
child in after school care. Her arm was swollen and she couldn’t move it. This was
documented in an accident report by her care provider “hit by another child.”
After calling her pediatrician, I took her to ER right away as instructed. The
ER report states it is an arm injury, and fortunately no major broken bones
were seen on x-ray. The report also says x-ray can’t identify minor fractures. If no
chronic problems, hopefully out-of-pocket expense from this injury won’t be
too much. In this case should the child who hit or the day care be
responsible for the medical expense?

There is another child in her pre-school class who is known to be a bit
violent, the “one” in the class. My daughter has told me many times that
this boy chased her, scared her, pushed her, etc. At drop off time I also
observed this boy tore apart classroom equipment, hit and threw toys,
intimidated other kids, etc. This boy is on the teacher’s radar most of the
time. But I still feel uncomfortable even though so far no visible damage to
my daughter. After all school has started for less than a month and the
teacher couldn’t be watching the boy in every minute. Legally is there
anything I could do to prevent any potential damage to my child? Many thanks!

Answer: Your email does not indicate what state you live in.  I am a
Florida accident lawyer specializing in Florida person injury accidents, auto accident injuries,
and Florida workers compensation claims.  I can
only advise you on what the law is in Florida, so it is best that you speak
to an accident attorney in your area to find out what rights you may have.

Most after school facilities have insurance for the type of incident you
have described.  Their insurance usually includes "medical payments
coverage", or Medpay.  Medpay is a type of insurance coverage that pays for
medical bills which arise out of an injury that occurs at the school.  If
you have incurred out of pocket medical bills, you should speak to the
school to find out whether they have medpay coverage.  If so, you need to
submit the bills to the school’s insurance company and they will be repaid
to you.

As for the the child causing the problems, a school is held responsible for
dangerous conditions which they know about, or should know about, and their
failure to protect the children at the school from the dangers.  Another
child in the class that is violent, or continually chases and pushes the
other children, is a dangerous condition that the school remains responsible
for if the child causes injury to another child.

Your email doesn’t indicate if the violent child is the one that hit your
child.  If so, I would make sure the school has it documented through an
incident report.  I would also speak to other parents with children in the
class.  If the violent child is doing this to your child, it is most likely
happening to other children in the class.  The parents of the other children
should make sure to document any other incidents that occur with the violent
child.

If it turns out that your child’s arm injury is more serious than originally
thought, your child through you as the parent, has a claim for the injury,
medical bills, and other damages such as pain and suffering, against the
school for failing to properly supervise the children.  If the injury turns
out to be a serious one, you should speak with an attorney that specializes
in premises liability claims.  The attorney can advise you what the law is
in your area for incidents such as your daughters.

You should contact an attorney soon.  There are many steps your attorney
should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company for the school, and find
out what types of coverage are available.  There are also statutes of
limitations which may apply and preclude you from bringing a claim if you wait too long.  In Florida personal injury accidents, the statute of limitations on a negligence claim is four years, unless it is a public school.  There are special rules which apply to governmental entities such as public schools.

Most attorneys specializing in premises liability claims handle the claims
on a contingent basis,i.e. the attorneys fee is a percentage of any money
they recover for you, and offer a free, no-obligation consultation to
discuss whether you have a viable case.

For more information about Florida personal injury accidents, contact Florida premises liability lawyer, Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

h1

Minor’s Rights For Settlements In Florida Motor Vehicle Accidents

October 4, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Auto Accident Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Subject: Child Auto Injury Rights

Question: My friend is an older lady with a 10 year old child. Recently, he and another child were playing outside when a neighbor (and family member of the other child) pulled out of her driveway, backed into my friend’s yard and proceeded to pull forward. As she pulled forward, the two children playfully jumped on the car for a short thrill ride down the dirt road. She
got annoyed and rather than stopping to ask the children to get off
her vehicle, she sped up. The child (which was her nephew) jumped off. My
friend’s child attempted to jump off but slid and she ran over his leg. She
never stopped to check on him or anything. When the other child informed my
friend, she panicked. He was rushed to the hospital and pins and screws were
placed in his leg. It has now been long enough that he is somewhat healed
from this injury, but they have not seen a settlement. The other day, they
offered a proposal, but the lawyer informed my friend that it "may" have to
go in an annuity account? She’s not sure what this is or how it works, but
she would like to have the money now to benefit the child. She wants to put
the money in an account of his own (locally), but she is not sure about her rights
to go about doing so. Could you please give me some advice to pass along to
her?

Answer: Your email does not indicate what state you live in.  I
am a Florida personal injury lawyer specializing in Florida motor vehicle accidents,
slip and fall accidents, and Florida workers compensation claims, so I can
only advise you what the law is in Florida.  You should always consult with
an accident attorney in your area to make sure you get an answer based upon
the laws of your state.

Most states have laws which control what can be done with the auto accident
settlement proceeds for a minor.  In Florida motor vehicle accidents, an settlement
for a minor must be set aside for the minor.  This can be done in a few
different ways, but the goal is to ensure that the settlement money is saved
and used strictly for the minor’s benefit, and not some other purpose.

One common type of investment used for a minor’s auto accident settlement is
to place the money in an annuity.  Annuities are designed to be a safe,
conservative way to invest the settlement money so that it grows over time,
and more importantly, is there for the minor when she/he turns the age of
majority (18 in Florida).  Most annuities are investments with an insurance
company that will take the initial auto accident settlement proceeds, invest
them until the child turns 18, then pay the proceeds out over time, i.e.
$10,000 per year for years 18-23; $15,000 per year for years 24-29; and a
lump sum of a certain amount of money at the age of 30.  This is just one
example of how the annuity could be paid out, and the amounts the minor
receives obviously depends on the amount of the auto accident settlement,
and the age of the child.  The schedule of how the settlement is paid out at
the age of majority can also vary, i.e. it can be paid out in one lump sum
at the age of majority, or spread out over just a few years, or spread out
over many years.

In Florida motor vehicle accidents, a minor’s settlement has to be approved by a
Judge.  Most Judges favor annuities as they are safe investments, and
guarantee the money is available for the minor when they get older.  Also in
Florida motor vehicle accidents, before a judge can approve most minor’s settlement, the terms of
the settlement must be reviewed by a "guardian ad litem" to ensure the
amount and terms of the settlement are fair to the minor.

However, an annuity is not the only way a minor’s auto accident settlement
can be used.  Many judges will consider placing a portion of the auto
accident settlement money into a federally insured bank account to be used
for the child’s living and educational expenses.  Withdrawing money from
such an account usually requires a court order.  A judge will scrutinize any
withdrawals closely to make sure the money is being used for a legitimate
purpose i.e. education, medical care, etc, rather than some expense of the
parent or other family member.

You should speak with an accident lawyer in your area to determine how this
child’s auto accident settlement proceeds should be invested.  There are
many factors that should be considered such as the amount of the accident
settlement, the age of the child, the child’s general health condition and
any special needs he/she may have, and the child’s educational needs. Annuities are a good, safe investment which allows the accident settlement
money to grow over time, and be there for the child once he/she reaches an
age where they can use the money more wisely.  Judges favor the use of an
annuity because it puts the money into a safe investment that cannot be
misused by the parents or guardian, and ensures a substantial amount of the
auto accident settlement proceeds are still available for the child when
they reach adulthood.

Should you have any further questions, I recommend contacting an auto accident attorney in your state to discuss the settlement possibilities in detail.  Good Luck.

If you need advice about your Florida motor vehicle accidents claim, contact Florida Auto Accident Lawyer Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today. Attorney Joseph M. Maus handles car accident claims on a contingent basis.  This means that unless you recover money for your car accident, you do not owe any fees or costs.

%d bloggers like this: