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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.

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