Archive for the ‘Personal Injury’ Category

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Dangers of Lawyer Referral Services

January 10, 2011

It seems like almost every commercial on TV involves people in South Florida being reminded of services such as 1-800-411-pain and 1-800-need-help. Although people involved in accidents should pursue legal help, these so-called “lawyer referral services” might end up causing even more trouble in the long run.

As an initial point, if you listen closely or read the fine print at the bottom of the screen, you’ll figure out these companies are nothing more than referral services. They cannot offer legal advice nor do they employ lawyers to speak with you.

The commercials for these companies all advertise that if you are injured in an auto accident or slip-and-fall, they will help you find an attorney that will get you the benefits you deserve. Once you contact them, these companies will have a customer service representative interview you, then put you in contact with an attorney in their database. They will then work with these attorneys which will tack on referral service fees to your settlement. You will also find yourself quickly referred to a chiropractor who will want you to treat 5 days a week.

Consumers are urged to take precaution, and to do their homework before hiring an attorney. Florida lawyers are only allowed to take clients from referral services if they comply with the Florida Bar rules. It is important when choosing a lawyer to look into their background and decide whether they are suitable or qualified for the case, and whether they even specialize in south Florida injury accident cases.

Attorney Joseph M. Maus is a Florida Accident attorney that recommends getting all the details in writing regarding how fees are calculated and the estimated amount of costs before signing an agreement. Additionally, The Florida Bar recommends contacting it, or asking friends and family for recommendations in order to ensure that your rights are protected. Beware of attorneys being recommended to you from TV ads promising things they can’t deliver.

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Drowsy Driving accounts for 17 percent of fatal car accidents

November 9, 2010

Drunk driving and cell phone distractions are obvious triggers for car accidents, but according to new data, driving while drowsy has become almost as dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009, 730 people died in car accidents due to drowsy drivers. This accounts for over 16.5 percent of all car accident related fatalities last year. A national survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that over 41 percent of all drivers in the U.S. admitted to falling asleep or nodding off at some point while driving.

The NHTSA found that drowsy driving was the third leading cause of car accident related fatalities in 2009. The first two were accidents involving alcohol at 32 percent and cell phone or other technology related distractions following at 31 percent.

Rather than trying to push through when you feel yourself becoming drowsy, take the proper steps to ensure your safety as well as the safety of others. The AAA foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that when you are driving long distances you should stop at least once every two hours, drink plenty of water, and avoid eating heavy meals.

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Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship catches on Fire

November 9, 2010

The Carnival Splendor Cruise ship caught on fire early Monday, leaving over 3,200 passengers stranded on the ship off the coast of Mexico.  By Tuesday, the United States Coast Guard had reached the ship.

U.S.C.G. officer Khris Johns reported on “Today” that the fire was located in the aft engine room.  The fire caused the ship to be without engine power, drifting approximately 80 miles off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico.  The Coast Guard has summoned two large tug boats to respond to the ship.  Once the tug boats arrive, it will take approximately 24 hours for the ship to be towed port in Ensenada.

The Coast Guard has stated that the passengers are not in any “immediate” danger, and no injuries have been reported yet.  The Carnival Splendor was only able to restore toilet service late Monday, and there is still no hot water, air conditioning, hot food or telephone service on board.

The fire on board the Splendor brings the issue of cruise ship safety into the public eye.  Earlier this year the Cruise Ship Safety Bill was signed into law giving added protection to cruise ship passengers.  The bill was voted into law in response to numerous incidents of passengers disappearing while on board a cruise ship, multiple incidences of sexual assaults occurring on board cruise ships, and the many accidents and injuries which occur on today’s large cruise ships.

Cruise ship injury attorney Joseph M. Maus says that accidents such as the Carnival Splendor fire, as well as, injuries and accidents are going to continue to happen just based on the sheer size of todays ships.  The most recent cruise ship to hit the water is Royal Carribean’s Allure of the Seas, the sister ship to the current world’s largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas.  The Allure of the Seas measures over 1,100 feet long, carries more than 5000 passengers, and stands 16 stories high.

Attorney Maus also says that passengers that become injured on the Carnival Splendor, as well as many other cruise ships, need to be aware of cruise ship ticket limitation which require a claim to be brought in a specific location.  For instance, if you become injured on a Carnival cruise ship, any claim must be brought in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami, FL.  This is true even if the cruise ship originates out of a California port.

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Woman struck and killed in I-595 hit-and-run just west of I-95

November 4, 2010

It seems as if everyday accidents in South Florida highways leave someone either seriously injured or dead. The Sun-Sentinel reported that a woman was struck and killed this morning at around 3:30 am by a hit and run driver on the New River bridge just west of I-95. It is reported that while her body was still on the road, she was run over a second time by an 18-wheel tractor-trailer.

A few hours after the accident, the driver of the vehicle that sped away contacted authorities and is now cooperating with them. The women has not been identified as she was not carrying identification and there was no vehicle near the accident site.

The Florida Highway Patrol responded to the accident. FHP is responsible for patrolling highways in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Plantation, Weston and other interstate highways in Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Three of the four westbound lanes of I-595 were closed for over four hours. The traffic persisted during morning rush-hour, and a second accident was reported shortly after 7:45 am.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, 272 car accidents have been reported on I-595 in the past four weeks. Just a few weeks ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranked I-95 in Florida the “nations most deadly highway” and Statistics found that in a 4 year period between 2004 and 2008, there were 662 fatalities from Florida car accidents.

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Cruise Ship Passenger Safety Tips

October 29, 2010

It seems almost weekly we hear about a cruise ship scandal involving a missing passenger, crew member accident or other strange story.  Perhaps this increase in maritime cruise incidents led to the passage of The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, signed this summer by President Obama.  The new Act requires cruise lines to improve their onboard safety measures and to report any suspicious or dangerous activities such as passengers vanishing, crew members going overboard, suicides, murders, and sexual assaults.

Cruise vessels are often foreign-flagged from countries like Liberia and Panama which affects the laws they have to follow if a crime occurs.  In addition, filing lawsuits is also much more restricted for cruise ship passenger injury cases.  Most American passengers have to bring their cases in Miami, Florida courts, forced into a venue not of their choosing.  In addition to the venue issue, these cases have drastically shortened notice and filing requirements.  Read your ticket carefully.

About 12 million North Americans set sail on a cruise this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.  Cruise companies are required to report serious incidents involving Americans to the FBI and Coast Guard.  The FBI opened 184 cases on crimes that occurred aboard cruise ships between 2002 and 2007.

Sexual assaults on cruse ships have been heavily reported in the news.  Sexual and other physical assaults were the leading crimes committed onboard cruise ships in recent years, according to the FBI.  The rate of sexual assault on cruise ships is almost twice the U.S. rate of forcible rape, according to at least one cruise industry expert.

Readily available alcohol and a partying mentality on the vessels can change the mindset of travelers who are out for a good time.  Of the attacks investigated by the FBI, a majority involved alcohol.  The number of attacks on ships is probably higher than reported, because rape victims are afraid to come forward with their attackers nearby on the ship.  FBI statistics show that in nearly half of the incidents, a crew member is the suspect.

In addition to physical violence, cruise ship passengers need to watch out for illnesses.  Stomach ailments spread quickly and easily in close quarters like a cruise ship.  Norwalk virus is a stomach sickness occurring on cruise ships.  You can reduce your potential exposure to stomach bugs by washing your hands frequently, washing all produce before eating it, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you touch.

For all onboard accidents and health issues, be prepared for inadequate medical care.  Ship doctors are usually not U.S.-trained or licensed and the shipboard supplies are not that great.  A cruise line won’t assume liability for the medical care you receive onboard so taking out travel insurance is recommended by experts.

 

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I-595 Accidents On The Rise

October 28, 2010

Since construction began on I-595 in Ft. Lauderdale on February 26, 2010, there has been a 10 percent increase in car accidents on the 10.5 mile stretch of the only east to west expressway in Broward county. A report by the Sun-Sentinel states that in the past six months, 272 car accidents have been reported, including three major accidents in the past four weeks alone. A major accident on Friday caused westbound I-595 to be shut down for nearly three hours.

This is expected to continue until 2014 as construction in the area is causing narrow lanes, little or no shoulders and changing traffic patterns. Although the changes are going to provide express lanes, crisscrossing ramps, and new outside lanes to ease merging, one can’t help but wonder how many car accidents in Ft. Lauderdale, Davie, Weston and Plantation this $1 billion dollar project will cause.

Drivers feel that since the lanes have shifted it has become increasingly difficult to stay in your lane and to keep track of where the lane is going. To make matters worse, with no shoulders, accidents that occur block the road, causing a severe impact on the already gruesome traffic. For instance, the 3 vehicle accident which occurred this past Friday resulted in a second accident involving 5 vehicles who were attempting to avoid the first crash.

Although traffic accidents will eventually ease on I-595, driving during the next few years could be extremely dangerous. To avoid car accidents Florida Auto Accident Attorney Joseph Maus recommends drivers should exercise caution when driving through the construction sites over the next few years.

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Woman Receives $125000 Settlement for Cruise Ship Injury

October 27, 2010

A 67-year-old woman said she had hoped her first vacation on a cruise ship would be smooth sailing.

But Elizabeth Reimer, who lives in Texas, said things turned turbulent when she took a misstep while boarding a Carnival Cruise ship that sailed out of the Texas coast.

She reached a settlement with the Miami-based company on Thursday, but Reimer wishes the cruise ship accident had not occurred in the first place.

In April, she got on the Carnival Conquest cruise ship, which sailed to the Grand Cayman Island. The ships in Grand Cayman must stay anchored off shore, Carnival said in a statement. Passengers need to board a small tender boat to get to the dock. They are operated by another company. As Elizabeth exited the tender, she fell. Her leg was caught between the boat and the dock.

Reimer fell as she was exiting a small tender boat. It became a trip she’d never forget because, she says, she was left to fend for herself.

“The boat fell away from the dock and it was an open place, and I could see the water as my leg went down,” said Reimer, describing how, she says, she almost drowned. “It has made me have nightmares about falling into this void that I can’t get out of and drowning.”

“When they said, it’s just bruised, just walk it off, I thought maybe I could walk it off,” she said.

She couldn’t. Her lower leg, her tibia, was fractured.

“I wanted only to get back in the bed and not hurt anymore,” said Reimer.

She spent the rest of the cruise in a wheelchair.

Attorney Joseph Maus says people might be surprise to know that if they’re injured on a cruise ship, they need to work quickly.

“People have only one year to file a suit, which is three years less than if you fall anywhere else,” said Maus.

On Thursday, Carnival settled with Elizabeth for $125,000. Elizabeth says she wishes she wouldn’t have taken the cruise at all.

Maus wants to remind people that there are main things to consider before filing suit against the cruise ship company after a cruise ship accident. There are limitations to where a suit can be filed as listed on the cruise ticket. There are also limitations to the time in which you have to file suit. If you or someone you know has been injured it is best to consult with an attorney immediately.

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