Archive for the ‘Premises Liability’ Category

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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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Wal-Mart Slip and Fall at the Registers

October 12, 2010

Question:
Hi there … I live in Virginia and yesterday I went to walmart and i got a few items and walked to the front of the store where the registers were and ended up slipping and falling on my knee cap and wrist. I filled an incident report out when I slipped I hit a patch of slickness like they had polished the floor..there were no signs and I never went back to the spot I slipped to investigate it. I went home and it got worse…so i ended up going to the ER and found out I had a fractured wrist and bruised knee…. i was referred to an orthopedic doctor …do i have any kind of case against walmart? my boots are ruined  the leather scuffed off in the fall i lost my house keys and my knee is killing me and i have a typing job…please help thank you

Answer:
Gabrielle, I am a Florida accident lawyer specializing in car accident claims, slip and fall accidents, and workers compensation claims. Laws vary from state to state, so you should always check with an experienced accident attorney in your area to get more information.

My first suggestion is to follow up with the orthopedic.  Most doctors will tell you that the sooner you seek medical care, the better your odds are for recovering from the injury.

In Florida, a store owner such as Wal Mart owes two duties to its shoppers: maintain the store in a reasonably safe condition, and ward its shoppers of dangerous conditions that the shopper is unaware of.  If the slickness was a dangerous condition, and it could not be observed, then Wal Mart should be responsible for your injuries and damages.

Wal Mart is a multi billion dollar corporation with a very sophisticated claims department.  They handle thousands of claims every year arising out of slip and falls at their store.  Their job, in part, is to minimize any potential exposure to Wal Mart due to injuries which occur at their stores. This means that if they are given any information about your claim that can be used against you, they will definitely use it.

You should speak with an attorney specializing in slip and fall injury accidents in your area to see whether you should pursue a claim.  An experienced slip and fall lawyer is going to know the laws in your area and how best to proceed.  For instance, one of the first things you want to do is to have Wal Mart preserve evidence relating to the accident such as in-store videotaped surveillance.  Most slip and fall lawyers handle cases on a contingent basis which means if the lawyer does not recover any money for your claim, there is no charge for costs or attorney’s fees, so there is nothing to lose by at least speaking to an accident injury lawyer.

Most attorneys that do this accident injury cases have handled cases against Wal Mart before.  Experienced accident injury lawyers know that Wal Mart claims are handled out of Bentonville, AK by inhouse adjusters.  Wal Mart has a very lengthy employee handbook for how their employees are to handle incidents such as yours.

It is best to explore making a claim soon after the accident occurred.  If it occurred near the checkout counter, there may be store videotape that you would want to preserve.  Walmart tapes over their store videotape on a regular basis so you need to request the videotape be preserved.  You should also be looking for statements from any witnesses that may have seen you fall.  Their names may be listed on the incident report.

 

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Grocery Store Slip And Fall Injury Advice From a Broward County Injury Lawyer

March 30, 2010

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

Question:
Thank you in advance for any info you can give me.  I live in TX. This happened in a local grocery store. Short version of story.

I was going to get broccoli but had to go further down to grab a bag.  When I stepped on the rug, it slid and I started doing a balancing act.  I was able to prevent a fall, which I was told by doctors, I would have been better off falling. Before I left the store I was hurting.

I reported the water to the manager, who also nearly slid, and he only touched the edge of the rug.  He pulled it up to find water floating under the rug. The rugs were put down in the last few years as when they spray the produce there was always water getting on the floor.  He referenced this and that we try to check the area and I said that apparently it hasn’t been checked in awhile. He asked me if I wanted to file a report and I said I better.  His version of the report was taking my name and phone number.

There also was an elderly man and woman that were walking up and saw me.  I pointed them out as witnesses to him and he said he would get their info since I did not have paper and pen…he did not, as by the time he got the water tended to they were gone. My mistake for not following up but I was waiting for my daughter to come and did not realize I was going to hurt this bad later.

Muscle strain all over but the biggest problem has been a groin strain.  Dr said due to my age (51) that it would take a long time to heal and could be easier to get one again, especially since it was taking me so long to get treatments. I had doctors dropping from my insurance policy and kept having to make new appointments.I couldn’t even get my left leg in the car so I lost wages as well.

So do you think this is worth pursuing or not to get my medical paid?  I have heard these cases are hard to prove and I don’t feel good enough to deal with something if it is a waste of time.

Answer:
I am a Broward County injury lawyer in Florida, specializing in car accident claims, slip and fall claims, and workers compensation claims.  Laws vary from state to state, so the law for a Florida accident or injury such as a slip and fall may be quite different than the laws where you live.

Depending on the severity of your injury, you most likely have a claim for payment of your medical bills, and, a claim for your injuries and pain and suffering.  Claims in Florida are evaluated based upon the degree of liability that exists against the store, the specific nature of the injury, the amount and type of medical care and bills that you have had, and that you may continue to require in the future, and the amount of pain and suffering you have experienced in the past, and future.  Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity can also be recovered in Florida.

Its tough to say right now whether your claim is "worth pursuing".  It really depends on whether your injury goes away in a few days, or lingers. The problem with waiting is you don’t know right now whether the injury will go away, or how long it could take to heal.

Keep in mind, at least in Florida, just because a person slips in a grocery store, it does not automatically mean the store is responsible for injuries which result from the fall.  You have to be able to prove that the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition that caused the fall.  Generally, a property owner or store owner only owes two duties to persons lawfully on the property – maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn persons on the property of dangerous conditions that the person may not be able to appreciate themselves.

Obviously there was a problem in the store, and it doesn’t look like the carpet on the floor fixed the problem.  It appears the store management and employees should have known that they had a dangerous condition and taken steps to eliminate the condition, or at a minimum, warn customers about the area.  While slip and fall cases are difficult, if you can establish the store knew about this problem, the case will be easier to settle, and easier to prove if you have to file a lawsuit.

The best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney that specializes in premises liability claims, i.e. slip and fall.  The attorney can advise you whether the law is in your area is different than for Florida slip and fall accidents.

As a Broward County injury lawyer, my advice is that you should contact an attorney soon.  There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company for the store, find out what types of coverage are available, including whether any medical payments coverage exists.  If the accident occurred at large grocery store chain, you’ll want to check to see whether there have been claims similar to yours that occurred at the location.  If the store copied down the names of any witnesses, you’ll want to speak to them to verify their observations.

You’ll also want to check to see if there is any in-store surveillance video.  The video may have recorded the fall.  It also may have recorded the 10-15 minutes before the fall which would indicate whether any store employees checked the area for water prior to you walking through the area.

Most attorneys specializing in premises liability, i.e. slip/trip and fall, 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. So, you have nothing to lose by at least speaking to an accident injury lawyer to see whether you have a claim, and also get a better idea of the value of your claim.

For more information about a South Florida injury claim, contact Broward County injury lawyer, Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.jmmlaywers.com, or email him today.

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Follow Up To “Help – My Attorney Won’t Talk To My Witness! – Expert Advice from a Broward County Injury Lawyer”

March 24, 2010

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

Subject: Follow Up to "Attorney Won’t Talk To Witness"

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick reply. We dealt with this problem by actually paying the fire expert’s nominal retainer. We feel questions still need to be answered.  Problem is that he only wants to give his additional investigative report to our attorney. We haven’t even seen the initial report and photos that we had paid for.  I thought we have the right to see all these reports, being that it was our money. What is going on here? Seems like we are out of the loop.

Also, should our attorney prepare for this mediation the same as he would if this were the trial?  (Complete all necessary depositions, obtain expert reports, photos, etc.)  Are we allowed to express our opinions or ask questions during the mediation?

ANSWER: It is very difficult to second guess an accident injury attorney working on your case.  I don’t know the type claim you have, nor anything about what has happened to this point.  You really need to sit down with your attorney and hash these issues out.  If you’re not comfortable with the attorney, go meet with another one to get a second opinion, or discuss transferring the file.  If you are going to trial on an accident injury case, you have to be 100% confident with the lawyer, and the preparation that has gone into the file.

You do have a right to see copies of expert reports, especially if you paid for it, or any other documents in the file.  There are strategic reasons for not having the expert prepare a report prior to trial. Whenever an expert prepares a report, the report becomes discoverable by the other party.    An expert can provide his opinions verbally to you or the attorney, but the attorney may not want the expert to prepare a report just yet.  Depending on the type expert, he can testify at trial without ever producing a written report.

Not sure where you’re located, but in Florida (I am a Broward County injury lawyer), the client has an absolute right to look at his file, the work being done on the file, expert reports, etc.  If he won’t let you see the file, you can contact the state Bar Association, and maybe they’ll contact him for you.

Regarding preparation for mediation, you do not prepare for mediation as you would trial.  There are alot of reasons for this, primarily money and time. There is no reason to spend the time and money necessary to prepare for trial, if you don’t need to.  This is one of the main reasons that judges in Florida accident injury claims began making mediation mandatory – so that the parties would get together to discuss resolving the case prior to incurring all the costs of preparing for, and going through, trial.  You don’t need all discovery done at the time of mediation.  You need enough done to be able to intelligently, and accurately, discuss your claim, and give the other side enough information to evaluate the merits of your claim.

For more information or to speak with a Broward County Injury lawyer, 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.

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Help – My Attorney Won’t Talk To My Witness! – Expert Advice from a Broward County Injury Lawyer

March 22, 2010

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

Subject: Attorney Won’t Talk To Witness

Question: What do you do when your personal injury attorney will not communicate with your expert witness because he does not want to pay his retainer?  Our previous attorney hired this expert and my family personally paid a substantial amount for his investigative services.  This present retainer is a nominal fee in comparison to what we paid the expert.  Our present attorney pays for the services of experts according to his contingency agreement. We do have some notes that the expert took from interviews of witnesses.  I talked with him a few days ago about what was discovered by the expert witness and he brought up a possible spoilage of evidence issue.   There is also other crucial evidence we want him to investigate further.

The court ordered a mandatory mediation and we do not feel that the discovery has been thorough enough in order to present our case effectively. We feel our attorney should leave no stone unturned, however he has not even returned our expert’s emails.  How can we be satisfied with any settlement offered if we still have questions that we want answered?  What would you advise in this situation?

Answer: You need to sit down and have a detailed, face to face, discussion with your attorney on what is going on with the case.  Without knowing the history of your case, and all the details of what has happened through both your attorneys, I could not give you an opinion as to whether the current attorney is handling the case correctly.

Make a list of your questions.  Take the expert’s emails with you.  Ask about the presentation that is going to be made at mediation, and whether additional discovery would help your case at mediation.  And, ask about the settlement and verdict range of cases similar to yours.  Your attorney should be able to answer all these questions to your satisfaction, or you should find an attorney that can.

I can tell you from my own experience as a Broward County injury lawyer, clients sometimes do not appreciate the critical legal issues in a case, and focus on more emotional issues that may not have much bearing on the outcome of a case.  Expert witnesses sometimes do the same.  Your attorney needs to focus on the elements of the claim which need to be proven in court, including damages, and utilize expert witnesses for that limited purpose.  It doesn’t do you any good to have an expert run up costs on a file if there is no benefit or use to the opinions he/she will be able to provide.

For more information or to speak with a Broward County Injury lawyer, 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.

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South Florida Injury Attorney – Expert Answer: Ankle Injury Claim Question

March 18, 2010

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

Question:
I injured my ankle back in December 2007 while I was working. I was providing mental health therapy and injured my ankle while playing soccer with my client and mother in their frontyard. I was a healthy person before the injury.Work compensation was involved and I settled with them for $4,000 only because they said I was not a handicapped and I could drive to the settlement office. I put in a claim for personal injury in October, 2008 since I thought I was going to recover before that, but did not. I have seen 9 doctors and finally got surgery (arthroscopy). I can walk and stand longer but I can’t drive now. I used my left foot for 2 years using a left accelerator but now the left knee is hurting bad. Since I can’t drive with either leg, I was even thinking to use a hand control. At this point the lawyer has spoken with the adjuster and I believed they sent the demand on 10/20/09. The adjuster needs some record and then she will analyze the whole package. My concern is if the demand was actually sent in time since there is a statue of limitations here in Florida. I heard it is 2 years for slip and fall cases. Do you have to go to court with the demand in that timeframe or is that the time in which you submit it to the adjuster? Can you also tell me if getting the total policy can be a reality since it took 1 year and 2 months to recover but I did not recover 100%, then I went through surgery, 3 physycal therapies, had a significant emotional impact and the losses including loss of wages, second opinions and all the medical was $24.000.

Answer:

The statute of limitations in Florida for slip and fall claims is four years.  That means that within 4 years of the accident occurring, a lawsuit must be filed in court.

As for the value of your claim, that question is best answered by your lawyer.  Even though I am a South Florida injury attorney, not all cases are the same. The value of your claim is going to be based upon the severity of your injury, the amount of your medical bills – which includes whatever you have incurred to date, as well as any amount you may have to spend in the future, lost wages or loss of your ability to earn income in the future, and pain and suffering – both past and future.

In order for your lawyer to make the best recovery for you, you should sit down with him/her and discuss these types of damages, whether they may apply to your case, and try to quantify the amount for purposes of a settlement demand to the insurance company, and if the case does not settle before a lawsuit, an amount you can ask a jury for.

To speak with a South Florida injury attorney, 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.

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Fort Lauderdale Accident Injury Lawyer Advises Caution After Time Change

March 15, 2010

Beware of Daylight Savings Time! Fort Lauderdale Accident Injury Lawyer Joseph M. Maus notes that statistics show that injuries on the road and at work increase between 8 and 17 percent on the Monday following the time change and for a couple of weeks afterward. Since "Spring Forward" happens on March 14, 2010 at 2:00 a.m. and you’ll lose an extra hour of sleep, you need to be extra cautious on your Monday commute and during the work day.

The University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology undertook a study on how time changes affect people. They found that the fall time change doesn’t really affect people, probably because we get to sleep in an extra hour. But, it’s a different story when the clocks move ahead an hour in the spring – accidents go up. The most likely reason for this increase in accidents is sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation and the change of circadian rhythm can trigger mental illness and cause higher accident rates. Transitions into and out of daylight saving time changes the circadian rhythm and may cause sleep deprivation.

A second reason for the spike in accidents on the first Monday of DST is the sudden change in the amount of light during driving times. In addition to an increase in accidents at work and on the road, the Los Angeles Times Health section reported on a Swedish study that found the incidents of heart attacks rises between 6 and 10 percent on the first three days after the time change. They also noted that men are more likely to commit suicide during the first few weeks of daylight saving time than they are during the rest of the year.

People wonder why it is that we even have to go through the whole "spring forward, fall backward" ritual every year. The U. S. Navy reported that the Standard Time Act was established in 1918 and made time zones a national law. The same Act also instituted daylight saving time. Daylight saving time was repealed in 1919, but was re-established nationally early in World War II as a way to conserve coal and energy, and was continuously observed from 9 February 1942 to 30 September 1945. After the war its use varied among states and localities. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 provided standardization in the dates of beginning and end of daylight time in the U.S. but allowed for local exemptions from its observance.

Tips for minimizing the impact of the time change:

  • Stick to your regular schedule.
  • Resist the urge to sleep in on Sunday morning.
  • Get up immediately when the alarm rings in the morning, don’t hit the snooze button.
  • Turn off the laptop and the TV in bedroom at least one hour before bedtime- the glow may prevent you from falling into a deep sleep.
  • Eat a good breakfast before heading off to work. Eat foods that are high in protein and fiber – they metabolize slowly and will give you hours of energy.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going.
  • Fort Lauderdale accident injury lawyer Joseph Maus reminds you that this is the time to drive defensively! Leave plenty of space between you and the next car.
  • Don’t text or talk on your cell phone while driving, but especially not right after the time change when you are less alert than usual.
  • Watch out for cars if you are walking or biking.
  • Don’t forget to change your smoke detector batteries every time we have a time change.

For more information about an injury, contact Fort Lauderdale accident injury lawyer Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

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