Liability for Damages and/or Injuries Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Person

We live in a world where commercials on TV portray a happy, friend-filled lifestyle for people who drink a particular brand of beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverage. Then at the end of the commercial, the announcer reminds us to “please drink responsibly.”

Now it would be nice if everyone listened to the announcer, but in fact that does not always happen. According to MADD.org in 2013 there were 10,076 persons killed in drunk-driving crashes, which is one every 52 minutes.

Sometimes people choose to purchase alcohol on their own and drink alone. Other times people go to parties and drink with friends. Often, people go to bars or restaurants and are served drinks by a bartender or server. It’s this scenario where the responsibility and liability for the actions of impaired persons is sometimes murky.

A case in France recently gained world-wide attention when a man died after being served 56 shots of alcohol, and the bartender was found guilty of manslaughter. See Time Magazine story here: TIME

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Wrongful Death Suit Filed by Sister of Everglades Crash Victim

Last month, our posting “Plane Crash in South Florida Everglades Claims Family” described the tragic story of a South Florida family and their friend who died when their plane crashed in the Everglades. On Friday, October 16, the Sun Sentinel reported that Nanci Hirschorn is bringing a wrongful death suit against the Fort Lauderdale aviation company who serviced the plane.

Earlier in October, the Miami Herald reported that the pilot and owner of the Piper aircraft, Bruce Barber, radioed that the engine had caught fire and that there was smoke in the cockpit. Barber declined advice of air traffic control who told Barber to land in Pahokee, as the smoke was apparently dissipating. However, Barber later radioed that the plane was on fire, and disappeared from radar at about 3,000 feet.

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Hirschorn, sister of one of the passengers of the plane, Phillip Marsh, has filed suit against Schmidt Aviation Inc., claiming that the company failed to maintain a cracked valve, which caused the engine to catch fire. The valve cracked previously on three occasions.

$1.5 million Awarded in Lawsuit Against South Florida Contractor

A Palm Beach County parks worker was awarded $1.5 million from Master Contractors after an incident six years ago when a picnic pavilion roof fell on her. Mary Washington of Delray Beach was cleaning the pavilion at Caloosa Park in Boynton Beach when the ceiling collapsed, causing the worker injuries to her back, rendering her unable to continue as a maintenance worker.

According to the Palm Beach Post, testimony revealed that the pavilion was not properly inspected because the contractor did not get all of the required permits. The trial lasted about two weeks and the jury took about an hour and a half to render a verdict for Washington. She was awarded for lost wages and medical expenses, as well as $250,000 for pain and suffering.

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The jury also determined that the county was 20 percent at fault for the incident. However, the county will not have to pay damages to Washington since they were not named in the lawsuit.

Incidents such as these are quite disturbing, considering that so many children visit these parks every year. Palm Beach County has over 50 parks. According to Safe Kids USA, three out of four playground accidents occur in public parks, with 150,000 children visiting the emergency room every year for injuries involving playground equipment. With these dangers already in mind, visitors should not have to worry about structural failures in the parks as well. Our counties and the companies which they hire to construct or oversee our parks must do so in a responsible manner, following all safety laws and regulations.

Worker Severely Injured in Miami Gas Station Explosion

A worker was injured on Tuesday morning from an explosion when he and other workers were cleaning and dismantling gas tanks at a convenience store in Miami, Florida.

The explosion occurred at the Quik Stop Market at 350 NW 79th St. The man was taken to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. According to the Sun Sentinel, a spokesperson for the Miami Fire Rescue said that the accident severed the man’s leg just below the knee. It was brought to the hospital to be reattached; however, there is no word yet on the man’s condition.

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The man and another worker were cleaning and dismantling old tanks which were dug up from underground. While cutting through a tank, a spark flew from the circular saw and ignited the gas fumes. The end of a tank then blew off, severing the man’s leg. Thankfully, neither the other worker nor anyone else was injured.

Officials are continuing to investigate the incident. Crews found many empty beer bottles in the tank and believe that there was gas inside the bottles.

Workers should always follow safety protocols and take precautionary measures when performing tasks that involve high risk elements such as gasoline tanks and flammable objects. At the same time, employers should always ensure that effective training of proper techniques is being done to promote the well-being and safety of their workers.