Miami-Dade County Requires Day Care Operators to Install Child Safety Alarms in Vehicles

933341_crayon_series_2%20sxchu%20website.jpgA recently passed law requires all licensed day care centers in Miami-Dade County to install a child safety alarm that engages when the ignition is turned off in all vehicles used to transport children before December 1, 2012. The alarm requires a driver to check for forgotten children as he or she walks to the back of a vehicle in order to disable it. Although the new safety law became effective in February, it provided the 1,152 licensed day care operators in Miami-Dade County with a grace period to install the alarms before fines and other penalties are enforced.

The new law was passed in response to several negligence cases recently filed against day care operators in South Florida. In August 2011, Palm Beach County was the first county in the state to pass such an ordinance. That law was passed after two-year-old Haile Brockington died as a result of being forgotten inside of a hot day care van in Delray Beach for almost six hours.

Earlier this year, proposed legislation to require day care centers throughout Florida to install vehicle safety alarms was introduced by Senator Maria Sachs of Delray Beach. Although the measure passed the Florida Senate, it later failed in the House. Still, Sachs stated she would reintroduce the legislation in the future and ask each of the state’s nearly 17,000 licensed day care businesses to voluntarily install child safety alarms.

Many people are killed in unnecessary accidents every day in Florida. Although unexpectedly losing a child is always difficult, it can be especially devastating when your loss resulted from another person’s negligence. If you lost a child due to the negligent actions of a day care provider, you have may the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, any fatality that is the result of an act of carelessness, recklessness, or negligence will give rise to a wrongful death claim. Obviously, no amount of money can bring back your child or make up for your loss. By filing a wrongful death claim, you have the ability to hold the person who is liable for your loss accountable for their actions and discourage similar conduct in the future.
Read more “Miami-Dade County Requires Day Care Operators to Install Child Safety Alarms in Vehicles”

11-Year-Old Electrocuted While Playing Miniature Golf in Kissimmee

1061149_golf%20sxchu%20username%20vivekchugh.jpgA child visiting Florida on vacation was recently killed while playing miniature golf at the Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee. 11-year-old Ashton Jojo of Latham, New York was reportedly playing miniature golf with her family when she attempted to retrieve a lost ball. According to witnesses, Jojo fell into a 2-foot-deep pond and screamed. Another guest at the resort, Christopher Burges, responded to her screams and was allegedly injured as he attempted to pull Jojo out of the pond. Emergency rescue crews took Jojo to Celebration Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office, the cause of Jojo’s death was electrocution. A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Ginette Rodriguez, stated the resort is unsure how the water came to be electrified. Rodriguez also stated the Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the cause of the incident. Following the accident, the miniature golf course was closed indefinitely.

Each year, millions of children and their families travel to Florida from across the globe in order to visit the many resorts, amusement parks, and theme parks our state has to offer. Unfortunately, many deaths in Florida result from tragic and unnecessary accidents like this one. Although unexpectedly losing a loved is always devastating, it can be particularly difficult to accept when your loss was due to a property owner’s negligence.

If you lost a family member as a result of an unsafe condition on someone else’s property, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The close relatives of someone killed in an accident will generally have up to two years to sue for wrongful death in the State of Florida. No amount of money can make up for the loss of your loved one, but it may help relieve some of your financial burden. If you lost a loved one due to a hazardous property condition, it is a good idea to contact a premises liability attorney to discuss your options.

If you or a loved one was hurt or killed while visiting a Florida attraction, contact Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A. Our dedicated South Florida wrongful death attorneys have experience helping both tourists and Florida residents recover damages for their own injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one that was caused by a malfunctioning or defective condition at a tourist attraction. The lawyers at Lazarus & Lazarus assist individuals who were hurt by unsafe conditions on property located in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Weston, and throughout Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach Counties. To speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer today, call the law firm of Lazarus & Lazarus at (954) 356-0006 or contact our hardworking attorneys through our website.

More Blogs:

Retired Astronaut Killed in Pensacola Beach Jet-Ski Crash, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, July 7, 2012

Two Men Killed After Drunk Driver Crashes Into Historic Liberty City Restaurant, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, July 3, 2012

Additional Resources:

New York girl electrocuted at Florida mini-golf course, by Barbara Liston, Reuters

Resort: 11-year-old girl electrocuted at mini-golf course in Florida, by Andrew Mach, msnbc.com

Photo credit: vivekchugh, Stock.xchng

UF Student Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver While Riding Her Bicycle in Gainesville

1253140_bicycle%20sxchu%20username%20aganaui.jpgIn early July, a 20-year-old University of Florida student died as a result of the injuries she sustained in a June 23rd hit-and-run accident. Rebecca Harris was struck by a white sedan while riding her bicycle in a crosswalk on Southwest 16th Avenue in Gainesville. After the accident, rescue crews transported Harris to a local hospital in critical condition. She reportedly suffered a traumatic brain injury, two broken legs, and a broken arm.

According to Lt. Bruce Giles of the Gainesville Police Department, although the vehicle that struck Harris did not stop, it was later found abandoned near Southwest 131st Lane. Lt. Giles stated he was certain the car found by police was the same vehicle involved in the hit-and-run accident because it not only matched accident witness reports, but the damage to the car was also consistent with Harris’ injuries. Following the collision, police issued a warrant for the arrest of 22-year-old Jessica Paige Becerra. Becerra reportedly turned herself in to police and was placed in the Alachua County Jail on June 29th. She was released four days later on a $25,000 bond.

Florida State Attorney Bill Cervone stated that the charges Becerra faces will be changed from leaving the scene of an injury accident to leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death. Because Harris died after the hit-and-run, Becerra now faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Bicyclists, skaters, joggers, and anyone traveling on foot are at risk of being the victim in a Florida pedestrian accident. Because pedestrians have little protection from cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the injuries sustained in such a crash can be catastrophic. Severely injured accident victims may suffer a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and a variety of other permanent disabilities. Unfortunately, as was the case here, vehicle collisions with pedestrians may also be fatal.

Treating the injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident is often costly. A victim may be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, physical therapy, surgery, lost income, pain, suffering, and other damages. Additionally, although no amount of compensation can bring back your loved one, close family members of those killed in pedestrian accidents may be able to relieve some of their financial burden by filing a wrongful death claim. An experienced Florida lawyer can help you evaluate your options for recovery.
Read more “UF Student Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver While Riding Her Bicycle in Gainesville”

Three Killed, 12 Hurt in Volusia County Rollover Accident

869866_crash_car%20sxchu%20website.jpgIn early June, three people were killed and 12 others were injured on Interstate 95 in Volusia County when the driver of a 15-passenger van lost control and left the roadway. 57-year-old Vilbrun Bertrand of West Palm Beach was driving a group of Haitian migrant farm workers to New Jersey for the blueberry harvesting season when one of the van’s tires separated north of Ormond Beach. According to Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol, the van rolled repeatedly and several passengers were thrown from the vehicle.

Three passengers who were not wearing seat belts, Benitoh Delice, Sonja Maubrun, and Berteau Nazaire, died at the scene of the crash. Two other passengers were taken to Halifax Health Medical Center in critical condition. Nine additional passengers were taken to four different Central Florida hospitals for their injuries. Bertrand, who was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, was treated for only minor injuries.

Sgt. Montes stated there was visible damage to the van’s tire and the vehicle itself was significantly damaged in the accident. Although alcohol is not a suspected factor in the crash, the Central Florida automobile accident is currently under investigation. According to Sgt. Montes, a language barrier made the accident investigation difficult. State Troopers reportedly required the assistance of translators to interview the injured passengers at each of the four area hospitals.

Unfortunately, the van crash was the second fatal accident on Interstate 95 in Volusia County in a single weekend. On the previous day, a 40-year-old Titusville man was killed when his stranded vehicle was run over in the shoulder of the roadway by an 18-wheeler tanker carrying liquid nitrogen.

Automobile accidents cause a large percentage of the Florida wrongful death and personal injury claims filed every year. Tourists, students, and commuters risk being hurt in a car accident every day on Florida roadways. Some common causes of motor vehicle crashes include speeding, driver impairment, poor road conditions, driver inattention, and automobile defects. In Florida, those hurt in an automobile collision are eligible to receive compensation from a driver’s mandatory Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to cover the first $10,000.00 in medical treatment. Oftentimes, however, PIP insurance is not sufficient to cover the immediate medical costs associated with recovering from a catastrophic injury as well as the costs of future medical treatment and a lifetime of pain and suffering. It is a good idea to contact a qualified Florida car crash attorney to discuss your options for recovery following any injury accident.
Read more “Three Killed, 12 Hurt in Volusia County Rollover Accident”

Authorities Say Deadly Fort Pierce School Bus Accident Caused by Inattentive Bus Driver

1012894_cn_tower___%20sxchu.jpgLast month, a nine-year-old boy was killed and more than one dozen other children were injured when a school bus collided with a semi-trailer truck carrying landscaping sod near Fort Pierce. Many students, including the child killed, were wearing lap belts as required by Florida law. Still, several were ejected from the bus and lying on the ground when emergency crews arrived. The bus driver, Albert Hazen of Port St. Lucie, reportedly led the injured children off of the bus and directed them to rescue crews before collapsing and being taken to a local hospital.

According to a seven-page crash report released by the Florida Highway Patrol, the Frances K. Sweet Magnet School bus accident was caused by an inattentive bus driver. The report states the bus driver caused the accident when he turned left into the path of the oncoming tractor trailer. Despite that the 24-year-old semi-truck driver, Charles Cooper, attempted to avoid the accident, his vehicle struck the right side of the school bus and sent it spinning. Cooper was also taken to the hospital over injuries he sustained in the collision.

On the day of the accident, the sky was reportedly clear and the roadway was dry. Although toxicology results are currently pending, the driver is not suspected of using alcohol or other drugs prior to the crash. Still, the Florida Highway Patrol has stated charges related to the deadly accident are currently pending.

Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of personal injury and wrongful death claims filed in the State of Florida. Commuters, students, tourists, and others risk being injured in an auto accident every day. Some of the most common causes of Florida car accidents include drunk or impaired driving, driver inattention, and speeding. Many car crashes are also caused by drivers who are distracted by other vehicle occupants, cell phones, email, or text messaging.

Although car accidents may be minor, they can also be fatal. The medical costs related to recovering from an unexpected injury can be enormous. According to Florida law, those hurt in a collision are protected by mandatory Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Unfortunately, the costs of recovery are often not completely covered by PIP. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can explain your rights and your options for recovery following a car crash.
Read more “Authorities Say Deadly Fort Pierce School Bus Accident Caused by Inattentive Bus Driver”

Palm Beach County Polo Magnate Convicted of DUI-Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide

1334670_stop_sign%20sxchu.jpgOn Friday, a South Florida jury convicted polo magnate John Goodman of vehicular homicide and DUI-manslaughter in connection with a fatal February 2010 automobile accident that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson. The six member jury deliberated for less than six hours before handing down a guilty verdict. Following the jury’s decision, 48-year-old Goodman was immediately taken into custody and now faces up to 30 years in prison. Although he plans to appeal the conviction, Goodman will likely remain in custody until he is sentenced on April 30th.

The high profile case made international headlines after Goodman, heir to a $1.4 billion fortune, adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins. At trial, Goodman was accused of driving his Bentley while impaired, speeding, running a stop sign, crashing into Wilson’s vehicle, and leaving the scene of the accident despite that Wilson’s vehicle was upside down in a canal. Goodman also allegedly called his girlfriend following the accident and reportedly waited more than one hour before calling authorities. Wilson drowned as a result of the Wellington car accident.

Goodman testified at trial that he suffered a concussion in the crash and did not see Wilson’s vehicle in the canal. He also testified he tried to stop, but his Bentley instead surged forward out of control. The defense provided expert testimony that the throttle on Goodman’s car was somehow stuck open immediately prior to the collision. According to jurors, the expert’s testimony was not convincing.

When authorities tested Goodman’s blood alcohol level, it measured .177 percent, more than twice the State of Florida’s legal limit. Goodman’s defense team claimed although he drank over the course of the evening, he was not driving while impaired. According to Goodman, he instead drank most of the alcohol in his system following the crash at a nearby barn owned by a fellow polo player. Part of Goodman’s defense was that he drank in a so-called “man cave” in his friend’s barn in an effort to alleviate the pain of a broken wrist. Still, it reportedly did not sit well with jurors when Goodman admitted to running the stop sign and having a few drinks prior to getting behind the wheel.

In addition to the criminal trial, Goodman is also facing a $100 million wrongful death civil lawsuit brought by Wilson’s parents in connection with the accident.
Read more “Palm Beach County Polo Magnate Convicted of DUI-Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide”

Two Separate High-Speed Boating Accidents Kill Three in Tavares During Spring Thunder Regatta

548715_boat_wake__4%20sxchu.jpgLast weekend, two fatal boating accidents took place on Lake Dora during the Tavares community’s annual Spring Thunder Regatta. On Saturday, 53-year-old Mark Van Winkle of Stuart was killed when he was thrown from his vessel and struck in the water by another boat. On Sunday, 64-year-old Charles Woodruff of Jensen Beach and 73-year-old Dea Wiseley of Sun City Center died after they were involved in a high-speed crash. Woodruff was a former raceboat champion and Wiseley was also well known in the raceboat show circuit.

The deaths were the first in the regatta’s six-year history. The annual event, sponsored by the Classic Race Boat Association, marks the Tavares community’s annual kick-off to the boating season and showcases vintage racing boats traveling at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. Drivers are not on the water to race their boats, however. Each year, the regatta generally draws about 10,000 spectators.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Woodruff’s boat ran over Wiseley’s boat on Sunday and both men were killed after being thrown into the water. On Saturday, an occupant riding in Van Winkle’s boat was also ejected but she was safely rescued. The cause of both fatal accidents is still under investigation. Despite the perfect weather on Sunday, the weekend boating tragedies reportedly cast a pall over the community.

Each year, many deaths in Florida are the result of a tragic and unnecessary accident. Losing a loved one unexpectedly can be devastating, but it can be particularly distressing when your loss is the result of another person’s negligence. If you lost a family member due to someone else’s negligent actions, you have may the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, a deadly accident which results from an act of negligence, recklessness, or carelessness will give rise to a wrongful death claim. In Florida, family members of someone killed in an accident normally have up to two years to sue for wrongful death. Clearly, no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of your loved one, but filing a wrongful death claim may allow you to hold the liable party accountable for their actions. If you have lost a family member due to someone else’s actions, it is a good idea to contact a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your options.
Read more “Two Separate High-Speed Boating Accidents Kill Three in Tavares During Spring Thunder Regatta”

Two Killed, Five Injured in Automobile Collision Near Boca Raton

570770_metal%20sxchu%20website.jpgA mother and her adult daughter were killed and five other people were injured in a two car accident west of Boca Raton Friday night. According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, 85-year-old Angelina Ferrarella and 54-year-old Donna D’Angelo died after the car Ferrarella was driving was broadsided in an intersection by a 2003 BMW that allegedly ran a red light. Ferrarella’s husband, son-in-law, and grandson were also seriously injured in the crash. At the time of the accident, Ferrarella and her family were about one block away from their destination.

The driver of the BMW, 19-year-old Joanne Luu, and her passenger suffered only minor injuries. Although a toxicology report is currently pending, police believe alcohol or drugs may have been a factor in the crash. Police stated Luu’s passenger was also believed to be under the influence at the time of the accident. No arrests were made in connection with the accident.

Since the accident, Luu took to posting photos of her injuries and her own account of the accident on social media website Twitter. According to Luu, Ferrarella ran a red light and broadsided her vehicle. Twitter has since deactivated Luu’s account.

Drugs and alcohol can have a dramatic effect on a driver’s perception, judgment, and reaction time. A drunk or impaired driver is not only a hazard themselves, but also a danger to everyone they encounter on the road. Drunk or impaired driving is one of the leading causes of deadly automobile accidents in the nation. You and those you love are put at risk each time someone chooses to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you or a loved one was hurt by an intoxicated or impaired driver, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, disability, pain, suffering, lost wages, and other damages. By filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver who hurt you or your family, you have the opportunity to send a message to other drivers that operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or on drugs is not acceptable behavior.
Read more “Two Killed, Five Injured in Automobile Collision Near Boca Raton”

Civil and Criminal Trials Against Polo Magnate Who Adopted 42-year-old Girlfriend Begin Soon

658107_polo_player%20sxchu.jpg
On February 11, 2010, 23-year-old Scott Wilson drowned in his car when it flipped and landed upside down in a Wellington canal after an early morning auto accident. The other driver, polo mogul John Goodman, is accused of driving while drunk and impaired, speeding, running a stop sign, colliding with Wilson’s vehicle, leaving the scene of the accident, and waiting about an hour before calling 911. Goodman also allegedly called his girlfriend prior to alerting authorities to the accident.

A criminal trial against Goodman is scheduled to begin in South Florida on March 6th. He is charged with D.U.I. manslaughter and motor vehicular homicide. According to Goodman, now 48, his cell phone was not working at the time of the accident and he left the scene to get help. After the accident, Goodman’s blood alcohol content was purportedly more than twice Florida’s legal limit of .08 percent.

Wilson’s parents have also filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against Goodman. The lawsuit, also scheduled to begin in March, made international headlines after Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins. Although attorneys for Goodman’s minor biological children have asked a Miami-Dade judge to toss out the adoption, it makes Hutchins the current beneficiary of a $300 million trust established for his children.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley is presiding over the Wilsons’ civil case. He has expressed disbelief over the adoption and called it a “legal twilight zone.” In September, Judge Kelley refused to allow the Wilsons to introduce evidence in the civil case regarding the contents of the trust because Goodman’s children, not Goodman, were the beneficiaries. On January 26th, Judge Kelley reversed his decision and stated information about the trust may now be presented to jurors.

Goodman is an heir to a $1.4 billion fortune. According to Goodman’s civil attorney, the adoption was merely an estate planning tool designed to protect the contents of the trust. Litigation concerning the adoption is currently taking place in Florida, Texas, and Delaware.

Losing someone you love is always devastating, but it can be especially difficult when your loved one died as a result of a preventable accident. Unfortunately, tragic deaths such as this are increasingly common. A wrongful death claim can provide compensation to close relatives of someone killed due to another person’s carelessness, negligence or wrongful act. Your ability to file a wrongful death case will depend on your relationship to the deceased person. In Florida, a family member has up to two years to file a claim for wrongful death. Because of the limited time period in which to file your case, it is important to speak with a qualified wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after a fatal accident.
Read more “Civil and Criminal Trials Against Polo Magnate Who Adopted 42-year-old Girlfriend Begin Soon”

Family of Sarasota Man Poised to File Suit Over Key West Speedboat Death

122834_speed_boat_on_lake%20sxchu%20wesbite.jpgThe family of a Sarasota offshore speedboat racer killed during the Super Boat International World Championships in Key West last November is poised to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Super Boat International Productions, Inc. 59-year-old Joey Gratton purportedly drowned after his boat flipped over twice during a Key West race. His family claims Gratton survived the crash, but drowned due to a poor emergency response on the part of race organizers. Gratton’s death followed closely behind that of two Missouri men killed two days earlier when their boat crashed on the first day of racing.

Gratton was an experienced speedboat racer who, together with a close friend, won three world championships and eight national championships over the course of several years. According to reports, Gratton was not severely injured in the crash, but was instead alive, conscious, and fighting for several minutes to extricate himself from restraints. He is alleged to have drowned while waiting to be assisted by rescue boats. Instead of deploying immediately, rescue divers on an emergency helicopter were purportedly told by race organizers to act as second responders. The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner has stated Gratton’s official cause of death was drowning.

According to the Gratton’s attorney, the family will file a wrongful death lawsuit alleging gross negligence in Super Boat International’s safety and rescue response. He has stated race day rescue boat staff was not competently or adequately trained to act as first responders. He also claims divers were improperly told to allow rescue boats to act first, which wasted valuable response time. The family’s attorney claims Gratton would be alive today but for the company’s negligence. Gratton’s family has stated their overall goal in filing a lawsuit is to change Super Boat International’s emergency response measures to ensure the safety of other speedboat racers.

Many deaths in Florida each year are the result of tragic and unnecessary accidents. The unexpected loss of a loved one can be devastating, but it can be particularly upsetting when your loss is the result of another person’s negligence. When someone you love has been killed as a result of someone else’s actions, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party at fault. Generally, a fatal accident which is the result of an act of negligence, carelessness, or recklessness will give rise to a wrongful death claim. In Florida, family members have up to two years to sue for wrongful death. If you have lost a family member due to a third party’s negligence, an experienced personal injury lawyer can answer your questions and help you file a wrongful death claim.
Read more “Family of Sarasota Man Poised to File Suit Over Key West Speedboat Death”