Florida Accident Attorney

Social Media and Accident Cases

Be Very Careful After an Accident – LOL may become an OMG

You’ve been in a car accident. You’re shaken up, but fortunately you’re not hurt badly. You think the same about the people in the other car.

The next day you share the details with everyone on social media. You post pictures from the scene, your thoughts about what happened, and you even comment about the nice-looking police officer who came to the accident. It all seems harmless and kind of funny.

Florida Accident AttorneyTwo days later you get word that someone in the other car is actually injured far more seriously than you thought, and you realize it might be better if some of the things you posted on the internet remained private. Quickly you delete everything you posted and you’re all in the clear. Right?

That’s not entirely accurate.

In today’s high-tech world not only are the images and text messages you deleted still somewhere on your computer or smart-phone, they’re on your friend’s devices as well. They’re also in a place known as “the cloud” which means they are now part of a virtual world where they can be accessed by almost anyone. Forever.

Electronically stored information, or ESI, is a very significant part of almost every legal case today. Nothing is ever really deleted, and through a process known as legal discovery your pictures, emails, and text messages can be recovered and used as evidence in a court of law. There are companies that specialize in extracting ESI and they are very proficient.

Everyone has a duty and a legal responsibility to be forthcoming and to tell the truth when speaking with a police officer or when giving statements under oath. However, no one has to publish potentially damaging evidence across the internet for the whole world to see.

There are real-life examples of people who doomed their court cases and settlements because of things they posted online. Insurance companies will do everything and anything they can to avoid paying damages and they will scour the internet trying to find something incriminating related to a victim who is completely innocent of any negligence in a personal injury case.

In the time gap between an accident and your first phone call to an attorney, it’s in your best interest to remain silent.

Securing the counsel of a qualified attorney after any accident is a very prudent decision. Your attorney can advise you on your rights as well as your responsibilities pertaining not only to your injuries and/or damages, but your right to not self-incriminate.

Personal Injury Experts

These are complex areas of law, and the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus is very experienced with social media as it relates to personal injury cases. Calling 954-356-0006 immediately after you are involved in any accident or personal injury incident will put you in touch with Gary and Arleen Lazarus, who have been advising victims for over 23 years.

Truck Accidents in Florida

Video of Tragic Miami Accident Shows Devastation Caused by Large Trucks

Investigating Truck Accident Injuries Requires Unique Proficiency and Experience

A commercial truck accident can be far more catastrophic than an accident between two personal-use vehicles. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh at least 25 times as much as a typical car. Because of this stark weight disparity and the basic laws of physics, most big rig truck accidents with other vehicles result in serious, even fatal, injuries.

Truck Accidents in FloridaCommercial truck drivers have received special training and are generally more careful on the road than automobile drivers. In 2012, there were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds).

It is important to note that of those 3,921 people killed in big-truck accidents in 2012, 697 were in the big truck and 3,224 were occupants or drivers of the other vehicles, or pedestrians. This tells us that trucks are, by their size alone, dangerous. Drivers should always be alert and cautious but even more so when a large truck is nearby.

Florida Truck Accidents

An April, 2016 video of an accident in Miami demonstrates the immense power and destructive forces involved when a heavy truck impacts passenger vehicles.

This Miami Herald includes video of the accident, which may be disturbing: Miami Herald

In addition, truck accidents can be made worse by the freight the truck is carrying. For example, if hazardous or flammable materials (such as gasoline or industrial waste) are on board a big rig involved in an accident, secondary injuries from that dangerous cargo can result.

A few facts about big-truck transportation:

  • There are 3.24 million truck drivers in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • The average daily run for a long-haul, over-the-road truck driver is nearly 500 miles.
  • Most long-haul, over-the-road truck drivers average from 100,000 to 110,000 miles per year.

Long Hours

Drowsy driving can contribute to truck accidents, and here are the rules regarding consecutive hours for commercial drivers carrying property:

  • May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

According to a study done by the Harvard Health Watch, an average American spends 101 minutes per day driving.

A commercial truck driver involved in an accident may be an independent driver, may work for a small company that does not provide insurance, or might be an employee of a large corporation that does provide insurance. Who is liable for damages in a truck accident can be very confusing, and requires extensive study to get to the facts.

People Who Care

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been helping victims of truck accidents in south Florida for over 20 years. We have the experience and expertise to properly investigate these terrifying events in order to understand how to help the injured participants. Reaching out to us is easy by calling 954-356-0006 and asking to speak with Gary or Arleen Lazarus. We will work hard to protect your rights to proper compensation for your damages. We are experienced Florida Truck Accident Attorneys.

 

Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Database Opens to More Online Users

Program is Intended to Reduce Abuse of Controlled Substances

When Florida’s famous “pill mills” were pushing out dangerous medications to patients with addictions, advocates for better medical records pushed for a central database to track prescriptions for controlled substances. The result was the 2009 Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and most health-care professionals believe it has been a success.

Close-up of the Rx prescription symbol on a computer keyboard.

One of the drawbacks of the program has been the restrictions placed on who can actually access the system to input records, and view existing information. These restrictions specified that only physicians, pharmacists, and certain other practitioner s were able to actually access the system, not pharmacy techs or office personnel in doctor’s offices. The limits were put in place for good reason, as confidentiality is crucial to patient rights, but often the doctors and pharmacists are so busy that they lack the time to properly run the system as intended.

Often this blog has covered the high-volume of work placed on pharmacists as a contributing factor in the increasing number of prescription errors, and so this change may turn out to be a good one, time will tell.

Last month, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 964, which changes who may access the database.  Currently only pharmacists and prescribers, such as physicians, dentists, and nurse practitioners, are authorized to access and submit reports to the database. Beginning July 1, 2016 the new law will specifically allow designees working on behalf of pharmacists and prescribers to check the database and submit reports.  This change is intended to improve compliance by making it easier for busy pharmacists and prescribers to delegate reporting activities to their staff.

While the PDMP is a good idea in principal, it applies only to controlled substances such as powerful painkillers and will not prevent patients from having drug interactions with their normal medications. It is very important for all patients to take time to discuss all their medications with their doctors and pharmacists. If you don’t understand something, ask.

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been representing victims of prescription medication errors and negligence for over 20 years. In that time the number of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has increased by over 3000, which makes this area of law extremely complex. Gary and Arleen Lazarus remain highly proficient and are eminently qualified to represent victims of prescription errors, and their office is dedicated to protecting the rights of victims. Calling 954-356-0006 will put you in touch with their caring staff.

Cruise Ship Accidents Leave Many Without Recourse

“Moving Hotels” Can be Dangerous

Cruises are supposed to be fun, and they almost always are. But the illusion that many people experience once they step foot on a ship is that they can completely let their normal sense of caution fly out the porthole and let loose for 5-7 days. That’s not entirely accurate.

A Google search of cruise ship accidents will reveal on-board pool drownings, slips and falls, and recently there was a tragic case of a woman who slipped off the Queen Elizabeth and was crushed to death by a tender boat. That horrific incident occurred in Cambodia where the investigative capabilities of police and other authorities are suspect at best.

Another unfortunate passenger suffered a slip and fall which resulted in a head injury. After visiting and being examined by the ship’s medical staff she was pronounced to be fine, only to later slip into a coma and die.

Have fun but Keep Your Natural Sense of Caution

Americans planning to go on a cruise for their vacation should go on the cruise. They just need to understand that like our bodies, caution needs to be exercised.

USCG“The Week” editor Lauren Hansen wrote a column titled “7 Reasons to never ever ever vacation on a cruise ship” and she outlines 7 particularly ghastly (and rare) incidents which drove her to reach her personal decision to never go on a cruise. The incidents were: Adrift and Powerless – Pirates! – Run Aground and Capsized – Flu Outbreak – Going Missing – Crime – and Collisions.

These types of incidents almost never occur, but when they do happen on a cruise ship, people need to be aware they are likely to be in international waters or in a foreign country where the rules are different. The laws, customs, and your rights are not the same when you’re out of the boundaries of the United States of America.

Specialized Area of Law

Who knows what to do when bad things do happen on board a cruise ship? Attorneys who specialize in Maritime Law and Cruise Ship Liability.

For over 20 years the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has dedicated a substantial segment of their Fort Lauderdale law practice to representing the victims of cruise line negligence and malpractice. South Florida is home to two of the busiest cruise-ship ports, the Port of Miami and Port Everglades.

If you or anyone you know has experienced an accident or was the victim of any injury while on board a cruise ship – or while on an excursion away from their ship, the best course of action is to seek advice from an expert.

Calling 954-356-0006 will connect you with the caring staff at Lazarus and Lazarus, who will hear your story and then connect you with Gary and Arleen Lazarus. All communications are completely confidential.

Are You Safe Riding with Uber in Florida?

Issues Regarding Insurance and Licensing Have Politicians Busy Deciding Their Future

It seems everyone these days is doing the Uber. Using Uber saves money over traditional taxi cabs and the service offers an opportunity to people with a car to make extra money. A win-win for everyone, right?

That’s not entirely accurate. Several issues have arisen over the past few years as Uber has grown from an idea to a multi-billion dollar enterprise in just 7 years.

Uber Technologies Inc. is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. As of April 12, 2016, the service was available in over 60 countries and 404 cities worldwide. Since Uber’s launch, several other companies have copied its business model, a trend that has come to be referred to as “Uberification.”

In Florida, state, county, and municipal governments are challenging Uber’s right to operate due to unfair competition with traditional taxi companies, who must be licensed. Another big issue is insurance, and that is the main topic for this article.

Florida Auto Liability Insurance

The minimum requirement for auto insurance in Florida for a personal vehicle is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). If you have been in a crash or convicted of certain offenses, the Florida DMV can request you purchase additional auto insurance coverage such as bodily injury liability coverage (BIL).

A taxi must carry Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage of $125,000 per person, $250,000 per occurrence and $50,000 for property damage liability (PDL) coverage.

An Uber driver must do what? This is where it gets murky.

Government Regulation

Broward County commissioners have been up, down, and all around when trying to get a permanent solution to ride-share services regulation. The Sun-Sentinel reported that the last time commissioners tried to regulate Uber, they got “Ubered” — the new word for politically clobbered — for going after laws that Uber called too onerous. The result is that in Broward, Uber is now largely free to police itself concerning drivers’ backgrounds, insurance coverage and condition of vehicles. Palm Beach County is still working on an ordinance. Miami-Dade, too.

However, as a result of Florida’s regulation of taxi cabs, many companies now regard their drivers as independent contractors. This means that cab drivers may own or lease their vehicles and are responsible for providing their own liability insurance. If a cab driver is accused of negligence, a cab company can distance themselves in an attempt to circumvent any liability.

Uber_Car_Murano
Miami Herald

There is this recent headline from the Miami Herald: “Uber Faces Lawsuit After Nurse Suffers Brain Damage in Miami Beach Crash,” and certainly this kind of tragedy needs to be carefully examined to make sure the victims are cared for physically, emotionally, and financially.

So, the question “are you safe in an Uber car?” has no definitive answer. Everyone must make a decision based on their own situation, but we would recommend everyone ask questions and be aware.

Trust the Legal Experts

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been assisting victims of serious auto accidents for over 20 years in south Florida. We have the experience, compassion, and commitment to represent you if you are ever involved in any accident and to sort out who is liable for your injuries and damages. Please reach out to us at 954-360-0006 and ask for a consultation with Gary or Arleen Lazarus. We will listen to you, and all communications are completely confidential.

Law Firms – Does Size Matter?

Large and Small Legal Practices Serve Clients Well

Driving down the highway you see giant billboards for giant law firms with phone numbers in giant red numbers. Most people don’t give much thought to them until they have a sudden need for an attorney and they think “what was that 800 number I saw on I-95?”

Small law firms usually do their advertising by word-of-mouth, relying on clients to tell friends and family that they were well represented by a one, two, or three attorney law practice.

Which is better? The answer is both.

BIG_SmallThe legal profession is and has always been about the confidential relationship between a client and an attorney.  The concept of attorney-client privilege is defined as a US-American legal concept that protects certain communications between a client and his or her attorney and prevents the attorney from being compelled to testify to those communications in court.

What’s really important is the relationship as it pertains to an attorney’s commitment to remain understanding and responsive to a client during a very trying time. An attorney who is dedicated to addressing client fears and concerns and who always places the client’s rights and best interest first will serve that client well from a desk in a small office on Main Street or from a desk in the office of a 500-member firm in a big city.

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus was founded by law partners Gary and Arleen Lazarus. Their belief is that with their unique skills, experience, and personalities they can best serve their clients as a small, family firm. And so for 25 years they have represented clients, mostly from south Florida, in personal injury cases from their offices in Fort Lauderdale and Weston.

The Firm has also chosen some very specialized areas of law to focus on, to the point where they are among a handful of attorneys known for their pre-eminent knowledge and experience in these fields.

You would think that Maritime Law would be a common area for attorneys in Florida because the state is surrounded by water and the number of boats and vessels. But it is actually a very complex area because of the international implications and various jurisdictions involved.

Pharmacy errors and negligence is another facet of the Lazarus Law Firm’s expertise and once again it involves very specialized knowledge. Pharmaceutical products available to patients have skyrocketed, and their proliferation is resulting in too many accidents and cases of pharmacy and physician errors. Gary and Arleen are dedicated to helping people who, through no fault of their own, are becoming victims of medicine that was supposed to help them.

Auto accidents kill and injure thousands of people each year, and the firm has always been at the forefront of handling cases for victims in south Florida. These cases require knowledge of laws pertaining to liability, medical costs, traffic statutes, and they require a real sense of compassion for people suffering devastating loss.

Calling 954-356-0006 will put in direct contact with Gary and Arleen who are always ready to schedule a confidential consultation and help.

Cruise Ship Negligence

Is Your Safety Assured on a Crowded Cruise Ship?

If you have visited the beach near Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a Sunday afternoon-evening, you have probably noticed the steady stream of cruise ships as they parade out to sea. One-after-another they go, destined for cruise journeys ranging from a few nights to a few weeks.

There are More Ships and Passengers Sailing from South Florida than Anywhere Else on Earth

When you consider the amount of food, liquor, and other supplies on board each ship it is staggering to imagine what a boom it is for the local economy. The Sun-Sentinel recently reported that a single day record for passengers leaving and arriving at Port Everglades in one day was set on December 20, 2015: 53,485!

South Florida is part of the Caribbean/Bahamas region, and you can see that no other area comes close in terms of market share:

  • Caribbean/Bahamas 3%
  • Mediterranean 9%
  • Europe w/o Med 8%
  • Asia 6%
  • Australia/New Zealand/S. Pac 1%
  • Alaska 4%
  • South America 4%
  • Other Programs 5%

Going on a cruise is usually a wonderful experience, with more sun, fun, and food than most people could ever hope to experience on dry land. But there are issues regarding safety and liability which must be known about before setting Cruise Ship Negligenceout into international waters.

I recall a friend telling me that when he enlisted the U.S. Navy he was informed immediately after being sworn in “You are now under the authority of the Uniform Code of Military Justice” and my friend said he was a bit concerned because he felt he had waived his rights under the U.S. Constitution and was now “doomed!” In a way, he had waived those rights.

Similarly, any traveler who embarks on a cruise ship is playing under a new set of rules. Maritime Law is not like U.S. Law, and incidents occurring on board a vessel at sea are not covered by the same rights and privileges a U.S. citizen can count on here at home.

For example, if an accident occurs as a result of negligence by a cruise line company or an employee of a cruise line it will not be easy to document and pursue compensation for injuries including medical expenses, pain and suffering.

Some of the calamities discussed in a New York Times article about cruise ship on-board events include: adrift at sea, running aground, fires, viruses, overflowing toilets, and finally, sinking. Not exactly sun and fun stuff.

Cruise ships operate under the stress of what’s known as a rigid financial bottom line. They must transport as many passengers as possible in a very competitive market, keeping the fares low and the quality as high as they can. Sometimes corners are cut, and passengers suffer the consequences.

Only a handful of attorneys have dedicated their practice to include the complex area of Maritime Law, and in Fort Lauderdale one such firm is Lazarus and Lazarus. For over 20 years Gary and Arleen Lazarus have represented passengers who suffered losses and/or injuries due to the negligence of cruise ship companies. You may reach the firm by calling 954-356-0006 and asking for a free initial consultation. All information exchanged with the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus is completely confidential.

The Principles of Physics Make Truck Accidents More Devastating

Can a Fly Really Fly 500 Miles Per Hour?

I recall having a conversation with a friend once about a fly on an airplane. The man said that he was bothered by a fly that had somehow made its way onto an airplane he was traveling on and he expressed that it annoyed him the whole trip. Then he pondered “if the fly was on his shoulder, and flew forward six rows to bother someone else, was that fly actually flying as fast as he plane?”

This conversation took place at a party where perhaps my friend had consumed an adult beverage or two so he wasn’t necessarily all there. A fly cannot travel 500 miles per hour under its own power, nor can my friend. Both were actually experiencing Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

You feel acceleration when the plane takes off and then when it reaches a constant speed, you feel no sense of speed at all.

This applies to a motor vehicle as well, when you’re traveling 75 miles per hour in a 3000 pound car on the highway, talking to others in the car, sipping a Starbucks and listening to music. All seems peaceful and at rest, when in reality you are part of a very powerful force with tremendous potential energy.

Force is defined by another of Newton’s Laws – he made laws, but he wasn’t a lawyer, imagine that – and this is the law that relates directly to the damage that is done in a vehicle accident.

The Law is stated F=ma or the Force of an object is equal to mass X acceleration. We don’t want to get very technical here, but it is important to understand the very real potential for tremendous damage when a vehicle you drive impacts another vehicle or object. And the larger the vehicle, the more damage.

When you’re driving a fully loaded SUV, you’re driving a truck. The average weight of a Cadillac Escalade is 5,552 to 5,815 lbs. The weight of an average Toyota Corolla is 2,800 to 2,875 lbs. When you plug those numbers into the Force equation there is a big difference in the effects on vehicles, property, and human bodies. All vehicles can be dangerous but trucks require even more caution.

We are only a little over 3 months into the year, and already in Florida (all vehicles) the numbers are very disturbing:

 

Total Crashes:                                    91,700

Injury Crashes:                                  38,617

Total Injuries:                                    59,310

Crashes with Traffic Fatalities:    580

Total Traffic Fatalities                     626

Commercial Vehicle Crashes:      9,475

Commercial Vehicles:                     10,262

Property Damage Crashes:          52,503

Pedestrian Crashes:                        2,203

Pedestrian Fatalities:                      128

Bicycle Crashes:                                                1,536

Bicycle Fatalities:                              31

 

 

It’s very important to be ever-vigilant of the incredible power that rests in your hands when operating any vehicle. Buckle up, be cautious, and never drink and drive.

If you are involved in an accident, it’s prudent to contact an attorney who has experience dealing with the aftermath and injuries involved. The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been helping the victims of vehicle crash injuries for over 20 years. They are eminently qualified to guide you through the legal and medical issues you may be facing. Call Gary and Arleen Lazarus at 954-356-0006.

Excursions from Cruise Ships can be Hazardous to your Health

Passengers who travel on cruise ships may believe that they are covered under the cruise line’s liability insurance from the moment they step foot on the boat until the time they disembark. That may not be entirely accurate.

Recently there have been several very tragic incidents involving injuries and deaths to passengers during “excursions” away from the ship.

A woman from Minnesota was killed while traveling by bus on the island of Jamaica. The victim was returning from an excursion to swim with dolphins back to the Royal Caribbean ship she had booked for her vacation when the bus she was riding in crashed.

A young boy from Italy was also killed in a vehicle crash while on an excursion from the MSC ship Orchestra.

Cruise_Ship_AccidentAnother passenger, from the Carnival ship Glory died on an excursion while visiting St. Kitts. In this incident, witnesses said the passenger was swimming or diving and experienced distress. An ambulance took over 20 minutes to arrive and the medics were unable to revive the victim, according to witnesses. The excursion may have been booked through the cruise line, but it is not completely clear if that was the case.

Cruise Ship Accidents

People tend to make reasonable assumptions that when they book their trip with a cruise line and spend a very substantial amount of time on board the ship, the cruise line will look after their safety for the entirety of the trip. Sadly, this is not true.

Cruise lines balance safety and security with maximizing profits and cutting costs. A special report by CNN said “You can’t find a cheaper vacation than spending a week on one of these “fun ships.” But the vacation comes with a hidden price. The cruise lines are working their crew members for excessively long hours and paying them extremely low wages.”

Injuries and deaths that happen on cruise ships and on excursions away from cruise ships are far too commonplace to be tolerated, and the law is murky about who may be responsible if there is any negligence or malpractice involved. Some passengers may believe the U.S. government will protect them, but according to a special notice from the Federal Maritime Commission, “It is important to know that the Commission has no authority over: passenger line vessel operations, safety issues, amenities on board vessels, or fare levels.”

So, what is a passenger to do if he or she is injured on a ship or during an excursion away from a ship, but during a scheduled cruise? The same thing every American has the right to do under the 7th Amendment, which is to pursue justice through the court.

Specialized Attorneys

Because of the special and complex nature of laws as they pertain to vessels at sea, there are very few attorneys who understand and practice cruise ship accident and negligence law. The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has been representing the victims of cruise ship accidents for over 20 years, and they are exceptionally qualified to consult on any related issue. Gary and Arleen Lazarus can be reached by calling 954-356-0006 – they will meet and discuss your concerns in complete confidence.