I-4 Tractor Trailer Fire in Orlando Causes Chain Reaction

Orlando police had their hands full on September 8, 2010 around 8:30pm after a tractor trailer burst into flames on I-4, bringing Wednesday night traffic to a screeching halt. The accident happened on the Westbound side of the interstate after drivers signaled for a semi truck driver to pull over after noticing sparks shooting out from underneath the big rig.

The tractor trailer driver attempted to pull off the road, but the truck was already on fire. The driver was unharmed and emergency crews arrived on the scene and worked to extinguish the flames. As they did, a second accident occurred near Fairbanks Avenue, causing two other cars to catch on fire. Both accidents were cleared just after 10 p.m. It was unknown if anyone was inured in either of the accidents.

Two other crashes that same night kept local authorities very busy as well. Police suspect that wet road conditions may have contributed to the spike in the number of accidents, including one in Daytona Beach in which a car hit a power pole.

Tractor trailer accidents in Florida can be very deadly, particularly when they involve collisions with passenger vehicles. A skilled auto accident attorney can help you fight for damages after an accident involving a big rig. Many times, driver error or vehicle overload can cause accidents on the interstates and negligent drivers and their companies must be held responsible. Contact a lawyer today to find out what your options are regarding recovery for medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages.

Bernie Mac’s Widow Suing Dermatologist for Wrongful Death

The widow of the late comedian Bernie Mac has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his dermatologist in Chicago. Rhonda McCullough is alleging that Dr. Rene M. Earles failed to call emergency medical services on July 17, 2008 and instead held Mac at his South Side clinic for nine hours, causing a chain of medical events that would lead to his eventual death from pneumonia weeks later.

According to the Sun-Times Newspaper, McCullough claims that Earles “failed to recognize cardiopulmonary instability in Bernie” and “failed to recognize and act upon abnormal vital signs and signs of respiratory failure” during his visit in July. At the time, Mac was being treated for lesions on his head, face and neck that were caused by sarcoidosis, the inflammatory lung disease that the actor had been suffering from for more than 20 years.

Earles stated that although he had a cold, Mac seemed healthy enough for the treatments. Earles had been administering the same treatments for more than two decades and felt confident that the actor was able to go through with the therapy. Earles gave Mac oxygen around 2:30pm and let him sleep until 6:30pm. After that point, he noticed that Mac had a low-grade fever, was breaking out in a rash and was wheezing. He stabilized him and administered medication to help him breath easier.

Mac was able to leave the clinic on his own, just after 10pm and a limo took him to the hospital. Mac died from complications related to pneumonia on August 9, 2008. His wife is seeking $50,000 from Earles.

Wrongful death lawsuits are difficult at best. It takes a skilled attorney to be able to prove these cases and stand up to medical facilities and insurance companies who have teams of attorneys on their side. Contact a wrongful death lawyer to discuss your case today.

Fort Lauderdale Hit-And-Run Leaves 84-Year-Old in Coma

A hit and run driver nearly killed an 84-year-old woman on August 2, 2010 when he plowed into her near an intersection on Commercial Boulevard in Tamarac. Lee-dah St. Clair, a Haiti earthquake survivor, was crossing the street when a 1995 Chevy Caprice hit her going about 40 miles per hour. The driver, Eric Hall, 23, initially fled the scene.

According to police, Hall went to a friend’s house and removed his plates from his vehicle, hoping to hide his crime. However, he was later arrested and charged for the accident. He told police he left the scene because he panicked. If Ms. St Clair dies, he could be charged with involuntary manslaughter or worse. At this point, he already faces charges of fleeing an accident scene.

Pedestrian accidents in Florida are all too common, simply because of increased population and tourism mixed with slow construction of sidewalks and adequate pedestrian signals at intersections. Worse yet, hit-and-run accidents are serious and can often be deadly.

A personal injury lawyer can help you get justice for injuries suffered or for a wrongful death of a loved one after this type of tragedy. A lawyer can help build your case by using independent investigators to study the crime scene for additional evidence that will help you find the parties responsible. If you can’t get justice from the police, contact a lawyer today to help you get what you deserve.

Man Sues Stun-Gun Company and Wins $2.85M

Florida residents who suffer injuries as a result of using defective or harmful products can hire a personal injury lawyer to fight for their rights. A manufacturer can often be held liable for injuries caused and a court will order a settlement to cover the cost of medical bills and other damages. One recent California case is a prime example of how product liability and personal injury cases get settled in the United States:

A California man who suffered brain damage after being stunned by a Taser gun was recently awarded $2.85 million for his injuries in a product liability lawsuit. The suit was filed after Steven Butler, 49, was shocked by the device nearly four years ago by a Watsonville, CA police officer. Butler was drunk at the time and off his psychiatric medication when officers used a Taser X-26 to subdue him after he wouldn’t get off a bus.

Butler went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. It took emergency medical personnel 18 minutes to revive him, and he subsequently suffered anoxic brain injury and debilitating brain damage. He currently needs round-the-clock care and can’t be left alone, according to his attorneys. He has no short-term memory or mobility, and his motor skills have decreased drastically as well.

Since the injury, Butler’s brother David has been caring for him. Part of the award in the settlement will be put towards a trust for the family, who is enduring more than $4,700 a month in medical and caretaking bills. Although the company didn’t admit liability, the case marks the first time Taser International has ever settled a product liability case, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Florida Residents Get a Break from Fed on Insurance Premium Hikes


A federal award of $1 million will help the state of Florida fight unreasonable insurance premium hikes, officials announced today. The Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Affordable Care Act, is providing the funding so that Florida can review insurance rate hikes before they are enacted to ensure their fairness.

Further, the state intends to use the money to take action against companies who gouge policyholders and/or unreasonably deny their legitimate claims. The award is designed to fund a review process of insurance companies that will require them to provide more information about their individual and small group health insurance plants before approving a rate increase.

Basically, the funding will give the state the power to call into question arbitrary rate hikes, hopefully preventing them across the board. Additionally, the money gives the state the ability to seek legislative authority in 2011 to really crack down on companies who are just out to make a buck.

Another key component of the award is that it will add transparency by creating a search tool on the state website that allows visitors to see rate increases easily. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius estimates that this will help drop premium costs 14 to 20 percent by 2014 by spurring competition and creating better risk pooling.

If you’re being denied coverage or aren’t getting the amount of money you should from an insurance company, call an attorney today. You have rights and should not have to suffer at the hands of a big insurance company.

JAMA: Oil Spill Has Direct Effect on Health of Workers, Residents and Seafood

Just days after President Obama swam in waters off the coast of Florida and tasted fish from the Gulf, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an online report detailing the affects of the Gulf oil spill on workers, tourists/residents and seafood in Florida.

The report, published August 16, 2010, states that the “oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poses direct threats to human health from inhalation or dermal contact with the oil and dispersant chemicals, and indirect threats to seafood safety and mental health.” This statement is a strong position to take, given BP’s consistent denial of any known health risks posed by the oil spill.

The report also states: “Physicians should be familiar with the health effects from oil spills to appropriately advise, diagnose, and treat patients who live and work along the Gulf Coast…” To date, more than 300 people (75 percent of whom were cleanup workers) were treated for symptoms related to the oil spill. Complaints included headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coughing, respiratory infections and chest pain.

Acute exposure to the oil and dispersant chemicals is to blame for these symptoms, according to the report. Further, prolonged exposure may also lead to long-term effects in the seafood we consume, such as high levels of toxic contaminants such as lead, mercury and cadmium.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also currently testing air quality in Florida and other Gulf states to produce statistics regarding the effect of the spill above water as well. If you’ve worked in the cleanup effort and have been having health problems, contact a personal injury lawyer in Florida immediately to find out your rights.

Dog Bite Injury Claims on the Rise In Florida, U.S.

In Florida, there is a statewide ban on breed-specific legislation when it comes to homeowners’ insurance and dogs. This means that no matter what type of dog you own, your insurance carrier can’t discriminate against your breed to raise your rate or deny you coverage. However, it is imperative to have a homeowners’ policy that covers dog bites, no matter what kind of breed you have. Dog bite insurance claims are on the rise nationwide, and settlements for such cases are getting bigger every year.

Dog Bite Lawsuit Statistics
Nationwide, dog-bite insurance claims totaled more than $400 million in 2009. The Insurance Information Institute started tracking these incidents in 2003, and this is the highest level since recordkeeping began. Although there is no single explanation as to the rise in dog-bite insurance claims, the Institute’s experts say that the costs of dog bites has increased greatly as medical care costs rise, and as larger court settlements are being granted across the country.

Dog bites made up more than one-third of homeowners’ insurance liability claims in 2009, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. The total cost was $412 million, markedly higher than 2008’s $387.2 million in claims. The average cost per-claim was $24,840 in 2009, which was up 1.5 percent from 2008’s costs. Since 2003, dog-bite claim costs have risen 30 percent, but the actual number of claims is down 2 percent. In 2009, 16,586 dog bites were reported throughout the U.S.

Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies can both typically cover dog bite injuries, although each plan is certainly different. Most standard policies will offer anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage. If a dog has attacked you or someone you love or if your dog has bitten someone else, it is critical that you contact a personal injury lawyer today to protect your rights.

Defining Damages for “Loss of Enjoyment of Life” in Personal Injury Suits


In personal injury lawsuits, Florida attorneys often seek damages for victims for something called “Loss of Enjoyment of Life.” You may have heard of people recovering money through lawsuits for medical expenses, lost wages or pain and suffering, but you may not realize that compensation for loss of enjoyment of life is often possible as well.

Although it may sound similar to “pain and suffering,” damages for loss of enjoyment of life are different. Pain and suffering refers to the direct pain caused by the injuries you receive as a result of an accident. Loss of enjoyment of life refers to the emotional, physical and psychological loss you endure over the long-term as the result of an injury.

For example, if you lose your sense of sight after an accident, you can be compensated further due to the fact that you will never be able to work the same again, see your children or generally enjoy life the way you once did. Loss of a limb, disfigurement or other catastrophic injuries also often qualify victims for this particular type of compensation.

Damages for loss of enjoyment of life are quantified by figuring out both the percentage of lifestyle lost as well as the measurable loss according to your injury. Losing an arm versus losing your sight can mean completely different sums. It takes a skilled personal injury attorney to argue this type of case and to get you the money you deserve. An attorney who can work for your best interests can successfully recover damages that will help you lead a comfortable life after a devastating injury.

Woman Killed Crossing Street in Lauderhill


On August 10, 2010, a woman lost her life after being struck by a van while crossing the street. The woman, in her 50s, was crossing Inverrary Boulevard just after 6am. The driver of a white Dodge Caravan collided with her, forcing her to hit the driver’s front bumper and windshield. She was carried more than 60 yards before the driver stopped the van. According to rescue officials, the woman died en route to Broward General Medical Center. The driver of the van was treated and released from Florida Medical Center.

Florida Tops List of Most Dangerous Walking States More than in any other state, pedestrians are at risk on Florida streets every time they venture out. Distracted, drunk or careless drivers in the Sunshine State were responsible for 11.1% of pedestrian deaths and 17.4% of bicyclist deaths in the U.S. in 2008, according to a 2010 report published in USA Today. For a state that only has 6% of the nation’s total population, this number puts Florida at the top of the list of the most dangerous places to walk or bike.

A number of factors have made Florida dangerous for non-drivers, including rapid population growth mixed with lagging construction of sidewalks and bike lanes, mass tourism rates and warm weather, which drives more people to the streets on foot or on bicycles.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you must contact a personal injury attorney. Beyond criminal charges, civil action can often be taken after a wrongful death or serious injury involving a vehicle and a pedestrian.

City of Davie Approves Red Light Cameras

In a vote of 3-2, the town council for the City of Davie, Florida approved the use of red light cameras within their city limits. As I wrote about this issue previously, the implementation of red light cameras is highly controversial. The controversy exists because there really is no credible evidence that the use of red light cameras actually decreases traffic accidents. On the contrary, the studies appear to prove the exact opposite, that red light cameras increase intersection collisions.

As long ago as 1995, the Australian Review Board conducted a study comparing the use of red light cameras with the number of traffic accidents. This study analyzed the long term effect on accident-types of red-light cameras at 41 intersections in Melbourne, Australia. The cameras were installed in 1984, and reported accidents for the period 1979 to 1989 were used in the detailed analysis. The study concluded the following:”The results of this study suggest that the installation of the RLC at these sites did not provide any reduction in accidents, rather there has been increases in rear end and adjacent approaches accidents on a before and after basis and also by comparison with the changes in accidents at intersection signals.”
“There has been no demonstrated value of the RLC as an effective countermeasure.”

In 2007, the Virginia Transportation Research Council issued a report which also showed an increase in traffic accidents. The study concluded: “After cameras were installed, rear-end crashes increased for the entire six-jurisdiction study area… After controlling for time and traffic volume at each intersection, rear-end crash rates increased by an average of 27% for the entire study area.””After cameras were installed, total crashes increased.”

In 2001, the office of U.S. Congressman Dick Armey uncovered a very interesting fact when performing their own analysis of the issue. Representative Armey’s office found that the author of those studies that advocated that red light cameras improved traffic safety was the very same man who invented the device and stood to profit from its widespread acceptance and implementation. This study concluded: In short, the only documented benefit to red light cameras is to the pocketbook of local governments who use the devices to collect millions in revenue.”

I have to agree with Representative Armey’s conclusion. Because of the devastating impact that our economic recession is having on local governments, local governments appear to be looking for any way to increase revenues. However, the implementation of an idea that will actually increase traffic accidents is extremely shortsighted, in that an increase in traffic accidents will place an additional monetary strain on police and fire rescue units who are required to respond to an accident scene.
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