Cases of negligent security occur each day to individuals all over the country. Throughout South Florida, places of business such as apartment complexes, strip malls, convenience stores and nightclubs sometimes fail to provide adequate security measures and protect their patrons, resulting in serious injuries and/or death.
How do you, as an injured victim, know if you have a claim for inadequate security? What types of signs should you look for? The following is a list of some of the criteria typically found in a negligent security case:
• The premises/area have a history of high levels of crime (robberies, rape, homicide, etc.)
• The landlord/property owner knew or should have known that the area was prone to criminal activity, yet did not provide security measures • An apartment complex agrees to have security gates/cameras/etc., but no such security measures are ever installed • No security guard/surveillance cameras on the premises • The premises have inadequate lighting at night • The premises have run-down/easily maneuverable security gates
It is very important to note that this list is not all inconclusive and that there are many other factors which may be required in a negligent security case. Furthermore, the fact that an incident may involve all of these factors does not necessarily suffice for a claim for inadequate security. These cases can be very complex and typically require experts to provide a full analysis of the premises and the incident. Only an experienced negligent security attorney can assess your potential case and determine if a claim is actionable on your behalf.
Florida’s recent legislative session was filled with victories and losses for both parties. Surprisingly, one issue that is costing Floridians every year received little reform.
Auto insurance fraud has risen dramatically in Florida and has driven up costs associated with auto accidents for policyholders around the country. A recent article by Fox Business noted that Florida is the leader in staged accidents. The article discussed some of the negative impacts of Florida’s no-fault insurance system – a system utilized by 11 other states and Puerto Rico – which, as the article contends, has created a pool of funds that offenders exploit by staging accidents and utilizing crooked medical professionals to operate clinics that file false claims. Consequently, over 2,700 Florida claims were referred to the National Insurance Crime Bureau last year and it is estimated that insurance fraud costs Florida about $1 billion a year.
In light of these problems, lawmakers made efforts to tackle the issue. In April, the Miami Herald highlighted two bills, SB 1930 and SB 1694, aimed at combatting insurance fraud. SB 1930 would provide insurance carriers 90 days to investigate a claim before making payment medical payments (as opposed to Florida’s 30-day requirement) and SB 1694 attempted to limit fees for attorneys in PIP lawsuits. Critics feared that the bills would discourage injured parties with legitimate claims. Ultimately, the bills died in the judiciary.
Whether we see reform or stricter enforcement in the future, the numbers don’t lie: everyone pays for auto insurance fraud. As attorneys, we believe that it is our responsibility to protect the rights of auto accident victims and to represent their interests in a moral and ethical manner.
This spring, our blog has focused on several issues, from medical malpractice to car accidents, that were addressed by our legislature in its 2011 session. However, the results of the session have shown that no changes are being made when it comes to texting while driving. A recent entry by the website Hands Free Info noted that several bills aimed at limiting or prohibiting the use of cell phones or text messaging devices while driving died in session before becoming law. Among the bills include the following programs: a bill prohibiting minors and school bus drivers from using cell phones and a bill that would ban texting while driving.
This comes as a shock to us and to many Floridians, considering the controversy that the issue has caused in recent years. These days, drivers of all ages have cell phones that have texting plans. As an article from Ocala.com notes, Florida is one of 17 states that have no specific ban on texting while driving. Only eight states, along with the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, ban cell phone use while driving. Yet, according to a 2008 report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 46% of drivers 16-17 years old and 48% of drivers 18-24 years old text while driving. In fact, the report noted that 1 in 7 U.S. drivers admitted to texting while driving.
In spite of this, others have responded with efforts to educate the public on the dangers of texting while driving. Teen sensation Justin Bieber recently supported a campaign by a South Florida company to develop a phone app that will disable texting, emailing and the keyboard while the phone is in motion. The Disney Corporation and the U.S. Department of Transportation have teamed up to release a public service announcement using the characters from the Disney movie “Cars”:
Whether or not laws exist in our state, we urge all drivers to be alert and focused while behind the wheel and we ask they they refrain from texting while driving. In the past, I have been firm in my opinions on this issue. My hope is that one day Florida will pass and enforce laws that prohibit this dangerous activity.
Last month, we posted several blogs about the growth of nursing home abuse in South Florida. After an investigative report by the Miami Herald, lawmakers and government agencies took notice of the problems in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities (ALFs) throughout Florida. In response to these findings, the state is cracking down on violators.
The Agency for Health Care Administration has taken several measures to put an end to violations by nursing homes and ALFs. Governor Rick Scott announced that the agency imposed $125,000 in sanctions to 46 nursing home abusers. It is also taking away thousands in tax dollars from a chain of Tampa ALFs.
As the Miami Herald reported, three chains of Mapleway Communities will no longer be able to bill for their services under Medicaid; a harsh penalty which is available to the state under Florida law. This will be a big blow to the ALF chain, since facilities such as these will have to resort to making residents pay out of pocket or through private insurance. The governor’s office also noted, according to the Herald, that its website FloridaHealthFinder.gov will provide more updated information on ALFs and nursing homes.
We hope that the actions by our state will serve as a wake-up call to offenders. As attorneys, we will continue to do our part to keep you informed of the developments in battling nursing home negligence and fight for the rights of victims of abuse.
Late last month, cruise ship passengers got quite a scare when their vessel made a stop before heading to the French Riviera. On May 31, an explosion at the port of Gibraltar injured several passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
According to CNN, twelve passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas suffered minor injuries and were treated aboard the ship. A fuel tank on the port exploded and the ship retracted to move away from the dock. Two other passengers were on shore during the explosion, but they were not injured.
Watch this amateur video on YouTube from the explosion:
Cruise ship accidents range anywhere from food poisoning to falling overboard and laws regarding these accidents can be very complex. While incidents such as the explosion are rare, they do occur and it is important that cruise lines have a protocol established to act quickly and with the passengers’ safety in mind. Legislation has been an important step toward cruise ship accident prevention and accountability for cruise lines, but passengers should also be prepared and take several precautions to avoid cruise ship accidents.
Last week, rapper Flo Rida, known for his hit songs “Low” and “Right Round”, was arrested in Miami Beach and charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. Thankfully, this incident did not result in an auto accident.
According to the Sun Sentinel and TMZ, Flo Rida, a native of Miami Gardens whose real name is Tramar Dillard, was driving through South Beach at about 3:30 am when police pulled over his 2008 Bugatti and detected the smell of alcohol. The rapper apparently had a blood alcohol level of .185. The legal limit in Florida is .08.
DUI accidents account for thousands of fatalities every year. The figures, according to Alcohol Alert, show that there were over 37,000 alcohol-related deaths in 2008, with 1,041 of those deaths occurring in Florida. That number accounted for 35% of Florida’s total driving fatalities that year.
This time of the year, families from all over are getting ready for their trips to Florida’s theme parks and family entertainment centers – Disneyworld, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens in Orlando and Tampa, or the Rapids Water Park in South Florida. Florida’s parks are filled with attractions, thrill rides and rollercoasters for the whole family. This week, a story from the Orlando Sentinel showed that as parks continue to bring innovative rides to us, amusement ride accidents are still a concern.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that a ride in one of Walt Disney World’s parks will remain closed throughout the summer, as planned maintenance was delayed due to an ongoing federal investigation of a fatal accident last year. According to the Sentinel, Disney extended the closure of Primeval Whirl, a ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, until September 14. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a 52-year-old mechanic who was hit by one of the ride’s vehicles in March. In November 2007, a ride operator was struck by a vehicle while loading guests and died days later. Disney responded by extending the ride’s platform and installing sensor mats.
We’ve noted in this blog and in previous blogs that amusement ride accidents can happen everywhere, even in the most notable theme parks. To help prevent injury, here are a few tips for your next trip to the parks:
• Read and follow all safety guidelines posted for each ride.
• Make sure you and your children are properly buckled and secured on all rides.
• Consult with a physician prior to your trip if you have any injuries or medical conditions.
• Let an employee/operator know if you have special needs (i.e. wheelchair access) before entering a ride.
• Research park websites and reviews to know which parks are safe and appropriate for your children.
• Always keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle/rollercoaster cart/etc.
• Do not wear any loose clothing which can get caught or tangled.
• Place any items or bags in the designated areas before entering a ride.
Last week, we posted about an investigation in May by the Miami Herald on the deplorable state of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in South Florida and throughout the state. Now it seems that the current state of these facilities has caught the attention of two of Florida’s lawmakers.
The Herald reported that Florida Senator and Senate minority leader Chris Smith, after an inspection of Briarwood Manor in Lauderhill, contacted senator Ronda Storms with plans to join forces with other lawmakers to put a stop to the violations throughout Florida’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
Smith, along with the Department of Children and Families, the Attorney General’s Office, the Agency for Health Care and Administration and several other agencies, swept through four facilities in the Cannon Point in Lauderhill, which is home to the highest concentration of assisted-living facilities in Florida. Some of the findings at these facilities, including Briarwood Manor and Shalom Manor, included roach and rodent infestations in two of the facilities, broken furniture, and a 55-year-old man with an untreated swollen leg.
According to the Herald, Smith noted that he never knew that these facilities posed such a threat until the Herald’s investigation. He was also upset to learn that Briarwood gets hundreds of thousands of dollars to house its residents and that some of the tax dollars meant for residents were not being appropriated to them.
We applaud the steps that our lawmakers are taking to ensure the safety of our senior citizens. We hope that our Legislature and our law enforcement continue to work together to crack down on nursing home neglect and abuse. As attorneys, we will also do our part to ensure that the rights of the victims of these heinous acts are protected.
We have all seen the stereotypical scenario in movies, TV, and in real life: after years of working up north, a retired couple moves to Florida to spend their golden years on golf courses and sandy beaches. South Florida is a great place to live, vacation and retire. Many of us have parents and grandparents who, after some time, require the care and comfort of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
Nursing home abuse has been a hot topic for exposés around the country and, as the Orlando Sentinel and the Miami Herald reported last month, it is a growing concern in Florida. Both the Sentinel and the Herald highlighted several incidents of nursing home abuse, including: a 71-year-old in South Florida who died from burns in a bathtub; a 75-year-old priest with dementia in Pinellas county who wandered off unsupervised and was found in a lake with bodily injuries from alligators; and an assisted-living facility owner in the Panhandle who threatened residents with a stick and refused them food and drugs. Both the Sentinel and the Miami Herald also note recent attempts by Florida legislature to impose restrictions on nursing home lawsuits and restrictions on Florida’s nursing home watchdogs. (Note: the Herald also includes a 3-part video on its investigation).
The Herald’s 3-part series on its investigation – which spanned one year and included examination of state inspections, reports and files, as well as interviews with operators and residents – noted that the “Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the state’s 2,850 assisted-living facilities, has failed to monitor shoddy operators, investigate dangerous practices or shut down the worst offenders.” The findings were quite appalling: (1) regulators could have shut down 70 facilities who committed violations, but only closed 7; (2) facilities are frequently found in violation for using restraints (tranquilizers, ropes, closets), but not punished; and (3) almost once a month, residents die from neglect, but arrests are rarely made.
Choosing the appropriate nursing home facility is a very difficult task. Though most rely on reviews and ratings of a facility, word of mouth and reputation, you can never be too careful when entrusting your loved ones to the care of a nursing home. As attorneys, we feel it is our privilege and our duty to represent those who have been abused or neglected by nursing homes. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, consult with a Florida nursing home attorney today.
Gary T. Lazarus was born in Queens, New York, on August 26, 1965. He received his Bachelor of Science from St. John's University in 1987 and received his Juris Doctorate from Nova Law School in 1990. In 1992, Gary founded this Personal Injury Firm, dedicated to the representation of persons injured due to the negligence of another.