Florida Couple Aboard Costa Concordia During Crash Off Italian Coast

1068112_cruise_ship%20sxchu%20website.jpgHomestead, Florida residents Luis Hernandez and his wife Karen Camacho were aboard the Costa Concordia for their “second honeymoon” when the cruise ship struck a rock formation and began taking on water off of the coast of Italy earlier this month. The ship was carrying approximately 4,000 people from across the globe when it tipped onto its side near Giglio Island. Costa Crociere, a unit of the Carnival Corporation, operated the Costa Concordia. The company has placed blame for the disaster squarely on the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino. The ship was reportedly sailing off course and too close to the rocky Italian shoreline when it was damaged.

The Florida couple was reportedly seated at dinner when the accident occurred. According to Camacho, she heard a loud noise before items began falling from dining tables. Soon after, the ship’s speaker system and waiters began reassuring passengers to stay calm. The Costa Concordia crew purportedly told passengers the ship was merely experiencing difficulties with its generator.

Once the boat began to list, the couple returned to their cabin for personal items before heading towards the ships lifeboats. According to Camacho, the scene outside of their cabin was chaotic. People were allegedly shoving one another and crewmembers appeared at a loss regarding what to do next. Camacho stated no one was providing directions and crewmembers were abandoning ship in lifeboats without passengers. After Henandez hopped onto a lifeboat full of crewmembers, Camacho was purportedly allowed aboard. When the lifeboat became stuck, the couple exited, ran through the dining room, and jumped into a small rescue boat that was ferrying passengers to shore. Camacho claims she injured her knee during her escape, but saw other passengers who were injured much worse during the ordeal.

Following the disaster, 17 people are confirmed dead and at least 16 individuals are still unaccounted for, including two Americans. The Carnival Corporation issued a public statement alleging the company is investigating what caused the Costa Concordia disaster and the Cruise Lines International Association issued a press release reminding the public that cruising is generally a safe means of travel. The Association also stated large scale cruise ship accidents such as this one are exceedingly rare.
Read more “Florida Couple Aboard Costa Concordia During Crash Off Italian Coast”

New Study Reveals Red Light Cameras May Actually Increase Fatal Accidents in Florida, Nationwide

480202_broken_car%20sxchu%20website.jpgAccording to research recently released by the University of South Florida, cities that utilize red light cameras have a 25 percent higher rate of traffic fatalities related to red light running than cities that do not use the technology. The research, published in the Florida Health Review, completely refutes a February 2011 study disseminated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which stated red light cameras would have prevented approximately 800 additional traffic deaths in 48 cities during a five year period.

In the February 2011 study, a five year period during which 62 cities did not have red light cameras was selected. Next, a five year period during which 14 of the cities had active red light cameras installed and operational and the remaining 48 cities did not use red light cameras at all was chosen. After the Insurance Institute compared the data, it arrived at the conclusion red light cameras could have prevented many red light running fatalities in camera-free cities.

In contrast, the University of South Florida study concluded the Insurance Institute’s analysis was not only scientifically flawed, but also highly suspect because the insurance industry funded the entirety of the research. Insurance companies have a significant financial stake in red light camera tickets. Although tickets from red light cameras do not add points to a Florida driver’s license, they are still used to increase insurance premiums.

Other problems with the Insurance Institute’s research also existed. For example, several of the cities evaluated that never implemented red light cameras experienced very few or no fatal accidents associated with red light running during the relevant time periods. Consequently, it was impossible for researchers to truly compare before and after death rates. After researchers at the University of South Florida re-analyzed the statistics used by the Insurance Institute using valid research methods, they concluded red light running fatalities were in fact significantly higher in red light camera cities.

Florida residents spend countless hours in their automobiles each year and motor vehicle collisions are an unfortunate fact of life. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and death in Florida. Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision can range from minor to catastrophic. Automobile accidents are generally caused by driver inattention, impairment or fatigue. Other factors may include defective vehicles, speeding, road debris, and aggressive driving. If you were injured on the road, a knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you file a claim against the negligent party.
Read more “New Study Reveals Red Light Cameras May Actually Increase Fatal Accidents in Florida, Nationwide”

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”

Pinellas County Jury Awards Record $200 Million Verdict Over Nursing Home Death

Gavel%20-%20sxchu%20website.jpgThis month, a Florida jury awarded $200 million to the family of a nursing home resident who died in 2004 at the Pinellas Park Care and Rehabilitation Center. 92-year-old Elvira Nunziata was strapped in a wheelchair when she disappeared from a group of residents and made her way to an emergency exit stairwell. It allegedly took nursing home staff more than one hour to notice she was missing. Nunziata was found at the bottom of the stairwell sill in her wheelchair. Paramedics were called, but she died not long after they arrived at the facility.

Nunziata’s son filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Pinellas County against Trans Health Management Inc., the company who operated Pinellas Park Care and Rehabilitation Center at the time of her death. According to the lawsuit, Nunziata lived at the facility for more than one year before her death. At trial, her son alleged the nursing home’s staff was aware Nunziata suffered from dementia and was prone to wandering. Nunziata purportedly suffered previous injuries which resulted from falls at the home. Former caregivers also stated under oath that the facility was understaffed and employees frequently disabled stairwell alarms. At the time of Nunziata’s death, the nursing home was under investigation for several abuse complaints and had a history of deficiency citations.

The attorney representing Nunziata’s son asked the jury to send a message to the nursing home and make them pay for the unacceptable care she received. After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury awarded Nunziata’s estate $60 million in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages. This is one of the largest nursing home liability awards ever made by a Florida jury. Unfortunately, Trans Health Management Inc., is no longer in business and its parent company, Trans Health, Inc., is currently in receivership in the Maryland.

A nursing home or other medical care facility is required to provide each patient with a certain level of care. When a nursing home fails to provide that level of care, they may be in violation of the patient’s bill of rights. If a resident is hurt or dies as a result of a care facility’s negligence or abuse, the patient’s family may file a nursing home liability lawsuit. Most care facility abuse cases result from negligence on the part of the nursing home. Nursing home liability cases may arise from a facility’s failure to administer the correct medications, failure to provide adequate medical care, failure to provide adequate food, emotional distress, and even sexual abuse.
Read more “Pinellas County Jury Awards Record $200 Million Verdict Over Nursing Home Death”