Pregnant Woman Killed in Fort Lauderdale Poolside Cabana Accident

1197277_by_the_pool%20sxchu.jpgLast week, a pregnant Massachusetts woman was killed when a car drove into a Fort Lauderdale hotel’s poolside cabana while she was inside. 27-year-old Alanna DeMella died after 35-year-old Rosa Rivera Kim of Plantation lost control of the car she was driving, drove over a curb, and hit a cabana at the Riverside Hotel. DeMella’s 31-year-old husband was inside a nearby men’s room at the time of the accident. He was taken to Broward General Medical Center for minor injuries. The couple’s unborn son also died in the accident.

Kim was also taken to Broward General Medical Center for her injuries. Police did not perform a breathalyzer test or draw Kim’s blood immediately following the accident due to her injuries. The accident is currently under investigation and police are still determining whether to file charges against Kim.

The Massachusetts couple was reportedly in town for a marriage conference paid for by their church. They apparently chose to extend their vacation by one day after the conference. Just hours after the couple checked into the Riverside hotel, DeMella, a teaching assistant for third-grade special education students, was killed.

Although most are not as bizarre as this one, unexpected automobile accidents are one of the main causes of wrongful death in the State of Florida. Because of Florida’s many beaches, seaports, and amusement parks, our state often has a great number of tourists on both sidewalks and the road. Every day, tourists, commuters, students, pedestrians, and others risk being injured by a motor vehicle. Common causes of Florida pedestrian accidents include impaired driving, speeding, driver inattention, failure to yield, and drivers who are distracted by cell phones, email, or text messaging.

Pedestrian accident injuries are often catastrophic and the expenses associated with recovering from such an injury can be high. In Florida, injured pedestrians may recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, surgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and pain and suffering. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a pedestrian or car accident, it is highly recommended that you speak with a qualified Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
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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.
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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.
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Debate Continues Over Elderly Driver Testing in Florida

1101435_highway%20%20sxchu.jpgThe debate over driver testing for seniors in Florida has recently resurfaced. One out of every five drivers in the state is over the age of 65 and that number is expected to increase as the nation’s population ages. Currently, elderly Florida drivers are not required to take a driving test when renewing their license. Due to a high elderly driver collision rate, some believe this should be changed.

Approximately 15 percent of the fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred in Florida in 2010 involved a driver over the age of 65. Last weekend, a woman was killed in Delray by an 89-year-old driver who backed into her in a parking lot. Another woman died in Deerfield Beach after she was hit while walking on a sidewalk and dragged across a church property by an 88-year-old-driver. Tragic accidents such as these often inspire a public call for additional senior driver testing.

The State of Illinois requires seniors to submit to a road test when renewing their driver’s license. In Texas, drivers over the age of 79 are required to renew their license in person. Eight other states also require elderly drivers to renew in person beginning anywhere between age 69 to 75. As the baby boomer generation ages the debate over elderly driver certification will likely continue. Florida is one of 40 states which require vision testing for senior drivers. Driving tests, however, are not required.

According to Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there is no concrete proof elderly driver regulations reduce accident rates. She said although a recently conducted study suggested in person driver’s license renewal requirements for seniors may lower collision rates, other evidence was decidedly mixed. McCartt also stated Florida drivers over the age of 80 had a lower accident rate than those in the 15 to 34 age range in 2010.

The AARP has publicly opposed any age-based driver testing standard. The lobbying organization has instead advocated for promotion of Florida’s medical-review program. The program allows citizens, police officers, and doctors to report dangerous drivers as well as drivers who were diagnosed with an illness which may impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Once a driver is reported, state licensing agents determine whether to administer a road test. The organization also expressed support for in person license renewal requirements for all drivers.

Some, such as Representative Irv Slosberg of Boca Raton, believe the safety focus should be on teenaged drivers rather than seniors as elderly drivers rarely speed or text behind the wheel of a car. Still, reliable crash rates can be difficult to obtain since senior citizens tend to drive fewer miles per year than younger drivers. Most agree, however, a bright lane driving age cut-off is unnecessary.
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Florida Lawmakers Reform Personal Injury Protection Insurance

1334532_ambulance.jpgLast week, the Florida Legislature passed reforms to the state’s mandatory no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance requirement. House Bill 119 was passed after a 22-17 vote in the Senate just prior to midnight and immediately before state lawmakers adjourned. The reforms are designed to rein in insurance prices by making it more difficult for individuals to commit fraud or abuse PIP insurance.

PIP was adopted in Florida in 1972. The law allows those injured in a motor vehicle accident to receive up to $10,000 for medical expenses and lost earnings regardless of fault. The costs associated with PIP insurance have purportedly increased by approximately $1.4 billion over the last four years. Some believe the increase is due in large part to fraud and staged accidents. The State of Florida reportedly has the most staged accidents nationwide, and the problem is particularly pronounced in the Tampa and Miami metropolitan areas.

The measure passed by lawmakers requires anyone who is injured in a Florida car accident to seek treatment within 14 days from a hospital, ambulance, physician, dentist, or chiropractor. An accident victim will only be allowed to receive the full PIP insurance benefit of $10,000 if a treating medical provider determines he or she suffers from an emergency medical condition. If not, the victim’s PIP benefit will be limited to $2,500. Additionally, the new law requires an accident victim to receive a referral from a health care provider prior to obtaining any follow-up medical services and eliminates payment for massage or acupuncture treatment.

The new law almost didn’t make it to a vote. Florida Senators narrowly accepted House changes to the measure by a 21-19 vote. According to Senator Joe Negron, who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate and negotiated the compromise legislation, the new law will have a large impact on PIP insurance fraud. Senate President Mike Haridopolos admitted to collecting on IOUs in order to get the legislation approved.

Governor Rick Scott was in favor of the legislation, but some Florida lawmakers believe the new law will only serve to create larger profits for insurance companies. Although the initial bill would have guaranteed a PIP rate reduction of 25 percent, the bill that was passed only requires a 10 percent rate reduction with no guarantees. If insurance companies fail to reduce PIP rates by 10 percent, they must provide a detailed explanation regarding why the reduction was impossible. If PIP rates are not reduced by 25 percent by January 1, 2014, another explanation is required.

Representative Scott Randolph of Orlando expressed concern regarding whether lawmakers should take insurance companies at their word. A spokesperson for the Florida Consumer Action Network, Bill Newton, doesn’t believe the legislation will have an impact on PIP insurance fraud. Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami also expressed his concerns over the new measure and stated insurance companies were already in control the PIP formula.
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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.
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CVS Pharmacy Mistakenly Dispenses Breast Cancer Drug to Children

1323011_pills%20sxchu%20website.jpgA pharmacy error has affected as many as 50 families in New Jersey. A CVS pharmacy in Chatham allegedly distributed the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen by mistake to a number of children who were prescribed chewable fluoride tablets. Although company investigators believe only a few children actually took the breast cancer drug, its ingestion is reportedly unlikely to cause any detrimental health effects.

CVS, the nation’s second largest drugstore chain, has issued a public apology for the mistake. The company also stated it contacted every family who received a 0.5 mg fluoride prescription in Chatham during the last 60 days. No mention was made regarding how the mix-up occurred. According to the company’s director of public relations, Mike DeAngelis, most parents who received prescriptions at the Chatham location received the correct pills.

Experts stated it is unlikely this particular drug mix-up would result in serious health effects. Fluoride is generally prescribed to children by their dentists. Although the two drugs have a similar appearance, fluoride is designed to be chewed while the Tamoxifen should be swallowed. Any child who mistakenly chewed the breast cancer drug would experience a bad taste and likely attempt to spit it out.

The consumer affairs division of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is currently investigating the drug mix-up to determine whether any laws were violated by the pharmacy. On Friday, the company was ordered to provide the name of all pharmacy employees at the Chatham store and copies of all correspondence related to the error. Company representatives will also be questioned under oath this week. CVS has stated the company is still investigating exactly how the error occurred in an effort to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Luckily, the pharmacy error that occurred in New Jersey did not result in a serious injury or wrongful death. Still, doctors, dentists, nurses, hospitals, and even pharmacies have a duty to provide patients with a reasonable standard of care. When an injury occurs due to the improper dispensing of medications, a patient might have a pharmaceutical negligence or professional malpractice claim against the pharmacist or pharmacy that dispensed the drug. The State of Florida provides patients who were the victim of malpractice with only two years to file a claim. Because insurance companies also have up to two years to evaluate a patient’s medical malpractice claim before a lawsuit may be filed, it is crucial to discuss your pharmaceutical malpractice case with a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
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Coast Guard Calls off Search for Canadian Woman Who Went Missing on Florida Cruise Ship

1106432_cruise_ships_at_grand_turk%20sxchu.jpgThe United States Coast Guard has called off the search for an unidentified Canadian woman who is believed to have fallen overboard while traveling on a Florida cruise ship. A 47-year-old passenger on the Bahamas Celebration went missing while the ship traveled from Freeport, Bahamas to the Port of Palm Beach. The Coast Guard searched about 19,000 square kilometers of sea using at least four of the organization’s cutters and two of its aircraft. Bahamas air and sea rescue crews also assisted in the search.

According to Celebration Cruise Lines president Charles Kinnear, the woman was reported missing as the Florida-based cruise ship returned to the Port of Palm Beach on Wednesday morning. The woman’s boyfriend, also unidentified, claims he last saw her near a gift shop outside of the couple’s cabin around one in the morning. He said he realized she was missing after he awoke the next morning to find she never returned to their cabin. After he could not locate the woman, her boyfriend reported her missing.

After the Canadian woman was reported missing, cruise personnel reportedly searched the Bahamas Celebration twice before contacting the Coast Guard. By 8 am on Wednesday, the cruise ship was docked at the Port of Palm Beach. According to Kinnear, the ship would have turned around to search for the woman if personnel were alerted to her disappearance sooner. Although the woman is believed to have fallen overboard, cruise officials are hoping she somehow left the ship without detection. Upon the ship’s arrival at port, the woman’s passport was still in her cabin. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into the woman’s disappearance.

Despite modern technology and safety measures, an individual may be unexpectedly hurt at any time on a luxury cruise vacation. If you or a loved one was injured while traveling as a passenger or crew member on a cruise ship, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your losses. An injury or wrongful death on a cruise ship may be governed by one or more state, federal, and international laws. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist you in seeking compensation for your injury or loss.
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