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More than 30,000 people die and many tens of thousands more are injured every year in the U.S. as a result of gunshot wounds, either self-inflicted or as a result of violence. Firearm manufacturers and dealers are largely shielded from liability by federal law. However, that does not mean they are totally immune. gun

Recently in Missouri, a pawn shop owner agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a woman whose mentally ill daughter shot and killed her father before attempting suicide on herself. Days before the incident, plaintiff had gone to the pawn shop to beg them not to sell her adult daughter a gun. Just weeks earlier, her daughter had purchased a firearm legally from the shop, only to use it to attempt suicide. Plaintiff explained to the shop owner that her daughter is schizophrenic and may be a danger to herself and others. This request was reportedly ignored.

While immunity statutes enacted by the federal government and 34 states protect gun shops and dealers – but there are exceptions. In 2005, Congress enacted a federal law that gives broad immunity to gun dealers from most civil liability actions asserting injury or death as a result of firearms.  Continue reading

A diner at a restaurant in Texas seafood restaurant reportedly became seriously ill after consuming shellfish. Now, in a personal injury lawsuit filed against the restaurant corporation, he alleges that he ordered a dish of fried oysters and crawfish, making explicit instructions to the waiter to make sure there was no shrimp or shrimp residue on the plate. But allegedly, the waiter failed to relay that message to the kitchen staff. restaurant

The waiter returned to the table and assured the patron there was no shrimp in the food on his plate, according to the SE Texas Record. However, soon after the plaintiff began eating, the plaintiff began to suffer a severe allergic reaction. An ambulance had to be called and the man was whisked to a local emergency room. It was his wife who reportedly learned that their server that night had forgotten to report her husband’s shrimp allergy to the kitchen.

Now, that man has filed a personal injury lawsuit, seeking unspecified monetary damages, likely for medical expenses and lost wages (if he was forced to take time off work).  Continue reading

The National Football League has pledged more support to the study of head injuries. The professional sports organization says the goal of “Play Smart, Play Safe” is to explore ways to prevent, diagnose and treat head injuries that are known to result from playing this high-impact game. Part of the effort also involves hiring a medical doctor to serve as the league’s chief medical officer. The person hired will work with each team’s medical staff and create an independent scientific advisory board to weigh proposals for head injury research.football2

This $100 million pledge is in addition to the $100 million already pledged by the league for neuroscience and medical research. Just in the last 14 years, the agency has enacted a total of 42 rule changes in order to help protect players from head injuries. On top of that, the league has hired 29 additional medical professionals.

Some critics are wondering if this is simply another misguided attempt to assuage them following more than a decade of calls for change. Awareness of the scourge of head injuries in football really didn’t begin until 2002, when Pittsburgh Steelers’ center Mike Webster killed himself at age 50. It was at that point his physician diagnosed him with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which is a type of degenerative, progressive disease that is caused by repeated trauma to the head. Continue reading

Product liability lawsuits may be on the horizon for hoverboard manufactures, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports at least 10 companies have recalled the devices. ambulance11

There are two main dangers with the devices:

  • Lithium-ion battery backs that pose a risk of overheating, smoking, fire and/ or exploding;
  • Falls.

The CPSC refers to the devices as “self-balancing scooters,” though they are more commonly known as hoverboards, even though they don’t actually “hover,” as the name might suggest. The devices sailed into popularity over the last year, and were among the top holiday gifts this past season. Yet they have been associated with serious head injuries, broken bones and burns.  Continue reading

Good Samaritan laws exist throughout the country and are intended to offer legal protection to persons who may otherwise be reluctant to provide assistance to someone who is injured, incapacitated or in danger. These laws can be complex and vary from state-to-state. helpingmedic

Florida’s Good Samaritan Act, F.S. 768.13, indicates that any person – including those who practice medicine – who act willingly and in good faith to provide emergency care or treatment to someone in an emergency won’t be liable for civil damages resulting from this aid or treatment. If the person who is helping causes harm, he or she is generally only liable if they:

  • Failed to use reasonable care;
  • Showed reckless disregard for the consequences.

Continue reading

A growing number of organizations are requiring a signature on liability waivers before allowing folks to participate. On one hand, these documents are supposed to help patrons stay informed of the possible risks. The problem is, people rarely read them – or read them thoroughly – and the details in the fine print are often the most critical.

Although these waivers – which are essentially contracts – are often upheld by courts, they can be successfully challenged on a number of grounds. One could argue the waiver didn’t fully outline the exact risks. One might also argue that the waiver was inherently unfair. It’s possible to say the language was unclear or ambiguous. One could also argue gross negligence.splash

While waivers of liability can insulate organizations from liability for acts of negligence – which is an absence of reasonable care – they cannot insulate from gross negligence. The latter occurs when there is failure to use even the slightest amount of care. It is when a person deliberately disregards someone else’s safety by an act or omission they knew or should have known was going to put someone in danger. This was the allegation in the recent case of Steinberg v. Sahara Sam’s, weighed by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Continue reading

Property owners and managers owe a duty of care to guests (and, in some cases, youthful trespassers) to ensure the site is reasonably safe for those who enter. Any dangerous conditions need to be either resolved or else those who enter should be warned. redwoodtress

But these requirements can be a bit complicated when we’re talking about government-owned property. There are a few statutes that may impede one’s effort to obtain compensation through a Florida personal injury lawsuit.

The first is the Federal Tort Claims Act, which holds that government entities are generally immune from injury litigation unless the entity has waived that protection (per 28 U.S. 1346(b)). In Florida, there is also F.S. 768.28, which waives sovereign immunity in tort actions in certain circumstances. Beyond that, there is F.S. 375.251, which limits a person’s ability to pursue legal action against land owners (including government entities) that open their property to public use for free recreational purposes.  Continue reading

If you have suffered a personal injury in Florida, an important part of the legal analysis involves determining whether punitive damages can be successfully added to the claim. For plaintiffs, doing so is very likely to increase the potential value of the claim.smokedetector

Punitive damages are awarded to penalize defendants for intentional misconduct or gross negligence, per F.S. 768.72. The statute requires injury plaintiffs to prove with clear and convincing evidence that defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of conduct and the high probability that defendant’s conduct was so reckless or wanton in care that it amounted to a conscious disregard for or indifference to the life or safety of others.

Florida law limits punitive damages to either three times the amount of compensatory damages or up to $500,0000 – whichever is greater. The only exceptions would be if defendant’s conduct was especially egregious and motivated by unreasonable financial gain, in which case the limit is four times the amount of compensatory damages or $2 million. Continue reading

In order to prevail in a slip-and-fall lawsuit in Florida, it is not enough that the plaintiff simply fell on someone else’s property. One has to show first of all that the property owner owed a duty of care to that individual, that the duty was breached and that it was the breach of duty that caused the fall and subsequent injury. stairs1

This has gotten even more difficult in recent years as it pertains to slips on foreign substances with the legislative introduction of F.S. 768.0755 in 2010, which supplanted the old law, F.S. 768.0710. The law has widely been praised by the business and insurance industry, but it’s not so good for injury plaintiffs, as it imposes a greater burden of proof to establish liability.

Before this law was passed, plaintiffs had to show that the business or premises owner in possession or control acted with negligence by failing to exercise reasonable care. The statute expressly stated that actual or constructive notice that a transitory or foreign object or substance (something slippery on the floor) wasn’t a required element for plaintiffs to prove. That’s not the case anymore. Plaintiffs now have to show actual or constructive knowledge. 

When we send our children to school, we trust that those in charge (teachers, principals, coaches and aides) are going to properly supervise them in order to minimize their chance of injury. This is especially true when they are engaged in activities that pose a foreseeable risk. This is known as a duty of care. playground

Lack of supervision in and of itself doesn’t necessarily establish liability. Plaintiffs in these cases have to show that this factor was a proximate cause of the child injury. In many situations, it comes down to the individual. This is why the level of supervision required for a 6-year-old would be much higher than it would be for a high school student.

In a recent case out of Connecticut, a mother is suing the school district, a gym teacher and a second-grade teacher after the child allegedly suffered serious injury to her arm during gym class while being directed to perform a gymnastics move.