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American users of smartphones (which is almost everyone at this point) are rarely without these devices. According to Mashable Tech, the average person spends about three hours daily socializing on social network applications on their mobile devices – which is more than twice the amount of time they spend eating. Indeed, every passing thought – even mundane life experiences – have become the subject of user engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others. So it’s not at all surprising that jurors are tempted to post about the experience as it’s happening. After all, they do it with every other element in life. iphone1

The problem is that it can conflict with the constitutional right of parties in a lawsuit or criminal case to receive a trial by a jury that is both fair and impartial. Part of that means only considering the evidence presented to them in court. But when social media feedback and information on the case is readily available at their fingertips, some jurors find the temptation too much to avoid. The U.S. Supreme Court held in the 1982 case of Smith v. Phillips that it’s virtually impossible to shield jurors from every possible influence or contact that could theoretically affect their vote. Still, prejudicial influences and occurrences need to be prevented whenever possible. When they do occur, courts need to carefully examine the effect on the case and whether either party was deprived of fair proceedings as a result, which could be grounds for a new trial.

Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently grappled with this very issue in Murphy v. Roth, a personal injury lawsuit filed after a car accident involving plaintiff and defendant.  Continue reading

The man at the helm in the deadliest hot air balloon crash in U.S. history reportedly had at least four drunk driving convictions and had reportedly done two stints in prison, according to public records. hotairballoon6

Whether those facts had anything to do with the horrific crash remains under investigation.

Texas authorities and federal regulators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report all 16 people aboard were killed, including the pilot, Alfred  Nichols. It appears the balloon struck a live power line, caught fire and burst into flames. Continue reading

A Fourth of July boating accident in Florida has resulted in critical injuries for one 17-year-old boy in Fort Lauderdale. boating1

The teen has not been identified by authorities, but apparently, he was steering the vessel, measured at between 17- and 20-feet, when the vessel struck a sea wall.

Investigators say he was the only person aboard the vessel when it crashed, and it’s still unclear why the collision occurred. Responding units included the Fort Lauderdale fire department, police department land and nautical units and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard has launched its own investigation.

Those who purchase car insurance in Florida are not only obeying the law, they are being responsible motorists and citizens. That said, it’s entirely possible that the coverage you think you bought isn’t actually what you have.

Our Fort Myers car accident attorneys know the problem has to do with the various exclusions and limits that often lurk in the fine print. These exclusions limit who is covered under the policy and at what times and under which circumstances. In some cases, the details are complex. The good new is that if you challenge these exclusions in court and the judge finds the language of the policy to be ambiguous, the law requires the court issue a finding in your favor. drivefastsaab

The bad news is there are still plenty of exclusions the courts have upheld. One of the most common is the “family step-down provision.” This clause caps coverage to those who would otherwise be insured (usually live-in family members) to the statutory minimum, rather than your policy limit.

A personal injury lawsuit will not be allowed to proceed after a court found the plaintiff had improperly engaged in “claim-splitting,” a process barred by nearly every court in the country. parking

In the case of Carpenter v. Kenneth Thompson Builder, Inc., it doesn’t appear the plaintiff acted with any maliciousness. Rather, the actions reflect a last-ditch effort to ensure all relevant defendants were included in the litigation. A big part of the problem, however, was that attorneys waited until the last minute to file an amended complaint. When it became clear a hearing on the matter wouldn’t be held prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations on the claim, a second lawsuit was filed, followed with a request to join the two cases.

However, our West Palm Beach injury lawyers understand the end result was that both cases were dismissed for impermissible claim-splitting. The whole fiasco likely could have been avoided if the complaint had been amended sooner, particularly given the fact that attorneys were aware of the secondary defendants’ identities a year in advance of the statute of limitations expiration.