Anyone can catch a cold year-round, but people are most susceptible to the common cold during the winter months, as colder, drier air more easily spreads germs among those indoors. Most people don’t think much of going about their day with the common cold. However, research suggests that if you are sick, you may be a danger to yourself and others on the road.medicine

For example, one study by the Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre in the U.K. reports that concentration when one is driving with a bad cold or a flu is lowered by 50 percent. To put that into perspective: That’s like drinking four double whiskey shots. Researchers studying the effects of being ill on reaction times behind the wheel discovered that sudden braking became increasingly common among sick drivers, who were much less aware of their surroundings. Instances of drivers hitting the curb went up by a third, as drivers were also apparently less capable of accurately judging the distance. A heavy cold, researchers say, impacts a motorist’s mood, judgment and concentration – all of which play a central role in safe driving.

Aside from this, there are numerous cases of drivers who are impaired by medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – to treat colds, the flu and other conditions. Just recently in South Carolina, a woman was criminally prosecuted in Kranchick v. State for driving impaired on cold medication, which resulted in her losing control of her vehicle on the highway, slamming into a tractor trailer and a smaller truck, killing that vehicle’s driver and seriously injuring a passenger and the tractor-trailer driver.  Continue reading

An expert witness in a wrongful death lawsuit was not properly vetted by the trial court before making key assertions about decedent’s cause of death, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled. That means the plaintiff, who alleged her teen daughter died due to medical malpractice, will get another chance to make her case at trial.doctor

In Florida, there is no licensing or professional training one has to obtain in order to qualify as an expert witness. However, just having general knowledge isn’t enough either. Courts have established that individuals may be competent to provide expert witness testimony in a subject if they are qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education. Other considerations could include continuing education, fellowships and professional affiliations. The competency and qualifications of an expert witness are to be determined by the trial judge, and unless one can show there was a clear error in the judge’s discretion, that determination won’t be reversed.

The case of Hall v. Flannery involves the tragic death of a 17-year-old girl. When she was just 5-months-old, she was dropped and suffered a skull fracture. That fracture expanded over time and a cyst later formed. The fracture and cyst weren’t problematic for her until she turned 17. She suffered a blow to the head and, as a result, lost consciousness and later reported blurred vision and dizziness. CT and MRI scans revealed the full extent of the fracture and cyst. Continue reading

Florida law generally does not allow defendants in personal injury lawsuits to present evidence of collateral benefits plaintiffs receive from third parties. These would include benefits like health insurance or workers’ compensation. The concern is that such evidence might confuse the jury. Still, F.S. 768.76 requires judges to reduce the jury’s verdict by any collateral source benefits received by the plaintiff, except in cases where there is a reimbursement or subrogation right. Further, the statute specifically states that benefits received under federal programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, aren’t considered collateral sources. doctor

Still, evidence that a person qualifies for Medicare or Medicaid is typically deemed highly prejudicial, so it’s not usually admissible. The 1984 case of Florida Physician’s Insurance Reciprocal v. Stanley did allow for one narrow exception, which is that defendants can introduce evidence of low-cost or free governmental and charitable programs that are available in the community to cover portion’s of a person’s health care costs. However, courts in this state had struggled since then with whether future Medicare and Medicaid benefits should be admissible. It was only last year, in the case of Joerg v. State Farm, that the Florida Supreme Court drew a line in the sand: Defendants are not allowed to introduce collateral source benefits a plaintiff might receive in the future from Medicare or Medicaid. The rationale is that there is no guarantee a plaintiff can for sure count on these programs in the future.

Recently, the Delaware Supreme Court held that, just like in Florida, Medicare and Medicaid write-offs do not fall under the collateral source rule. However, the court also held that future medical expenses were not subject to Medicaid reimbursement limitations.  Continue reading

The number of people dying due to teen driver negligence is on the rise for the first time in a decade, reports the AAA automobile club and the Governors Highway Safety Association. In fact, this figure has shot up 10 percent in just a year. teen

This increase follows 10 years in which the number of people killed in teen driver crashes had been slashed by half. In the last five years, AAA reports, teen drivers were involved in some 14,000 fatal crashes. More than 1 in 3 involved speeding. The number killed in those crashes rose from 4,272 in 2014 to 4,689 in 2015. Rewind to 2005, and fatalities in teen car accidents was at 8,241.

It’s not exactly clear what’s behind this increase, though safety advocates blame an increasing number of crashes involving speed and driver distraction (mostly from texting or talking on cell phones).  Continue reading

Florida is a major tourism industry hub, drawing more than $80 billion a year. Hotels, motels, resorts and other property owners get a huge chunk of that. In return, they are expected to provide a reasonably safe space for guests. Courts have grappled with how to define this, though, and there is no clear, brightline rule. Typically, the courts will take into account the foreseeability of a certain accident or injury, based on whether it’s happened before or whether the circumstances make it likely. shower

In the recent case of Goodwin v. Al J. Schneider Co., the Kentucky Supreme Court was asked to weigh in on whether a hotel was liable for the slip-and-fall injury suffered by a guest in a shower that was not equipped with a bath mat, as showers in other suites were.

According to court records, it was not disputed that plaintiff and his wife were attending a convention in August 2011 and stayed at defendant hotel. The day after they arrived, plaintiff slipped and fell as he was exiting the shower. As a result, he suffered injury to his knee. The bathtub was equipped with a “grab bar,” but it did not have a bathmat. After the fall, staffers at the hotel provided him with a bathmat. Later, plaintiff learned from other attendees at the convention that their rooms were equipped with bath mats.  Continue reading

As we head into the holiday season, many individuals and families will be hosting gatherings where they will invite loved ones, friends and acquaintances. Party hosts should be aware that when they invite people onto their property, they assume a degree of responsibility for the safety of those guests – in some cases even after they leave.beers

There are two primary avenues for this: General premises liability law and social host/ dram shop law. General premises liability holds that property owners/ those in charge of a property owe a duty of care to those who are welcomed there to ensure they are reasonably safe. Then there are social host liability/ dram shop laws. F.S. 768.125 holds that persons who sell or furnish alcohol to persons who are not of lawful drinking age or who are known to be habitually addicted to alcohol can be liable for damages caused by or resulting from that person’s intoxication. Most often, this occurs in the form of drunk driving accident, but it could be applied to other scenarios as well.

The recent case of Rogers v. Martin, recently before the Indiana Supreme Court, involved a party guest who was killed in a drunken brawl at the end of a house party. Questions arose about the owner’s responsibility for his safety, as well as her liability for allegedly “furnishing”alcohol to the other person involved in the fight. Continue reading

Since the Graves Amendment was enacted into federal law, rental car companies have been able to evade any vicarious liability for the negligent actions of their drivers. That means if you’re injured by someone driving a rental car, you can’t hold the owner of the vehicle responsible (as you normally would be able to under Florida law) unless the company was in some way directly liable for the accident.car inside

What’s perhaps even more troubling is that there is no federal requirement mandating that vehicle renters purchase liability coverage on that vehicle. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for rental car companies to rent out their fleet to motorists who are not insured.

This means those injured by uninsured renters may find themselves with little recourse – unless they have uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. This was the scenario in the recent case of Martin v. Powers, weighed by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Here, plaintiff was battling his UM/UIM carrier because the company refused to find a rental vehicle “uninsured/ underinsured” for purposes of the policy. True, the vehicle was owned by a large, wealthy company. The problem was the only insurance to which plaintiff was entitled was a $25,000 liability policy maintained by the allegedly drunk driver – and that company wouldn’t pay either because it asserted the injury was intentionally inflicted. Continue reading

A South Florida cardiologist is seeking to recover damages for devastating injuries he reportedly suffered during a botched electroshock therapy session. According to Courtroom View Network, plaintiff in Dadi v. Sharma is asking defendant psychiatrist to pay $27 million in damages. electricity

During opening statements, as broadcast gavel-to-gavel by CVN, plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorneys explained how he was a nuclear cardiologist. He fluently spoke five languages. Now, as a result of the substandard care he received from defendant, he is unable to even practice medicine. He is unable to remember the movie he last watched, let alone read and comprehend a medical journal.

Plaintiff’s attorney described his brain injury as both severe and profound.  Continue reading

Generally speaking, Florida state courts have the authority and the jurisdiction to oversee civil lawsuits pertaining to car accidents that happen in this state. However, as the recent case of Erie Insurance v. Larose reveals, a tricky matter of personal jurisdiction of an insurer may force a plaintiff to pursue their claim in a federal courtroom.car accident

In the Larose case, the question was whether an out-of-state auto insurance company that issued a policy to an insured out-of-state:

  • Met the criteria for Florida’s long-arm jurisdiction statute in F.S. 48.193;
  • Had a sufficient number of contacts with Florida so that subjecting it to jurisdiction in Florida courts wouldn’t offend constitutional due process.

While the court found Florida’s long-arm statute was applicable, it could not find that plaintiff proved defendant had a sufficient number of Florida contacts. Continue reading

Over the course of five years, electronics retail giant Best Buy sold hundreds of recalled products to customers off store shelves and online – a violation of federal law, as well as a serious risk to unwitting customers. shopping cart

Now, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the imposition of a $3.8 million penalty to settle those charges. The recalled products sold – approximately 600 in all between September 2010 and October 2015 – included cameras, computers and washing machines.

Officials say it appeared there was some type of break down in communication and procedure at the firm, which failed in its duty to implement policies and procedures that would allow staffers to quickly and accurately identify recalled products, quarantine them and then prevent sales. Although the settlement is not an admission of guilt, a representative from the company released an e-mail statement expressing regret that any of products it sold were under recall. He conceded that there were a number of recalled items sold, but insisted it was a “small number.” Still, he added, selling even one recalled product is one too many.  Continue reading