Jacksonville Injury Attorney Blog
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A Jacksonville nursing home that our firm has sued on two occasions for causing the death of elderly residents has made the news for another death. As reported by Jacksonville’s Channel Four News , a resident at the Harts Harbor Health Care Center was hit in the head by another resident wielding a dresser drawer. The resident that struck him is reportedly suffers from dementia.

The victim suffered a very serious intracranial hematoma that required surgery.  Tragically, approximately three weeks after the incident, the man passed.  He was only 61 years old.

Nursing homes must be on the lookout for resident on resident violence, especially with residents suffering from dementia.  While some people suffering from dementia are very pleasant, others may exhibit aggressive behavior. Such behavior can be very uncharacteristic of the how the person acted before the onset of dementia.  Depending on the degree of dementia at issue, the person may not even be aware of the nature of his or her actions.

In cases like this, the nursing home must closely monitor the behavior of its residents suffering from dementia.  Often, aggressiveness caused by dementia will escalate over time, which may provide the nursing home the opportunity to catch the behavior before serious injuries occur.  An aggressive resident may not be a good fit in a nursing home environment, and, if other residents’ safety is being compromised, the aggressive resident must be placed elsewhere.

Resident on resident violence is a serious problem in nursing homes.  Several years back, a plaintiff received a judgment for $750,000.00 against a Jacksonville nursing home when a female resident was raped by another resident who had a long history of sexual misconduct.  Unfortunately, that judgment was never paid because shortly after the hard fought judment was received, the nursing home was transferred to new operators and the former company that owned was left essentially insolvent.

In this situation, it is unknown whether the aggressor had prior issues with violent behavior.  If that person demonstrated aggression or violence in the past, and the nursing home did nothing to prevent other residents from being assaulted, then Florida law will allow family members to seek a recovery for their emotional losses.

This incident has been reported to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), which oversees skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes in the state.  AHCA has previously fined this facility for insufficiencies regarding safety and resident care.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Five Star Rating system, Harts Harbor Health Care Center has an overall rating of four stars; however, it has only two out of five stars on “quality measures.”  Quality measures track things like: the prevalence of bed sores or pressure ulcers; the frequency that residents are injured in falls; the number of residents that report the onset of pain; and the rate of infections.

Both of the lawsuits our firm has handled against the Harts Harbor nursing home also resulted from the death of residents.  One action is currently pending. Continue reading

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Jacksonville has an alarmingly high number of driving under the influence convictions.  Using 2011 as an example, Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles provides there were 33,625 driving under the influence convictions in the state. The Jacksonville area had the third highest number of DUI convictions – 2,222. Only the Tampa area and Miami-Dade had more convictions, with 3,256 and 2,274 respectively.

Factoring in the much larger populations in those cities, it appears Jacksonville has the highest per capita DUI convictions of all large cities in the state.   Whether this means we have the highest number of drunk drivers on our roads or whether Jacksonville’s police and state attorneys are simply doing a better job is impossible to know.

This problem is reflected in our news nearly every week. For example, recently, a 21-year-old Jacksonville man was charged with the death of his friend in a crash on Loretto Road in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville. Police say the man was exceeding the speed limit and traveling at 47 to 60 mph in a 30-mph zone on a curve. Wet weather conditions added to the danger.

The car left the roadway and struck a tree.  The 22-year-old passenger was ejected and killed and the driver broke an arm and suffered other injuries. Police reported there were containers of alcohol at the scene and said the driver showed signs of impairment and smelled of alcohol. At first, the man admitted he was the driver but later claimed he was not, investigators said.

The driver has been charged charged with vehicular homicide, DUI-manslaughter, and knowingly operating a vehicle with a suspended license. We can only imagine that the grief, remorse and guilt will dwarf this young man’s criminal consequences, no matter how severe they may be.

The driver’s blood alcohol content tested at .23, according to the arrest report. The legal limit to drive in Florida is .08.  Intoxication at the level of .23 is associated with a laundry list of deficits including: nausea; blackout; emotional swings; severe motor skill impairment; drastically reduced reaction times; stupor; and loss of consciousness.

A host of laws have been enacted in the state in an effort to reduce drunk driving.  Despite these measures, the problem continues.  Years ago, the legal limit was reduced from .10 to .08.  In addition, fines and sentences have increased dramatically.   Due to public pressure, state attorneys are much less likely to agree to a plea arrangement that does not include a conviction for DUI.

Florida law mandates that any driver convicted of a second DUI must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.  The interlock prevents the car from being started unless the driver successfully blows a breathalizer connected to the engine’s ignition system.  A judge may order an interlock installed on a first conviction depending on the circumstances.  Perhaps this law be changed to include all first convictions.

Florida also has a “zero tolerance” policy for drivers under 21 who drink alcohol and get behind the wheel. Any driver under 21 who is stopped by police and has a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will automatically face the suspension of their drivers’ license for six months.

In addition to criminal consequences, drunk drivers face civil liability for wrongful death or injuries.  Unlike other debts, claims for injuries or death caused by drunk driving are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

 

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2016 is expected to be a year of significant changes in Florida’s homeowners’ insurance market.  The insurance market in Florida is changing quickly resulting in a lot of new insurers springing up, leading to the likelihood of a greater number of insurance disputes.

The shift was covered in a special report from A.M. Best. It noted how the market is shifting in Florida as Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (Citizens) – the state-run property insurance company- depopulates and moves its policyholders to the private market, which has resulted in the emergence of many new and untested, in-state insurers.

The A.M. Best report noted that while these new companies have seen sudden and fast growth as Citizens’ has shifted its market position, there is “significant risk as proper risk management, risk analytics and overall infrastructure to manage the growth are in some cases untested.”
This certainly raises the prospect of more inconsistencies and insurance disputes for the payment of insurance claims in Florida.

While Florida has not had many major storms in the past few years, it has been hit by other unique issues, including a rash of sink-hole claims. The Best’s Special Report, titled, “Florida Property Insurers Remain Untested: Will 2015 Be the Year?,” highlights how sink-hole losses, fast rising reinsurance costs and overall market conditions have prompted many larger, national carriers to reduce Florida property exposures. This may not be good news for policyholders. The increased involvement of smaller and less-experienced insurance companies has been seen since 2007.

The report identifies that a key component of how insurance companies analyze risk remains their exposure to hurricane loss and the recoveries of reinsured losses. A.M. Best stated many companies have a very high gross probable maximum loss. A stress test is also performed on the company’s capitalization that “measures the capital position post an event and its ability to absorb a subsequent event on its capitalization.”

In 2004, a series of four hurricanes caused significant insured property losses in Florida, with two of them causing damage in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. In the wake of hurricanes, insurance companies often seek to limit their exposure by denying or underpaying claims, leading to a spike in insurer bad faith and breach of contract lawsuits, as seen after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey in 2012.

Florida’s new insurers will be tested if and when Florida is next hit by a major hurricane. Jacksonville has not suffered a direct hit from a hurricane since Dora in 1964, but its rapid development in the 50 years since, means considerable property damage would be likely if another storm came ashore here.

There are many scenarios that can lead to disputes. Often an insurer will not offer fair value for property damage under a homeowners or an auto policy. An insurer may claim a policyholder intentionally caused a loss or has exaggerated the value of items destroyed.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, insurers found a number of ways to reduce claim payments. For instance, commercial property insurance policies provide for higher “named storm” or “hurricane” deductibles than standard deductibles. While Sandy at one time possessed hurricane characteristics, it lost those traits before making landfall, and the National Weather Service downgraded it to a post-tropical cyclone hours before it hit New Jersey. Some of the insurance companies tried to apply so-called “hurricane” or “named storm” deductibles to cover Sandy losses, despite the National Weather Service’s official classification of Sandy as a post-tropical cyclone when it hit land.

As with any purchase, consumers should make sure to do thorough research before buying an insurance policy. Always make sure to read the fine print. Because insurance disputes are normally resolved based on the language contained in the policy, you should be clear about the details of the policy and thoroughly understand your obligations as well as your rights.

Written by David Macauley
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Some nursing home operators are ethical and do their best to provide quality care.  Others; however, do their best to bill Medicare and Medicaid as much as possible while providing minimal, and often, substandard care.

It is necessary that lawyers prosecuting nursing home negligence cases, understand the interplay between billing fraud and negligent care.

Every nursing home is required to prepare “Minimum Data Set” assessments of each resident’s functional capabilities and health problems.  “Care area assessments” are part of the process and are used to develop individual care plans for each resident.  MDS assessments are required for all nursing home residents and are to be prepared on admission and updated regularly.

MDS assessments are a double-edged sword for nursing homes.  Medicare reimburses nursing homes based on the complexity of each resident’s medical needs as identified in the MDS assessments prepared by the nursing home. Hence, there is the financial incentive to maximize the amount of care each resident requires.  Here is the catch –  after requesting payment for a heightened level of care, and after receiving such payment, sometimes nursing homes fail to provide that care, resulting in injury or death to the resident.

Understanding MDS assessments and the billing that results is essential to prosecuting nursing home negligence.  Without knowing how to prove that the nursing home itself determined that certain care was necessary, the nursing home is free to claim the care at issue was not required.

It is not uncommon for nursing homes that face elder abuse allegations in Florida to also be investigated for Medicare and Medicaid billing fraud. In southern Florida, a nursing home chain that runs seven nursing homes in the Miami area has been accused of providing substandard healthcare to its residents.  Just six months ago, that same chain agreed to pay $21.5 million to settle federal civil charges that it defrauded Medicare and Medicaid.

A media review of the company looked at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) records since 2012 and found 191 documented deficiencies at the nonprofit’s seven nursing homes in Miami-Dade County.  The same nursing home chain was hit with $24,820 in federal and state penalties for violations at three of its nursing homes in the Miami area.  The chain was also the subject of whistle-blower litigation that was settled earlier this year.

The cited deficiencies involving nursing home neglect included: allowing a resident’s wound to worsen for nearly three weeks without contacting the resident’s doctor; and improperly inserting a catheter into a resident causing injury and extensive bleeding.  We suspect that a lack of training (a cost saving measure) is most likely the ultimate cause of the catheter injury.

The Miami Herald’s investigative report “Neglected to Death” provides an eye opening look at the terrible reality of life and death for many residents in Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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Theft from nursing home residents by nursing home employees is a very real concern.  These thefts tend to occur in two ways: 1. the diversion of narcotic medications; and 2) the theft of money or personal belongings.

Nurses and certified nurse assistants are no more immune to substance abuse problems than the rest of us.  The difference is, that when nurses are employed at nursing homes, they have the opportunity to steal residents’ medications.  Some nurses with substance abuse problems will actually gravitate to work in nursing homes for this reason.

Although there are strict measures in place to document each narcotic pill dispensed from the nursing home’s pharmacy, what ultimately happens with the pills is not as easy to control.  Nursing homes are required to maintain a “controlled substance log,” through which the dispensing of every single narcotic pill is documented with the signature of the receiving nurse.

From there, a nurse makes rounds with a medication cart and dispenses medications to each resident to whom the nurse is assigned.  It is easy to simply not provide a certain pill to a resident or to provide an over the counter replacement.

Some residents, especially those suffering from dementia, do not know that their medications have been diverted.  When they are handed several pills, they have no way to determine what was, or was not, provided.  Even if they are aware of the diversion, it is difficult for them to effectively communicate the problem to someone willing to listen.  A nurse’s motivation to divert narcotics include personal use or sale.

The result for the nursing home resident is unnecessary pain and a decreased quality of life.  Also, narcotic medication withdrawals can be life threatening and are easily misdiagnosed given that the resident’s chart will reflect that the medications were provided.

Theft of residents’ funds and personal property also occurs.  It can take a number of different forms. For instance, a staff member might steal a resident’s personal property or obtain information in order to withdraw money from the resident’s bank account.

Recently, a 30-year-old nursing assistant from Philadelphia was arrested when she returned from a vacation to Miami, Florida. Police claim the nursing assistant and another suspect stole a blank check from a deceased patient and wrote it out for more than $2,400, funding their vacation.

The nursing assistant is also alleged to have made four transactions using a credit card of another recently deceased resident of the nursing home.

 

Financial abuse can cause real misery for an elderly person and can be as distressing as physical abuse or neglect. Every year as many as 500,000 elderly people are victims of financial scams, and this abuse costs the elderly population up to $3 billion annually, according to NursingHomeAbuseGuide.org.

The opportunity for nursing home abuse and neglect continues to increase across the country as the elderly population continues to rise, especially with the aging of the “Baby Boomer” generation. According to statistics from to the National Center on Elder Abuse, more than a third of the country’s nursing homes have violated elder abuse laws.

That’s a staggering and alarming figure. Florida, with its large senior citizen population, is particularly vulnerable to elder abuse, yet Florida’s laws fall short of protecting nursing home residents.

For example, Florida Statutes require that nursing homes have professional liability insurance in the event of neglect that causes injury or death; however, the statute stops there: no minimum amount of coverage per claim is required. The result is that nursing homes purchase ridiculously minimal amounts of coverage, sometimes as little as $25,000.00 to be shared by however many injury or death claims that are made against the nursing home in the year.  Often, the insurance is purchased from a company owned by the nursing home’s parent company.  The result is that there is, in effect, no insurance at all.

Written by David Macaulay

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When we think of the dangers facing police officers, most of us think of violent or deadly confrontations with criminal suspects.  However, car accidents present the highest risk of injury or death to police officers.

In a recent incident, a Jacksonville police officer who was sitting in his car preparing an accident report was injured when his patrol vehicle was hit from behind on Interstate 295 between New Kings Road and Dunn Avenue.

The patrol car was hit while it was out of the lanes of traffic in the right emergency lane.  The driver apparently lost control and crashed into the rear of the patrol car as the officer was on a call for a single car crash with injuries. The vehicle that hit the patrol car bounced into the left barrier wall and ended up in the center of the interstate.

The police officer was taken to the Shands – UF Jacksonville hospital for treatment of his personal injuries. The driver that struck the patrol car suffered minor injuries and was  treated at the accident scene. Police are investigating whether there were any other factors that caused this accident.

Police officers and other emergency workers face daily dangers on the roads of Florida. That’s why the state enacted a “Move Over” law that is intended to protect first responders such as police, fire and ambulance crews

The “Move Over” law requires drivers to change lanes if possible to provide additional space between the officer and traffic.  For single lane roadways or in circumstances where changing lanes is not possible, drivers must reduce their speed to 20 miles-per-hour below the speed limit. If you are on a road where the speed limit is 20 mph or less, you are required to slow down to 5 mph.

The “Move Over” law was enacted to protect law enforcement and emergency workers from being hit by vehicles passing them at high speed. Drivers who are not in the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights should be prepared to allow other drivers to move over. We often think of laws like this as applying only to police officers or ambulance and fire officers, but it also applies to tow trucks with yellow flashing lights or other vehicles that may be stopped at the side of the road such as sanitation trucks.

If you fail to move over in compliance with the law, you are subject to being issued a ticket. You may receive 3 points on your license, and have to pay a fine. More importantly you will be putting the lives of emergency workers in danger and could be sued for injuries or fatalities that your actions cause.

Florida’s “Move Over” law at a Glance

When Driving on Multi-Lane Roads:

  • Drivers must move from the lane closest to the stationary emergency vehicle, tow truck, sanitation, or utility vehicle.
  • Drivers are required to slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit if they cannot move over safely.
  • Drivers who are not in the lane closest to the stationary vehicle should be prepared to allow those who are to move over into their lane

On Roadways with Only One Lane in Each Direction:

  • Drivers must slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
  • If the speed limit is 20 mph or less, drivers must travel at 5 mph

Written by David Macaulay

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Distracted driving has been highlighted by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles as the number one cause of accidents in the state and a more serious threat for causing injuries than drunk driving.  While Florida has a ban on texting while driving, a number of our legislators don’t believe it goes far enough in reducing distracted driving.

Florida’s texting-while-driving ban would be strengthened under a proposal filed this month by Sen. Thad Altman, from Rockledge, for the 2016 legislative session. His bill (SB 328) would ensure texting while driving is a “primary” offense – meaning police could pull over motorists who violate the ban without having any other reason to stop the driver.

Currently, as a “secondary” offense, drivers can only be cited for texting while driving if they are stopped for other reasons such as driving erratically or a headlight being out.

Another bill that was filed in August by Rep. Richard Stark, from Weston, would bring in stiffer penalties for motorists who text while driving in school zones or at school crossings. Stark’s bill seeks to double fines for drivers who violate the texting-while-driving ban in the designated school areas.

Although texting while driving is a primary offense in many states, previous attempts to strengthen the law have failed in Florida.  A number of other measures to crack down on cellphone use while driving have been submitted to the legislature but have also failed to be enacted into law.

Earlier this year, Rep. Mia Jones, from Jacksonville, and Sen. Audrey Gibson also from Jacksonville, submitted bills to completely outlaw cellphone use while driving, not just the text messaging banned under the current statute. The bills were unsuccessful. More than half a dozen bills have been introduced to combat distracted driving in Florida.

Local law enforcement officials and activists support the strengthening of the Florida’s distracted driving laws and building off the previous statute.

”We’ve allowed this to happen as a society. We’ve cracked down on drinking and driving, impaired driving, but we haven’t done anything about distracted driving,” said Jay Anderson, executive director and president of Stay Alive…Just Drive!  a distracted driving awareness group.

Florida lags behind many other states in the crackdown on texting at the wheel.  When the legislature passed the “Ban on Texting While Driving” law, Florida was the 41st state to outlaw text messages at the wheel.

The statute made it a secondary offense to use a cellphone to send or read a text message. As well as the concerns about it being a secondary offense, the law also only restricts texting while driving, not if a driver is stopped at traffic lights. Drivers can also be distracted by cellphones for everything from playing music to surfing social media sites to GPS navigation

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 14 states along with Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws.

While no states have a blanket ban on cell phone use for all drivers, 38 states and Washington D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers. Federal laws prevent truckers from using hand held cell phones. All but five of the 46 states that have banned texting while driving have a primary enforcement law.

Earlier this year, Jacksonville Mayor, Alvin Brown, signed a proclamation declaring April 3, 2015, as “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” Day. He asked all residents to help spread awareness against the dangers of texting while driving by signing a new pledge to end distracted driving. He issued new executive orders to promote best safety practices among city employees.

“We want our roads to be safe for everyone in our community,” said Mayor Brown. “Distracted drivers threaten not only their own safety, but also the safety of others. That’s why the city is leading by example, improving our driver certification process and bringing in outside experts to ensure that the welfare of our citizens and property is protected.”

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As reflected in some of our prior blogs, Jacksonville has some of the least pedestrian and bicycle friendly roadways in the nation and few of them are as deadly as the Arlington Expressway.

Recently, it has been announced that there are plans to make the Arlington Expressway safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  If the improvement happens, it won’t come a moment too soon. The expressway was built in 1953 and is vital to linking downtown with Arlington and the Jacksonville Beaches.

More than half a century ago, urban planners focused little towards pedestrians, and roadways were designed primarily with the interests of motorists in mind. That lack of vision has led the expressway to become a very concerning danger in recent years.  One of the main problems is that pedestrians have very few access points to safely cross the expressway.

From May 2010 to May 2015, as many as 100 car accidents per year were reported on the expressway, including three fatalities. During those five years, no fewer than 14 pedestrians were hit, including 10 on service roads for the expressway.

“I would sit here when I’m walking around patrolling, and I watch people with toddlers or whatever crawl between the fence and the pole and dodge traffic to get across,” Bucky Carver, who lives and works near the expressway. The road is so hazardous that officials have sought ways of keeping pedestrians away from part of the expressway that runs from University Boulevard down to Mill Creek Road, the area near the Regency Square Mall. Fences have proven to be of marginal benefit.

However, a preliminary study by the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization suggests an alternative plan that would entail a redesign of the expressway in which new bike lanes, sidewalks and other pedestrian friendly areas would be created on both sides of the highway.

The corridor study provides that Jacksonville’s first suburban freeway fails to meet today’s engineering standards as sidewalks are limited and there are few crosswalks. Moreover, the expressway divides communities and people want to be able to cross between them. The existence of as many as 65 vacant or under-utilized parcels of land gives space for features that could make the road safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The plan illustrates alternatives.  Alternative 1 calls for a six-lane highway with a 7-foot bike lane and an 8-foot sidewalk behind trees. Alternative 2 provides for three 12-foot traffic lanes and a 7-foot bike lane with sidewalks along the edge.

The regeneration of the area around the highway presents a number of distinct issues. One of them is the large number of boarded-up buildings where businesses have failed.  The expressway splits the area in two, and some planner think a new expressway would bring both sides together and would make businesses more profitable.

It would cost about $50 million to implement the changes referenced in the report, and it would take state and city approval before the construction can begin. Officials are yet to identify a funding source, but the study said improving the area could have a $178 million positive impact on local commerce.

Jacksonville is not a pedestrian or bicycle friendly city. In 2010, about 200 bicyclists or pedestrians were injured in motor vehicle accidents. This makes our city the third-most dangerous city in the United States for bicyclists and pedestrians. Arlington Expressway is typical of a roadway that lacks designated bike lanes and pedestrian features. Often bicyclists must ride on a sidewalk, which can lead to accidents. Many sidewalks are uneven or nonexistent and do not have curb cuts allowing for safe access on and off the sidewalk at intersections.  Continue reading

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The discovery of what federal investigators are calling an illegal commercial driver license scheme – that helped more than 600 people get Florida commercial drivers’ licenses without proper training – has raised new concerns about unqualified truckers on the highways of our state.

Many of the students in the scheme were Russian-speaking immigrants living in New York, Illinois, California and Virginia, according to federal-court documents.

Investigators say most of the drivers found out about the commercial license training through a now-defunct website — russiantruckingschool.com — and then traveled to Florida to obtain licenses to use back in their home state, according to federal court documents.

Authorities said it only took a few days to get a license through the school and usually cost each person between $2,000.00 and $5,000.00.

In July, United States Attorney, A. Lee Bentley, III, announced an indictment against four men with conspiracy to aid and abet the unlawful production of Florida drivers’ licenses and commercial drivers’ licenses (“CDLs”). If convicted on all counts, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.

The alleged scheme raises a number of concerns about truck accidents caused by these unqualified drivers and the liability of the carriers and employers hiring them.  As Jacksonville trucking accident lawyers, we have seen many instances in which trucking companies put drivers on the roads who should not have been there in the first place.

The evidence of the federal investigation is shocking due to its scope. The alleged scam involved more than 600 invalid commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs) issued in Florida — to Russian-speaking truck drivers who did not receive appropriate training.

Apart from this scam, we already face a multitude of problems with unfit truck drivers. Many of the drivers who cause truck accidents on the roads of Florida have legitimate commercial licenses but may be unfit to drive due to other reasons. These include:

Drunk Driving – a trucking company has a responsibility to check a driver for past offenses involving alcohol or drugs and federal regulations set out strict drug and alcohol testing rules and regulations for employees who drive commercial trucks and buses that require a commercial driver’s license.

Distracted Driving – cell phone use, texting, interacting with passengers and even surfing the internet have all resulted in unnecessary and avoidable trucking accidents.

Driving while Drowsy – As many as one in five accidents are caused by drowsy driving and driving hours longer than allowed and untreated sleep apnea are big issues in the trucking industry. Trucking companies are responsible for making sure their drivers take mandated breaks, stay within allowed maximum driving hours and do not have untreated conditions that can cause safety issues.

Speeding – Truckers are under a lot of pressure to make deliveries on time and may put their foot on the gas in an attempt to catch up. At a higher rate of speed there is less time for truckers to react to other drivers and road conditions. Speeding can also lead to potentially fatal blow outs of heavy truck tires. Between 2009 and 2013, heavy trucks and buses were responsible for 14,000 fatal accidents. According to government figures, 223 of those fatalities were related to heavy truck tires that failed.

Two catastrophic truck accidents in less than a month on I-16 near Savannah, Georgia, not far from the Florida line, earlier this year highlighted the dangers posed by big rigs. Each crash claimed the lives of five people on the Interstate.

Written by David Macaulay Continue reading

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Florida has a shortage of nursing home beds.  That is bad news for anyone who is in need of placing an elderly relative into the care of a nursing home. While Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration recently approved the addition of almost one thousand new beds, the state’s demand is outpacing supply at an alarming rate.  The result can lead to limited options for a family in need of nursing home care.

The number of nursing home beds in the state is strictly regulated and some nursing homes benefit tremendously by this.  Basic economics tells us that an artificial limit on supply is not good for consumers.  By keeping the number of beds low, homes providing inferior care still have plenty of residents – those residents often have no other options.

Earlier this year, the Agency for Health Care Administration estimated it needed 3,115 additional nursing home beds to serve Florida’s aging and disabled population, yet less than one thousand additional beds have been approved. Thankfully, most of the new approvals are in North and Central Florida. Before this month’s announcement, it had been more than a decade since the state issued certificates for new nursing home beds.

The 3,115 new nursing home beds to be added in the next few years in Florida will not be enough, according to Tony Marshall, an administrator with the Florida Health Care Association, an organization of the nursing home industry. He said Florida will need as many as 20,000 new beds in the next 20 years.

In situations like this, families can end up making unfortunate choices and putting their loved ones in facilities with poor records that can lead to them becoming the victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

According to statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse, 36 percent of the country’s nursing homes have violated elder abuse laws. These problems are particularly concerning in Florida, with its large population of retirees and senior citizens.  Several years ago, an investigation in the Miami Herald highlighted the widespread nature of abuse in Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities and uncovered a multitude of questionable deaths.

The Jacksonville metropolitan area has fifty-four nursing homes. In recent rankings issued by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, many of the Jacksonville area nursing homes received a low score in important areas, such as quality of care, quality of life, effectiveness of administration, providing appropriate food and drink, and treating their residents with respect and dignity. Alarmingly, as many as one-third of the nursing homes in the city of Jacksonville received a one-star inspection rating – the lowest rating possible.  Of course, low scores are a key indicator of the potential for neglect, injury and abuse in a nursing home.

If you or a family member has been mistreated, neglected, abused or injured at a nursing home or an assisted living facility, a Jacksonville nursing home neglect attorney can help you.  We are also happy to consult with you when you are in the process of making the decision about which nursing home to use.  Call us for a free consultation at (904) 632-0077.

Written by David Macauley