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Nine residents of a Miami, Florida, nursing home suffered death by agonizing heat distress after Hurricane Irma interrupted the supply of electricity to the nursing home.  The people who lost their lives ranged in age from 71 to 99.  Many other residents were treated for dehydration, breathing difficulties and other heat related issues.

For days following the hurricane, the nursing home’s residents were left in Miami’s sweltering heat and humidity.  The day after the hurricane passed, the temperature rose to 98 degrees.  The fallout from this tragedy is just beginning as the deaths were entirely preventable. A criminal investigation is ongoing and civil damages are likely to exceed $10,000,000.00.

Following Hurricane Wilma in 2005, it became abundantly clear that nursing homes in the state needed to have a backup source of electricity in the event weather conditions cause an interruption of power.  In 2006, legislation was proposed to require that all nursing homes in the state have generators able to cool and run their facilities.  Of course, providing this level of resident safety and comfort came with a price tag.  The nursing home industry successfully lobbied against the bill. Now that there has been a tragedy of this magnitude it is likely that similar legislation will pass.

It should not require legislation for nursing homes to obtain backup electrical power.  Common sense dictates that the loss of air conditioning alone creates life-threatening circumstances for the elderly and infirm.  If a nursing home operator is being paid to provide a safe environment for its residents, it is axiomatic that the operator should make the investment necessary to provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity.

Nursing home operators claim that they operate on slim profits due to the limited amount they receive from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  However, for the most part, this is not the case.  While balance sheets can make it look like there is little profit to the nursing home owners, many of the listed “expenses” for rent, consulting services, and management services are paid to corporations owned by the same people that own the nursing home itself.  With the average nursing home profiting well over $1,0000,000.00 per year, there are certainly enough funds to finance a backup generator system.

It is my hope that the families of these victims obtain a full measure of civil justice.  With large payments to the families, perhaps this nursing home operator and others will realize that, even if they do not feel morally obligated to provide a safe environment, the short term financial savings in not doing so are outweighed by the legal claims that result.  Continue reading

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On June 28, 2017, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 1215 titled, Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017.  Among other provisions in this bill is a limit on non-economic damages that can be recovered from a nursing home that accepts Medicare or Medicaid funds.  This encompasses essentially all nursing homes.  The bill will become law if passed by the Senate by a simple majority.  With the republican majority in the Senate and, with tort reform being a battle-cry campaign platform for the Republican party, the chances of this bill passing are a real concern.

What are the effects of this bill?

Non-economic damages compensate a person for the emotional harm he or she has suffered.  Non-economic damages do not include medical bills, funeral costs or lost wages that might result from injuries caused by neglect.   Economic losses are not subject to any cap or limitation and, under this bill, would remain uncapped.  With nursing home residents, this provides little assistance as there is almost never a lost wage claim given the age and infirmity of the residents.  Further, the medical bills resulting from injuries caused by neglect are typically paid by Medicare or Medicaid, and any sums recovered for medical bills must be turned over to the government.  As such, practically speaking, non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering) provide the only recovery that can compensate an injured victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.

Currently, the pain and suffering damages are uncapped.  If a jury is horrified by neglect or abuse, it can render a verdict that provides incentive for the nursing home to provide quality care for its residents.  Without this “check and balance” in place, the nursing homes’ financial incentive will be to minimize their costs.  As the single largest expense of operating a nursing home is staffing, an incentive to lower costs translates into fewer nurses and nurse assistants available to provide care.

The Practical Effects of a $250,000.00 Cap

At first blush, $250,000.00 may sound like a lot of money.  However, it is necessary to keep in mind that this is the worst case scenario for a negligent nursing home operator.  Why would the operator voluntarily agree to pay its worst day?  Rather, in all but the most egregious cases, the operator will offer only a fraction of that amount.  One reason for this is that they know going to trial is nearly impossible for the plaintiff’s attorney with such a cap in place.

Even if we were to achieve a verdict of $250,000.00 at trial, the years of work and tremendous amount of time we spend on these case make such a recovery unprofitable.  Add to that the uncertainty of winning when we decide to take a case and it quickly becomes obvious that agreeing to handle a nursing home neglect case is a poor business decision.

Some specifics may flesh this out.  Abuse or neglect in nursing homes almost always start at the top with a corporate culture of saving money at the expense of resident care.  This is typically done by under-staffing the nursing home leaving nurses and nurse assistants with more work than can be done during their shifts.  In order to prove that under-staffing is the root cause of neglect, we must perform a very thorough investigation.  The time records of every nurse and cna must be evaluation and matched with the shifts in question.  In addition, the census and overall acuity of the health needs of the nursing home residents must be considered.  Multiple expert witnesses are needed to perform this analysis, each with a hefty price.  Further, nursing home operators fight tooth and nail to try to keep the time records and budget information from being provided to us, creating delay and additional expense.

As an example, in a recent case, our law firm spent approximately $150,000.00 on experts and litigation expenses – this figure includes nothing the reflect the value of the time we spent on the case.  We worked on the case for four years.  The result of our work was nothing short of alarming – the nursing home understaffed the facility by: having employees listed as working when they were not; counting nurse managers as providing hands on care when they did not do so; and having a system in place designed to staff the facility at the bare minimums regardless of the overall complexity of the health needs of the facility’s residents.  Only upon the discovery of this damming information was the case was settled for a fair amount.  With the cap in place, we could not have done the investigation and we never would have uncovered the nefarious reason why the nursing staff failed to provide sufficient care.  Simply put, with the cap in place, we cannot prosecute these claims.

Nursing home neglect is a serious problem.  Capping damages decreases the incentive to provide quality care as plaintiff’s lawyers will no longer investigate these incidents.  With the aging of our country, this is the last thing Americans should support.  Continue reading

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Sexual abuse in nursing homes is a sad occurrence.  A CNN  investigation concluded that between the years of 2013 and 2016, the federal government cited over one thousand nursing homes failing to prevent, or otherwise mishandling, allegations of sexual abuse including rape. Even more disturbing is that nearly every instance of sexual abuse is preventable if nursing homes are properly staffed and if employees and residents are properly vetted and supervised.

Several years ago here in Jacksonville, a $750,000.00 verdict was rendered against a nursing home as a result of a female resident being sexually assaulted by a male resident.  The male resident had criminal record for past sexual crimes.  What is worse is that there were also complaints that he was engaging in inappropriate aggressive and sexual behavior at the nursing home before the rape occurred.

Many residents of nursing homes are unable to protect themselves due to dementia or physical limitations, or both.  This makes them vulnerable to resident on resident sexual abuse and abuse from nursing home employees.

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Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) enacted a federal regulation banning the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements for nursing home residents.  Through such an arbitration agreement, a nursing home resident agrees to give up his or her right to have any disputes, including those related to injuries resulting from abuse or neglect, resolved by a jury.  Instead, one or more arbitrators will decide the outcome.  The arbitrators are usually attorneys who have practiced in the field of healthcare related injuries.

Awards in arbitration cases are often more limited than those provided by juries.  This results in part due to the fact that the discovery allowed in arbitrated cases is much more limited than in a lawsuit.  As a result, the most damming of evidence is often never found.  This is because much of the nursing home neglect that occurs is not the result of a simple mistake by a nurse or nursing assistant.  Instead, nursing home neglect usually results from a corporation’s systemic effort to cut staffing, training and supplies to a bare minimum in order to maximize profits. Without the ability to conduct thorough discovery, this type of information cannot be uncovered.  As a result, a full measure of justice is often avoided by a neglectful nursing home if the case is arbitrated.

In November of 2017, we reported that a federal court ruled that CMS’ rule banning arbitration agreements was invalid as it overstepped the rule-making authority of CMS. In short, an agency is entitled to make regulations for the implementation of laws provided the rules are consistent with the authority granted by the legislation.  However, an agency cannot create rules beyond the scope of that authority.

The federal court’s decision was on appeal at the time CMS enacted the new rules.  The new rules essentially render the appeal moot as the new regulations remove the ban on pre-dispute arbitration agreements.  This is unfortunate for nursing home residents.

The new rules do provide some additional measures a nursing home must take in order for an arbitration agreement to be binding; however, these measures are more form than function. The new measures include:

  1.  The arbitration agreement must be in plain language;
  2. If signing the agreement is a condition of admission, the agreement must make that clear;
  3.  The arbitration agreement must be explained “in a form and manner” understandable to the resident;
  4.  The resident acknowledges that he or she understands the agreement; and
  5. The nursing home must post a notice in a visible area advising of its use of arbitration agreements.

These additional requirements do little to help.  For the most part, they mirror already existing case law that our lawyers use to challenge the enforceability of a nursing home arbitration agreement.  Further, the requirement that the resident acknowledge understanding the agreement will likely be addressed by a signature line next to a sentence that affirms something to the tune of “I understand the terms of this agreement and I willingly and knowingly enter into the agreement.  I have been provided the opportunity to ask questions about the agreement and to consult with a lawyer regarding the agreement.”

Since these forms are routinely signed as part of a volume of admission documents that are all signed at once, adding such a signature line actually does nothing to demonstrate the resident understood the agreement at all.  Illustratively, it is estimated that fifty percent or more of nursing home residents suffer from some degree of dementia.

It appears that federal legislation will be necessary if pre-dispute arbitration agreements are going to be banned for nursing home residents. With the current makeup of Congress, this is not likely to happen anytime soon.

If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, we encourage you to call Florida’s Department of Children and Families’ hotline at 1(800)962-2873.

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Since 1976, Florida law has required that all vehicle owners purchase personal injury protection insurance coverage.  Personal injury protection (commonly called “PIP”) coverage provides medical and lost wage benefits for people injured in car accidents.  PIP coverage, also referred to a “no-fault” coverage, applies to injuries suffered by the vehicle owner and occupants in the vehicle regardless of fault.  In other words, your own auto insurer pays for up to $10,000.00 for your medical expenses and lost wages even if another driver was at fault for causing the car accident.

By requiring these benefits, Florida’s PIP statute prevents injured persons from seeking reimbursement for pain and suffering unless the person suffered a permanent injury, the loss of an “important bodily function,” significant scarring, or death.  In other words, if you suffered injuries in a car accident but eventually returned to normal, an at fault driver and his or her auto insurance company are only obligated to pay any unpaid medical bills or lost wages.

Concerns have arisen that PIP has provided fertile ground for insurance fraud by medical providers and unscrupulous accident “victims” charging for unnecessary medical care.  The cost for PIP coverage, which can duplicate health insurance benefits that most Floridians now have, was also a concern.

During Florida’s most recent legislative session, House Bill 461 was introduced to repeal and replace Florida’s PIP law.  Instead of requiring PIP coverage, the bill, if enacted as law, would require that every vehicle owner carry bodily injury coverage of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 in aggregate bodily injury coverage if two or more persons are injured.  Currently, Florida law does not require that vehicle owners carry any bodily injury coverage at all.  It was estimated that, if enacted, repealing PIP would save Florida car owners approximately $80.00 annually.

Florida personal injury car accident lawyers are mixed on the idea.  The existing PIP framework allows for injured persons to have their medical expenses and lost wages paid.  This makes it easier for them to obtain medical care, especially for those who do not have health insurance.  Also, medical bills paid by PIP do not have to be paid back to the client’s auto insurer if the client receives a financial recovery from the at-fault driver’s insurer.

On the other hand, people who have suffered serious injuries sometimes lose their case because a jury does not agree that the person has suffered a permanent injury.  This most commonly arises with injuries to intervertebral discs. Spinal discs tend to degenerate over time and can be likened to brake pads that eventually wear out.  Some people who have never suffered an  accident or any trauma of significance have herniated or bulging discs.  Because of this, the presence of a herniated or bulging disc identified on an MRI is not the same as an x-ray that shows a person suffered a broken bone in an accident.

Insurers hire doctors of their own choosing who routinely testify that herniated or bulging discs were not caused by an accident. Unfortunately, the car insurers do this in almost every disc injury case even if the injured person never previously suffered from neck or back pain in their entire life prior to the car accident.

The result can be very unfair.  A jury may very well check the “no” box on the verdict form indicating a legitimately injured claimant suffered no permanent injury, which then results in a loss and subjects that person to a judgment for the insurer’s significant court costs.

If PIP is repealed, the “permanency” threshold will not apply, and jurors will simply award the amount of compensation to which a person is entitled, assuming the jury finds the other driver to be at fault for causing the accident.

For the time being, Florida’s PIP laws will remain in place as the House bill died during the legislative session as the Senate failed to vote on it before the session ended.  Similar bills will certainly be proposed in the future.  Continue reading

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You’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. You’re understandably mad, so you might yell and wave your fist. But that’s not always where it stops. For many drivers, emotions continue to escalate.

Nationally, incidents of road rage are on the rise.  A recent study from AAA shows 80 percent of drivers admit to expressing significant aggression, anger or road rage in the past year. The same study shows that men are more likely than women to express aggression on the road and that 56 percent of fatal accidents involve at least one form of aggressive driving.

Road rage behavior includes tailgating, blocking and cutting off other drivers and repeated horn honking. All of these can lead to car accidents, injuries and even death.

Earlier this year in Jacksonville, a trucker from New Jersey was shot and killed by another truck driver due to road rage resulting from an earlier traffic confrontation.

Truckers often warn passenger vehicle drivers about the dangers of cutting them off because they simply cannot stop in time to avoid a collision. Not only are they extremely heavy and hard to stop, hitting the brakes hard causes the braking system to dysfunction and can shift the truck’s load out of balance.

Car accidents caused by road rage are not uncommon in Jacksonville, especially since many roadways are congested due to what seems like never-ending construction. Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of road rage, here a few tips to keep you safe:

  • Move over is someone is tailgating you and travel in the right lane if you are driving slower than other traffic.
  • Never engage with someone who has yelled or gestured at you. Most of the time, the person who is angry is not thinking rationally, so trying to engage with them won’t work out well.
  • Use an “I’m sorry” gesture if you accidentally do something offensive to another driver.
  • If an angry driver is following you, don’t pull over and don’t drive home. Instead, call 911 and drive to a fire or police station, or public place like a shopping mall for help.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. Running late causes anxiety and impatience.
  • Listen to soothing music and relax your shoulders when driving.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the woman trying to get over to the far right lane is rushing a child to the emergency room.
  • Be mindful of other drivers and always use your turn signal.
  • Lay off the horn. Excessive honking stresses drivers.
  • Don’t be distracted by anything. Checking your phone, putting on makeup, texting, even eating, don’t mix well with driving.
  • Don’t tailgate. Follow at a safe distance – allow 10 feet for every 10 mph you are traveling. So if you are going 60 mph, there should be 60 feet between you and car ahead.
  • If you you notice dangerous or aggressive driving, have a passenger write down the license plate number, date, time, and road you are on and contact the Florida Highway Patrol by dialing *FHP. The best people to handle bad drivers are law enforcement professionals

Written by Elizabeth Allen. Continue reading

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It’s not hard to find information about how to select a nursing home, but once you’ve made a choice, how can you make sure the facility is treating your mom, dad or relative well?

The number-one way to find out is simply to be there. Just like it made sense to be involved at your child’s school, it also makes sense to be involved in your parent’s nursing home care. So make regular visits and most of all, be an advocate for your loved one.  If something doesn’t seem right, speak up.

In many cases, being more involved and acting as an advocate for your loved one can make a big difference. But sometimes conditions don’t improve and residents suffer the consequences.  We see this far too often and our lawyers have brought injury or death claims against nearly every one-star rated nursing home in the Jacksonville area.

Pay attention to these important aspects of care to help protect your loved one:

Nutrition is critical for an elderly person. As people age, the number of effective taste buds decreases, so they often lose interest in food and it becomes harder to get the nutrients they need. Because of this, it’s important that food is presented in a visually appetizing way and patients should have a variety of healthy choices at each meal, along with healthy snacks.

Have a meal with your loved one on a regular basis at the nursing home and pay attention to how much your loved one is eating. If they are not eating much, talk to the dietary staff about making some modifications so they can get better nutrition.

How does the staff treat each other? A harmonious work environment usually translates to better care and concern for patients. If the nursing home’s staff doesn’t seem to work as a team and you overhear yelling and harsh words, it may be a sign that they treat patients the same way.

How do staff members interact with patients? Nurses and certified nurses’ assistants should treat patients in a positive and encouraging way. Knocking before entering and calling them by name should be the norm.  A good nursing home will encourage staff to ask each patient how he or she would like to be addressed.

How does the home smell? Of course, there may be some unpleasant smells in any nursing home. Medications, special foods, and even cleaning supplies can emit odors. If the home smells badly every time you are there, and you notice a stale urine or fecal smell, it could mean that the staff is not tending to residents’ needs that can lead to a whole host of other problems.

How does the staff handle a fall? If a resident falls, take notice of what happens next. Do they check the patient carefully to see if they have any injuries? Do they take the time to comfort the patient and make sure he or she is okay? Hallways should be uncluttered with plenty of room for patients to walk.

How do residents spend their free time? A quality nursing home will have activities for residents to engage in if they so choose. Card games, bingo or simply having group discussions are good ways for patients to keep their minds sharp. For patients who are able, it’s good for them to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. For patients who are room-bound, activities should be brought to them.

Interact with management. If you notice something seems out of place, bring it to the nurse unit manager’s attention. If that doesn’t work, escalate your concern to the director of nursing or the administrator. A good nursing home will take your concerns into consideration and make improvements.

If you’re like most people who lead busy lives and you simply don’t have time to visit frequently, enlist the help of other family members. The more advocates a nursing home resident has, the better.

Written by Elizabeth Allen
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Approximately 20% of Florida’s population is over the age of 65. With Florida being a haven for retirees, the need for nursing home beds is on the rise.  However, the state does not currently allow free market forces to control whether new nursing homes are constructed.   Instead, in order to open a new nursing home, or enlarge an existing nursing home, a lengthy “certificate of need” process documenting the need for additional beds must be completed.  Furthermore, the State of Florida enacted a moratorium on any new nursing home beds (regardless of need) from 2001 through 2014. Finally, in 2014, a scant 3,750 new nursing home beds were allowed.

The Florida legislature is now considering repealing the entire certificate of need process allowing free market forces to determine how many nursing home beds are available.  The nursing home industry, represented by the Florida Health Care Association, is lobbying hard against doing away with the certificate of need process.  Why?  Because increased competition will narrow profit margins.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides a five star rating system for nursing homes.  Due to the lack of beds, the one star facilities typically have occupancy rates above 90%.  When there are not available beds in the five star facilities, the facilities providing substandard care fill up.  Our attorneys have brought claims for negligence causing death or injury against 8 of the 10 one star nursing homes in Jacksonville – Duval County.  In comparison, we have never had to bring a claim against a single five star facility.

Newer, nicer nursing homes will take residents from existing older facilities – which is exactly how it should be.  The industry’s position in this regard is not well disguised.  The Florida Heath Care association says that repealing the certificate of need process would lead to an increase in empty beds in “long-established” facilities.  Feel free to insert the words “old,” “out of date” or “no longer desirable to consumers” for “long-established.”  What the industry is saying is that consumers will choose newer, nicer facilities over the old ones. That is a bad thing?

In what industry is a lack of competition good for consumers? Imagine if car manufacturers were not allowed to create new models and sell the new cars in whatever quantity consumers desired.  Instead, the buyers could only choose from a limited number of outdated models.  Prices would be high and quality stymied.   While that sounds preposterous, that is the framework in which the nursing home industry in Florida operates.

Contrary to the nursing home industry’s claims, nursing homes are very profitable.  They are not providing a community service on the brink of bankruptcy.  Every time our lawyers investigate the financial status of for-profit nursing homes in the Jacksonville area, we find they operate with significant profits, much of it hidden from view in the form of “management fees” paid to a related company or outlandish rent paid to a related company that owns the nursing home building.  By doing so, their balance sheet appears to reflect limited or no profit.  Its no more complicated than a hustler’s shell game.

The sponsor of the House bill to do away with the certificate of need process, Alex Miller from Sarasota, details that the current process does not improve the quality of nursing home care, does not improve access and does not control costs.

The nursing home industry claims (apparently with a straight face) that adding more nursing homes will require them to compete for nurses resulting in decreased staffing.  What this really means is that the nurses lose right alongside the consumers.  Competition for nurses is good for nurses’ pay and working conditions – the same way it is very every other occupation.  Further, who provides data to show that the number of licensed nurses is too few to staff additional nursing homes?  No one.  Even if somehow new nursing homes created a void of nurses (which it would not), why wouldn’t free market forces result in more people getting a nursing degree?

In short, the certificate of need process was never a good idea.  Regulations designed to decrease competition have never been good for consumers and never will be.   Continue reading

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Clostridium difficile (commonly referred to as “C diff”), is a bacteria that is a common cause of severe illness in hospital and nursing home settings.  C diff is found naturally in many healthy peoples’ digestive tract, and, in such cases, it does not pose a health risk as the c diff bacteria are kept in check by the many other types of intestinal bacteria.

There are over 1000 types of bacteria commonly found in the human digestive system.  They serve an essential purpose in digestion and the various bacteria have symbiotic relationships among themselves. Some bacteria naturally create waste which can be toxic.  If unchecked by the other bacteria, the toxic buildup can cause severe illness.

C diff infections often occur after someone has been provided a broad spectrum antibiotic.  The use of antibiotics is common when a person undergoes surgery in order to prevent a post-surgical infection. Since many people, especially the elderly and infirm, reside in a nursing home after surgery to recuperate and receive physical therapy, a c diff infection will often appear at the nursing home.

C diff infections can also occur when someone requires a feeding tube.  A gastric tube (or “g tube”) is used to provide a liquefied diet, rich in nutrients, directly into the person’s small intestine where it is quickly absorbed.  However, when on such a diet, the large intestine is deprived of fiber, starches and sugar which can lead to the reduction of healthy bacteria.  A niche is left for c diff to run rampant as it is no longer kept in check by the other bacteria.

Similarly, total parenteral nutrition (“TPN”) or intravenous feeding, in which the person is fed intravenously, can cause the exact same problem.  Again, this is a common scenario in the nursing home environment as persons with feeding tubes or intravenous feeding typically require significant nursing care.

C diff is extremely contagious and can be transferred by person to person contact or through objects such as door handles, clothing, towels and bed linens.  As such, it is imperative that nursing homes be especially diligent in: washing hands after touching each resident; providing clean towels and bed linens; and thoroughly cleaning all potentially contaminated surfaces and objects.

According the the Centers for Disease Control, each year 500,000 Americans suffer from c diff infections.  Of those, approximately 29,000 die within 30 days.  The most vulnerable population is the elderly with 80% of the c diff related deaths occurring with people aged 65 or over. Not surprisingly, the CDC estimates that 100,000 nursing home residents contract c diff each year.

It is imperative that nursing home staff be well trained to identify the signs of a c diff infection. Symptoms include: prolonged diarrhea; an especially foul smell to the feces; feces with the consistency of coffee grounds; abdominal cramping; loss of appetite; weight loss; nausea; vomiting; fever; lethargy; and abdominal distension.  It is critical that such signs be reported immediately to the resident’s physician.  The early administration of antibiotics, such as Flagyl or Cipro, can prevent the infection from worsening.  Untreated, c diff can lead to: severe inflammation of the intestines; rupture of the intestines; septic shock; and death.

Our lawyers have handled two wrongful death cases resulting from c diff infections in Jacksonville nursing homes.  In both cases, our investigations found that the nursing homes ignored obvious signs of infection until it was too late.  If you or a loved one are experiencing the signs and symptoms of a c diff infection, it is necessary that you report the problem immediately to the nursing home’s director of nursing, the assistant director of nursing; the nurse unit manager; and the doctor.  If your complaints fall on deaf ears, go the the hospital.  Every hour counts when a vulnerable person is suffering from c diff.  Continue reading

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When a vehicle breaks down or runs of gas in a lane of traffic, especially on an interstate or expressway, the effects can be devastating.  Just today, a man from Orange Park died when his vehicle was struck from behind by an 18 wheeler on Interstate 95 in Flagler County near Palm Coast. The accident happened in the early morning hours and the car may not have had its lights on.  The reason for the car being stopped on the interstate is not currently known.

Our attorneys have handled numerous serious injury cases resulting from an accident with a vehicle broken down on an interstate or expressway.  Vehicle owners who fail to properly maintain their vehicles or who run out of gas will be responsible for personal injuries or wrongful death that results from an accident.  It is also necessary that the operator of the car or truck remove it from lanes of traffic as soon as possible. Commercial trucks, including tractor trailers, are also required to put out traffic cones so as to warn oncoming drivers of the lane obstruction ahead.

Our lawyers handled a case where a man suffered serious personal injuries after colliding with a moving truck broken down in the outside lane of I-95 in Nassau County, just north of the Duval County line.  The moving truck was broken down for hours before the collision occurred.  The insurer for the moving company tried to blame our injured client by claiming that he should have seen the truck and avoided it like so many other drivers did in the hours that the truck was obstructing I-95.

We were able to prevail by demonstrating that the truck failed to properly put out required warning signs and failed to have the truck removed in a timely fashion.  Also, the claim that our client was negligent was not credible due to the fact that the accident happened shortly after dark, during rush hour, and occurred just after our client changed from the middle lane to the outside lane immediately prior to the location of the truck, preventing him from being able to see it in time to react.

We also recently made a recovery for all of the available insurance coverage limits (both bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverages) for a woman who suffered serious spinal disc injuries when the car in which she was a passenger struck a vehicle broken down on the Dames Point Bridge.

Surprisingly, the car in which our client was riding had dash cam footage of the accident.  The footage showed the other car stopped in the outside lane.  As the Dames Point Bridge has no emergency lane, the broken down vehicle was obstructing more than half of the lane.  The owner of that car placed a cooler in the road to warn oncoming drivers; however, the cooler was only a few yards from the car, providing very little notice.

The driver of the car our client was in failed to observe the other car in the interstate and drove straight into it without braking our changing lanes.  With the dash cam, it was clear that that driver had several seconds to react before the collision.  As a result both the driver of the car our client was in and the driver of the broken down car were responsible for causing the accident. Continue reading