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In January, a twenty-nine year old driver caused a fatal accident driving the wrong way on Interstate 295 near the intersection with Interstate 95 here in Jacksonville.  The car crash happened at 4:00 a.m.  Sadly, a sixty-nine year old military veteran and grandfather died as a result of the accident.  The wrong way driver was also critically injured in the crash.

Hours after the accident, the blood alcohol level of the wrong way driver was .117 – well above Florida’s .08 maximum blood alcohol level.  Given that alcohol in the blood dissipates at the rate of approximately .015% per hour, a two hour delay between the accident and blood testing would put the driver’s blood alcohol level at .147, nearly twice the legal limit.  The wrong way driver was not arrested for driving under the influence/manslaughter until last week – six months after the collision.

 

Wrong way car accidents are much more common than many people think. During 2015, there were 1490 wrong way crashes in Florida alone – more than four per day.  Because wrong way car accidents typically cause head-on collisions, the injuries that result are often tragic. This is illustrated by the 96 fatalities and 1454 injuries that resulted from 2015’s 1490 crashes. In more than two-thirds of wrong way car accidents, the driver was either injured or killed.

Whenever I hear of a wrong way accident, I tend to assume the driver going the wrong way was intoxicated; however, the statistics do not support this presumption.  With respect to Florida’s wrong way collisions in 2015, fifty-one percent of the at-fault drivers were not intoxicated at the time of the crash.

There are things you can do to minimize your chances of being involved in a wrong way car accident.  According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, interstate and freeway drivers should stay in the right lane, especially at night, to avoid the chances of being struck by a wrong way driver.  According to the Department, most fatal wrong way accidents take place in the left or center lane.

Of course, it is also very important to take steps to ensure you do not enter an expressway going the wrong way. As referenced above, many wrong way drivers were not intoxicated.   To prevent such mistakes it is important to: avoid driving while drowsy; avoid distractions, such a cellphones, while driving; and not driving after dark if your night vision is impaired.

In addition, Florida’s Department of Transportation is implementing new measures in an effort to reduce wrong way accidents.  FDOT is installing additional signage at expressway exit ramps warning drivers that they are proceeding in the wrong direction.  FDOT is also installing flashing lights at exit ramps and using radar to detect wrong way drivers headed up exit ramps. When the radar detects a wrong way driver, emergency alert signage warns others drivers to be on the look out for the wrong way vehicle.

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The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration regulates nursing homes throughout the state.  As part of this process, every six months, the agency releases its survey findings and this month it released its inspection ratings for the October of 2015 through March of 2016 period.

The ratings are based on a five star system and includes survey results for each nursing home in the following categories: dignity; decline; restraints and abuse; nutrition and hydration; administration; quality of life; and quality of care.  The end result is an “overall inspection” rating.

A “one star” overall inspection rating means a nursing home is in the bottom 20% of the facilities in the Jacksonville region.  “Two stars” means a nursing home ranked better than 20% but less than 40%.  Three, four and five star ratings follow a similar formula, with each bracketed in 20% divisions.

Many nursing homes in the Jacksonville region were ranked as one star facilities.  Those nursing homes include: Avante at Jacksonville Beach; Brookdale Atrium Way 2; Consulate Health Care of Jacksonville; Governor’s Creek Health and Rehabilitation; Heartland Health Care Center – Jacksonville; The Ponce Therapy Center; Signature Health Care of Jacksonville; and Woodland Grove Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Perhaps not surprisingly, our law firm has represented clients in claims of neglect against five of these eight nursing homes.  In comparison, we have not handled a single case against any of the five star rated nursing homes, yet every nursing home is paid in the same manner by Medcaid and Medicare.  What does this tell us? It tells us that nursing homes receive enough money to take proper care of residents.

We find many problems when nursing homes attempt to increase profits by decreasing the expense of hiring enough nurses and nurse assistants to take proper care of residents.  Florida has minimum standards that require a certain number of nurses and nurse assistants providing direct care to residents based on the resident population of the nursing home.

These are minimum standards, yet often we find that nursing homes cut as close to the minimum levels as possible and, in some instances, we have uncovered situations where nursing homes included time for nurses that did not provide direct care.

In one instance, we determined that a certified nurse assistant’s time was included for shifts she did not even work.  In another, we learned that a nurse assistant assigned to our client was disciplined for actually sleeping on the job instead of tending to our client.  Sadly, the woman died from a curable infection.

It takes a lot of digging to find such deficiencies.  Hiring a lawyer experienced in nursing home neglect cases is very important.

Nursing homes in the Jacksonville area with a two star ranking include: Heartland Health Care Center of South Jacksonville;  and San Jose Health
and Rehabilitation Center.

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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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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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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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With the summer season in full swing in Jacksonville, a drive to the beach brings additional concerns. The roads are busy, it’s hard to find a parking space and there are pedestrians and cyclists seemingly everywhere. In such conditions, it’s easy to fail notice cyclists and pedestrians until it’s too late. Every summer, we hear of numerous bicycle vs. car accidents at Jacksonville Beach, often resulting in the death of the cyclist.

In 2014, a report highlighted the rising number of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians in Jacksonville which increased by five percent from the previous year.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, along with the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Department of Transportation, launched a campaign called “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow” with the aim of educating drivers, cyclists and pedestrians about existing traffic laws regarding pedestrians and bicyclists.

Jacksonville is considered one of the least bicycle friendly cities in the United States. It has few dedicated cycling lanes and many expressways and interstates. There were about 200 cyclists injured in motor vehicle accidents in Jacksonville in 2010, making the city the third-most dangerous city in the United States for bicyclists and pedestrians. The lack of cycling lanes means bicyclists frequently use sidewalks that are potentially dangerous because they can be uneven and sometimes do not have curb cuts allowing for safe access on and off the sidewalk at intersections.

Many car and bicycle operators know very little about the laws they are supposed to follow.  For example, drivers are required to give bicyclists at least three feet of room when passing.  Also, as a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle in Florida, cyclists must follow the same rules as vehicle drivers, including:

1 – Stop at Stop Signs and Red Lights – Intersections are a common location for accidents involving bicyclists and cars. Cyclists should never fail to stop or sneak through on a red light.  Car drivers should look out for cyclists when making turns, especially when turning right on a red light.
2 – Ride with the Flow of Traffic – Many cyclists think it makes sense to ride into oncoming traffic. Not only is this practice dangerous and off-putting to motorists but it’s illegal.
3 – Use Lights – It can be difficult enough to see cyclists in the daylight, particularly during afternoon storms in Florida. It can be almost impossible to see a bicyclist at night if he or she is not using lights. It’s also against the law. In addition to using lights, you should wear reflective clothing and be as visible as possible. A legislative change in 2012, now allows cyclists to have lights that flash.
4 – Wear a Helmet – Accident statistics support that helmets provide protection against brain injury. Research reflects that injury rates were about 20 percent lower in states with helmet laws.
5 – Don’t Be Distracted – Don’t use a cell phone or listen to music while you are riding. It could distract you from what’s going on around you.
6 – Check Your Bicycle – Regular checks of your bicycle could help prevent unexpected accidents. In particular, check tires and brakes because failure of either could cause an accident.

Written by David Macauley

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When school is out for the summer, many American families embark on road trips to see more of the country and to make the most of their leisure time. While road trips lead to memories, it is important to make sure they do not lead to the wrong kind of memories. Interstate car accidents spike in the summer months when more cars are on the roads.

This is a particular problem in Florida which has some of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the country. Five years of highway fatality data demonstrate that Florida’s 382 mile stretch of I-95 is the most dangerous highway in the country, with the highest rate of fatal vehicle accidents, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. Researchers found Florida’s stretch of I-95 has 1.73 fatal accidents per mile per year.

Tragic examples abound. Just last month, a man was killed on I-95 near Jacksonville when his SUV became lodged under a jackknifed tractor-trailer that crashed trying to avoid highway debris on northbound Interstate 95 in St. Johns County.

There is no way to prevent other drivers speeding or driving carelessly but there are some safety tips you should consider before you set off with your family on your summer road trip that could decrease your odds of being involved in a car crash.

Five safety tips for your summer road trip:

1. Make a checklist of things you should monitor on your car before you get on the road and go through the list. It should include:
• Tires are properly inflated with adequate tread;
• Belts and hoses;
• Wiper blades;
• Cooler systems;
• Fluid levels;
• Headlights and other lights;
• Air conditioning; and • Brakes.

The NHTSA urges drivers to check their tires at least once a month. The checks should include the spare. “A tire doesn’t have to be punctured to lose air. All tires naturally lose some air over time. In fact, under-inflation is the leading cause of tire failure,” according to the NHTSA.

2. Check child safety devices If your child is traveling with a badly fitted, or improperly installed, seat, it can be as unsafe as riding in a car with no child seat. Unfortunately, many parents fail to fit seats properly and terrible injuries can be caused to children. You can get your child’s seat checked at an inspection station by a certified technician. To find the nearest one see the Safercar.gov website. The NHTSA says all children aged 12 or younger should ride in the back seat. Also make sure your car seat is not the subject of a safety recall. You should also look out for other people’s children on the road. Be particularly careful if you are reversing in a holiday area full of children. SUVs often have blindspots and are a major cause of “backover” accidents.

3. Take Regular Breaks You may be eager to get to your destination but long periods of driving without breaks can be deadly. As many as 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths and, 71,000 injuries. You should pull over for a rest every couple of hours, according to AAA and consider taking stimulants such as coffee. Rotate drivers, if possible. We have many drivers arriving in the Jacksonville area who have driven through the rural areas of South Carolina and Georgia without a break.

4. Avoid Distractions Plan your route in advance and plug it into your GPS before you start driving. If you are using a map, get a passenger to navigate, if possible. Don’t check routes or road conditions on your cell phone while you are driving and never text. Avoid other distractions such as food and distracting interactions with children.

5. Don’t speed Summer road trips can be frustrating, particularly when there is heavy traffic on the highways. Avoid putting your foot on the gas to make up time and getting involved in risky traffic maneuvers. Speeding and aggressive driving causes about a third of all fatal vehicle crashes. It’s not worth risking the lives of your family and other drivers, to get to your destination on time.

Authored by David Macaulay.
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“Head-on” collisions are obviously among the worst of all auto accidents – the force of the combined speed of the vehicles produces devastating impact. These accidents typically occur when one driver crosses a center line on a two lane road with no median. More than 40,000 people die in traffic accidents every year and a disproportionate number happen in head-on collisions.

Tragically, this was the case in Clay County earlier this month when five adults were killed and two children were seriously injured. The two car accident happened on Florida 21 about 30 miles south of Jacksonville near Green Cove Springs when a Toyota Camry crossed a center line and hit a vehicle heading the opposite direction.

Both drivers died in the impact as well as three other adults. Two children survived the wreck but were reported to be in a critical condition. Four of the dead were in the Camry which crossed a center line and the other fatality was the lone occupant of the other car, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. A 4-year-old who was injured in the Camry was not in a child restraint, according to reports, while the 2-year-old was restrained, according to the Florida Highway Patrol’s report.

This tragedy illustrates the deadly nature of head-on collisions in which both drivers have little time to react. According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, nearly one in five fatal auto accidents involve head-on collisions. Nearly three quarters of head-on crashes occur on undivided two lane rural roads.

Very few of these accidents were a result of risky passing maneuvers. Of 7,430 vehicles involved in head-on crashes on two-lane, undivided roadway segments in the study, a mere 4.2 percent involved a vehicle “passing or overtaking another vehicle.” Instead, most of these accidents resulted from one driver losing control of his or her car and crossing a center line.

Although it can be difficult to take evasive action in situations like this, there are some things drivers can do to protect themselves from head–on collisions. First, you should stay well centered in your lane, where oncoming traffic is less likely to stray, and where you can get to the shoulder or the opposite side of the road more quickly. On multi-lane highways, the right lane is always the safest lane. Divided interstates are safer than rural undivided roads. When taking trips, plan to drive in mornings and avoid night time driving when a higher percentage of impaired drivers are on the road. If a car veers into your lane, steer to the right to avoid impact. Always wear your seatbelt. As always, defensive driving is a must.
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Tractor-trailers are the most dangerous vehicles on the roads. If you are hit by a eighteen wheeler, your chances of survival are much slimmer than if you are hit by a car. When we think of accidents involving tractor-trailers, semis, eighteen wheelers and other large trucks, we typically think of collisions. However, there is another type of accident that happens more often than many people think – when heavy objects fall from tractor-trailers and construction vehicles.

Even if you avoid an object that falls off a truck, it can cause a dangerous highway obstruction that causes other vehicles to crash. As reflected in some of our prior blogs, Jacksonville has had its fair share of these types of trucking accidents.

Earlier this month a 42-year-old man was killed in Jacksonville when a 7-ton slab of concrete fell from a truck, crushing him near the intersection of I-295 southbound and Old St. Augustine Road. According to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, the sound barrier panel which was to be put up on alongside I-95 fell off the truck, crushing the victim’s vehicle and killing him. The truck was owned by Big Ben Transport, a company headquartered in Tampa. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration and Department of Transportation was reported are investigationg to determine how this happened and to establish if negligence was involved.

In February of 2015, a driver was killed and his wife was injured on Interstate 95 in northern St. Johns County when a ladder fell off a truck into the path of another vehicle towing a camper. The 59-year-old man was killed and his wife was injured when their pickup truck jack-knifed and overturned after swerving to avoid the ladder that was lying in the center lane of the highway. The northbound lanes of I-95 were closed for more than eight hours while the accident was investigated and debris was cleared.

In addition to items that fall from vehicles, parts can come off a truck with deadly consequences. Last September, a 27-year-old man was killed when he was driving northbound on I-95 about 30 miles south of Jacksonville in St. Johns County, when a wheel came loose from a southbound truck, bounced over the concrete median and crashed through the windshield of his Mitsubishi Lancer.

Loads, tools and parts that fall from trucks prove deadly on Florida’s highways. One hundred and thirty one crashes caused by debris on the roads have already occurred in Florida since the beginning of 2015, with 21 persons suffering personal injuries. According to Triple A, unsecured loads are responsible for approximately 25,000 auto accidents in the United States annually. In those accidents, approximately 100 people die each year.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration governs trucks operating in interstate commerce. It has issued rules to ensure loads are safely secured on trucks. These load or cargo securement rules set out certain criteria for proper truck loading. Among those rules are:

• Maximum load weight limits;

• Requirements for transporting certain types of cargo that are susceptible to falling from a truck, such as logs (with the pulpwood logging industry in and around Jacksonville, this rule has special importance here), metal coils or automobiles;

• Requirements for cargo to be fully immobilized through the use of equipment such as inflatable dunnage bags; and
• A minimum number of tie-downs to immobilize cargo on the vehicle.
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