vehicle car keys alarm blackIn, Florida, children of the unfortunate victims of personal injury and even death as a result of an automobile accident.   There are a myriad insurance regulations and traffic laws in the State of Florida.  When you attempt to apply these regulations and laws into an automobile accident fact pattern, things can become quite complicated and confusing.  Furthermore, it should be noted that in many instances insurance claims are challenged and heavily scrutinized by insurance adjusters.  It is often helpful for a parent of an injured child to consult with a Florida Child Injury Lawyer for advice, consultation, and potential representation.   When a child is injured as a result of the negligence or fault of another person, there may be a viable case to pursue on behalf of the child; however, it should be noted that each cases should be evaluated on its own facts and merits.  

Florida has unique laws for automobile accident, insurance claims, and civil cases.  Before speaking to an insurance company, a parent should first speka to a Florida Child Injury Lawyer who can help review the documentation, facts, and circumstances to provide the parent with some needed guidance in moving forward with an insurance clai or case.  Questions that often arise in the situations include but are not limited to the following:

Should I contact the insurance company?

Should I give a statement to the insurance company?

Who is responsible for my child’s medical bills?

What if my child does not have health insurance?

Should I sign any documents provided by the insurance company?

Where should my child seek medical treatment?

Where can my child receive medical treatment?

What rights does my child have to compensation?

What rights do I (as the parent) have to compensation?

Are there time limits to file an insurance claim?

Are there time limits to file a lawsuit?

Will an attorney handle my child’s case on a contigency basis which is essentially a wait to get paid basis?

There are just some of the issues and questions that arise in these situations. If Florida law was merely based on common sense and all insurance companies were willing to compensate a victim for what is sought – then there would not be much of an need for an attorney or advocate on the claim or case. Unfortunately, laws are not based purely on common sense and insurance companies closely evaluated and challenge most claims.  Because of this, a parent and the injured child will be well served by legal representation depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

The book titled – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Should Know After the Accident - has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Damages and Compensation, and other topics. You can get this book for free at When the Wheels Stop Spinning.

Kids Block Spelling Dad As Symbol for Fatherhood And Parenting

In Florida and other States, day care centers and their staff members are responsible for the safety and well-being of the children enrolled in the day care center.  This responsiblity is truly among the most important in our society.  While the pay is not the highest of all occupations, the responsibilities are nonetheless so important.  Most day care centers and their staff members work conscientiously every day to provide for the needs and educational development of the children. There are, however, a number of Florida Day Care Centers that cut corners, employ less than stellar employers, and sadly abuse the very children that the day care center is paid to supervise and protect.   When a day care center abuses or neglects a child under its care, should the Florida Department of Children and Families step in and revoke the day care center’s license?  There is no simple answer to this question.  Like many other legal questions, the answer is “it depends”.  The Florida Department of Children and Families is responsible for the licensure and supervision of day care centers.  When a child is abused or neglected, it should be reported to and investigagted by the Florida Department of Children and Families.  Day care centers in Florida are governed by the Florida Adminstraive Code and other regulation. There is due process to be followed any time that sanctions are sought to be brought against a licensed day care center.  If the child continues to be in danger or there are other children in immiment danger, immediate action should be taken to close down the day care center – at least on a temporary basis – so that a proper investigation can be completed and there is no further harm done to that child or other children.

Whether the Florida Department of Children and Families takes action to shut down the facility or not, the parents of the injured child can still seek out legal advice and representation for the injured child.  The civil case or claim is not dependent on the DCF investigation and findings.  While it would be helpful to have a DCF report filled with helpful statements, evidence, and findings that a child was neglected or abused at the day care center, the DCF does not control the civil case or claim.

In Polk County, Florida, it was reported that the Cypress Oaks School in Winter Haven continues to operate.  The Florida Department of Children and Families previously investigated the facility and issued a fine to the owner. There were discussions of revoking the license; however, the Florida DCF ultimatley decided to allow the day care center to continue to operate as long as it was operated by a different owner.   You can read more about this story at 9 Investigates – Day Care Center Connected to Abuse Allegations Remains Open. 

The book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents – has chapters on Staffing, Incident Reports, Indoor Facilities, Outdoor Facilities, Corporal Punishment, and other topics. You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.

Van - the Letter VIn the State of Florida, children enrolled in day care centers are often transported to and from the day care center by transporation provided by the day care center or an indepedent school transportation company.  Often, day care center vans are used to transport the children.  Passenger vans – especially the longer and larger vans – at times roll over when involved in automobile accidents in the State of Florida as well as the rest of the United States.  These rollover accidents can and do result in serious personal injuries to the children and as well as the adult occupants of the van.  When a child is injured in a day care center van rollover accident, it is important that the child is properly assessment and evaluated for musculoskeletal injuries, head injuries, internal injuries, and other complications that result from the crash.  The scene at day care center van rollover accidents can be quite disturbing especially when a person sees a day care center van flipped over and resting on the roof of the van.  Several questions or issues come to mind in the wake of a day care center van rollover accident:

How many children were in the van?

What are the manufacturer guidelines for the van as to seating?  seatbelts? other safety features?

What was the speed of the van at the time of the crash?

What was the speed of other vehicles (if any) that were involved in the crash?

Was the day care center van at fault or negligence with respect to the operation or driving of the vehicle?

Were other drivers at fault or negligence with respect to the operation or driving of the other vehicles?

Was the accident or crash avoidable?

Which police agency appeared at the scene of the accident?

Was a citation issued to any of the drivers for causing or contributing to causing the crash or accident?

Who is responsible for the medical bill?

What injuries were sustained by each child?

Were seatbelts available for use on the day care center van?  Were seatbelts in use on the day care center van?

Was the day care center van insured? What insurance benefits are available for the injured child?

Were the other vehicles involved in the crash insured? What insurance benefits are available for the injured child?

There are two good books that are available to parents dealing with the above and other issues.  These books are free. When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Should Know After the Accident – has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Day Care Center Transportation, and other topics.  You can get this book for free at When the Wheels Stop Spinning. The book – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents – has chapters on Incident Reports, Emergency Procedures, Transporation, Staffing, and other topics.  You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.

A recent crash in Jacksonville, Florida is being investigated by local law enforcement. It was reported that 9 children were injured in a day care center van rollover accident.  The large white van was photographed and shown to be flipped over on its roofed and the van was later placed on a flatbed truck and removed from the accident scene. You can read more about this incident at 9 Children Injured in Day Care Center Van Rollover Crash in Jacksonville (Duval County) Florida. 

Pick Up Truck SafetyFlorida is a big state when it comes to the ownership and operation of pick up trucks.  According to a study conducted in 2011, Florida ranked third behind California and Texas for the most pick up trucks in a state.  It is common to see a pick up truck in virtually evey neighborhood and community especially in rural areas.  Jacksonville and the surrounding areas have a particulary large number of pick up trucks as do other parts of the State.  While a pick up truck can be quite useful, the pick up truck can also be quite dangerous especially when children ride in the back of a pick up truck. Due to the dangers of passengers occupying the back or bed of a pick up truck, the Florida Legislature adopted Section 316.2014 – Florida Statues which provides the following:

316.2015 Unlawful for person to ride on exterior of vehicle.

(1) It is unlawful for any operator of a passenger vehicle to permit any person to ride on the bumper, radiator, fender, hood, top, trunk, or running board of such vehicle when operated upon any street or highway which is maintained by the state, county, or municipality. Any person who violates this subsection shall be cited for a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.
(2)(a) No person shall ride on any vehicle upon any portion thereof not designed or intended for the use of passengers. This paragraph does not apply to an employee of a fire department, an employee of a governmentally operated solid waste disposal department or a waste disposal service operating pursuant to a contract with a governmental entity, or to a volunteer firefighter when the employee or firefighter is engaged in the necessary discharge of a duty, and does not apply to a person who is being transported in response to an emergency by a public agency or pursuant to the direction or authority of a public agency. This paragraph does not apply to an employee engaged in the necessary discharge of a duty or to a person or persons riding within truck bodies in space intended for merchandise.
(b) It is unlawful for any operator of a pickup truck or flatbed truck to permit a minor child who has not attained 18 years of age to ride upon limited access facilities of the state within the open body of a pickup truck or flatbed truck unless the minor is restrained within the open body in the back of a truck that has been modified to include secure seating and safety restraints to prevent the passenger from being thrown, falling, or jumping from the truck. This paragraph does not apply in a medical emergency if the child is accompanied within the truck by an adult. A county is exempt from this paragraph if the governing body of the county, by majority vote, following a noticed public hearing, votes to exempt the county from this paragraph.
(c) Any person who violates this subsection shall be cited for a nonmoving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.
(3) This section shall not apply to a performer engaged in a professional exhibition or person participating in an exhibition or parade, or any such person preparing to participate in such exhibitions or parades.
If an owner or driver of a pick up truck allows a person under the age of 18 to ride in the back of a pick up truck, the driver can be cited with a violation.  Furthermore and more importantly, it is just plain dangerous for a driver to allow passengers to occupy the back of a pick up truck.  Of course, the responsiblity for safety goes beyond the driver.  Passengers should also exercise due care when riding in any vehicle.  As such, a passenger also has a duty to act in a safe and reasonable manner.  In Florida, civil cases are governed by comparative fault. In other words, a case can be decided by apportioning fault between parties to determine the amount and extent of compensation.   In cases involving injuries to a child riding in the back of a pick up truck, it is possible that a jury could assess some fault to the pick up truck driver and some fault to the passengers.   Furthermore, it should be noted that driver of a pick up truck has a duty to drive in a safe and reasonable manner especially if there are passengers in the back or bed of the truck.   Another Florida law that bears mention is the concept that a child under the page of 6 years old cannot as a matter of law be held to be negligent in any way for his or her actions.  With children ages 6 and older, negligence can be assessed against the child based on the age, maturity, knowledge, and actions of the child.
A tragic incident was recently reported in the St. Augustine Shores neighborhood in which two children suffered serious head injuries after falling out of the back of a pick up truck. Each injured passenger was transported to UF Health for emergency care, treatment, and evaluation.  It was reported by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office that the two injured teen passengers were students at Pedro Menendez High School located in St. Augustine (St. Johns County) Florida.  You can read more about this incident at Two High School Students Suffer Serious Head Injuries – Pick Up Truck Accident in St. Augustine Shores, Florida.
The book – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident – has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Damages – Compensation, Medical Bills and Insurance, Pedestrian Injuries, Bicycle Injuries, and other topics.  You can get this book for free at When the Wheels Stop Spinning. 

 medical-ambulance-elements-glossy-icon_MyJuphUOIn Florida and the rest of the United States, there are parades and celebrations throughout the year an especially in the months of November and December 2014.  Most parades are wonderful events to participate in and watch; however, at times, these same parades can be the cite of just horrible accidents and incidents leading to serious personal injuires and, in some instances, the tragic death of a child.  As unusual as it may seem, there have been a number of reports of these incidents throughout the years.  Some result due to a lack of safety precautions and some are just “freak” or “unforeseeable” events.  While incidents or accidents that take place during a parade or near a parade are not as common as automobile accidents, the same elements are required to pursue a claim or case for accident related injuries on behalf of the injured child as follows:
1.  Duty.  This refers to to the duty to act in a reasonably safe manner.  For parade events, this includes insuring that equipment, vehicles, and floats are well maintained and in good working order.  This also includes the duty to operate the equipment, vehicles, and floats in a reasonably safe manner.
2. Breach of Duty. This refers to the breach of the aforementioned duties.  This can include the negligent actions or the negligent inactions of the allegedly at fault party, person, or entity.
3. Causation. This is the link between the Breach of Duty and the Damages.
4. Damages. This refers to the personal injuries suffered by the child.
Yes, parades can be great fun if the parades run smoothly and are free from any accidents or injuries. Just recently, a terrible accident / incident took place in Cocoa, Florida.  It was reported by WESH News and other media outlets that a woman, her daughter, and granddaughter suffered injuries as they were watching the Brevard County Toy Run Parade.  A motorcycle crashed into them as spectators at this parade according to information provided by the Cocoa Police Department.  The granddaughter who was just 4 years old was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for evaluation, care, and treatment. You can read more about this incident at Motorcycle Accident Injures Spectators at Annual Abate Toy Motorcycle Run.
The Florida Highway Patrol arrived on the scene to secure the area, to obtain information, and to complete a crash scene investigation.  While the information obtained and reported by the Florida Highway Patrol is important, the findings / conclusions by the Florida Highway Patrol are not binding upon the accident victims or a potential civil case.  In other words, the Florida Highway Patrol officer does not get to be “judge and jury” of a civil case especially if the police officer did not witness the actual accident or incident taking place.   It should be pointed out that the presence of an injury does not by itself prove a case for an injured child. Damages is only one of the four elements as noted above that need to be proved to establish a claim or case on behalf of an injured child.
The book titled When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident – has chapters on Damages / Compensation, Automobile Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Wrongful Death, and other topics. You can get this book for free at When the Wheels Stop Spinning.

Halloween Jack O Lantern Child SafetyThis is a very basic and important question to address. What should drivers keep in mind on Halloween?  The key concept to keep in mind is the following: IT’S HALLOWEEN. Yes, this simple statement is the most important thing for drivers to keep in mind on Halloween.  Of course, there is more to driving safely than just merely remembering that it is Halloween.  Halloween is a wonderful and fun holiday; however, it is also a holiday filled with danger especially in residential neighborhoods.   Throughout the day and especially in the evening and night time hours, residential streets and neighborhoods are filled with little ghosts, goblins, super heroes, etc. . . .  Children often do not recognize the dangers of being on or near a street or driver way.  This is especially true on Halloween when it appears that children rule the neighborhood.   With the promised delivery of candy and other goodies, children are so excited on Halloween that they often forget about everything else including the presence of vehicles. Halloween is not a time to merely obey the posted speed limits and road signs.  It is a time to drive well below the speed limits and spend a few extra seconds and minutes to make sure that there are no children or adults for that matter in the way of danger.  If possible, motorists should remain at home or at one location for the duration of Halloween.  If you do not need to go out on Halloween, stay at home and hand out candy and / or watch your favorite television show or movie.  If you drive during Halloween, drive with the utmost of caution especially in residential neighborhoods.  If you are backing out of a driveway or other area, try to get another adult to guide you outside of the vehicle and make sure that children are clear from the area.

Parents of tricker or treaters should escort their children and make sure that they wear bright color clothes, have a flashlight, and otherwise watch out of traffic and vehicles in the neighborhood. Halloween should be a holiday filled with treats and fun.   Watch out for children and trick or treaters of all ages on Halloween.  Remember, IT’S HALLOWEEN.

 

bicycle tricycle purple on white background

In Middleburg, Florida and other Florida communities, there are bicyclists on and near the roads on a daily basis throughout the year.  All drivers should proceed with caution any time that a child is on or near the roadway as a bicyclist or a pedestrian.  When a child suffers serious personal injuries or dies as a result of a bicycle accident or incident, there are a number of issues that can be involved with the aftermath of such a tragedy.  In Florida, legal cases involving children are handled differently than legal cases on behalf of adults.   Because of this, it is important that a parent seek legal counsel from an experienced Florida Child Injury Lawyer.  Here are some of the issues or questions that arise when a child suffers injuries as a result of a bicycle accident:

Was the accident avoidable on the part of the driver?

Did the driver have the opportunity to see the child bicyclist prior to the bicycle accident?

How old was the child at the time of the bicycle accident?

Were there any witnesses to the bicycle accident?

What was the posted speed limit in the area?

What lanes were available to vehicles?  Available to bicyclists?

How did the police report summarize the accident or incident?

Did the driver have liability insurance?

What injuries did the child suffer as a result of the accident?

Was the child wearing a helmet?

Did the child suffer a head injury?

What insurance is available to pay for medical bills?

What insurance is available to pay for funeral expenses?

What insurance is available to compensate the child for pain and suffering?

What insurance is available to compensate the parents for pain and suffering for the heartache of dealing with a significantly injured child or a child who died as a result of a bicycle accident?

The book – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident – has chapters on the following topics:

Medical Treatment and Personal Injuries

Insurance Issues and Common Questions

Automobile Accidents

School Bus and Day Care Center Transportation Injuries

Pedestrian Injuries

Bicycle Accidents

Wrongful Death

Settlements, Compensation, and Damages

You can get this book for free at When the Wheels Stop Spinning.

This book addresses many issues and challenges that a parent faces when a child suffers personal injuries.   Another good resource for parents is the book – When a Parent’s World Goes from Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of a Child – What You Need to Know About the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  You can get this book for free at From Full to Empty.

It was recently reported by Channel 4 – News4Jax – that a 3 year old child (Blake Carter0 died when he was hit on his bicycle by a 21 year old driver.  It was reported that the driver saw two adult bicyclists and swerved around them but did not see the 3 year old bicyclist.  You can read more about this story at Jacksonville, Florida Bicycle Accident Claims Life of 3 Year Old Boy.  Since this incident involved a death, a full investigation will be conducted by the Florida Highway Patrol and/ or the local police department or sheriff’s office to determine the cause and / or preventability of the incident.   It should be noted that a police investigative report is just one of many factors that are considered when a potential case or claim is reviewed or evaluated by a Florida Child Injury Lawyer.  The conclusions or findings of the police investigation do not necessarily control the civil case.

sports%20football%20against%20grey%20background%20sports%20related%20injuries.jpg

Florida summers are just plain hot. When a high school or club runs football practice in August, there are risks of heat exertion injuries and even death to young athletes. Football is well known in the State of Florida as a sport that traditionally involves rigorous practices and training to build stamina and champions. Yes, it is an uber competitive sport. Coaches, parents, school officials, other students, fans, and yes the players add to the fervor to play hard and win. Unfortunately, at times, this fervor to win and compete can lead to disasastous consequences in the form of heat exertion, heat stroke, hyperthermia, and, yes, death.

The focus on high school sports should be on safety first, sportsmanship, and then competition. Of course, there are many who will oppose such a statement or viewpoint. Certainly, some injuries and even deaths are unpredictable and unpreventable. However, every step and safety measure should be taken by schools and clubs to protect our children engaged in high school football training and conditioning. Building champions can and does at times cost the lives of children trying to prove their worth and value to a team.

Athletic trainers, therapists, and medical providers should be an integral part of every single high school practice and conditional program. Written policies and plans should be put in a place. Coaches should be in high alert for environment conditions and physiological symptoms that can put a student athlete also known as a “child” at risk for serious personal injury or death. One good starting point is a position statement / research paper published by the National Institute of Health titled National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Exertional Heat Illnesses

Practice and training plans for summer football as well as football during other parts of the year should begin with a review of this and other articles. There is a certain focus on the play book for football programs rather than the safety and welfare of children. It is quite easy for a football program to brag about a regional or state championship. It would be refreshing to see a football program that brags about its dedication to the education and safety of the children as primary goals of the program.

If you have a child enrolled in a football program, find out up from the training regimen, the safety precautions in place, the written policies and procedures, the safety and medical equipment available, the history of the program, and other information.

The book titled - The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know - has chapters on Sports Related Injuries, Medical Treatment and Insurance, School Injuries, Attraction and Theme Park Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

swimming%20pool%20tiled%20bottom.jpg

In Florida and other States, parents rely on day care centers to provide for the safety and early education of their children. The presence of swimming pool can be a wonderful benefit for the children enrolled in the day care center. Activities can be organized in and around the pool. The swimming pool can be a source of great fun but it can also be a source of risk and danger for the children. Because of this, it is vital that a day care center have written rules and policies for swim related activities and safety in and around the pool. Small children often have poor safety judgment. This is especially true in and around swimming pools. When there is a lack of safety precautions and / or supervision, a child can easily slip away and end up helpless in a swimming pool.

Day care centers should not leave things to chance. A pool barrier should be erected and secure. Furthermore, all exit doors to swimming pool areas should be secure and when available should have door alarms in place. Make sure that the pool barriers are frequently inspected and maintained by professionals. A parent with a child enrolled in a day care center with a swimming pool should ask to review the policies and get a walk through of the swimming pool area and safety precautions.

The owner of a day care center should follow all State and local rules and regulations for day care centers and swimming pools. Documentation should be in place and all staff members should be duly trained in aquatic safety and CPR. If these suggestions are too onerous for a day care center, then the owners of the day care center should consider closing down the pool before a tragedy takes place. It is better for a day care center to be prepared than for a day care center to make headlines that a child drowned while under the supervision and watch of a day care center.

The book – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents - has chapters on Indoor Facilities, Outdoor Facilities, Playgrounds, Emergency Procedures, and other topics. You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.

State%20Map%20Florida.jpg

When a parent loses a child due to the negligent acts of another person, there is no adequate compensation for a parent grieving the death of the child. Ask a parent the following question: How much does your child mean to you? The answer to this question varies but rarely includes a dollar figure. Many parents would say that a child means everything or that the child means the world. That certain bond between parent and child is expected is last the parent’s lifetime. Some may say that it is only natural that the child outlive the parent. That is the natural course of things and life. When a child dies before a parent especially when a young child outlives a parent, it is unnatural. It is unsettling. When a child dies, it is both tragic and unsettling for the surviving parents. It is not only tragic for the moment but for the rest of the parent’s lifetime.

In Florida, the law controlling damages or compensation for the death of a person including that of a child is governed by Chapter 768, Florida Statutes which contains the Florida Wrongful Death Act. Through this statute and related case law, there is a framework in place that governs the award and assessment of damages. While there is a framework, there is no formula per se when dealing with the death of a person or a child due to the negligence of another person business, or government entity.

While there is no formula for the exact award of compensation for a grieving parent, there are a few concepts to keep in mind:

1. A minor child, as defined by the Florida Wrongful Death Act, is a child under the age of 25 years old.

2. Damages are based on the joint expected life expectancy of the child and the parent. In other words, it is based on the time period that the parent and child would have lived together and not on the life expectancy of the child.

3. The pain and suffering of the child are not compensable damages in a Florida Wrongful Death case.

4. There are no limits to damages or compensation unless the case involves medical malpractice and / or a government entity.

The book titled – When a Parent’s World Goes From Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of a Child – What You Need to Know About The Florida Wrongful Death Act – has chapters on Damages – Compensation, the Basics of the Florida Wrongful Death Act, and other topics. You can get this book for free at When a Parent’s World Goes From Full to Empty.