Car Crash and Florida Wrongful Death.001In Florida and other states, headlines are made when there is an automobile accident involving serious personal injuries or the death of a driver or passenger.  This is especially true when children and reengages are the unfortunate victims in a Florida Automobile Accident Crash.   The death of a teenager can have a ripple effect throughout the community.  In many instances, a school crisis team is put in place to provide some guidance and counseling to the other students at the school where the victim attended.  Certainly, the biggest loss is upon the parents.  It is unnatural in the scheme of things for a parent to suffer the loss of a child especially after putting in some many years of work and love to raise the child from an infant to a young adult.  When a teenager dies, so much of the promise that was there just disappears in a moment of time.  It is the moment of time in which another driver was speeding or otherwise not paying attention.  This momentarily lapse in good judgment and safe driving can and does often lead to serious personal injuries and the deaths of innocent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Just recently, an 18 year old died in an automobile accident which took place in St. Johns County – St. Augustine, Florida near the World Golf Village area.  It was reported by a number of media outlets that Griffin Moody, who had just graduated from Allen D. Nease High School in June 2016 died as a result of this 2 vehicle crash.  The crash occurred on Murabella Parkway according to the Florida Highway Patrol.  Griffin Moody was a passenger in a 2005 Ford Focus that was being driven by another teenager.  It was also reported that five other people suffered personal injuries in this crash.

Florida has statutes in place that set forth the rules of the road.  Generally, drivers should obey the posted speed limits and yield the right of way to drivers on the roadway.  A left hand turning vehicle should yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.   All drivers should maintain control of the respective vehicles and otherwise remain attentive to traffic conditions, road conditions, and weather conditions.  Each driver has a duty to avoid a crash when he or she has the ability to do so.   It should be noted that each Florida Automobile Accident should be evaluated based on its own facts and merits. When a persona dies as result of a Florida traffic crash, the local law enforcement department and / or Florida Highway Patrol will investigate and issue a Florida Homicide Traffic Report upon completion of the investigation.  It should noted that the results or conclusions of such a report are not binding per se on insurance companies or any further potential civil cases.

4_ToysIn day care centers throughout Florida including Miami, the children enrolled in the child care facility should be provided with safe and nurturing environment.  It is important for child care providers and workers to have proper training, common sense, and, yes, patience to work with children.  If working with children causing a person stress to the point that a child is hit and struck by a day care center work, that particular worker should be removed from the job, go to jail, and ultimately find a new career.  Working with children is no easy task; however, employment in a child care facility or day care center is a voluntary choice by a day care worker.  As such, no-one is forcing the day care worker to take the position.  Unfortunately, far too many instances of abuse and neglect go unnoticed and unreported.  Parents are kept in the dark and the children in the day care center are often victims without a voice and without the power to stop their abusers.  However, in many other instances, the day care center worker is caught in the act by another co-worker, management, parents, or other children who take that bold step to report the incident and have the conduct addressed. It is clear that day care center workers should use their efforts and abilities to act in the best interest of the children.  It is well known that the care and supervision of a children are not easy tasks; nevertheless, in Florida day care centers, corporal punishment is prohibited.  There is no excuse or defense to the hitting, torturing, and harming of a child enrolled in a day care center by a the very people responsible for caring for the child.

It was reported by various media outlets that a day care center through a private charter school in Miami Beach was the site of the corporal punishment / abuse of children under the care of the child care center.  In particular, a video surveillance camera revealed that a child care worker documented the hitting, twisting of arms, and other abuse of children who were in the 2 to 3 year old age group.  When the abuse originally came to light, no immediate arrests were made.  Then, after a week or so of further investigation by social service and local law enforcement, the day care center worker – Clara Luz Quintero-Gonzalez – was arrested.  For more information regarding these incidents, see Miami, Florida Day Care Center Worker Arrested for Hitting Children Under her Care at the Lincoln Marti Day Care Center.

It should be noted that the criminal prosecution of a day care center worker is not a prerequisite or requirement for a parent to bring a civil action or claim on behalf of a child who was injured or harmed by a day care center provider.  Certainly, it is quite compelling when a day care center worker is arrested following an allegation of abuse or neglect.  Furthermore, having video surveillance that actually documents the alleged abuse or neglect can be used as evidence in the potential criminal case or civil case of abuse / neglect in a day care center.  If there is believed to probable cause that a crime was committed, an arrest can and should be made. The further prosecution of the defendant will depend on the evidence gathered and potential defenses (if any) that may be raised in response to the allegations.  The criminal allegations must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  For a civil case, the standard of proof is by the preponderance of the evidence with is lesser standard than for a criminal case.

Dog Bite Book Icon In Florida, every community has a common resident – the family dog.  On most days, dogs are obedient, kind, and gentle.   However, for some children and adults, the family pet or dog of a neighbor may not be so obedient, kind or gentle.  If a dog feels threatened or just has a bad disposition, the dog may attack.  Some attacks result in minor personal injuries while other dog attacks result in significant scarring and even life threatening injuries.  In most of Florida’s 67 counties, there is a dog leash law in place that should be adhered to or followed.  Even if a dog owner is technically in compliance with the applicable dog leash law, a dog owner can still be held liable or responsible for dog bite related personal injuries.  Florida has specific laws in place that hold a dog owner strictly liable for dog bite related personal injuries to other people.  There is no “one free bite” rule in place for the State of Florida.  Furthermore, there is no requirement that the dog bite victim prove that the dog owner knew or should have known of the dangerous propensity or nature of the dog prior to the dog attack.  It should be noted that the elements necessary to prove up a strict liability case are much different than the elements to prove up a common law or negligence type of case. As such, the laws in the State of Florida, to some extent, favor the dog bite victim rather than the dog owner.
One practical issue, consideration, or limitation for many Florida dog bite cases involve the availability or lack of homeowner’s insurance or liability insurance for dog bite related personal injuries.  Many dog owners are renters and do not bother to have any Insruance whatsoever.  Dog owners, who are homeowners, may have homeowner’s insurance; however, there may be an exception or an exclusion for dog bite related personal injuries.  Over the past few years, homeowner insurance companies have more frequently excluded dog bite incidents in the homeowner insurance policy.  It should be noted that a dog bite victim has a case or claim against the dog owner and possibly the property owner; however, the legal analysis of the case is different than the practical analysis of the case.
It was recently reported that a 22 month old child was viciously attacked by a neighbor’s dog in Putnam County, Florida.  The injuries were significant and life threatening.  It was reported by various media outlets that law enforcement and the Florida Department of Children and Families will be further investigating the incident.

Florida Bicycle Accident Injuries.001Florida is a state that is filled year round with bicycle rides and cyclists of all ages and skill levels.  During any given trip by a driver of a motor vehicle – long or short, there is a high probability that you will pass or see a bicyclist on or near the roadway. It is vital that all drivers slow down near bicyclists and treat each bicyclist with due respect.  Let’s face it – a bicyclist / bicycle is no match (weight, force, and speed) for any motor vehicle out on the roads.   Distracted driving is an ongoing problem in the State of Florida.  Drivers are unfortunately and tragically paying more attention to their phone, text messages, and e-mails than other drivers, pedestrians, and, yes, bicyclist on or near the roads, highways, and streets.
Florida has adopted a comparative fault set of laws applicable to automobile accidents, trucking accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.  In other words, in order to pursue a case for compensation for personal injuries, the injured bicyclist can be partially at fault for the accident or incident.  In representing an injured bicyclist, it is preferable if the driver is 100 % at fault; however, there may be circumstances where the bicyclist is partially at fault. There also can be situations in which two or more drivers may be at fault for a bicycle accident leading to personal injuries.
It should be noted that under Florida Statutes a bicyclist is given the same rights as a pedestrian under many situations.  As such, drivers should keep the law in mind as well the safety of all bicyclists and pedestrians in mind when operating a motor vehicle in the State of Florida.  It should also be noted that Florida has adopted a Dangerous Instrumentality Law as it applies to automobile accidents and bicycle accidents.  As such, the registered owner of a motor vehicle is liable for the negligence of a permissive driver even if the owner did nothing wrong OR was not even present at the time of the incident or crash leading to the personal injuries of the bicyclist.

Florida Pool.001In Florida, it is common to see swimming pools in most neighborhood.  It is somewhat of a luxury to have a swimming pool right there in the back yard.  Swimming pools can add to the aesthetics of the house and surrounding.  Swimming pools can also provide for a great deal of fun and relaxation for adults and children alike.  Unfortunate and tragically, swimming pools are also the site of horrible tragedies that despite laws, common sense, and the general knowledge of other similar tragedies continue to take place.  It has been reported that Florida leads the nations in drowning for children under the age of 5 years old.  Florida has ranked second in drownings the age group of 1 to 14 years old.  Florida’s weather allows for swimming almost year round.  During Spring and Summer months, it is tragically predictable that additional drownings of small children will take place.
Florida has adopted a swimming pool act that applies to all homeowners with a swimming pool.  There must be a barrier that is at least 4 feet high on the outside.  There should not be any gaps, openings, or structural components that would allow a child to crawl or squeeze through the barrier or enclosure.  You can read more about these regulations at Section 515.29, Florida Statutes – Residential Swimming Pool Barrier Requirements.
Can a homeowner be held liable or responsible with a child neighbor or child visitor drowns in the swimming pool in Florida?  The answer to this question like most legal question is “It depends.”  If the homeowner failed to follow the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Act and these violations were the proximate cause of the drowning – then the homeowner may be held liable or responsible for the drowning.

Stop Sign Negligence.001A Stop Sign is posted due to he traffic pattern and flow in a particular geographic area. It should also be noted that there should not be any ambiguities or doubts as to the purpose and function of a Stop Sign. Furthermore, it is clear that once a driver stops at a Stop Sign – he or she should diligently be on the look out for other traffic and then take whatever time is necessary to safely proceed through the intersection at issue. In Florida and other States, many automobile accidents occur due to the failure to obey speed limits and traffic signage. There is also a significant problem with Distracted Driving due to mobile phone use, Web Browsing, and Text Messaging.  Many lives can be saved and many personal injuries due to Florida Automobile Accidents can be avoided by simply obeying and following the traffic signage like a Stop Sign and by being more attentive to traffic and weather conditions.

It was recently reported in Hastings, St. Johns County, Florida that four people were transported to a hospital.  The intial news and media reports indicated that a pick up truck driver ran a stop sign.  Due to fact that a death and serious personal injuries resulted from this Florida Automobile Accident, a full investigation including a Traffic Homicide Report will be completed by local law enforcement officials and / or the Florida Highway Patrol.   Certainly, any time that a person dies as a result of a Florida Automobile Accident – it is tragic.  Even more so if it is determined that that the automobile accident was avoidable with more attentive driving.  It should be noted that with more attentive driving and patience – many such Florida motor vehicle crashes can be avoided.

When there is a motor vehicle crash, the personal injury victims are faced with a number of challenges and issues.  It is important that the victims and families get support from their extended family, the neighborhood, churches and religious institutions, and others.  The injury victims and families certainly deserve compassion in this time of need following a horrific traffic crash. It is also important for the injury victims and families to have legal representation early on in the process.

Stroller - Child Safety - Personal Injury
During the summer and other months in warm weather States, children are at risk for heat related illnesses including by not limited to hyperthermia.  It is important that summer camps, schools, day care centers, and other child care providers understand that children respond and handle the heat much differently than adults.  Furthermore, a child does not necessary verbalize or even recognize himself or herself when there is a risk of serious complications from the heat. This is especially true for infants, toddlers, and special needs children who are not communicative.   According to Dr.  Ross Tobleman, an emergency medical director based in Texas, “Little children can certainly get into trouble very quickly without having us recognize the signs that they’re getting trouble.”  This is a reference to heat and medical complications.   It should be noted that the metabolism and body of a child works much differently than that of an adult.  You can read more about this topic at Heat Related Illnesses Harder to Detect in Children.

In this article, it is interesting to note that strollers and other confined spaces can present a real risk of danger, medical complication, and even death to children in the heat of summer and other months.   Since children do not sweat or control body temperature the same as an adult, a glance at a child may lead a child care provider to believe that all is well because the child is not sweating profusely or appear to be that hot or overexposed to the heat.  The truth is that child care provides, on many occasions, do not and cannot see that a child is truly a risk and approaching a critical overexposure to the heat.   Some times, it is only the child’s outward signs of trauma, arrest, or other significant issues that finally alerts the child care provider that there is a problem.

In Florida, child care providers, summer camps, day care centers, schools and other entities have a duty to keep a child out of harm’s way.  One known risk is the Florida heat.  Make sure that a child – especially infants and toddlers – are provided with proper ventilation when in confined spaces like a stroller. Furthermore, as we have seen far too many times, a child should not be left unattended on a school bus or school van without air conditioning.   Let’s make sure that this point is clear.   A child needs to be supervised at all times and should never be left on a bus or van alone – air conditioned or without air conditioning.

Resort Florida Liability and NegligenceIn Florida and other states, children are welcomed as guests at hotels, motels, and resorts. There are a few vacation areas that are adult guests only; however, the vast majority of these locations are family oriented and set up in many ways to provide for the guests who are children.  Rooms and areas of the resort are constructed and designed just for children.   Because children are welcomed as guests, the hotel / resort staff and management should maintain the facility and activities at the facility in a way to takes into account the safety of children.  It is well know that children lack good safety awareness and judgment.  Because of this, attractive nuisances should be kept at a minimum or at least secured in a way that a child cannot go inside a dangerous area without proper access and adult supervision. Take for example, a swimming pool or aquatics area.   Proper fencing, enclosures, and alarms should be in place so that a child, especially toddlers, do not have access to or wander into the area.  Like other personal injury cases, the following elements must be established:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood
In the State of Florida, corporal punishment is prohibited in day care centers.  There are strong public policy and safety reasons for having such a law in place.  It does not matter that the teacher of the day care center was subjected to corporal punishment as part of his or her upbringing.  Furthermore, a parent cannot and should consent to the imposition of corporal punishment at a day care center since it is against the law.   Toddlers and small children should learn by instruction and restrictions that DO NOT involve physical harm, pinching, punching, withholding of food, false imprisonment, or other acts that are neglectful and / or malicious in manner.   Because of this, it is important that Florida day care centers are staffed with trained and caring individuals who have the personality, patience, and maturity to deal with the stresses and demands of the job.  Certainly, it is challenging to be a day care center worker or child care provider.   When the stress intensifies, the day care worker / child care worker should step back and assess or reassess his or her current actions, his or next actions, and the rest of the day.

In Quincy, Florida, it was reported that a day care center worker at All My Children Learning Center is facing criminal charges of battery and cruelty to a child.  It was reported that a day care center teacher pinched a 4 year old child under her care to the point that the child was bruised and needed medical attention.
There may be a number of legal cases that result from corporal punishment cases or incidents including the following:

Red Bicycle.001In the State of Florida, a bicycle can be operated on a street, sidewalk, and crosswalk.   Pursuant to Section 316.2065 (9), Florida Statutes – Bicycle Regulations:

316.2065 (9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

As such, a bicyclist is essentially considered a pedestrian when operating a bicycle on a sidewalk and crosswalk. It is important for all drivers to be on the look out for bicyclists in the community whether the bicyclist / cyclist is a toddler, child, teen, adult, or competitive cyclist of any age. Florida weather permits bicycle riding year round.  As such, drivers should always be on the lookout for cyclist at all times.  Unfortunately, far too many bicyclist are injured every year due to the negligent driving of others and / or distracted driving of others.