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Are Manslaughter Charges Coming For The Flint Crisis?

Are Manslaughter Charges Coming For The Flint Crisis?Recently an investigator has announced that if officials have been found to be grossly negligent and they could be facing charges as serious as manslaughter for their inactions during the Flint Crisis.

What You Should Know About The Flint Crisis

In case you have missed the news about the Flint Crisis, we will give you the basics.

In April 2014, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other Michigan state officials decided to switch Flint’s water supply in an attempt to save money. Originally, Flint was getting a clean source of water through Detroit. However, they had now been switched to the Flint River, a body of water well-known by locals for being filthy and possibly toxic. Additionally, due to the corrosive nature of the water, the Flint River needed to be treated with an anti-corrosive agent in order to protect it from leeching lead from the water pipes. However, no one did and thus the water became contemned with large amounts of lead.

Despite the worries of Flint locals, the government assured them that the water was perfectly safe... full post

What You Should Know About Asbestos In The Workplace

What You Should Know About Asbestos In The WorkplaceAccording to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as many as 1.3 million people in the U.S. go to a workplace where they are exposed to a significant amount of asbestos. For decades it has been well-established that there is a link between asbestos and serious health problems like mesothelioma. However, several employees have much more questions than they do answers when it comes to asbestos.

The Health Risks Of Asbestos In The Workplace

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material. Due to its durability and resistance to heat and flame, asbestos has been utilized in dozens of industries and occupations for decades. However, long before its popularity in the industry peaked, asbestos quickly became linked to several health problems. Which makes it unsurprising that thousands of workers have developed a deadly asbestos-related disease called mesothelioma.

As we have mentioned, the dangers of asbestos have been clear for decades now. In fact, everyone breathes in trace amounts of asbestos each day, since it naturally occurs in nature. However, because asbestos fibers can be inhaled, even short-term... full post

The Basics Of Stairs Accidents

The Basics Of Stairs AccidentsAnytime someone trips, slips, or falls, they are at risk of suffering a serious injury even if the fall occurs on even ground. However, when a fall involves a staircase, the potential injuries are all the more severe and life-threatening. According to the National Safety Council, more than 1 million individuals suffer injuries from falls on the stairs on an annual basis.

Furthermore, an estimated 12,000 of those fall victims do not survive their injuries.

Common injuries that usual follow an individual who has tripped, slipped, or fallen down the stairs includes:

Broken or shattered bones
Internal organ damage
Internal Bleeding
Neck and back injuries
Traumatic brain injury
Spinal cord injury

Generally, property owners are liable for any stair accidents in the same way that they are liable for any kind of slip and fall accident in general. However, stairs present a number of additional dangers that require special consideration. If you have recently been in a stair accident, here is how you can determine whether the property owner is at fault for your injuries.

In order to be legally responsible for the injuries you have suffered from tripping,... full post

No Trial Is Certain

No Trial Is CertainThere’s a common misconception held by the general public that a trial doesn’t happen unless the defendant is guilty (or at fault in civil cases) and thus when a case is ruled not guilty or not at fault it’s a miscarriage of justice. However, very few cases that make it to open court are so certain thanks to the variety of ways a case can resolve without getting that far, and ultimately the reason why courts exist in the first place is because the truth isn’t always certain.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

That particular phrase exists as part of the American court system because the alternative, “guilty until proven innocent,” was the established method in criminal cases held by British courts back before the Revolutionary War. And that phrase was more than just a different way to arrange the words – the change in philosophy has to do with who bears the burden of proof.

The idea is that if a case is brought to trial under the “innocent first” philosophy then it’s up to the prosecution to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the... full post

How Many Ways Can A Civil Case End?

How Many Ways Can A Civil Case End?The vast majority of civil cases never make it to trial. While that fact may be disappointing for those who love the courtroom drama shown in TV shows and movies, the issue is that seeing a court case all the way through to the end is an expensive prospect for both the prosecution and the defense. Even beyond the money problem, in most cases the facts are clear enough that there’s no need to let a jury decide what both sides can figure out without their help.

On the other hand, not every civil case ends in a settlement either. There are actually a number of different alternatives:

1. The Case Is Never Filed

While this may not technically be a way for a case to end, it often marks the end of a potential plaintiff’s dispute with the responsible party. There are a few steps in between an action which may justify a court case and the moment when that case is filed, including negotiations with lawyers, and if the two parties can come to... full post

Responsible Parties Pile Up As Dieselgate Continues

Responsible Parties Pile Up As Dieselgate ContinuesEnvironmental advocacy groups have been saying for a lot longer than last September that car engines produce a lot more emissions under realistic conditions than in test labs, including diesel and gasoline engines alike. Both Volkswagen and the rest of the industry have been trying to counter this claim by saying that the defeat device is an exception instead of a rule, but their protests have been growing less and less credible as more people are starting to pay more attention to vehicle pollution.

The Latest Suspect

Some months after Dieselgate first broke, the French government raided Renault’s corporate headquarters, apparently in connection to its attempts to circumvent emission standards. Nothing much has surfaced yet from that aside from Renault’s sudden desire to recall certain vehicles to make them compliant with pollution regulations, but their stocks fell from the rumors alone.

Now, however, more concrete news has surfaced regarding Daimler, the company that owns Mercedes Benz. A Dutch company, TNO, has uncovered a device on their diesel vehicles which shuts down pollution filters when the temperature drops... full post

Brian O Sutter
posted by Brian O. Sutter , in:

The Takata Recall May Get Even Worse

The Takata Recall May Get Even Worse 	The Takata air bag recall is already the single biggest vehicle recall in American history, in large part because it affects over a dozen manufacturers to one extent or another. What started as a few million Honda vehicles has expanded to 29 million air bags in cars manufactured by companies headquartered in Asia, Europe, and America, and now NHTSA regulators are wondering whether to tack on another 90 million.

Well-Documented Troubles

The reason for this sudden quadrupling has to do with a new batch of Takata internal emails and memos which have revealed that their manufacturing issues were far more systemic than exceptional. Defective air bag inflators were regularly allowed to pass through the inspection process despite any obvious flaws like metal shavings in the propellant, bad welding jobs, and bent or damaged parts.

Moreover, these issues date back as far as 2001, several years earlier than what anyone previously expected, and they extend to more than one manufacturing plant. And since these bad inflators were randomly thrown in with good inflators, all of them will... full post

Brian O Sutter
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Hoverboards: Unsafe At Any Speed?

Hoverboards:  Unsafe At Any Speed?2015 marked the 30th anniversary of the Back to the Future trilogy, and homages to the films were everywhere throughout the year. This was especially true of the second movie, which involves a sequence that takes place in 2015 and features all kinds of futuristic technology: flying cars, holograms on the street, instant food cookers, and hoverboards, the ultimate evolution in skateboards. The filmmakers weren’t aiming for realistic predictions of where we’d be in 30 years, of course, but the celebration brought a lot of attention to a few devices marketed as hoverboards.

The Product

While the hoverboard in Back to the Future Part II lived up to the name by being able to maintain a height several inches above the ground, real life hoverboards are somewhat disappointing to anyone hoping to recreate the movie’s iconic chase scene.

Rather than being a flying skateboard, the products called hoverboards are self-balancing scooters designed along the same lines as the Segway. The wheels are smaller and there’s no handle, making it a sportier version of the same design, and while they... full post

Open Vehicle Recalls Hit New High

Open Vehicle Recalls Hit New HighAccording to a recent Carfax report, no fewer than 47 million vehicles currently on US roads are in need of a recall repair. This number represents no fewer than one fifth of all American vehicles, and while many of them may represent “better safe than sorry” fixes that haven’t resulted in any accidents, it’s still enough of a problem that the Department of Transportation is starting up an awareness campaign.

Growing Demand, Limited Supplies

Part of the reason for this recent upswing in open recalls is the fact that the number of recalls period has spiked massively in recent years. Both 2014 and 2015 managed to more than double the previous record, logging right around 51 million recalls each (and on the bright side, this means that over half of the past two years of recalls have been successfully serviced).

A significant percentage of these open recalls are related to the massive Takata air bag recall which has affected nearly 30 million vehicles and counting. Many of the car owners involved are entirely unable to get the repairs they... full post

What’s The Problem With The Assignment Of Benefits?

What’s The Problem With The Assignment Of Benefits?“Assignment of benefits” is a practice with insurance claims in which a claimant will sign away some of his or her benefits directly to the person or organization who would wind up taking the money anyway. For instance, a person who’s just been through a flood will need a professional cleaning service and someone to repair the foundation, and with the ability to use an assignment of benefits the homeowner can essentially tell the contractors to contact their insurer directly for their money.

The Benefits

The best reason for this approach is the fact that it cuts out a lot of the now-unnecessary back-and-forth communication. Without it, a contractor would need to inspect the condition of the home, provide an estimate for the needed work, and then wait for the homeowner to make his or her claim and then deliver the funds. Instead of all that, the homeowner can sign an assignment of benefits release form which allows contractors to place their claims directly with the insurance company and then get straight to work.

The Risks

The... full post

The Importance Of Tornado Safety

Mobile Home At Spanish Lakes Nokomis FLsWhen you think of a tornado, you probably think of a funnel cloud hovering over a lonely, flat field of corn in the Great Plains or a massive twister picking up and tossing mobile homes like a kid taking out his frustration on his innocent toys. However, every now and again El Niño will conspire with the wind currents to make conditions just right for Florida to experience a wave of tornadoes that doesn’t let up even in winter.

As such, it’s important for Florida residents of every latitude to understand the basics of tornado safety. While you may come to expect hurricanes and tropical storms, the fact that you don’t see tornadoes coming is what makes them such a threat.

1. Keep The Radio On During A Storm

Weather satellites can see hurricanes coming from hundreds of miles away, but a tornado can form, strike, and vanish all within a matter of minutes. Spotting a tornado often comes down to nothing more technological than a network of storm watchers who communicate on civilian band radios. A tornado watch can become a tornado warning in... full post

Who’s Responsible When Wild Animals Attack?

Who’s Responsible When Wild Animals Attack?To say that our state gets its fair share of wild animal attacks is something of an understatement: Florida is one of the few places in the world where the distinction between alligators and crocodiles matters because their ranges overlap along the southern end of the peninsula. Not a year goes by without at least one confirmed alligator bite, and in some years there are more than a dozen. But assuming you aren’t out camping in the middle of the Everglades when an alligator strikes, who bears responsibility for your injury?

Question 1: Does The Alligator Have An Owner?

If the answer is “yes,” then chances are the owner is liable even if he or she isn’t directly responsible or negligent for allowing the attack to happen.

Civil law makes a distinction between tame animals and wild animals, with tame animals being mostly safe to be around and wild animals being mostly dangerous. To own a wild animal requires extensive training and safety precautions, but it doesn’t matter how extensive these precautions are if the animal... full post

Boating Accidents Can Be Just As Dangerous

Boating Accidents Can Be Just As DangerousWhen you’re on a boat in Florida, the rules are different than when you’re in a car on land. You’re still considered under the influence if your blood alcohol content is .08 or higher, but you’re much less likely to get stopped by a patrol and you’re allowed to have open containers within reach of the pilot. Underage drinking still isn’t permitted, but kids as young as 14 can helm a personal watercraft of any sort and only need a license for boats with 10 horsepower or more.

However, just because the rules are different doesn’t mean the results won’t be the same if you get into an accident. A bad collision can cause an injury to just about anywhere on your body depending on what you hit, including a potentially hard-to-detect traumatic brain injury. A collision can also cause significant damage to any boats involved or even sink them, and even with a proper flotation device there’s still some risk of drowning.

For these reasons, the actions you take after a boating accident are exactly... full post

Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law

Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault LawFlorida is one of the few states in America with a no-fault automobile insurance state. You’ve probably heard this before, but do you know what this really entails? The no-fault law guarantees your insurer pays you a limited sum of money, but there are situations where you may be entitled to more. If you don’t know the details of the law, you may be forgoing significant damages that an experienced personal injury lawyer could obtain for you.

Origins Of The Law

In the 1971, the state of Florida, faced with sky-rocketing vehicle insurance premiums, excessive litigation that clogged the court systems and delayed payment to automobile accident victims, and jury awards that overcompensated minor injuries, passed no-fault legislation. According to the Florida Supreme Court in Lasky v. State Farm Insurance Company, the no fault law was intended to:

avoid delayed payments by ensuring injured persons were paid directly by their own insurers regardless of fault,
unclog the court system,
lower automobile insurance premiums, and
end inequitable recoveries under the traditional tort system.

Since then, the law has undergone several revisions to get to its current iteration.

Pertinent Provisions Of... full post

Understanding Florida’s Comparative Negligence Laws

Understanding Florida’s Comparative Negligence LawsImagine a teenager driving down the road, music blasting loud, smartphone in the right hand, left hand precariously perched on the steering wheel. He looks down at his smartphone, glances back up at the road, and then looks back down at his smartphone as he approaches an intersection 5 mph over the speed limit.

Meanwhile, a man jogs down a sidewalk towards the intersection with headphones on. Instead of stopping to wait for the crosswalk signal, he glances at the road in one direction, and then continues into the intersection without breaking his stride.

If the teenager hits the man, and both suffer serious injuries, who is at fault for the accident? Who should be responsible for the medical expenses, the lost income, the property damage?

If you’re not sure what the answers to those questions are, you’re not alone. Accidents usually aren’t black and white, and figuring out who’s at fault is incredibly difficult. In the aftermath of an accident, it’s important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer that can sort through the facts and zealously represent your position.

Florida’s Comparative Negligence Law

Practically, there... full post

What’s The Big Deal With Daniel Stahl V. Hialeah Hospital?

What’s The Big Deal With Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital?The Florida Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital in a little less than a month on April 16, 2016. The case has been followed with close scrutiny by those in the Florida workers’ compensation industry. So what’s the big deal with this case, and what does it mean for you?

History Of Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation schemes began as state solutions to the problem of people being injured at work. The schemes were designed as a sort of compromise between employers and labor, whereby employers and/or their insurers would pay for job-related injuries of their employees regardless of fault, and in return, employers would be immune from traditional tort suits in court, and employees would receive less money than they would have if they had sued in court.

Of course, it wasn’t hard to predict that employers and insurance companies would try to get out of paying by arguing that certain injuries were not job-related, so in Florida, the Offices of the Judges of Compensation Claims was established... full post

Navigating Social Security Disability Insurance

Navigating Social Security Disability InsuranceDo you have a serious medical condition that prevents you from working? If so, you may want to consider applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a Federal program that pays out over $143 billion per year to more than 11 million Americans unable to work because of serious illness or impairment.

The SSDI program is primarily paid for by social security taxes that are withheld from your paychecks, therefore, you need to have worked a certain number of years by the time you become disabled to be eligible for SSDI.

It may sound like easy money, but standards are strict and only about one-third of all applications are approved for payment of benefits. The benefits are also modest; the average monthly benefit for the program is $1,165. The program isn’t designed to completely replace your income, but to help with basic living needs.

With those caveats, if you think SSDI benefits can help, here are a few tips to maximize the chances of being approved.

Talk To Your Doctor

Talk to your doctor and get an assessment of whether he or she thinks you... full post

Understanding Florida’s Wrongful Death Laws

Understanding Florida’s Wrongful Death LawsThere have been a lot of high profile vehicle recalls lately, including the General Motors ignition switch scandal. GM’s case involved faulty ignition switches that could shut off engines on the road and prevent airbags from properly inflating. Although GM knew about the ignition switches for at least 10 years, only in 2014 did they begin to recall nearly 30 million cars that had the faulty ignition switches.

The faulty switches were admittedly linked to 124 deaths, and there could be more that GM has not yet acknowledged. In cases like this, the term “wrongful death” gets bandied about, but what exactly does that entail?

Origins Of Wrongful Death Claims

Traditionally, deceased persons could not bring law suits in court. As a result, if someone’s wrongful actions resulted in another person’s death, he was immune from civil suits even though he could have been sued if the other person had just been injured, but did not die.

To close this loophole, states began enacting wrongful death statutes, which specifically enabled surviving family members to bring suit on behalf of the deceased.

Who Can Bring A Wrongful Death... full post

Recent Significant Automobile Recalls

Recent Significant Automobile RecallsThere have been a recent spate of high-profile automobile recalls affecting tens of millions of vehicles, including the Takata airbag recall and the General Motors ignition switch scandal, but the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is constantly issuing smaller recalls with potentially fatal consequences.

The NHTSA issues recall notifications on an almost daily basis. Often times, the recalls affect no more than a few hundred cars, but larger recalls are issued with alarming regularity. Here are a few recent recalls that could affect you.

Nissan Recalls Nearly 47,000 Nissan Rogues

Nissan recently expanded its recall of Nissan Rogue vehicles made in the 2014 model year. The recall originally covered vehicles manufactured between January 2, 2014 and June 7, 2014, but now also covers vehicles manufactured between July 25, 2013, and December 21, 2013.

According to the NHTSA, the nickel plating material from the fuel pump’s inner or outer casing may detach or flake due to fuel flow, vibration, or pressure. The detached plating material can migrate throughout the fuel pump, and cause the fuel pump’s impeller to stop function.

If the particles interfere with the... full post

Brian O Sutter
posted by Brian O. Sutter , in: