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Amtrak Derailment Could Bring Lawsuits

Amtrak Derailment Could Bring LawsuitsRecently, an Amtrak train derailed just south of Seattle, Washington. The train was making its first-ever trip, traveling from Seattle to Portland, Oregon. When the train derailed, it toppled over an overpass and crashed onto the highway below. The tragedy resulted in three deaths and over 100 injuries. Unfortunately, it appears that liability suits will be an issue as families attempt to heal and move forward.


What Caused The Accident?


The train derailed because it was going nearly 2.5 times faster than it should have been. The train entered a curve at 81 mph, even though the recommended speed was 30 mph. Those killed were all passengers on the train. Although the train struck at least five cars when it tumbled to the highway, no vehicle passengers were killed.

Unfortunately, the new railroad came under heavy scrutiny, which makes an event like this all the more tragic. The mayor of Lakewood, a nearby town, had fought against the rail line, even saying on record that someone would end up being killed. Mayor Don Anderson was concerned about the lack of railroad crossings because people in the area... ...read full post

Auto Recalls Continue To Hit All-Time Highs

Auto Recalls Continue To Hit All-Time HighsSince 2011, the number of vehicles affected by auto-recalls has been increasing. Although this may sound concerning, it’s actually indicative of awareness by drivers, auto manufacturers, and government officials, who have then taken steps to correct potentially fatal mistakes.

However, there are a number of vehicles in the United States that have been subject to recall, but have gone unrepaired. As a result, auto companies have recently begun making efforts to reach out to affected customers.


Auto Recalls At An All-Time High


In 2011, there were 13.6 million vehicles in the United States impacted by auto recalls. This year, there have been 53 million vehicles involved in 927 recalls, although most of that is thanks to the Takata airbag recall. The Takata recall is responsible for 42 million recalls, impacting 19 automakers.

Unfortunately, recent statistics have indicated that nearly a third of vehicles on American roads have been a part of a recall but have gone unrepaired, even though auto recall repairs do not cost the driver anything. There are a number of reasons why this may be the case. Some drivers may openly ignore... ...read full post

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

Florida Is In Need Of Lawsuit Reform

Florida Is In Need Of Lawsuit ReformSince 2002, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) produces an annual ranking that identifies states where judges continually misapply laws and court procedures in civil cases. As a result of misapplication, civil cases in these states are often heard in an unfair and unbalanced manner, typically at the expense of defendants. Number one on this year’s list? Florida.

The ATRA’s Study

The ATRA is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to educate the general public about how the civil justice system functions. This is important to note because it means ATRA is generally unbiased in their reviews.

The study identified eight jurisdictions or courts where judges seem to ignore precedent, and seek to expand civil liabilities instead. In doing so, judges fail to respect lawmakers’ policy-making authority.

The full ranking of the eight jurisdictions can be seen below.


1. Florida
2. California
3. St. Louis, Missouri
4. New York City Asbestos Litigation
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6. New Jersey
7. Madison and Cook Counties, Illinois
8. Louisiana


The report also put a few areas on their watch list and highlighted a few dishonorable mentions and points of light that were cause for concern.


A Growing Problem


Although Florida’s civil... ...read full post

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

Florida PTSD Workers’ Comp Bill

Florida PTSD Workers’ Comp Bill There has recently been much debate over a proposed bill that would provide workers’ compensation to first responders affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although the bill was filed earlier this year, it just recently passed the Banking and Insurance Committee. However, the bill has faced scrutiny which would create a hurdle to its being passed into law.


Pushing Toward Legislative Approval


The bill, SB 376, was sponsored by Florida Senate minority leader Lauren Brook. The proposed bill passed the Banking and Insurance Committee in a unanimous vote, making a strong case that it could be passed into law. The bill will now go to the Senate Tourism and Commerce Committee for further review.

The proposed bill would provide workers’ comp benefits for those suffering from mental or nervous injuries. These injuries would be covered regardless of whether they were accompanied by physical injuries. This language was amended from a previously-filed bill that stipulated that PTSD injuries must be accompanied by a physical injury in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation.

The new bill also clarifies that any first responder arriving at the scene who... ...read full post

Following Up On An Auto Recall

Following Up On An Auto RecallThe Takata airbag recall has been one of the primary reasons a record number of U.S. vehicles have been recalled this year. If your vehicle has been affected by a recall, it’s important to remedy the problem as soon as possible.
Why Should You Follow Up On An Auto Recall?

The most important reason to follow up on an auto recall is pretty clear. Taking action to replace a defective product that’s been recalled can save the life of you and your family. If a recall is issued, it is done so for a reason. By the time a recall has been issued, there have already been at least a dozen accidents proving that the product in question is defective. Continuing to drive around with a defective part can drastically increase your chances of being harmed.

For many companies, an auto recall is a measure of last resort. There’s no reason to drive a car around knowing that a part needs to be replaced or repaired. Safety is one of the many factors people weigh when buying a new car. Why would drivers neglect their vehicle’s safety... ...read full post

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

Improving The Communication System For Auto Recalls

Improving The Communication System For Auto Recalls The Takata airbag recall will forever change the way auto recalls are conducted in the United States. The recall, which bankrupted Takata while affecting over 40 million U.S. vehicles, has resulted in at least 18 deaths to date. At least seven of the drivers who died received notice of the recall after it was too late.

Companies have begun to undertake massive outreach campaigns to contact drivers, using methods previously unseen in the United States. This campaign, which has included social media outreach and direct door-to-door contact, has been done in an effort to save lives and reduce liability for automakers. By providing direct notice to owners, automakers reduce their chances of being held liable for damages.

As a result of the massive recall, there could also be updates to databases that contain driver information. These updates would simplify outreach in case of future recalls.


Maryland Could Pave The Way


Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration was recently awarded a federal grant worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars to help coordinate a database that connected recall information with vehicle registrations. The plan is designed... ...read full post

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

PIP Repeal Faces Difficult Road Ahead

PIP Repeal Faces Difficult Road AheadThe past few legislative sessions, Florida’s House and Senate have attempted to repeal the state’s requirement for drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance. This year’s legislative session has proved no different. However, much like years past, the effort to do so has seemingly hit a roadblock.


Personal Injury Protection


Florida’s personal injury protection mandate was originally passed into law in 1972. The law requires drivers to carry $10,000 in personal injury insurance. Personal injury insurance is considered to be a no-fault policy, which means the policyholder reaps the benefits no matter who was at fault in an accident.

A $10,000 policy covers 80% of medical expenses and 60% loss of income. Additional variations of the policy can also be purchased through insurance providers. Florida is one of ten states to require personal injury insurance.
Unfortunately, there has been a rise in scams and fraudulent schemes that take advantage of the PIP mandate. Fraud is the main reason why Florida’s legislature has continually pushed forward with repeal.


Maintaining Certain Provisions During Repeal


Although the legislature is attempting to repeal the mandate, there are certain provisions that... ...read full post

Workers’ Comp Fraud A Growing Issue In Florida

Workers’ Comp Fraud A Growing Issue In FloridaPersonal injury protection fraud has long been a problem in Florida. As lawmakers take steps to crack down on automobile fraud, it appears that fraud has been growing in another industry. Workers’ compensation fraud is a growing problem in Florida, with more companies taking advantage of a loophole that allows them to game the system.


Workers’ Compensation In Florida


The workers’ compensation program exists in Florida to get injured employees quick access to medical care. Hopefully, it leads to an employee’s swift recovery and return to the workplace, at a reasonable cost to the employer.

Most employers in the state of Florida are required to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. The employer is responsible for paying the entirety of the workers’ insurance premium. Workers’ comp typically covers an employee’s medical care and lost wages when injured in a workplace accident. In many cases, receiving workers’ compensation prevents an employee from suing for additional damages.


Taking Advantage Of The System


Many employers have been taking advantage of the system when it comes to illegal immigrants. Employers have been accepting fraudulent paperwork to hire... ...read full post

3 Times To Hire A Lawyer For Workers’ Compensation

3 Times To Hire A Lawyer For Workers’ CompensationWorkers’ compensation insurance is a universal requirement for employers throughout the United States, but all the laws requiring it got passed at the state level. That means each state has slightly different requirements and benefits, including the state of Florida. Like everywhere else, Florida’s workers’ comp laws are supposed to make things nice and simple for injured workers to cover their medical bills and get back to work, but life and laws aren’t always as simple as we wish they would be.


On Day One

Filing your injury claim as an employee is supposed to be an easy process, since workers’ comp exists for the employee’s benefit. The system it replaced was one where employees had to prove active negligence on the part of the employer, and the whole process almost always favored employers and their deeper pockets.

But there can be a lot of paperwork involved, especially for a severe injury, and even a small amount of paperwork can be intimidating to an immigrant or foreign worker who doesn’t speak English fluently. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can be worth the commission... ...read full post

5 Telltale Signs Of Drunk Driving

5 Telltale Signs Of Drunk DrivingEven if you’re the safest, soberest driver the road has ever seen, you can’t guarantee that all the other drivers around you are meeting your high standards. Drunk and intoxicated drivers can appear on the road at any time of day, but they’re more likely to show up late at night and especially on holidays where alcohol is part of the celebration, like New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, and Cinco de Mayo.

Defensive driving is about more than just following all the rules yourself, it’s about watching the vehicles around you and not taking for granted the idea that they’ll all follow the rules, too. So when you’re out on the road late at night, driving home after a holiday celebration, keep an eye out for the following warning signs that another driver might be intoxicated.


Swerving. This behavior is probably the easiest to spot, and it’s the first sign that police officers will look for when they’re on patrol. Alcohol makes it hard to concentrate, and while driving in a straight line is simple, it’s not that easy when you can’t focus on... ...read full post

2017 Auto Recalls Are High, But Way Below 2016

2017 Auto Recalls Are High, But Way Below 2016As 2017 comes to a close, the number of automobile recalls has totaled up to around 28 million. That’s certainly a big number, especially since popular models tend to sell a few hundred thousand each year, but it’s nowhere near 2016’s 53 million recalls.


Back To Business As Usual


The main reason for the sudden drop is because of the one big recall that made recall numbers skyrocket in the first place: the Takata airbags. Takata’s faulty airbag design meant that in some cases drivers were getting metal shrapnel thrown at their faces instead of an air cushion, resulting in several fatalities and a total of 41 million recall notices issued between several companies from 2014-16. The high numbers were also the result of other high-profile recalls like the GM ignition switches.

Fewer than half of the needed recall repairs on Takata airbags have taken place even now. Partly that’s because of how many replacement parts need installing, and partly it’s because car owners don’t always give recall notices as much attention as they should.

But, for the most part, the automakers with... ...read full post

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

How A Lawyer Can Help With Social Security Disability Cases

 How A Lawyer Can Help With Social Security Disability CaseSocial Security Disability is part of the federal “safety net,” social programs that give people money, subsidized housing, medical treatments, and more to the people who most need it. Social Security Disability lets people access their Social Security benefits early after they suffer a permanent or long-term disability that makes it impossible to work.

Unfortunately, while Social Security Disability benefits might have been easier to get back in the day, at this point the welfare office is very strict about who qualifies for benefits. If you have any way to make ends meet or if your disability doesn’t keep you from working for a year or longer, the government can deny your application. But on the bright side, you can hire a lawyer to help you through the red tape every step of the way.


Step 1: Writing The Application


A lawyer can help you, starting from the day you decide to apply for SSD benefits. An experienced Social Security lawyer will have plenty of experience working with the paperwork and forms used in the application process, and so... ...read full post

What Makes A Civil Case Frivolous?

what-makes-a-civil-case-frivolousFlorida’s name has shown up in a few recent articles about how its civil courts and juries tend to favor larger payments than in other parts of the country. But setting aside whether or not that’s factually true, what exactly makes high personal injury settlements and jury awards a bad thing?


The Purpose Of Personal Injury


The first question that needs answering is, “Why allow personal injury lawsuits in the first place?” If someone broke a law and committed a crime, that’s what criminal cases and criminal courts are for. Why not let that be the start and end of things?

There are several ways to refute that argument, enough to fill up its own article. But the short answer is that, while the state can bring a person to court to get justice, it’s up to the person who was wronged to get compensation for any damage. Damage can include all kinds of very real costs, like auto repairs or a replacement car, medical bills, and lost income from days spent recovering instead of working.

Personal injury cases are also an important and significant way for individuals to make... ...read full post

What Makes A Commercial Truck Accident Different?

What Makes A Commercial Truck Accident Different?There are millions of reported auto accidents every year and added together they cause millions of injuries, hundreds of thousands of hospital stays, and kill tens of thousands of unfortunate Americans annually.

But not every car crash is the same. Some are just minor dents picked up in parking lots, while others are highway crashes where the high speeds result in some major damage. Others involve some seriously heavy vehicles like commercial trucks, vans, and semis. If a normal car collides with the side of a semi, the car will always come out in worse shape. Commercial truck accidents have some very real differences from ordinary auto accidents, and those differences are worth considering.


The Damage


The effects of a truck accident are a simple matter of physics. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” which means the effects of a collision hit both vehicles equally. But commercial trucks have a lot more mass, and the impact spreads throughout the whole body. A sedan, on the other hand, has to take all the force the giant truck brought with... ...read full post

When Is An Employee Entitled To Hazard Pay?

When Is An Employee Entitled To Hazard Pay?Legally speaking, the answer is “never.” There is no state or federal regulation that requires any profession or job category to offer hazard pay, and the only regulation that refers to hazard pay is one that says employers have to factor in the higher hourly rate when they calculate overtime pay.

However, employees with dangerous jobs will be happy to know that the reality of hazard pay isn’t nearly as simple as the regulations. There are plenty of jobs that offer hazard pay, but the reason has less to do with danger and more to do with changing working conditions.

The Definition

The term “hazard pay” refers to a higher hourly rate or a bonus paid to a salaried employee who has to take a serious risk on the job. The nature of this risk can be anything, but it includes all kinds of situations where even the best safety equipment and procedures still leave a significant chance of bodily harm, death, or permanent physical or mental damage. This can include:

• Working with dangerous chemicals and pathogens
• Hostile environments like barren deserts and the... ...read full post

Who Owns The Road (And Pays To Keep It Paved)?

Who Owns The Road (And Pays To Keep It Paved)?Highways and streets don’t pave themselves. Someone has to own the strip of land the road is on, pay for the gravel and asphalt to cover it, pay for the heavy machines and workers to pave it, and pay for the paint for the lines. Someone also has to pay for damages caused to vehicles and people caused by deep potholes if they’re left unfixed.


State


Although major highways like interstates and U.S. routes use federal funds for construction and upkeep, their owners are technically the states they’re in. So the state of Florida owns I-95 from the border on St. Mary’s River down to Miami, but Georgia owns the freeway until it crosses the Savannah River into South Carolina. Between the state and federal transportation funds, you can usually count on the highways being in good enough shape that you don’t have to worry about vehicle damage.

States also own state highways, like FL-776, a road that starts in Port Charlotte and ends in Venice. Because the state owns these roads along with the bigger highways, they can share numbers,... ...read full post

How Social Media Can Affect Your Accident Claim

How Social Media Can Affect Your Accident ClaimSocial media is quickly becoming a regular go-to for most people, and it has the power to play an even bigger role in our lives now. People jump to their social media accounts for a variety of reasons such as to update their friends and family on what has been going on throughout their day, they want to share a nice meal they are having, or they may even be using social media to check up on people the easy way.

However, did you know that social media can negatively affect an accident or personal injury claim you may have filed? What you say and do on social media may affect your personal life because nothing you put on the internet remains private. There is always a chance that someone can take what you say wrong, or you can unknowingly admit to something that may have been previously overlooked. All of these have the power to affect your personal injury claim.


What A Defense Lawyer Can Do


Once you file your accident claim for personal injury, the defense lawyer is going to go to any lengths... ...read full post

Finding Out Your Child’s Toy Has Been Recalled

Finding Out Your Child’s Toy Has Been RecalledToy or product recalls are requests to return a specific product back to the manufacturer after safety issues or other defects have been discovered regarding the item. These defects and problems may have the potential to harm the consumer or put the manufacturer at risk for further legal action.


Consumer Product Safety Commission


The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent United States agency that is part of the government, and they are responsible for helping to protect consumers from the unreasonable risks that may be associated with certain products being sold.

They work to create and develop voluntary standards with the industry, issue and enforce mandatory standards, obtain product recalls, conduct research on potential hazards, and inform and educate consumers through the media, as well as state and local governments.

If you feel that you have a product that is defective and may cause injury or already has caused injury, then you can contact them and report and unsafe consumer product. You can also go to their website at www.SaferProducts.gov to see if any products or toys you currently have in your home... ...read full post

How To Recognize Scams And Insurance Schemes

How to Recognize Scams and Insurance SchemesRecently, Florida has been impacted by many storms including Hurricane Irma, and even though hurricane season is now over, we are still seeing an abundant amount of scams and insurance schemes circulating.

Many scams and schemes are going around that pertain to repairs to the home, insurance claims, and FEMA payments. Homeowners are finding themselves very vulnerable when it comes to these con artists, which makes it all the more important to be aware of what is going on and not allowing yourself to become a victim.


Scams Following the Hurricane


There are many scams following Hurricane Irma, so you should learn to recognize a few signs and follow a few tips if you are in the process of hiring a contractor if your home had been damaged. These tips apply to any situation and do not only apply to damage following a hurricane.


Always watch for unsolicited contractors that offer to do the work for you. They may even go as far as to say that they will award you with a hefty discount if you hire them to do the work for you because they already have a... ...read full post