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Sinkholes have been a problem for developed areas in Florida for decades. What is a sinkhole? A sinkhole is a natural depression or hole in the ground caused by the collapse of ground surface layers. A sinkhole can be caused by chemical dissolution or collapse caused by man-made activities, including the collapse of a mine. Sinkholes are formed by the gradual removal of surface layers and may open up to a cave-like space underground. Many urban sinkholes are caused by natural water drainage and weather patterns.

After an injury or death caused by failed maintenance or a dangerous property defect, victims or their families can bring a claim against negligent individuals or entities. Sinkholes have become a problem throughout the state of Florida resulting in multiple injuries and death. Our Fort Lauderdale premises liability attorneys are experienced in the investigation and pursuit of claims involving property owner negligence. In the event of a sinkhole injury or accident, can you hold the property owner liable? Who is responsible in the event of a catastrophic or deadly sinkhole?

The cause of a sinkhole may be difficult to determine, but in Florida they can cause significant property and personal damage. If you were injured by a sinkhole while on private property, you may be able to take legal action against the homeowner, depending on the circumstances. Under premises liability theory, homeowners have a duty to ensure that proper is safe for those who enter. If a homeowner had warning signs that the foundation was shaky or that there was a sinkhole, the homeowner may be responsible for any injuries or death.

Further complicating matters, many homeowners insurance policies exclude sinkholes as a cause for recovery.
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When taking a beach vacation in Florida or along the Atlantic Coast, many travelers will pursue the added adventure of parasailing. Hanging from a parachute, attached from a rope to the speed boat, parasailers can glide above the sea like a bird, catching views of the shoreline and the coast. Though the excitement of a parasailing excursion attracts thousands of tourists every year, participants need to be wary of the potential for serious injury, even death.

When parasailing equipment fails, parasailers could become detached from the rope, fall from the parachute, or even crash into buildings, rocks, or other boats. Parasailing operators must be well-trained and know how to properly fasten equipment. They must also ensure that the boat, sail and other devices are maintained. Our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys are dedicated to helping Florida natives and tourists who’ve been injured.

A parasailing crash can be deadly. In Panama City this month, two parasailers were injured in a parasailing accident. According to witnesses, two teenage girls were seriously injured after the line from the boat detached from a sail. The parachute, carrying the girls in tandem, was picked up by strong winds.

After a parasailing accident, it is important that an independent investigation be conducted on behalf of the victims. Victims should know what caused the accident, who is responsible, and how to pursue just compensation for any injuries. A victim may be entitled to financial recovery for medical costs, pain and suffering, as well as lost wages. Families who have lost a loved one in a parasailing accident may also be compensated for wrongful death.

In this recent parasailing incident, the victims were carried by gusts of wind under the parachute, smashed into a condominium and then were carried into a power line before crashing into several vehicles in a parking lot. The impact of the crash was so severe that the roof and windshield of an SUV in the parking lot shattered.

Such accidents are catastrophic and can leave victims with lasting and serious injuries. Parasailing victims may suffer broken bones, lacerations, head injuries, paralysis, or brain injuries. In many cases, the injuries are permanent. Witnesses said that the accident was “gruesome” and likely left the teenaged victims seriously injured. Though the condition of the victims has not been released, reports indicated that they were both still breathing after the collisions. The reports also indicated that both victims went limp after crashing into the condominium.

The scene was terrifying for victims who watched as the girls sailed into the building, then the power line, then eventually, to the parking lot. Many felt helpless watching them, unable to intervene or reach them until they hit the ground. One witness claimed that he saw an electrical explosion when the girls hit the power line.

In this case, the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are investigating and interviewing witnesses in the crowd. The victims and families of similar accidents may be entitled to significant compensation. An independent investigation can help determine the cause of the accident and identify all responsible individuals and entities, including a parasailing or tourist company.
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Truck drivers in Florida and nationwide must abide by a number of safety rules and regulations to protect their safety and other motorists sharing the road. New provisions effective July 2013 require compliance involving sleep and start-times to ensure that drivers are well-rested and that fatigue does not interfere with a truck driver’s capabilities, reaction time, and control of a commercial vehicle.

The nature of the commercial trucking industry requires that drivers are on the road for long-hours. Drivers are paid by how much ground they are able to cover in a certain period of time. This means the faster a trucker drives, and the more hours on the road, the more money a driver can make. Our Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorneys are experienced with complex cases involving fatigued or negligent truck drivers and trucking company liability.

In many cases, truckers are prone to sleep deprivation and disruption of the normal sleep cycle. This creates concern for safety advocates as well as others sharing the road. Statistically, fatigue is proven to cause a significant number of accidents and injuries to drivers, passengers and other motorists throughout Florida. Unfortunately, truck driver fatigue prevention is not a priority during driver training. Fatigue management is often an afterthought for trucking companies who must ensure that drivers follow state and federal regulations.

Drivers may have other competing interests when on the road—going home to see their families, beating rush hour, or making up for lost time due to inclement weather. To reduce driver-fatigue and the incidence of accidents caused by driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed new standards to reduce the number of “hours of service” performed by commercial truck drivers.

Several years ago, the hours of service were extended, increasing the number of hours commercial drivers are on the road under the Bush Administration. Extending the number of hours a driver can spend on the road creates the possibility for greater fatigue and more accidents. Studies demonstrate that reducing the number of hours of service will also reduce the number of fatigue-induced crashes. Decreasing the number of hours a driver can spend on the road will also reduce the health problems associated with chronic sleep-deprivation.

The FMCSA’s new regulations will reduce the number of hours a driver can work by 12 hours. This is a significant reduction (15%) from the old rules that permit a maximum of 80 hours within a work-week (7 days). Now drivers can only be on the road 70 hours. New regulations will also require that drivers take a 30 minute rest period after they have been driving 8 hours. Drivers who violate the new regulations can be fined up to $2,750 and companies may be fined up to $11,000 per violation.

Driving a big rig or commercial truck is a significant responsibility requiring every driver to be alert, awake and able to manage uncertainties. Inclement weather, road construction, traffic, and other driver negligence can create hazards for trucks, and other drivers. The FMCSA believes that reducing the number of hours truck drivers can spend on the road will ultimately prevent driver fatigue and save the lives of other innocent motorists and their passengers.
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Anyone can be victim of a dog bite, but some are more vulnerable than others.

Children, the elderly, and, not surprisingly, postal service workers, often become victim to aggressive, even fatal dog attacks. Dog Bite Awareness Week, sponsored by The U.S. Postal Service, ended the month of May. Every year, the agency wants to raise public awareness about the dangers of dog bites with the campaign slogan: “Any dog can bite. Don’t be fooled.” In addition to the U.S. Postal Service, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the National Human Society are also partnering up to promote pet safety and prevent animal attacks.

Nationwide, the summer season is the most dangerous time of the year as kids, neighbors, friends, relatives and pets interact.

For pet owners, animal lovers, and parents, it is especially important to remember that every dog has the potential to be dangerous. National Dog Bite Prevention Week marks a public service campaign that sheds light on the public health problem of dog bites. The agency provides safety tips to keep owners informed and to prevent future bites and injuries. Our Fort Lauderdale dog bite attorneys are dedicated to helping the victims and families of animal attacks.

Young children are frequently the victims of dog bites and animal attacks. Every year there are more than 4.5 million Americans attacked by dogs. One in five of those cases will require medical attention. Many of these tragic dog bite cases will result in death. Children often become victims because they are curious and do not know the potential dangers. Kids are also smaller, making it more difficult for them to defend themselves against small or large dogs.

Any animal attack can result in severe and lasting injuries for victims. Dog bites can cause scarring, lacerations, permanent injuries, loss of limb, and fatalities. Victims of dog bites may also suffer emotional damage from a vicious attack. According to reports, the number of dog bites exceeds the number of other public health risks, including measles and mumps combined. Studies also indicate that dog bite victims make up 5% of all emergency room visits.

There are a number of ways to prevent animal attacks. If you are a dog owner, you should always keep your animal behind a fence or on a leash. Dangerous dogs should also wear a muzzle. If you have children, you can keep them informed about the danger of dogs and make sure that they ask before petting strange dogs. Children should never approach a dog quickly or at eye level. This will intimidate a dog and could cause them to snap at a child’s face.

Remember that in the state of Florida, any victim of a dog bite is entitled to compensation, regardless of whether that dog has a previous history of bites or attacks. If you or someone you love has been bit by a dog, you should take immediate action. While medical treatment should be a priority, you should also try to identify the owner and inform authorities about a dangerous dog.

An experienced advocate can also help you collect relevant evidence to prove negligence and to recover compensation after a dog bite injury. You may be entitled to significant compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, long-term care needs, and reconstructive surgery.
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In the United States, Congress has the authority to make laws that impact the trucking industry. Historically, federal regulations have worked towards motorist safety by minimizing load size, limiting the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel without rest, and reducing truck speed in some areas. Nationwide, drivers and trucking companies are responsible for negligent accidents that result in thousands of injuries and deaths every year.

Safety advocates are now urging Congress to take additional action to increase safety for other motorists and passengers on the road. Our Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers are committed to investigating truck accidents and will take every necessary step to hold negligent truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for injuries and wrongful death.

If passed by Congress, the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA) would place tighter restrictions on the weight and size limits of trucks and pull trucks that are currently over the weight limit. A national poll shows that 68% of Americans are opposed to heavier trucks on the road. The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners also indicates that 88% of Americans do not want to pay higher taxes to compensate for damage caused by trucks. Advocates for harsher regulations believe that new restrictions will curb dangerous conditions as well as prevent future accidents that result in personal or property damage.

It is no secret that big business has pull in Congress. Safety advocates worry that the interests of corporations and shipping companies have taken precedence over the safety of individuals on the highway. As most drivers already know, trucks on the highway can be distracting and intimidating, especially when traveling at high speeds. Even if you are traveling in a large SUV, driving next to an 18-wheeler can make you feel powerless.

Many critics, especially the families of trucking accident victims, believe that the trucking industry is winning over safety and thousands are paying with their lives. Increasing weight load limits means choosing profit over the safety of the millions of Americans who share the highway with 18-wheelers and other large trucks.
Every year, thousands are impacted by deadly truck accidents caused by negligent driving, inclement weather, oversized loads, fatigued drivers, and other dangerous conditions caused by semi-trucks on the freeway. There are over 4,000 deaths caused by trucking accidents ever year. According to reports, half of truck drivers have admitted to falling asleep while behind the wheel.

If you or someone you love was involved in a semi-truck accident, it is important to consult with an experienced advocate and investigation team as soon as possible. Truck accident claims can be extremely complex, involving large trucking companies, state and federal laws, and competing versions of the facts. Organizing and preserving evidence at the outset is the best way to protect your rights and maximize your recovery after an accident.
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Florida legislators recently announced that they were going to make a proposal to tighten up parasailing safety regulations. The proposal comes after a recent parasailing accident we told you about on our South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog in which a tourist plunged more than 100 feet to the waters below in Pompano Beach.

The bill that’s going to be introduced during the next legislative session would make sure that there are more safety inspections of these companies, that operations don’t happen too close to the shoreline and that there will be more standards in place to protect customers. There have been other proposals in the past, but none of them have passed. Supporters of the bill say that it’s all in an effort to stop people from being killed in these kinds of accidents.

Our Fort Lauderdale accident lawyers understand that carnivals are inspected when they come into town and these beach “rides” should have to undergo the same inspections, too! We can’t have these tragedies continue to occur along our shoreline.

The most recent bill is named the “White-Miskell bill.” It’s named in honor of the victims in two fatal Pompano Beach parasailing accidents. One was the accident that happened weeks ago and the other was the accident that happened five years ago in which a 15-year-old girl was allowed to go up with her sister even though there was a thunderstorm approaching. Because of the wind, the line that the girls were attached to snapped and the girls flew ashore and slammed into the roof of a hotel, according to the Sun Sentinel.

According to the most recent calculations, there are somewhere between 70 and 120 parasailing companies throughout the state of Florida. Most of these are in areas that have heavy tourist populations, like Fort Lauderdale. There’s a little bit of regulation from the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration over these operations, but no one agency sets or even enforces any safety standards.

Under the proposed bill, these operations would not be able to take place when weather is poor, when power lines or other fixed objects are nearby, when companies don’t have the proper insurance, when equipment has not been inspected or when the towline doesn’t meet a strength standard of 4,800 pounds.

“Any business that can’t operate with safety standards shouldn’t be in business anyway,” said state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach.

Advocates are hoping that these safety standards will help to weed out any unsafe and irresponsible companies.

Still, there are people in our state’s government who believe that certain activities don’t need to be regulated. But how many people have to die before we enact some sort of safety regulation?.

Still, all safety bills that have been introduced in the past have died in committee. Fingers are crossed for this one.
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It doesn’t take long for a tragedy to occur when a young child is left inside a parked vehicle in hot temperatures. Child hyperthermia accidents Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Davie and elsewhere in Florida are a year-around concern which is why some attention is being given by federal authorities recently.

Hollywood car accident lawyers know that two children have died from hyperthermia in a hot vehicle this year in South Florida. According to the Department of Geosciences, 28 children have died in the United States so far this year but the two Florida casualties happened a short few months ago in July. A 22-month old child died in Homestead and a 14 month-old died in Cape Coral from hyperthermia in an unattended vehicle.

The News-Press recently reported that the parents of the Cape Coral are being charged with one count each of causing bodily harm to a child left unattended in a vehicle. The boy was admitted to the hospital the day of the accident with a temperature of 108 degrees and was reported to have blistering on the neck and head. The parents could face up to five years in prison.

A town hall meeting was recently held in Tampa by the Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to strategize ways to reduce injuries and deaths of children caused by heat stroke in hot cars. A child’s body temperature can increase 3 to 5 times faster than an adult, which puts them at serious risk of brain damage, organ failure, permanent blindness or other severe injuries. If a child is not discovered soon enough in a hot vehicle it can lead to fatality. Members of the community, health professionals, law enforcement officials, and parents all congregated to discuss how parents and caretakers can avoid these preventable deaths.

“It’s critical for parents and caregivers to know that hyperthermia is a problem that sees no social, economic, or racial boundaries — child heat stroke can happen to anyone,” said Deputy Administrator Medford.

Even with a window cracked as much as two inches, a vehicle’s temperature can reach deadly levels inside within ten minutes when the temperature outside is 80 degrees or higher.

Children, ages four and under, are at considerable risk, more so than other age groups, when left alone in an unattended vehicle in the heat. Small children don’t sweat which is a cooling mechanism that adults have and their small bodies absorb more heat than an adult on a hot day.

There are some things that caretakers, babysitters, parents or other family members watching a child can do to prevent these types of preventable deaths. Prevention tips include:

-Teach a child that cars are not a play area and that they should never crawl inside while unsupervised or to hide from someone else.

-Lock the windows and doors when you park the car at home so that children can’t get inside the vehicle on their own. Keep keys out of reach of small children. Never instruct children to take the keys and wait inside the vehicle before you are ready to leave.

-Children tend to fall asleep while riding in the vehicle which allows you to forget that they are in the backseat of the vehicle. Leave a child’s toy in the front seat with you to remind you that they are in the vehicle.

-If you are highly stressed or distracted by upcoming events in your schedule, make arrangements for someone else to drop off or pick up your child. Stress and distractions can cause forgetfulness or lack of intuitiveness which can lead to leaving a child alone in a hot vehicle unsupervised.
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The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ recently released crash statistics report for 2010 shows a slight decrease in some categories. Although some of the statistics have improved slightly, our Fort Pierce injury lawyers want to emphasize to motorists that it is no time to become complacent about safe driving behaviors because we live in one of the most dangerous states in the country.

Last year, we averaged almost 650 traffic crashes daily in Port St. Lucie, Coral Springs, Hollywood and throughout Florida. This is far too many considering the number of deaths, serious injuries and property damage that result. Many accidents occur because of a drunk or distracted driver, someone who is speeding, or a driver who is driving aggressively. These kinds of behaviors are a danger and often result in a South Florida car accident involving even the safest of drivers. If you are involved in an accident, it is important that you get in touch with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as practical to assist with the complexities of possibly being compensated for any injuries.

The 2010 crash statistics report showed a decrease in crashes by a mere 4.6 percent when compared to 2009. The reported number of deaths went from 2,563 in 2009 to 2,444 in 2010.That’s far better than 2005, when there were 3,533 reported deaths. In fact, in the five years following 2005 there has been a gradual decline in traffic fatalities reported each year with a 30.8 percent improvement through 2010. The number of deaths per 100 million miles traveled was 1.25, which was at an all-time low since recording first began in Florida.

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Starting this week the Florida Highway Patrol is delivering the message to buckle up as the 2011 national Click It or Ticket campaign gets underway. Law enforcement will be cracking down on motorists who disobey Florida’s safety belt law with zero tolerance, meaning click your seat belt or expect a ticket.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers want to remind you to “Click It” or risk the chance of serious injury in a car accident. Drive safely this holiday weekend.

“Many traffic deaths can be prevented if more motorists simply buckle up. That is why the Florida Highway Patrol is strongly supporting enhanced enforcement of safety belt laws during the upcoming Click It or Ticket campaign,” said Major Timothy Ashley, commander of FHP’s Troop H, which covers eight counties in the Big Bend area. “We will be out in full force to remind drivers and passengers to always fasten their safety belts.”

It is the requirement of Florida law that front seat passengers wear a seat belt, as well as, anyone under 18 must be belted in. The fine for not buckling up is $30 in addition to court costs if convicted. After last years campaign seat belt use rose to 87.4 percent.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reminded motorists about the severe risks of not wearing a seat belt.

“We are reminding Americans to buckle up before they hit the road for the long Memorial Day weekend,” said Secretary LaHood. “Seat belts are a lifesaver, but too many people are failing to buckle their seat belts at night, and it’s costing lives.”

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that fewer people buckle up at night, making driving at night particularly dangerous. The NHTSA reports for 2009, 62 percent of vehicle occupants killed at night were not wearing seat belts. By comparison, 44 percent of vehicle occupants killed during the day were unrestrained. David Strickland an NHTSA Administrator warned that holiday weekends like, Memorial Day weekend, are extremely dangerous for motorists not buckling up. The 2009 Memorial Day period saw 306 people killed on U.S. roads, 55 percent were unbelted.

“Statistics tell a powerful story about the fate of unbelted motorists in crashes. That’s why law enforcement is exceptionally vigilant at this time of year,” said Administrator Strickland.
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Temperatures rise high during the summer months, so caregivers, babysitters and daycare centers should be aware of the risk of children suffering from hyperthermia in Miami, West Palm Beach, Margate and elsewhere throughout the state. Children under 14 are most at risk of hyperthermia when left in a vehicle alone, which is a common cause of death for children throughout the country.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys know that hyperthermia often leads to more serious symptoms like heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or heat-related illnesses, which can be fatal. Keeping the body cool is often achieved by sweating, but small children don’t cool as easily in most cases. Life-threatening temperatures in idle vehicles can be reached pretty quickly. Child caregivers of any type have a responsibility to keep your child safe. Schools, daycare centers, babysitters and au pairs could be considered negligent if your child experiences a heat-related illness under their watchful eye, so contact a legal professional to get all your questions answered.

The Department of Geosciences reports on hyperthermia deaths of children in vehicles. The department reports two heat-related deaths in 2011 from children left in cars. In 2010, there were 49 fatalities. From 1998 until 2010, 496 children died from hyperthermia after being left in an unattended vehicle. There are three leading circumstances in which children have been left in the vehicle unattended. It has been found that 51 percent of deaths (253 children) have occurred because the caregiver forgot the child. In 30 percent of incidents (150 fatalities) children were found playing in an unattended vehicle. Sadly, 17 percent of fatalities (86 children) were when a child was intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult.

Last year, Florida reported six hyperthermia deaths of children left in vehicles. In 2009, there were nine reported heat-related deaths of children in vehicles. Florida is the second most dangerous state behind Texas in reported child vehicular hyperthermia deaths. From 1998 to 2010, Florida reported 56 fatalities, while Texas reported 71.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips to reduce the risk of hyperthermia:
-Call a local emergency number or 911 if you see a child left alone in a vehicle without supervision.

-Cool the child quickly if you see any of the following symptoms: red, hot or moist skin, nausea, slow weak pulse, rapid heartbeat, or an inability to sweat.

-Children should never be permitted to play in or near unattended vehicles.

-Always check the front and back seat before locking your door and walking away.

-Instruct the school or daycare center to call you if your child does not arrive on time.

-Never leave your child alone in the vehicle while you run an errand. Cracking windows or leaving the air conditioning on still puts them in danger if left unsupervised.

Hyperthermia is a serious danger when children are left alone in vehicles as the average temperature inside the vehicle is typically 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. The costs associated with treatment of a heat-related illness can be unbearable, so contact an experienced child injury law firm to help get you the compensation you deserve if your child suffers a heat-related illness at school, church or daycare center.
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