Florida Accident Kills 2-Year-Old, Injures 10, Driver Facing DUI Charge

A 24-year-old woman is now being charged with DUI manslaughter after allegedly causing a motor vehicle accident on Interstate 75.  According to Florida Highway Patrol, a 2-year-old passenger was killed and the driver and 10 other passengers, including eight children, were injured in the collision.

On Saturday, Shameka L. Jones was driving a Ford Expedition northbound on I-75 when she drove into the shoulder, went airborne, overturned several times and struck numerous trees.  Jones was in the vehicle with two other adults and nine children, ranging in age from 6 months to 10 years.

Jones, who was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, was listed in serious condition.  The 6-month-old was also listed in serious condition, while the other surviving children were treated for minor injuries.

FHP noted that Shameka Jones will be facing charges of DUI manslaughter, nine counts of DUI with injuries, and one count of DUI with serious injury.

Shameka Jones proves to be yet another cautionary tale in the risks of driving under the influence.  Aside from the knowledge that operating a vehicle under the influence is always dangerous, it is important to be aware of other drivers on the road who may not take this risk as seriously.  Stay alert and avoid being in close proximity with anyone you think may be under the influence, or who appears to be operating their vehicle in any type of erratic fashion.

Additionally, it is critical to be sure that your insurance coverage allows you to be cared for in the event that someone decides to take this risk.  Driving under the influence often voids coverage, so having uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, in addition to your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, will allow you to have peace of mind in the event that another driver causes a collision.  This means that regardless of their coverage, you will have access to additional benefits for any medical costs you are forced to incur.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contact the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

 

 

Apparent Abuse of Helpful Personal Injury Insurance

Three individuals were arrested by the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud for the operation of an unlicensed medical clinic that was an integral part of a wider personal injury protection (PIP) fraud scheme, according to officials.

Unity Pain and Injury Center was allegedly owned by Dr. Lherisson Domond of South Florida, from February to December 2012, but the clinic was operated by several unlicensed individuals who purportedly offered to pay Dr. Domond upwards of $1,500 a month for the use of his name.

The Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud conducted the investigation which revealed that the clinic illegally provided medical treatment and other therapies to individuals involved in motor vehicle accidents.  The treatments were then billed to various insurance companies under the PIP coverage of each patient’s policy.

Domond has admitted to entering into the agreement to be paid for the use of his name in the scheme.  The investigation also revealed that Nesly Loute and Pierre Alex Herisse, hired clinic staff and managed its operations.

The three individuals face felony fraud charges, operating an unlicensed clinic and grand theft that could carry sentences up to 30 years.

Here again we see a well-publicized case regarding the prevalence of alleged PIP fraud in Florida.  As we have discussed before, however, PIP fraud has been an issue in decline, especially in South Florida, since the passage of new legislation in 2012.  It is important that those who are injured in a motor vehicle accident be cognizant of the treatment they seek from various medical providers.  These individuals are often shaken up and might miss some of the warning signs that may point to an allegedly unlicensed practitioner.

This is just one of many reasons why you should consult a personal injury attorney with integrity and experience in these matters, if you find yourself injured in a motor vehicle accident.  Not only will a skilled attorney be able to assist you in recovering the compensation you may rightfully be entitled to from the insurance companies involved, they can also provide counsel as to who may be well regarded sources of medical treatment, and at the very least, be a calming voice in a turbulent time.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contact the The Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Lead Lawyers Appointed in Class Action Lawsuit

In a recent Federal Court Order, lawyers from around the United States were chosen to lead numerous lawsuits involving alleged injuries from the drug Xarelto.

These lawsuits are filed against the manufacturer of Xarelto, Janssen Pharmaceutical, and the co-marketer, Bayer Healthcare.  According to the pleadings, these companies failed to warn patients and physicians about the increased risks of irreversible and fatal internal bleeding.  Plaintiffs allege that if these risks had been disclosed that doctors and patients alike would have opted to use the drug Warfarin, as an alternative.

Xarelto itself, is a blood-thinner that has been widely prescribed to prevent blood clotting resulting from certain blood, heart and other disorders.  The drug has generally prescribed as an alternative to Warfarin.

The potential side effect in question, severe internal bleeding, has no known antidote to reverse the bleeding.  Other potential injuries caused by Xarelto include blood clots; hematoma; peripheral edema; and difficulty breathing, among others.

If you are, or have, taken the drug Xarelto, it is critical that you attempt to avoid activities that could result in you being cut, bruised, or from bleeding in any way.  Further, make sure to inform all of your medical providers, including your dentist, of your use of Xarelto, especially prior to having any medical or dental procedures performed.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contact the The Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Time to Check Your Insurance Coverage – Hit-and-Run Accidents on the Rise in Florida

Law enforcement officials around the state of Florida are claiming that hit-and-run accidents are increasing rapidly, and it’s cause for alarm.  In response, a new campaign is being launched to let drivers know that leaving the scene of an accident can result in stiffer penalties.

Florida had more than 80,000 hit and run accidents last year and those including fatalities increased by almost 25% between 2013 and 2014.  Nearly half of the fatality victims over that time period were pedestrians, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.  In response, the agency will be hosting press conferences throughout the state to help educate drivers on the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident.

Governor Scott signed a law in 2014 that toughens the penalties for leaving the scene, making it a second-degree felony and one that carries a mandatory four-year sentence for a driver convicted of fleeing a fatal crash and could result in the revocation of a person’s driving license for three years.

Law enforcement officials encourage all of those involved in an accident to call authorities, remain calm, get vehicle, witness and driver information, diagram the scene to assist officers in visualizing the collision and help any injured parties.

This documented increase in hit-and-run collisions is yet another reason to assess your insurance coverage to ensure that you have adequate protection.  If you find yourself involved in one of these situations, the reason for someone fleeing very likely could be that they lack insurance.  This is why it is critical to carry med-pay, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (stacked) on your policy (as well as an umbrella policy that has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage), to make certain that in addition to your PIP coverage, you will have additional monies to rely on, if you require medical treatment that exceeds your PIP limits.

If you or someone you care for has been involved in an accident, please consider contacting our experienced attorneys for a consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

 

9 Arrested in Miami on Charges of Suspected PIP Fraud

Jeff Atwater, the Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida, announced that the last month resulted in nine arrests for personal injury protection (PIP) fraud in the Miami area.  Charges were filed in eight separate cases involving seven staged accidents, the individuals were arrested for their alleged involvement in the filing of almost $250,000 in fraudulent billings submitted to eleven insurance carriers.

Most PIP fraud groups include a number of elements including the organizer, who recruits the other members to stage motor vehicle accidents; the patient broker, who convinces participants to seek medical treatment following the accident for non-existent injuries; and occasionally, licensed medical providers, who agree to falsify medical documentation in exchange for payments billed under a patient’s PIP benefits as part of their auto insurance policies.  The Division of Insurance Fraud arrested these individuals for acting in one or more of these roles.

PIP fraud, while certainly an issue in both the medical and legal professions, is not nearly as prevalent as some would have us believe, especially those in the insurance industry.  In fact, PIP fraud has been declining considerably since the passage of legislation in May 2012 that established stronger penalties for medical providers who commit PIP fraud and a 14-day window for accident victims to seek medical treatment.

While this trend is good news, it is important to realize that PIP coverage is an important benefit for drivers, especially considering the risk taken in South Florida where many drivers are either underinsured or uninsured altogether.  This coverage guarantees that you will have medical coverage for injuries resulting from an accident, regardless of who is at fault.

So be sure to review your auto insurance coverage to make sure that you are adequately protected.  While your PIP coverage is mandatory, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not, but can be as, or more, important when it comes to protecting you should you find yourself in a motor vehicle accident.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please call our experienced attorneys for a consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Family Sues School over Daughter’s Cheerleading Injuries

Florida parents filed a lawsuit in Tennessee claiming that Sumner County schools were responsible for their daughter, a Portland High School cheerleader, being injured after allegedly being forced to perform unsafe maneuvers by the school’s cheerleading coach.

The parents, Andrew and Keyana Hobdy, filed the lawsuit which seeks $300,000 in damages from the school system.  The school’s attorney, Leah Dennen said, “I don’t think this is a suit where the school system has any liability.  I think it’s an unfortunate accident.”

The suit stems from the fall semester of 2013 when the Hobdys’ daughter was a freshman who made the cheerleading team after trying out.  The cheerleading coach, Linda Starnes, required the cheerleaders to learn a move called a standing back handspring, but the Hobdys’ daughter was not comfortable performing the maneuver.

In December of that same year, Starnes began drilling the squad on the maneuver and forced Hobdys’ daughter to attempt it as well, despite her unwillingness to do so.  After an unsuccessful attempt, the young woman landed on her head which caused scraping and bleeding.  Even after suffering the laceration on her head, the cheerleading coach allegedly forced her to attempt the move again, resulting in her landing on her head a second time and ultimately suffering a concussion.

No first aid was administered and the young woman’s pleas to contact her parents after being injured were repeatedly denied.  The incident was also not initially reported to the school’s administrators.

The parents then spoke with school officials about the incident, however they were reluctant to interfere with the coaches of the cheerleading squad.  When the Hobdys’ daughter returned to the squad in mid-January of 2014, her first day back resulted in her breaking her right leg while performing a maneuver at a pep rally.

The suit further alleges that after sustaining these injuries the Hobdys’ daughter was placed on home instruction, her grades declined and she began suffering from depression, anxiety and severe headaches.

If you or someone you care about has been injured as a result of negligence, please contact our experienced attorneys for a consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Drunk Driver Sentenced After Death of Pregnant Newlywed

Rosa Rivera Kim, 37, of Plantation entered pleas of guilty to the two counts of DUI manslaughter she faced in the death of the 26-year-old Alanna DeMella and her unborn child.  DeMella was seven months pregnant at the time of the crash.  Kim has been sentenced to fifteen years for the crime.

DeMella was killed in 2012 when Kim drunkenly drove her car into a poolside cabana at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

DeMella was in town with her husband Michael after winning a weekend getaway to attend a marriage conference at the Calvary Chapel.  Michael was in the restroom at the time of the accident and only suffered minor injuries.

Kim, who has expressed sorrow for her actions in causing the devastating accident, was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.24, or three times the legal limit in the state of Florida.

Kim, herself, became pregnant close to five months ago and is due in May.  Her child will be turned over to her family as she serves the remainder of her sentence.  DeMella’s family viewed Kim’s recent pregnancy as nothing more than a ploy for sympathy during her trial.  State Attorney, Michael Horowitz, called Kim’s pregnancy “appalling and manipulative.”

DeMella, a schoolteacher, was active in her school’s Students Against Drunk Driving (S.A.D.D.) chapter.  Upon release, Kim will also have to serve community service and has also permanently lost her driver’s license.

If you or someone you care about has been involved in an auto-related accident, please contact our experience attorneys for a consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

10-Year-Old Boy Suffers Face Fracture in Bottle Attack

In Glasgow, Scotland, a 10-year-old boy on the way to his first “Old Firm” match, was injured when he was hit by a bottle thrown into a minibus by a man wearing green clothing, according to police.

The “Old Firm” is a collective name for the Glasgow Association football clubs Celtic and Rangers.  The rivalry between the two clubs is deeply embedded in Scottish culture, and is widely considered one of the largest rivalries in soccer, worldwide.

The boy suffered a hairline fracture to his face and also lost three teeth in what police are calling, an “appalling attack.”  The attack happened before the game on February 1st, while the boy was in a Ford minibus sitting in traffic close to the stadium.

He was struck by a bottle thrown by a group of men who surrounded the bus and were hurling items and obscenities at the occupants inside.  The assailant and the others continued on without even stopping.  The young boy never even made it to the game, instead being detained overnight in a local hospital.

Police maintained that they thought the incident was soccer related, and it appeared as though the bottle was, in fact, thrown deliberately at the vehicle, but it was doubtful that the boy was targeted.

If you, or someone you care about has been injured as a result of someone else’s careless or negligent act, please contact our experienced attorneys for a consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

 

Cause of Death Determined in Teenager’s Horseback-Riding Accident

A teenager from Weston, Florida has been determined to have died from blunt head trauma while she was horseback riding in Southwest Ranches in December of 2014, according to the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The autopsy stated that Maria Lucia Rodrigo was found last December 4, laying on the ground next to a horse named Brownie.  Brownie also died in the riding accident due to head and neck trauma from an acute fall, according to a report done by the University of Florida Veterinary Center.

It is still a mystery as to why the horse might have suddenly collapsed, and the riding equipment appeared to have been properly positioned and secured.  It’s possible the horse may have lost foot control during a high-speed gallop.  Rodrigo’s death was found to be an accident, and she suffered a broken right collarbone and multiple skull fractures.

Friends of Maria noted that she was an experienced and enthusiastic rider.  She and Brownie were found on the bank of a canal that flows along Griffin Road and Bonaventure Boulevard, an area popular with riders.

Shortly after Maria’s death, more than 100 fellow horseback riders celebrated her life with a two-mile walk in Davie.

If you, or someone you care about has been injured as a result of an accident, please feel free to contact our experienced attorneys.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

 

South Florida Sees Significant Drop in Personal Injury Claims

South Florida leads the state for drops in auto-related personal injury claims over the past four years according to state regulators.

The region’s frequency of personal injury claims involving motor vehicle accidents fell from just over 3.5 per 100 vehicles in the first quarter of 2010, to just under 2.5 per 100 vehicles in the first quarter of 2014.  The report detailing these findings was put together by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Other areas in Florida which saw declining personal injury claims included the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, moving from about 2.75 per 100 vehicles to nearly 2.0 per 100 vehicles over the same four-year period.

The report also pointed out that the average medical amounts paid per bill decreased in general over the entire state from 2011 to the first quarter of 2014 by a substantial 14 percent.  In South Florida, that amount fell by more than 28 percent.

The report included six areas of Florida – South Florida, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Southwest Florida, Central Florida, Northeast Florida, and the Florida Panhandle.  The report was created with an intent on providing information on the insurance market and the impact of reforms which have been enacted by the state legislature in an effort to reduce auto insurance fraud.

For more information on this topic and others like it, click here.

If you, or someone you know, has been involved in an auto-related accident, please feel free to contact our experienced attorneys.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com