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

Florida Ranks as Riskiest State to Get Into Car Accident

We all know driving is a dangerous activity, but apparently it’s more dangerous in some states than others, especially in terms of the effect it can have on your wallet.

A new study done by WalletHub found that Florida ranked as the riskiest state to be involved in a car accident. 

The study noted that Florida earned this unwelcomed honor due to a combination of uninsured and underinsured drivers, as well as the minimal liability coverage requirements mandated by the Florida Legislature.  The study looked at state insurance policies, how much liability insurance drivers must have, whether personal injury protection is required and whether they protect against uninsured drivers.

The proportion of drivers with no insurance ranged from a nationwide high of 25.9 percent in Oklahoma, to a low of 3.9 percent in Massachusetts.  Florida checked in just under Oklahoma in terms of estimated number of uninsured drivers, with a whopping 23.8 percent.  Florida also ranked low due to its requirement that drivers only need to carry what is commonly referred to as a “10/20” policy, meaning drivers only need, at minimum, $10,000 in liability coverage.  Florida also does not require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage.

Other states lenient in their requirements were California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Some of the most stringent states in the Union were Texas, North Carolina and Maine.

It is important that all drivers are aware of their exact coverage and, more importantly, any gaps in coverage that may exist.  Uninsured motorist coverage is crucial, especially in a state like Florida, where there are a high percentage of not only uninsured drivers, but underinsured ones as well, thanks to the low liability coverage requirements. 

For the complete findings of this study state by state, click here.

We highly recommend everyone purchases the most underinsured motorist coverage that your insurance company is offering.  It is truly your best investment in Florida automobile insurance.

For further information on this very important insurance issue; or If you, or someone you know, has been involved in an uninsured motorist accident, please feel free to contact our experienced attorneys.

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

Punitive Damages Allowed Against Toyota in Florida Crash Case

A ruling by a Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge has taken the potential damages in a case against Toyota Motor Corp. from initial estimates of $15 million to $20 million to a staggering potential of $180 million, according to the plaintiff’s attorney.

The Palm Beach County Judge, Meenu Sasser, informed lawyers for plaintiff, Bret Quinlan that they would be allowed to ask for punitive damages against Toyota in an accident involving his 2001 Camry.  This products liability case is one of several hundred throughout the United States involving Toyota’s electronic throttle-control system, which allegedly can cause its vehicles to accelerate without warning.

Quinlan was driving his Camry on State Road 551 in Orlando on July 17, 2011, when it suddenly went out of control and collided into a building.  His injuries in the accident left him a quadriplegic, requiring around the clock medical care.

Toyota spokesman Amanda Rice issued a statement saying, “Multiple independent evaluations have confirmed the safety of Toyota’s electronic throttle control systems, which are equipped with numerous, robust fail-safe systems.  Bottom line, there are no real-world scenarios in which Toyota electronics can cause unintended acceleration, and we do not believe a brake override system would have prevented this unfortunate accident.”

In 2013, an Oklahoma City jury awarded $3 million to victims of a similar incident.  It was the first loss for Toyota in a spontaneous acceleration case.  The company had denied there were any defects prior to this case.  Officials from Toyota allegedly tried to use faulty floor mat placement to cover up any electronic malfunctions.

Toyota also recalled more than 10 million vehicles for problems relating to its acceleration control systems.  The first, involved over 3.5 million vehicles with a defect that could cause floor mats to jam accelerator pedals.  The company also entered into an agreement with the Justice Department and agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine, admitting that the company misled consumers by concealing and misspeaking about safety issues that caused spontaneous acceleration.

In Quinlan’s case, his attorneys offered evidence reflecting “facts from which it could be found that defendants were aware of both the electronic and mechanical issues, but delayed warning the public of the electronic issues in order to protect their own interests.”  Judge Sasser noted that such a finding would indeed support the availability of punitive damages.

For further discussion on this topic or if you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact our accident attorneys for a free consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300

Man Dies in Golf Cart Collision in The Villages

An 85-year-old man was killed this past Tuesday in an accident involving a golf cart and another vehicle according to Florida Highway Patrol.

Reports say that the man, Frances Hughes, died at the Villages Regional Hospital after his golf cart collided with a minivan.  According to the report, Mr. Hughes was driving on Morse Boulevard in the his golf cart when he attempted a left-hand turn on to Fuentez Avenue, and mistakenly traveled into the path of the oncoming vehicle.

The minivan struck the passenger side of Mr. Hughes’ golf cart in the southbound lanes of Morse Boulevard.  Mr. Hughes was ejected from the golf cart, while the minivan crashed into a ditch and came to rest on the grass shoulder running along Morse Boulevard.

Charges are still pending in this matter.

Golf cart drivers and their occupants need to take particular heed of the fact that they are in a motorized vehicle that is potentially as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than any other car or motorcycle on the roadway.

All vehicles in the state of Florida come under the concept of dangerous instrumentality. Accidents involving golf carts can be quite significant and do entitle victims to the benefits of the civil justice system.  Most such accidents are covered by some form of liability insurance coverage.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident involving a golf cart, call our experienced attorneys for a consultation.

 The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300

Tampa High School Student Injured in Hit-and-Run; Arrest Made

A passenger of the vehicle that struck and injured 18-year-old Jackie Faircloth in Tallahassee on November 29, 2014, came forward to confess his knowledge of the accident and the driver days later.  Jacob Salow, a bartender at Pot Belly’s nightclub was a passenger in Devon Mark Dwyer’s red pickup on the night he struck Faircloth, and then drove away in a panic.

Salow told authorities that he had asked Dwyer for a ride home, and while riding in the passenger seat, he was looking at his phone when he heard something hit the front end of the vehicle.  Dwyer, who then became panicked, drove away and continued to assert that it wasn’t his fault, and that the person had stepped in front of his truck.

Shortly after the incident, Dwyer stopped at a friend’s house allegedly asking for help in hiding his truck, at which point, Salow called his girlfriend for a ride home, who was unaware at any point of what had taken place.

Faircloth, who was critically injured, and had initially been placed in a medically-induced coma has been moved to Georgia for rehabilitative treatment.  She is no longer being held in the medically-induced coma, and has started moving her arms and legs, as well as breathing on her own.

Her family had initially offered a $20,000 reward to help find the hit-and-run driver, which Salow claims is why he eventually came forward with the information leading authorities to Dwyer.  Salow’s lawyer told authorities that Salow wanted Faircloth’s family to keep the money and use if for the teen’s medical bills.  Thankfully, Mr. Salow eventually made the right choice to come forward.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact our expert attorneys for a free consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300

Macy’s Restroom Death Results in Lawsuit

The survivors of a 61-year-old woman who was found dead in a Macy’s department store restroom in Vancouver, Canada has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the retail giant.

Family members of the deceased, Lydumila I. Tikhomirova, allege in their lawsuit that Macy’s was negligent in failing to inspect the women’s restroom before closing the store for the evening.  Ms. Tikhomirova’s body was discovered by a Macy’s employee the following morning.  An autopsy of Ms. Tikhomirova’s body revealed that she died of congestive heart failure.

According to the complaint filed this past December 18, “Defendants and defendants’ employees failed to check Macy’s bathroom before the store closed, thereby failing to discover Ms. Tikhomirova in a state of distress, and thereby preventing her from getting the treatment she required to prevent her death.”

Spokesperson for Macy’s, Kelley Tarzian, said that the corporation doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The Plaintiffs are compiled of Valeriya Tikhomirova, the executor of the estate, as well as Lydumila’s six surviving children.  They are seeking damages in an unspecified amount, though they include compensation of funeral expenses, attorneys’ fees, and emotional distress.

If you or anyone you know has been injured on another’s property due to their negligence, or are in need of reliable legal counsel for any other matter, please call our office for a free consultation.

The Schulman Law Group - (954) 349-3300

Digital Tracking Devices Can Help Put a Dollar Amount on Non-Economic Damages

With the availability of newly-developed personal, customized digital tracking devices, people have the opportunity to track their activities throughout the day. Among others, items such as the “FitBit” give users the ability to track their physical activity during all of their daily routines, such as walking to work, their exercise regimen, the food they eat, and even the amount of sleep they get, all in an effort to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

However, the advent of such products may have further implications when it comes to specifically identifying exactly how certain injuries have impacted their lives, and how they have suffered as a result. More specifically, the ability of attorneys to be able to quantify exactly how their client’s life has been detrimentally affected because of an injury caused by another’s negligence could be an extremely valuable tool.

In fact, a Canadian law firm is doing just that. The firm has a client who, prior to an accident, was a personal trainer and lived an extremely active lifestyle. Now her attorneys intend to show, that as a result of her injuries, she has suffered a significant loss of enjoyment in her life, and that her daily activities have been substantially impeded.

This technology could open the door for attorneys everywhere, who often find the task of proving exactly how a client’s life has been altered to be a difficult one. On the flip side of that coin, juries may now have more reliable information to rely on when assessing non-economic damages, and that could mean that persuasive arguments and sympathetic jurors will not carry as much weight as they have in the past in terms of advocating for larger awards.

What is clear, is that as technology continues to evolve and advance, it will have a far-reaching impact on many areas of the law, including matters involving personal injury.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact our expert attorneys for a free consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954) 349-3300

Airbags Not Just Full of Hot Air

Ford Motor Company recently announced it was working with United States safety regulators to investigate claims that faulty airbags in its vehicles may be injuring drivers. One claim, arising from a North Carolina car accident, specifically alleges that in August, the driver of a 2007 Ford Mustang was injured by a metal fragment that deployed with the vehicle’s airbag.

The 2007 Mustang, among others, was part of a wide recall issued in June involving millions of vehicles from nine manufacturers, due to potentially faulty air bag inflators made by a Japanese supplier, Takata Corporation.  The recall was instituted in light of claims that these inflators could rupture and send metal fragments into the cabin compartment of the car.

These recalls took place in geographical areas that are most susceptible to high temperatures and humidity (including Florida) because these conditions could cause the devices to rupture if exposed to moisture or extreme humidity, however North Carolina was not one of the areas included in the recall.

Through a statement, Ford claimed that the Takata airbag designs utilized in Ford vehicles “have not shown the same risk of fragmentation as other Takata airbag inflator designs used by other manufacturers.” While Ford’s recall initially covered 58,669 vehicles, it was later expanded to 85,023 vehicles, including 61,000 Mustangs made between 2005 and 2008.

Takata airbags have been linked to four deaths in the United States, all occurring in Honda vehicles, though the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration has received dozens more complaints linked to the airbags.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, please contact our expert attorneys for a free consultation.

The Schulman Law Group – (954)349-3300

RIP to PIP?

Florida is one of ten states that require drivers to carry personal injury protection auto insurance (PIP).  It can be argued that the basis for the insurance industry having lobbied for a system of “no fault” coverage was originally to restrict the number of claims for vehicular related negligence claims, fraudulent or righteous, however the opposite has clearly occurred.

The issue today is how to maintain a system of justice that allows for people to quickly and efficiently have access to needed compensation after they’ve been injured in a vehicular accident, especially one that wasn’t their fault, and need to pay for medical care as a result.  No matter what laws are on the books, there will always be a few who attempt to cheat the system (as we saw when some in both the legal and medical profession were recently arrested in a sting uncovering an alleged scheme of insurance fraud), but is it then fair to deprive the masses because our system might not be properly monitored and regulated?  And furthermore, is the insurance industry the innocent player it makes itself out to be in all of this?

Now, as calls for eliminating the PIP coverage requirement gain steam, we have to ask ourselves if that is the best course moving forward.  While PIP fraud may seem to be an issue, according to several sources, it appears to be trending downward, and with the passing of additional legislation in 2012 aimed at curbing PIP fraud, insurance premiums appear to be falling as well.

While both sides of this debate have merit, it is important to remember that the actions of some unscrupulous individuals and insurers (driven by greed instead of ethics) should not give momentum to an argument that wants take benefits away from people who truly need it.  And more importantly, those of us privileged to work in law or medicine should hold ourselves to a higher standard, and demand that our colleagues do the same.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident or know someone who has, please call us at (954) 349-3300 for a free consultation.