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At the end of 2020, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported a Home Depot ceiling fan recall. After receiving dozens of reports, Home Depot issued the voluntary recall that the fan’s blades were detaching and posing serious dangers to people and property. Despite the voluntary recall, individuals who suffered injuries from a faulty ceiling fan may recover damages under Florida product liability laws. Responsible parties may include the product’s manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or retailer. Essentially any party in the stream of commerce may be a potential party.

The Home Depot described the nearly 200,000 ceiling fans as having remote controls, and LED lights. The home improvement store sold the fans in white, black and polished nickel. The fans are manufactured by a Florida company producing the items in China and importing them out of Georgia. There were approximately 182,000 units sold in the United States and another 9,000 in Canada. Manufacturers and federal authorities advised consumers who purchased the fans to stop using them and inspect the blades to ensure that they are not uneven. If any erratic movements or gaps are present, the consumers should contact the distributor.

Florida statute 768.81 governs product liability claims in the state and explains injury victims’ rights and remedies. The majority of claims stem from negligence or strict liability; however, some may arise from a breach of warranty. More than one theory may apply; however, an attorney can help plaintiffs determine the most promising strategic approach.

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A federal district court recently issued an opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit against Orange County. The plaintiff, an attorney, met with a client at a county jail when an interior gate suddenly closed on her. Following the incident, the plaintiff filed a Florida premises liability lawsuit against the County for her injuries. The County argued that neither it nor the corrections officer controlling the gate, acted negligently. They contended that the plaintiff tripped on a sensor or experienced an unexpected gate malfunction.

The plaintiff presented testimony from jail employees describing how the gates operate and what steps an officer takes to open a gate when a visitor enters or exits. The officer in charge of operating the gate on the day of the incident stated that he did not press any buttons while the plaintiff was walking through. He explained that the sensor serves as a safety mechanism to stop the gate from closing when a person walks through the gate. The plaintiff did not introduce any evidence explaining whether the gate malfunctioned. However, the trial court provided a res ipsa loquitur instruction.

Res ipsa loquitur, which roughly translates to “the thing speaks for itself,” is a theory that allows a court to infer negligence from the inherent nature of the accident. This theory is applicable when there is an absence of direct evidence of a defendant’s actions. To be entitled to a res ipsa loquitur instruction, a plaintiff must establish that the instrumentality causing his or her injury was under the exclusive control of the defendant, and that the accident was one that would not, in the ordinary course of events, have occurred without negligence on the part of the one in control.

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A court recently issued an opinion in a Florida drunk driving accident lawsuit addressing whether evidence of intoxication is relevant to the calculation of damages. The case arose when a man consumed two alcoholic beverages at work and proceeded to walk home on the side of the highway. The man conceded that he was experiencing a “buzz” and was unfamiliar with the area. He called a friend for help, and as he was talking to his friend, a driver hit him.

The driver stated that he was not under the influence of alcohol or medications, was not tired, or otherwise distracted when the accident happened. He recounted that as he was driving, he noticed the pedestrian in the road. To provide the pedestrian with more room, he moved into the southbound lane. He shifted his gaze momentarily, and continued to drive north in the southbound lane; shortly after that, he heard a “pow.” The driver presented evidence that the pedestrian had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.18. An expert witness testified that the pedestrian was impaired, and the impairment could have compromised his motor skills, reaction times, and ability to judge speed, distance, and danger.

Under Florida law, the trial court maintains discretion in determining whether evidence is admissible. If a trial court finds that evidence is admissible, the ruling will not be reversed, unless there is a clear abuse of discretion. However, it is essential to note that trial courts have limitations when ruling on evidentiary matters. The law provides that relevant evidence is that which proves or disproves a material fact. In cases involving comparative negligence, the fact trier must evaluate each party’s “totality of fault.” Disputes regarding whether a person was impaired or to what level alcohol impaired their typical facilities is a fact question that should be determined by a jury. The question should go to the jury when there is “substantial evidence” of the fact.

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State and Federal laws mandate that prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs meet strict health and safety guidelines before entering the stream of commerce. However, despite rigorous testing, clinical trials, and efficacy studies, many drugs are later found to be unsafe. Those who suffer unanticipated or severe side effects to prescription drugs may file a claim under Florida’s defective product laws.

Drug manufacturers have the duty to responsibly design, market, and distribute their medications. In some cases, unsafe medications make their way to the public, either by questionable marketing practices by pharmaceutical companies or another error. In either event, pharmaceutical injury lawsuits occur when an individual takes a prescribed or recommended defective medication.

Florida defective medication lawsuits are primarily based on drugs with dangerous side effects, medications that have undergone an error in manufacturing, or drugs that have not been marketed properly. Although medications can provide a great degree of relief, even immediate in some cases, a defective medication can have disastrous and long term consequences. Some common injuries that defective medications cause are stroke, heart attack, blood clots, diabetes, mental health issues, and organ failure.

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Many states have “rescue doctrines,” “volunteer protection” acts,” or “Good Samaritan” laws to encourage and protect individuals who choose to assist others in emergencies, while awaiting emergency personnel. In Florida, Statute section 768.13, the Good Samaritan Act (GSA), is a law that provides civil immunity to those that render emergency care gratuitously and in good faith. The law applies to any person, even those licensed to practice medicine. Lawmakers designed the GSA to ensure that medical professionals use their skills to assist others in emergencies, without fear of a lawsuit. It is important to note that Florida does not maintain a law that requires people to aid or assist an injury victim; however, if a person chooses to do so, they must exercise due care. Courts evaluate “due care” under the reasonable person standard, and determine whether a similarly situated person would have acted in the same way.

Despite Florida’s GSA, there are some situations where a helper may be found liable. First, the person may be liable if they do not exercise due care and increase the victim’s harm or injuries. Helpers may also be liable if the victim relied upon the helper’s assistance and suffered additional injuries due to that reliance. Moreover, healthcare workers who assist in an emergency may be held liable if their actions showed a “reckless disregard” of the foreseeable consequences. The law defines “reckless disregard” as conduct that a professional knew or should have known would result in an unreasonable risk of harm to the victim. The GSA includes a provision that allows a person to call for emergency help after an overdose without risk of criminal charges related to simple drug possession.

In addition to state and local Good Samaritan laws, the federal government maintains a similar law under the Federal Protection Act. The Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) provides immunity to nonprofit and government agencies for harm caused by their acts or omissions on behalf of their organization. The VPA does not require that an emergency declaration is in place for the immunity to apply. The protections apply to uncompensated volunteers for ordinary negligence within the scope of the volunteer’s responsibilities. However, the immunity is not applicable if the volunteer engages in willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, or with a conscious disregard for the safety of others.

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No matter how careful you are while driving, you must also trust other drivers you are sharing the road with will also exercise care and follow the rules. Sometimes, no matter how proactive you are as a driver, another person’s mistake could cause a major accident with devastating consequences. One wrong turn, especially if it’s one that positions a vehicle directly in your path by going in the wrong direction, could result in a serious Florida car accident.

For example, according to a recent news report, a 21-year-old driver was killed during a wrong-way accident. The 21-year-old was heading north in a Nissan Altima when another driver in a Hyundai heading south crashed into the Nissan head-on. The Nissan driver died at the scene, and her passenger had critical injuries. The Hyundai driver had serious injuries. According to local authorities, charges have yet to be filed, but the investigation is still ongoing.

Florida is no stranger to wrong-way accidents—but why do they keep happening on our streets? Typically, these accidents occur because a driver accidentally turns into oncoming traffic and crashes into vehicles going in the right direction. Although driver error is the most common reason why wrong-way accidents occur, they are also commonly associated with distracted driving, vehicle mechanical issues, and poorly designed roadways.

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According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hit and run accidents are alarmingly common throughout the United States. Although some hit and run accidents only involve minor damage, many of these accidents result in serious, and potentially fatal, injuries. Florida law imposes civil and criminal liability on hit and run drivers depending on the specific facts of the accident.

Recent updates to the Florida Motor Vehicle Statute section 316. 061, provides that drivers must remain at the scene of an accident and provide reasonable assistance to any victims as long as it is safe to do so. Drivers who fail to abide by this rule may be subject to personal injury lawsuits, serious fines, and criminal penalties.

When bringing a personal injury claim, accident victims must provide the trier of fact with proof of a hit and run accident if they wish to recover damages for their losses. The most critical evidence includes information establishing that the person who left the accident scene was the driver involved in the accident. Next, the plaintiff must prove that the driver knew or should have known they were involved in a collision that resulted in property damage, injury, or death. Finally, the victim must establish that the driver intentionally failed to stop or remain at the scene of the accident long enough to provide identifying information to any relevant party and failed to provide “reasonable” assistance to the victims.

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Under Florida’s premises liability law, those who suffer injuries on another’s property because of a dangerous hazard, defect, or condition, may be able to recover compensation for their injuries. Premises liability law is based on a property owner’s duty to ensure that their property is safe for visitors. However, liability largely depends on the relationship between the visitor and the property owner. Although some states are moving towards abolishing the distinctions, Florida law maintains that visitors are either invitees, licensees, or trespassers. However, despite these classifications, there are nuances and complexities to the rules. For instance, complications often arise when a person suffers injuries while participating in a recreational activity.

Florida’s recreational use statute protects some landowners from lawsuits when they open their land to the public. In these cases, the property owner must keep the area reasonably safe for visitors and warn visitors of dangerous conditions. This generally applies to property owners who hold their land out to hunt, fish, wildlife viewing, or other similar purposes. However, generally, the recreational use statute does not apply if a landowner charges an admission to enter or use their land.

Similarly, in some cases, companies that offer recreational activities to participants may be immune from certain lawsuits. For instance, amusement parks, water parks, paintball arenas, and mini-golf courses may protect themselves by requiring participants to sign a liability waiver release. Additionally, these entities may defend against a claim by arguing that the participant assumed the risk or was non-compliant with safety rules. However, in some cases, a participant may suffer injuries that are only somewhat related to the recreational activity. This can occur because of an intervening incident or unexpected occurrence.

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After a Florida motor vehicle accident, seeking medical treatment is critical to a victim’s health, well-being, and future legal claims. Under Florida law, an at-fault party may be liable for negligent or reckless conduct. However, these claims often hinge on the victim receiving prompt and appropriate medical treatment.

Prompt medical treatment can help injury victims catch hidden symptoms and receive the correct diagnosis. In many cases, injury victims mistakenly believe that they did not suffer serious injuries because they do not experience pain or symptoms right after the accident. However, the lack of immediate pain may be attributable to adrenaline, heightened emotional responses, or the mere nature of the injury. Receiving medical treatment after the accident can drastically change the outcome of a victim’s medical prognosis.

Further, it is critical that victims continue prescribed treatment. Abiding by a medical professional’s instructions can assist in harm mitigation and quick recovery. Lastly, immediate medical attention and compliance will help a victim protect any legal claims against at-fault parties.

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Driving presents inherent risks, even if a motorist takes all steps to ensure that they abide by safety rules. Despite taking all precautions, drivers cannot protect against other negligent motorists. Many times, Florida car accidents occur during lane changing or merging. The U.S. Department of Transportation attributes about 500,000 accidents to improper lane changes and merging. Some of these accidents may only damage property; however, many result in serious injuries or death. In these cases, determining liability and apportioning fault is critical to recovery.

For example, a Florida news report recently described a fatal accident involving a 12-year-old child. A sedan was driving westbound when it tried to merge into the left lane of a highway. However, when it tried to merge, it slammed into the right side of a pickup truck. The pickup truck, which was carrying the child, overturned. The driver of the sedan suffered minor injuries, and her passenger reported no injuries. The pickup truck driver and two other passengers suffered serious injuries and remain in critical condition. State Police are continuing to investigate the collision.

Victims must be able to establish liability after a Florida merging accident to recover compensation for their damages. Florida statute 316.085(2) requires that drivers must ensure that it is safe to complete their move before changing their direct course of travel. Violating the lane-change law may result in a non-criminal moving violation.

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