Category Archives: Personal Injury

New Year’s Eve Safety – Drinking and Driving, COVID, and Other Considerations

New Year’s Eve can be a fun holiday to celebrate solo or with loved ones. Keep yourself safe by considering all of these New Year’s Eve safety tips.

Drinking and Driving

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 427 people may die on U.S. roads this New Year’s Day holiday period. Holidays traditionally are a time of travel for families across the United States. Many choose car travel, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. Holidays are also often caused for celebrations involving alcohol consumption, a major contributing factor to motor-vehicle crashes.

There Are Many Reasons Not To Drive On New Year’s Eve This Year – Here Are Just A Few:

1. The Cost of a DUI is Not Worth the risk – If you are charged with a DUI it can easily cost you up to $2,000 (just for a first offense), not to mention a night in jail, fines, hours of community service, participation in a treatment program, and your license being revoked.

2. NO traffic – You can skip all the traffic and frustration, by leaving your car in the driveway

3. Celebrate with the Ones You Really Care About (at home) – Cheers to you and your loved ones as you celebrate at home. There is no risk of injury or issues of being around thousands of people you don’t really know. Make your at-home celebration an event.

4. Save Money and Make Better Drinks at Home – The average price of a cocktail (that is normally watered down) is jaw-dropping…. Especially on New Year’s Eve! So buy your own quality ingredients and make your own or even try a new recipe and don’t worry about emptying your pockets on a high-priced cocktail out or the cost of a DUI or even worse a car wreck that injures or kills another person.

COVID – Omicron 

There is uncertainty associated with any estimate. The 90% confidence interval for the estimate of traffic deaths this holiday is 347 to 514. This confidence interval cannot account for the unknown impact the evolving response to COVID-19 will have on holiday travel. 

Because of the unprecedented impact COVID-19 is having on social activities, the uncertainty of this year’s estimate is increased.

You should skip New Year’s Eve parties this year because of the omicron wave, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The omicron variant has been spreading rapidly throughout the United States. In fact, there have been so many cases that airline crews have had to call out sick, leading to hundreds of canceled holiday flights, according to CNBC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking extra precautions during the holidays, especially if you’re gathering with multiple households.

Other Safety Considerations

Champagne

It’s a strange one, but a projectile champagne cork can absolutely be a danger, especially if you are not used to opening bottles! Use the “45 Rules” for bubbly. Chill champagne to at least 45 degrees F, as this will make the cork less likely to pop. When ready to open, place a towel over the top of the bottle and hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, pointing it away from yourself and others.

Fireworks

First of all, make sure to check your local regulations regarding the personal use of fireworks. If it is illegal or if you are unfamiliar with how they work, leave them to professionals! If you still decide to use legal fireworks, make sure to keep children and pets away from the area – even sparklers, which are often used by kids, burn at temperatures of about 2000 degrees and can be incredibly dangerous. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose at the ready. Light fireworks one at a time, then move back away from them. Never attempt to re-light a firework that did not go off the first time; douse them and other spent fireworks with plenty of water before discarding them. And of course, never point or throw fireworks at another person.

Pets

Between fireworks, noisemakers, and general revelry, pets can experience high anxiety on New Year’s Eve. Scared pets can bite or run and potentially get hurt, cause accidents, or become lost. The best way to keep pets safe is to keep them indoors and comfortable; Make sure fences and gates are secure and that your pet has a current ID tag and that all microchip information is up to date. If your pet has shown signs of extreme anxiety in the past, you might also consult your veterinarian and ask for anti-anxiety medications or a thunder coat.

Guns

In some cultures, it was previously a tradition to participate in celebratory gunfire at midnight, shooting handguns into the air. Not only is this illegal, but it can be deadly; falling bullets can be fatal. In Phoenix in 1999, a young teen was killed outside of her home by a bullet that was fired into the air more than a mile away. Deaths have resulted in harsher penalties for this crime, so leave all firearms safely locked inside this holiday.

If you’ve been the victim of an auto accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

 

Sources:

Deaths by Transportation Mode

New Year’s Day

https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/impaired-driving

How Do I Know If I Have a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?

Drivers and vehicle owners faithfully pay their auto insurance premiums monthly or quarterly with the belief they will receive a fair claims payout if the need arises (e.g., after a car accident that was not their fault).

Unfortunately, far too many of our clients here at Zarzaur Law, P.A. learn the hard way that car insurance companies are primarily concerned with their own bottom line.

 

What Is Bad a Bad Faith Claim?

Sometimes, insurance companies like to push boundaries and see if they can get away with not investigating claims or not paying out money owed on a policy after an accident. This is called “bad faith.”

The duty of good faith in Florida provides that insurers owe a “duty to their insureds to refrain from acting solely on the basis of their own interest in settlement,” as was said in State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Laforet. Under Florida’s Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act.

 

Bad Faith Claims Most Often Stem From:

Unnecessary claim delays. Insurers are required to process claims in a reasonable amount of time and without unnecessary delays.

Policy cancellations. Our firm has seen cases where an insured files a claim, and the insurer immediately starts scouring their history for errors or any misrepresentation that might void the policy.

This is common when it comes to death benefits claims. Sometimes, it is for something as simple as a misspelled name – even though they had no problem collecting the monthly premium despite this error.

Misrepresentations of policy. Some insurers will attempt to avoid paying claims by mischaracterizing the terms, requirements, and policy provisions. Many insurance policies are crafted with complex language and insider jargon, much of which favors the insurer. But it is well understood that any ambiguity is supposed to be construed in favor of the policyholder.

Ambiguous policy exclusions. Insurance policies can have all kinds of exclusions. But if an exclusion is ambiguous, it should be decided in the claimant’s favor.

Denies paying for a valid claim on no reasonable basis. Insurers have a responsibility to pay valid claims and offer a reasonable basis when they deny them. Failure to do so maybe bad faith. The same goes for low-ball settlement offers that are not justified.

Low settlement offers are often made without justification and for the benefit of the insurance companies bottom line and without regard for the insured.

 


Bad faith insurance claims are complicated actions and involve a multitude of issues, and that is why it is important to hire the best personal injury lawyer who understands the tactics insurance companies use to delay or minimize the payment of benefits.


 

WATCH AND LISTEN AS JOE ZARZAUR, BOARD CERTIFIED CIVIL TRIAL LAWYER, EXPLAINS “BAD FAITH” >


If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0624/Sections/0624.155.html

What to Bring To The Meeting With Your Personal Injury Lawyer

Whether you have been in a car accident or suffered any type of injury, your first call will be to a lawyer who specializes in personal injury. Navigating the waters of insurance claims can be difficult at the very least and a personal injury lawyer (preferably board certified) can make sure you receive the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party.


YOU WANT A LAWYER THAT IS YOUR ADVOCATE SINCE YOU DON’T WANT TO SETTLE FOR LESS THAN WHAT YOUR CASE IS WORTH.


Time Is Of The Essence

Meeting with a personal injury lawyer right as soon as possible is important since time is of the essence. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, but all personal injury cases do have an end date of when you can start a claim. If you are injured you should also begin treatment right away.

You contact the firm, go through the intake process, and then are scheduled for your first meeting with your lawyer. What should you bring?

What to Bring To The Meeting

1. Photos
Injuries
The cars involved in the accident (all angles and inside and outside)
Seat belt
Body markings
The area where the accident occurred

2. Car insurance info

3. health insurance info

4. Drivers license

5. Drivers exchange form (given at accident scene)

6. ER records / medical records

7. Correspondence

8. A list of facts that you remember from the accident, ER visit, correspondence with the insurance company, etc.

Your Lawyer Focuses On Your Case So You Don’t Have To

After a traumatic experience, the last thing you want to do is spend all of your time and energy fighting for compensation. A personal injury lawyer is there to support you and do all of the hard, legal work so that you can focus on your recovery. 

Your primary job following an accident is to take care of yourself and your family.

If you’ve been injured in an accident – meeting with a personal injury lawyer right away will help take the stress of your case off your hands so you can work towards healing.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Disadvantages Of Trying To Handle Your Own Personal Injury Case

There is a wise old saying “A person who represents himself in a lawsuit has a fool for a lawyer.” In other words, it is much better to have a qualified professional represent you in a legal matter if at all possible.

Misconceptions

Despite the conventional wisdom, many people try and represent themselves in legal disputes. The reasons are many:

It’s a small matter and does not require a lawyer.

I can’t afford a lawyer.

Hiring a lawyer will not make my case easier or more valuable.

All of these reasons are not sufficient. If you have a legal claim that is important to you, you should at least consult a legal professional.

A Financial Mistake

Suppose you try and represent yourself in a personal injury matter, as many do. You justify that by saying you don’t want to pay a lawyer, because your net recovery may be less. That could be a very serious financial mistake.

Any claim for a personal injury requires investigation about liability or fault, injuries and causation for injuries, and availability of insurance or some other method of recovery. All of these issues present challenges to a layperson.

The Recorded Statement

If you represent yourself, the first thing an insurance adjuster will do is try and take your statement, to limit your positions on fault. In fact, they may hire a lawyer to take your statement under oath.


YOU MAY NOT KNOW THAT THE OPPOSING INSURANCE COMPANY HAS NO RIGHT TO TAKE YOUR STATEMENT UNDER OATH IN A STANDARD PERSONAL INJURY CASE.


If you are making a claim against your own insurance company, they have a right to do this. Regardless, a layperson is not generally able to represent themself in a complicated or contested liability case. Moreover, a lawyer will generally have a staff or an independent investigator to take statements of witnesses and document the scene. This is very difficult for a non-lawyer to do.

Proof of Injuries

Proof of injuries may also be an issue in a personal injury case. Again, this can be difficult in many cases. In Florida, you must prove a permanent injury, and without medical knowledge or access to proper physicians, this can be very daunting. If you cannot have a medical provider document a permanent injury, your case is not worth much over the out-of-pocket medical bills.

Availability And Amount Of Insurance Coverage

A very important factor in such cases is the availability and amount of insurance coverage. In Florida, insurers must document coverage if requested according to the procedures outline in the Florida Statutes.

There are also many different coverages available, including:
No-Fault (PIP)
Bodily injury liability
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
Excess of umbrella coverages

There may also be additional at-fault defendants that are not readily apparent to a layperson. Again, an experienced lawyer can lead you through this process.

Hire An Expert

If you have attempted to handle your own case, and you think it’s a significant case, please consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Most, if not all, such lawyers will give you a free consultation.

In most cases, your claim may be much more valuable, and you may net much more from the claim if you hire an attorney. All attorneys in our area will handle your case on a contingency fee basis, and in most cases will maximize your financial recovery.

Refer to the car wreck checklist for more info on what to do right after you’ve been involved in a car accident.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Why You Should Think Twice Before Riding An Electric Scooter.

The fleets of publicly available electric scooters that have popped up in U.S. cities over the past few years have added a new dimension to urban transportation options. Their rapid proliferation has left municipal regulators struggling to keep up with the traffic impact and rising safety problems.

A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that without a clear vision for where and how e-scooters should be operated, e-scooters can pose a safety risk for riders and pedestrians.

“E-scooters can be a fun and useful way to get around, but they can also pose serious safety hazards,” says William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports. “Policymakers shouldn’t treat them just like bikes. E-scooters should be designed, built, and maintained with safety first, and riders should follow best practices to avoid hurting themselves and others.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 41 Americans were killed and about 133,000 injured between 2017 and 2019 in incidents tied to e-scooters, e-bikes and hoverboards.

The toll of deaths and injuries from the devices has been rising, with e-scooters accounting for much of the increase, the federal agency found in a study released in 2020.


THE COUNT OF ER VISITS ATTRIBUTABLE TO E-SCOOTERS ROSE TO 27,700 IN 2019 UP FROM NEARLY 15,000 THE YEAR BEFORE, CPSC FOUND.


 

A separate study by the CDC calculates that for every 100,000 e-scooter trips taken, 20 individuals will end up with some sort of injury. This same study, which surveyed a sample number of injured e-scooter riders, highlighted other interesting findings including:

48% of those injured were between the ages of 18-29

33% of those injured were first-time riders

38% of those injured mentioned they would ride an e-scooter again

Nearly half of those injured sustained a severe injury

The time frame to most likely get injured is between 6 pm-6 am 

 

Legal Outcomes Of Electric Scooter Accidents

Legal outcomes of accidents on Bird scooters, Lime scooters, or any other motorized scooter, will depend largely on who was involved and who is at fault.

Here are some possible scenarios:

– E-scooter hits a vehicle: If an e-scooter swerved erratically causing an accident with another vehicle on the road, the e-scooter is at fault in this case. The rider of the scooter will need to pay for the damages incurred on the vehicle.

– E-scooter hits a pedestrian: Likewise, if an E-scooter errantly crashes into a pedestrian, the rider is liable for any injuries sustained by the pedestrian.

– A vehicle hits an e-scooter: In this scenario, if a vehicle hits an e-scooter and was at fault, the driver of the vehicle must compensate the e-scooter rider. The driver of the vehicle can cover damages through their car insurance.


E-SCOOTER COMPANIES DO NOT CARRY ANY SORT OF LIABILITY COVERAGE FOR RENTERS. ADDITIONALLY, YOUR CAR INSURANCE GENERALLY DOES NOT COVER ANY VEHICLE WITH LESS THAN FOUR WHEELS (I.E. ELECTRIC SCOOTERS).


 


What is a Release of Liability Waiver?

A release of liability waiver is a contract in which a participant in an activity agrees not to sue the activity organizer, institution, or business owner if he or she suffers an injury. Other terms often used to describe this document include:

Release of liability

Waiver

Waiver of liability

Waiver of rights

Indemnity agreement

Assumption agreement

Hold harmless agreement

Pre-injury release

Exculpatory agreement

Assumption of risk

With no insurance coverage, the e-scooter driver takes on tremendous risk if they are found at fault in an accident.

Read Bird’s Rental Agreement/Waiver of Liability and Release here: https://www.bird.co/agreement/

 

Consequences And Injuries From Scooter Accidents

The consequences and injuries from scooter accidents can be significant. In a study conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, the most common type of CT scans ordered involved the head, face, and cervical spine. Traumatic brain injury, which includes concussion and internal bleeding, can also result from e-scooter accidents.

Asides from brain injury, here are other common injury types as a result of scooter collisions:

– Bone fractures to arms and legs

– Abrasions and lacerations to upper and lower limbs

– Nerve or ligament injuries

– Severe bleeding

In the worst-case scenario, death can also be a consequence of scooter accidents.

 

How To Avoid E-Scooter Accidents and Injuries

1. Keep your eyes on the road

2. Don’t ride on the sidewalk

3. Keep both hands on the handle bars

4. Use proper helmet – and wear the helmet at all times!

6. Inspect the scooter before you ride

7. Slow down before looking back or turning

8. Use eye protection

9. Assume that drivers in cars can not see you!

10. Don’t consume alcohol and ride a scooter

11. Use as the manual instructs

12. Don’t ride too fast

13. Avoid heavy traffic

14. Avoid pedestrians

15. Only ride by yourself

WATCH JOE’S VIDEO >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://escooternerds.com/electric-scooter-safety/

https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2021/Injuries-Using-E-Scooters-E-Bikes-and-Hoverboards-Jump-70-During-the-Past-Four-Years

How Do You Prove Future Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case?

Often, when one of our clients is hurt in a wreck, they miss working for at least a little while. Some clients who work in jobs that are physically demanding miss even more time. In the most severe cases, clients are so totally and permanently injured that they cannot ever work again.

Besides the medical costs of their injuries, clients are understandably concerned about whether they can recover their lost wages and to what extent.

Recovery For Past Lost Wages

Lost wages in the past (meaning wages for the time spent out of work from the injury to return to work) are clearly recoverable and usually easy to determine. This determination generally just requires proof of the salary or hourly wage at the time of the incident, multiplied by the number of hours, days, or weeks that the client is out of work.

Future Lost Wages

Lost wages in the future are sometimes similar. If the case involves a short-term absence from work in the future, the above factors apply—we simply ask how long the client is expected to be absent from work and their salary/wage information to make a quick determination.

However, long-term or permanent absences from work can be significantly more complicated.
Factors Such As:
The client’s age
Earning capacity
Likelihood of promotion
Long-term/permanent work restrictions

The value of the future lost wages is the difference between what the person likely would have earned if they had not been injured minus what the person can earn with their injuries and limitations. This determination should take into account all income, including retirement contributions, investment income, interest, and inflation.

How is Future Wage Loss Determined?

While the formula seems simple, a correct determination of this amount depends on many factors.

  • Does the client’s current injury make further acute injuries more likely in the future?
  • Is the client’s current injury likely to cause degenerative disease in the future?

THESE POTENTIAL FUTURE INJURIES CLEARLY HAVE A BEARING ON A CLIENT’S FUTURE WAGE LOSS. MOST OFTEN, THIS TYPE OF EVIDENCE REQUIRES EXPERT TESTIMONY.


Florida Law Requires That Lost Future Earnings:

  1. Be measured by a plaintiff’s diminished ability to earn an income in the future, not the plaintiff’s actual loss of future earnings.
  2. Be directly related to the plaintiff’s injuries; and.
  3. Supported by evidence enabling them to be reasonably calculated.

The attorneys at Zarzaur Law have the network and capability to make sure that the right expert evaluates your case.

Also, not only should your attorney consider factors like promotions, earning capacity, future injuries, and work restrictions, but they should also think about other factors that have less to do with the client themselves. Florida is a large, diverse state. A jury in Santa Rosa County may not award the same amount as a jury in Escambia County, even if the evidence they use is the exact same. Navigating the negotiation process given all these various factors is the reason you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney.

The attorneys at Zarzaur Law are experienced, personal injury attorneys. The Florida Bar, the governing body that makes rules about attorney advertisement, does not typically allow lawyers to hold themselves out as “experts.” However, the Bar does allow lawyers who have extensive experience in personal injury and tort cases to become specialists in civil trial. Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Two out of three of the lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

So, when potential clients ask us about whether or when to hire a lawyer after an accident, we remind them that only a Board-Certified civil trial lawyer is a specialist in this area of the law. Since all injury attorneys have the same “no fee no cost unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Watch the YouTube Video with Joe Zarzaur  >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

 

Sources:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-do-i-prove-future-lost-earnings-in-a-personal-injury-case.html

 

Attention: Parents with Children in Santa Rosa County School System – Important Child Safety Video (documents)

GULF BREEZE ELEMENTARY ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL KIM McCHESNEY DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT:

McChesney – Redacted

GULF BREEZE ELEMENTARY ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL KIM McCHESNEY DEPOSITION VIDEO:

RECORDS REQUESTED:

McChesney – Redacted

 Watch the YouTube Video with Joe Zarzaur  >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Florida and Alabama.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Florida Bar Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Dangers of Being Distracted While Using Your Cell Phone

For those born before 1990, remember back to a time when mobile phones required a shoulder strap, large battery, and likely a cord connecting the handset to the charging station.  All this was for the convenience and ability to maintain voice contact outside the home or office.  This convenience typically came with a hefty up-front investment followed by inordinate per-minute charges on the use of the phone.

Over the last 20-30 years the mobile phone experience has become less cumbersome while also trending away from the maintenance of voice in favor of text messaging, interactive applications, video, and photo production, etc.

The inversion from primary voice contact to a fully interactive audiovisual experience and mobile application existence offers seemingly boundless benefits to our daily lives.  But, along with this comes the ever-present notion of the mobile phone serving as a distraction. A distraction that has been studied in regard to injuries that result from such.

Distracted Driving Accidents

Mobile Phone Distraction
A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that young millennial drivers are the most dangerous on the roads compared to any other age group.

Distracted driving (i.e. texting ad driving) has been the focus of many studies and demonstrations.  It is difficult to even peripherally follow the news and not hear about an accident or incident involving a distracted driver.  That distraction is most commonly the mobile phone, either directly or indirectly removing the driver’s attention from the task at hand – safely operating the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the 2019 data which features these bulleted points:

“Nine percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes, and 15 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

In 2019 there were 3,142 people killed and an estimated additional 424,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Six percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. Nine percent of drivers 15 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes. 

In 2019 there were 566 non-occupants (pedestrians, pedal cyclists, and others) killed in distraction-affected crashes.”

Distracted Pedestrian Accidents

So, just save the mobile phone use for when one is not operating a vehicle and all should be safe and well, right?  Not so much.  

Turns out that with the benefit of hindsight mobile phones are also associated with injuries apart from the operation of a vehicle.  Mobile phone distraction elsewhere in daily activities can result in injury as well (i.e. texting and walking).  And, when distraction is not the etiology of an injury this raises the notion of mobile phone implementation into activities not originally intended or designed for concurrent mobile device use (i.e. video/photo capture of physical activities).

While the short compendium of studies listed here offers some outstanding data this only serves to highlight the data after the fact in that these studies summarize a retrospective analysis of injuries, mechanisms of injury, and demographics associated with those involved:

“A marked increase was noted in the incidence of cell phone use-associated injuries over the time (2,900%).”

“The proportion of injuries related to texting on a cell phone was greatest in the 13- to 29-year-old age group and declined as age increased.”

“Cell phone–related injuries to the head and neck have increased steeply over the recent 20-year period, with many cases resulting from distraction.”

“Many of these injuries occurred among those aged 13 to 29 years and were associated with common activities, such as texting while walking.”

“The incidence of cell phone-related injuries among patients 21 years of age and under increased over 8-fold between the years 2002 to 2015.”

“The most commonly reported injury types across all age groups were: contusions/abrasions (34.6%), lacerations (29.5%), strains/sprains (19.7%), internal organ injuries (10.2%), and fracture (6.0%).”


A limitation of the various quips and conclusions above is that these numbers only capture what has been reported or what has been reported in such a manner so as to be mined from datasets across many facilities, institutions, regions, and jurisdictions.  It has been speculated that any of these percentages or gross amounts have been undercounted due to lack of consistent data reporting.

The take-home point is that while there should be a concentrated effort on keeping the roads safe for all of us by taking steps to prevent mobile phone distractions while operating a vehicle, a similar mindset would also likely prevent injuries from occurring with the otherwise routine aspects of daily life.  Aiming to keep oneself safe while using a mobile device transitively safeguards others, thus widening the path for an injury-free mobile device co-existence.

Watch the YouTube Video with Joe Zarzaur and Dr. Evan Malone >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION:  DISTRACTED DRIVING 2019

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813111

ORTHOPAEDIC INJURIES ASSOCIATED WITH CELL PHONE USE RESULTING IN EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT VISITS: A 20-YEAR ANALYSIS

https://journals.lww.com/jaaos/Documents/JAAOS_37_2_Infographic_July_8_2021.pdf

https://journals.lww.com/jaaos/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2021&issue=07010&article=00008&type=Abstract

HEAD AND NECK INJURIES ASSOCIATED WITH CELL PHONE USE

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/10.1001/jamaoto.2019.3678?utm_campaign=articlePDF%26utm_medium=articlePDFlink%26utm_source=articlePDF%26utm_content=jamaoto.2019.3678

HOLD THE PHONE!  CELL PHONE-RELATED INJURIES IN CHILDREN, TEENS, AND YOUNG ADULTS ARE ON THE RISE

https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2333794X20968459

Dog Bite Injuries Is On the Rise

Dog Bite Injuries Rising Dramatically Each YearWe all know someone who was bitten by a dog. That is not surprising as it is a very common situation. Over 50 percent of US households have a pet dog, so the odds of this are great.


DID YOU KNOW THAT APPROXIMATELY 4.5 MILLION DOG BITES OCCUR EVERY YEAR IN THE US?


While the final statistics are not in, it appears that there was a surge in such attacks in 2020, and most relate that to the fact that many people stayed at home more often.

The Medical Cost of a Dog Bite

While most dog bites result in minor injuries, may result in serious injury and death. One in five dog bites become infected due to the bacteria in the dog’s mouth. Any time there is a break in the skin, this must be carefully monitored. Dog bites can lead to serious scarring. In 2018 nearly 27,000 people underwent remonstrate surgery because of a dog bite. The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was over $18,000, which is much higher than the average injury-related hospital stay. It is estimated that the cost of dog bite treatment exceeds $2 billion a year. In 2020 alone, homeowners’ insurers paid out close to 1 billion in liability claims.

Every day over 1,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal dog bite-related injuries. Between 2005 and 2020 dogs killed 586 Americans. Thus, this is a very serious problem in America today.

Homeowners Insurance Policies Pertaining to Dog Bite Accidents

Dog Bites from certain breeds result in more severe injuries, and because of this many insurance companies will not cover those breeds. If you have a homeowner or renters’ policy and own a dog, you need to make sure you have coverage for an injury caused by your dog. Many policies exclude all dog bite incidents, and many limit the coverage for these incidents. Please contact your agent, and make sure you have sufficient coverage in case someone is injured by your dog.


Over 70% of all dog bites occur because the dog is not neutered. (ASPCA pro)


Florida Law

The law in Florida concerning injuries by dogs is governed by Florida Statute 767.04. This statute saw that a dog owner is liable for injuries if their dog bites another person and that person is in a public place or lawfully in a private place. This statute only covers dog bite injuries. If your dog injures a person in another way, i.e., knocking them over or chasing on the bike, you can be liable for common law negligence, or failure to use reasonable care in handling your dog.

Florida is a “strict liability” state on this issue. While some states have a “one free bite” law, in Florida a dog owner is liable even if the owner had no prior knowledge or warning that the dog might bite. A Florida dog owner has 3 defenses to a dog bite claim.

  • First, if the victim is a trespasser or unlawfully on the property where the incident occurred, then the owner is not liable. The defense of comparative negligence may apply. If the victim somehow was at fault and this led to the bite, then the recovery may be set off by a percentage of his or her negligence. A common example of this is a situation where a person aggravates or provokes the animal. In such a situation, the owner has a comparative negligence defense.
  • Another defense is the posting of a “bad dog ‘sign prominently on the property. To use this defense, the sign must be large, easily readable, and in a prominent place on the property. This defense will not protect the owner if the victim is under 6 years old.

 

The victim of a dog bite may recover all damages allowed under Florida law, including past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering. These incidents often result in severe injury.

If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you need to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer, who is an expert in Florida law. While some situations may be strict liability, the law is complex, and finding a source of recovery may be difficult.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

 

Sources:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/strict_liability

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0767/Sections/0767.04.html

 

The Anatomy of a Personal Injury Case

The Basic Structure of a Personal Injury Case Has Three Distinct Component Parts: Liability, Causation,  and Damages.

Liability – Legal Term For “Fault”

For a personal injury plaintiff to have a successful case she and her lawyer must prove “more likely than not” that the other party is liable for the injury, that the actions of the other party caused the injury, and then the personal injury plaintiff must prove the extent of their injury and damages. If a personal injury plaintiff fails to meet its burden of proof on any of these three items, then the entire case fails.

Liability is a fancy legal term for fault.  Who is at fault and can you as the plaintiff in a personal injury case prove that the opposing party is legally responsible for the injury and damage?  Many times, in personal injury cases in Florida, the legal theory is negligence.  Negligence is a type of conduct that is unreasonable under the circumstances.  Stated differently, negligence is failing to act as a reasonable and prudent person would act under similar circumstances.

Liability/Negligence Examples

If an injury is caused by someone rolling through a stop sign instead of stopping, then it is negligence if the reasonable and prudent person would have stopped at the sign instead of rolling through it. Or, if this is a medical malpractice case, the measure of negligence is whether the reasonable prudent physician (of similar training and experience) would have made a different decision in the care and treatment of a patient.

Liability can also take forms other than negligence.  For example, you can establish liability against an opposing party in a Florida personal injury case by alleging violation of a statute, alleging strict products liability against a product manufacturer or seller, or alleging conduct that was even worse than negligence like recklessness.  Reckless or wanton conduct is acting in a way that you realize is likely to cause harm or damage and you act that way anyway.  In the stop sign example above, we noted how rolling through a stop sign might establish negligence but going 90mph through a stop sign at a known busy intersection would amount to something more than negligence, it would likely amount to reckless conduct.

So, the first building block of a personal injury case is liability or fault.  Initially, you and your Florida personal injury lawyer will have to decide what legal theory or theories are available to bring against the opposing party.  As referenced, most of the time this legal vehicle will be negligence, but all theories should be considered and if viable under your fact situation, should be considered by your legal team.

Second, in evaluating how successful your legal theory is there needs to be frank and candid consideration of the other two elements of a personal injury case: causation and injury/damages.

Causation – Ties Together Liability and Damages

Causation or legal causation is an examination of whether you as the plaintiff can show that the negligence or fault of the opposing party caused/or substantially contributed to your injury/damages.  Legal causation means that the actions of the opposing party must be linked to the injury or damage.  So, in the rolling through the stop sign example, the negligence would be rolling through the stop sign.  If that negligence caused a crash, then the legal causation requirement would be satisfied.  However, let’s assume that at the same time one party rolls through a stop sign another party at the four-way stop didn’t notice the stop sign and speeds through it striking your vehicle first before the car that was rolling through could even make contact and never contacts the car.  The car that rolled through the stop sign and never made contact was negligent, but that negligent conduct did not cause damage or injury since it never impacted the injured party’s vehicle.  The other vehicle that sped through the stop sign did make contact and would satisfy the legal causation since that driver’s negligence caused the damage/injury.

Damage / Injury Caused by the Other Party

Third, a successful personal injury case also involves the evaluation of the damages/ injury caused by the other party.  For instance, there are situations where an opposing party rolls through a stop sign and causes impact with another vehicle and doesn’t cause an injury.  So, then a plaintiff in a personal injury case could prove fault (rolling through the stop sign is negligence remember?) and could prove legal causation (the rolling car struck the client’s car) but if there is only damage to the car and there is no injury then you would likely not have a case worth pursuing since Florida law requires a permanent injury to have a successful car wreck case.

Likewise, if you are the victim of medical malpractice and let’s assume for purpose of this example that we can prove that the doctor was negligent (she did not act as the reasonable doctor would have acted under similar circumstances) and we can prove that that negligent act legally caused an injury to the patient, but we have trouble establishing that the severity of the injury will be sufficient to justify bringing the action.

Medical malpractice cases are expensive cases to bring since the laws in Florida require the injured party to spend about $100,000.00-$200,000.00 to bring and maintain a medical malpractice case.  Not every injury would make economic sense to pursue.  For example, let’s say you go in for surgery and the surgeon leaves a surgical sponge inside of your intestines, but the sponge eventually comes out and there is no permanent injury from the sponge being left in, but you suffer weeks of stomach discomfort and must see the doctor many more times than you otherwise would have.

However, if there are no significant and permanent medical issues that are the direct result of the negligent act (leaving the surgical sponge in the intestines) then you would likely not be recommended to pursue that case since it doesn’t make economic sense to do so.  The costs of the case would likely exceed or be equal to what the case is worth and then the client and the law firm net nothing or take a loss.

In sum, a winning personal injury case requires that the injured party and her lawyer prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).  This burden of proof requires evidence of three distinct elements liability, causation, and damages/injury.  The personal injury lawyer will be evaluating all three of these elements from the very first call.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/determining-fault.html

https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/how-the-causation-element-works-in-florida-personal-injury-40575