Tag Archives: Joe Zarzaur

Florida Drivers: Zarzaur Law Crash Report

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer, Florida DriversFlorida drivers earned the designation of “the worst” drivers in the U.S., according to a recent study from CheapCarInsurance. Surprise.

The car insurance comparison site surveyed 2,000 drivers across the U.S. and ranked the four most populous states to figure out where the rudest and worst drivers dominate the roads.

Florida had the worst drivers, with 13.9 percent of respondents calling the drivers terrible and 38 percent calling drivers fairly bad. New York drivers were rated the best, with 51.3 percent of respondents calling drivers average.

Florida also earned the designation of one of the rudest, with 15.8 percent of respondents saying drivers were very rude and aggressive. New York drivers, although they were rated the best, were also deemed the rudest, with 15.7 percent of respondents saying drivers were very rude and aggressive and 37.4 percent saying drivers were fairly rude and aggressive.

Board Certified Lawyer, Florida Drivers
Crash Map in Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties

So there it is, a barometer for driving in Florida. Bad and rude seem to go hand-in-hand, although it’s not clear whether drivers are rude because it’s tough out there on Sunshine State streets and highways, or whether drivers are just plain bad and impolite. Perhaps that’s part of the reason car insurance in Florida is among the priciest in the nation.

If you happen to have a run in with a bad Florida Driver – call Joe Zarzaur, an expert at accidents involving Florida Drivers. Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer, Joe Zarzaur, founder of Pensacola Law Firm: Zarzaur Law has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR 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 or a loved one has been involved in a car accident and are suffering from delayed symptoms, it is 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.

Trucking Accidents: You Need a Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer

Florida Truck Wreck LawyerTrucking Accidents and a Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer

Anyone who is handling or screening a Florida Truck Wreck case will usually immediately seize upon one or two FMCSR’s which they strongly believe were violated by the truck driver or trucking company. In fact, a thorough investigation of most trucking cases will reveal one or more violations. Once violations are identified, a Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer will then ask the  question: how can I best use the violation in the case?

Like so many legal questions, the answer is – it depends. You may use the violation(s) to establish a general pattern of negligent conduct or you may attempt to prove negligence per se based on the violation. In either case, you can develop a strategy for determining when such violations are advantageous to a Florida Truck Wreck Case case by considering the following:

1) Does the applicable FMCSR apply to the subject vehicle?

2) Is the FMCSR violation the result of an act or omission by the driver, by the company/employer or does it relate to the condition of the tractor/trailer?

3) Did the defendants also violate more stringent internal operating rules?

4) What are my potential theories of negligence based on the violations?

5) Were the violations likely a proximate cause of the collision and/or Injuries?

6) If so, what are the relevant authorities governing the use of FMCSRs for proof of negligence and/or negligence per se in the Eleventh Circuit or other relevant jurisdictions?

7) Will I need, or can I use, an expert, to establish the applicability of the FMCSRs, the violation, and/or proximate causation?

Determine Whether the FMCSR’s Apply to a Florida Truck Wreck Case

The FMCSRs apply to all commercial motor vehicles defined as:

any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle—

(1) Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or

(2) Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or

(3) Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or

(4) Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C. (49 C.F.R. § 390.5)

Interstate commerce means trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States—

(1) Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States);

(2) Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or

(3) Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.

Intrastate commerce means any trade, traffic, or transportation in any State which is not described in the term “interstate commerce.”1

A Florida court will have to first decide whether the “essential character” of the shipment was INTRAstate versus INTERstate before determining whether to apply the FMCSR’s to a Florida Truck Wreck Case.  The key question to determine is whether the FMCSR applies is again a surgery of the “essential character” of the particular shipment.  Texas v. NOR Co. v. Sabine Tram Co., 227 U.S. 111, 122, 33 S. Ct. 229, 233, 57 L. Ed. 442, 447 (1913).  Crucial to a determination of the essential character of a shipment, is the shipper’s fixed and persisting intent at the time of the shipment.  For example, whether at commencement a specific interstate destination for the shipment was definitely planned.  Middlewest Motor Freight Bureau v. ICC 867 F. 2d 458, 460-61 (8th Cir.).

If you fail to prove that the FMCSRs apply to the vehicle in your case, the court will likely refuse to consider charging the jury on the regulations or negligence.

Is the Violation the Result of an Act or Omission by the Driver, by the Company/Employer or Does it Relate to the Condition of the Tractor/Trailer?

In determining which regulations were violated, and by whom, it is important to remember that the FMCSRs set a minimum standard of care for the entire commercial trucking industry.

§390.5

d) Additional requirements. Nothing in Subchapter B of this chapter shall be construed to prohibit an employer from requiring and enforcing more stringent requirements relating to the safety of operation and employee safety and health.

§390.9

State and local laws, effect on.

Except as otherwise specifically indicated, Subchapter B of this chapter is not intended to preclude States or subdivisions thereof from establishing or enforcing State or local laws relating to safety, the compliance with which would not prevent full compliance with these regulations by the person subject thereto.

Did the Defendant Have More Stringent Internal Operating Rules?

Since the FMCSRs are the minimum requirements, a Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer cannot succumb to a defendant’s ability to show that it simply complied with the regulations. Discovery and expert development should focus on whether the company: 1) actually complied with all relevant FMCSRs, 2) whether the relevant state laws require a higher degree of care, and 3) whether, like similar companies within the industry, the defendant developed more stringent internal criteria for drivers, record retention, inspection, maintenance etc.

What are the potential theories of negligence-based on the violations for a Florida Truck Wreck Case?

Negligent Operation

Failure to place (or provide) warnings near disable vehicle; placard placement; fatigued driver; improper securing of loads; improper driving during hazardous conditions.

Negligent Inspection and Maintenance

Improper brake calibration; tire tread; light and reflector placement; cracked windshield.

Negligent Hiring, Retention, and Entrustment

Failure to do background check; failure to properly train; allowing to drive after repeated violations; young driver without co-driver; log book violations; fatigue.

This potential theory should never be overlooked. The FMCSRs have detailed and stringent requirements for the hiring and training of all drivers. The regulations require an employer to maintain all employee records at the carrier’s principal place of business for as long as the driver is employed by that carrier and for three years after. The employer must administer, and the driver applicant must pass, tests covering FMCSRs and pass road tests demonstrating driver competence. The employer must also check the applicant’s driving record for the past three years in every state where the applicant has held a license. The employer must do an extensive background check on the driver including contacting prior employers for the past three years. The employer must conduct an annual driver review and take actions based on the driver’s performance.

Failure to comply with these regulations can lay the foundation for a theory that the company was negligent in allowing the driver to be on the road at the time of a collision. Consider the following case in which driving with falsified log books was considered unreasonable risk of harm and evidence of negligent hiring and entrustment

Osborne v. Pinsonneault, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29695 (W.D. Ky. 2008). Refusal to grant partial summary judgment on negligent hiring and entrustment claims where logbooks were falsified. Court found that such falsification showed trucking company created an unreasonable risk of harm to the Plaintiffs in its entrustment, hiring, training, and supervision of driver.

Florida Truck Wreck cases require attention to Spoliation of Evidence Issues

From the initial intake, Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer should be very concerned with the intentional destruction of evidence by the defendant Trucking Companies.  Florida has a specific tort for the intentional destruction of evidence but in order for this to apply to a Defendant Trucking Company, they must be placed on “notice” that the evidence they have in their possession, custody or control may be relevant to the Florida Truck Wreck Case being prosecuted.  The essential elements  a Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer will look for in a spoliation of evidence case in relation to a Florida Truck Wreck case are the following:

1. Existence of a potential civil action

2. A legal or contractual duty to preserve evidence which is relevant to the potential civil proceeding.

3. Destruction of that evidence.

4. Significant impairment in the ability to prove the lawsuit;

5. A causal relationship between the evidence destruction and the inability to provide the lawsuit; and

6. Damages.

A Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer that knows this area of the law will be very aware of these concerns and will provide the necessary notice letters relating to spoliation concerns.  For more information about any Florida Truck Wreck case please contract Zarzaur Law, P.A. at 855-hire-joe or zarzaurlaw.com.

Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer , Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of a trucking accident or are in need of a Florida Truck Wreck Lawyer.

11 E Romana Street

Pensacola, FL 32502

Telephone: 850-444-9299

Email: info@zarzaurlaw.com

Follow us on Twitter: @zarzaurlaw

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zarzaurlaw

Check us out on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ZarzaurLawPensacola

Social Media Instructions for Injured People

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Most of us today carry cell phones in our pockets with more processing power than the computers aboard the Apollo moon missions. Frequent news reports illustrate the dangers of thoughtless use of smartphones and social media. It has ensnared politicians and celebrities, sometimes crashing promising careers. This technology has created similar hazards for both plaintiffs and defendants in litigation who are careless about online social media privacy. While we are quick to look for the other side’s vulnerabilities, we must also play defense in protecting our clients from their own electronic blunders.

Many people today, especially younger ones, think nothing of sharing details of personal lives with the world through social networking sites. For this very reason, insurance companies, investigators, and defense lawyers may seek to compel access to social media accounts, computers, cell phones, and hard drives. Careless use of social media can be a kind of self-surveillance, a gift to the other side.

Information from such sources may be used to embarrass or discredit you when you are hurt. It may be used to falsely suggest that the your are exaggerating or that something else caused the injury. Even innocent joking between friends on social media might convince judges and juries that a plaintiff has been dishonest.

Here are ten precautions to avoid self-inflicted wounds through use of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Archive the content of current accounts.

Destruction of potential evidence may create bigger problems than the information itself. Therefore, it is important to preserve the current content of any social media accounts. Most social media sites include directions for archiving. We designate a staff person to help clients archive correctly.

Deactivate or discontinue using social media accounts.

If you are going to be the plaintiff in a personal injury case, consider deactivating your Facebook profile and other social media accounts.  If you are not willing to completely deactivate an account you should—after archiving content —remove any information related to your injury or activities and avoid future posts.

Turn on the highest privacy setting.

If you won’t discontinue use of social media, adjust privacy settings to the highest levels. This means making sure that only actual friends can see the information, rather than friends of friends or the general public. A useful tool is Facebook’s “View As” feature, which allows users to view their profile as it appears to someone else, whether a stranger or a Facebook friend. This might help you see exactly what is visible to the general public, something that isn’t always apparent from privacy settings. Be aware that Facebook publicly publishes “Interests,” even if accounts are otherwise private.

Beware of “friends.”

If social media use continues, it is important to edit “friend lists” so that only certain friends can see photo albums and status updates. Remove any “friends” you do not know well or at all, and accept only friend requests from people you know and trust.

Become invisible.

You can remove yourself from Facebook search results by selecting “only friends” under the “search visibility” option in their profile settings. You can also remove your Facebook page from Google by unchecking the box for “Public Search Listing” in your Internet privacy settings. Make comparable changes to privacy settings in all other social media accounts.

Take down photos.

After archiving current content,  remove and un-tag all photos of yourself that are not simple head shots.

Be cautious.

Assume that anything you write on your social media accounts—including status updates, messages, and wall postings—will at some point be seen by defense lawyers, judges, and juries. Think about how such things might be perceived when viewed out of context.

Preserve all computers, tablets, or cell phones.

If you lose or destroy an electronic communications device, opposing counsel could try to make it look like deliberate destruction of evidence. It is better to fight a battle over access to your devices than have a judge instruct a jury that it may assume the contents of the discarded or destroyed device would have been unfavorable to you.

Don’t send messages or information about the case.

Do not send emails, text messages, or “private” social media messages about your claim, health, or activities to anyone except your lawyers. Careless emails and electronic messages can destroy a case.

Don’t post on websites or web chat groups.

While you may find useful information in online support groups, you don’t own the information you post online. Such information you post is highly searchable. You should not enter any information on dating or insurance websites, post on message boards, participate in or comment on social media “private” groups or blogs, or use chat rooms.

This post is adapted from an article published in the January 2016 issue of Trial magazine by Ken Shigley, a double board certified trial lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia. He has served as president of the State Bar of Georgia, chair of the largest practice area section of the American Association for Justice (Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section), and chair of the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia board of trustees. He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice (2010-2016) and a chapter author of the 2016 edition of Handling Motor Vehicle Accident Cases, both published by Thomson Reuters.  He can be reached at ken@shigleylaw.com.

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer, Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer.

11 E Romana Street

Pensacola, FL 32502

Telephone: 850-444-9299

Email: info@zarzaurlaw.com

Follow us on Twitter: @zarzaurlaw

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zarzaurlaw

Check us out on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ZarzaurLawPensacola

Car Crash Statistics: Zarzaur Law Report Update

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With Florida ranking number three in careless or reckless driving accidents, it’s no wonder car crash and traffic accidents are increasing in Escambia County. FIRES (Florida’s integrated Report Exchange System), reports on behalf of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. It serves as a portal into the State of Florida’s repository for traffic crash reports completed by Florida law enforcement agencies.

The combined Escambia County, Santa Rosa County and Okaloosa County auto accident reports for the dates June 4 – June 9, 2016, brought to you by Pensacola personal Injury lawyer, Joe Zarzaur of Zarzaur Law and FIRES. The data includes total crash reports, crashes with injuries, total vehicles involved, total and driver injuries, and more. If you’re involved in an auto accident contact Board Certified Attorney, Joe Zarzaur of Pensacola Personal Injury Law Firm, Zarzaur Law.

Annual Global Road Car Crash Statistics

  • Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day.
  • An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.
  • More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15-44.
  • Road traffic crashes rank as the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally.
  • Road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide among young people ages 5-14.
  • Each year nearly 400,000 people under 25 die on the world’s roads, on average over 1,000 a day.
  • Over 90% of all road fatalities occur in low and middle-income countries, which have less than half of the world’s vehicles.
    Road crashes cost USD $518 billion globally, costing individual countries from 1-2% of their annual GDP.
  • Road crashes cost low and middle-income countries USD $65 billion annually, exceeding the total amount received in developmental assistance.
  • Unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.

Annual United States Road Car Crash Statistics

  • Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year
  • An additional 2.35 million are injured or disabled
  • Over 1,600 children under 15 years of age die each year
  • Nearly 8,000 people are killed in crashes involving drivers ages 16-20
  • Road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year, or an average of $820 per person
  • Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad
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Crash Map in Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties

According to FIRES, from January 1, 2016 to present, Escambia County, Santa Rosa County and Okaloosa County have experienced 5,102 total crashes with 9,577 total vehicles involved and 2,238 of those crashes involving injuries leading to 3,754 total injuries. Of these crashes, 35 have resulted in traffic fatalities and 20 were driver fatalities.

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer, Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer.

11 E Romana Street

Pensacola, FL 32502

Telephone: 850-444-9299

Email: info@zarzaurlaw.com

Follow us on Twitter: @zarzaurlaw

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zarzaurlaw

Check us out on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ZarzaurLawPensacola

ABOTA Defends Federal District Court Judge Against Unfair Attacks By A Presidential Candidate

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Press Release: Judge Adheres To Rules Of Judicial Ethics And Is Unable To Respond Directly To Attacks From Presidential Candidate.

By Charles H. Baumberger National President

DALLAS (June 6, 2016) — The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is an organization dedicated to the preservation of a fair and impartial judiciary and the right to trial by jury. Recently, we have seen highly publicized attacks by presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, who is a litigant in a case pending before Judge Gonzalo Curiel in Federal District Court in California.

These attacks include charges that Judge Curiel, who was born in Indiana, cannot be fair because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump also described the judge as a “hater” because he issued multiple rulings against him.

Mr. Trump is represented by highly capable lawyers who can invoke a legal process if Mr. Trump truly believes any judge is acting unfairly. The legal mechanism of recusal is available to all litigants if either a conflict exists or if there is a question of impartiality. The fact that his counsel have not elected to ask for the recusal of Judge Curiel demonstrates the political nature of Mr. Trump’s public comments.

The judicial code of conduct prevents the judge from responding to such attacks, so Judge Curiel’s silence on this matter demonstrates that he is following the rules. ABOTA has a long history of responding to unfair attacks on judges who cannot respond for themselves and believes that political and special interest interference in the judicial system is contrary to the American concept of justice.

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When attacks on a judge’s impartiality because of his ethnic background come from a litigant who is a candidate for the highest office in the land, such attacks unfairly misrepresent to the broader public the truly independent role of judges. One could view these highly publicized attacks by an individual who may become the President of the United States as an attempt to influence the judge in his rulings and make the judge bend to his will due to the candidate’s position of influence.

ABOTA stands for respect of our judicial system and the right of trial by jury as we believe such principles are fundamental to preserving our democracy. Our judicial system cannot function without the lawyers, the litigants and the courts treating each other with civility. We have a very diverse country made up of women and men from every walk of life, from every ethnic group and from many different points of view.

We have a federal judiciary selected from many of the best and brightest minds in the law and made up of individuals from many different cultural backgrounds who are overwhelmingly dedicated to being fair and impartial. It is a system upon which the public can have confidence in and accept the outcome of each case.

This should not be considered an endorsement for president of one candidate or another.ABOTA does not endorse political candidates nor does ABOTA become involved in political races. This commentary is limited to what ABOTA considers unfair attacks on the judiciary.

Charles H. Baumberger is from Miami and is the national president of the American Board of Trial Advocates, an invitation only organization dedicated to defending the American civil justice system and elevating the standards of integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession. ABOTA members are represented equally between both plaintiff and defense lawyers and includes state and federal judges.

For more information contact: Brian Tyson at (800) 932-2682 briant@abota.org

Florida Cyclist At Risk

cyclist

In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Riding a bike is a healthy, fun and safe activity. However, it isn’t without some risk. As a personal injury lawyer, Zarzaur Law has dealt with a number of cases recently surrounding the cyclist and automobiles, path regulations and cyclist risk factors in the environment.

Zarzaur Law firm of Pensacola, FL focuses on all areas of personal injury – but has a special interest in athletic injuries. Personal Injury Lawyer, Joe Zarzaur and board certified doctor, and firm medical official, Dr. Evan Malone are triathletes and competitive Ironman contestants. Cyclist injuries and accidents are a topic that hit close to home, with both gentlemen being at risk in races and everyday training.

Did you know that every 6 hours a cyclist is fatally injured in an accident? Or that of those fatalities, 50% occur in children under the age of sixteen?

The following information highlights the law surrounding the development of public areas that may minimize that risk and have the potential to reduce conflicts between bikes and cars (and other traffic).

All laws & policies mentioned here were compiled as part of a research project for a case handled in the spring of 2016 by Joe Zarzaur and Zarzaur Law. They may be subject to change. Please help us keep them up to date by contacting clerk@zarzaurlaw.com with any updates.

Federal Policy

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Think about where each of these motorists is looking before crossing the sidewalk.

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) official policy is to give “full consideration” during the development of federal aid highway projects (e.g. bridges) to the safe accommodation of bicyclists and pedestrians, to make every effort to minimize detrimental effects of current and anticipated pedestrian and/or bicycle traffic, and to encourage consulting with local groups of organized bicyclists regarding bicycle-related projects.  23 C.F.R. § 652.5.

Federal Bicycle/Pedestrian Path Safety and Maintenance Regulations

Federal standards for construction and design of bicycle routes are established by The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Guide for Development of New Bicycle Facilities (AASHTO Guide) or equivalent guides developed in cooperation with State or local officials and acceptable to the FHWA.  According to the literature therein, the purpose of the AASHTO Guide is to accommodate and encourage bicycling by providing “safe, convenient, well-designed, well-maintained facilities, with low-crash frequencies and severities.” (AASHTO Guide § 1.2)  AASHTO’s policy extends to roadways and bridges which should accommodate bicycles. (§ 4.12.3)  Throughout the AASHTO Guide, the agency reaffirms local departments of transport’s (DOT) duties to monitor and remedy unsafe conditions on bicycle paths. Given the severity of injuries that may be sustained by cyclists, the Guide calls for increased awareness and responsiveness in addressing bicycle path issues. “Due to bicycle operator’s physical exposure and the unique characteristics of their vehicle,” AASHTO states,”bicyclists are susceptible to severe injury in even minor incidents.” Thus, maintenance and safety protocols are prioritized as a leading concern regarding bicycle paths.

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Most close passing is a result of the motorist thinking he can squeeze past without changing lanes. Make sure a driver can clearly see that his car won’t fit within the same lane.

Safety considerations include quality of service evaluations (or Bicycle Level of Service (LOS)) used to evaluate existing bicycling conditions. (AASHTO Guide § 2.62).  Implementation of LOS studies includes documenting various factors of existing roadways and paths including pavement surface condition. According to § 4.2, “surface condition and pavement smoothness are important to bicyclist control and comfort . . . Gravel roads, loose material, cracks, bumps, and potholes on a paved roadway create an impediment for bicyclists.” Therefore, safety and maintenance evaluations of existing bicycle paths should monitor surface conditions as a component of LOS studies. LOS measurement is then used to evaluate bicyclists’ perceived safety and comfort while traveling in a roadway corridor. (§ 2.62).  AASHTO further stipulates that the detailed knowledge of local bicyclists and bicycle planners should be used to corroborate Bicycle LOS model results. (§ 2.62).  This emphasis on utilizing local bicyclists in the safety coordination is reiterated in § 2.6.7 which states that community bicyclists have the best knowledge of current conditions as well as opinions on areas that need improvement.

While there are no bicycle-specific designs or dimensions for shared roadways, the AASHTO Guide states that special care should be exercised to install bicycling compatible features, such as good pavement and bicycle-compatible bridge expansion joints, and that such features should be implemented where they are not present. (§§ 4.3, 5.28). Further, bike lanes should have a “smooth riding surface.” (§ 4.6.1). In order to ensure bike lane smoothness, utility covers should be adjusted flush with the surface of the lane and drainage should be utilized to prevent debris accumulation and potential hazards for bicyclists. (§ 4.6.1).  Additionally, AASHTO encourages state-level agencies to development maintenance protocols that include regular sweeping of bikeways (§ 7.2.1), inspections of bikeways for surface repairs (§ 7.2.2), and corrections of pavement overlay drop-offs (§ 7.2.3).

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The most common reasons to leave a bike lane.

Furthermore, the FHWA provides training and informational materials titled Federal Highway Administration University Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation that details bicycle and pedestrian path safety precautions that should be exercised by state-level departments of transportation. “Lesson 16” specifically addresses bike path maintenance and states that bicycles and cyclists are “particularly sensitive to maintenance problems.” (§ 16.2).  The FHWA course highlights bicyclist safety concerns related to uneven paths: “ridges, such as those found where a new asphalt overlay does not quite cover the older roadway surface, can catch a wheel, and throw a bicyclist to the ground.” (§ 16.2). Section 16.4 describes the objectives of bicycle path maintenance plans and lists roadway surface patching and pavement overlays that “feathers” the new surface as primary objectives.

Implementation procedures involve routine inspection and repair, as well as the development of an “ongoing spot improvement plan” in which the bicycling community is solicited for suggestions and maintenance requests. (§ 16.7).  Lastly, FHWA University training lists common issues associated with bicycle paths. Amongst these are ridges and cracks which “should be filled or ground down as needed to reduce the chance of a bicyclist catching a front wheel and crashing.” (§ 16.8).

Federal Statutes

Similarly, federal statutes pertaining to the construction and maintenance of bicycle routes along highways emphasize a heightened duty of care for ensuring the safe travel of bicyclists.  According to 23 U.S.C. § 217(d), states receiving FHWA funding under §§ 104(b)(2) and 104(b)(3) shall use such amount of the apportionment as may be necessary to fund the State department of transportation (DOT) a position of bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for promoting and facilitating the increased use of non-motorized modes of transportation, including developing facilities for the use of pedestrians and bicyclists and public education, promotional, and safety programs for using such facilities (§§ 104(b)(2) and 104(b)(3) refer to the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and Highway Safety Improvement program, respectively). 

Moreover, 23 U.S.C. §§ 217(g)(1) and (g)(2) detail planning, design, and safety considerations regarding bicyclist and pedestrian paths.  Generally, bicyclists and pedestrians shall be given due consideration in the comprehensive transportation plans developed by each metropolitan planning organization and State in accordance with §§ 134 and 135 (metropolitan transportation planning).  Bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways shall be considered, where appropriate, in conjunction with all new construction and reconstruction of transportation facilities, except where bicycle and pedestrian use are not permitted.  § 217(g)(1).  Furthermore, transportation plans and projects must provide due consideration for safety and contiguous routes for bicyclists and pedestrians, including the installation, where appropriate, and maintenance of audible traffic signals and audible signs at street crossings.  § 217(g)(2). 

Federal Bridge Regulations

Where a highway bridge deck, on which bicycles are permitted to operate at each end of such bridge, is replaced or rehabilitated with federal financial participation, and the Secretary determines that the safe accommodation of bicycles can be provided at reasonable cost as part of such replacement or rehabilitation, then such bridge shall be so replaced or rehabilitated as to provide such safe accommodations.  23 U.S.C. 217(e). Bridge inspection procedures are governed by AASHTO Manual guidelines.  23 C.F.R. § 650.313.  The AASHTO Maintenance Manual for Roadways and Bridges describes broad guidelines to be followed by state DOT’s. Section 3.2.7.3 of the manual includes bridge inspection procedures.

As related to the instant case, the section includes procedures for the inspection of bridge “approaches.” According to the AASHTO Maintenance Manual, approaches are an adjunct to a bridge and should be level with the bridge deck. Failure to maintain a smooth transition between the approach and the structure allows for additional impact loads on the bridge that can cause extensive structural damage over time. Thus, AASHTO suggests that approach pavement conditions be checked for “unevenness, settlement, or roughness.” The presence of cracking and/or unevenness may indicate a void under the slab caused by fill settlement or erosion. Also, joints between the approach pavement and the abutment back wall, which are designed for thermal movement, should be examined to determine if there is adequate clearance and a proper seal. Shoulders, slopes, drainage, and approach guardrails should also be evaluated as part of the inspection of the approaches, as per AASHTO guidelines. (§ 3.2.7.3).

State-Level Regulations

Statewide transportation plans and improvement programs must provide for the development and integrated management and operation of bicycle transportation facilities.  23 U.S.C. § 135(a)(2). The Florida Department of Transportation’s Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction, and Maintenance for Streets and Highways (Florida Green Book) contains standards relevant to the instant case.

 

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The Emerald Coast & The Zika Virus: What You Need To Know

The Emerald coast andRecent coverage of the Zika virus can seem a bit overwhelming and confusing. My non-scientific, anecdotal experience finds that the name “Zika” itself brings back some of the same “Ebola pandemic” concerns. The Zika virus carries somewhat of an ominous connotation — “The Zika Virus has spread here, what do we do?” “Someone at work may have brought Zika virus to the office…” “The news has the Gulf Coast and Pensacola as the next Zika virus hotbed…”

As of February of 2016, PNJ reported Santa Rosa County has a confirmed case of the Zika virus, bringing the total number of travel-related health cases in Florida to nine. To date, Florida has confirmed nine travel-associated cases in the following counties: Miami-Dade, 4; Hillsborough, 2; Lee, 2; Santa Rosa, 1.

Here is a summary of some of the information which you need to know during the warm-weather months when the conditions are most opportune for the spread of said virus. Hopefully, this bullet point listing of some factoids will provide some reference on this topic.

The take home message is to enjoy this fantastic time of year here on the Gulf Coast and to be empowered with knowledge and understanding of the environment we live in.

If you would like to know more I suggest following the guidelines as set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

Stay Informed: The Zika Virus

  • WHAT: Zika is a virus. Not a bacteria. Not a fungus. Not a parasite. Not an insect (though it is spread by insects).
  • REGION: Latin America, Southeast United States
  • INSECT SPREAD: Mostly transmitted to humans by mosquito bites (Aedes mosquito to be more specific).
  • HUMAN TRANSMISSION: Via direct blood contact — blood transfusion, pregnant mother to fetus, sexual transmission. Note that no other bodily fluids currently are understood to harbor the virus.
  • SYMPTOM ONSET: Two to seven days following a bite from an infected mosquito.

    The Zika Virus and The Emerald Coast Panhandle Pensacola Florida
    Most people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease because they won’t have symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes).
  • SYMPTOMS: fever, rash, eye pain and redness (conjunctivitis), muscle aches (myalgia), fatigue
  • SYMPTOM DURATION: Several days to one week.
  • PREGNANCY: Women who become infected during any trimester of pregnancy can transmit the Zika virus to their fetus, which is associated with microcephaly of the child (small head, small brain).
    The Zika Virus and The Emerald Coast Panhandle Pensacola Florida
    Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

    Prior Zika virus infection does not place future pregnancies at risk, though planning for pregnancy should take possible recent Zika virus infection into consideration.

  • COMPLICATIONS (non-pregnant individuals): As with any other viral infection, those with pre-existing chronic illness are open to a more-complicated infectious course. In no particular order, these diagnoses would place one at higher risk for complications — heart disease (congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy), chronic lung disease (COPD, emphysema, asthma), diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, immunocompromised state (cancer, chemotherapy).
  • RARE COMPLICATION: Though rare, Guillain-Barré syndrome can occur. This is marked by progressive muscular paralysis which can contribute to further cardiopulmonary dysfunction if not diagnosed or treated. It should be noted that this same process can occur from many other viral and bacterial infections so this is not a new or unique issue in regard to infectious disease.
  • TESTING FOR ZIKA VIRUS: Laboratory testing does exist, however diagnosis is often based upon possible virus exposure and clinical history (signs, symptoms). Blood (and, recently urine) tests are being used for disease monitoring. Consult your healthcare provider with regard to what testing protocol may currently be in place as these tests are evolving.
  • TREATMENT: Supportive therapy is the standard. The same as with many other viral infections (common cold, gastroenteritis). Hydration. Rest. Attention to co-morbid conditions which may need to be supported more aggressively, consult your physician.
  • VACCINATION/IMMUNIZATION: Does not exist.
  • PERSONAL PROTECTION: Avoidance of mosquito bites — window and door screens, long-sleeve clothing, insect repellents (sunscreen is first layer, then apply repellent).
  • TRAVEL: Pregnant women should avoid travel to regions with known, ongoing Zika virus transmission. Non-pregnant individuals need to understand the same information as listed above when considering travel plans.
  • PREVENTION: Limit or reduce optimal breeding grounds for mosquitoes (standing water, yard debris).

Taking this information into consideration be safe and enjoy the season. If you have more specific questions in regard to Zika please consult your community and governmental resources – local health department, CDC, and your medical provider.

The Effects Of Medical Professionals Making Mistakes (aka Medical Malpractice)

horse racing

What could be worse than receiving a diagnosis for a serious illness? We can think of a couple. Receiving a diagnosis for a serious illness and then being mistreated by your medical care provider for that illness or a hospital error that led to preventable death are at the top of the list.

Medical malpractice is defined as a breach in the standard of care for a physician or other health care professional that results in injury or illness to a patient. Medical malpractice can be a consequence of mistakes in diagnosis, treatment, or management.

Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a recent article published in The Washington Post. Horror stories of nurses giving potent drugs meant for one patient to another and surgeons removing wrong body parts are making their way to news coverage and the public.

mal200x267The facts about diagnostic errors are very dark. A new study by patient safety researchers, recently published on BMJ, shows that “medical errors” in hospitals and other health care facilities are incredibly common — claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s. To further put this into perspective, that means that more people die from medical errors every year than die from breast cancer, prostate cancer and drunk driving combined.

Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained in a recent interview explained that medical errors include everything from bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another.

With the calculation of 251,000 deaths of year equating to nearly 700 deaths a day — about 9.5 percent of all deaths annually in the United States, what is being done to prevent and fight this shockingly growing number?

The answer? Not much.

184399153The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require reporting of errors in the data it collects about deaths through billing codes, making it hard to see what’s going on a national level.

One study found that, between 1991 and 2005, 5.9% of all doctors were responsible for 57.8% of all malpractice payments. Given that each of these doctors had committed at least two acts of malpractice, this evidence clearly indicates the importance of going after the few deeply incompetent doctors that are responsible for the majority of medical negligence.

To make matters worse, only 8% of these doctors who made multiple (over 2) malpractice payouts were disciplined by state medical boards. Only 17% of doctors with more than 5 malpractice payouts were disciplined.

“The CDC Should update its vital statistics reporting requirements to that physicians must report whether there was any error that led to a preventable death,” Makary said.

Furthermore, a Harvard School of Public Health study examining over 1,400 medical negligence claims found that 97% of the claims had merit and 80% of the malpractice referenced by the claims resulted in serious injury or death.

The striking majority of all medical malpractice results from preventable human error.

What should you do if you think you’ve been the victim of medical negligence? First, get a second opinion from another health care provider right away to make sure that any treatment your current provider has been administering does not immediately jeopardize your health or safety. Once you’re found yourself in better hands, call Zarzaur Law of Pensacola and Destin, Florida.

zarzaur-law-logo-1If you’re unsure your case qualifies under the definition of medical malpractice — contact Zarzaur Law. We are a highly experienced Pensacola, FL medical malpractice team that can help uncover the extent of your medical malpractice claim and get the justice you deserve against the parties at fault. Not only do you owe this to yourself, but you also owe it to any other patients who might be hurt by the responsible doctors (who are statistically likely to be repeat offenders).

There are strict and statutes of limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida, so it is important to take action as soon as possible to protect your rights. Call us for a free consultation.

Zarzaur Law & Artel Gallery Team Up Against Child Abuse

ZARZAUR LAW P.A. AND ARTEL TEAM UP TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST CHILD ABUSE

(April 15th, 2016 – Pensacola, Fla.) – For the last 5 years, the From Blue to Better (FBTB) campaign has spread awareness about Child Abuse Prevention each April by encouraging the region to “go blue”.  This year 13 child-focused agencies have partnered under the FBTB campaign to help raise awareness and to educate the residents of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties about the role we all have in recognizing, reporting, and preventing suspected child abuse.

Zarzaur Law P.A. and Artel Gallery have teamed up to bring awareness to Child Abuse within the local community. On April 15 at Gallery Night, Pinwheels will be handed out at Zarzaur Law’s Legal Graffiti to be placed in front of Artel Gallery. The blue pinwheels represent a voice that has stood up and advocated against child abuse.Untitled design

One of Zarzaur Law’s two triathlon teams adopted the Gulf Coast Kids House as their charitable interest. Since that time, the men’s Zarzaur Law triathlon team, known as “The Gavel Guys” has raised thousands of dollars and donated hundreds of hours of time to the Gulf Coast Kids House and their campaign.

“Nothing motivates a triathlete more than being able to race for a cause, especially one as worthy as the one championed by the gulf coast kids house. It’s an honor to be associated as a firm and a team with the kids house and it’s excellence administrative staff,” explained Joseph Zarzaur, founding partner of Zarzaur Law P.A.

This Gallery Night Zarzaur Law will be “going blue” allowing community members to paint Legal Graffiti with different shades of blue to show their support. Also present, will be representatives from the Gulf Coast Kids House helping to hand out literature, pinwheels and aid in the Legal Graffiti event.

There are multiple ways you can show your support: donate to Zarzaur Law’s Legal Graffiti, donate & pick up a “Pinwheel for Prevention” from Legal Graffiti to place in front of Artel Gallery, or attend any of the events listed on frombluetobetter.org. 

For a full list of ways you can help children in your own community check out frombluetobetter.org or follow From Blue to Better on Facebook.

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From Blue to Better is an independent awareness campaign in April, for child abuse awareness month.  Since 2012, child-focused agencies in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties have banded together to encourage businesses, and organizations to go blue.  This year Gulf Coast Kid’s House, Santa Rosa Kids’ House, Escambia Sheriff’s Office, Scared Heart Children’s Hospital, The City of Pensacola, Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Families First Network of Lakeview, Lutheran Services of Florida, Children’s Home Society, Northwest Florida Department of Children and Families, SEDNET, and United Way of Escambia County will participate.

More Wrecks On The Bay Bridge: How to Avoid And What To Do…

Wrecks On The Bay Bridge

Last week the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ) ran an article quoting Gulf Breeze Police Chief Robert Randle who noted that the Bay Bridge wrecks this year were up 20% from previous years.  If you have any connection to a daily eastern commute or work route then you will have noticed this increase in the form of nearly daily delays for the last 6 weeks.

So, what’s the cause of this increase?  First, it must be noted that we, as drivers (bay bridge or not) are more distracted than ever.  We have these devices practically attached to our hands that can do more for us each day.  Add to that wrist watches and bands that monitor every vital sign and movement of the day then you have a recipe for diversion.  When you overlay this new normal level of distraction with the typical tourist, sightseeing excitement of arriving spring breakers, we now have an entree of disaster on any road.  Bridges, however, are a bit worse since there is no margin for error in bridge driving.  The shoulder areas are quite limited not even wide enough for the average car to be completely off the road.  A near miss on a regular road is a certain crash on the bridge. 

The typical three-mile bay bridge wreck occurs either at or near the Distracted Dirvers Pensacola“humps” or the elevated portions of the bay bridge or the termination points of the bay bridge.  Having personally observed these wrecks from a safe distance, this is generally what happens:  everyone is traveling along during one of the rush hours during the week (7am-9am or 4pm-6pm).  The cars are a pretty good mix of locals and tourists (starting March and ending in September).  As you near the elevated areas of the bay bridge there is some sudden slowing of the traffic.  Think of it as a large speed bump.  Anyway, traffic slows and all of us who know this expect this slowing of the traffic flow and generally space our cars a safe distance away.  However, the folks from “out of town” have no concept of this slowing and just figure traffic flows constantly and consistently. They are anxious to be nearing their final destination and now they can virtually see the beach from their car.  They are looking at the water, sunset, boats etc and then they are confronted with a sudden stopped of traffic.  The natural reaction is for drivers to slam on brakes and then steer around the car in front of them.  Of course on a  regular road, this might work, however on a bridge like our three-mile bay bridge, there is nowhere to go and the wreck occurs.  It happens suddenly but not with warning. 

Pensacola Bay BridgeThe warning signs are simple.  First, the time of year is quite predictive.  If it’s March through August, there is a high potential for this issue.  The hour of the day is another warning sign.  If it is a time of day when traffic on the bay bridge is congested there the chances of a wreck are mush more likely.  These times are the rush hours during the work week and between 10:30am and 7pm on the weekend days.  The better the weather on the weekend the worse the traffic. 

If you find yourself navigating these three miles think about the time of the year, the day of the week and the time of day.  Then think, “I am going to leave twice the room between cars that I usually leave.”  This will give you time to drive and avoid a collision. 

If, however, you are involved in one of these wrecks on the bay bridge.  The steps you take following the wreck can be the most critical to your safety.  First, call the police.  For southbound traffic, that is Pensacola Police Department.  For the northbound traffic, that is the Gulf Breeze Police Department.  They will immediately report to the scene and provide safety for all involved.  The most dangerous time for your safety is the period of time immediately following the wreck but before the police arrive.  This is when you and those persons in your car can easily be killed by subsequent wrecks.  So long there is no threat that your car could catch fire (when there is damage significant enough to cause a fuel leak), you and your passengers should stay belted and in your car.  It is the safest place on the bay bridge following a wreck.  Add headingWait until the scene is completely  being controlled by police and there is a complete blockade of traffic behind your vehicle before exiting your car.  Then only do so with the knowledge and approval of the responding officers. 

As far as liability is concerned, nearly every case is investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol and virtually all result in a ticket.  So, liability is rarely in dispute.  However, the significance of the crash is often in dispute.  So, once everyone is safely barricaded away from other traffic, a few phone pictures demonstrating the damage to all vehicles and the markings left on the road are helpful but not critical.  Always remember that insurance company adjusters get paid incentives for settling cases within 24 hours and you should always wait and speak with a lawyer before proving a statement to any (even your company’s adjuster) insurance company.