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April 2015 Archives

Safety Alert: Cars Speeding Around School Buses Creates Big Concerns

Recent events leave parents questioning the safety of their children when getting off and on school buses. According to Jeff Rossen, a reporter for The Today Show, on April 24, a speeding SUV nearly hit several elementary school students as they were about to board a school bus in Graham, Washington. According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Information Services, vehicles pass stopped school buses more than 70,000 times a day, even though passing one with its lights flashing is illegal in all 50 states. The Department of Transportation says that 23 million children ride a school bus every day. Now police are using new technology to catch drivers who threaten their safety by passing stopped school bus.

Tobacco Company Burned in a $46.5 Million Settlement

A settlement of $46.5 million is what a Fort Lauderdale couple just received from a Broward Circuit Court jury after they sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after Tom Ryan smoked for years. The verdict broke down as such: $25 million in punitive damages and $21.5 million in compensatory damages ($16.5 million to Ryan and $5 million to his wife). I expect the Ryans were quite surprised with the verdict as the Ryans' attorneys requested $20 million in compensatory damages in closing argument. 

Florida Supreme Court: Family Of Former Athlete Can Sue The School

The Florida Supreme Court recently handed down a decision that I expect will change how school districts handle school sports. Parents of a former high school student who suffered ventricular fibrillation during a soccer game on a school field can now sue the school district for failure to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) on him. This is a change in Florida law since courts had already recognized that Florida law did not require the coaches and other school employees to do so. This reversal of Florida law provides an avenue for this family to sue, but it also exposes Florida public schools to financial liability far greater than they faced yesterday. What this means for the future of youth sports in Florida is anyone's guess.

Insurance Lobbyists & Their Attempt To Deprive Injured Victims Of Fair Compensation

The Florida Bar News reports that there is a bill moving quickly through the Florida House of Representatives which will allow juries to determine the amount of medical bills awarded as compensatory damages in personal injury suits. HB 1199 by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland, is opposed by both the Florida Justice Association and the Florida Medical Association. Both groups would prefer for the law to stay the same, which has the judge determine the related medical bills, not juries. The bill requires that jurors be told the actual amount paid in medical bills for an injured plaintiff when they determine compensatory damages. In cases where the health-care provider has provided care under a letter of protection (a letter from your attorney assuring payment upon settlement or final judgment), jurors would be told what that doctor or facility would be paid for the care under Medicare or private health insurance company. The bill also would require a doctor or health facility, who has sold the letter of protection to another party, to disclose to the jury the amount that was paid for the letter of protection.

Accidents On The Waterways: Paddle Boards and Boats Sharing The Water

A sad accident happened our waterway to a vacationer. According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, a woman paddle boarding near the Shalimar Bridge late Saturday night was severely injured when she was hit by a boat. The 28-year-old vacationer from Georgia was taken by helicopter from the scene of the accident to a Pensacola hospital, where her leg had to be amputated below the knee, said representative Nelson with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The woman's condition has since stabilized and Fish and Wildlife investigators hope to interview her in the next day or so. There were at least two witnesses to the accident and authorities are hoping that others with information will step forward, Nelson said.

Laundry Detergent Pods Pose Health Hazards To Children

Lawmakers are saying those soft pods pose a serious health threat to kids, and the companies who make them need to add more warnings.They point out how appealing they are to young kids - these pods are soft and colorful. If you put them in a candy bowl, could your young child know the difference?

Distracted Driving: An Epidemic Sweeping The Nation

Distracted driving is a horrible pattern seen on all of America's roadways. In 2013, 3,154 were killed in distracted driving crashes. This represents a 6.7 percent decrease in the number of fatalities recorded in 2012. Unfortunately, approximately 424,000 people were injured, which is an increase from the 421,000 people who were injured in 2012. Thus, it is important to point out that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month and a opportunity to remind motorists of the severity of distracted driving.

Safety Concerns Over The Brooks Bridge: Replace or Repair?

Safety concerns over the Brooks Bridge have locals and officials asking questions. It is only a matter of time before the Brooks Bridge will be closed due to safety concerns. Local leaders have already heard from FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad. Last May, he told area business leaders that the nearly 50-year-old bridge has to be replaced, or that it will eventually get to the point where it is no longer safe for travel. It has been deemed "structurally deficient" by inspectors. According to inspections, the bridge railings do not meet currently acceptable standards or a safety feature is required and none is provided. The approach guardrail ends do not meet acceptable standards and a safety feature is required and none is provided. 

Passenger Vans: Recent Accidents Raise Serious Safety Concerns

Last week we all read bout the tragic accident that occurred down in south Florida. A group of church members (18 occupants) were returning from a weekend Palm Sunday event traveling in a 15 passenger van. According to reports, the van ran through a stop sign early Monday before crossing all lanes of US 27 and continued onto a grassy shoulder, crashing into a steep canal partially filled with water. The driver and seven passengers were confirmed dead. The other 10 passengers were taken to four local hospitals, with three in a serious condition. The injured ranged in age from 4 to 89.

Risking Children's Health By Smoking In The Car May Cost You

The threat to children's health presented by second hand smoke has become a wide spread topic of discussion. WEAR out of Pensacola reports that there is a potential law that is slowly moving through the Florida legislature where people who smoke in their cars with kids under 13 could be stopped by police. This past Tuesday it passed a state senate health committee. The new bill would have people fined for the non-moving violation range from 116 to 129 dollars. State Senator Arthenia Joyner supports the bill. She thinks it will help children. It wouldn't be the first time a law like this was passed in the United States. Seven other states and Puerto Rico enforce a ban on smoking with a child in the car. The only difference comes down to the age that is enforced.

Unintentional Pedestrian Injuries - Are You At Risk?

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are on the rise, just last week the Northwest Florida Daily News reports that a 12-year-old girl and 18-year-old woman were injured Tuesday when they were hit by a car while crossing Eglin Parkway. They were crossing in a crosswalk near Ninth Avenue when a vehicle turning south onto Eglin struck them. The crash is under investigation, but Cash said the driver's view might have been obstructed by traffic. The 18-year-old was taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. The 12-year-old was taken to a Pensacola hospital with head trauma.

Boat Safety - Keeping Safe While Having Fun

Having knowledge of boat safety is important in our area. It is getting warmer, and as it gets warmer, more people want to start enjoying the Bay and the Gulf. This past Saturday, Northwest Florida Daily News reports that boaters and paddleboarders went to Rocky Bayou on Saturday to support a cause close to their hearts: water safety. There also were canoes, kayaks and other vessels. 

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