Lawsuits Filed over Highway Crashes in Florida

Thirteen lawsuits were recently filed against the state of Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles from family members of people who were killed on Interstate 75 or from individuals who injured in those accidents. Eleven people died on Interstate 75 near Gainesville on January 29, 2012.

It is highly unusual for such a large number people to die in auto accidents in such a short period of time. The numerous crashes occurred in the early morning when a mixture of smoke from wildfires and fog gathered in the area and decreased driver visibility in an area of roadway that also was unlit. A highway patrol officer suggested the road be kept closed due to the unusual conditions, but allegedly, someone higher up in his chain of command decided to keep the roadways open. Six separate fatal crashes in the area, involving six tractor trailers, a motor home, a van and a number of cars. Eighteen people were hospitalized in addition to those that died.

The Florida Highway Patrol later stated that the crashes were unavoidable, while a report from April developed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that errors made in decision-making by the Florida Highway Patrol contributed to the deadly accidents. The Department of Law Enforcement said there were not enough signs available to provide motorists with much-needed information about the lack of visibility and danger. The Florida Highway Patrol countered that it is the responsibility of the Department of Transportation to provide proper signage. The highway patrol also stated that some motorists did not reduce their speed, even though they were driving into low-visibility conditions, which contributed to the number of accidents. Separate analysis of different reports conducted by the local newspaper did identify alcohol use in two accidents, but there were no injuries or deaths associated with them.

Of course, it isn’t surprising that no state agency wants to accept the blame. The accidents in January caused a tremendous loss of life, which, at this juncture, appear to have been avoidable. The lives lost caused incalculable anguish on the part of family members who lost loved ones. While lawsuits have been filed, it could be many years for the survivors and their relatives to be handed judgment and resolve the suits.

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012. Filed under Auto Accidents, News & Press.

Reports of Burns Prompt Coffee Maker Recall

Sunbeam Products, Inc. has announced a recall of over half a million Mr. Coffee brand coffee makers. The recall is in response to reports of a defect that has already caused injury to a number of users.

“Product safety recalls are serious business,” said Zephyrhills personal injury attorney Robert Alston. “The media do a good job of getting the information out there, but consumers need to do the legwork of checking to see whether their specific product has been recalled.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Health Canada, and Sunbeam Products are cooperating on the voluntary recall. The announcement applies to certain Mr. Coffee Single Cup Brewing Systems sold in the United States and Canada. The product is just under one foot tall, has a removable drip tray, and comes in black with red, white, or silver trim. They were sold for up to $80 at retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as online merchants.

Reports indicate that steam can build up in the brewing chamber to the point where it forces the chamber open during brewing, ejecting hot water, steam, and coffee grounds. 164 users have reported the brewing chamber opening, and 61 have reported burns to their face, hands, or upper torso. 59 of those burn reports were in the United States, and two in Canada.

Sunbeam Products has created a website at www.mrcoffeerecall.com where consumers can find out if their unit has been recalled and get further instructions. Eligible customers will be able to return to coffee maker and receive a replacement at no charge to them. In the meantime, those with recalled machines should stop using them immediately.

“Anyone injured by a consumer product should document the injury and speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible,” added Mr. Alston.

Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012. Filed under News & Press, Personal Injury.