Florida Supreme Court Allows Uncapped Damages in Case

By letting a malpractice verdict stand and awarding $10.3 million to a victim’s widow, the Florida Supreme Court kept hope alive this fall for those wanting to remove caps on damages for pain and suffering.

The case resolved whether lawsuits from before the caps were put in place by the Florida Legislature in 2003 would be held to the same restrictions. The court held that since the injury happened before the caps law began, the awards should be left uncapped. The lawsuit was filed after the caps law went into effect.

The attorney for the plaintiff in the case was encouraged that the verdict struck a blow to caps on damages. “This is very positive for throwing out the caps completely,” Stephen Malrove told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The lawsuit was filed two years after the victim, Harvey Raphael, died when the doctor did not give him anti-clotting medication in the hospital after a heart attack in 2003. The doctor’s lawyers had hoped that since the law was in effect when the suit was filed, the pain and suffering damages would be capped.

The Florida law capping damages limits victims to $500,000 a person or $1 million total. The Florida Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in February on a case that directly challenges the law.

No Florida appellate court has ever taken a case that challenges the law, but the appeals court did recently send a case to the Florida Supreme Court to review for constitutionality. That case concerns a mother who died in 2005 after the delivery of a child because of extreme blood loss due to poor medical treatment, according to the Florida Justice Association.

Groups like the Florida Justice Association have opposed the caps put in place by the Legislature saying that they are unconstitutional and violate the Florida Constitution’s provisions of equal protection under the law, a trial by jury and separation of powers.

And after eight years, the Supreme Court is now scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case that could declare caps on pain and suffering damages to be unconstitutional and overturn the law.

In the Raphael case, the jury award of $10.3 million is still in litigation because the doctor only had a $1 million insurance policy, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Malrove told the paper he would pursue the doctor’s insurer for the full amount claiming that they should have settled the claim before the case even went to trial.

Posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2011. Filed under News & Press.

Nursing Home Falls Affect Many Seniors

For people over the age of 65, falls cause the most deaths. Fatal falls cost $179 million and nonfatal incidents with injuries total $19 billion in medical bills for seniors each year. Falling can cause hip fractures, head and brain trauma, and, unfortunately, sometimes a seniors’ death.

Especially for the elderly that live in nursing homes or long-term care centers, it is important to be mindful of tripping hazards and use railings to get around a busy facility. Falls can also be reduced when regular exercise is done to maintain strength and improve your balance. A senior should get their eyes examined to make sure they have the best glasses and medications should be monitored for causing abnormal drowsiness or lightheadedness.

The average nursing home has 100 to 200 falls each year, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dying from fall-related injuries is all too common. Nursing home staff should be educated on preventing falls. For at-risk patients, a nursing home facility should have alarmed devices to alert staff of patients getting out of bed without calling for help. Many long-term care centers use grab bars, hip pads and adjust bed and toilet heights to help residents.

Falls that do not cause deaths are shown to decrease a senior’s quality of life as it can start a functional decline and even cause a disability. Nursing homes can be liable if an environmental hazard was ignored or staff was careless about how the resident was being taken care of. A qualified serious injury attorney will help the individual and their loved ones investigate whether it was a wet floor, unmaintained wheelchair, bad lighting, or improper use of medication, for example, which caused the fall and subsequent injuries.

Serious injury lawsuits will help a senior get compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs. Nursing home costs already are expensive enough without the elevated bills that come from extensive falling injuries or an unwarranted death. A serious injury attorney will deal with the guilty party’s insurance company to get your expenses paid for in a timely manner.

In Florida, Zephyrhills serious injury attorney Robert Alston counsels seniors and their families who are dealing with a nursing home fall. THe Disability Law Firm is known for upholding their client’s rights against an insurance company and the individual or facility that caused the injury.

Posted on Monday, October 17th, 2011. Filed under News & Press, Serious Injury.

Get Quality Legal Advice After a Pasco County Auto Accident

Zephyrhills, Fla. – The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles latest crash statistics show that Pasco County had 5,780 auto accidents and 79 fatalities in 2009. Most of injuries came from a vehicle rear-ending another vehicle. After that, vehicles hitting at an angle caused the worst injuries. Intersections and exit ramps were the site of the most accidents.

“Auto accidents can be extremely frustrating and leave you with injuries, insurance issues, and car repairs,” said Zephyrhills auto accident attorney Robert Alston. “You need someone to look out for your best interests as the insurance company is not going to go out of their way to help you.”

An accident with an uninsured motorist can be a tough experience to go through, too. Estimates show that in Florida, nearly 24 percent of drivers do not have insurance. That is why it is so important to be proactive and make sure you have an insurance policy with adequate coverage and limits. The right kind of insurance coverage can protect against an uninsured motorist, and ensure that coverage is adequate for bodily injury and medical expenses, property damage and personal injury protection.

Auto accident lawyers recommend that anyone who is involved in a serious accident should contact an attorney who is knowledgeable with automobile policies and coverage. “Insurance adjusters want to settle your claim quickly and oftentimes for the least amount of money,” said Alston. “At their urging, you may sign a document or give a statement without knowing the consequences.”

A qualified Zephyrhills auto accident lawyer wants their clients to focus on getting their injuries healed and returning as much as possible to a normal routine. It is crucial to work with an experienced attorney and a medical professional until a plateau is reached. “You never want to settle just to get closure on your case,” said Alston. “Some injuries aren’t evident until weeks or months down the line.”

An auto accident attorney calculates the true compensation a client will need long after the case is over. Some auto injuries do require routine procedures or medication to get an individual healthy again.

Robert Alston has practiced auto accident law for more than 10 years and prior to law school was a licensed insurance agent. He knows the importance of fighting for a client’s rights to get the compensation and benefits they need during this traumatic time. The Disability Law Firm is renowned for their successful track record in auto accident cases throughout Pasco County and Tampa Bay.

Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011. Filed under Auto Accidents, News & Press.

New Ratings for Vehicle Safety But Still Many Old Cars and Accidents

Zephyrhills, Fla. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has started a new safety rating system for 2011 model year vehicles. The ratings involve tougher crash tests and crash warning systems, which provide consumers with one overall safety score. Passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, vans and pickups are all tested.

The NHTSA admitted that most vehicles were getting a four or five star rating, so these new, stricter standards will show the differences more easily to the consumer. Four collision tests – frontal, side-impact, rollover and the new side pole collision – will replicate what happens to most vehicles during an accident. Safercar.gov will post the ratings on their website as the sticker that will show the safety rating is still being devised.

With the new rating, older vehicles from 1990 to 2010 should not be compared to the new safety numbers. Only newer vehicles have these crash avoidance technologies and safety standards, so the NHTSA decided to focus on them to help individuals make smart buying decisions.

“Now this great program has gotten even better by making it easier to compare the safety performance of vehicles not only in terms of crash survivability, but in terms of avoiding crashes in the first place,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

Every year, more than five million driving accidents occur and 32,788 people die as a result. Close to three million people suffer moderate to severe injuries. Despite the efforts of the NHTSA and automakers, crashes still happen. Most are due to poor driver performance of the at-fault driver. Some of the injuries are not detectable right after the accident, but occur weeks or months later. Individuals should seek medical attention and legal counsel immediately to maintain their health and uphold their rights.

The most common injuries include head trauma, spinal cord injuries, bone fractures, burns and internal organ injuries. A skilled auto accident attorney will fight for their client’s rights to get compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

“You do not want to go for a quick settlement with your insurance company, as they will oftentimes want to force you into accepting an inadequate amount,” said Zephyrhills auto accident attorney Robert Alston. “We want to make sure all your health needs are met and push for full and fair financial compensation.”

The Disability Law Firm is well versed in negotiating with insurance companies and getting clients access to quality medical care. Robert Alston has more than 10 years of proven auto accident case results and prior to law school was a licensed insurance agent.

Posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011. Filed under Auto Accidents, News & Press.

Children Most Susceptible to Serious Head Injuries as Outdoor Summertime Fun Nears

Zephyrhills, Fla. – With the warm months of summertime quickly approaching, kids are bound to be outside playing with friends and running around. Climbing in trees, bouncing on trampolines and having contests are what being a kid is all about. But without supervision or some rules, kids can become victims of slip and fall injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that an estimated half a million hospital visits are made for head injuries by children 14 years old and below. Slip and fall accidents account for 50 percent of the cases. And children from zero to four years old and teens from 15 to 19 years old are the most susceptible to these traumatic brain injuries.

“Kids should have fun and enjoy their friends and the outdoors,” said Robert Alston, Zephyrhills serious injury attorney. “Your duty as a parent is to prevent these accidents as much as possible – actively look out for dangers in and around your house and ask your child about the games or activities they are doing at a friend’s home.”

Parents can do everything to ensure their home and property is safe, but the same cannot be said of public places. Alston has dealt with cases of unsafe retail shops, restaurants, sidewalks and more, and knows that it sometimes takes legal action to rectify these perils. Hazardous conditions can lead to severe head trauma and cause seizures, neurological defects and sometimes death.

The Florida-based Traumatic Brain Injury Resource and Support Center advises parents to seek medical attention if their child has the following symptoms:

–          very sleepy or hard to wake up

–          unable to focus the eyes normally, loss of smell and taste

–          difficulty walking

–          vomits multiple times after hitting head

–          seizures

–          head, neck or back pain

–          difficulties with memory, processing information, paying attention

–          anxiety and egocentric behaviors

“When your child is trying to recover, the last thing you need to do is try to fight the legal and insurance issues on your own,” said Alston. “Legal counsel is critical in protecting your child’s and your family’s right to adequate compensation and medical care.”

The best advice for prevention of slip and fall accidents for kids is to not leave young kids unsupervised, use baby gates to prevent jumping from stairs, always buckle the kids in shopping carts and high chairs, and have them wear a helmet during sports activities.

The Disability Law Firm has more than a decade of experience in serious injury law matters. They are known for their tenacity and compassion to efficiently resolve a child’s devastating injuries.

For more information please contact:

Robert C. Alston, Tampa and Zephyrhills Serious Injury Attorney

Posted on Saturday, July 2nd, 2011. Filed under News & Press, Personal Injury.

Accomplished Attorney Explains the Social Security Disability Hearing

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be hard to get, so it’s definitely beneficial to get legal representation early on to increase your chances of an award. When you are applying for this type of benefit, a lawyer can review your application and ensure that the medical evidence is clear and thorough. If your application is denied during this stage, your Social Security Disability attorney will prepare for the hearing that occurs in front of a federal administrative law judge.

Most SSDI attorneys work on a contingency basis, so no monies are paid up front and they will only be paid if your claim is successful. If you win, Social Security takes out 25 percent for the attorney fee, so you never have to bother with saving for these monies. What you need to focus on is getting the care and medical treatment you deserve.

A SSDI attorney can be a strong ally on your side as they are skilled in evidence and trial practice for Social Security cases. The wait time to have the hearing can be a year or more to have the judge and Office of Disability Adjudication and Review hear your case. An initial denial plus this long wait time can be very stressful, so a SSDI lawyer can help you build the strongest case in the meanwhile.

A skilled SSDI attorney will help you prepare for the questioning you must answer in front of the judge. Depending on how the judge starts the hearing, either the judge or your lawyer will ask the questions. Your job history will be delved into, including job duties, physical demands needed for the work, and sedentary parts of the job. You’ll also be asked about why you can’t work and what treatment you are receiving and what doctors you are seeing. It’s critical to note symptoms and physical and mental limitations, as the judge already has your medical conditions on file.

The judge will want to know your daily activities and he or she will exam your testimony to verify it is consistent with your medical conditions. Vocational and medical experts are typically present at the hearing, and the judge as well as your lawyer can question them to highlight the extent of your medical conditions and limitations. An experienced SSDI attorney will have cross-examined many vocational and medical experts to know how to position your case to win the SSDI benefits. The judge will give hypothetical scenarios based on the evidence in your application to determine if your conditions satisfy Social Security’s definition of disability. A good lawyer will show that your limitations are truly severe and prohibit you from working. A judge will ask the medical expert about functional limitations and it’s vital that your attorney is there to cross examine them. Oftentimes a judge will want to use what they gathered from the vocational expert to question the medical expert and find evidence as to why you should not get the SSDI benefits. A tenacious SSDI attorney will make sure the hearing gets back on track and will defend your rights.

As the hearing comes to a close, resist the temptation to get aggravated or dramatic. This is not the time to get angry with the Social Security Administration about your case or questioning techniques; and it’s definitely not the time to create a scene worthy of a nighttime TV drama. The judge has the power to grant your SSDI award. If you resort to theatrics, you have wasted precious time and money, and will have to appeal again. Your SSDI attorney can help give you some advice on making it through the hearing successfully and getting that much closer to the much-needed benefits.

In Tampa Bay, Zephyrhills Social Security Disability attorney Robert Alston has more than a decade of experience successfully representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Alston is skilled in assisting disabled adults and children, veterans, and the aged and blind with their disability concerns.

Posted on Saturday, June 18th, 2011. Filed under News & Press, Social Security Disability.

SaferProducts Website to Help Consumers Discover Harmful Products and Lurking Serious Injuries

Consumers can get ahead of the curve starting in March when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission officially launches its SaferProducts.gov website. Anyone will be able to see which consumer products are unsafe or potentially hazardous. Manufacturers, importers, and private labelers will have incident reports and post responses to safety issues.

“The CPSC is charged with ensuring the safety of consumer products,” said Robert Alston, Tampa serious injury attorney. “The new website is another great tool to inform consumers and alert them to products that could cause injury or even death.”

Under the CPSC’s jurisdiction, products that pose fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazards will be visible and searchable on the new website. The site will help consumers make educated decisions before they buy products. It will also provide consumers up to date information regarding mandated recalls. In a typical month, the CPSC issues 40 product safety alerts.

The new website will also allow consumers to report unsafe products immediately. “Everything from ingestion, suffocation, and strangulation hazards for infants to household fire and fall hazards, the website will provide a way for consumers to report their concerns,” said Alston, who has more than 11 years of experience counseling clients on their serious injury claims and rights. “Every consumer will want to utilize this resource for the latest on how to protect themselves and their family.”

Serious injury cases involve complex legal and insurance matters. With the number of unsafe consumer products such as power tools, toys, cribs, household chemicals, and appliances, consumers need prompt legal attention. The Disability Law Firm will provide a free consultation and give honest, unbiased advice.

Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2011. Filed under News & Press.

Ghost Riding and Other Car Stunts Cause Serious Auto Accidents

Zephyrhills, Fla. – The recent deaths of two Central Florida youths show the danger of “ghost riding” and other car stunts. Car stunts might look cool on reality shows, YouTube, and in the movies, but they are causing more accidents and heartaches for families and friends who are affected by their deadly consequences.

Nearly 100 people have died because of car surfing, with an estimated 70 percent of incidents involving young men, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Even slow speeds of five miles per hour can cause injuries and fatalities, as any loss of balance or bump in the road can force the rider to fall from the vehicle.

Car surfing is when one person hangs out of the vehicle or rides on top of it, on the bumper, or on the running boards. Ghost riding involves a person standing or dancing on the exterior while the vehicle is in motion. Skitching is when someone uses a skateboard, roller skates, or other device to hang onto a moving vehicle.

“Vehicular homicide is a very serious verdict for a stunt that usually starts out as innocent fun,” said Robert Alston, Zephyrhills auto accident lawyer. “Only professionals in controlled environments should be attempting this in a vehicle.”

Alston has represented many clients and cautions that the only way to be safe in a vehicle is to be restrained with a seatbelt, with proper vehicle maintenance and have a driver that is fully capable of driving safely. He has dealt with cases involving inexperienced drivers, improper tires, and incorrectly loaded vehicles in his more than 10 years of auto accident law practice.

“People underestimate the danger of holding onto a moving vehicle,” said Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Kim Montes. “Moving vehicles are not toys.”

Posted on Sunday, April 17th, 2011. Filed under Auto Accidents, News & Press.

Precautions for Springtime as Outdoor Activities and Potential for Dog Bites Increase

Since Florida is a “no free bite statute” state, a dog owner is liable when his or her pet bites a person or another domestic animal. It doesn’t matter if the dog has a history of biting people unless a bad dog sign is displayed. Since most dog owners do not want to show off such an inviting sign, it is best to know the precautions owners and others should take, especially since the springtime means lots of outdoor activities.

An estimated 800,000 individuals nationwide are victims of dog bites and need medical and legal counsel as a result. The majority of the incidences happen in the dog owner’s residence. Half of the victims are children, with dog bites causing the second most childhood injuries after playground mishaps.

Infections, scars, and subsequent surgeries can make a dog bite a medical and financial concern. In contrast to children, adults need to be mindful of lost wages that result from being out of work to take care of extensive injuries. All individuals are susceptible to conditions that can spread to other parts of the body, so prompt medical attention is critical to prevent more serious complications.

Taking photographs and documenting what happened during the dog bite event is very important. Pictures right after the attack, as well as pictures during the healing process will show the extent of the dog bite. Some homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites, but the trend is moving toward separate policies for this as settlements skyrocket and account for 30 percent of liability claims.

Getting legal counsel early helps protect the individual and their family. A serious injury lawyer will help deal with the insurance company. Many times insurance adjusters push individuals to settle their claims before the dog bite victim has fully recovered. An experienced dog bite lawyer will know how to handle the adjuster and advise the victim regarding consequences of a settlement.

In Tampa, The Disability Law Firm handles cases with serious injuries from dog bites. They counsel clients on their rights to compensation, medical care, and pain and suffering. Their lead Tampa serious injury attorney Robert C. Alston has a background in insurance and legal expertise with more than 10 years of a successful track record.

Posted on Sunday, April 10th, 2011. Filed under News & Press.

Drop Side Crib Ban Takes Effect in 2011 Due to Serious Injuries and Death

Tampa, Fla. – By June of this year, drop side cribs will be banned. Manufacturers will have to make cribs with stationary sides that cannot be dropped.

Many of the drop side cribs have been recalled and some of them even led to deaths. These cribs were originally made with convenience in mind, so that parents and caregivers could drop down one side and easily lift their child. But the Consumer Protection Agency has ruled that they are less structurally sound, and the side that moves up and down has a tendency to break, deform or detach. This creates a dangerous gap between the crib mattress and dropped side, causing injury and at least 32 deaths over the last decade.

Even Tampa childcare centers, hotels, and other facilities must replace drop-side cribs with a crib that has fixed sides. A Tampa serious injury lawyer can help clients determine what recourse there is against the manufacturer, and depending on whether the injury occurred from falling, strangulation, or entrapment, assess who is responsible and what rights the child and parent have to compensation and medical care.

More than nine million drop-side cribs have been recalled, and new crib standards will involve rigorous testing that will mimic having a child in the crib. “Sadly, products are manufactured and sold that are dangerous to infants and kids,” said Robert Alston, serious injury lawyer at The Disability Law Firm. “A parent must always be on the lookout for defective furniture, toys, clothing, and other consumer products.”

The Disability Law Firm handles serious injuries and seeks the best result for their clients. They counsel clients on their rights and possible insurance and medical compensation. “The law holds irresponsible entities accountable for their actions, and victims are due adequate compensation for medical bills as well as pain and suffering,” said Alston, who has more than 10 years of experience in serious injury law. “A good serious injury lawyer will help you understand your rights and fight for the money you and your child need and deserve.”

Posted on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011. Filed under News & Press, Serious Injury.