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People Over Profits - Protect Your Legal Rights!
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Injuries at work happen very often and many people are not informed what to do if this happens, which is very understandable. It is important to know what to do and what NOT to do in case you suffer any injuries at work. Opening a workers’ compensation may be difficult and tedious that’s why it is important to know what can greatly decrease your chances of a successful claim. If you would like to know more about what a workers’ compensation claim is, visit our website here.

There are different ways in which you can easily make a mistake and cause your workers’ compensation claim to be denied or receive fewer benefits:

  1. Failure to meet the reporting deadline: Florida law states that an injured employee must report his or her injuries within 30 days of the accident, it is best to report your injuries immediately. Some exceptions do exist, but by not reporting your injury on time you will run the risk of your claim being denied.

A deposition is a meeting between the injured victim, his or her attorney, the insurance adjuster, and the insurance attorney based on a question-and-answer session. The deposition is made under oath and admissible in a legal proceeding, therefore a court reporter is also present during the deposition. This is the best way to gather information in a claim is through a deposition according to the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act.

The insurance company of your employer may ask the injured victim to do a deposition with the purpose of gathering more information for their case. It is important to always keep in mind that the deposition of the injured victim does not help in any shape or form the injured victim’s claim. With that being said, the most important thing an injured victim should never do is provide more information than what he or she is being asked.

The injured victim will need to prepare for the deposition by:

If you suffered an injury or illness while at work, you can’t sue your employer instead you are entitled to workers’ compensation in which your employer has to provide benefits for you. The benefits are medical benefits and wage benefits. According to the Florida statute section 440.185(1) “An employee who suffers an injury arising out of and in the course of employment shall advise his or her employer of the injury within 30 days after the date of or initial manifestation of the injury”

You are entitled to medical benefits. This means that you are allowed to seek medical treatment at the expense of your employer. It is necessary to do this immediately because you might have something more important than what you think. Your employer will pay for everything you need, recommended by your authorized medical provider. However, you must keep in mind that you don’t decide what you need or where you want to be treated.

A restriction you should be aware of is that in Florida, the doctor who is treating you must be approved by your workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In addition, unlike many other states, Florida’s workers’ compensation regulations do not compel your employer to maintain your position open for you to return to when you are healthy enough.

You might not be familiar with the word “Torts”; this is another word for personal injuries caused by civil wrongs, known as negligence, as slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice, dog bites, and more. Torts can be intentional or incidental. Intentional torts are physical injuries such as criminal assault, fraud, or trespassing. Incidental torts are those where one party carelessly harmed another, this type of torts needs to be proven fault.

In Florida, the tort law applies in any civil case in which the party injured is seeking financial compensation for the negligence of someone else. In a personal injury case, the lawsuit doesn’t begin until the party injured has reached maximum medical improvement to avoid unexpected injuries compensation being lost.

Damages for pain and suffering are difficult to quantify due to the subjective nature of the experience and the lack of a common standard of assessment. In assessing how much pain and suffering damages to award a plaintiff, courts frequently direct juries to use their best judgment, and counsel and juries employ a variety of considerations to assign value to various sorts of damages.

Florida statute section 440.015 states that “It is the intent of the Legislature that the Workers’ Compensation Law be interpreted so as to assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker’s return to gainful reemployment at a reasonable cost to the employer”.This section of the law goes on to states specifically “an efficient and self-executing system must be created which is not an economic or administrative burden.”

So a few questions automatically arise; what does this mean and why do injured workers and insurance companies hire attorneys?

The answer to these questions cannot be answered in just one blog, however I will attempt to address these queries in this and the next few blogs to follow. Self executing means, as indicated in the statute, that the Florida Workers Compensation Law was enacted to “ensure the prompt delivery of benefits to the injured worker” .

The Supreme Court of Florida has issued its decision in a case (Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Company) that will make a huge impact on the rights of injured workers in this State.

Specifically with regard to the workers compensation claimant’s due process rights under the constitution. The Court, in a five to two decision, opined that the law that was amended in 2009 is a violation of both the Florida and U.S Constitution because it blocks any challenges to the reasonableness of attorney’s fees awarded to the worker’s lawyer.

The Court also focused on the goal and intent of the workers compensation system in this State. That is to quickly provide benefits to get those that have been injured back on the job at a reasonable cost to employers. This, however, is not always the outcome. The Court recognized that in many situations the injured workers undergoes significant delays and resistance by the employer in obtaining the benefits.

Workers compensation lawyers and legal practitioners are sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting the ruling of the Supreme Court in the high profile case of Castellanos v. Next Door Company.

To the average Miami resident this case may seem unimportant. But it has significant impact on the rights of injured workers throughout the State of Florida.

This case involves a gentleman by the name of Marvin Castellanos who was injured during the course of his employment in 2009. As the claim progressed the employer/carrier denied Mr. Castellanos’ claim for additional medical treatment which included three physical therapy visits for two weeks.

He then hired an attorney who litigated and prevailed on this issue, assisting his client in obtaining these medical benefits in at a cost of $822.70.Florida’s statutory attorney fee schedule afforded Castellanos’ attorney a fee of $164.54 for 107 hours of work. The equivalent of approximately $1.53 per hour. This is well below Florida’s minimum hourly wage which is $7.93 per hour.

The attorney representing Castellanos has argued to the Supreme Court that the current statutory attorney fee schedule is unconstitutional . This argument is based on the inability of an injured workers to gain access to courts due to prohibitively low attorney fees and difficulty obtaining representation.

The counter arguments seems to suggest that this statute solely impacts the attorneys and not the benefits received by the worker. As pointed out by several of the Justices, however, the reality is that restriction on fees for the claimant , directly impacts the worker. The workers compensation laws are complex and not similar to small claims, as the defense attorney attempted to argue.

In addition, the employer and its insurance carrier have no statutory restriction what so ever on the amount of fees they may pay their counsel for representation in defense of the same claims.

So what does this mean?

Like so many things in life,we will have to wait to see Continue reading

A 2009 motor vehicle accident statistics report by the Florida Department of Transportation showed that 5,474 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents due to texting while driving, and another 448,000 were injured. In response to these statistics like these, Florida state officials signed anew texting while driving ban into legislation, which took effect in October 2013. This ban isn’t surprising, being that every state in the nation, besides Arizona, Montana and South Carolina have illegalized texting while driving. But, unlike many states, such as California, Florida’s laws aren’t nearly as tough.

How the New Texting While Driving Ban Works
When You Can Be Pulled Over
The new law only partially bans driver cell phone use. Under the new law, drivers are allowed to check maps on their cell phones, use voice commands, read texts that contain addresses, text and email while at a stopped light or while stopped in traffic, and talk on their cell phones without restrictions. Texting and emailing while driving, however, is not allowed.

Even though texting or emailing while driving is not allowed, doing so isn’t necessary enough to allow an officer to pull a person over. Drivers can only be pulled over for breaking the new ban as a secondary offense. What this means is that the person has to be breaking another driving law – such as speeding – before they can be pulled over for texting while driving.

The Punishment The fine for texting while driving is pretty minor. For a first offense, the result is a $30 fine plus court fees and for a second offense, the fine goes up to $60 plus court fees.

If a driver gets into an auto accident while texting and driving, and a death or serious injury results, an officer can legally confiscate his or her phone. Law enforcement and court officials can then look at the confiscated phone for evidence that the driver was texting or emailing at the time of the accident. If it is found that the driver was indeed texting or emailing at the time of the auto accident, the courts will likely find them guilty and liable for causing the accident.

How Enforceable Is This New Ban?

Between all of the allowed uses of a cell phone while driving and the secondary offense rule, police officers and the courts may have some trouble enforcing the new law. First, police are going to have to prove that they did pull the driver over as a secondary offense. If it is found that the driver was not breaking another driving law when pulled over for texting while driving, then the case is not valid and should be thrown out of court. In addition, the officer will also need to prove that the driver was illegally texting (for example, talking to a friend) as opposed to legally texting (for example, checking directions or looking at an address). If no accident resulting in death or serious injury results, the police cannot legally confiscate the phone and use it as evidence. Without evidence, the officer cannot prove the texting activity was illegal.
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Automobiles today are the safest and easiest to drive they have ever been, with traffic fatalities in the U.S. dropping every year. This is great news, but trucks are still being found to be less safe than cars.

Trucks (including SUVs) are bigger and heavier than cars. They also sit higher up than cars, and are usually more powerful. These aspects of trucks make their drivers feel more confident and secure while driving, but they also make them much more dangerous than smaller vehicles, and the results can be devastating when they are involved in an accident.

Each year, about 4,000 people are killed in large truck crashes, with 100,000 injured. Most of these are occupants in other cars in 2011, 72% of deaths from large truck accidents were people riding in other vehicles. 11% were non-occupants of vehicles, while 17% were occupants of trucks. The estimated yearly cost of all accidents involving commercial vehicles, most of which are trucks, is over $83 billion.

Trucks represent an immense amount of power when in motion. Regulations require that tractor-trailers need to be able to stop in 310 feet when moving at 60 mph. This is quite a long distance (more than a football field), and in most cases it takes even longer because the driver has to see a reason to stop and react to it. It’s easy to see why these vehicles become so destructive when they get out of control.

Truck accidents, particularly with commercial trucks, are different than car accidents when it comes to the law, and a truck accident attorney is usually needed. Truck companies are responsible for the competence of their drivers as well as the safety of any trucks they have on the road. Driving records and logs as well as inspection reports all need to be examined.

Many truck accidents are the fault of the driver or company and can be prevented. Speeding is a particularly dangerous habit, and can be checked in court via the ‘black box’ recording device included in tractor-trailers.

Truck drivers often end up driving for many hours at a time, and fatigue is common. Log books are supposed to show how many hours a driver spent driving, how long they spent resting, etc. Trucks also carry heavy loads, and it is important to load trailers properly. Trailers with uneven loads can make the vehicle more difficult to handle and can increase the risk of tipping over.

Truck accidents are complex and different than car crashes and they need to be handled with care, by a professional truck accident lawyer.
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We live in a technological era. There is simply no turning back. And with the use and overuse of cell phones, tablets and other portable communication devices, comes also the reactionary restriction by lawmakers.

In Florida a new bill will address a ban on text messaging while driving in an effort to improve road safety. This is to the relief of many.

What has not gained as much attention is the issue of text messaging as a pedestrian. Miami is a city of drivers. Certain areas of the City are almost pedestrian free. There are other areas, however, that pedestrians, in particular out of town tourists, roam the streets to enjoy our great weather and feel the”heat” of the City.

The Seattle Times has brought this issue to light in a recent article. It discusses studies that revealed that more than one thousand people were seriously injured in accidents in which they were walking and using a mobile device. This statistic is more than likely very conservative as many persons are unlikely to admit the use of cell phones and its relation to an accident or injury.

What is even greater concern is the fact that mobile technology use tends to be greatest in the younger population and even small children.

What is the answer?

Education regarding the risks associated with the use of mobile communication devices, not just while driving, needs to come to the forefront. Especailly in schools and through paid advertising. Time is of the essence as technology becomes more and more integrated into our everyday lives.
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