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The results of a six-year study by Georgetown University Medical Center revealed that nursing home costs are increasing across America, and quite rapidly. The future does not look so bright as far as nursing homes are concerned. 

Dr. Sean Huang, the study’s lead author, said the brutal dynamic governing long-term care in the U.S.—where many nursing home residents must spend down the bulk of their life savings before qualifying for federal assistance—is intensifying. California, Florida, New York and Texas all saw increases that far outstripped the 11.6% rise in inflation from 2005 to 2010, the period reviewed by Georgetown’s analysis of eight states. Additional data show the upward trend has continued in the years since.

The baby boomers are not the only ones who should worry. Generation X, millennials and Generation Z might face an even darker old age. Rising wage pressure on a sector in need of workers is driving up costs, and unless Washington comes up with a fix, be it a version of “Medicare for All” or something less ambitious, the funding for some programs is projected to start running out in the next decade.

People with disabilities, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, etc., will use all of their wealth until it runs out because Medicare does not cover that. 

The study suggests that we will not see any improvements in these trends, and if anything, things will probably get worse.

Many Americans have no idea how Medicare works, including those approaching retirement. Eligibility for the program, a sort-of government health insurance policy largely for older Americans, generally begins at age 65, covering some of the costs of routine and emergency medical care. What it doesn’t cover are most aspects of long-term “custodial” care—as in nursing homes, where a large portion of Americans can expect to spend the last years of their lives.

That’s where Medicaid—state-administered coverage for Americans whose assets fall below a certain level—comes in. For those who qualify for nursing home admission, Medicaid generally requires that they exhaust most of their assets before qualifying for coverage. Without expensive long-term care insurance, which most people don’t have, an increasing number of older Americans are doing this. 

And their nest eggs are being depleted more quickly than ever. Huang’s study found nursing home price rises over the period measured generally outpaced increases in overall medical care (20.2%) and consumer prices (11.7%). For example, in California from 2002 to 2011, the median out-of-pocket cost for nursing home care increased 56.7%.

Huang and three co-authors began looking into the matter in 2013. With no central database, they had to collect information from each state as well as from individual nursing homes. Some states only had data through 2010, he said. In the end, they managed to crunch data from an average of 3,900 nursing homes for each of the years measured, representing approximately 27% of free-standing U.S. facilities.

Nursing homes in New York during the period reviewed had the highest average daily price, at $302, while Texas had the lowest average daily price, at $121. Additional information has shown that nursing home costs have continued to increase at a much higher rate than inflation, albeit slightly slower than during the study period.

In 2010 the average price per day for nursing home care in California was $217, up more than 30% (with Florida close behind) from 2005. In a more recent analysis, Huang calculated that from 2010 to 2015, nursing home prices in California rose more slowly, by roughly 19.6%, to $258 per day. However, inflation from 2010 to 2015 increased only 8.7%, he noted, adding that his research doesn’t point to any improvement going forward.

The median daily price for a private room in a California nursing home just last year was $323, while the national median was $275 per day, according to life insurance company Genworth. Looking at the issue from an annual perspective, the median cost in the U.S. for a private room in a nursing home was $100,375. Oklahoma provided the cheapest annual median cost, at $63,510, while Alaska was the most expensive at $330,873, Genworth data showed.

Nursing homes have long been a financial drain on most who need them, constituting one of the greatest risks retirees face when it comes to managing retirement funds, a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed. Unfortunately, the annual costs for nursing home care will continue to grow at a rate much faster than inflation, according to Urban Institute Senior Fellow Richard W. Johnson. 

More elderly Americans means more demand for nursing home care, and more demand for nursing home employees. Wages go up, and the cost is passed along to consumers.

In an industry that requires significant hands-on attention, technology can’t eliminate many jobs. And just when the labor market for nursing homes is already tight, uncertainty over U.S. immigration policies may further reduce the number of available workers, he said. In 2017 immigrants made up 23.5% of formal and nonformal long-term care sector workers, according to Health Affairs.

Home health aides and personal-care aides are ranked as the third- and fourth-fastest growing occupations and are expected to increase 47% and 39%, respectively, from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Another trend that may be driving up costs is tied to Wall Street. Four out of the 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains were purchased by private equity firms from 2003 to 2008, according to a case study analyzing a private equity takeover. 

Research on the impact of private equity has yielded mixed conclusions, though one study revealed how a nursing home chain that was taken over by a private equity firm showed a general reinforcement of profit-seeking strategies already in place, while adding some strategies aimed at improving efficiency. Other reports, however, have detailed darker results.

Some states have started taking matters into their own hands. Washington state passed a bill in April that would implement a 0.58% payroll tax that would give residents up to $36,500 to pay for long-term care services. Payroll tax will begin collecting in 2022, while residents can start withdrawing in 2025. But that’s just one state, and the problem, Huang and Johnson note, is national in scope.

The only way they see nursing home quality to improve is if there would be a higher reimbursement rate, either by Medicaid or Medicare, but that is unlikely to happen in the near future. 

Paying for a Nursing Home Stay

There are essentially four main ways to pay for a nursing home stay:

  1. Cash out of your pocket
  2. Medicaid
  3. Private Long Term Care Insurance
  4. Medicare

What Does Medicaid Cover?

Medicaid is a joint federal and state government program that helps people with low income and little assets pay for their nursing home costs. As discussed in the article above, to be eligible for Medicaid, your income and asset levels can’t exceed levels set forth in your state. Medicaid officials will review your financial information over a certain number of years to determine if you have been getting rid of “wealth” in order to receive Medicaid. If you have assets over the allowable level, you are allowed to “spend down” or decrease your assets before you receive Medicaid. Typical spend down costs include medical expenses, mortgages and other debts, and funeral expenses. Also, your house and car are generally not counted against you for qualification purposes. 

You should also keep in mind that not all nursing homes accept Medicaid, so you’ll need to ask about a particular nursing home’s policy. You can find nursing homes that accept Medicaid by clicking here.

What is private long term care insurance?

Private long term care insurance is an insurance policy that’s purchased separate from your primary medical insurance, sort of like buying life insurance. In simpler terms, the insurance coverage that covers your doctor’s appointments and prescriptions won’t cover nursing home stays. If you want a nursing home cost covered, you’ll have to purchase long term care coverage. Long term care insurance can be very costly and not all policies are the same, so it is important to thoroughly evaluate all policy information before purchasing it. You can find out more about this type of insurance by clicking here.

What does Medicare cover for nursing home stays?

Medicare helps pay for short stays of no more than 100 days in a nursing home for a few reasons: 

  1. You were hospitalized recently for at least 3 days. 
  2. You were admitted to a Medicare-certified nursing home within 30 days of your prior hospital stay. 
  3. You need skilled nursing services.

The earlier you begin planning for the cost of nursing home care, the better chance you have of being able to afford it without causing you or your family a major financial hardship. No one wants to think about this kind of thing, but the reality is that the matter is getting worse, not better. We must think about these costs and plan, so that we can all have a better future with better nursing home care, if and when needed. 

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On Tuesday, 15 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and Bogota, Colombia, said they have created a nonprofit called the Open Mobility Foundation, devoted to collecting, maintaining, and standardizing information about where shared vehicles, including cars, scooters, jet packs, and bicycles are parked.

The foundation will take control of the Mobility Data Specification, a digital tool created by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. LADOT has used the standard to solicit and organize information about shared scooters: where they’re parked, where they’re traveling, and whether they’re broken or charged. Cities can also use the tool to share information with the companies about any special events in the area that might lead to an increased demand in vehicles.

For now, the tool has been used only to collect and share information on scooters and bicycles. But the cities who now control it believe the data standard could be used to one day regulate shared cars and even autonomous taxis.

At least 50 other global cities, seeking a simple way to keep track of the new and often controversial scooters on their streets, have adopted the Mobility Data Standard too. Many require companies to submit data in that format if they want to operate in the cities. This is something they can do because scooters, unlike ride-hailing companies, are generally regulated on the municipal level.

The cities say the info will help them improve their transportation systems and make them safer and easier to navigate. There are safety challenges that still need to be solved and the hope is that this system can help with all of that. 

The data also helps cities regulate the transportation companies, letting officials know whether the vehicles are operating in the proper places. This makes it easier to identify where these vehicles are being used illegally and what needs to be done to stop it. It also helps cities see which neighborhoods are using the scooters more. 

Initially, companies were against the data standard. These companies have argued that intensive government data-collection efforts could harm users, because governments may not be able to safeguard the information. Privacy advocates have also objected to the tool.

Now that responsibility for the data standard is in the hands of some of the country’s most important transportation officials, handling sensitive data will be a very important undertaking for the foundation. 

Not every private company has been invited to work with the cities on this new foundation. Only Spin, a scooter-share operator owned by Ford, and scooter-share unicorn Bird are “founding members” of the Open Mobility Foundation. City officials who created the foundation did not approach Uber and Lyft, which run bike- and scooter-share businesses and supported local legislation that would restrict what kinds of data cities are allowed to collect.

Moving control of the standard to a foundation doesn’t resolve the messy politics around scooters. But, it could be a large step in the right direction. Only time will tell. 

Bird and Spin provides electronic scooters for people to rent to travel short distances instead of hailing an Uber or Lyft. You need to downloaded the app to use the scooters and pay a small unlock fee and then a travel charge. The app shows where the scooters are located and how much of a charge each one has. They can travel up to 15 mph and are a great option to get around congested locations that are not too far apart. The benefit of using the scooters is that you can leave them at the location you arrive at, and you are not required to bring them to a nearby docking station or return them to your initial destination. You can simply leave the scooters wherever you stop and they will be collected at night and redistributed by morning by independent chargers. 

There are numerous ways that you can get injured from Bird or Spin scooters, and many times another person can be responsible for your injuries or the scooter or the company is liable. Those who wish to ride the scooters need to pay attention to the rules and regulations that accompany the vehicles. While the scooters themselves have warnings on them, a full list of do’s and don’ts can be found on the app. 

  • Always wear a helmet when riding. 
  • Only have 1 person ride a scooter at a time. The scooters are not designed to hold the weight of two people. 
  • You must have a valid driver’s license to operate a scooter.
  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebars and do not carry or hold any belongings, materials, or items that would make it difficult or impossible for you to safely maneuver the scooter.
  • Never hitch the scooter or user to another car or any other automobile during operation.
  • Use bike lanes and avoid the sidewalk as much as possible.
  • Park the scooter in a safe space so that it is not in the way of pedestrian traffic, and do not leave the scooter on its side on the sidewalk or in the street.
  • Do not operate the scooter while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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There are 200 new laws that were passed during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Some take effect July 1. Other laws will go into effect Oct. 1 and Jan. 1.

Here is what takes effect July 1, 2019: 

HB 7065 – AOB Reform

This reform provides for substantial changes in the way insurance benefits may be assigned to third parties. Defines “assignment agreement” and establishes requirements for the execution, validity, and effect of such an agreement; Transfers certain pre-lawsuit duties under the insurance contract to the assignee and shifts the burden to the assignee to prove that any failure to carry out such duties has not limited the insurer’s ability to perform under the contract; Requires each insurer to report specified data on claims paid in the prior year under assignment agreements by Jan. 30, 2022, and each year thereafter; allows an insurer to make available a policy prohibiting assignment, in whole or in part, under certain conditions; Revises the state’s one-way attorney fee statute to incorporate an attorney fee structure in determining the fee amount awarded in suits by an assignee against an insurer; requires service providers to give an insurer and the consumer prior written notice of at least 10 business days before filing suit on a claim. 

HB 301 – Insurance “Omnibus” bill

Allows insurers to provide multi-policy discounts when homeowners and auto policies are purchased through the same agent; increases the reimbursement from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund for loss adjustment expenses from 5 percent to 10 percent of reimbursed losses beginning with contracts issued after June 1, 2019; provides that workers’ compensation insurance applicants and their agents are not required to have their sworn statements notarized. Also enacts several updates for the Florida Surplus Lines industry, including eliminating a prescriptive cap on surplus lines agent policy fees (currently $35) and replacing it with a requirement that the fee be “reasonable” and separately disclosed to the customer. In addition, the residential dwelling replacement cost has been decreased to $700,000 from $1 million as it relates to “diligent effort” procedures. Makes changes to civil remedy notices and the appraisal process.

HB 617 – Flood Insurance Disclosure

Revises circumstances under which insurers issuing homeowners insurance policies must include a specified statement relating to flood insurance with policy documents at initial issuance and renewals. Fixes an oversight in previous legislation that required property insurance policies to prominently display that they don’t provide flood or other coverages, which didn’t contemplate “endorsement” of coverages onto property insurance policies. This bill requires the flood insurance portion of the notice only when the policy does not include flood coverage.

HB 107 – Hands Free Driving Requirement

Prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or work zone; authorizes a law enforcement officer during a specified period to stop motor vehicles to issue warnings to people who are driving while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or work zone; requires all law enforcement agencies to maintain such information and report it to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in a form and manner determined by the department, etc. 

HB 311 – Autonomous Vehicles

Exempts autonomous vehicles and operators from certain prohibitions; provides that human operator is not required to operate fully autonomous vehicle; authorizes fully autonomous vehicle to operate regardless of the presence of human operator; provides that automated driving system is deemed operator of autonomous vehicle operating with system engaged; provides requirements for insurance and operation of on-demand autonomous vehicle networks; revises registration requirements for autonomous vehicles; provides for uniformity of laws governing autonomous vehicles. 

SB 1024 – Blockchain Technology Task Force

Establishes the Florida Blockchain Task Force within the Florida Department of Financial Services that will develop a specified master plan specifying duties and procedures of the task force, etc. related to blockchain technology. According to CFO Jimmy Patronis, who championed the bill, blockchain technology increases the difficulty of amending transaction records and creates a “vital avenue of transparency for the state.”

HB 1393 – Modifies Areas Regulated by the Florida Department of Financial Services

Amends various licensing statutes administered by the Division of Agent and Agency services, including creating a temporary license for personal lines agents; gives DFS authority to help insurance consumers understand the mediation process; and helps to more easily return unclaimed property to Floridians. Also provides DFS the discretion to deny, suspend, revoke or refuse to continue an insurance agency license on the grounds that another jurisdiction has taken an adverse action against a professional license held by a majority owner, partner, manager, director, officer or other controlling person of the agency.

HB 7091 – Hurricane and Flood Loss Model Trade Secrets

Removes the scheduled repeal date of the public record and public meeting exemptions maintaining that the public record exemption for a trade secret used in designing and constructing a hurricane or flood loss model and provided by a private company to the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology, the Office of Insurance Regulation, or the consumer advocate; removes the public meeting exemption for any portion of a Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology meeting or of a rate proceeding on an insurer’s rate filing at which such confidential and exempt trade secret is discussed; and removes the public record exemption for the recording of an exempt meeting.

SB 426 – Firefighters Cancer Benefits

Makes firefighters who are diagnosed with certain cancers eligible to receive certain disability or death benefits. In lieu of pursuing workers’ compensation coverage, a firefighter is entitled to cancer treatment and a one-time cash payout of $25,000, upon the firefighter’s initial diagnosis of cancer.

HB 1253 – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Gives Florida Attorney General access to information in the state’s prescription drug database to track sales of opioids. The move will help the AG’s efforts to sue drug manufacturers and pharmacies for overselling pain pills. Patient information will be protected.

SB 983 – First Responder PTSD

Ratified DFS’ rules related to workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits that are now provided in specified circumstances for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by a first responder, regardless of whether the individual’s PTSD is accompanied by a physical injury requiring medical treatment. Specifies the types of third-party injuries qualifying as grievous bodily harm of a nature that shocks the conscience for the purposes of allowing wage replacement benefits for first responder PTSD.

Our Florida Personal Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton help injury victims recover financial compensation after they have been involved in accidents. This monetary compensation is needed to cover expenses associated with medical care, lost wages and all other financial damages incurred. 

Every state has specific laws, and the Sunshine State is no exception. Our Florida Injury Attorneys know every auto accident law, insurance laws, etc. and how they pertain to your case. We can also tell you the proper county and court to file your claim, what you are likely to be awarded and the odds of your case going to trial or settling out of court.

We will provide you with expert legal advice, explain your rights and represent you in court. There are many other things we do for clients, such as file motions, conduct depositions, analyze insurance policies, obtain and review medical records, conduct negotiations with the insurance company, create exhibits for trial, negotiate medical bills, and prepare any witnesses and the client for trial, just to name a few. 

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Driverless semi-trucks could be sharing Florida highways as early as next year, according to recent reports, and there will be no requirement that surrounding motorists know it.

These autonomous driving systems will not need to be tested, inspected, or certified before being deployed under a new state law that takes effect July 1.

Starsky Robotics, a San Francisco-based startup company that’s been testing its driverless trucking technology in Florida and Texas, has put out a call for job applicants who one day want to pilot big rigs remotely.

Starsky envisions its remote drivers logging onto computers in an office environment to take the reins of its trucks during the first and last miles of their long hauls.

That means the trucks will be on autopilot for the vast majority of their highway journeys.

Driverless deployments should begin in Florida by the end of 2020, Starsky says.

That’s much sooner than 2027, the year consulting firm McKinsey & Company projects fully driverless trucks will be ready to hit the highway.

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill enacting the law in a ceremony at SunTrax, the state’s new autonomous vehicle testing track in Auburndale.

While the law will also open the door for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft to deploy fleets for commuter use, DeSantis’ signing ceremony was staged in front of a Starsky-branded semi-truck.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer, a Duval County Republican, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, the new law replaces an existing one that required a human driver be present and able to take over driving chores in autonomous vehicles operating on public property for any other reason than testing.

Brandes, Fischer and other proponents of driverless vehicle technology say automated systems will make transportation safer by removing the potential for human error. Driverless technology proponents envision a day in the not-too-distant future in which most driving becomes automated, freeing commuters to stare into their smartphones or their dashboard video screens.

The safety requirements under the new state law are limited.

Companies will be allowed to deploy their systems with no state inspection or certification.

Owners of autonomous commercial vehicles will be required to carry at least as much liability insurance as the state requires for commercial vehicles driven by humans. Currently, that means a minimum level of $300,000 in combined bodily liability and property damage coverage for trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 44,000 pounds or more, and lesser amounts for lighter vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles used for “on-demand” networks must be covered for at least $1 million for death, bodily injury and property damage, the law states.

Autonomous vehicles also will be required to achieve what’s called “minimal risk condition” — such as coming to a complete stop and activating their hazard lights — if their operating systems fail.

Existing traffic laws requiring drivers to promptly notify law enforcement agencies of crashes and then remain on scene to provide information or render aid will be exempted if law enforcement is notified by a vehicle’s owner or by the vehicle’s automated system.

When asked how Starsky Robotics plans to assure Floridians of the safety of the company’s driverless trucks, Starsky founder and CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher said only that the company, founded in 2016, has been working with all relevant authorities, including the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Turnpike Authority, and those agencies’ federal counterparts.

The company has also developed a “Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment,” based on recommendations from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, that will guide how its vehicles will react to unforeseen circumstances.

Starsky this week launched a campaign titled “The future of driverless trucking is not driverless” to attract recruits willing to drive in its fleet of 36 traditional over-the-road rigs before — if they make the cut — transitioning to the autonomous truck side. Those drivers will work at a computer in a fixed location and go home to their families between shifts, the company said.

In Florida, the company will locate its remote drivers at its facility in Jacksonville, a spokeswoman said.

The company currently has three trucks capable of autonomous operation but expects to have up to 25 by next year as it begins removing human drivers. Florida will be among the first states where it will run driverless trucks.

The company completed a seven-mile driverless test on a closed-off rural road near Lake Okeechobee in February 2018. It expects to conduct another test sometime this year, Seltz-Axmacher said.

This new wave of autonomous trucks is propelled by the rapid growth of e-commerce, retailers such as Amazon are busy automating as much of their supply and delivery chains as possible, and shipping is a major cost component ripe for disruption, according to reports.

Keeping drivers on the road for a month at a time has become a huge problem for the trucking industry, where the turnover rate for at large carriers averaged 89 percent in 2018 — two points higher than the previous year, according to the American Trucking Association.

Consumers’ demand for cheap goods and cheap shipping costs means haulers want to pay truck drivers cheap wages. That contributes to a 60,000-driver shortage in the U.S.

Paying someone $50,000 to $60,000 a year isn’t enough to keep them behind the wheel of a truck for a month, so the logic to solving that is to remove a person from the cab entirely.

Florida is not just testing out driverless big rigs. In Clearwater Beach, they are testing out driverless buses. Orlando is testing out a small driverless bus that soon will maneuver around Lake Nona. Driverless shuttles could be cruising Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville very soon. And in just a few months, Gainesville residents will be among the first in the state to travel for free through their town in a driverless shuttle.

Driverless cars, buses, shuttles and semi-trucks are officially upon us and no longer just  a thing of the future. These autonomous vehicles have been designed with cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence and algorithms to replace human drivers and eliminate human error, which is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, car accidents and bus accidents across the country. The hope is for these driverless vehicles to operate safer than human drivers, who can become distracted, drunk and careless when behind the wheel.

Much like everything else, nothing is perfect and these driverless vehicles can absolutely find themselves involved in an untimely collision. This will bring a whole new wave of car accident lawsuits, and it will certainly be interesting to see how these claims play out. Just like regular auto accidents between human drivers, driverless motor vehicle crashes will require thorough investigations to determine liability.

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Millions of people visit Disney World, Universal and Legoland safely every year, but every now and then serious injuries occur. Some of the most common injuries are slips, trips, or falls. In other cases, serious injuries occur on park rides, roller coasters, or attractions, causing permanent disability or wrongful death.

Disney World, Universal and Legoland Accidents and Injuries

A serious injury at Disney World, Universal or Legoland can ruin what was supposed to be a magical vacation. While accidents are going to happen, the park is not always to blame. But sometimes, severe injuries occur and it is the park’s  fault for not protecting their guests safety. This is called negligence, and proving negligence is a critical factor in winning personal injury lawsuits. Because of this, it is essential to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can prove that the theme or amusement park is at fault for your injury.

If you have a personal injury lawsuit for a Disney World, Universal or Legoland injury, you could be entitled to significant financial compensation for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and more. Our Florida Amusement Park Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you recover full and fair compensation for your suffering.

Disney World, Universal and Legoland Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common Disney World injuries. How can a slip, trip, or fall injury occur at Disney World, Universal and Legoland? There are many scenarios that can play out and cause these injuries. A fountain may have sprayed water onto a slippery surface causing a small child to sip and fall. Maybe a drink spilled at a restaurant area and employees neglected to clean it up in a timely manner, creating a hazard. Falls can happen on ramps or stairs that lack handrails or in the slippery boarding areas for water rides. The list of potential dangers goes on and on.

A serious slip, trip, or fall can result in the following injuries:

  • Broken bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations
  • Severe bruising
  • Head, neck, spinal, or back injuries
  • Wrist or ankle injuries
  • Concussion
  • Seizure
  • Disability
  • Wrongful death

Ride Injuries at Disney World, Universal and Legoland

Some of the most serious and deadly accident injuries take place on Disney World, Universal and Legoland rides, roller coasters, and other attractions within the park. These injuries can happen when rides have design flaws, they malfunction due to poor maintenance, or because employees fail to follow proper safety procedures. An amusement park injury on a ride could lead to severe injury, permanent disability, or death.

What constitutes negligence at a theme park?

  • Rides that are not maintained or inspected properly that lead to breakdowns, causing injuries to passengers
  • Ride operators who do not make sure all riders are secured safely in their seats, leading to injuries
  • Being hit by a tram, bus, or other moving vehicle within the park by a driver who failed to pay attention to surroundings
  • A Disney World, Universal or Legoland employee who was not trained properly, and injures themself or other park visitors

Reporting an Injury Claim

If you are injured at Disney World, Universal or Legoland, you should immediately report the injury to a park employee as soon as possible. While this is not necessarily required to make a claim, an incident report will confirm that you were injured on Disney’s property. This could definitely be reliable evidence for your injury claim.

Seek Medical Attention

Disney World, Universal and Legoland has medical centers where staff can tend to any injuries. They can also call an ambulance in the event of a more serious injury. Making sure your injuries are documented is critical to obtaining financial compensation from Disney, Universal or Legoland.

Watch What You Say

When you make an injury claim with Disney, Universal or Legoland, their representatives may try to get you to give a formal recorded statement. During these statements, they will ask you about the incident and your injuries. Remember, these reps will use anything you say against you in the event your case does not settle. They will be looking for ways to hold you responsible for your injuries and keep the blame off of them. It is best to have an attorney help you with your case before you provide a statement of any kind. Our Florida Amusement Park Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can make sure you don’t say anything that can be misconstrued and make you look to be at-fault.  

Don’t Negotiate By Yourself

Disney, Universal and Legoland adjusters negotiate for a living. Do not expect to go head to head with them and win, as you are not an adjuster. They know exactly what questions to ask to minimize your settlement amount, or how to talk you into agreeing to a lowball settlement when your case is worth far more.

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A log ride at a California amusement park malfunctioned and flipped over on May 25, leaving a woman critically injured and her husband and child also harmed.

The incident occurred at Castle Park in Riverside on the Log Ride, which, according to the park’s website, features a 48-foot drop.

Riverside Fire Department officials said they were called to the park at 4:37 p.m. and that the three members of one family were tossed into the water after something went haywire with the log they were riding in and overturned.

According to witnesses at the scene, a 10-year-old boy injured in the incident appeared to suffer a cut to his ear and head injuries, while his father suffered scrapes to his arm and back.

Fire department officials said a mechanical problem with a ride’s water pump apparently caused the accident.

An investigation is underway by the California Department of Health and Safety to determine the exact cause of the malfunction.

The Log Ride was immediately shut down. A spokeswoman for the Castle Park did say that the ride had been inspected earlier Saturday and nothing was found wrong.

Most amusement parks have their own water parks or pools for patrons, or at least some type of water ride. These wet zones are very popular in Florida, where it is pretty warm year round. While these water attractions are a great way to “beat the heat,” a ride down the water slide or a dip in the wave pool can lead to serious accidents and injuries. If an amusement or theme park is negligent when it comes to cleaning, inspecting, maintaining, or supervising water rides and the people using them, and someone is injured or killed as a result, then the park can be held financially responsible for the damages incurred by all victims involved.

When you choose to visit an amusement park or water park, you expect that park owners, operators, maintenance workers, and other employees will do everything they can, within reason, to ensure all guests remain safe. And while most visits will be free of incident, the reality is that many theme park and water parks have been the sites of accidents in the past.

If your injury, or a loved one’s death, was caused by another person’s negligence, the most common theory under which a case of this type is usually brought is called premises liability. Under Florida law, there are three types of people that may enter someone else’s property: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Invitees are those who come for business reasons, licensees are there for their own business, and trespassers are on the property without permission. Florida law clearly states that each type of visitor is owed a different duty of care from the owner or operator. A guest at a theme park or water park would be classified as an invitee of the business, and they are owed the highest duty of care.

A property owner has a duty to make sure their invitees are safe on their land, which means making at least a reasonable effort to warn them of any conditions or hazards that could pose a threat to their well being. Failing to make reasonably safe accommodations to invitees can give rise to a premises liability case when the victim(s) can show that a dangerous hazard was not warned for sufficiently.

Anyone can easily become a victim when a water park or amusement park fails to take reasonable safety precautions. Injuries that can be caused by water ride accidents include:

  • Back Injuries
  • Bone Fractures
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Facial Injuries
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Internal Injuries
  • Neck Injuries
  • Organ Damage
  • Paralysis
  • Severe Blood Loss
  • Severed Limbs
  • Spinal Cord Injuries

Certain injuries sustained may never fully heal, and can completely alter the course of a person’s life forever. These injuries can lead to a loss of physical capabilities, cause ongoing emotional distress and mental anguish, and require costly medical treatment. Some injuries may require around the clock care or permanent supervision.

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Florida’s new distracted driving law, or texting while driving, goes into effect July 1, and law enforcement agencies across the state are preparing for how they will enforce it.

As far as enforcing the rule, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokesperson said it will be done on a case-by-case basis.

The Sheriff’s Office said texting violations will be treated like any other primary offense traffic violation.

Deputies expect challenges from drivers trying to find loopholes around getting a citation, because they exist.

According to officials, drivers can still use their GPS, look at weather or traffic alerts, or call in an emergency.

Traffic judges might see more work as a result.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials said their enforcement will go through an education period. They’ll give out a warning the first time.

But drivers better make changes, because getting pulled over multiple times for texting while driving will end up in a ticket.

A hands-free requirement while driving in school and work zones goes into effect in October.

Citations will not be handed out for this violation until January 1, 2020.

This new law that makes texting while driving a primary offense as opposed to a secondary offense is meant to curb dangerous and deadly behavior while behind the wheel. Distracted driving accounts for more teen deaths than drunk driving, and kills 9 people of all ages every day across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Car crashes in Florida rose by 11 percent from 2013 to 2016, but collisions caused by problems stemming from distracted driving, like drifting out of a lane, sideswiping another car or simply blowing through a stop sign, increased by 40-50 percent.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can investigate your crash thoroughly and determine if the other driver involved in your accident was using their cellphone or otherwise driving while distracted. We will use this evidence to establish that the other driver was indeed at fault, which may result in a more favorable outcome when pursuing financial compensation.

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The parents of a 2-year-old boy who drowned in a Baker County retention pond in April are suing the owner of the property, claiming he failed to install fencing that might have protected their son.

The toddler was found in the pond April 23 after he wandered away from the apartment where he was being watched by his 18-year-old sister while their parents were at work. A neighbor tried to revive the little boy with CPR, but he died at Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital in Macclenny.

The boy died days before his 3rd birthday.

According to court documents, the property owner did not have proper fencing as required by building permits.

The property owner applied Jan. 13, 2016, to the St. Johns River Water Management District for a permit for construction of the retention pond to be used for stormwater treatment, court documents show.

The plans for the retention pond were part of a nearly four-acre storage facility.

Plans submitted to the district detailed the construction of a 6-foot fence with a self-latching gate. A permit for construction was issued two weeks later on Jan. 27, 2016.

The man subsequently built the retention pond, which was completed in March 2017. However, the property owner did not install the fence as detailed in the construction plans, according to reports.

Children are attracted to water placing them at a greater risk of being involved in a drowning or near-drowning incident. Due to this, the law recognizes additional duties that owners of ponds, pools, hot tubs, and other bodies of water must take to protect children. Private property owners as well as public entities that do not take these precautions can be liable for a child’s injuries or death that occur on the property.

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A Florida woman hacked into a man’s social media accounts and then “maliciously posted” nude photos of him, according to officials.

The 24-year-old was arrested Saturday in Port Richey after she demanded the unidentified give her money to take down the X-rated content, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

Using the man’s old phone, the woman shared the nudes to his own social media profiles and changed his passwords, preventing him from deactivating the accounts, according to reports.

The woman allegedly sent the man a screenshot of a post she had not yet made public and then demanded the man give her money to “stop her actions,” officials said.

When someone posts unauthorized and non-consensual intimate images of you with the intent to embarrass, defame, ridicule or harass you, they are committing the act of revenge porn or sextortion. These malicious actions are a brutal means by which another person attempts to manipulate, humiliate, degrade, defame and destroy you. Our Florida Sextortion Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you to know that you have done nothing wrong. You do not deserve to be tormented online and we can help you through this difficult time.

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A 25-year-old Jacksonville man died late Tuesday night in an ATV crash in Clay County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the man and a 21-year-old Middleburg man were riding an ATV south on Beecher Lane in Orange Park when the vehicle flipped at Crossing Boulevard.

Both men were thrown from the ATV, and the 25-year-old died at the scene from his injuries, troopers said.

The other man on the ATV was seriously injured and was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, troopers said.

It’s unclear which of the men was driving the ATV at the time or why the vehicle overturned.

Charges could be issued pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the report.

Troopers said neither man was wearing a helmet.

ATV’s can now exceed speeds of 60 mph, so they can be extremely dangerous when not operated carefully or correctly. When racing up steep hills or turning at high speeds, ATVs have a tendency to roll over. These vehicles lack the protection of walls or a roof, so drivers can easily be crushed underneath the rolling vehicle.

If you or your loved one has been involved in an ATV accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Usually, these collisions are the result of poor weather conditions or human error, but sometimes they can happen because of manufacturing flaws.

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