Articles Posted in Florida

Uber knowingly leased unsafe cars to its drivers in Singapore, according to new reports.

One of those cars, a recalled Honda Vezel with an Uber driver at the wheel, spouted flames from its dashboard in January, melting the car’s interior and cracking its windshield. The driver had just dropped off a passenger when he began smelling the smoke.

Uber had bought more than 1,000 of the defective cars, which were recalled by Honda in April 2016 due to an electrical component that can overheat and catch fire.

And though Uber knew the cars needed repairs to make them safe, the company continued to lease them to drivers unfixed.

Word of the fire apparently reached Uber’s executives in San Francisco shortly after the company’s insurer in Singapore said it wouldn’t cover the damage to the scorched Vezel due to the known recall.

When Uber launched in Singapore in early 2013, it marked the company’s first expansion into Asia.

It was a good market to enter: In addition to all the rain you might expect in a tropical climate with two monsoon seasons, owning a car in Singapore is extremely expensive. The government requires owners to buy a certificate of entitlement, which represents “a right to vehicle ownership and use of the limited road space for 10 years.” The certificates are released through competitive bidding, and recently they’ve fetched prices from $44,000 and up.

That kind of expense made it hard for Uber to find drivers, and so the company created a unit, Lion City Rentals, that would lease cars to drivers. It represented a new approach for the company, which avoids owning assets.

Instead of buying cars from authorized Honda and Toyota dealers, the company reportedly began importing hundreds of used cars a month from small dealers in the “gray market”, where safety standards are hard to enforce. At least one of those dealers didn’t get the Vezels fixed before selling them to Uber. While Uber was aware of the problem and asked the dealer to hasten its repairs, the company continued to lease the defective vehicles to drivers without warning them of the safety issue.

Even after the fire, Uber told drivers that the Vezels needed “immediate precautionary servicing” — without mentioning the risk of fire and overheating.

Uber says it took action, but “could have done more.”

“As soon as we learned of a Honda Vezel from the Lion City Rental fleet catching fire, we took swift action to fix the problem, in close coordination with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority as well as technical experts,” Uber said in the statement. “But we acknowledge we could have done more—and we have done so. We’ve introduced robust protocols and hired three dedicated experts in-house at LCR whose sole job is to ensure we are fully responsive to safety recalls. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve proactively responded to six vehicle recalls and will continue to do so to protect the safety of everyone who uses Uber.”

Uber lost nearly $3 billion in 2016 but is nevertheless is one of the largest privately held companies, valued at nearly $70 billion.

Uber’s actions are quite appalling. Uber reportedly bought the defective, recalled vehicles from what is known as the “grey market” and knowingly leased them out to drivers. Knowingly leasing defective vehicles to drivers, knowing that drivers and passengers are at a great risk of suffering injuries or even being killed, is absolutely shocking. Uber should be held accountable for its careless actions and it is extremely likely that federal regulators will launch a full blown investigation into the type of vehicles that the company is leasing out to drivers in the United States.

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Older people are dying on the job at a higher rate than all other workers combined, even as the rate of workplace fatalities decreases, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal statistics.

This is an alarming trend as baby boomers reject the traditional retirement age of 65 and keep working. The U.S. government estimates that by 2024, older workers will account for 25 percent of the labor market.

Gerontologists say those changes include gradually worsening vision and hearing impairment, reduced response time, balance issues and chronic medical or muscle or bone problems such as arthritis.

In 2015, about 35 percent of the fatal workplace accidents involved a worker 55 and older – or 1,681 of the 4,836 fatalities reported nationally.

The AP analysis showed that overall workplace fatality rate for all workers – and for those 55 and older – decreased by 22 percent between 2006 and 2015. But the rate of fatal accidents among older workers during that time period was 50 percent to 65 percent higher than for all workers, depending on the year.

The number of deaths among all workers dropped from 5,480 in 2005 to 4,836 in 2015. However, on-the-job fatalities among older workers increased slightly, from 1,562 to 1,681, the analysis shows.

During that time period, the number of older people in the workplace increased by 37 percent. That compares with a 6 percent rise in the population of workers overall.

The AP analysis is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census for Fatal Occupational Injuries and from one-year estimates from the American Community Survey, which looks at the working population. It excludes cases where the cause of death was from a “natural cause,” including a heart attack, stroke among others.

AP also examined the number and types of accidents in which older workers died between 2011, when the bureau changed the way it categorized accidents, to 2015:

  • Fall-related fatalities rose 20 percent.
  • Contact with objects and equipment increased 17 percent.
  • Transportation accidents increased 15 percent.
  • Fires and explosions decreased by 8 percent.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found in 2013 that 44 percent of older Americans said their job required physical effort most or almost all of the time, and 36 percent said it was more difficult to complete the physical requirements of their jobs than it was when they were younger.

In most states, the fatal accident rates for older workers were consistently higher than comparable rates for all workers.

Nevada, New Jersey and Washington had the greatest percent increase in fatal accident rates for older workers between 2006 and 2015.

The three states with the biggest percent decrease were Hawaii, Oregon and Vermont.

Eight states saw their overall workplace fatality rate drop, even as the rate for older workers increased: Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington.

In two states – North Dakota and Wisconsin – the trend was reversed; older worker accident rates got smaller while the accident rate overall increased.

If you have been injured on the job, one of the most important things you can do is to report it. While this might seem obvious, there are many times a person is injured without requiring immediate medical attention, so it might seem like a good idea to take a wait and see approach and not report the incident. However, when an accident is not reported, your employer could deny you medical treatment and benefits for missed time from work. By reporting any workplace accidents properly, you can prevent many potential hassles.

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The first South Florida death related to lobster miniseason involved a 79-year-old man who was being towed behind a boat.

The man was snorkeling Wednesday at Bahia Honda State Park in search of lobster when he had “difficulty in the water and did not survive,’’ said a public information coordinator for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s South Region.

The man was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon, where he was pronounced dead.

The two-day lobster miniseason ended at midnight Thursday.

Last year, a 60-year-man from Little Torch Key died while diving for lobster on the Gulf side of Cudjoe Key.

Also on Wednesday, a 16-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in the afternoon after one of her fingers was severed while climbing off a boat.

On a similar note, the first arrest of the miniseason in the Florida Keys occurred around 2:30 a.m. when a 78-year-old Marathon man was charged with possession of one undersized lobster and of “over-the-limit” lobsters, with 33.

With more than 10,000 miles of rivers, streams, lakes and ocean coastline, Florida’s abundance of water make it an ideal spot for water and boating activities. While water and boating activities can be fun hobbies, the truth is that they can also be dangerous. On average, there are over 1,000 reported boating accidents every year in Florida with many causing serious injuries and wrongful death.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or FWC has jurisdiction over most of the boating accidents in Florida and are usually the ones who investigate the majority of boating accidents. According to their reports, an increase in the number of boating accidents is usually seen on holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, Columbus Day, New Year’s Eve and during lobster miniseason when more boats are on the water.

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An 18-year-old Ohio man was killed Wednesday evening when the Fire Ball ride he was on at the Ohio State Fair broke apart in mid-air, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

Seven people were also injured in the incident.

The victims were transported to local hospitals and at least three are in critical condition.

According to amusement ride operator Amusements of America, the Fire Ball swings riders 40 feet into the air while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

Fair officials said that rides will remain closed as safety inspections continue, and those who purchased wristbands can receive refunds.

KMG International B.V., the Netherlands-based ride manufacturer, said in a statement, “Our deepest sympathies go out to all who were involved or affected by this tragic accident. We are currently gathering information on the accident and investigating the cause and circumstances of the accident.”

The operators of “Fireball” and similar rides are instructed to stop operations until further notice, the statement added.

An official with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said its investigators have been at the scene since the deadly incident was reported at 7:24 p.m. Wednesday.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s chief inspector of amusement ride safety said inspectors have been present at the fair since last Wednesday. An inspection of the Fire Ball would include evaluating connections and hydraulics.The Fire Ball had apparently been inspected three to four times over the previous two days.

Wednesday marked the first day of the fair, which is scheduled to run through Aug. 6, according to the fair’s website.

Other similar rides throughout the country are being shut down as a precaution.

The Monmouth County Fair in New Jersey immediately shut down a ride similar to the Ohio State Fair’s Fire Ball. A similar ride at the Orange County Fair in California was also shut down to undergo a re-inspection after the Ohio incident.

North American Midway Entertainment, which is not a provider of the Ohio State Fair rides, said in a statement that “due to the tragic incident… we will keep all our Fire Ball rides closed until further notice from the manufacturer for precautionary safety measures.”

The Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by the tragic accident at the Ohio State Fair. As the investigation into the cause of this accident continues, the Indiana State Fair and North American Midway Entertainment have made the decision to not operate the Fireball at the 2017 Indiana State Fair.”

The Illinois Department of Labor said it is also suspending the operation of all rides similar to the Fire Ball until further notice.

There is a lot of pressure placed on state fairs and carnivals to get rides set up in a short amount of time. Because of this time constraint, those setting up can neglect what matters the most – keeping people safe.

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Central Florida theme parks have submitted their injury reports for the second quarter of 2017.

There were a total of 16 illnesses or injuries that required a hospital stay of 24 hours, according to the state’s quarterly report.

Walt Disney World reported 11 incidents, while Universal Orlando had four and SeaWorld Orlando had one.

The incidents ranged from seizures to back pain.The injuries and illnesses happened between April and June.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a 31-year-old woman felt dizzy and lost consciousness on the park’s newest attraction, Flight of Passage. On June 12, a 79-year-old woman with a pre-existing condition also became ill after being on the ride.

An 81-year-old woman had motion sickness on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in April. An 18-year-old woman had a similar illness on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Other incidents reported:

Disney World

  • A 57-year-old woman with a pre-existing condition experienced stroke-like symptoms on Castaway Creek at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
  • A 48-year-old woman with a pre-existing condition had a seizure on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom in May.
  • A 34-year-old man reported eye irritation on Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Universal Orlando

  • A 47-year-old woman fainted on the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure on June 20.
  • A 45-year-old man reported back pain on the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides at Universal’s Volcano Bay.

SeaWorld Orlando

  • A 54-year-old man reported a shock to his arm on Journey to Atlantis on June 15.

No incidents were reported by Legoland Florida or Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

An outing at Disney World, a county fair or any of the amusement parks around Florida should be a day filled with fun and excitement. However, an amusement park injury can turn a great day into a nightmare in just a matter of seconds.

If you have been injured at an amusement or theme park, it is very important for you to contact an experienced injury lawyer before signing any documents or making any statements to a park owner or representative. The park’s initial offer will not likely cover certain necessary damages, such as ongoing medical needs or future losses.

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A man was shot and injured Friday during a road rage incident in Manatee County.

The incident occurred around 6 p.m. on 3rd Avenue East.

Deputies said the 21-year-old and his 26-year-old friend were driving north on 3rd Avenue East when the suspect vehicle pulled up behind them.

The two men said it appeared the suspect was following closely, so the 21-year-old pulled over.

The suspect stopped at the intersection of 3rd Ave. and 25th St., and officials said the 21-year-old got out of his vehicle and approached the driver’s side door of the suspect vehicle.

That’s when witnesses stated they heard a pop and the 21-year-old fell to the ground. The suspect then fled north on 3rd Avenue.

The 21-year-old was transported to Blake Medical Center with injuries to his stomach and hand. Officials said his injuries do not appear to be life threatening.

This is an ongoing investigation.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, road rage is a major factor in traffic accidents that occur throughout the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of aggressive driving incidents is highly underreported because road rage or aggression is hard to quantify.

Examples of Road Rage:

  • Tailgating other vehicles by speeding up to them and staying close to their back bumper.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Cutting off other drivers.
  • Stopping short for no reason.
  • Passing a person on the right because they are driving too slow and then cutting them off.

This case shows a severe incident of road rage. When an accident or injury occurs because of road rage, the aggressive driver will face criminal charges. This could make it easier for the victim to collect financial compensation for damages in a personal injury case.

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An Illinois woman visiting the Disney BoardWalk Villas in Lake Buena Vista alleges that she was injured while shopping there.

The woman filed a complaint on June 13 in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida – Orange County against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US Inc. alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the woman alleges that on June 25, 2015, she was upon the Disney premises for the purpose of visiting the shops and restaurants when she tripped on a raised screwed and fell. She alleges she suffered bodily injury resulting in pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish and aggravation of a previously existing condition.

She holds Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US Inc. responsible because they allowed a dangerous hazard to exist and failed to warn of the dangerous condition.

She is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.

If you were injured in a trip and fall on someone else’s property, you may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and other damages. This is an area of law called premises liability.

Under Florida law, property owners have a duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid injuries to visitors on their property. With that said, if a property owner’s negligent maintenance, operation or design of the property caused you to slip, trip and/or fall, the owner could be held liable.

Two key questions in any slip and fall case in Florida will be:

  • Was the property owner aware of the dangerous condition?
  • Was the hazard “open and obvious” so that you could have avoided it, thus preventing the slip, trip or fall?

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A third man has died from injuries he suffered in the TECO Big Bend Power Plant accident last week.

The 21-year-old died on Wednesday. He was a contractor who worked for BRACE Industrial Group.

This man was one of the six workers involved in the accident at TECO Big Bend Power plant.

Officials said molten hot slag rushed out of a coal stack, spewing onto the victims.

Two of the men in that accident died immediately.

Three other people remain in the hospital from the accident.

The families of workers who are killed in an accident while on the job may be entitled to financial compensation on their loved one’s behalf under the Worker’s Compensation Act. When an employee dies from a work injury or an occupational disease, the Worker’s Compensation Act provides benefits to cover wage loss, medical expenses, and some burial expenses to dependent spouses and children.

Worker’s compensation claims can be complex cases. Our Florida Worker’s Compensation Claims Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can make sure you know what you can expect from your claim. We seek a full and fair settlement in every case we handle, but we always prepare for trial to make sure you are not stuck with a lowball settlement that won’t cover all of your expenses.

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The 4th of July is officially upon us! Most people are focused on planning barbecues, fireworks, pool parties and drinking right about now. While there is nothing wrong with a good party, Independence Day festivities can sometimes lead to severe injuries. What you may not even know is that the 4th of July is one of the deadliest holidays. However, most of the injuries suffered on this holiday are entirely preventable.  

Being aware of the most common injuries can help you avoid them. When you know what to look out for, you can take extra safety precautions and be prepared. The following is a breakdown of the injuries seen on the 4th of July holiday:  

Car Accidents

The National Safety Council estimated that 466 people were killed and 53,600 more suffered serious injuries in auto accidents during the three-day 4th of July holiday period last year. Sadly, this was an all-time record.

Drunk driving is one of the biggest causes of car accidents. If you plan to drink this 4th of July, please make alternative plans for getting home safe. There are too many outlets nowadays (Uber, Lyft, taxis, DDs, etc.) for you to not be able to avoid driving drunk. If you cannot find a ride, then stay put! Don’t jeopardize your life or anyone else’s because you had too much to drink.  

Fireworks Injuries

Fireworks are fun, but also quite dangerous! If you want our advice: leave the fireworks to the professionals!

If you’re planning a holiday fireworks show, you  should be aware that not all fireworks are legal in Florida. Even if you see it at a store or roadside stand, this does not mean that it is legal to buy or use it.

The only fireworks legal for use by consumers who don’t possess a special permit are sparklers. If you’re unsure of what fireworks are legal, the Florida Fire Marshall publishes a full list of legal sparklers each year, and you can view the list here.

Please keep in mind that in Florida, possession or use of illegal fireworks is classified as a misdemeanor. Violating this law can result in fines up to $1,000 and up to one year behind bars.

Heat Stroke

It is hot! If you stay outside too long in the hot sun, you could be at risk for dehydration and heat stroke. If you feel weak, faint, confused, dizzy, or have a headache, this is a sign to get to a shaded area and drink some water.  

Swimming Injuries

Swimming and alcohol do not mix. When people become drunk and are near large bodies of water or a swimming pool, they can make poor judgement calls that can result in serious injuries, or even death.

Make sure all children are supervised by an adult when swimming. Drowning accidents and other tragedies can occur in the blink of an eye.

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A Boynton Beach, Florida man has filed a wrongful death suit against a cruise line after his wife died in a hospital in France.

The man filed a complaint on May 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Princess Cruise Lines LTD alleging wrongful death and negligence.

According to the complaint, the man claims that on April 2016, his wife fell in her cabin on the ship and was seen by the ship’s doctor. The suit states the woman also had a fever and the ship’s doctor ordered the pair off of the ship for treatment at a hospital in France. The suit states the woman died five weeks later while still in France.

The man holds Princess Cruise Lines LTD responsible because the they allegedly negligently forced them to disembark the vessel and failed to hire qualified ship’s doctors and nurses.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks compensatory damages of more than $75,000, all damages, interest, all legal fees and any other relief as the court deems just.

Sadly, people can fall ill or die while on vacation. Passengers can suffer terrible tragedies while onboard an ocean cruise. Typically, cruise lines specify a limited time and a particular place for you to file a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. Regardless of where you took your cruise, certain cruise lines require you to file suit in a specific location. Our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how to further research your cruise contract in order to determine when and where you can file a claim for damages.

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