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The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida was a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided. We now know that the condominium association had received an assessment in 2020 indicating serious structural damage and that the association was planning to make much-needed improvements. Sadly, time ran out. Recently, a Miami-Dade judge approved the sale of the property in order to provide sufficient funds to pay for the many lawsuits and insurance claims from the survivors and the families of those who were not so lucky.

The condominium association is responsible for overseeing the management of the building, collecting fees and managing expenses, ensuring sufficient insurance coverage, and making repairs to common elements. Condo owners are responsible for ensuring and maintaining their own units, as is any homeowner. 

Negligence to the degree that caused the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South is very rare, but injuries caused by negligence in condominiums are common. If you have been injured in a condominium, you have the right to receive compensation. 

Here in Florida, the Sunshine State, people use a lot of sunscreen. We are told that it protects us from the harmful rays of the sun, but recent research suggests that the sunscreen itself might be harming us. This summer the FDA has announced that it will be closely studying the negative effects of sunscreen. In early 2021, an independent pharmaceutical testing lab, Valisure, tested 294 batches of sunscreen and other sun products and found that 78 of the batches contained benzene. The FDA is now investigating the presence of additional carcinogens.  

What is benzene?

Benzene is a known carcinogen that causes cells to malfunction in ways that can cause immunity issues, and long-term exposure to it has been linked to leukemia. It is produced naturally in crude oil and gasoline, forest fires and volcanic eruptions, and cigarette smoke. It is also used extensively in the manufacturing of plastics and synthetics and is found in lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. Research into benzene several decades ago led the federal government in 1987 to limit benzene exposure in the workplace, adopting standards 50 times lower than previous standards. But some medical experts believe the exposure limits are still too high.

Florida is one of the most visited vacation destinations in the world. With numerous amusement parks, water parks, clubs, and beaches, not to mention NASA and the Daytona Racetrack, there are more reasons to visit Florida than almost anywhere in the world. Most of these destinations do their best to keep their property safe, but accidents can happen. We hope you are never injured when you are visiting Florida, but if you are, be sure to get immediate medical attention, inform a person of authority at the accident location (the manager on duty), document and take pictures of everything, and get names of witnesses and statements if possible. 

Hopefully, you will recover without incident. If your injuries are severe or long-term and you believe someone else’s negligence contributed to your injury, you might be entitled to compensation under Florida law. In order for you to receive compensation, the following conditions must be met: 

  • a third party had a duty to exercise reasonable care

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis happens frequently in the field of medicine. Fortunately, most of the time no serious harm is done to the patient, either because the problem is not serious or the mistake is caught quickly and corrected. However, when errors or delays are caused by negligence and result in harm to the patient, the state of Florida allows patients to sue to recover damages. 

Determining medical malpractice due to misdiagnosis

As with any medical malpractice case, you must demonstrate negligence. Florida law does not allow lawsuits for just any error, since medical personnel are human and will sometimes make honest mistakes or have different medical approaches that are entered into with the full expectation that they are best for the patient. 

Florida is a wonderful state to live in and to visit, but residents are well aware of the many hurricanes that pass through Florida, and visitors should be as well. Our hurricane season runs roughly from late May through September and can sometimes cause serious damage to property. For this reason, property owners need to take precautions to protect themselves, their homes, and their businesses. Here are three suggestions from a lawyer. 

Have a good insurance policy with necessary riders

Standard homeowners insurance covers much of the damage caused by storms, but you will have to review it very carefully. Most do not cover flooding, and they often have wind damage exclusions. If this is true for your policy, purchase flood and wind coverage. Review your hurricane deductible and choose a policy that has a deductible you can afford.

Florida could be called the unofficial entertainment capital of the world. We have hundreds of attractions: amusement parks and theme parks, beaches, resorts, cruises, Everglade tours, art attractions, specialty zoos, and so much more. It really is a magnificent state, which is why more than 100 million people visit from all over the world every year. With so many visitors, it is inevitable that there will also be accidents. 

If you are injured while on vacation in Florida, your rights to seek damages are the same as they are anywhere else. The difference is that since you are from out of state and will presumably return home, you will need an expert personal injury lawyer here in Florida to continue to fight your fight while you go home to recover. 

Types of accidents while on vacation in Florida

Many small business owners here in the greater Miami area have suffered financially through COVID-19. Particularly devastating is discovering that the business interruption insurance policy they thought would protect their operation has a pandemic exclusion.  

The purpose of business insurance is to provide income replacement during a period of business interruption due to covered causes in order to help the company remain viable and able to continue to pay operating expenses and other overhead costs until the company can resume business. 

Business interruption insurance is a valuable resource, but it only covers exactly what is written in the agreement and only for the time period or up to the dollar amount agreed upon. There are, however, opportunities for policyholders to appeal the insurance company’s definitions, that is, to argue that their particular circumstance falls under their coverage guidelines. 

On March 29, 2021, the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed into law SB72, “Liability Protections for COVID-19-Related Claims” granting liability protections against COVID-related injury and death claims. This law protects health care providers, businesses, religious organizations, governmental entities, and individuals against civil liability by applying a heightened standard of proof for plaintiffs claiming damages due to COVID-19. 

The goal of the legislation is to protect frontline workers and other health professionals and help businesses reopen. Senate President Wilton Simpson stated, “Our hardworking and dedicated health care providers have been on the front lines of this pandemic from day one, putting their own health in jeopardy to help others. Meanwhile, businesses across Florida are doing the best they can to safely reopen and keep people employed during a period of extreme uncertainty. The last thing we want is for businesses and health care providers, who do the right thing, to face a constant threat of frivolous lawsuits that hamper their ability to serve their patients and customers.” 

While it may be true that some lawsuits are “frivolous,” I maintain a very high level of integrity in my practice in personal injury law. I feel a duty to help individuals in their pursuit of justice and compensation against large organizations and big businesses and never file frivolous suits. If you believe you have been harmed due to COVID-related negligence, reach out to me. We will discuss the circumstances and determine if arguing based on COVID is the best approach, or if there are other acts of negligence that took place that may be more likely to prevail in court. 

I’m often asked if a driver who causes an accident can still get compensation for their medical bills. The short answer is yes. Florida is one of about a dozen states with “no-fault” motor vehicle liability laws. That means that no matter who is at fault in an auto accident, each person turns to his or her own insurance first to cover medical expenses and/or lost wages, up to as much as $10,000, depending on the various details of your case. This is called Personal Injury Protection coverage, or PIP. 

Whether you were the driver or passenger, at fault or not, on a bicycle or a pedestrian hit by a car, if a car is involved in the accident you should turn to your auto insurance policy first for coverage. If you don’t have auto insurance, you may be covered by the auto insurance of a household relative who has insurance. 

“Can I Sue for More than Just PIP?”

As with any other personal injury lawsuit here in Florida, when you are injured in your own home or on your own property, you must be able to demonstrate negligence on the part of a third party to receive compensation. For instance, if you slip and fall in your own kitchen because of your wet tile floor that has been properly installed, you cannot file a claim against your homeowner’s insurance or the installer of the floor for compensation because you are the negligent party. However, that does not mean that all injuries on your property are your fault. 

Product Injuries

Product injuries happen every day in the United States, and sometimes those injuries are serious. Power tools, lawnmowers, baby cribs, electronic devices, large appliances, and kitchen equipment are common items that cause injuries. Other injuries may be caused by defective chemical products, such as cleaning agents or hygiene items. 

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