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Who is liable for cruise ship accidents?

Florida is a popular place to board a cruise ship for a relaxing vacation on the ocean, and in fact, many major cruise lines are headquartered in the Sunshine State. However, for some people a dream vacation aboard a cruise ship turns into a nightmare if they are injured in a cruise ship accident. If this happens, cruise ship accident victims may wonder who they can hold responsible for the injuries and damages they suffered.

In general, if a person is injured on a cruise ship, the operator of the vessel will not be held strictly liable. Instead, there must be a finding that the cruise ship operator acted negligently or with willful intent. Negligence is determined based on whether a "reasonably careful ship operator" would have or should have known about the hazard. The law recognizes that even careful ship operators would be unable to anticipate every possible hazard.

Homeowners' insurers should not wrongfully deny claims

Owning a home can be a source of pride, and many homeowners in Florida take great lengths to care for their home. Unfortunately, disasters such as fires, sinkholes, hurricanes or strong winds could all cause significant damage to one's home. In such situations, homeowners may feel relieved that they have homeowner's insurance.

However, it is not unusual for a person's home and commercial property insurance claim to be denied. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you feel you have a valid claim and should be compensated. Unfortunately, insurance companies are ultimately businesses that are looking out for their bottom line. They will try to underscore the value of a person's claim or will deny it altogether.

April brings awareness to distracted driving car accidents

Most people in Florida and elsewhere own a cellphone and keep it with them at all times. While we may enjoy being easily accessible and being able to contact others at a moment's notice, cellphone use can sometimes be dangerous. This is especially true when a person tries to use a cellphone while driving.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that across the United States, each day nine people lose their lives and over 1,000 suffer injuries in car accidents where distracted driving is a factor. To help shine light on this important issue and with the aim of reducing the number of car accidents involving distracted driving, April has been designated as the national distracted driving awareness month.

Medication errors linked to electronic health records

As technology improved over the ages, and the use of computers became increasingly common. Thus, health care professionals in Florida and across the nation, backed by a law passed by the federal government, moved from keeping paper medical records to keeping electronic health records. The idea was that electronic records would reduce medical errors, and they would provide patients with a portable system in which they could easily share their medical history with any other health care provider -- something that could prove invaluable in a life-threatening emergency.

However, despite the $36 billion the federal government has spent so far following a law to accelerate the transition from paper records to electronic records, electronic health records have not met the goals the government, health care professionals and patients hoped they would. Physicians have stated that the systems can be difficult and time-consuming to navigate. Since there are over 700 vendors of electronic health records systems, rather than a single global network, many records still need to be transferred via fax or CD-ROM, and patients can find it difficult, if not impossible, to access their own medical records.

When can a retail store be liable for shopping-related injuries?

When a person enters a store in Florida, they usually expect that they will make their intended purchase without incident. However, shopping-related injuries do occur in stores across the Sunshine State. Shopping-related injuries could include anything from slips and falls, to head injuries and overcrowding injuries. While these types of injuries may be more common during popular shopping seasons, any store could overlook a spill on the floor or fail to inspect and maintain their premises at any point in the year.

Shopping-related injuries can be very serious, leading to costly medical bills, lost time at work and a life that may never be the same again. Thus, Floridians injured in shopping-related accidents may want to determine what they can do to hold the responsible party accountable for the incident. For some, this means pursuing a premises liability claim.

Should Florida pass tougher laws on distracted driving?

The rapid increase of auto accidents has caused a great deal of concern in Florida and beyond. Despite being aware of the risks involved with texting and operating a vehicle or engaging in any type of behavior while behind the wheel, many drivers still choose to do it. People often believe they are capable of safely multitasking while driving. 

In order to combat this problem, Florida lawmakers are considering tougher laws that could impose steeper penalties against those who drive while distracted. Most people associate distracted driving with the use of a phone, but there are many different types of distraction. Lawmakers hope to bring awareness to all of the things that can distract a driver and encourage drivers to only focus on the task at hand.

Theme park liability for wrongful deaths in Florida

Florida is home to some of the most popular theme parks in the world, and the highlights of many of these theme parks are roller coasters and other rides. However, these rides can be dangerous, and while rare, it is not unknown for a person to die while on a roller coaster. When this happens, it may be possible to hold the theme park liable for the victim's death through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Such claims can be based on several legal theories. One is negligent operation. Lawsuits based on this theory allege that the theme park failed to exercise the applicable standard of care for operating the ride. This may be particularly applicable when it is a child who dies. Another theory a wrongful death lawsuit against a theme park can be based on is design or product defect. This may be applicable if the ride itself was designed or manufactured in a manner that is unsafe.

Cruise ships must do more to stop people from falling overboard

Cruise ships leave Florida ports on a regular basis, full of passengers expecting to have a good time. However, tragic cruise ship accidents can occur, leading to fatalities. For example, from 2000 to 2018, 284 individuals on cruise ships have fallen overboard. This amounts to 1.5 individuals on average falling overboard every month. The cruise ship industry and other groups state that such incidents occur when the victims are being irresponsible, for example, when they are intoxicated or careless. However, others claim this is a pressing problem in the industry that is being ignored.

Ships must have railings that are at least 39 inches high. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, this makes it so that people only fall overboard if they are acting recklessly and or purposely jump overboard. The CLIA claims that there are zero known incidents of responsible cruise ship passengers falling over the ship's railings. However, one academic expert states that over the past 18 years, 325 individuals on cruise ships and large ferries have fallen overboard despite the vessels having the requisite railings in place.

What abbreviations are prone to lead to medication errors?

It may seem that as more hospitals and medical centers in Florida move towards electronic systems for prescribing medications, that sloppy handwriting on the part of physicians is no longer an issue. However, whether a prescription is sent electronically to pharmacy or a physician handwrites a prescription, medication errors can still occur. Part of the problem is that certain abbreviations used in prescriptions can be confused with other abbreviations, and, thus, they should not be used.

Sometimes the abbreviation itself can be misinterpreted. For example, the abbreviation "BT" is intended to mean "bedtime." However, it could be mistaken as "BID," which means twice daily. Thus, a patient who is to take a medication once at bedtime could end up taking that medication two times more often than prescribed.

Bill would loosen restrictions on driverless vehicles in Florida

Autonomous vehicles may seem like something out of a science fiction novel, but they are increasingly being tested across the nation, including right here in Florida. However, one Florida representative wants to loosen the restrictions on driverless vehicles. A proposal by a Florida representative would eliminate the requirement that autonomous vehicles have a licensed human operator riding in them at all times. This means that driverless cars in Florida could be run entirely by computer software programs.

According to the representative behind the bill, autonomous vehicles can lead to fewer car accidents. He based this conclusion on a National Highway Traffic Administration report that stated that almost 95 percent of serious motor vehicle accidents were linked to human choices. Moreover, he believes allowing companies to use autonomous vehicles for business purposes rather than just testing could be good for the state's economy.