Parasailing Accidents

Florida has parasailing accidents

Work with experienced Tampa personal injury attorneys!

Parasailing is one of the most popular attractions along Florida’s coastline. You pay your money, take a ride in a boat, strap yourself into a harness – possibly with a friend lashed to your side – and ride a huge parachute upward as you trail behind the boat. The views are fantastic, the exhilaration is like nothing else… and the danger is real.Parasailing

Prior to October of 2014, regulations in the parasailing industry were few and inadequate, leading to injuries and death as ropes broke, harnesses failed, and passengers either fell or were carried disastrously off course. Finally, after several tragic deaths over the last decade, Florida lawmakers last year passed several rules to enhance the safety of this very popular sport.

Codified in Florida Statutes section 327.37, parasailing operators must observe the following general rules (not a complete list):

  • Someone in the boat other than the operator must be able to observe the person parasailing
  • No parasailing at all may occur between half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise
  • Life jackets must be worn

Commercial parasailing companies must also adhere to the following additional requirements, from Florida Statutes section 327.375:

  • Obtain liability insurance – and show proof of it to any customer who asks – of at least $1 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate
  • Be licensed by the US Coast Guard
  • Have a functional VHF marine transceiver on board, along with a separate electronic device capable of providing access to the National Weather Service forecasts and current weather conditions
  • Keep a weather log for each trip and stop parasailing under certain weather conditions:
    • Sustained local wind speed of 20 mph or above
    • Wind gusts at 15 mph or more higher than the sustained wind speed
    • Wind gusts in excess of 25 mph
    • If rain or heavy fog reduces visibility to less than half a mile
    • If a lightning storm comes within 7 miles

Despite these regulations, Floridians and tourists interested in parasailing will want to research the reputation and safety record of parasailing companies before engaging in the sport. If you are injured while parasailing, consult with a qualified attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

The Tampa, Florida law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is proud to fight for the rights of accident victims. Contact us today for a free consultation.

medical malpractice

Medical MalpracticeMost of us agree that qualified doctors fill an important place in our society. They take care of us when we’re sick, they may save our lives when we are at death’s door, and they help minor and major injuries heal so that we can resume our normal lives.

Because doctors are so essential to our modern society, they have been given a sort of hero status, and many patients who have been injured by a doctor’s negligence are reluctant to pursue litigation. This mindset is compounded by several myths and exaggerations, put forth by the medical profession itself, that lead patients to believe that medical malpractice suits can tear down the medical profession and should be avoided.

Fortunately for all of us, the medical profession is largely stable. Here are several important truths that combat the prevalent myths about medical malpractice suits:

Medical Malpractice Awards Do Not Bankrupt Doctors

It is a commonly-expressed fear among medical professionals that a single medical malpractice suit could wipe out their personal savings. The truth is that most medical malpractice suits are resolved for an amount that is lower than the policy limits on the doctor’s malpractice insurance. Even the cases that end up going to a jury trial rarely result in awards greater than the policy limits.

Medical Malpractice Litigation Does Not Unduly Increase the Cost of Malpractice Insurance

News reporters are after an exciting story, and unusually high jury verdicts in medical malpractice claims are tantalizing fodder. The truth is that these huge verdicts are rare enough to attract attention as a unique news story precisely because they are not the norm. Many cases are settled out of court and, even when an above-average verdict is handed down, many of them are reduced by the courts. There has been little to no actual evidence to support the claim that doctors cannot afford malpractice insurance because of malpractice litigation.

Doctors Don’t Flock to States with Damage Caps

Some people fear that, if their state doesn’t cap recovery amounts for medical malpractice claims, then doctors will become scarce in their state. The truth is that states with damage caps have, on average, merely three to seven percent more doctors per capita than states without damage caps, and those states without damage caps have seen no significant shortage in doctor availability.

Medical Malpractice Results are Not Decided by Chance

Again, the most interesting news stories involve either the mildly injured patient who received millions or the severely injured patient who received nothing. While these results might seem to suggest that claims are decided by a roll of the dice, that is not true. Across the board, the severity of injury does have a strong effect on the ultimate amount of the award. Claimants with permanent injuries receive, on average, a greater award than those with temporary injuries.

Tort Reform Won’t Significantly Lower Health Spending

Proponents of tort reform measures such as damage caps argue that lowering doctors’ liability risks will translate into doctors spending less not only on liability insurance but on the superfluous tests they now feel they have to order in an excess of caution. Studies have shown that capping medical malpractice liability has no significant effect on medical spending — leading to the conclusion that doctors are ordering the tests they think are needed, and they won’t change that practice even if their liability is reduced.

The medical malpractice system is not perfect. As with most systems, there are problems that deserve attention. But improving the system can come only when the discussion is based on truths, not premised on fear or myth.

The Florida law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has the experience you need to guide you through your medical malpractice claim – and we have decades of experience not only settling but aggressively litigating medical malpractice cases as well . Email us today for a free consultation.

Young people using social media on a beach

Let the Tampa litigation attorneys help you understand your privacy rights!

Like most Americans, you probably share a large portion of your life online. You take a trip to the lake and snap a few pictures of yourself soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, and maybe Social Media Social Networkingdrinking a few beers…then post those pictures for your select group of “Facebook Friends.” You’ve been careful to set high privacy settings on your account so that current or future employers can’t see you making a fool of yourself, but you want to share your crazy life with the people who matter most.

Beware: those people could include opposing counsel and, possibly, members of a future jury.

This last January, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal made that clear. In Nucci v. Target Corporation, 2015 WL 71726 (4th DCA 2015),the Court upheld the trial court’s order requiring the plaintiff in a slip and fall case to turn over photographs that she had posted on her social media accounts. Specifically, the plaintiff had to turn over to the defendant Target all photographs posted on her accounts from two years before her  fall through the present.

Though the Court considered plaintiff Nucci’s argument that her Facebook posts were on a high privacy setting, it ultimately rejected her reasoning, explaining that the “relevance of the photographs overwhelms Nucci’s minimal privacy interest in them.” Indeed, the opinion cited to earlier cases that allowed discovery of personal social networking information and concluded that, generally, “the photographs posted on a social networking site are neither privileged nor protected by any right of privacy, regardless of any privacy settings that the user may have established.”

There are, fortunately, some limitations. As with all other discovery requests, opposing counsel still must show that the social-media postings and photos being sought are relevant to the case. Not everything in your social media accounts can be snagged. .

In the Nucci case, the Court ruled that three-plus years of personal photographs were relevant because the plaintiff was claiming that her slip and fall had caused permanent injuries and had drastically changed her lifestyle. Target had obtained surveillance video of Nucci carrying heavy jugs and bags, so the Court was satisfied that her photographic self-history was a relevant source of evidence about how she’d lived her life both before and after the incident.

If you are concerned that your social media posts could be damaging in litigation, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney. At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we can help you understand all aspects of your rights to privacy – and the limitations on those rights if and when a lawsuit proves necessary. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Suing a cruise line for cruise ship injuries

The cruise ship industry presents itself as the ultimate in vacations. Your “hotel” is a floating party, with mountains of food and endless entertainment, and in case that isn’t enough, you have Cruise Ship Injuries lawsuitregular opportunities to disembark and see different parts of the world. As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games… until someone gets hurt.

Just like amusement parks, cruise ships are liable for your injuries if they were caused by the negligence of the cruise ship or its crew. If a loose banister on a back staircase leads to a nasty fall, the cruise line should reimburse you for your injuries. If a leaky pipe makes a floor slippery, the cruise line should be held responsible for your medical expenses if you slip. If a crew member bumps into you with a cart, lacerating your leg, you shouldn’t have to pay for your own stitches and after care.

If you’re injured on a cruise ship, however, there could be worse things in store for you than a ruined vacation. Cruise lines are adept at limiting their liability and at protecting themselves from passenger injury lawsuits, so you must work immediately to protect your rights if you are injured.

Read the Fine Print

The last thing you want to be doing as you prepare for your cruise is to wade through the dense language of the contract of passage booklet. You’d rather choose your excursions and decide which lounges to eat in each night. Be advised, however, that this contract is binding between you and the cruise line, and it very likely limits your rights if you are to be injured during your cruise.

Keep Your Own Records

If you are injured, report it immediately to the crew, and file a report with the medical staff. Tell them what happened and help them treat you so that your health isn’t compromised and so you might be able to return to having fun.

While you’re doing that, however, keep your own notes. Take pictures and video footage of the scene of the accident, with details of loose screws or wet floors that might have caused your injury. Write down the names and addresses of any passengers who witnessed the accident, along with a brief description of what they say they saw. Write down the names and jobs of any crew members you talk to and notes on what you told them. Keep a log of how your injury impacts you during the remainder of the cruise.

Remember that, though you’ll likely see the crew taking notes and writing a report of the accident, their report is designed to help them – not you.

Observe Time Limits and Jurisdictional Limitations

Remember that contract you didn’t want to read? It probably tells you that you have six months to inform the cruise line about your injury – and because you agreed to it (by going on the cruise), if you miss that deadline, you could lose your whole case. You also probably have a much shorter time to file suit – usually around a year instead of the normal four. Most complicated, you probably won’t be able to file at your local courthouse. In fact, regardless of the port you left from, your residence, or the location of the cruise line’s offices, you’ll likely be required to file at a specific court in Florida.

The Tampa, Florida law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has the experience and expertise to handle your cruise line injury. Contact us today for a free consultation.




Suing a cruise line for cruise ship injuries

Most trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in civil cases work on a contingency- fee basis – meaning they don’t get paid anything unless and until they collect an award for their clients. This can translate into heavy risks for the attorneys involved, as some of the most important lawsuits involve years of work and hundreds of thousands of pages of court filings before a settlement or court resolution is reached.Florida Trial Lawyers Building

Each year, Public Justice awards a Trial Lawyer of the Year Award to recognize those lawyers who took risks to litigate important cases and right egregious wrongs. The 2015 award winner will be announced on July 13. We at WM congratulate each of the finalists for their tireless efforts and demonstrated commitment to justice. The five finalists are as follows:

David v. Signal International

Just the first in a string of related cases stretching over seven years, this case went all the way to a complex jury trial and proved that Signal International was responsible for labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering, and discrimination. The attorneys in the case proved that Signal International lured workers from India with false promises of permanent residency and good jobs. Once the workers were here, they were packed into tiny trailers and charged over $1,000 per month. Evidence at trial showed that when the workers tried to organize to take action, Signal International locked them in trailers and fired their leaders.  At the conclusion of the four- week trial, the jury unanimously awarded the workers $14-million.

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania v. Wetzell

After negotiations with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections were unsuccessful, this case was filed and quickly forced a negotiated settlement from the DOC on behalf of mentally ill prisoners held in solitary confinement. The settlement ensured prison reforms including regular mental- health evaluations for all prisoners, no solitary confinement for mentally ill prisoners (absent “exceptional circumstances”), and limitations on restraints and other disciplinary measures for prisoners with severe mental illnesses.

Elwin v. NS Home for Colored Children & Province of Nova Scotia

This case ended over 70 years of horrific physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of African-Canadian orphans placed in the Halifax Home for Colored Children. When a series of personal- injury suits failed to convince the government that this “home” was abusive, the Elwin class- action case was filed in 2011. Finally, after a 14-year battle, the Canadian government and orphanage conceded what was happening and agreed to a $34-million settlement.

In re McCray, Richardson, Santana, Wise and Salaam Litigation

In 1989, five young African-American and Hispanic teenagers were arrested and convicted of rape, serving between seven and thirteen years in prison. In 2002, the “Central Park Five” were exonerated and their coerced confessions exposed. Over the next 13 years, their attorneys fought through hundreds of depositions and hundreds of thousands of pages of discovery until the city finally agreed to a settlement of $41-million.

Navajo Nation v. U.S.

Attorneys for the Navajo Nation argued that for 70 years, the U.S. government mismanaged its trust of 14- million acres of land belonging to the Navajo Nation, depriving the Nation of royalties owed to it. At the conclusion of this eight-year case, the United States agreed to pay $554-million to the Navajo Nation.

At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we are proud to be part of a system that holds governments and corporations accountable for their wrongdoings. If you have been injured – physically, financially, or otherwise – by the actions of the government or a corporation, obtaining fair compensation can seem like a daunting, impossible task. We are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.