A Breakdown of Premises Liability

Premises liability is something that everyone should know about. Whether you are a business owner or a customer, having a basic understanding of the legal definition of premises liability and what that may mean to you in the event of an injury is imperative. A general definition refers to the breach of duties that the owner or occupier of a real estate property is obligated to maintain. It is the body of law which holds the occupier or owner accountable when an individual suffers an injury as a result of the dangerous conditions or a commercial or residential property. In a nutshell, people walk into a residence or a store with the expectation that they will be safe, not placed in any sort of hazardous situation. Owners and occupiers must maintain an adequate minimum level of safety, whether a private or public property.

At the supermarket or shopping mall or even a friend’s house, some type of safety requirements are expected. Unfortunately, unexpected injuries occur all over the United States each and every day. Some of the most common forms of premises liability claims include:

  • Slip and fall
  • Inadequate security
  • Fires
  • Lack of store maintenance
  • Falling ceilings
  • Unsafe sidewalks or walkways
  • Construction zones
  • Electrocution
  • Exposure to a poisonous substance of some kind
  • Escalator or elevator malfunction

Neglecting to maintain a safe atmosphere for all people who step foot on an owner or occupiers’ property is subject to a potential lawsuit. As such, an owner or occupier must make sure to take as many precautions as possible to maintain a safe place for their guests to be exposed to. As a guest or customer, being aware of your rights is critical in the event of an accident. Even if you are unsure that an injury you sustained falls under premises liability, it is essential that you speak with an experienced attorney to determine if a lawsuit is the appropriate measure to take.

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The Importance of Balancing Your Checkbook

Balancing a checkbook is something that most adults would agree to dread. Often described as “frustrating” and “painful”, balancing your checkbook takes patience and time and a lot of math. Unfortunately, checkbook balancing is one of the inevitable chores that every adult must do in order to keep their finances in order. The problem is that so many adults avoid balancing their checkbook that when they finally get around to doing it, the task becomes overwhelming. The key to making balancing your checkbook less of a chore is to do it regularly and avoid the headaches that come with months’ worth of balancing.

Keeping your checkbook balanced is important for a number of reasons. Keep the following in mind the next time you think you can push back balancing your checkbook another week:

  • Bounced check charges and overdraft fees get more expensive every year
  • Bounced checks can negatively affect your credit rating
  • Allows you to keep a close watch on bank statements in the case that the bank makes an error
  • Keeps your alert in the event of fraudulent charges or identity theft
  • More trustworthy and up-to-date than online banking
  • Helps to encourage budgeting

Balancing your checkbook is one of those annoying, yet necessary parts of being an adult. As more and more changes in technology come along and effect online banking, it can be tempting to avoid balancing your checkbook all together. At the end of the day, keeping a close eye on your bank account is the key to avoiding costly mistakes, fraudulent activity, and all sorts of other unforeseen issues regarding your banking. Once you make balancing your checkbook a habit, it will seem like less of a chore and more of a financially responsible activity.

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Avoiding Insurance Company Excuses

Auto accidents happen in a flash and they are often a chaotic, frightening time for all involved in the crash. Insurance companies play a major role in most vehicle collisions. With the responsibility to help foot the bill for any injury, insurance companies tend to make every effort to reduce their financial responsibility. Even though the insurance industry takes in billions of dollars in premiums each year, they continually attempt to limit the amount of money that they pay their insured clients. Insurers will develop a number of excuses to avoid paying a fair settlement to those involved in the crash.

Being aware of the most common excuses that insurance companies make can help to prepare you in the event of an accident. From recovering from an injury to making sure that your vehicle is properly repaired, accident victims have a long to-do list after a crash. Here are some of the most frequently used excuses from insurers today:

  1. The crash was caused by defective equipment on your vehicle
  2. The driver was speeding and therefore was unable to avoid the crash
  3. The driver is blamed for being distracted and not paying attention at the time of the accident
  4. No turning signal was used
  5. The only witness to the accident was the passenger inside of your vehicle and they don’t count

None of the above excuses are valid when it comes to getting your insurance company to cover the costs of your accident injuries. Insurance companies are paid premiums throughout the year for this exact reason, during your time of need. If an insurance company is attempting to give you the run around, you may need some help from an attorney. Having an experienced attorney speak to your insurance company on your behalf is often the most efficient way to get the money that you deserve.

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Employer Must Take Responsibility for Employee’s Driving

Commercial truck accidents are amongst the most deadly and frightening of all motor vehicle collisions. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 500,000 truck accidents occur each year throughout the nation and of these, an estimated 5,000 truck accidents result in fatalities. To be more specific, one out of the every eight traffic deaths involve some type of trucking crash. Each year that passes the trucking industry gets more and more competitive. As a result of competitive pressures to make better time and more profit, trucking company often coerce their employees to meet certain goals that can only be achieved through dangerous driving practices.

Truck drivers have a huge responsibility when they get behind the wheel to traverse the roads and highways throughout the United States. When an enormous vehicle is paired with unrealistic deadlines, the results can be devastating and deadly. As such, it is the employer’s duty to keep their expectations at a realistic level in order to keep the roads safe. A recent case stresses how important it is from employers to be responsible. Tragically, an 11-year-old was struck and killed as she was waiting for her school bus to come one day. The truck driver was in the process of making a turn when the truck tire left the road and hit the young girl.

The accident victim suffered from severe head trauma and was declared dead on the scene of the accident. Evidence from the case alleged that the truck driver was driving too fast in an effort to get to work on time. Currently, the driver is awaiting his trial as he was charged with manslaughter. But, a lawsuit was brought against the trucking company who employed the driver. Due to the fact that the trucking industry is regulated, the family argued that it was the employer who was to blame for not providing the driver with adequate training that is required by federal law. The employer then responded that the driver did in fact have a valid license and that this would suffice as adequate.

The jury, however, rejected this argument and they awarded the estate of the girl only a small amount of money for her suffering, but a substantial amount to her parents for the loss of their daughter. At the end of the case, the final verdict was more than $6,500,000. This case is an excellent example of the level of responsibility that the trucking company holds in regard to their employees. Speaking with a knowledgeable, experienced attorney can make all of the difference in cases like this.

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Be on the Lookout for Medication Errors

New drugs come out every single year and claim to be able to treat another disease. Generally speaking, increase the number and effectiveness of drugs available to us today is a great thing. However, the frequency of increases in both the number of drugs available and the number of people taking these drugs has led to a massive explosion in the rate at which errors are made in prescription drugs. Medication errors can occur everywhere. While we’d like to think that nursing homes, pharmacies, and hospitals are giving us the best care possible, history has proven that medication errors happen all of the time.

Being on the lookout for medication errors is the best way to prevent injury, illness, and potentially fatal consequences. Medication errors can take place in many different ways and forms. In some cases the pharmacy administers a different drug then what was prescribed to the patient or administers incorrect dosages of the drug. In other cases, the medication prescribed does not mesh well with the patient and ends up causing illness. The bottom line is that mistakes and errors are unavoidable in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Without a solid grasp of the prescribed drug, the patient can be blindly taking something dangerous to their body.

A recent study revealed some scary statistics regarding medication errors today. Each year there are 51.5 million medication errors in the 3 billion prescriptions filled. These errors eventually lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths and unnecessary hospitalizations. The reasons for errors range significantly, but more often than not it seems that the root of these mistakes comes from financial reasons. The doctors, pharmacists, and the like are often rushing to fill and prescribe quickly in order to serve many patients. This leads to the increase of error risks and the eventual medication error.

The solution to ending medication errors may not be available, but there are certainly ways to curb the frequency at which they occur. First and foremost, healthcare professionals must slow down and take the time to be thorough and accurate when handling and administering medications. Next, a checks and balances system where more than one person is ensuring that the medication is correct would alleviate some errors. Prescription errors are scary, as we’d like to think that our doctors and pharmacist are always right. Unfortunately, it is up to the patient to play an active role in reducing the likelihood of a medication error.

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The Dangers of ATV Riding

ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) were introduced to the public in the early 1970s. Since that time, these vehicles have grown steadily in popularity. Unfortunately, ATVs are dangerous by nature and the historical evidence proves this in accident and injury numbers. ATV accidents occur far more often than one would imagine. As of 2012, more than 100,000 ATV injures were recorded, according to reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Even worse, about 25 percent of these injuries were to children younger than the age of 16 years. The hazards linked to ATVs paired with the allure for children to ride them create a scary combination.

One of the most notable problems with ATVs is the within their design. With no frame protecting the operator in case of an accident, riders are left at risk from the start. Additionally, ATVs have large, low-pressure tires, making it hard for these vehicles to grip on the rough terrain that they travel along. ATVs also tend to function with hand-operated brakes which limits power and may cause overturn upon stoppage. ATV have big engines that enable them to travel as fast as 70 mph. The sheer design of ATVs create a potentially deadly situation for all riders.

The design of ATVs also poses a threat for passengers. While they are not designed to hold passengers, they are built large enough to easily have two people on it. In the event of the crash, the passenger is at serious risk of an injury. ATVs have proven to be top-heavy, which makes them susceptible to rollover accidents. As with motor vehicles, rollover collisions are often linked to serious, if not deadly, injuries. While the current four-wheel model is far more stable than the previous three-wheel model, there are still many safety concerns.

The federal government has recognized the dangers linked to ATV riding, as they entered into a consent decree in 1988. In doing so, they mandated that all ATV manufacturers take part in things like safety training for new owners, warning labels on all of their products, and recommendations for size appropriate ATVs dependent upon the age group. This decree expired as of 1998, however, the ATV manufacturers have pledged to follow the majority of the provisions. Despite these changes and improvements, ATV riding is incredibly dangerous. For those parents who allow their children to participate, be sure to exercise extreme caution and always be present while the children are riding.

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How to Handle Aggressive Drivers

We’ve all seen it, the cars that zip in and out of lanes, race through traffic, and are completely oblivious to the safety measures that most drivers hold dear. Aggressive driving has been an issue in Florida for many, many years. While there could be many things to blame for the level of aggression in Florida, the fact is that it’s something that is unavoidable. Everyone will face an aggressive driver from time to time and it is incredibly dangerous. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that literally millions of motor vehicle accidents occur each year as a result of an aggressive driver.

The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property”. Whether it’s speeding down the road, carelessly changing lanes, or tailgating, aggressive drivers can be very scary to be around. Follow these tips the next time you are driving near an aggressive driver:

  • Do not make eye contact or rude gestures – this will only encourage the aggressive driver
  • Avoid trying to “show them” by teaching some sort of lesson, get out of their way
  • Stay relaxed – getting upset will only inhibit your ability to drive safely, so focus on getting to your destination
  • While it may be difficult, give the aggressor the benefit of the doubt and avoid getting angered and irrational
  • Stay in the right lane as much as possible – faster traffic should always be in the leftmost lane
  • Report the aggressive driver by dialing #77 when you can safely access your cell phone
  • Contact your local police to let them know when you have a safe opportunity to do so

Florida’s roads are plagued with aggressive drivers each and every day. The key to remaining safe is understanding that while we may not be able to eradicate them, we can certainly curtail driving habits to make the situation as safe as possible. The worst way to react to an aggressive driver is by getting upset and “retaliating”. No matter what you do (i.e. slow down or slam on the brakes), the aggressive driver is unfortunately likely to continue their dangerous behavior. Be the bigger person and concentrate on safely arriving at your intended destination.

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Back to School Safety Tips for your Children

Summer is drawing to a close and for most parents this means gearing up for another school year. Safety must be a priority for all families when your kids get back into the classroom this fall semester. The first day back to school can be quite overwhelming for many children. Whether the child is transitioning into a brand new school or rejoining their friends at the same school, kids tend to be a bit uneasy about the first day of school. As a parent, it is your duty to ease these fears by discussing the positive aspects of returning for another year of school. Remind them about how much fun they had last year, what exciting things they will learn this year, and the opportunity for new and exciting activities and clubs in the coming year.

Traveling to and from school typically poses the biggest threat for children. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that taking the school bus is the safest form of transportation. In fact, taking the bus to school has been proven to be approximately 13 times safer than taking a passenger vehicle. Children should keep these tips in mind while taking the bus:

  • Stand at least three giant steps away from the bus when it arrives
  • Do not walk behind a bus
  • Stay seated while on the bus while keeping arms, hands, and head away from the window
  • Make sure that the aisles are kept clear
  • Do not get up from your seat until the bus comes to a complete stop
  • When crossing the street in front of the bus, be sure to walk at least 10 feet ahead
  • Do not cross the street until the bus driver tells you to do so
  • Steer clear of the wheels of the bus

Beyond safety on the school bus, children must remember to stay safe while on the playground. Children should not wear any sweatshirts or jackets with drawstrings around the hood while playing outside. Additionally, children should be well versed on how to handle bullying. More specifically, if the bully is bothering them they should tell the bulling to stop or walk away. If the bully keeps on going, the child should speak to a teacher. Going back to school after summer is not easy for any child. Be sure to speak with your children about their fears in order to calm them down and get them excited for the year ahead.

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Is the Texting-While-Driving Ban in Florida Working?

Statistics show that nearly 25 percent of all auto accidents today occur due to some kind of involvement with a cell phone. This equates to more than 1 million car crashes a year, just because of a stupid phone! In Florida, citizens, law enforcement officers, and drivers of all kinds pushed for some type of law to deter motorists from texting while driving. Finally, years after these demands had been requested, the Florida lawmakers created a texting while driving law to punish those who use their cell phones while operating a vehicle. Today, almost 10 months after its official launch, Florida drivers are still in a lot of danger on the roads and highways of the Sunshine State.

The Legislature calls for very specific measures when it comes to citing a driver for texting while driving. While a large majority of the state recognized the dire need for a law to target those texting and driving, the ban only passed as a secondary-offense. What this means is that a law enforcement officer can only pull over a driver who is texting while operating their vehicle is they are also committing another driving infraction. Unless the driver is driving recklessly or speeding or some other type of illegal driving action, the law enforcement officer cannot pull them over.

While the push for some type of texting and driving law was celebrated back in January, many are now reevaluating their opinions on the ban. Today, law enforcement across Florida have stated that it is truly difficult to cite these law breakers. Why? Because a secondary-offense really limits their ability to protect the safety of those on the road driving safely from those recklessly putting lives at risk by texting. In fact, texting tickets pale in comparison to other, far less hazardous acts, both behind the wheel and on the streets.

The bottom line is that Florida Legislature has to buckle down and do more. A law that is difficult to enforce is a law that cannot make much of a difference in the safety of Florida’s roads and highways. Sending a text message while driving increases the likelihood of motor vehicle collision immensely. A driver texting is actually 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. It’s time for the Legislature to step up to the plate once again and make Florida’s texting while driving ban much, much more stringent. It’s time for texting while driving to become a first-offense.

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Avoid Credit Card Fraud with These Simple Tips

Credit card fraud is far more prevalent today than ever before. With the onset of vast technological advancements, identity theft and fraud is easy and accessible for most any criminal. As more and more banks are becoming aware of this issue security measures have followed suit – making credit card protection policies more robust and widespread. Even so, “phishing” is still a big problem in the United States. Phishing refers to the random and illegal emails, text messages, or phone calls that solicit victims for their credit card or debit card information. Sadly, the elderly community is often the target of these crimes, as they are more easily swayed to offer up their private information.

Phishing is just one of the many problems credit and debit card holders face today. For instance, dumpster grazing is another scary phenomenon. In these cases, the criminals look through the trash of homes and office buildings for things like pay stubs, old bills, or any other item that would offer banking or credit card information. Keep the following tips in mind to avoid credit card fraud:

  • Keep track of all transactions on your credit and debit cards
  • Do not write your account number on the outside of any envelopes
  • Never offer up your payment information over the phone until you placed the call and it is with a reputable, trustworthy company
  • Attempt to take out only one credit card with you when you leave the house
  • Open your bills as soon as your receive them in order to review it and then take appropriate action if any discrepancies are found
  • Save your receipts to cross-check with your credit card statement
  • Never pay bills without fully examining the account statement
  • Look at your credit reports every once in a while from each of the main credit bureaus
  • Watch out for plastic sleeves located inside of the swipe slot when using a credit card payment machine

High tech hacking is changing every day. While we may not know the next “big thing” in the credit card fraud industry, we do know that following the above tips will help to prevent criminals from stealing your most private and sensitive information. If there is anything questionable occurring with any of your accounts be sure to contact your credit card company as soon as it is discovered to report the discrepancy.

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