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Avoid Back-to-School Injuries

Most Palm Beach County students went back to school on August 20, with teachers, parents, and children likely gearing up for the summer to fall transition for many weeks.

Returning to school not only means getting back in the classroom, but also the return to playgrounds, gymnasiums, school buses, and sports. While recess and extracurricular activities are the “fun” part of school for many children, they are also the setting for numerous accidents and injuries.

According to research conducted by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign (NSKC), an estimated 2.2 million children ages 14 and under sustain school related injuries each year.

While many of these injuries are unintentional (unlike injuries related to school violence or abuse), they are often caused by negligence, such as lack of adequate teacher supervision or poorly maintained facilities. In fact, lack of supervision is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries.

Common Causes of School Accidents & Injuries

Avoid Back-to-School InjuriesAmong elementary school students, playgrounds are associated with the majority of injuries, and for secondary school students, athletics — including both physical education classes and organized sports — account for most injuries.

School bus-related accidents, often involving child pedestrians, also account for many injuries.

Common causes of these accidents and injuries include:

  • Failure to regularly maintain school equipment and facilities
  • Failure to properly train school staff to supervise children and administer emergency first aid and CPR when necessary
  • Asphalt, concrete, grass, and soil surfaces under playground equipment, as opposed to loose-fill materials such as shredded rubber, mulch, and fine sand
  • Failure to ensure children play on age-appropriate playground equipment
  • Failure to use appropriate safety equipment for sports activities
  • Failure to group children according to skill level, size, and physical maturity, especially for contact sports
  • A school bus driver’s failure to see children attempting to enter or exit the bus
    Other drivers’ failure to obey school bus stop signs

Too often, parents and teachers blame children’s injuries on children’s behavior rather than their surroundings. However, budget cuts and overcrowding in Florida schools may not only diminish the quality of education received by students, but also may affect the safety and integrity of the environment in which they learn and interact.

By holding schools accountable for student accidents, concerned parents can help ensure schools take proper measures to protect children from injuries in the future.

Contact a Knowledgeable South Florida Injury Lawyer

If your child has sustained an injury at school, and you believe negligence on the part of a teacher or the school system could be at least partially to blame, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Fetterman & Associates for a free initial consultation.

We serve southeast Florida, including the communities of Palm Beach, North Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Port St. Lucie, and Fort Pierce.

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Intentionally Mislabeled Seafood Could Harm Florida Consumers

A recent study conducted by the ocean conservation group, Oceana, found that many varieties of seafood sold in restaurants and grocery stores in Palm Beach County may be intentionally mislabeled. As reported by The Palm Beach Post on July 27, DNA testing confirmed that almost one-third of nearly 100 seafood samples collected from 60 area retail outlets were not the type of fish indicated on the menu or label. In most cases, a less desirable, less expensive fish was substituted for a rarer, pricier fish.

Intentionally Mislabeled Seafood

According to the article, the Oceana researchers collected 40 samples from 29 grocery stores and 56 samples from 31 restaurants, including 15 sushi venues, throughout south Florida. After DNA testing was completed, the researchers concluded:

Fraud was detected in half of the 14 different types of fish collected
The highest fraud rates were found in sushi restaurants, where nearly 60% of the samples were mislabeled

Grocery stores had the lowest fraud rates at 8%

In six of the seven samples tested, red snapper was misrepresented, with tilapia or another less expensive variety of snapper, such as dog snapper, used as substitutes

100% of white tuna was mislabeled

Crab meat advertised as “real” crab meat was found to be fake crab meat 64 % of the time

16% of grouper was mislabeled, with king mackerel or Asian catfish often used as substitutes

According to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, 1,317 restaurants in Florida have been cited for seafood fraud since 2006. In Palm Beach County, inspectors have found 115 restaurants serving mislabeled seafood.

Mislabeled Seafood May Hurt More than Just Your Wallet

Beyond financial deception, mislabeled seafood can pose severe health risks to consumers. For example, the study found that white tuna was mislabeled 100% of the time in south Florida restaurants. In most cases, the fish was actually escolar, which is banned in Japan and Italy and assigned warnings by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of toxins that cause gastric effects. Also dangerous, king mackerel (a common grouper substitute) carries a “Do Not Eat” warning for young children and pregnant and nursing women. And for people with allergies, eating the wrong fish can always cause serious health problems.

Businesses and individuals that knowingly introduce dangerous products to the consuming public may be liable for resulting injuries. Consumers harmed because of mislabeled seafood may have personal injury claims against retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, distributors, processing and packaging plants, and others along the seafood supply chain.

Seek Advice & Representation from an Experienced South Florida Injury Lawyer

If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of consumer fraud, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Fetterman & Associates for a free initial consultation. We serve Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties in southeast Florida.

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Florida Injury Rate Ranks 18th in the United States

Injury Rate RanksLast month, Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, two nonprofit groups focused on promoting the nation’s health, published the “The Facts Hurt,” a report ranking states based on total number of yearly fatal injuries.

According to the report, 67 out of every 100,000 Florida residents die each year from preventable injuries, which puts Florida at number 18 in the national ranking.

To compare, in the state with the most injuries, New Mexico, nearly 1,000 residents suffered a fatal injury each year, and in New Jersey, the state with the least number of injuries, only 36 people suffered a fatal injury.

Common Injury Accidents that Lead to Deaths in Florida and around the Country

Common Injury Accidents in FloridaAccording to the report, approximately 50 million Americans receive medical treatment for injuries each year. Of these people, over 29 million are treated in emergency rooms, more than 2.8 million are hospitalized, and over 180,000 Americans die annually from injuries. Some of the most common types of injuries include:

  • Falls – More than 8 million Americans suffer falls that require medical attention each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury deaths in adults over age 65.
  • Car and other vehicle crashes – Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans ages five to 34, with approximately 38,000 people dying in motor vehicle crashes each year.
  • Violence-related injuries – Assaults are responsible for more than a million injuries each year.
  • Poisoning – Almost 40,000 people die from poisoning deaths each year, with prescription painkillers causing around 15,000 deaths annually.
  • Fires – Home fires result in about 2,600 deaths and 13,350 injuries each year.
  • Drowning – For children ages one to four, drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths.

It is sobering to think that more than 12,000 Florida residents could avoid death each year if people were simply more careful. Despite the pervasiveness of injuries, however, and awareness that government policies and programs (such as seat belt and drunk driving laws) can greatly reduce injuries, the country’s investment in injury prevention is very limited.

According to the Institute of Medicine, injury prevention receives less than 5 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s total budget.
“The Facts Hurt” shows how personal injury law can help society where the government falls short.

By holding responsible parties accountable for careless or wrongful behavior that harms others, we increase awareness of dangerous situations, and hopefully prevent future injuries that could occur if such behaviors or practices continued.

Also Read: Top 5 Types of Personal Injury Cases

Talk to an Experienced Injury Attorney in Southeast Florida

If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.

To learn more about how you may obtain a maximum recovery award, please contact Fetterman & Associates for a free initial consultation. We have offices in North Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie, and represent clients throughout southeast Florida.

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Florida Passes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Reform: A Boon for Consumers or a Curse for Injured Drivers and Passengers?

HB 119, passed by the Florida legislature in March, was signed into law by Governor Scott on May 4th. This 67-page bill is being touted as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) reform that will yield savings to vehicle owners on their no-fault car insurance premiums, but the true cost may come not in savings to consumers but in a decrease in benefits paid to people injured in car accidents.

Decrease in Insurance Premiums…Maybe

The new law, which goes into effect in July, requires insurance companies to lower insurance rates, with a 10% reduction by October 1 and a 25% reduction by January of 2014, as compared to rates as of July 1 of this year.

However, this requirement falls somewhat short of a legal mandate, allowing insurance companies to not lower rates provided they explain why they didn’t.

Decrease in Insurance Benefits…Definitely

The idea behind the “reform” is that these measures will decrease insurance fraud, and the insurance companies will be able to pass their savings on to the consumer. It remains to be seen how effective this will be.

You’ll know in October when you receive your insurance bill and can see for yourself if your premiums have been lowered and by how much. In the meantime, we do know for sure about some of the other changes made by the law and how they will affect people injured in car accidents. Some of these changes include:

Florida Personal Injury Protection

  • Medical benefits can be denied if you fail to receive “initial services and care” within 14 days after the accident
  • Benefits can be denied if you refuse to submit to an examination under oath about your claim
  • Your $10,000 in PIP benefits will be capped at $2,500 unless your injuries meet the definition in the bill of an “emergency medical condition”

Your right to receive payment for medical services may be in jeopardy under this new scheme. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, contact an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure you take the proper steps to protect your rights to receive the medical benefits that you paid for with your insurance premiums.

In Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, and Port St. Lucie, contact Fetterman & Associates – The Law Team at (888) 819-4770 for immediate assistance.

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Choosing a Rehabilitation Hospital for Your Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury causing paraplegia, quadriplegia, or other sensory or motor impairment, can result from a serious personal injury in a car or truck accident, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian accident, or other catastrophic injury brought about by the negligence or misconduct of another. These types of injuries to the central nervous system can create life-long disabilities and challenges to the accident victim.

Spinal Cord Injury

Whether and to what extent the afflicted individual will be able to return to work or even manage his or her own daily care depends primarily on the level of injury suffered. Another essential factor, however, is the quality of care the individual receives following the injury; the right type of treatment and rehabilitation in the days and months following the injury can make all the difference in the patient’s future.

Choosing a Rehabilitation Hospital for Your Florida Spinal Cord Injury

The right facility may not be nearby, and a lot of research may need to be done to find the best facility for your needs. You can start by considering the options presented to you by your current health care provider, but you may also want to do some investigation of your own. Consider the following criteria/characteristics in choosing the right rehab facility for your injury and future needs:

  • Facility regularly treats patients with the same type/level of spinal cord injury that you have
  • Facility employs the type of health care professionals for your particular needs, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, neurologists, physiatrists, and as speech-language pathologists
  • Facility is accredited in the specialty area related to your need (if applicable)
  • Medical staff are experienced and have an established history at the facility
  • Nursing staff maintain a reasonable caseload so they can provide quality care
  • Number of patients being treated at facility is within hospital’s capabilities to provide quality care to each patient
  • Know the qualifications and experience of the doctor who will be treating you as your primary physician
  • The facility provides programs and services to patients’ families, including low-cost housing and transportation if necessary, and access to nearby dining, lodging, and shopping opportunities.

Choosing an Attorney for Your Florida Spinal Cord Injury

Just as choosing the right hospital is essential to your rehabilitation, choosing the right attorney is critical to recovering the compensation you need and deserve for your spinal cord injury. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury or other serious personal injury in an automobile accident or other type of accident in south Florida, contact Fetterman & Associates at our West Palm Beach or Port St. Lucie offices.

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Be Aware of Pradaxa’s Dangerous Side Effects

This month, the Journal of Neurosurgery reported that side effects from Pradaxa could be fatal and irreversible. Medical researchers focused on a case in which an elderly man taking Pradaxa sustained a seemingly minor fall at home, and died as a result of intracranial bleeding that rapidly expanded and could not be stopped by doctors.

Pradaxa Side Effects
In Florida, many seniors have likely been prescribed Pradaxa, and should be aware of the dangerous side effects associated with the drug.

What is Pradaxa?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Pradaxa (or dabigatran, its generic name) is a blood thinner prescribed to help prevent strokes or serious blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart beats irregularly, increasing the chance of blood clots forming in the body and possibly causing strokes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Pradaxa for stroke prevention in 2010, but has always warned that Pradaxa may cause bleeding that can be serious, and sometimes lead to death. This is because there is no effective reversal agent for Pradaxa in the event of catastrophic hemorrhage. If you are taking Pradaxa, the FDA advises that you should call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Unexpected bleeding or bleeding that lasts a long time
  • Bleeding that is severe or you cannot control
  • Pink or brown urine
  • Red or black stools
  • Bruises that happen without a known cause or get larger
  • Coughing up blood or blood clots
  • Vomiting blood, or your vomit looks like “coffee grounds”
  • Unexpected pain, swelling, or joint pain
  • Headaches, or feeling dizzy or weak

Even without any signs of a problem, Pradaxa may result in serious adverse effects for patients. As the Journal of Neurosurgery researchers concluded in their report, “Imbalance and falls are common in [the elderly] population, and intracranial hemorrhage resulting from even minor trauma may occur with increasing frequency as use of this drug becomes more widespread.”

Seek Advice & Representation from an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed from taking Pradaxa or another prescription drug, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Fetterman & Associates – The Law Team. With offices in West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie, we are conveniently located to serve the communities of southeast Florida.

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Voluntary Product Recalls Protect Companies as well as Consumers

Products, foods, drugs, and almost anything bought and used by the public may be recalled by government agencies if they are found to be harmful, or even potentially harmful, to consumers. Depending on the type of good or aspect of production at issue, one of the following agencies generally has the responsibility of monitoring and testing a product’s safety:

Product Recalls

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – Consumer products, including toys, appliances, and other household goods

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, and health supplements
  • Food Safety & Inspection Services (FSIS) – Meat, poultry, and eggs
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – On-road vehicles and related products, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, tires, helmets, and child safety seats
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Pesticides, fertilizers, and anything that may be harmful to the environment
  • United States Coast Guard – Boats, life jackets, and related products
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – Aircraft and related products

In some cases, recalls are “compulsory,” which means the product supplier or manufacture did not take action to prevent a hazardous product from entering the marketplace. Often, however, a supplier or manufacturer discovers that a product is dangerous or defective and voluntarily initiates a product recall. A voluntary product recall occurred in Florida recently, when in December, South Florida Bakery issued a voluntary recall on several varieties of Publix Bakery Coconut Macaroons, called “Coquitos.” The macaroons were recalled because the ingredient list on the packaging failed to include a milk ingredient present in the product.

For people who are allergic or extremely sensitive to milk, eating the product could result in a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. The recall was reported to the FDA, as was a request for consumers to return any purchased Coquitos to a Publix store for a refund or replacement. While a voluntary recall works to limit liability for corporate negligence (and also minimize damage to a company’s reputation and/or brand name), suppliers and manufacturers may still be held responsible for any harm their oversight or mistake caused to a consumer.

Experienced Florida Personal

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or illness because a product was mislabeled or contained some other defect, please contact Fetterman & Associates – The Law Team at (561)-845-2510 for a free initial consultation. Our Florida personal injury lawyers serve Palm Beach County, St. Lucie County, and Martin County.

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Personal Injury Protection Reform in Florida

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, a Florida House of Representatives committee has approved a bill that would significantly change the state’s no-fault auto insurance program by requiring auto policies to cover only emergency treatment received within 72 hours of an accident.

Florida Governor Rick Scott and CFO Jeff Atwater are behind Florida personal injury protection (PIP) reforms, pushing hard to see changes take place this year.

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On January 25, Governor Scott held a press conference, during which he worked to gain support for PIP reform by alleging that Florida’s no-fault insurance system encourages fraud and abuse, resulting in high insurance premiums for the state’s citizens.

It is easy to see, however, that insurance companies would receive the greatest benefit if such reforms go through, as they would be off the hook for covering many legitimate injury claims.

The bill also expands insurers’ authority to conduct broad examinations of physicians and staff under oath. Under the current system, no-fault PIP laws require Florida drivers to purchase an insurance policy of at least $10,000 to cover personal injuries.

With minimum coverage, policy holders may recover financial losses from their insurance company in the event of an accident, regardless of fault, up to their policy limit.

Even with the PIP system, insurance companies look for ways to underpay on claims, for that is how they make a profit. The proposed reforms will allow insurers to avoid paying on even more claims.

In the last session, plaintiffs’ attorneys joined together with consumer groups, doctors, chiropractors, and other medical professionals to stop changes to the PIP system.

Challenging the proposed reforms is not an easy task, as insurance companies are one of the largest financial supporters of the lawmakers in Tallahassee.

Seek Experienced Personal Injury Representation

If you or someone you love has been hurt in an auto accident, do not let insurance companies take advantage of you. Seek advice and counsel from an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer at Fetterman & Associates – The Law Team at (888) 819-4770. We can help you protect your rights and obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.

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