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Dog Bites Cause Serious Injuries and Owners May Be Liable

Dogs are intelligent creatures and wonderful companions, but they can sometimes be unfriendly and aggressive, especially if untrained and allowed to wander freely. Every day in the United States almost 1,000 people are bitten by dogs and require emergency treatment for their injuries. Injury from a dog attack can be serious, with some victims being maimed and some dying.

Dogs not controlled by their owners are potentially dangerous. Florida dog bite and leash laws reflect how seriously the increasing incidence of dog attacks is viewed. Communities across the nation are strengthening their laws to improve enforcement of leash laws and impose stricter responsibilities and penalties on dog owners who fail to adequately restrain their pets.

Florida does not have a statewide mandated leash law. The regulation of dog control is decided and administered by county or municipal governments.

Broward County

A leash law is a legal requirement that a dog be controlled by its owner when the dog is in a public space or on the owner’s private property. Control can be achieved by a fence, a leash, a chain, or other form of humane restraint. The purpose of leash laws is the reduce and prevent dog attacks. Governments recognize that dogs can be unpredictable, so even a well-trained animal must be leashed to protect children, adults, and other animals from being harmed

Broward County leash law prohibits dogs from roaming freely and at large on public streets, properties, sidewalks, or parks. Dogs cannot stray on to someone’s private property unless the property owner permits access. While in a public area, dogs must be retrained by a tether, such as a leash, chain, or cord, handled by the owner and of enough strength to control the dog.

Abiding by the applicable leash law does not exempt a dog owner from liability for harm his or her pet may cause. It is the legal responsibility of the dog owner to control the dog whether or not there is a leash law in effect.

Owner Liable for Injuries

Florida statute provides that a dog owner is liable for injuries his or her dog causes to people or animals. The law imposes liability on the dog owner when a dog bites a person on public or private property, including property owned by the dog owner. The dog’s reputation for viciousness, even when known by the bite victim, is not a defense to liability.

This means that Florida is a strict liability dog bite state, and as such, dog owners can be held liable for damages their dogs cause even if the dog has never bitten a person before.

Also, a dog owner could be liable to damage the dog does to someone’s property. Examples include a dog digging up a neighbor’s flower or vegetable garden; chewing on and damaging part of a fence on a neighbor’s property; or jumping up on someone’s car and scratching or gouging the paint finish. Dogs are not permitted to create noise pollution with habitual barking, growling, whining, or howling. Dog owners may be found liable to disturbing their neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of their home.

Possible Defenses

A dog owner whose dog bites someone is under strict liability in Florida. That means that the owner will be liable regardless of whether he knew or should have known of the dog’s likelihood to bite. The bite victim does not have to prove the dog owner acted negligently or did not use reasonable care.

The law in Florida provides dog owners with legal defenses to charges levied following a dog bite or other attack. The dog owner is not held liable when:

The bite victim was trespassing on the owner’s private property. However, persons are presumed to be lawfully on a dog owner’s property if they are performing a legal duty, such as police work or postal deliver.

The owner displays a conspicuously posted sign easily read and clearly notifying persons with words such as “Bad Dog” that the dog is dangerous. Even where such a sign is posted, the dog owner remains liable:
For injuries to a child under age 6; or
When the dog owner is the proximate cause of the injury due to his or her negligence or omission

Provoked Dog Defense

Because strict liability is imposed on dog owners in cases of dog bite, the owner is liable for injuries to the bite victim, but the owner can present evidence that the victim’s conduct contributed to his or her injuries. Where the evidence persuades the court of the victim’s negligent behavior, the court can reduce the dog owner’s liability by a percentage equal to the percentage the victim’s conduct contributed to the injury.

Florida case law indicates, however, that the bite victim’s behavior must have been blatant and egregiously wrong. These are examples of behaviors the court could find shifts liability in whole or in part from the dog owner to the person who was bitten.

Careless risk: The person knew the dog was ferocious or skittish and prone to attack, but the person carelessly placed himself or herself within dangerous proximity to the animal despite the owner’s warnings or attempts to restrain the dog.

Teasing: The person repeatedly teased the dog by tempting the dog with food or a treat but withholding the item; chasing and cornering it; or interfering with the dog’s possession of or enjoyment in a toy or food/water bowl.

Tormenting: The person physically rough-housed with the dog; beat or kicked the animal; or repeatedly poked the dog or pulled its tail


In a dog bite case, the kinds of damages available to the victim include medical costs, lost wages, lost future earnings, therapy and nursing care, emotional distress/pain and suffering, and punitive.

If you or your child have been attacked by a dog and injured, you may have to bring legal action against the owner of the dog to recover the medical expenses of treating your injuries and for your pain and suffering. Call our law offices today for a free consultation with the skilled Florida personal injury attorneys at Madalon Law. The attorneys at Madalon Law are experienced attorneys who competently handle dog bite cases and will put forth your best case. We are based in Fort Lauderdale, and serve clients in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, and throughout Florida.

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Personal Injury in Florida Personal Injury Journal: What Is it and Why Should I Keep One?

If you suffer any type of personal injury, it is vitally important that you maintain a personal injury journal. A personal injury journal is where you document your injuries on a daily basis. It can come in many forms, including a simple notebook or a day calendar. The key is that you keep it with you so you can record information at any time. Do not delay recording. This should be done in “real time,” even updating your journal multiple times a day.

What Type of Damages Can I Collect in the State of Florida as a Result of a Personal Injury?

In a personal injury case in the state of Florida, you may be able to collect for the following:

Pain and suffering. This is payment for physical pain caused by an injury.
Loss of consortium. This is payment for an injury that results in a loss of familial relations.
Property damage. This is payment for damage caused to any property as a result of an accident.
Medical treatment. This is payment for medical treatment that arises from the personal injury, including past present or future payments.
Emotional distress. This is payment for any emotional pain suffered as a result of the personal injury.
Lost wages. This is payment for any wages lost as a result of the personal injury.
Defamation. This is payment for any damages in a slander or libel lawsuit.

It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you have sustained an injury. It is also critical that you document your injuries and the consequences of your injuries, so that a proper assessment of your damages can be performed.

What Should I Write in My Personal Injury Journal?

After you suffer a personal injury and start a personal injury journal, the first thing to include are the details of the injury. In short, what happened to you? Please provide as much and as many details as possible. Did you see the other party talking on his or her phone before the accident? Did they tell you they didn’t see you because the sun was in their eyes? The legal process can take a great deal of time in Florida and you may not be able to remember the details of your experiences during your time waiting for trial. If you can keep detailed notes about your injuries, you will help your attorney get the best results for you.

On a daily basis, track the level of your pain. Be as specific as possible including what area or body part is affected. Vague statements like “I feel miserable again today” are not very helpful. Also track days when you are not experiencing pain. In addition, record any difficulties in movement you experience. As time passes, you may find you have less to enter in your journal. Regardless, never go more than one week without recording an entry in your personal injury journal.

Privacy Concerns

Be advised that if your case goes to trial, your personal injury diary may be made available to the parties and the court. Keep your writing professional and courteous. Do not lash out in anger at the other parties involved. There may be times when part of or all of your journal may be considered privileged information. However, to be on the safe side, assume it will all be made available and public when you are writing in your personal injury journal. Writing about how you feel emotionally is best saved for your personal journal.

Keep a Record of Any Witnesses

Write down the names and contact information of any witnesses that saw the events that led to your injuries. Their testimony may be necessary and helpful if your case goes to trial. Also record contact information for any witnesses that could testify about your experiences after the injury, such as observers of your pain and suffering, loss of income and any other results of your injuries. This can include family members, friends, or coworkers.

Keep a Record of All People That Treat You

Like other witnesses, keep a record of the names and contact information of all treating physicians. Additionally, document the names and contact information of your physical therapists and physician’s assistants. It can be difficult to remember that information if your injuries require you to see multiple specialists, so add this information to your journal as soon as practical.

Keep a Record of Medical Treatments and Doctor Visits

Use your personal injury journal to record all medical treatments you receive. Also record all doctor visits. Keep track of the progression of your injuries. After each trip to a medical professional, record advice you receive from the professional. Further, record all medical bills and any related documentation.

Keep a Record of Your Emotions.

Some injuries and ongoing pain can affect a person’s emotions and feelings. It is important to keep an honest and open record on an ongoing basis. Try to avoid making extreme statements that can be easily contradicted. This includes statements such as, “I can never…” or “I always…”

Keep a Record of Any Loss of Earning Capacity, Income Loss or Other Wage Loss

Keep and make copies of income tax returns, W-2 forms, payroll stubs and any other income related documentation.

What Are the Next Steps to Take?

If you have I have sustained an injury and started a personal injury journal you may be wondering, “What should I do now?” An experienced, qualified personal injury attorney can help you get awarded all of the damages that you are entitled to. For an injury in Florida, please contact the experienced attorneys at the law offices of Madalon Law. We have offices throughout the state law Florida. We will speak with you about your case at no charge to you. We will also come to you if you are unable to come to one of our offices. If you hire our law firm, you will only be charged if we win. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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What Every Driver and Pedestrian in the State of Florida Needs to Know: Pedestrian Injuries and Car Accidents in the State of Florida

Florida Statute Chapter 316, State Uniform Traffic Control, sets the rights and responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians in the State of Florida. Whether you drive or walk, or do both, on a regular basis, here is an overview of your rights and responsibilities:

Legal Definition of “Driver” and “Pedestrian” in the State of Florida

Florida defines “driver” in Chapter 316, Section 003, as, “Any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or who is exercising control of a vehicle or steering a vehicle being towed by a motor vehicle.” That same chapter and section defines “pedestrian” as, “Any person afoot.”

Rights and Responsibilities of a Driver in an Accident

Any driver involved in an accident involving property damage or serious injury must stop immediately and remain at the scene. The driver is also required to render aid, where appropriate, and exchange information with the other party. Required information includes the driver’s name, address and the registration number of the driver’s vehicle. The driver must show the other parties involved, and police officers, his or her driver’s license upon request. A driver involved in an accident needs to avoid blocking traffic, moving his or her car if necessary. In cases involving personal injury or death, the driver needs to contact the police as soon as possible and report the accident.

Traffic Control Devices – Drivers and Pedestrians

Drivers must comply with any traffic control device such as a stoplight or a stop sign. A driver may proceed through the intersection when the stoplight turns green. However, drivers must yield to other vehicles and pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or crosswalk, including vehicles turning left or right. Unless signs indicate otherwise or it is accompanied by a green arrow, when the light turns green pedestrians may proceed using a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

Drivers at a red light may turn right, unless there is a sign prohibiting such a turn. Drivers should always check for a “No Turn on Red” sign. Some “No Turn on Red Signs” always apply; some are limited based on the time of day. Remember, drivers must yield the right of way to any pedestrians in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Pedestrians at a red light are not supposed to enter the roadway unless a pedestrian light indicates they may. A flashing red signal is a stop signal and should be treated like a stop sign. A flashing yellow signal indicates that drivers may proceed through the intersection with caution. Drivers must also yield the right of way to pedestrian highway workers.

Rights and Responsibilities of Pedestrians.

If a roadway has a sidewalk, the law requires pedestrians to use it. Pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the roadway when a sidewalk is available. When there is no sidewalk available and a pedestrian is walking on the roadway, the pedestrian is required to walk on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway. Where there is no traffic control device, such as a stop sign or a traffic light, a driver is required to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Common sense and the law requires that pedestrians must not make sudden moves off of the curb, even into a crosswalk, when a driver will not have time to come to a safe stop. Pedestrians crossing a roadway outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk must yield to drivers on the roadway. No pedestrian can legally cross an intersection diagonally unless authorized by traffic control devices.

Additional General Rights and Responsibilities of a Driver.

Drivers must not drive at a speed unsafe for the conditions, including, but not limited to time of day, angle of the sun, weather, condition of the road, any curves in the road, approaching a railway crossing, etc. Drivers must also abide by speed limits set by official signage. In the state of Florida, drivers have an additional duty of care to watch out for children near schools, playgrounds and other areas where children tend to congregate.

Accidents Between Pedestrians and Cars – Who is Responsible and Who Pays?

This article has laid out some of the basic rules of the road for drivers and pedestrians. The simple answer to “who pays?” is: “Who broke the rules?” In the state of Florida, pedestrians and drivers are expected to exercise reasonable care. If that standard is broken and an accident occurs, a determination of fault must be made. Fault in Florida is not absolute; a percentage of fault will be broken down. What percentage of the fault can be attributed the driver and what percentage of the fault can be attributed to the pedestrian will be determined. It should be noted, if a driver sees a pedestrian “breaking the rules,” that is not permission to get in an accident. A driver must still exercise reasonable care and attempt to avoid an accident. If a pedestrian is being reckless and gets injured in an accident, it may be much harder for him or her to collect damages in a personal injury case in Florida.

What Do I Do Now?

If you have been involved as an injured pedestrian or injured driver in an accident, you will need a determined Florida auto accident injury claim attorney. Car and pedestrian accidents seem simple at first, but the way fault is determined in Florida actually makes these cases quite complicated. The right attorney will work hard to get you the damages you deserve. Don’t settle for less than the best representation. Every claim must be evaluated on a case by case basis. If you were injured in Florida, please contact the offices of Madalon Law. With offices throughout the state, we are sure to have a location near you. If you are unable to travel to one of our offices for whatever reason, we will come to you. We will not charge you to discuss your case. If you choose us to represent you, there will be no charge unless we win your case. We are excited to hear from you soon and want to get to work for you.

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Do Florida Halloween Horror Attractions Present Injury Risks?

It’s the annual season of Halloween horror nights at theme parks in Florida and across the U.S. These parks, which during the day tout family friendly fun, turn into nighttime scare-fests more suitable for adult customers who thrill to the terrors of zombies, witches and ghosts that run amok, dripping blood and rotting flesh.

Amusement parks are huge operations serving up entertainment to millions of visitors every year. Add in the thousands of employees and vendors on the premises during business hours and you essentially have a small city with all the usual problems any city may have, including accidents.

Park injuries commonly reported by visitors include slip-and-fall, food poisoning, and harm resulting from being jostled on rides or being hit by debris flung off high-velocity juggernauts like roller coasters.

With the chills and thrills of horror nights, visitors may be exposed to additional dangers. Each year parks vie to outdo competitor parks and their own previous terrifying attractions, creating labyrinthine mazes where maniacs stalk every twist and bend and haunted houses where chainsaw-wielding spooks chase visitors through the halls.

Here are just a couple of examples of what theme parks have in store for visitors this Halloween: Universal Studios in Orlando will offer an “Immersive Paranormal Virtual Reality Experience,” where guests will wear VR headgear while exploring a horrific experience like no other. Similarly, Halloween Haunt at California’s Great America will offer FEAR VR: 5150, set in a hospital where guests are strapped into wheelchairs while wearing VR headgear and at the mercy of lunatic staff members.

Are Parks Liable for Injuries?

Special seasonal events like horror nights can be priced as add-ons to a general admission ticket, and the per-person cost can easily exceed $100. At these rates, it’s not unreasonable to ask whether parks are legally responsible for guests who suffer trauma when they are lost or abandoned in their mazes or faint when surprised by a costumed character jumping out of the shadows.


Often to protect themselves from lawsuits theme parks will require that their guests sign waivers relieving the park of liability if a guest is injured while at the park. Many parks that host special events like Halloween nights will prepare waivers written specifically for hazards guests may encounter while participating in the event.

For the waiver to be legally valid it must:

Be clearly worded as to the intent to relieve the park of any and all legal liability, including liability for negligence;
Prominently display the terms and not conceal them in fine print;
Signed by the each individual guest, though an adult can sign a waiver for each minor child;

A waiver pertaining to an amusement such as a haunted house, also may include warnings for guests who have high blood pressure, heart problems, artificial limbs, pacemakers, or other physical limitations.

Even where a guest has signed a waiver, the park can be found liable when shown it negligently failed to:

Maintain equipment and all attractions in a safe condition and regularly inspect the equipment;
Properly train the ride operators;
Properly operate a ride or amusement;
Properly display safety requirement notices warning guests of the risks and dangers; or/and
Provide guests with correct safety instructions.

Guest Conduct

It’s not only park management that is required to act responsibly; guests, too, are expected to behave properly.

When you knowingly engage in an activity or event considered inherently dangerous, you are presumed to have assumed the risk associated with that activity. Arguably, when you participate in a horror event you acknowledge and accept the risks. But the risks must be those you reasonably could know about. It is not reasonable to expect you to know about a defective or poorly maintained mechanism in a ride or to know of special safety rules if you were not instructed on them.

If you ignore posted age, weight, or height requirements or deliberately lie about such limitations, the theme park may not be liable for your injuries if they result from your disregard of the rules. The park could still be held liable if the ride/attraction operator should have realized a guest was too young or too small or recognized an obvious disability that could expose you to greater risk.

Disclaimers on Park Tickets

Amusement parks usually print disclaimers on admission tickets relieving the park of all liability when you enter the park, extinguishing your right to sue the park. Courts tend to reject such disclaimers for being vague and all-inclusive and therefore unreasonable. Courts accept that most guests don’t read the tiny print on the back of their ticket, and a ticket holder who is a minor lacks the capacity to waive legal rights merely by virtue of redeeming the ticket.

Know the Dangers and Your Responsibilities

To protect yourself and your family, before buying tickets and before arriving at the theme park you should learn what you can about the potential hazards and possible age and physical restrictions. Go to the website of the park you plan to visit. You will find in-depth information on ticket price, passes, add-ons and more.

Look for warnings and disclaimers, which may limit the age of guests permitted to attend horror nights and require minors under a certain age be accompanied by an adult. Typically, parks will not impose an age limit on admission to their horror show but will recommend that persons under 13 or other age not participate.

If the park provides a copy of its waiver through its website, you should print out a copy and read it carefully. Some parks my demand that your party arrive 30-45 minutes early so that you can undergo safety preparation of some kind. You also can visit www.saferparks.org to learn tips for making your trip to a park safe and enjoyable.

If you are injured during a visit to a theme park, our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys can help. Call our offices today for a free case consultation. At Madalon Law, our Fort Lauderdale attorneys will always put your needs first.

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Florida Nursing Home Liability When Elderly Patients Are Injured

Americans are living longer lives, but often the later years are spent in declining health. Family members are living farther apart and working longer hours. Who is going to care for the seniors who may need years of medical care, daily therapy, and constant supervision? Increasingly, that responsibility is falling to nursing homes and other facilities to provide care for the geriatric populace.

As of 2014 about 1.7 million elderly people live in nursing homes. In Florida, a popular retirement destination, more than 20 percent of the population is aged 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with only about 84,000 total available nursing home beds.

Though nationally only five percent of the elderly population lives in nursing homes, 20 percent of the falls and accidents the elderly experience occur in nursing facilities.

Nursing homes provide skilled care and assistance, including dental and mental health services, and restorative care, and treat dementia, and manage pain. Even at the highest quality homes, there is plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong and an elderly patient could be harmed through negligence or abuse or simply by an unpreventable accident.

Statistics indicate injuries to nursing home patients occur at an alarming rate:

25 percent of nursing homes are cited for causing death or serious injury
At least 5,000 deaths each year are due to nursing home injuries and negligence
10 percent of nursing home residents suffer from bedsores
Nursing home residents fall at twice the rate of other elderly populations

Look for Signs of Ill Treatment

While busy, overstressed family members can shift the daily care of an elderly relative to a nursing home and its staff, the burden remains with friends and family to regularly visit the home and monitor the overall well-being, safety, and treatment of the relative residing there. Patients who are able to walk around can slip and fall or wander away from the facility and encounter dangers. Patients whose condition restricts them to their beds can suffer bedsores and infections.

Look for these signs, which may indicate deliberate mistreatment or negligence:

Severe infections;
Bedsores in extreme stage of development;
Unexplained bruises, cuts, welts or wounds;
Marks of old injuries at differing stages of healing;
Asphyxiation; and
Head injuries or fractures.

Nursing Home Regulations

The federal Nursing Home Reform Act requires nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid to provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.
Under federal nursing home regulations, nursing homes must:

Maintain an adequate nurse-to-patient ratio;
Conduct a comprehensive assessment of all residents’ capabilities;
Develop a unique care plan for every resident;
Maintain the residents’ ability to do basic health basics, such as bathe and eat;
Take measures to prevent against the development of bedsores;
Provide all necessary treatments;
Supervise residents and take measures to prevent accidents;
Take measures to prevent against medication errors;
Promote residents’ quality of life; and
Maintain records in regards to each resident.

Florida law recognizes that nursing home residents are entitled to basic rights, including the right to:

Be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness;
Be free from any form of physical, mental, emotional, or financial abuse;
Select a pharmacy and physician;
Refuse suggested treatment and take part in health care planning;
Receive written and oral information regarding medical and nursing services;
Participate in various religious, social, and community activities;
Maintain private communication, including uncensored personal mail;
Make and receive private, unmonitored phone calls; and
Present grievances or recommendations without fear of repercussions.

Suing a Nursing Home for Neglect, Abuse

In September the federal Health and Human Services Department announced a new rule that liberates injured parties from binding arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts, which required patients and families to settle any dispute in arbitration rather than through the court system. Now patients or their family can sue the nursing home owner, management, and individual employees if they are injured or killed.

In Florida, the law enables nursing home residents to file civil action lawsuits when their rights are violated. Where there has been nursing home abuse that caused the death of a resident, the resident’s family is entitled to sue for wrongful death claim.

In such a lawsuit the injured resident would have to establish:

The nursing home owed a duty to the nursing home resident;
The home breached or violated the legal duty; and
As a result of the breach of duty, the resident suffered loss, injury, damage, or death

Causes of Action

There are several kinds of accidents, intentional acts, and failures to act that can open a nursing home or other care facility to liability. Here are a few examples:

Failure to keep the premises reasonably safe and free of hazards;
Failure to prevent one resident from attacking another;
Negligent hiring of an employee who neglects, abuses, or intentionally harms a patient;
Failure to properly train and supervise employees;
Negligent supervision of residents who fall or otherwise injure themselves;
Failure to maintain adequate health, safety, and cleanliness policies; and
Failure to provide adequate medical treatment.

If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered abusive treatment as a nursing home resident, call us for a free consultation with the elder abuse and skilled nursing home neglect attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale at Madalon Law. The attorneys at Madalon Law are experienced in elder abuse law and will work hard to protect your rights.

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Social Media Evidence in Florida Injury Cases

Social media has become an omnipresent factor in the lives of most people. The profiles we set up on websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and others serve as our face to the world. We share images of and commentary on our daily lives.

While these social sites were created to facilitate communication between family, friends, and colleagues in a friendly, respectful way, we know from personal experience that socially shared information can be used for other purposes. Online profiles can be used as forums to bully or stalk a person. Prospective employers peruse user profiles for insight into a job applicant’s habits and behavior. And increasingly, prosecutors and defense and plaintiff’s attorneys can present images and impressions gleaned from a user’s social media profiles as evidence in criminal and civil cases.

A potent example of this is the Casey Anthony criminal case. Casey Anthony is a young Florida woman who in 2008 was accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter. Though much of the case against Ms. Anthony was circumstantial, after photos of her dancing, drinking and partying at bars just days after her child disappeared were released through the news media, public animus toward her grew and many people became convinced of her guilt. Ms. Anthony was acquitted of the charges but lives in hidden seclusion as public hostility about her continues.

Evidence collected from social media also can be used in personal injury cases not only to show physical fitness contrary to alleged injuries, but also to prove that party’s injuries may be the result of bad habits or a reckless lifestyle.

Social media users have learned to protect their information by carefully applying privacy settings and being discerning about whom they accept as connections and circumspect about photos and details they post about themselves. As prudent as these precautions may be, they may not prevent lawyers from gaining access to profiles and using what they find as evidence in court.

Social Media as Evidence

In 2016, as much as 78 percent of Americans have a social media profile. Advertisers, salespeople, and employers would think themselves careless were they to ignore the enticing availability of that vast collection of personal lifestyle details when deciding which customers to target or which candidate to hire.

Similarly, a lawyer who does not explore the bounty that social media presents may be viewed as having failed to perform due diligence in representing his or her client.

You may consider your profile private, but the courts don’t agree and frequently rule that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy online. “Private” is not considered to be the same as “not public.” Once you share content—even with a select group of people—it is no longer private and becomes available for use in a legal case.

What Is Admissible?

Depending on the case and the evidential relevance, anything posted to social media can be presented in a court case, including photos, comments, posts, tags, birthdates, nicknames, and locations. The party presenting the evidence must establish authenticity and comply with hearsay rules.

The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure provide guidelines pertaining to the discoverability of electronically stored information. The rules and Florida courts have confirmed that social media evidence is discoverable, but rules on how to determine the admissibility of social media evidence are not settled.

Like other evidence, items taken from social media are subject to interpretation, which can limit their effectiveness or result in their being ruled inadmissible. For example, a photo posted to a “wall” could have been cropped or otherwise modified by photo editing software, creating an image that may present a skewed or downright false impression of the person depicted. Comments taken literally may have been intended as jokes or posted by someone with an axe to grind.

How Can the Evidence Be Used

Social media evidence can be presented against or in behalf of a party to a lawsuit. But individuals are much more likely to be indiscreet about what they present on their profiles than, say, a business or other professional entity that has a team of lawyers and media experts to advise it on how best to preserve its online image and reputation.

In personal injury lawsuits, such as a slip-and-fall case brought against a chain of grocery stores, it is more probable that evidence from social media will be brought to bear against an injured plaintiff than the behemoth corporate defendant.

The defense in a personal injury case can submit online photos of the plaintiff playing touch football with a group of friends despite claiming debilitating injuries from a slip-and-fall; or present posted comments from friends wishing a plaintiff a speedy recovery from a similar injury that predates the injury alleged in the lawsuit.

Overall impressions of a plaintiff’s lifestyle as presented online can also be allowed. A timeline of photos showing the plaintiff with an ever-present drink in hand could be damaging even without allegations or proof of drunkenness.

How Social Media Evidence Is Authenticated

Authentication is the process of proving that something, usually a document, is genuine or true. Authenticating evidence gathered from social media presents particular problems since such evidence is electronically created, which puts distance between the creator and disrupts the chain of custody. Further, electronic documents are vulnerable to parody and deceptive presentation by users with malicious intent.

Questions that must be answered to establish authenticity include:

Whether the evidence is actually taken from the social media site at issue
How was the evidence collected?
Where was the evidence collected?
What kinds of evidence were collected?
Whether the evidence appeared on the website and accurately reflects what appeared on the website
Can it be shown that the evidence can was generated by the source alleged by the party presenting the evidence
Who handled the evidence before it was collected?
When was the evidence collected?

Hearsay or Prejudiced Evidence

For social media evidence to be admitted in a case, it also must pass tests for hearsay and prejudice.

Hearsay is a statement that someone does not make while testifying at a trial or hearing and is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

Social media evidence can be excluded if it is found to be more prejudicial than probative, meaning the evidence will more unfairly bias the case against a party than present relevant evidence of substantive value to the case.

Seek Legal Advice Today

If you are involved in a personal injury claim and fear that your social media presence could be detrimental to your case, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys at Madalon Law today. We can advise you on on things related to your claim, including the use of social media and more. Reach us today for your free consultation!

Boating Accidents Lawyer Miami FL

Suing for Boat Accident Injuries in Florida

Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard gathers statistics on recreational boating accident reports filed by boat operators. Every state submits accident report data to the U.S. Coast Guard. According to statistics compiled annually by the Coast Guard, in 2015 recreational boating caused:

4,158 accidents;
626 deaths;
2,613 injuries; and
Approximately $42 million dollars in property damage.

The top five factors contributing to boating accidents were:

Inattentive boat operators;
Inexperienced operators;
Improper lookout;
Machinery failure; and
Excessive speed.

Other major causes of boat accidents include:

Overloading or improper loading;
Man overboard;
Ignoring weather;
Unsafe fuel practices;
Passenger/skier behavior;
Reckless operation;
Failure to yield;
Congested waters;
Hazardous waters;
Alcohol use; and
Carbon monoxide poisoning.

Accidents can and often do cause serious injuries. When someone is injured he or she may need to sue the boat owner and/or insurance company to recover medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses incurred while recuperating from an accident.

Boating legal requirements

In many states children as young as 12 are legally permitted to operate personal watercraft. The type of vessel and magnitude of its power may be limited for minors, but the fact remains that people considered too young to operate a motor vehicle on land are allowed to operated motorized watercraft.

The great majority of states have laws requiring that boat operators attend a safety course before being certified and being granted a license to operate watercraft. Also, most states and the federal government require that boat accident be reported.

Florida law mandates that a person convicted of a criminal violation or a non-criminal infraction resulting in a boating accident or two non-criminal infractions within a 12-month period must successfully complete education requirements. Until the requirements are met, the person is prohibited from operating a boat. Any violation of the law can result in a conviction a second degree misdemeanor.

Accidents Must Be Reported

Federal law requires the operator or owner to file a boating accident report with the state reporting authority when an occurrence involving a boat or its equipment results in:

A person’s death;
A person disappearance from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury;
A person’s injury that requires more medical treatment than first aid;
Damage to vessels and other property totaling $2,000 or more; and
The destruction of the boat.

Florida accident reporting laws require that a boat operator involved in an accident report the accident to either Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the sheriff of the county where the accident occurred, or the police department of the municipality in which the accident occurred when the accident causes:

A death or disappearance of a person;
An injury causing a person to require medical attention beyond first aid; or
Damage to the vessel and other property of $2,000 or more.

An operator involved in a boating accident must:

Stop his or her boat immediately at the scene of the accident;
Give assistance to anyone injured in the accident unless the action would endanger his or her own vessel, crew, or passengers; and
Give in writing his or her name, address, and identifying number of his or her boat to the other boat’s operator and/or owner of damaged property.

Failure to report an accident and failure to render aid are both criminal offenses.

Also, the law may impose a time period as short as 24 to 48 hours after an accident during which a report must be filed with authorities, particularly where the accident involves:

Disappearance of a person; or/and
Serious injury.

In Florida a boating accident report must be filed within 10 days of the accident–within 48 hours if death occurs or someone’s injuries are severe enough to necessitate medical treatment beyond first aid.

Reports generally require the name of the boat operator and details about the accident, including location where the accident happened, names and contact information on all passengers, losses such as injuries, loss of life, and property damages. The operator may have to summarize the facts of the incident, including date, time, place, people involved, and a description of the accident.

Leaving the Scene of a Boat Accident

Some states are enacting or strengthening boating laws to require that an operator involved in an accident stay at the scene and not leave, bringing the seriousness of and punishment for the offence up to par with leaving the scene of an auto accident.

The law in Florida requires that when a boat operator has been involved in an accident resulting in serious injury to or the death of a person, the operator must stop the vessel at the scene of the accident and remain there until medical care and/or law enforcement officials arrive.

Possible Liability

An operator involved in a boat accident may be charged with a crime such as manslaughter. The state may bring criminal charges if the operator was under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance, if he or she operated the boat recklessly or negligently. Criminal charges can result in large fines and/or jail time if the operator is convicted.

Also, the operator could face civil liability and be found liable for medical expenses, property damages, and other losses.
Was There Negligence?
In general, personal injury law will be applied in boat accident cases. Personal injury law recognizes that where a person owes another person a degree of care and has been negligent in maintaining that standard of care, the person may be liable when the other person suffers injury.

Accident law, or personal injury law, does not require that a person intend to injure the other person. The law asks:

Did the person owe a legal duty of care to the injured party?
Did the person fail to fulfill that legal duty through act or omission?
Did the person cause an accident?
Was someone injured or harmed in the accident?

Duty of Care

With the question of negligence, the standard of care is whether the parties acted reasonably under the circumstances. Did the boat operator, for instance, make sure to equip the boat with an adequate number of safety vests? Did the owner operate the boat at a reasonable speed?

The standard is subjective, which may account for the great differences in personal injury case judgments. The jury must take into account and weigh all the variables legally presented in the case and decide whether, in the example given, the host is solely responsible, the injured party is to blame, or the responsibility should be apportioned between the two parties, depending on each person’s degree of culpability.


Compensatory and punitive damages can be awarded in personal injury accident cases. Just as fault may be apportioned between the parties, so may the damage award.

If you have been injured in a boat accident, take the time to schedule a free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Madalon Law. We are dedicated personal injury attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale who know how to put forward the best case for you. We are based in Fort Lauderdale and serve clients throughout Florida. Contact us today!

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Filing Suit for Birth Injuries in Florida

One of the most joyful life events is the birth of a child. Happy parents clutch their newborns and eagerly, counting their fingers and toes, making sure all is well and intact. But sometimes a problem occurs during the delivery and the child is harmed as a result of accident or negligence. The parents are devastated and seek answers to their questions about how the injuries to their baby could have occurred and who’s responsible.

Birth injuries occur when the tissues and organs of a newly delivered child are damaged during childbirth, often caused by physical pressure or trauma. Also, they can happen as a result of improper prenatal care. The injuries can have long-term effects on the child’s cognitive ability. Negligent or incorrect medical care during childbirth may cause a birth injury. During birth, an infant can sustain broken bones, brain damage, or nerve damage.

Medical doctors are not the only health care providers who can cause or contribute to a birth injury. Nurses, health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and other health care services also can be liable.

Common birth injuries include:

Cerebral palsy: A condition caused by brain damage that occurs while a child’s brain is still developing, before birth, during birth, or immediately after birth.
Erb’s Palsy and other nerve injuries: Erb’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus marked by the nerves of the upper arm being affected, usually after a birth injury. Loss of feeling and weakness in the arm are common symptoms of Erb’s palsy.
Brain injuries.
Spinal injuries.
Broken bones.
Complications associated with shoulder dystocia, which occurs when an infant’s head and shoulders get trapped behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. Complications from this injury can be severe. The baby may experience a collarbone fracture, difficulties when breathing, a brachial plexus fracture, or death.
Bruising and forceps marks.
Subconjunctival hemorrhage.
Caput succedaneum.
Facial paralysis.
Fractured bones.

Birth injuries can be the result of circumstances such as breech or otherwise difficult delivery, the size of the infant, and the narrowness of the mother’s pelvis. But the following medical errors also can contribute to the incidence of injury:

Failing to foresee birth complications when the baby is large or the mother has health issues;
Not ordering cesarean section when medically necessary;
Misusing forceps or a vacuum extractor;
Improperly using Pitocin to induce or accelerate up labor;
Failing to properly stem bleeding;
Failing to correct a trapped umbilical cord; and
Failure to respond irregularities in the fetal heartbeat or other signs of distress.

Doctor, Nurse Malpractice

Parents of a child who is injured during birth due to medical error or negligence can file a medical malpractice lawsuit again the physician, medical facility, and staff. Doctors commit malpractice when they cause injury to a patient through negligence. Malpractice can occur in the doctor’s office during consultation, examination, and treatment, or in the surgery.

Common forms of medical malpractice include:

Misdiagnosis of the patient’s condition;
Prescription error – the doctor prescribes the wrong medication or fails to advise the patient of the risks or fails to consider possible drug interactions; and
Damage or injury during surgery.

Doctors are expected to treat patients with a certain standard of care. If treatment fails to meet the standard, the doctor may be liable and have to compensate a patient.

Like doctors, nurses are responsible to their patients and must exercise a standard of care to ensure patients are treated properly and without injury.

Qualified nurses are in high demand today, and the need exceeds the supply. Nurses are required to work long shifts and work many days before getting time off. Also, medical facilities may have to hire nurses with less training and experience because their budgets only can afford these nurses’ lower wages.

As a result, the incidence of nurse malpractice is on the rise. The most common areas of nurse malpractice are failure to:

Minister the correct drug or dosage;
Properly supervise a patient;
Properly monitor a patient’s condition;
Follow the doctor’s orders; and
Use certain medical procedures.

Filing a Lawsuit

If your baby was injured as a result of negligence by your doctor, nurse, hospital or other service provider, contact an attorney soon. State laws impose a limited period during which you can make a claim for your injuries. These statute of limitations typically run one to three years from either the date of the injury or the date when the injury should have been discovered.

Before filing a claim for birth injuries, consult with a lawyer to ensure that you have a viable case. Ask whether:

You had an established doctor/patient relationship established when the injury took place – if the physician delivered your baby, then a doctor/patient relationship was established;
The doctor was medically negligent while treating you; and
The negligence resulted in the birth injuries

Establishing medical malpractice involves proving complex medical and legal issues, which likely will require the consultation and testimony of expert witnesses. An attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases can arrange for expert evaluation of your condition and testimony on your behalf.

Florida Statute of Limitations

In Florida, the statute of limitations for birth injury cases is two years from the time of the injury or within two years of the time the injury reasonably should have been discovered. At the utmost, you must file your birth injury lawsuit within four years of the injury no matter the circumstances. A lawsuit for infant wrongful death must be filed within two years of the date of death.

If the lawsuit is successful, you may be awarded compensatory damages that include payment of all medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, loss of a normal life and loss of future earnings.

An attorney can work with you to investigate the circumstances of your case and help you document the injuries and their effects. A lawyer can ensure your child receives the competent medical attention he or she needs.

If your baby has suffered birth injuries, call us today for a free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Madalon Law. The attorneys at Madalon Law are experienced Ft. Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys who handle birth injury compensation claims and will put forth the best case for you. We are based in Fort Lauderdale and serve clients throughout Florida.