Articles Tagged with “personal injury”

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Almost 31,000 people end up in the emergency room from injuries suffered at amusement parks and theme parks. Many are minor, some are catastrophic.  But one thing they have in common…no federal regulation.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission only oversees mobile amusements such as carnivals.  That means that fixed-site or permanent amusements (like Disney, Six Flags, Busch Gardens, Universal) are inspected or regulated by the states, if they so choose.  And in any manner the state chooses.

With the pull back of safety regulations by the government, it is expected that there will be more incidents causing more injuries.  Summer is the most active time at amusement parks, filled with out-of-school children and vacationers trying to take in some fun.  Many states regulate and inspect amusement parks, but at least six (Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah) have no regulation at all. And in one case in Texas, operator Six Flags was in charge of investigating its own accident which caused the death of a woman.

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A recent spate of zip line deaths has renewed calls for a review of safety procedures and operational issues related to zip line recreation.

Yesterday a 55 year-old woman was killed from blunt force injuries sustained while zip lining in Sundance, Utah. This is just the latest in a long list of zip line incidents causing serious injury and death. Recently a 56 year-old woman was killed in Puerto Rico when the safety equipment failed while she was zip lining. Other tragedies include children who have fallen to their deaths while zip lining at camp.

These do not include the amateur and backyard zip lines created by many who see professional lines and attempt to re-create their own at home. Children are often the most creative with makeshift zip lines.

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Last Wednesday, 12 people were stranded atop Universal Orlando’s Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster after a “tech glitch” caused the ride to come to a halt. The park patrons were stalled in a vertical position for nearly three hours while the situation was resolved and Orlando firefighters were called in to rescue them. Luckily, no passenger was seriously injured. One person was taken to the hospital after complaining of neck pain.

This “tech glitch” was not the first for the 17-story-tall ride. At its inception, construction delays put off the grand opening of the ride for two months, and at one point, crews had to replace the mechanism responsible for preventing the coaster from sliding backward during its initial ascent up a 90-degree lift hill. Just over a year later, the ride was shut down for a month to perform “undisclosed maintenance” after warnings from the rides’ manufacturer about potential structural flaws with holding the trains together. Just this past summer, Universal shut down the ride a third time to perform inspections after a minor malfunction.

Additionally, the ride closed again briefly on Thursday afternoon for undisclosed reasons, though Universal claims the shutdown was unrelated to Wednesday’s issue.

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Throughout the past 16 months, case after case concerning cruise ship safety has been brought to public attention. Finally, lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate announced legislation on Tuesday that would require information about reported crimes to be made available to the public. To appease the courts and the public, the three largest cruise lines, all based in Miami, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line, have voluntarily agreed to publish these reports.

These reports will include categories required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, concerning sexual assault, theft greater than $10,000, tampering with the vessel, assault with serious injuries, kidnapping, missing U.S. nationals, and suspicious death or homicide. The crime reports are a major step forward for the credibility of cruise lines and will allow the public to make educated decisions when choosing their vacation vessel.

Personal injury attorney John Leighton has a passion for representing individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of others, and has had a front row view of many of the cruise catastrophes that have occurred. Mr. Leighton has won several cases regarding negligence on cruises, including one in which a passenger was struck when a mishandled mooring line snapped and crashed through a window, causing injuries that the cruise line denied. He has also obtained recoveries for passengers who have been injured in falls, sexual assaults and shore excursions gone awry. His experience in representing seriously injured vacationers has resulted in his being named a Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer for several years in a row.

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A marine toxicologist and Exxon Valdez survivor reports in The Huffington Post that beach goers in four Gulf states are suffering skin rashes, blisters, welts, sore throats, ear bleeds and bronchitis after being in the ocean. The culprit? Dispersed oil – tiny bubbles of oil encased in chemical dispersants in the water column – and they’re invisible. Overexposure to crude oil through inhalation and skin contact are known to create these symptoms.

Worse — not only are small children at risk of breathing a higher dose of contaminants per body weight than adults, but children, pregnant women, people with compromised or stressed immune systems like cancer survivors and asthma sufferers, and African Americans are more at risk from oil and chemical exposure – the latter because they are prone to sickle cell anemia, reports the toxicologist.

Long-term effects of exposure to the chemical dispersants being used on the BP oil spill are yet to be seen but, as reported in The Tampa Tribune, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention assert that long-term exposure can cause central nervous system problems or damage to the kidneys or liver.

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Cruise ship passageway.jpgCruise lines must now report to the FBI all crimes aboard cruise ships AND must take actions to protect the crime victims. The new legislation requiring these measures was passed in Congress last month. Once it is signed by President Obama, it will enforce security measures requiring ships to install peep holes on cabin doors and make further changes affecting rail heights, warning devices, and other security measures. Cruise lines will also be required to provide shipboard medical care for victims of sexual assault and medical staff that knows how to collect forensic evidence, reports USA Today.

Inadequate premises security is too often the culprit in personal injury cases that occur in tourist destinations, where vacationers naturally let their guard down to relax and ‘get away from it all.’ Inadequate security and premises liability lawsuits usually involve criminal assaults and violent crime due to negligent security, insufficient lighting, inadequate security equipment, inadequate security personnel, or other causes. The law governing these cases is derived from the general principle that those who own or possess property have a duty to protect users from accidental, negligent, and intentional acts of third parties.

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The damages to individuals and businesses caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are no doubt going to be many and far-reaching. The Tampa Tribune reported on June 17 that more than 200 lawsuits had already been filed in federal courts across the Gulf Coast of Florida, for losses and damages related to the spill. Single-plaintiff and class-action lawsuits are being filed daily by people and businesses suffering the effects, some on behalf of scuba shops, hotels, restaurants and tourism-related retailers. With Florida’s economy heavily dependent on tourism and the draw of its coastal areas, the filings are sure to continue.

© Cheryl Casey |

Welcome to Pensacola - Stay out of the waterContamination issues are leaking into the commercial fishing industry, and could end up on someone’s dinner plate while vacationing in the Sunshine State. The FDA reports that it is monitoring fish and shellfish safety, testing for contamination, and specifically targeting oysters, crabs and shrimp, since they could retain contaminants longer than finfish. The FDA’s newly established Incident Management Group is overseeing and coordinating issues related to the oil spill, and has already closed some fisheries as a precautionary measure.

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Slip and fall warning sign.jpgA Florida law takes effect July 1 that requires slip-and-fall plaintiffs to prove that the business knew or should have known about the substance that caused the fall and failed to clean it up. Prior to this law, plaintiffs only had to prove that an ‘out-of-place’ substance caused the injury.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that a staff analysis of the bill in the House of Representatives predicted that the change would give businesses an advantage, as it requires an extra burden of proof on the plaintiff.

But lawsuits are not likely to decline as a result. Businesses will continue to pay out money long before a jury is involved. Settlements are increasingly common, particularly in slip-and-fall cases where a business cannot prove it took appropriate precautions to prevent an accident.