Articles Posted in Catastrophic Injury

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In Florida, a property owner who hires a person to work on the property owes a positive duty to said person to provide them with reasonably safe instrumentalities and a safe place to work. An employer has a duty to use ordinary care and diligence to keep the workplace safe, taking into consideration the exigency of the circumstances and the character of the work to be done.

DSC_6502_resize.jpgIn 2010, our client, John Doe (“JD”), was employed and working as a handyman on a private property in Key West, Florida. Part of JD’s job was to climb up a ladder and trim trees on the private property. In ordering so, under Florida law, the property owner had the duty to provide JD with everything necessary to do the job safely, but he failed to do so.

When JD was sent up the ladder to cut the branches of a large tree, the property owner failed to secure the ladder, either by hiring someone to help steady the ladder or providing a ladder stabilizer to assure the safety of JD. Instead, the ladder slipped while our client was cutting the tree and JD fell on his neck from 15 feet. Our client is now a paraplegic. At age 52, he cannot move his legs, and will never be able to walk or work again for the rest of his life. He has no control over his bowel and bladder. He has no sensation below his chest.

After litigating this matter for over a year, Thomas Scolaro and our team of Florida Personal Injury Lawyers reached a multi-million dollar recovery on behalf of our client. Today, JD lives at home in Key West where he is financially able to afford medical care and assistance on a daily basis, which he will need for the rest of his life.

In JD’s case, the property owner was the responsible party and ultimately settled out of court, but most ladder-related accidents are not attributable to the negligence of a third-party. A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has shown that between 1990 and 2005, more than 2.1 million individuals were treated in U.S. emergency departments for ladder-related injuries. This is the first U.S. study to use national data to comprehensively examine non-fatal ladder-related injuries.
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Florida Statute 316.075 is very clear: (c)(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown. The law in Florida is crystal clear, and it applies uniformly to all vehicles, with the exception of emergency vehicles, such as an ambulance, a police car or a firetruck, provided that they are using their emergency lights and sirens.

Citizen accident photo.jpgOn a winter night in Key West, Stuart Kemp was riding his scooter in the streets of Key West. He approached an intersection, and having the green light, he proceeded to cross the intersection. That is when, in a split second, a vehicle coming out of nowhere hit him on the side, and Stuart was thrown into a cement wall, seriously injured. The vehicle that hit him was an ambulance.

At trial, the driver of the ambulance claimed that he was on an emergency transport and therefore had the right of way. The evidence however showed that the driver did not have his emergency lights turned on, nor his emergency siren sounding. Without warning to the public of an emergency, Stuart kemp had no reason to believe that a speeding ambulance was going to run a red light, let alone crash into him. After a nine-day trial, both the ambulance driver, who failed to turn on the vehicle’s emergency lights and siren, and the ambulance company were found negligent in the incident. The plaintiff, who was passing through a green light, was not at fault in the accident, the jury decided, while unanimously awarding a $2.1 million verdict to the plaintiff after three hours of deliberation.

As a result of this catastrophic collision, Stuart Kemp was permanently injured and disfigured. “When he was hit, his face went into the side of the wall. It broke all the bones in the side of his face,” said Ira Leesfield, Stuart Kemp’s attorney. The accident knocked out his front teeth and gums, and also fractured Kemp’s back in three places, crushing 75 percent of one vertebrae, Leesfield said. Stuart Kemp was airlifted to Jackson Memorial hospital in Miami where he stayed for 12 days. Key West rallied around Kemp, who is an owner of Nine One Five on Duval Street, and raised money for his $123,053 in medical expenses.

Senior Managing Partner Ira Leesfield, and Partners Tom Scolaro and Patricia Kennedy represented Mr. Kemp who can now obtain the medical treatment necessary to restore his back and face.
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