Articles Tagged with “key west”

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Diver down flag

Diver down flag – Courtesy of diveasia.com

Recently, Leesfield Scolaro represented the family of a young child who was fatally injured while snorkeling by the propellers of a boat off of Cow Key Channel, in Key West, Florida.  Last weekend, a very similar incident took place, this time near Edward B. Knight Pier, formerly named White Street Pier.  While boating accidents involving swimmers / divers are statistically down, it remains one of the top 3 concerns in Florida according to the latest boating accident statistics released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (“FWC”).

In this latest tragedy, 29 year old David Corlew was spearfishing approximately 200 yards off the pier with fellow spearfisherman.  At around 8:30 a.m., a a twin-engine 32-foot commercial charter Sea Vee vessel operated by Robert Householder struck David Corlew, who was displaying a diver-down flag as required by Florida Law, which caused him to sustain traumatic leg injuries.

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February 18, 2010- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) employee Elizabeth Overstreet was driving a FWCC truck northbound on U.S. Highway 1 near Marathon, Florida, while towing a trailer and an enormous 31-foot fishing boat. Overstreet was driving at the posted speed limit of 55 mph when she realized that the trailer and boat she was towing began to fishtail from side to side. Overstreet suddenly lost all control of the trailer and boat, which caused the FWCC truck to jackknife directly into oncoming traffic in the middle of the open freeway.

At that time, Ruth was driving her van in the southbound lane with a friend to visit friends and family in Big Pine Key. Suddenly, and without warning, Ruth noticed the FWCC truck barreling directly into her only path on the freeway, and she immediately made a defense maneuver in a desperate attempt to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, there was no escaping the FWCC truck, which ultimately plowed directly into Ruth Ann’s van. The tragic result was a massive head-on collision and explosion with two fatalities and catastrophic injuries to the survivors.

S-4-7 FWC 2-1010 014_resize.jpgRuth miraculously survived the collision and ensuing explosion, but her nightmare had just begun. At 5:26 pm, she was loaded onto a stretcher for emergency airlift to Jackson Memorial Trauma unit with nine broken bones and bleeding profusely from numerous lacerations on her face. During this helicopter flight to the trauma unit, Ruth was forced to ponder the gruesome images of her beloved friend’s mangled body which remained lifeless in Ruth’s van.

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Yesterday, the annual Fantasy Fest was drawing to a close, but countless visitors and locals will not forget several terrible accidents which caused Overseas Highway to be shutdown for several hours by police.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Becky Herrin told the Sun-Sentinel that they “expect heavy traffic, possibly with a bottleneck in Islamorada that sometimes stretches to the Long Key Bridge. Our roads can only hold so many cars. And Fantasy Fest pretty much maxes out our traffic.”

accident_marathon.jpgDuring the last weekend of the festivities in Key West, Florida Highway Patrol and numerous Sheriff’s Deputies responded to more than 21 motor vehicle accidents. One of them involved the collision of a motorcycle with another car at mile marker 29.5 in Big Pine Key. One of the two people on the motorcycle was severely injured and rushed to Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon where he was pronounced dead. The second occupant was flown to Miami by helicopter for further medical treatment.

Several hours earlier, two vehicles collided at mile marker 41 on the seven-mile bridge, which required the emergency rescue and transport to three people to Fishermen’s Hospital.

Over the years, the road to and from Key West has seen thousands of car accidents, with many resulting in fatalities. The causes for these crashes are often times attributed to speeding, alcohol, or texting. A study has revealed that between 2006 and 2010, Monroe County averaged 1,329 car accidents every year. Also, in the last 34 years, ending in 2009, the number of fatal car accidents throughout the county of Monroe was drastically higher than the average for the rest of the state of Florida. In the past ten years, there have been more than 220 fatal accidents in Monroe County.

Leesfield Scolaro have established their offices in Key West over three decades ago and have been a staple in the personal injury landscape in Key West and throughout the Florida Keys.
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In its most recent issue, the Key West Citizen inserted a photograph of the driver of a scooter laying in the middle of the road, on a stretcher, receiving emergent care from Key West firefighters.

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That scene is all too common in Key West and repeats itself several times a day throughout the entire Florida Keys. Over the years, fatal and catastrophic accidents involving people driving scooters and pedestrians have remained almost double the average for the rest of the State of Florida. In fact, between 1992 and 2006, the number of fatal accidents to pedestrians alone is almost twice as high as for the rest of Florida (7.7 per 100,000 in Monroe County; 4.3 per 100,000 in Florida)

Every year, millions of tourists visit the Florida Keys. While some of them are cruise passengers and can only stay less than a day, most tourists will spend an average of 3 days in and around Key West. The preferred mode of transportation is to rent a scooter and ride the Key West streets while enjoying the scenery. Scooters are fun to ride, cheaper than renting a car, and ideal for the streets of Key West. As fun as it sounds, riding a scooter or a moped is more dangerous than it seems, in Key West in particular.

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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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