Articles Posted in Sports Injuries

The tourism industry makes up a significant part of Florida’s economy, producing hundreds of thousands of full and part-time jobs for workers in our state. Additionally, the money spent by tourists supports other areas of the economy and contributes to the state budget through tax revenue. The tourism economy can be fickle, however, as weather events or other unexpected factors can eliminate tourism-based income streams with little warning. Tourism-related businesses may be tempted to continue operating, even if the weather has made the activity unsafe. A Florida boat captain was recently charged with criminal manslaughter after a parasailer was killed in a weather-related accident that occurred while he was captaining the boat.

According to a recently published local news report discussing the developments in the case, the defendant was operating a parasailing business in the Florida Keys, and he was hired to captain his boat for a tandem parasailing excursion for a woman and her child. According to the report, the weather appeared ominous and questionable before the excursion, and the family suggested to the captain that they could wait to go parasailing another day. The defendant ensured the family that it was safe to proceed, and the parasailing commenced. During the excursion, witnesses stated that the weather quickly deteriorated and winds picked up to dangerous speeds. Attempting to alleviate the danger, the defendant cut the line connecting the parasailers to his boat, which sent the parasailers careening into a bridge. The mother was injured in the collision and ultimately drowned in the water before a rescue could be completed. The child survived the accident with moderate injuries.

According to the article, prosecutors chose to charge the captain with criminal manslaughter because his conduct in proceeding with the trip despite the ominous weather was reckless. Furthermore, prosecutors claim that the defendant’s decision to cut the line was “gross and flagrant,” and that a safer course of action should have been taken. Manslaughter is a serious felony in Florida, and the defendant may be looking at 20 or more years in prison if he is convicted of the crime.

Water sports and other outdoor recreational activities play a significant role in Florida’s economy and help make our state desirable for tourists and locals alike. Many water sports, especially the motorized type, carry risks inherent to the sport itself. Consumers seeking to participate in a sporting activity facilitated by a private company are usually required to agree to a liability waiver to disclaim the company from legal liability in the event a customer is injured or killed while participating in the activity. An Illinois woman recently died in an accident that occurred on a parasailing excursion that was organized by a Florida company.

According to the facts discussed in a local news report covering the tragedy, the woman and her two sons decided to go parasailing on Memorial Day near Pigeon Key with the company Lighthouse Parasail Inc., based out of Marathon, FL. Parasailing is an activity where one or more people are attached to a parachute, which is tethered to a boat. As the boat accelerates, the parachute fills with air, and the parasailers fly above the water, similar to a large kite being flown from a moving boat. While the mother and her two sons were parasailing, winds picked up and resulted in the cable snapping and the parasailers flying away from the boat without guidance.

Shortly after the parasailers broke free from the boat, the winds pushed them toward the Old Seven Mile Bridge, eventually smashing the three parasailers into a wall portion of the bridge. Bystanders arrived to render aid and free the parasailers from the chute and bridge cables. The mother was pronounced dead at the scene, with the two boys each suffered moderate injuries. While the crash is still under investigation, preliminary reports blame the unexpected weather.

Sometimes, no matter how careful we are in life, the unexpected happens. When the unexpected results in irreparable or significant injury because of the negligence or recklessness of another party, those who are impacted may have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for financial compensation.

Navigating the process of filing such a suit and its rules and requirements, however, can often be a daunting task. It is crucial that potential plaintiffs retain an experienced personal injury attorney to garner a general lay of the legal landscape so that they may recover the compensation they deserve.

According to a news report, the parents of a toddler who was injured from a foul ball at a baseball game reached a settlement recently. The baseball game, which took place in 2019, left the toddler with a skull fracture. During the fourth inning of the game, the toddler was struck by a ball, which left her with a permanent brain injury and seizures. The baseball stadium’s netting did not reach where the toddler and her family were sitting, which would have likely prevented the accident. The toddler’s parents filed a petition that claimed that “acts and omissions constituting negligence” from the baseball team caused their daughter’s injuries.

Given the beautiful weather in the Sunshine State, it is no surprise that swimming pools are common across Florida. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 1.1 million swimming pools in Florida. While the majority of property owners include the necessary safety features when putting in a swimming pool. Swimming pools still present a significant hazard, especially to children.

Because swimming pools are so popular, there are a correspondingly high number of Florida personal injury and wrongful death claims based on Florida swimming pool accidents. Realizing that drowning is the leading cause of death among Florida children, lawmakers passed the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (RSPSA).

The RSPSA acknowledges that the most effective way to avoid a drowning death is supervision by a responsible adult. Of course, many Florida swimming pool accidents occur without an adult being present. This often occurs when a child is able to make their way to the pool unbeknownst to adults. Thus, the RSPSA requires that all Florida swimming pools contain at least one of the following safety features:

Nobody plays a sport with the intention of getting hurt, yet each year there are thousands of Florida sports injuries. Most are minor, but some can be quite serious. As a general matter, anyone who is injured while playing a sport can pursue a claim for compensation against the parties they believe to be responsible for their injuries. However, it is important for Florida sports accident victims to understand the doctrine of assumption of the risk.

The Assumption of the Risk

Most sports present some risk of injury. Under the assumption of the risk doctrine, plaintiffs who willingly take on known risks and participate in sporting events may be partially liable for any injuries they sustain. In Florida, this is called implied assumption of the risk.

In Florida, there is also the doctrine of express assumption of the risk, which can completely preclude an accident victim from recovering for their injuries. However, Florida courts limit the application of express assumption of the risk to cases involving express agreements not to sue and cases involving contact sports. A recent state appellate opinion discusses assumption of the risk in the context of a skiing accident. While the case arose in another jurisdiction, the court’s reasoning is illustrative of why express assumption of the risk is rare in Florida sports injury cases.

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While no parent wants to think about the possibility of an accident occurring while their child is at school, on occasion these accidents do happen. When a child is injured in a Florida school accident, the parents of the child may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the school based on the school’s duty to keep students safe.

In a recent case released by a state appellate court, a student’s lawsuit against a school district resulted in a defense verdict after the court instructed the jury that the school only owed the student a duty of ordinary care. The student had argued that, based on the “special relationship” that a school has with its students, the school owed her a heightened duty of care.

The court rejected the plaintiff’s interpretation, noting that schools have historically owed students a duty of reasonable care unless the harm was caused by some intentional conduct of a teacher or school administrator. Thus, in that case, the court affirmed the court’s decision to instruct the jury and the jury’s ultimate verdict.

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Anytime someone participates in a sporting activity, there is a risk that they could be injured. However, participants reasonably assume that the organization arranging the game has implemented rules to keep players safe and free from experiencing an unnecessary Florida sports injury.

In a recent opinion released by a federal appellate court, the court allowed a plaintiffs’ lawsuit to proceed against a youth water polo league based on the league’s failure to implement and enforce rules to keep players safe. The case illustrates the type of situation in which a Florida sports injury victim may be able to pursue a claim for compensation for the injuries they have sustained.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was the mother of a student water polo player who was repeatedly hit in the head during the game and each time put back into play. The student ended up suffering a concussion and debilitating post-concussion syndrome.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating an important difference between Florida personal injury law and the laws of many other states. The case involved the defendant’s allegation that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury and thus, should be precluded from obtaining compensation for her injuries.

Assumption of the Risk

In some states, if it is determined that a plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risks that resulted in her injuries the plaintiff is not allowed to recover for her injuries. The theory is that a person who is aware of the risks involved in an activity is able to weigh the risks before engaging in a particular activity. In general, Florida courts will not preclude a plaintiff from recovering for her injuries even if she was determined to have assumed the risk of injury. Instead, the court will allow the jury to factor the assumption-of-the-risk analysis into its comparative negligence finding.

There are, however, two exceptions to this rule, one of which is the participation in contact sports. If a plaintiff is injured while engaging in a contact sport, they may be found to have assumed the risks involved. The other exception involves a situation where a person signs a contract agreeing not to sue.

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In Florida personal injury cases, the jury must make the ultimate decision as to whether the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and what, if any, damages are appropriate. In many cases, the judge will explain the legal issues involved in the case to the jury, and the jurors will then be able to use their common sense to resolve the issues. However, in some cases involving issues that are beyond the understanding of most jurors, the plaintiff may be required to present the testimony of an expert witness.

An expert witness is someone who is an expert in the specific issue raised by the case. In Florida medical malpractice cases, doctors are often used as expert witnesses. In Florida car accident cases, engineers may be called as expert witnesses. There is no hard-and-fast rule stating when an expert is necessary, but Florida law allows for an expert to be called whenever “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge would assist the trier of fact.” While some cases, such as Florida medical malpractice cases, require expert testimony, the decision whether to call an expert witness is normally left to the discretion of the parties.

In a recent appellate decision, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case because she failed to present expert testimony in support of her position.

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In some Florida personal injury lawsuits, the defendant can claim that the plaintiff should not be able to pursue a claim for compensation based on the fact that the plaintiff assumed the risks involved in participating in the activity that ultimately caused their injuries. This type of defense is common in cases involving skiing, sky diving, jet-skiing, and bungee jumping.In Florida, there are two types of assumption of the risk:  express and implied. Express assumption of the risk generally involves a party’s acknowledgement of the risks involved prior to participating in the activity, usually through a release waiver or some other contract. Implied assumption of the risk, however, does not require a signed release waiver, and it can be established through risks that were either known at the time or should have been known.

A recent case illustrates how one federal court of appeals applied the assumption of the risk doctrine to preclude an accident victim’s ability to recover compensation for his injuries.

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