Posted in Uncategorized

Politis & Matovina 2016 Newsletter



Posted in News, Uncategorized

A Premises Liability Primer

Sadly, the issue of premises liability has been in the news of late. From the horrific incident where an alligator dragged a two-year-old Nebraska boy into the water at a Disney Orlando resort to the much-talked about encounter between a gorilla and a three-year-old boy at the Cincinnati Zoo, the focus has been on who is responsible and what should have been done to prevent the two tragic cases.

While the cases have sparked a blame game in the media and online, they serve to direct attention to what the law says about premises liability and what business, hotel and resort owner/operators – as well as the underlying property owner – can do to protect themselves should an accident occur at their business, home or facility.

The two recent incidents, while attention getting, are the extreme – one resulting in the death of a child, the other the death of animal who was viewed as a threat to a child. Other cases may not be so headline grabbing – a slip-and-fall entering a shop resulting in permanent injury, a broken arm sustained from falling in a play gym or a head injury from a hotel guest slipping on a wet marble floor.

A number of factors come into play that ultimately determine liability in these cases. Each premises liability case eventually results in immediate and continuing charges for doctor, hospital and physical therapy bills along with lost wages and even lost earning power. And we can’t forget pain and suffering or other physical or mental distress that a plaintiff may allege.

In each of the recent incidents, one could argue either way. The parents shouldn’t have let the child go in the water at Disney World since there were “No swimming” signs posted; the counter argument: Disney, which reportedly knew of the alligators’ presence, should have had specific warning signs or even a fence. In Cincinnati, the mother could be responsible for letting her youngster get out of her view, enabling him to enter the gorilla’s enclosure – or the zoo should have had a more secure area with stronger barriers.

If, or when, they take a case to court, the verdict will turn on some key definitions starting with whether the condition of the property is deemed to be dangerous. That determination, in itself, will hinge on a number of points, among them:

Reasonable care. As a business owner, you must be able to prove you took reasonable care to keep the property safe and to protect your clients or customers, or in the case of a hotel or attraction, your guests. That goes for both the matter of signage and fencing that would make it evident that an area was unsafe. Perhaps an area is under construction or maybe it has recently been cleaned and the floors are slippery. Reevaluate premises regularly, always take that extra measure and never throw caution to the wind. When in doubt, put up a sign or close off the area.

Prior knowledge. A case could also hinge on whether the property/business/hotel owner was monitoring the conditions of the property and its environs and knew a danger – like alligators or a broken fence – existed and made efforts to fix the situation. Or did they ignore it, as some have speculated Disney might have done in terms of their knowledge of the alligators’ presence. The court will want to know if they could have done something to prevent the incident.

Playing into this is determination will be whether the site was maintained in a natural state – let’s say a wilderness camp or a lakefront property. Or, on the other hand, did the owner bring in wildlife or know the land was no longer in its native state? Again, what they knew or did to prevent injury is critical to the outcome of a case.

Invitees/licensees: Also important is the status of the injured person. In the Orlando and Cincinnati cases, the parties were guests or “invitees,” i.e., someone “invited” because of the nature of the business to use the property, which indicates the owners have taken care to assure their safety. Another category is a “licensee,” one who is on the site for his or her own purpose or a social occasion, someone visiting with the owners’ permission. There’s also the instance of the “trespasser,” someone who does not have permission or rights to be on a property. The term can also apply to a customer in a store or a diner at a restaurant.

The guest’s responsibility. Another key consideration is the visitor’s responsibility to protect and care for him or herself. Did the client or guest venture out of adequately marked areas or take some risk that put him or her in jeopardy regardless of the property owner’s efforts to maintain a safe site?

Negligence. Underlying all of these points is the matter of negligence: Did the property owner fail to take care to protect a reasonable party from injury? It is a term that implies accidental occurrence, i.e., carelessness rather than intentional error. To establish negligence in a premises liability action, an individual must prove: 1) a duty of care owed by the property owner to the individual; 2) the owner’s breach of that duty by a negligent act; and 3) damage resulting from the breach of duty.

Premises liability laws vary widely from state to state – and as previously discussed, claims run the gamut in terms of scope and seriousness. In any event, attorneys should keep abreast of the evolving laws in their respective states and business owners should remain aware of obvious dangers – or potential ones – and always be on the lookout for the hidden ones.

Original article found here

Posted in Slips and Falls

Real Dangers in the Fake Pokemon World

DARWIN AWARDS 07.16.16 12:00 AM ET

Real headaches for public safety departments around the country as Pokemon Go users find themselves in accidents, mishaps, even real danger.

It seems the Pokemon Go crime wave hoax fabricated by 26-year-old Pablo Reyes on foreshadowed several real-life, non-fictional accidents. Incidents caused by the immensely popular augmented-reality smartphone game range from mishaps and misadventures to near-tragedies.

While’s report of a major highway accident occurring in Massachusetts after a man stopped in the middle of a multilane highway “to catch Pikachu” was made in jest, on Tuesday, Texas A&M University police tweeted that a parked car was struck from behind after the “driver had exited to catch a Pokemon.”

Tuesday night in Auburn, New York, 28-year-old Steven Cary crashed his car into a tree while playing Pokemon Go. Police Chief Shawn Butler told The Daily Beast that Cary—a former U.S. Marine—admitted to playing the game while driving.

The terrifying sightings of locals playing Pokemon Go while driving, as well as an onslaught of images featuring Pokemon on car dashboards, prompted New York state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue public safety warnings.

In a press statement released on July 12, DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan reminded the public that “a fun game can have tragic real-world consequences.” She urged New Yorkers to “put their phones down instead of playing the popular Pokemon Go game while behind the wheel or walking near or across roadways.”

Unfortunately, Autumn Deiseroth of Tarentum, Pennsylvania didn’t receive such a warning. The 15-year-old was hit by a car while walking home after catching Pokemon. Apparently, the route home with the most Pokemon happened to involve crossing a busy highway during rush hour traffic.

Local police departments are regularly posting reminders about the dangers of Pokemon Go. “Don’t catch and drive” messages have been popping up on many public safety Twitter and Facebook feeds. Highways have even begun to put up emergency notices that read, “Don’t Pokemon and Drive.”


The Mesa County Sheriff’s office in Colorado was spotted sporting window decals on patrol cars featuring Pikachu, a popular Pokemon character, shouting, “Arrive alive. Don’t catch and drive!!!”

But it’s not just traffic accidents that have police officers worried. On Wednesday, firefighters were called to rescue two men in North San Diego County who had walked off a cliff while trying to capture animated creatures. The two men were playing the game separately—firefighters only found the second man, who was unconscious a few feet below, when they went to rescue the first.

And just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean a rising Pokemon “trainer” won’t fall off the edge of a bridge or subway platform. One woman tweeted: “I told myself I wouldn’t do anything dangerous for pokemongo but here I am under a bridge for a damn staryu.”

Two other users posted pictures of pokemon on the edge of rooftops, one in Dublin and another in Oxford. So at least we know it’s not just Americans willing to put aside all common sense to “catch ’em all.”

The New York City Transit recently tweeted a number of warnings due to the large number of Pokemon being found in subway stations. One of these advisories included a screenshot showing a subway station that had been made a Pokestop captioned “we know you’re searching far and wide, but please don’t catch Pokemon while walking down stairs.” Another said, “we know you gotta catch ’em all, but stay behind that yellow line when in the subway.”

In another bizarre incident, The Guardian reported that a group of teenages got lost in Wiltshire while searching for Pokemon in a network of underground caves. They had to be evacuated by a group of firefighters and mine rescue experts. The Trowbridge Fire Station posted a tweet which read “3 Pumps, 2 Rope Rescue units respond to Box to assist 4 people lost in the mines.”

The incidents have gotten so out of hand that some companies are banning Pokemon Go for safety reasons. According to a memo posted by, the U.S. aerospace company Boeing reportedly told employees: “We had a near miss for a user getting hurt while playing the game. Due to that, we had to react and disable to Pokemon app from all devices.”

When called to confirm the app’s ban, however, Bernard Choi, director of Director of Communications for Boeing, said that the ban “does not apply only to Pokemon Go” and was a reiteration of an existing policy which “applies to any use of mobile devices while walking.”

Original Article found here

Posted in Texting While Driving Tagged , , |

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Each year, as many as 3.8 million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) occur among US athletes, ranging from elementary-aged children to professional adults. Even more unsettling is the fact that nearly half of all TBI cases require surgery to correct hematomas and contusions that result from these debilitating wounds. It’s important for young athletes, their parents and their coaches to be aware of the risk of this type of injury, as well as the symptoms that may indicate a serious issue.

Resources on TBI education:

Concussion in Sports This pamphlet from the American College of Sports Medicine provides information on what may cause a concussion as well as the symptoms to look out for. Keep Your Head About You – And Keep Your Kid from Losing Theirs

Living with Brain Injury This guide from the Brain Injury Association of America discusses what functions of the brain are impacted as a result of TBI.

Concussion Toolkit for Parents, Players and Coaches The Concussion Awareness Training Tool provides a wealth of information on how to provide support to children who have suffered a concussion.

HEADS UP to Youth Sports: Online Training This online course from the CDC offers student athletes, parents, coaches and educators the opportunity to learn a broad range of TBI topics, including how to prevent and respond to these injuries.

While we all want our student athletes to enjoy the physical and character-building benefits of sports participation, it’s critical to ensure that they do so as safely as possible.

Posted in Brain Injuries

Lawmakers Push For Tougher Texting And Driving Law

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) – The next time you feel like you need to fire off that text message at 70 miles per hour, consider the story of Trisha Viccaro.  A man who was texting and driving killed her son in a tragic accident, two days before her son would have turned 25 years old.

Florida’s law against texting and driving is a secondary offense.  That means police must pull you over for another crime, like speeding, before they can give you a ticket for texting and driving.   State Senator Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, says that should change.  “What we’ve found in Florida and other states when things are secondary offenses, typically there’s not a lot of enforcement. It’s just too difficult.”

Altman’s Senate Bill 328 would make texting and driving a primary offense.  Then an officer could pull you over for texting and driving and write you a ticket.

Viccaro lost her son to a driver who was texting and driving.  Garrett Viccaro and two buddies were fishing near the Eau Gallie Causeway in April of 2013, when a car struck them.  Viccaro and his friend Justin Mitchell died.  The driver admitted in court he was texting and driving.

Garrett’s mom has questions that trouble her.  “Why haven’t they changed the laws? Why don’t they make it safe here? I don’t understand it. It’s common sense. It’s a no brainer.”

Police across our state say Altman’s bill would make it easier to stop texting and driving because officers could pull over offenders right away.   Sen. Altman hopes his legislation will become law in 2016, even though similar bills failed in previous years.  “As time goes on and more and more awareness is built, this bill will eventually pass.”

Viccaro hopes all of us will remember Garrett the next time we are tempted to type behind the wheel.  “My son is never coming back.  So if I can save your child’s life by telling you please don’t text and drive, put your phones down, think about it, is that message worth a life? Then that’s what I do.”

State Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville. is sponsoring a similar texting and driving bill in the Florida House of Representatives.

Original Article Found Here

Posted in Texting While Driving

Teens Share Message About Seat Belts After Terrifying Rollover Crash

PROVO, Utah — Four teens are lucky to be alive after their car went off a road in Provo Canyon, rolling several times.

“I look back on it now and it’s just like I could have died,” said 17-year-old Dalton Prince.

The car was mangled and crushed, but all four teens survived with moderate injuries.

“Seat belts save lives. We should be dead right now,” said 18-year-old Christian Horito.

Driving home on Squaw Peak Road Wednesday night, navigating the tight turns, police say the car was going too fast when the four teens inside went crashing down the hillside.

“I just remember the first flip, like flipping in the air. It was just like in the movies,” Horito said.

The vehicle rolled four times as the teens’ bodies smashed against the side of the car.

“I was just waiting for it to end. Honestly, like, just wanting it to end,” Prince said.

Finally, they came to a stop and Dalton Prince saw his brother and two friends unresponsive and covered in blood.

“I just look up and he was passed out, Just, I thought he was dead, really,” Prince said.

Prince called 9-1-1 while the others were still unconscious.

“The next thing I remember is waking up on the pavement on the side of the road and I look over to my side and I see his little brother, Dalton’s little brother, like he looks like he’s dead,” Horito said.

The teens survived the crash with broken arms, concussions and deep gashes.

“I’ll take it over a paralyzed body or death any day,” Horito said.

The teens say they’re alive thanks to seat belts.

“If no one buckled up, like, even one person, like, they would have been dead for sure,” Prince said. “It flipped, like, multiple times. They would have been dead easily.”

All four of the teens were sent to the hospital, but when their parents saw the car, they were just happy the boys were alive.

“For them to be all wearing their seat belts is so important. It just helps me to understand that we’re not going to funerals today because of it,” said Heather Rivera, Prince’s mother.

Now these teens have a message to share.

“I don’t care who you’re with, where you are, where you’re going, like, just put on your seat belt no matter what,” Horito said.

Original Article Found Here

Posted in Teen Driving

Brain Injury

Living With Brain Injury

Brain injury is unpredictable in its consequences. Brain injury affects who we are, the way we think, act, and feel. It can change everything about us in a matter of seconds. The most important things to remember:

• A person with a brain injury is a person first
• No two brain injuries are exactly the same
• The effects of a brain injury are complex and vary greatly from person to person
• The effects of a brain injury depend on such factors as cause, location, and severity

2.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention, the leading causes of TBI are:
• Falls (35.2%)
• Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (17.3%)
• Struck by/against events (16.5%)
• Assaults (10%)

A Healthy Brain
To understand what happens when the brain is injured, it is important to realize what a healthy brain is made of and what it does. The brain is enclosed inside the skull. The skull acts as a protective covering for the soft brain. The brain is made of neurons (nerve cells). The neurons form tracts that route throughout the brain. These nerve tracts carry messages to various parts of the brain. The brain uses these messages to perform functions. The functions include coordinating our body systems, such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism; thought processing; body movements; personality; behavior; and the senses, such as vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Each part of the brain serves a specific function and links with other parts of the brain to form more complex functions. All parts of the brain need to be working well in order for the brain to work well. Even “minor” or “mild” injuries to the brain can significantly disrupt the brain’s ability to function.

An Injured Brain
When a brain injury occurs, the functions of the neurons, nerve tracts, or sections of the brain can be affected. If the neurons and nerve tracts are affected, they can be unable or have difficulty carrying the messages that tell the brain what to do. This can change the way a person thinks, acts, feels, and moves the body. Brain injury can also change the complex internal functions of the body, such as regulating body temperature; blood pressure; bowel and bladder control. These changes can be temporary or permanent. They may cause impairment or a complete inability to perform a function.

Functions of the Brain
The brain is divided into main functional sections, called lobes. These sections or brain lobes are called the Frontal Lobe, Temporal Lobe, Parietal Lobe, Occipital Lobe, the Cerebellum, and the Brain Stem. Each has a specific function as described below.

Parietal Lobe Functions
• Sense of touch
• Spatial perception
• Differentiation (identification) of size, shapes, and colors
• Visual perception

Occipital Lobe Functions
• Vision

Cerebellum Lobe Functions
• Balance
• Skilled motor activity
• Coordination
• Visual perception

Brain Stem Functions
• Breathing
• Arousal and consciousness
• Attention and concentration
• Heart rate
• Sleep and wake cycles

Frontal Lobe Functions
• Attention and concentration
• Self-monitoring
• Organization
• Speaking (expressive language)
• Motor planning and initiation
• Awareness of abilities and limitations
• Personality
• Mental flexibility
• Inhibition of behavior
• Emotions
• Problem solving
• Planning and anticipation
• Judgment

Temporal Lobe Functions
• Memory
• Understanding language (receptive language)
• Sequencing
• Hearing
• Organization

Right or Left Brain
The functional sections or lobes of the brain are also divided into right and left sides. The right side and the left side of the brain are responsible for different functions. General patterns of dysfunction can occur if an injury is on the right or left side of the brain.

Injuries of the left side of the brain can cause:
• Difficulties in understanding language (receptive language)
• Difficulties in speaking or verbal output (expressive language)
• Catastrophic reactions (depression, anxiety)
• Verbal memory deficits
• Impaired logic
• Sequencing difficulties
• Decreased control over right-sided body movements

Injuries of the right side of the brain can cause:
• Visual-spatial impairment
• Visual memory deficits
• Left neglect (inattention to the left side of the body)
• Decreased awareness of deficits
• Altered creativity and music perception
• Loss of “the big picture” type of thinking
• Decreased control over left-sided body movements

Diffuse Brain Injury (The injuries are scattered throughout both sides of the brain) can cause:
• Reduced thinking speed
• Confusion
• Reduced attention and concentration
• Fatigue
• Impaired cognitive (thinking) skills in all areas

Original Article Found Here:

Posted in Brain Injuries

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a state where growing numbers of motorcycles and vehicle drivers share the roads, it is important for all motorists to practice safe driving behaviors to prevent motorcycle crashes. With more than 80,000 miles of roads and ideal, year-round riding conditions, Florida is a popular location for motorcyclists. More than a million drivers in Florida have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver licenses and there are over 600,000 motorcycles registered in the state, not including all of the out-of-state motorcycle enthusiasts that come to Florida to ride.
With the anticipated increase in motorcycle traffic during the summer months, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Department of Transportation are promoting May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Florida.
“Regardless of your mode of transportation, safety comes first,” said Col. David Brierton, director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Last year, there were nearly 10,000 motorcycle crashes in Florida that resulted in 440 deaths and more than 9,800 injuries. By staying alert and using common sense and courtesy, drivers and riders alike can help to create a safer road environment for everyone.”
FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold said, “Florida has great weather and roads for motorcycle enthusiasts. FDOT is committed to making roads safe and usable by all, including motorcyclists. We all need to share the road and look twice for motorcycles.”
In 2013, 462 motorcyclists including passengers were killed in traffic crashes, a slight increase from 2012 (457). Those deaths account for 19.2% of the total highway fatalities that year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only 3% of all vehicles in Florida.
DHSMV and FDOT are asking motorcyclists to ride smart and motorists to share the road by using these simple tips.
Tips for motorcyclists:
• Make yourself more visible to motorists: Wear bright colors.
• Always wear safety gear.
• Train regularly.
• Stay out of blind spots, especially around large trucks. The smaller the vehicle, the more difficult it is for truck drivers to see it.
• Obey the speed limit. Twenty percent of speed-related motorcycle crashes (46) in 2014 resulted in a fatality.
• Always drive sober.
• Inspect your motorcycle before each ride to ensure your safety by having it in good working order.
Reducing the number of motorcycle-involved crashes goes beyond training and prevention on the part of the motorcyclist. Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle on the roadway.
Tips for drivers:
• Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width; never try to share a lane.
• Check for motorcycles by looking in your mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections. Remain extra vigilant when entering or crossing intersections. In 2014, 15 percent (66) fatal motorcycle-involved crashes occurred within an intersection.
• Do not tailgate. Allow more following distance when following a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
• Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on driving – don’t drive distracted.
• Always drive sober.

Original Article found here

Posted in News

Teen Drive – new tech feature of Chevy Malibu

General Motors intends to assuage teen driving accidents with a new system that allows parents, even when they are not in the car, to overseer their young adults driving habits.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States. Fortunately, teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and this new system is a strategy that can improve the safety of young drivers.

In fact, nearly 2,650 teens aged 16–19 were killed and almost 292,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries from motor-vehicle accidents. This means that seven teens ages 16 to 19 dies every day from motor vehicle injuries.

Because compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use and they are more likely to speed up than adult drivers.

“We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids—they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits,” said General Motors safety engineer Mary Ann Beebe.

The innovative system of GM then, that is hailed as Teen Drive offers a bunch of features that are intended to promote safe driving. For example, the vehicle will automatically mute the radio and any paired device in the car when the front seat occupants are not wearing seatbelts. In addition, it will give audible and visual forewarnings if the vehicle travels faster than the fixed speeds.

Parents can also set the radio system’s maximum volume to a lower level, and pre-set maximum speed of about 40 and 75 miles per hour, and when the teen exceeds it activates safety warnings.

What’s more unnerving for teens is that the new system made available for the parents to look at a record of how their teens drove the car. That is comprised of how fast they went, the distance they drove, and if the teens have prompted any active safety feature like over-speeding.

The said Teen Drive technology will be made available for the 2016 Malibu as a customary feature in the Premier vehicle and optional with the LT model. The 2016 Malibu will launch at the New York Auto Show and is expected to go on sale at the end of the year.

Original Article found here

Posted in Teen Driving
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