What is Daycare Negligence?

October 31, 2015, by

Written by - Rubenstein Law Attorney, Marianne Bartko

Who you trust your children to is a very important decision for every parent. Many of us rely on daycare for supervision and care of our youngest and most vulnerable family member. And yet sometimes even the most reputable agencies fall short. The smallest or even momentary oversight can result in a serious injury. It's imperative that a daycare act with the utmost attentiveness when caring for children. When your child is injured at a daycare or preschool due to negligence or willful conduct, you are entitled to compensation. All employees of the daycare are responsible for the well-being of your child.

A daycare that fails its duty can be liable for injuries your child suffers in a number of ways. This includes the failure to supervise and failure to screen employees. The most common injuries at daycares result from someone failing to supervise. This can occur when there are too many children in the facility or with staff lacking the proper experience. Injuries may also occur when there are recalled toys or non-age appropriate toys your child is using.

The state of Florida sets requirements for daycares as well as daycare employees. The daycare provider must be 21 years old and caregivers in charge of a group must be at least 18 and undergo a training course approved by the department of health. The state also sets requirements for an appropriate child to staff ratio which varies depending on the age of the children.

The attorneys at Rubenstein Law, care about the safety of your children. If your child has been injured by negligence at a daycare, please call us immediately at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. With offices across Florida, including Broward, Miami-Dade, Orlando, and Tampa, West Palm Beach, there's one near you.

Dangerous Bounce

September 23, 2015, by

By Dayanna Machado of Rubenstein Law

Bounce houses are the stuff of every kid's dreams, situated right at the top of the spectrum of fun alongside candy, carnival rides, and Christmas toys. Parents rent inflatables for birthday parties and other events providing kids a surefire way to have a blast all day long.

While they can be a source of fun and entertainment for children, inflatables can still be dangerous for children and can lead to serious injuries if certain precautions aren't taken. According to research, over the past 20 years, the number of injuries related to bounce houses in the United States has skyrocketed and now equals more than 30 children a day, or about one child every 45 minutes.

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Here are a few basic safety and injury-prevention tips parents and guardians need to follow to keep their kids safe.

1. Supervision is Paramount

Never allow children to occupy the bounce house without an adult present. Bouncing kids need to be monitored carefully. If things start to get a bit too rough or risky inside, a supervising adult can calm things down.

In addition, the number of kids inside the house must be limited: overcrowding is a good recipe for falls, collisions, fractures, and other injuries. If more than one child will be on the bouncer at the same time, make sure that the children are about the same age and size (weight).

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2. Workmanship and Liability
Before you rent inflatable units, ask the rental company questions as to how they are installed. Some companies will practice safer installation methods than others. The inflatable house should be placed on a flat surface and anchored to the ground with large, 20 to 40-inch metal stakes rather than smaller plastic ones. There should be sufficient open space around all sides of the bouncer and it should be placed away from tree branches and power lines.

3. Weather Conditions
When extreme weather hits, all participants need to be removed from the bounce house. This includes strong winds, a downpour of heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Even with stakes on the ground or cement buckets, bounce houses need to be deflated and should not be operated during strong winds higher than 25mph and other extreme weather. Without these precautionary measures, an experience no parent wants to face; can happen in the blink of an eye. One moment your child is playing and having a good time, the next they are terrified and in great danger.

Recently in South Florida three children were injured when the bounce house they were in was lifted into the air by a waterspout and carried above the tree line and across four lanes of traffic. The children were dumped out of the bounce house onto the sand shortly after it was airborne. In this case, the children luckily escaped with relatively minor injuries including bumps, bruises and only a few broken bones. It could've easily been much worse for these families.

With five offices throughout Florida, our accident and injury lawyers are here to help you. We only handle injury cases and we do all of the work for you, looking out for your best interests.

If a loved one has been hurt or injured in an accident, please call Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. We have offices in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Broward and West Palm Beach.

Airline Loses Alzheimer's Patient for Three Days

September 14, 2015, by

By Gregory Deutch of Rubenstein Law

Recently there was a tragic story involving air travel. A family contacted the airlines and requested assistance for their father's upcoming trip. Sadly, their father suffered from Alzheimer's disease and would often wander off if not supervised. The day of the trip, the family entrusted their father to the airline personnel and left the airport. However, he never boarded his flight.

As it turns out, he was found three days later and 25 miles away, having never even made it through security for his flight. As a result of the ordeal, he had to spend several days in the hospital to recover. An attorney is now attempting to recover damages against the airline for its negligence in failing to ensure that the father made it safely to his destination.

Photo credit: o0o0xmods0o0o from morguefile.com

Unfortunately, these types of stories are far from uncommon. Because of the increased restrictions in airline travel, we often have to put our faith in the airlines to assist in the transport and transfer of our loved ones, be they our young children, elderly, or infirm. For the most, the law is geared to protecting the airlines against claims of negligence as a result of accidents or injury in the transfer of friends or family.

Before sending a loved one into the care of an airline, always make sure to get the name of the employee who is initially responsible for your family member. Make sure your family member knows to wait until an airline employee meets him or her at the destination. It is important that he or she wait on the aircraft as courts routinely dismiss cases in which people choose not to wait for the assistance of airplane personnel, even in situations of extreme delay.

If you or a loved one are injured due to an airline's failure to safely ensure safe travel, don't hesitate to contact Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL (800-355-3425) for a free consultation and to discuss all your available options.

Airbags should be about saving lives.....

April 7, 2015, by

Amanda Perez of Rubenstein Law

When you think of airbags, you think of safety, security, and protection. Now a 'days, advanced frontal airbags use sophisticated sensing devices to provide the right level of protection to drivers and front seat passengers in the event of a crash. Even more so, frontal air bags have saved over 25,000 lives between 1987 and 2008. Sounds pretty reliable, don't you think?

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for two Honda drivers whose deaths were caused by faulty airbags installed on their vehicles. It was reported that the airbags, made by Japanese manufacturer Takata, had faulty inflators that exploded, throwing metal parts from the airbag assembly toward drivers and passengers.

Takata airbag.png

A worldwide estimate of cars affected by Takata-related recalls range from twelve million to seventeen million. The recalls involve ten automakers including Honda, Toyota, and General Motors. About eight million of those recalls are in the United States. Consumers impacted by the recalls should have their vehicles serviced promptly once they receive notification from their vehicle manufacturer.
Important information to help you stay safe in a vehicle with airbags:
• Always wear your seat belt.
• Place children of 12 years and younger in the back seat. The rear seat is the safest for children.
• If you have an airbag ON-OFF switch, check its position every time you enter your vehicle. A survey showed that 48% of these ON-OFF switches were incorrectly left ON for child passengers under the age of 13.

If you or a loved one has suffered damages by a defective product, please call Rubenstein Law today at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. Our skilled lawyers are experienced in Product Liability Law and can help you protect yourself and your family. We have offices in Broward, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Santa, a Superhero, Cupid?

March 9, 2015, by

By Siluen Perdomo of Rubenstein Law

Does your job let you be Santa for the day?? How about a superhero? Cupid? Mine does! In the last several months, the Community Involvement Team at Rubenstein Law has reached out to our local communities in a variety of ways. From volunteer work, to walking for the cause, to donating goodies to children of all ages, even cute little puppies. Let's take a look at a few of our recent projects.

In December 2014, we teamed up with Billion Hearts, a non profit organization created to help children who are less fortunate. Employees donated gifts for kids of all ages. These gifts where wrapped and personally delivered to an elementary school by Santa and his elves. When Santa showed up, one of the students was so surprised he said: "I knew there was a Santa!" Bringing that kind of joy to a child is worth every moment. Here is a glimpse of all the smiles we saw that day.
Billion Hearts Campaign - December 2014

In February 2015, we did something flirty and new. We raised money for the Humane Society by selling Valentine Grams. Who doesn't love a good Valentine surprise?? The funds raised went to help the Humane society provide a loving home for homeless and/or abused animals. Giving animals a second chance to feel loved and wanted in our community. These little grams where sold at an affordable price while letting others know you appreciated them and writing a little personalized message. Our efforts were a roaring success. We raised about $1,500 for the Humane Society of greater Miami. Making sure animals like this cutie always have a safe and loving home.
Humane Society of Miami

On Saturday, March 7, 2015, we dawned our capes and went to zoo for the "Live like Bella Superhero Walk." There is not a single person that has not been affected by Cancer. The team we are walking for is "The Julio Jaramillo Crew" in memory of our friend and colleague, whom we recently lost to cancer. We will join forces and fight for a cure against this terrible disease. Participants are welcomed for a day of fun and family activities, food, drinks, music and enjoy the zoo for the rest of the day.
live like bella.jpg

This is just a small look at the activities our Community involvement has participated in, this last quarter. We, as a community need to give back to those less fortunate. Whether you're a Superhero or Santa for the day, remember that these efforts go a long way. If it's bringing a smile to a kids face or raising money for a great cause, it's all done for one reason: OUR COMMUNITY.

Florida Leads The Country in Pedestrian Injuries

February 16, 2015, by

By Lynette Monem of Rubenstein Law

Pedestrian safety is a big concern here in the state of Florida. We rank 3rd in the nation for highest pedestrian fatalities. In fact, 4 out of the top 5 cities with the highest number of pedestrian injuries are in Florida, with Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano coming in fourth place.

In today's world, we are constantly juggling multiple activities. Cell phones are a huge distraction for both drivers and pedestrians alike. It is important to remember that when we are behind the wheel our full attention to the road is necessary. As pedestrians, it is just as important to be aware of our surroundings.

Roads are widened and intervals between crosswalks are lengthened in order to ease traffic congestion but that actually ends up allowing more opportunities for pedestrians to get injured. People in low income areas are also at higher risk since the population of pedestrians is higher. South Florida is a haven for immigrants, many of whom do not drive. For children, pedestrian injuries are the leading cause of injury. Between 2009 and 2012, almost 60% of child pedestrians were male and 43% were African American. This issue affects all aspects of our community and I think in order to cohesively live in a community with people from different cultures and ways of living we must make a conscious effort when we are on the road to be mindful of our surroundings.

When walking across the street it is extremely important to cross at the designated crosswalks and follow crosswalk signs. Even once prompted to cross the street you should remember to look both ways and make sure that the cars on the road are paying attention as well. Make eye contact with drivers so you are assured that they see you. I think people tend to rely on these crosswalk lights and think that the cars will always follow the prompts as well. The same goes for drivers. They should not rely only on traffic lights. Drivers should be aware of pedestrians in the walkway and yield to them regardless of who has the right of way.

When walking at night be sure to wear bright colored clothing, walk with a flashlight, or where reflective clothing. Be sure to walk on the sidewalk. Remember although you can see the cars they often can't see you.

It is also important to teach children road safety rules such as looking both ways before crossing the street, not walking while texting or using social media, crossing at crosswalks and not crossing in between cars.

We, as a community, need to work together to respect each other while we are traveling on our roadways, whether it's by foot, bike, scooter or car. I know it can be frustrating when you are trying to cross an intersection in your car when a pedestrian comes walking through in front of you causing you to miss your opportunity to catch the green light. But just remember that it is far better to lose 5 minutes of your time than to potentially cost someone to lose their life.

If you or someone you love has been hurt or injured in an accident, please call Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. We have offices in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Broward and West Palm Beach

There's More Than Chocolate in My Chocolate

January 20, 2015, by

By Carlos Gonzalez of Rubenstein Law

Chocolate? Yum! No matter how you might feel after indulging in chocolate, we all agree that it is delicious. Jo Brand, an English comedian, once said what we are all thinking: "Anything is good if it's made of chocolate." Is this true for chocolate cake? Yes. A brownie in the form of cupcake with drizzled hot fudge? Absolutely. What about an apology from our significant other in the form of a box of chocolates from the local chocolate shop? Apology accepted.


Unfortunately for a Texas woman, the M&Ms she was eating weren't entirely made of chocolate. Her M&Ms contained a hard metal object, which she claims injured her mouth, teeth, and gums. As a result of these injuries, the Texas woman sued the manufacturer of M&Ms, Mars, Inc., and Walmart Stores, Inc., the store that distributed these dangerous M&Ms. According to the complaint (the document that begins a lawsuit); she accused them of a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability and strict liability.

This poses two interesting questions. First, can Walmart Stores, Inc. be liable for the lady's injuries? Obviously Walmart didn't have anything to do with the creation of these M&Ms, but somehow the law can still find them liable. To find the answer, let's look up the river, figuratively speaking of course. Imagine the M&Ms being created on top of a Mountain, let's call it Mount Mars. As the M&Ms flow down the river, it passes through a distributor, e.g. Willy Wonka's Valley, through Walmart, and finally to the end-user. When finding who is liable, the law only requires that the product's steps be retraced. By looking up this river, i.e. the chain of distribution, we know that the M&Ms passed through Walmart, various distributors like Willy Wonka's Valley, and Mount Mars. Any business within the M&Ms chain of distribution, like Walmart, can be held liable for the injuries a defective product caused.

Now that we know who may be held liable, let's talk about why or how they may be held liable. Generally, an injured party has three (3) theories to choose from in order to recover from a manufacturer or distributor (remember the "river"): negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. Strict liability, is exactly that----strict. It requires:

1. a defective product that is "unreasonably dangerous";
2. the defect has to come from the design of the product or its manufacture;
3. the defect caused injuries; and
4. the product was not substantially changed from the condition of how it was made and sold.

A breach of the implied warranty of merchantability is just common sense. A product must be fit for the ordinary purpose for which they are sold. In other words, an M&M is chocolate, and chocolate is always enjoyed without any injuries to your mouth, teeth, or gums.

Here at Rubenstein Law, we enjoy our chocolate and we want you too to enjoy it too. If you or your loved ones have ever been injured by a foreign object in your chocolate or food, please call us immediately at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. Our firm has offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa.

Shrapnel from Airbags Linked to At Least 4 Deaths

October 28, 2014, by

By Carlos Gonzalez of Rubenstein Law

Takata might not be a company as popular as Sony, Apple, or Google, but today it should be. Earlier this year, this manufacturer of automotive safety components recalled all vehicles equipped with a certain airbag. This recall was sourly oxymoronic; Takata's supposedly life-saving airbag could spray shrapnel at the human it was designed to protect.


These dangerous airbags have been linked to at least four deaths. The cuts from the flying shrapnel are so deep and violent, that responding paramedics and police officers of an Orange-Osceola County, Florida, accident thought the victim, Hien Tran, was attacked before fleeing in a vehicle. An examination by the county's chief medical examiner quickly revealed that it was an exploding airbag and not a criminal that caused the slashes.

Earlier last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded the number of vehicles affected by the Takata recall. The message from the Deputy Administrator of the NHTSA, David Friedman, was clear and direct: "Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures."

The expansion of the recall increased the numbers of vehicles covered by roughly 28%. Right now, NHTSA states that over 7.8 million US vehicles are equipped with the dangerous Takata airbag. Those owners of Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors vehicles are urged by the NHTSA to see if their specific model is included in this recall. To see a list of the vehicles affected by the recall or to search by VIN number, please follow these links to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and SafeCar.gov

Here at Rubenstein Law, P.A., we urge all those affected by this recall to take every possible action to protect themselves and their loved ones. If your car is listed in the recall, please follow the instructions of your local dealership to replace the defective airbag. If you are unsure, please contact the manufacturer of your vehicle or visit your local dealer for more information. For those injured by the defective airbag, please call us immediately at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. Our firm has offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, and Orlando.

Contributory Negligence - The General Motors Ignition Problem

October 8, 2014, by

By Carlos Gonzalez of Rubenstein Law

October 24, 2006 was supposed to be a typical Tuesday for Natasha Weigel, Amy Rademaker, and Megan Ungar-Kerns as they returned from their local Wal-Mart. Their evening took a turn for the worst when their 2005 Chevy Cobalt suddenly became airborne and ultimately crashed into a telephone pole and some trees. Both Weigel and Rademaker passed away, Ungar-Kerns survived with severe brain damage.

The surviving family members were all plagued with the same questions: how did this accident happen or what caused it? They were left without a clue until the investigators found that the Chevy's ignition was set to "Accessory" and not "Run". The meaning of this was unclear at first but then General Motors recalled their 2005 Chevy Cobalt a couple of months later. The reason for the recall was for faulty ignition switches.

The families of Weigel, Rademaker, and Ungar-Kerns were not alone; other families lost their loved ones in vehicles equipped with the same or similar ignition switch of the 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Around mid-September, GM estimated at least 13 deaths were caused by vehicles equipped with those switches. In an apparent effort to avoid litigation, GM established a voluntary program to offer a possible settlement to those families.

The GM Final Protocol, dated June 30, 2014, lays out the requirements of admission to the program. The one peculiar requirement is found on page 4, under section II, sub-section E. It states, in pertinent part,

"No claim shall be eligible unless, after reviewing all of the information submitted as required herein, the [Claims Resolution Facility] determines, in its sole discretion, that the Ignition Switch Defect in an Eligible Vehicle was the proximate cause of the death or physical injury. The Facility will not take into account any contributory negligence of the claimant in making this determination."

(Emphasis supplied).

The elements that make up this requirement will be briefly discussed. It is of great importance to those that are about to participate in this program that they at least understand the terms used in these two sentences.

Although this program is not a lawsuit, the "proximate cause" term used is the one used in civil lawsuits involving injuries caused by faulty products. A plaintiff, the person or entity starting the lawsuit, will have to prove several elements to win its case. For example, the plaintiff will have to show that the faulty product was the proximate cause of the death or the injury. In situations where it is clear what caused the injuries, the plaintiff can use the "but for" test. This test is simple: if but for the faulty product, the injury or death would have never happened, then the Defendant should be found at fault. However, in situations where there might be concurrent causes, the courts in Florida, for example, have allowed the "substantial factor" test. This test is designed for situations where other factors might have caused the injuries. This test is much more difficult to apply because the plaintiff will have to show that the faulty product was a material and substantial factor in causing the injury. The program seems to use this "substantial factor" instead of the "but for" test.

If one thing is clear, it is that the proximate cause question can be highly subjective. Except in very unique situations, the question of whether the faulty product was the proximate cause of an injury is left up to the jury to decide. By participating in this program, there will be no jury because the Claims Resolution Facility itself will make that determination in its sole discretion. Although the Claims Resolution Facility is apparently independent of GM, one fact remains clear: the Claims Resolution Facility was created by Kenneth R. Feinberg upon request by GM.

The term "contributory negligence" refers to a defense that prevents the plaintiff from recovering if the defendant shows the plaintiff to be even 1% negligent. This is a harsh defense and those participating in the program should be happy that the Facility will not take into account any contributory negligence of the claimant when determining whether their injury is eligible under the program. A good example of contributory negligence is perhaps not wearing a seatbelt or driving while under the influence.

The above discussion was but a small fraction of the requirements needed and elements described in the program. Although the program does not require an attorney, anyone trying to participate in the program can greatly benefit from the professional help of a competent attorney. Here at Rubenstein Law, we have many years of experience with cases involving product defects and motor vehicle accidents. If you or your loved one has been injured as a result of GM's faulty ignition switch, please call us immediately at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. Our firm has offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, and Orlando.

Lawsuit Brought Against Porsche by Widow

May 19, 2014, by

By Alan Lani of Rubenstein Law

The lawsuit brought against Porsche by Roger W. Rodas' widow has of course captured a great deal of attention because it involves the death of a celebrity (Paul Walker) and an ultra-rare, ultra-exotic sports car, the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. But the law involved in automobile defect claims is at its core very simple.

2005 Porsche Carrera GT

The common law has long recognized a cause of action for breach of warranty. Specifically, when a product is manufactured for sale, the manufacturer and/or seller warrant that it is reasonably safe for its intended purposes, and that it is free of defects which would render it unsafe for general use. Additional warranties apply when a buyer relies on the seller to provide a specific product for a specific intended purpose; namely, that the product will be safe and appropriate for the particular purpose for which it was purchased.

In this case, Rodas' widow has alleged that the car was traveling 55 mph when the suspension failed, causing the crash which took the two men's lives. As to this count and these details, the lawsuit is no different from any other claim against a manufacturer whose product fails and thereby causes injury to its user(s). The law places strict liability upon a manufacturer for injuries caused by a hidden defect, which means the manufacturer is liable for injuries even though it may not have been negligent in any way. Generally speaking, a certain number of manufactured products will fail no matter how careful and thorough the manufacturer is and no matter how good their quality control. The law recognized this phenomenon in the 1940s, and strict liability was implemented to compensate those injured by such defective products.

However, the lawsuit goes on to allege that the car lacked full racing-style safety features such as a crash cage and racing fuel cell. This count is essentially one of warranty of fitness for a particular purpose in that it alleges that because the car was designed and produced to be a high performance Le Mans-type racing car, it should have had equivalent safety features appropriate for that type of racing.

What comes of this second count is an interesting question because according to the complaint itself, the car was not being used for racing when the crash occurred. It was being driven at 55 mph, which is an ordinary highway speed. So far, there is no legal precedent to say that a car's performance level should dictate its safety features when driven on the street at ordinary speeds. While it is likely that any resolution in this case will take several years, legal scholars and those in the auto industry are sure to keep an eye on any new legal precedent to come from this high profile case.

Summer Deck Safety

April 2, 2014, by

By Marianne Bartko of Rubenstein Law

Deck on a Summer Day

As the weather gets warmer, more people take to the outdoors to congregate on patios and decks and not surprisingly more decks fail in the summer months than the rest of the seasons combined. The tragedy with deck collapses is they usually occur during a joyous occasion when friends and family are gathered to celebrate. Deck collapses are attributed to poor craftsmanship and can lead to serious injuries and even deaths. Two million decks are built and replaced every year in the United States and are increasingly popular for new homes. However, inspection experts estimate only 40 percent of all decks are safe.

There are no statistics compiled on the percentage of deck collapses each year in the United States or the reasons why these decks fail. The common reason is the structure being incorrectly secured to the side of a house or establishment. In many cases, these decks are constructed with nails that have smooth sides, and over time with the weight of the deck, can pull out from the building. Wood expands and contracts with temperature and nails that originally secured the structure can become dislodged.

Make sure you consult with a licensed contractor if you're planning to add a deck to your house. An easy DIY project can turn into a tragedy if appropriate precautions are not taken. Whether your attaching a deck to a structure or building a dock over the water the safest connection is a lag bolt. A lag bolt, which looks like a giant screw, has nine times the resistance than nails. Homeowners are also encouraged to inspect existing decks annually for any signs of decay, rotting wood, or loose railings or steps.

The offices of Rubenstein Law understand Florida law and how to protect your rights. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, please contact your local office today at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. Serving Broward, Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach and all of South Florida.

(i) http://www.nachi.org/blog/2009/07/deck-inspections-illustrated-how-to-inspect-a-deck/

Driving Drowsy Similar to Drunk Driving

March 3, 2014, by

By Marianne Bartko of Rubenstein Law


While we are well aware of the dangers that face drunk drivers, studies show that drowsy driving may be just as harmful and an all too frequent occurrence. Driving while drowsy is very similar to distracted and drunk driving. It slows your reaction time, impairs your vision and affects your ability to make decisions. Cognitive impairment after approximately 17 hours of being awake was equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%, after 24 hours impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10%.

According to the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep in America poll, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. (NHTAS). Despite these high numbers drowsy driving remains underreported and estimates are conservative.

While there are no laws in place in Florida regulating drowsy driving, Florida has passed the" Ronshay Dugans Act." The Act designates the first week of September as "Drowsy Driving Prevention Week." During this week the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles works with the Department of Transportation to educate law enforcement and the public about the dangers of operating a vehicle while fatigued. (2010 Fla. Laws ch 223)

If you feel drowsy, don't fight to stay awake; rather pull over somewhere safe to take a nap, park your car and call a cab, and take scheduled breaks if going on a long trip. Signs that you should stop include heavy eyelids or difficulty focusing, trouble keeping your head up, feeling restless, yawning, drifting from your lane, and trouble remembering the last few miles driven.

Is Uber to Blame for a Little Girls Death?

February 17, 2014, by

By Carlos Gonzalez of Rubenstein Law

photo (4).jpg
New Year's Eve is usually a beautiful day full of hope and anticipation for the upcoming year. For a family of three, however, this day was like no other. Around 8:00PM on New Year's Eve, the family was hit by a vehicle as they crossed the street in San Francisco. The car accident left a young girl dead and injured her mother and brother. The driver was arrested and accused of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. In seeking relief for the wrongful death of the young girl and the hospital bills, the family is not only looking to sue the driver but also the company of a mobile application found on his cell phone.

The driver in this car accident was using the mobile application (commonly abbreviated as "app") called Uber on his phone. Put simply, Uber allows anyone with a car to be a taxi. Unlike a normal taxi company, Uber allows common people to use their own private cars to pick up riders that use the app to ask for a pickup. The driver that hit the young girl was said to be waiting for a call from a potential rider using the app. So far, it is easier to see the guilt of the driver because, after all, the driver was the one that hit the family. Deciding whether Uber should also be responsible, however, is not so easy.

Much like baking a cake, any successful lawsuit has necessary ingredients. One of the necessary ingredients is found if the family can answer "yes" to the following question: Is Uber responsible for the negligent actions of its user drivers? Uber, through its business model, answers this question in a loud "no". They claim that Uber is not a transportation provider, it does not employ any of the drivers using the app, and, more to the point, it does not accept liability for their actions.

The family will definitely try and use the fact that Uber requires so many manual interactions as a way to show that Uber should be responsible for the injuries of others. A recent investigative report by ValleyWag.com shows just how much manual interaction is needed to use the Uber app during a normal cab ride. The Uber driver needs to press certain on-screen buttons, like "Arriving Now", depending on the action she is currently doing. ValleyWag poses an interesting, albeit obvious question: "[D]oes Uber expect its drivers to approach a potential customer, pull over, tap 'Arriving Now,' and then pull back onto the road, every single time?" If they do not or if they reasonably expect to know that its users will not, then Uber is encouraging people to break the laws of using cell phones while driving. This will be a huge problem for Uber.

The family would have a much easier time answering the previous question if Uber was in fact the thing that it is not -- a traditional taxi company. For example, a traditional taxi company would be responsible for the negligence of the drivers if the negligence occurred within the scope of the driver's employment with the company. This is made easier if the company also owned the vehicle that was involved in the car accident.

Although the family is presented with a unique question, they are not alone in challenging Uber's position. A woman previously challenged Uber's stance after she was injured by a flying fire hydrant that resulted from a car crash where one of the drivers used Uber's app. It will be a matter of time before this question is answered by the courts.

It is important to know that one of the most important ingredients in a successful lawsuit is having a great attorney beside you. If you, or your family, have been injured in any type of car accident, please call Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. Our firm has offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, and Orlando.

Patrick Hoge, Family of Dead Girl Wants Uber to Pay, San Francisco Business Times, (January 6, 2014, 6:48 PM PST), http://m.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2014/01/family-of-dead-girl-wants-uber-to-pay.html?page=all&r=full.
Sam Biddle, Uber Is Basically Training Drivers to Violate California State Law, VALLEYWAG, (February 6, 2014, 10:00AM), http://valleywag.gawker.com/uber-is-basically-training-drivers-to-violate-californi-1515942938?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_twitter&utm_source=gawker_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow.

Technology Addresses Top Highway Safety Threats

December 4, 2013, by

By Carlos Gonzalez of Rubenstein Law

Our society suffers from the many car accidents that occur every year. In an effort to protect its citizens, the government has begun to speed up research on technologies that would prevent many of these accidents. Joan Lowy, of the Associated Press, reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently researching the following three (3) technologies: collision avoidance, seat belt interlocks, and driver alcohol detection systems. David Strickland, the administrator of the NHTSA, argued that these technologies address the "top three highway safety threats" and that they "have the potential to significantly decrease those deaths."

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The seat belt interlocks is a type of technology that would prevent vehicles from being driven when a passenger or driver is not properly buckled in. The issue that has come up is whether automakers could use the new interlocks systems to satisfy the current safety regulations. The NHTSA is currently debating this issue.

The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and the NHTSA, have teamed up to research the in-vehicle technology that would prevent alcohol-impaired driving. This newly researched technology differs from some of the old detection systems because the driver does not need to take an additional step. In other words, the newly researched technology detects the blood alcohol level of the driver by a simple touch of the steering wheel, start button, or through a small air sample.

The collision avoidance system is currently being researched by the NHTSA. This system is part of a broader research program conducted by the NHTSA called Crash Avoidance Research Areas. Among the collision avoidance system, the NHTSA conducts research on vehicle rollovers, stability control, visibility, braking, and tire technologies.

Even though the government is currently hard at work developing and implementing these technologies, car accidents are still unfortunately very common. If you have been injured in a car accident, please call Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. Our firm has offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, and Orlando.

Auto Safety Gets a Shake Up

November 14, 2013, by

brakelights.jpgAuto Accident prevention is taken very seriously at Rubenstein Law. That's why we took notice when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently "de-throned" some kings of car safety. Among them...the Toyota Camry, which has been a favorite with Consumer Reports for many years.

Why the change? A new crash test, conducted by the IIHS, is considered an overlap test and it's designed to replicate what happens when only the front corner of a vehicle strikes an object. The tests found some vehicles are much better than others at protecting occupants in these "front quarter" types of collisions. The Camry and Audi A4 dropped in safety ratings as a result of the new tests. For that, Consumer Reports dropped their recommendations of those vehicles.

As of now, the IIHS has tested more than 60 cars and SUVs, with only 11 vehicles earning a Good rating (the highest) and 15 rating Poor. Most likely, some automakers will have to take a harder look at design to pass the new safety tests.

And speaking of auto safety, the longtime king of safe minivans, the Honda Odyssey, is also taking a hit this week. Honda is recalling 381,000 of its 2007-08 minivans because a malfunctioning computer could cause heavy and unexpected braking without the driver pressing on the brake pedal and without the brake lamps lighting up.

The worldwide recall is the second one this year related to unintended braking problems. So far, Honda says it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the current recall, however the company recommends speedy repairs to the minivans affected by the recall. A safety agency investigation began in June after receiving 22 complaints from Honda Odyssey owners who say their vans applied the brakes automatically and without reason.

Rubenstein Law handles all types of auto injuries, including those due to defective or faulty vehicles. If you or anyone you know has been injured in a vehicle accident, please contact us within 14 days of your accident at 1-800-FL-Legal (355-3425). Our firm has offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach and Orlando.