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Farah & Farah Legal Blog

Can I Be Fired for Filing Workers’ Compensation in Florida?

By on January 30, 2017

Employees who are injured while on the job in Florida are generally entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits via their employer. However, injured employees are sometimes reluctant to file for workers’ compensation because they fear that if they seek benefits their employer will fire them in retaliation. Generally speaking, employer-employee relationships in Florida are governed by the traditional “at-will” employment doctrine. This doctrine holds that either the employer or the employee may lawfully terminate the employment relationship at any time. While the at-will employment doctrine holds true in almost every employment situation, there are a few notable exceptions in Florida that the legislature has carved out in the name of public policy. One of these exceptions is contained within the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act and prohibits employers from firing, or threatening to fire, employees for claiming workers’ compensation benefits. This exception is referred to as Florida’s workers’ compensation retaliation statute.

Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Statute

Florida’s workers’ compensation retaliation statute is contained in section 440.205 of the Florida Statutes and states that:

“No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.”

If an employer in Florida violates this statute the injured employee can file a lawsuit claiming that the employer unlawfully engaged in workers’ compensation retaliation. However, injured employees should note that while Florida’s retaliation statute makes it illegal for employers to fire employees for seeking workers’ compensation benefits, the statute does not require employers to reserve an injured employee’s job while he or she takes time off from work to recuperate. In other words, in order to win their retaliation case the injured employee must have been fired, or threatened with termination, because they filed for workers’ compensation benefits. However, plaintiffs who are ultimately able to prove their workers’ compensation retaliation case can recover a variety of different damages, dependent on the circumstances of the case, including lost earning capacity, medical benefits, and lost wages.

Proving that Retaliation Occurred In Florida: Three Elements

Proving that an employer engaged in workers’ compensation retaliation can be extremely difficult, but is by no means impossible. In order to win a retaliation case in Florida the injured employee must be able to prove all three of the elements listed below, which the court explained in the landmark case Russell v. KSL Hotel Corp.:

Element 1 – He or She Engaged in a Statutorily Protected Activity: Filing for workers’ compensation benefits is a statutorily protected activity under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, if an injured employee can simply show that he or she filed for workers’ compensation benefits then this first element will be satisfied.

Element 2 – He or She Suffered an Adverse Employment Action: As the retaliation statute outlined above notes, there are a number of different ways in which an employer can engage in illegal retaliation against an employee. In order to satisfy this element the injured employer simply needs to show that they suffered an adverse employment action. For example, the injured employee can satisfy this element by providing evidence showing that they were fired.

Element 3 – There is a Causal Connection Between the Adverse Action and the Protected Activity: In order to show that there is a causal connection between the injured employee filing a workers’ compensation claim and the resulting adverse employment action, the employee must show that the employer knew that that the employee was seeking workers’ compensation benefits and terminated, or threatened to terminate, the employee because of this knowledge.

How Can Employers Defend Against Claims of Retaliation?

After an injured employee argues in court that their employer unlawfully retaliated against them for filing for workers’ compensation benefits, the employer is then given an opportunity to explain why the employee was fired, or suffered some other adverse employment action. In order to defeat the employee’s retaliation claim, the employer must provide a legitimate and non-retaliatory justification for their actions. For example, an employer may be able to show that an injured employee’s job was eliminated due to budget cuts, rather than to punish the employee for seeking workers’ compensation. Essentially the employer has to show that they would have taken the same adverse employment action against the employee regardless of whether or not the employee filed for workers’ compensation benefits. The book Understanding and Preventing Workplace Retaliation provides the following list of evidence that employers often find helpful when attempting to show that they had a legitimate reason for firing an injured employee. Helpful evidence includes:

Examples of other employees who were also fired, but who did not file for workers’ compensation benefits,
Evidence of disciplinary procedures or performance concerns involving the injured worker that occurred before he or she filed for workers’ compensation, and
Evidence showing that the employer holds all employees to the same workplace rules or standards, regardless of who has filed for workers’ compensation.

If the employer succeeds in providing a legal justification for their actions, then the employee is given the opportunity to show that the employer’s justification is in fact a pretext. If the court agrees that the employer’s alleged justification is nothing more than a pretext, then the injured employee will win the retaliation case. If not, then the employer will be off the hook.

Need Legal Advice?

If you believe that you were fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim consider filing a retaliation lawsuit without delay. Even if you aren’t completely sure whether or not your employer’s actions legally constitute retaliation in Florida, contact the experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyers at Farah & Farah to discuss whether or not you have a case during a free initial consultation. Our firm is committed to working tirelessly to protect our clients’ rights and to holding employers in Florida accountable for their legal obligations to their employees. Call our office today.

Farah & Farah – Our Community Service Matters

By admin on January 28, 2017

Once in a while we like to do a little bragging about what we feel is our commitment to give back to NE Florida, our home for more than 30 years.

New Year’s Eve and the July 4th holiday we picked up the tab for more than 750 cab rides to make the city of Jacksonville safe from drivers who may have overindulged.   We don’t judge, we just help you get home safely. 

Farah & Farah has given away dozens of free bicycle helmets to make sure your kids have properly fitted and fastened head gear that meets the federal safety standards. 

We conducted two giveaways this year at the August 3, 2016 Downtown Art Walk and August 9th at Chick-Fil-A on Roosevelt Rd.  Learn more at: www.keepjaxsafe.org.

Farah & Farah was honored to provide Christmas gifts to three seniors who were our representatives before the Jacksonville Bar Association this year. They had signed up on the Santa Wish List and Farah & Farah provided and delivered gifts that were included on their individual wish lists.

www.Imastarfoundation.org

http://www.imastarfoundation.org/Student-Motivational-Training-Jacksonville-FL.html

I’m a Star Foundation is a local non-profit organization that serves as a leadership and mentoring boot camp for students grades 6 through 12. The students are enrolled in Duval County Public Schools and I’m a Star empowers them to graduate high school and realize their potential.

Betty Burney is the founder of the foundation and the local woman is a motivational speaker and education consultant who has been a community leader for nearly 30 years in Jacksonville. Farah & Farah is proud to support I’m a Star Foundation and has supported many local efforts by the generous Ms. Burney throughout the years. 

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) helps those in need of legal assistance but have no money for a lawyer. Elderly individuals who have been taken advantage of by the unscrupulous, help in family matters when there is no budget to hire an attorney, or for those who are losing their homes, or for the disabled, these are some areas that JALA helps. https://www.jaxlegalaid.org/

We support JALA because we believe everyone must have access to the legal system, not just those who have enough money to get through the courtroom doors.   

It’s a fundamental and an American right.

At Farah & Farah we take our community involvement very seriously.  We feel we are indebted to our community because it supports all of our employees in the office and allows us to support our families.

It’s our moral obligation for us to give back to the community.  That is truly the way we feel and we are honored to do so.

Posted in: Law Firm News

Scammers and Gift Cards

By admin on January 28, 2017

The holidays might have brought you many gifts you wanted, and some you didn’t.

For consumers who don’t want to buy the wrong gift, a prepaid card linked to your favorite retailer, say Target or Amazon, might be loaded with a limited amount of cash. The recipient is supposed to use it like a debit card.

Most Americans have given or received gift cards. But consumers beware – there are pitfalls to these cards.

First- if you lose the card, generally you are out of luck, depending on the terms of the contract.

Then there the problem of gift cards that sit unused. It’s called “spillage” and that is something the retailer counts on.  Spillage accounts for an estimated $1 billion in unused dollars every year, resulting in a gift to the retailer, reports Barron’s.

Watch for fees that may apply to a gift card sold by a financial institution. The card can have an activation or inactivity fee that degrades their value.

If you have an unwanted gift card you can trade it for one you do want. eBay’s CardCash app will allow a $100 Walmart gift card to be traded for a $93 eBay gift card.

Beware of the latest scam involving the iTunes gift cards.

An iTunes card purchased at CVS, might result in a call asking the recipient to put cash on the card to pay taxes or help someone in need. 

The scammer might say they have a CP2000 letter that requests a tax payment be made to the Internal Revenue System (IRS).   

CVS says never provide your PIN number to someone you don’t know. 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has recently issued a warning to taxpayers about people who call you claiming to be from the IRS or Treasury Department and urging you to use that gift card to pay your tax bill. 

The warning says “The IRS WILL NOT contact you by phone with threats for non-payment of tax liability.”

The IRS will never require an iTunes or Amazon gift card or credit card for tax payment.  It’s a scam also seen on Green Dot Prepaid Cards, Money Pak Prepaid, Reloadit Prepaid, among others.

If you receive a call from the IRS allegedly to settle a tax bill, the government warning says just hang up. 

Dozens of consumers have been scammed this way, at one point to a tune of 150 reports a week. In October, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted dozens of alleged scammers based in the U.S. and five call centers in India. 

Prepare to be especially vigilant during the upcoming tax filing season.

Posted in: Law Firm News

In the Market for a Used Car? Buyer Beware

By admin on January 28, 2017

If you listen to the advertisements, a used car is practically like a new one, just cheaper.

Right.

We all know that can’t be true.

Some used cars are the subject of recall notices, but if you are on a used car lot, do not assume that a certified used car has had all of the recall items fixed.   

In December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates advertising, issued a decision that essentially allows big used-car chains and General Motors to lie to the public when it comes to used automobiles.

They can tell consumers the used car has been safety inspected and repaired, offering assurances that the consumer is buying a quality car, even if there are outstanding recall items that have not been fixed. 

The burden falls on the consumer to look up online using their VIN# to see if the vehicle is facing any safety recalls.  See the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database here.

The used car dealer chains affected are CarMax, Asbury Automotive Group and the West-Herr Automotive Group. 

The New York Times reports the dealers are only required to advise buyers that recall notices might be outstanding and how to find out if your car has a recall notice.  The dealers themselves do not have to make the repairs.

This might not be so problematic if we hadn’t heard about recent cases where automakers hid crucial safety information from car owners.

Can you say General Motors, in its failure to let consumers know about a deadly ignition switch?  How about Volkswagen and how it misled about pollution controls? Honda is on the list of automobile bad boys as well with its failure to let anyone know about safety problems for more than ten years.

Exploding airbags are responsible for 11 deaths, 180 injuries, and 42 million recalled affected vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Delia Robles of Riverside, California was on an errand when she got into a fender bender last September in her 2001 Honda Civic. It had recently been purchased by her son for $2,100 and had been sold three times before at auto auctions.

He didn’t know it had a defective airbag. The collision didn’t kill Ms. Robles, 50, but the metal parts that exploded from the Honda’s faulty airbag did. 

There were more than 20 notices sent out by Honda on that particular model warnings its driver-airbag could explode. It was never fixed.

Lobbyists for the used-car industry have been successful in weakening any effort in Congress to toughen laws for used cars, which amounted to 38 million auto sales in the U.S. last year.

The decision is a compromise that resulted from a settlement over General Motors advertising claims. It will be in effect for 20 years.

Interestingly, the move puts two federal agencies at odds – the F.T.C. and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the nation’s automobile safety agency.

It has called for used-car dealers to fix outstanding recall items before selling a vehicle.

Posted in: Law Firm News

Uninsured Drivers Who Cause Car Accidents in Florida

By on January 15, 2017

Although every motorist driving in Florida is legally required to carry insurance, the truth of the matter is that there are many uninsured motorists using Florida’s roadways everyday. In fact, according to the Florida Insurance Council, Florida has among the highest uninsured motorists rates in the United States with an estimated 25 percent of motorists driving illegally without insurance. Additionally, many more drivers have insurance but are “underinsured,” meaning that their liability limits turn out not to be sufficient to cover their bills after an accident. Because uninsured and underinsured drivers are so prevalent, car accident attorneys in Florida have their hands full providing legal representation to car accident victims after an uninsured driver causes a crash. This article outlines the need to know legal basics that apply when an uninsured driver causes a car accident in Florida; however, car accident victims who are struggling to obtain the compensation that they are legally entitled to should consult with a local attorney.

Legally Mandated Car Insurance

In Florida, every driver is legally required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ website notes that drivers must have full liability coverage that includes minimum limits of bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash, $10,000 property damage liability per crash, and personal injury protection limits of $10,000 per person per crash, as of the time that this article was written. Florida drivers who fail to carry the required PIP insurance can be fined and have their license, vehicle registration, and/or vehicle tag suspended. Despite these potential penalties many drivers fail to obtain Florida’s requisite insurance, either because the driver is from out of state, he or she can’t afford the insurance, or they simply choose not to purchase the insurance because they feel that the risk is worth it.

How to Collect Compensation After Being Hit by an Uninsured Driver

Determining how you will be compensated after being hit by an uninsured driver depends in large part on which state you are in. In the United States there are 12 states that are “no-fault” insurance states while the remaining 38 states are classified as “tort” states. Here we will focus on how compensation is collected in a no-fault state as this is the system that is in place in Florida.

In a no-fault insurance state the default option for receiving compensation after a car accident is to collect payment from your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for causing the accident and whether or not the other party is an uninsured motorist. Personal injury protection insurance is typically designed to cover 80 percent of your medical bills and expenses, leaving the remaining 20 percent of your expenses to be covered by the other driver’s insurance. However, if the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured it can be tricky to recover this remaining 20 percent. One option is to sue the uninsured driver, but it may be difficult to collect if the at-fault driver is lacking in assets. However, if the at-fault driver was working at the time of the accident then a court may be willing to hold their employer vicariously liable for the damages that their employee caused. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to assess your case and determine your chances of recovering the compensation that you’re seeking.

How to Protect Yourself Against Uninsured Motorists: Uninsured Motorist Coverage

There are several ways in which you can help protect yourself against uninsured motorists in Florida. The first step you should take is to ensure that your own insurance policy complies with our state’s minimum PIP insurance requirements. The next step is to obtain uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This special type of insurance protects you, and generally also any relative who lives with you, financially in the event that you or your relative gets into an accident where the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured. For example, if you are involved in an accident where your claim against an underinsured motorist is worth $50,000 but the underinsured motorist who caused the accident (aka the at-fault motorist) only has a $25,000 policy, if you have UM coverage then your uninsured motorist insurance company will cover the difference and write you a check for the remaining $25,000.

Please note that divers in Florida are not required to carry uninsured motorist insurance, but that your insurance company is required to offer UM coverage to you and must receive your denial in writing if you decline the coverage. It should also be noted that uninsured motorist coverage, like other forms of insurance, is offered at different coverage levels so be sure to select the insurance level that makes the most sense for you and your family.

Important Tip: No matter what type of insurance you have, it is never a good idea to sign any liability release without first consulting with your insurance company and/or car accident attorney. Sometimes an uninsured at-fault party will try to get you to sign away your rights after a car crash, but doing so directly after an accident is almost never in your best interest.

Need Legal Advice After an Uninsured Motorist Accident?

Collecting compensation from an uninsured motorist after a car accident in Florida can be extremely difficult, but having a competent lawyer by your side can make this trying process much more manageable. If you have mounting medical bills and need access to the compensation that you are legally entitled to, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Farah & Farah today. Our dedicated auto accident attorneys in Florida will evaluate your case during a free initial consultation, discuss the likely outcome of the case with you, and get started on your case without delay.

Farah & Farah December 2016 Newsletter

By admin on December 12, 2016

Toy Truck Explodes in Bed of Real Truck, Leads to Recall

It’s a toy that is supposed to bring thrills and joy to a child, not flames and injury.

The rideable Tonka Mighty Wheels Ride-On dump truck exploded in the back of a real pickup truck when a Washington State couple, Roxsane and Delmond Harden of Bellingham, brought the gift home to their grandson in November.

As a result, Toys “R” Us has pulled the 12-volt truck from its shelves, reports Consumerist. The truck’s lead acid battery produces hydrogen, which is highly flammable, however it’s unusual that it catches fire. 

The couple purchased the gift on Black Friday and was driving home when they noticed 20 foot flames igniting in the back of their truck. The inferno was caught on cell phone camera and broadcast on the Seattle television stations. The truck’s owner posted a video on YouTube to show the back of the truck completely charred and its bed interior melted. 

A fire truck and two troopers helped extinguish the blaze.

Toys “R” Us has apologized and refunded the cost of the truck.  The small toy truck, that is. No word yet on whether they will also step up and reimburse the couple for their real truck.

Manufacturer, Dynacraft will try and determine the cause of the fire but believes this is an isolated incident.

“The fact that their Tonka Truck is still featured in a video for the company shows it’s not taking the isolated incident too seriously,” said Eddie Farah of Farah & Farah.

Those company assurances are not enough to stop an investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal agency that oversees the safety of consumer products. The Hardens will meet with representatives from the CPSC to recount their experience and to stress that this dangerous product should not be sold to families.

The Tonka Mighty Wheels truck no doubt will make the annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, put out by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).  For 31 years, the consumer group has identified unsafe toys that have led to more than 150 recalls. It also helps educate the public about the potential hazards in toys.

In all, 44 different toys made the list for 2016.     

Consumers can shop for toys by checking Toy Safety Tips here. The Trouble in Toyland 2016 report is here.    

It is illegal to resell any of these products so be sure that you don’t buy them at garage sales or second-hand stores or even online.  Many contain lead paint, or parts that can be ingested by small children presenting a choking hazard.  Many of the products are imported from China and elsewhere.  ###

How to Deter Porch Pirates

The Grinch may be visiting your home early this holiday season.

About 23 million Americans had their holiday packages stolen from their homes last year when they were delivered to the front door and no one was home. 

This holiday season has the potential to be a bonanza for porch pirates with online shoppers spending $5.27 billion between Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.   Cyber Monday brought another $3 billion, according to Adobe Digital Insights. All of these online sales are very good news for thieves.

What can you do?  Turn to technology to turn away the porch pirates.

Package Guard is a disc that is connected to your home Wi-Fi and sends you an alert when a delivery is placed on it. If that package is lifted from the motion detecting plate without you first disarming it, an extremely loud alarm will sound.   

Security cameras, such as Ring, provide a little peace of mind. Also check out Nest, Blink or Kuna. These are high definition home security cameras that stream and record video and send you an alert when someone approaches your door. Some even come with a two-way intercom system.  You might consider pointing one camera to the street so it can record a license place. 

Lockboxes are going high tech. The Landport looks like a locker and sits on your front porch. Pricy at $499, the steel box is bolted to the floor and relies on a unique code to open. Place the code in the “special instructions” or “Notification Preferences” box when you order online from Amazon.

iBin is another porch box, though more expensive.

Another option is to have the package delivered to a different location such as a UPS Store or a FedEx location. 

Amazon Locker resembles a post office box and a package delivered there must be picked up in three days.  Amazon Lockers are now found in a dozen major US cities, some in 7-11 stores, and can be opened 24 hours.

Slice is an app that tracks packages and sends you email alerts and works with UPS, USPS and FedEx. Parcel is another app that delivers tracking information for USPS, FedEx and OnTrac, so you know when you need to get home.

Also you can request a signature for delivery. 

Or simply arrange with a neighbor to bring in the package.  Don’t know one?  In true technology fashion, Nextdoor is a website that connects you to people on your street.

You might find a power washer that way or learn about any porch pirate activity in your neighborhood. And you might actually get to know a neighbor. ###

Transvaginal Mesh Deaths

Unless you have been injured by a medical device or drug, you may not know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a system that is supposed to monitor adverse events, as they are called.

For medical devices, the information can be entered into the MAUDE database (Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience), but it does not invite the public with a user-friendly experience.

If an attorney or doctor knows about MAUDE, or MedWatch, another FDA reporting registry, he or she may report an adverse event on behalf of the client/ patient. 

But lately we’ve learned that the FDA allows device makers to withhold hundreds of reports of faulty medical devices, and instead allows the device maker to issue one retrospective summary.

The way medical devices are approved, unlike drugs, without premarket approval or any requirement for clinical trials, should undergo an entire overhaul, said the Institute of Medicine in a 2011 report, but it simply hasn’t happened.

Madris Tomes used to work at the FDA. Now she has established Device Events, an online news source where she calculates the numbers being entered into the FDA and reports them in a way everyone can understand.

For example, Essure permanent birth control device, has generated 303 reports of fetal deaths or injuries. The FDA now requires a black box warning label for Essure, the strongest warning concerning serious or life-threatening risks, but it remains on the market.

Transvaginal mesh also remains on the market, despite the numbers.

With more than 25,000 adverse event reports from law offices, 23,000 reports from doctors and over 1,000 from hospitals, Tomes found 1,299 deaths associated with the use of transvaginal mesh or slings. The reports also include mesh that is used for hernia repair. 

The FDA itself reported that between 2008 and 2011, there were seven deaths association with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repair. More than 3,979 reports of injury death and malfunction associated with all gynecological surgical mesh products were reported from 2005 to 2010.

In 2011, the FDA Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Advisory Committee reported three of the deaths were due to the placement of the POP mesh, generally a larger piece of polypropylene (PP) used to shore up descending or dropping pelvic organs. 

Tomis says the death reports are likely low because deaths can be reported as injuries or a product malfunction.   It is also unclear how many deaths are related to the use of POP mesh or mesh to treat incontinence, a smaller piece of PP mesh.

There are more than 95,000 defective product lawsuits consolidated in one federal court in Charleston WV and thousands more in state courts and in countries around the world. No one is calculating how many of those women pass on as they wait for the protracted litigation to be resolved.

Without someone closely watching the post-approval use of a medical device, and an increase in post-market surveillance funding, you have more chance of receiving a consumer recall notice on a faulty car part than on your implantable medical device. 

Posted in: Law Firm News

Farah and Farah November 2016 Newsletter

By admin on November 28, 2016

Florida Tops Nation in Motorcycle Deaths in 2015

The news is not good if you ride a motorcycle in Florida – deaths from motorcycle accidents are at an all-time high and Florida leads the nation in those fatalities.

The statistics are sobering.  There were 5,010 motorcyclist fatalities in 2015, which represents the worst death toll in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Governors Highway Safety Association in its 2015 report says the number of motorcyclist fatalities ranged from 3 in the District of Columbia to 550 in Florida. Florida was one of 31 states that experienced an increase in motorcyclist fatalities. Sixteen states had decreases.

Why?

Eddie Farah, of Farah & Farah says the number one reason for the increase is the repeal of Florida’s mandatory helmet laws.

”Back in the late 1970s, there were 47 states that mandated motorcyclists wear helmets. But the “personal freedom” movement by bike rider groups went after those mandates. By 2012 that mandated helmet law was reduced to just 19 states.’

“Florida repealed its law in 2000. Anyone riding a motorcycle, 21 or older, with at least $10,000 in medical insurance no longer had to wear a helmet. We are now seeing the results of that change.”

Your chance of being injured on a motorcycle is 26 times higher than in a car or truck, according to NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You increase your risks of dying in one of those crashed by 37 percent if you don’t wear a helmet, according to NHTSA.

Riding a motorcycle is risky business. Not only are you exposed to direct contact by oncoming vehicles, but without a helmet you increase your chances of traumatic head injury in a collision. Speeding, and the use of alcohol and/or drugs all contribute to fatal outcomes.

Chuck Farah adds, “We are also seeing people wearing cheap, fashionable motorcycle helmets that in no way conform to federal safety standards and therefore do not protect riders from traumatic brain injury.”

Gas prices were down in 2015 an average of 28% meaning more vehicles of all kinds have taken to the road.

When a motorist speeds, consumes drugs or alcohol or is distracted, the risk of injury and death on the road increases for both motorists and motorcyclists.

It remains to be seen what 2016 statistics will yield, but gas prices are still low and the weather is mild, the lax motorcycle helmet law is still in place and drivers are still driving distracted behind the wheel, perhaps more than ever!

Driving is serious business.  Imagine the 550 lives that could have been saved and the families that could be spared the loss of a loved one if we all took more seriously our time on the road?  ##

Big Rigs – Big Speed

You’ve heard of the black box recorder found on airplanes. Investigators will recover a black box recorder to decipher the conditions that might have led to a crash.

But did you know there are electronics on board a big rig that can also limit the speed that a heavy truck can travel on our highways?

But they only work if they are switched on. 

The problem is, often they are not.   

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to mandate speed limiter technology on new big rigs, but it remains uncertain if those mandates should apply to heavy trucks already on the road. 

Limiters do just what they suggest, they limit the speed limit of the big rig from 60 to 70 mph or points in between. NHTSA says at 68 mph, at least 100 lives a year could be saved.

The public can comment on the speed limiter proposal until November 7.

This would mean new vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, including a multipurpose vehicle such as a school bus or bus, would be equipped with a speed limiting device. The actual speed limit of the highway will be set by this final rule.

The federal register is seeking comments on the proposal from the Department of Transportation.

Statistics show us that speed is a factor in more than 1,000 fatalities every year where trucks and busses in excess of 13 tons are involved, according to FARS or the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System. 

Excess speeding in 2015 is blamed for at least 9,557 deaths in cars and trucks in the U.S. 

Limiting the speed of these heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes, reduce fatalities and injuries and save more than $1 billion a year in the cost of fuel.

The question might be why are these speed limiters not switched on if the technology is available? 

Well it is, in some instances.

One major carrier, Schneider National Inc. from Green Bay, Wisconsin, installed the devices twenty years ago and set them at 65 mph.

Two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec, limit large commercial trucks to 65 mph. 

In Germany, Ford debuted its “Intelligent Speed Limited” that allows a maximum speed to be set on the S-Max minivan which is sold in Europe. That technology is not available in the United States. 

The trucking industry is divided and not surprisingly financial incentive is the reason. 

The American Trucking Association (ATA) supports the speed limiters but independent truckers, who compete in getting a delivery to its destination faster, are not in favor.

Drivers are safer when everyone travels at relatively same speed, argues the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,
but ultimately, they argue, the safest truck is driven by a well-trained driver who can vary his speed depending on conditions of the road.

The fact that the proposal may only apply to new trucks is outrageous, says Steve Owings of the advocacy group, Road Safe America.  The group wants the speed limiters extended to all trucks on the road.  ###

Fraudulent Credit Cards from Wells Fargo- What Should a Consumer do?

There are two million Wells Fargo customers who were subjected to fraudulent accounts opened in their names, whether a bank account or credit card.

It was all part of the Wells Fargo scandal that broke in September. 

Well Fargo employees say they were pressured to meet unrealistic sales expectations. The inquiry goes as far back as 2008, but there is no word on how long this has been going on.

As a result, 5,300 employees have been fired and the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, 63 decided to retire early. That after Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly chastised the CEO, who remains under investigation.

He reportedly returned much of his 2016 salary of more than $19 million and his bonus and $41 million in stock awards. 

Wells Fargo says it’s returned $2.6 million in fees to its customers, and paid a fine of $185 million imposed by regulators, but is that enough?

First, if you are a customer of Wells Fargo, check your accounts with the bank and check whether any credit cards have been opened in your name.  You might not know it because part of the fraud was to have the credit or even a debit card sent to the bank, not your home.

Go to a local Wells Fargo branch and review the accounts that have your name and social security on them. This can also be done online if you’ve set up online banking. 

Look for any transactions on those accounts or fees you are being charged.  If you find them, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should be alerted at 855-411-2372. 

If you have a private student loan from Wells Fargo, check it carefully for any illegal fees or incorrect entries on credit reports, for which the bank was fined $3.6 million by the CFPB.

Review your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, which you can get for free once a year. Check out AnnualCreditReport.com.   

Wait before you close any credit card. To do so many negatively impact your credit score

Credit cards opened over time show a cardholder is responsible, says VP of Customer Operations at Equifax Diane Moogalian to Consumer Affairs.

Generally those who have a lower credit utilization rate have a higher credit score. In other words, if you don’t need credit you are judged favorably. Keep your score under 30%, says CreditKarma.

The Wells Fargo policy now is to let you know if an account or credit card is opened in your name.  The sales quota system will end at the end of 2016.

On the other hand, you could use this as an excuse to shop for another bank.  Check out Depositaccounts.com to compare lower fees or higher interest rates.

Posted in: Law Firm News

Defective Automobile Seats

By on October 14, 2016

automobile-seatAutomobile seats have been called “the most important single lifesaving device available” for protecting passengers in an accident. While that may be the case, today’s automobile seats, both front and rear, have time and again been shown to be poorly designed. Defectively designed and manufactured auto seats are particularly dangerous to children seated in the back seats of automobiles when rear ended—for two reasons. One: trunk contents like jacks, spare tires, luggage, etc. can be pushed through the backs of the rear seats, crushing the children between the seat and their safety belt. Two: the front seats can fail, sending the front seat occupants and their seats into the back seat where the children are seated. These types of accidents have resulted in serious injury and death for many children.

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Posted in: Defective Products

Our 2016 Farah & Farah Scholarship Winner!

By on October 12, 2016

grad-scholarshipThe results are in! We’ve chosen our winner for the 2016 Farah & Farah Scholarship! After reviewing many great essays from a major melting pot of young minds, the decision for a winner wasn’t easy.

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Posted in: Law Firm News

The Link Between Cancer and Talcum Powder

By on October 7, 2016

Manufactured by many different companies, talcum powder is one of the most famous products in existence. Commonly labeled as “baby powder,” by the company Johnson & Johnson, the product contains an ingredient, known as talc, that has been linked to cases of cancer. Despite frequent claims of safety being pushed forth by manufacturers, several claims have been filed by women who believe that their ovarian cancer was caused by talcum powder. If you are a former or current user of talcum powder, you may find the following information to be immensely important. Read the rest »

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The attorneys of Farah & Farah in Jacksonville, Florida have experience with personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, workers’ compensation, social security, injury and negligence lawsuits, family law and criminal defense. Eddie Farah and our team of Jacksonville attorneys are proud to represent working people and families throughout the country.

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