Florida House Passes Bill Making Texting and Driving a Primary Offense

Lawmakers in Tallahassee this week heard two important bills aimed at ending distracted driving, Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 107. Both bills specifically target cell phone use behind the wheel. The House voted 104-9 on the proposal (HB 107) by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, and Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, that would shift texting while driving from a “secondary” offense to a “primary” offense. HB 107, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, and Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, would among other things, take texting and driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense. Under current law, a police officer cannot pull someone over simply because that person is texting and driving. The driver must commit another infraction first- for example, speeding or reckless driving.  As a primary offense, police would be able to pull a driver over just for the act of texting and driving.  As part of the House bill, law-enforcement officers would have to record the race and ethnicity of people who receive citations for texting while driving, which could allow tracking if certain motorists are being targeted. All eyes are now on the Senate to see what they will do with companion bill SB 76 on Wednesday. The bills eventually need to match up before being sent to the governor’s desk.  What to Do if Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident. It is easy to see that distracted drivers are frequently at fault for car accidents on Florida’s roads. This means other drivers and passengers are affected by the reckless driving that texting, eating, and other distractions cause. Distracted drivers are more likely to speed, need...

‘International Waters’ Provides Legal Loophole for Alleged Cruise Ship Rapist on Board MSC Divina

When a crime occurs at sea, determining which legal jurisdiction has the authority to handle the case can be tricky. If the ship is in international waters, the question of jurisdiction becomes even cloudier. A case this week involving the alleged rape of a minor female while at sea has many concerned about just how protected passengers are, especially women, from violent crimes like rape and sexual assault while on a cruise. A Spanish court determined this week that they did not have jurisdiction over a man who was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl while on a cruise. After a case was brought in Valencia court, the judge ultimately determined that he has no authority over the case since the ship was in international waters when the crime occurred. Essentially the alleged perpetrator was set free via a legal loophole. A change to the law in 2009, means crimes can only be tried in Spain if the suspect or victim lives in Spain, so even though the victim reported the crime to Spanish police and the alleged attacker was arrested in Spain, a trial cannot take place there. The victim was a 17-year-old British girl who was on vacation on the MSC Divina with her parents when she was forced into a cabin and raped by an 18-year-old Italian male while the ship was sailing from Palma, Majorca. The crime was reported by the ship’s captain to port authorities in Valencia after the attack occurred. Police were granted permission to board the ship and arrested the Italian man. The female victim was then examined at Valencia’s La Fe...

When Cruise Companies Put Profits Ahead of Passenger Safety

Cruise ships sail in open waters to a variety of destinations worldwide. Maritime law governs injuries on cruise ships, and passengers have just one year from the date of the incident to file a claim. These cases must be filed in Federal Court in Miami, regardless of where the incident occurred and regardless of where the injured passenger is from. Cruise lines are responsible for the injuries that passengers sustain on and off the ship. However, sometimes, cruise companies put their profits ahead of the safety of their passengers. In fact, this practice is a common one we see at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers, and the results of these decisions are often tragic. The following instances highlight just some of the examples where cruise companies have put their profits ahead of passenger safety. Failure to Provide Lifeguards For the most part, the rule for swimming while on a cruise ship is you swim at your own risk. The death of six-year-old, Qwentyn Hunter, who drowned on a Carnival cruise with his family in 2016, highlights the dangers of drowning on today’s mega cruise ships. Except for Disney, the other three major cruise lines–namely Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean–all do not employ lifeguards. In fact, Disney started employing lifeguards only in 2013 after a four-year old Minnesota boy almost drowned while swimming in the pool of their Disney Fantasy cruise ship. The boy suffered serious brain injury requiring lifetime treatment, and Disney was forced to pay millions of dollars in settlements. Inadequate Medical Care No one goes on a cruise expecting to sustain a serious injury or illness. But passengers who...

Royal Caribbean Suspends Popular Sky Pad Attraction Following Passenger Injury Lawsuit

A popular attraction on two Royal Caribbean ships has been temporarily closed for inspection after a passenger was injured and filed a lawsuit against RCCL last month. The attraction at the center of it all is the trampoline bungee ride called the “Sky Pad.” Mariner of the Seas passenger, Casey Holladay, broke his pelvis after the harness connecting him to the bungee cord snapped. Holladay was propelled 20 feet in the air, when the Sky Pad malfunctioned on February 9. He fell to the ship’s deck, hit the hard surface next to the trampoline, and was seriously injured. Holladay has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Royal Caribbean for his injuries and subsequent damages, alleging that the cruise company was negligent in installing the attraction. The ride is only temporarily shut down on the Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas as the company continues its investigations. Royal Caribbean stated that they are conducting a review of the safety of the ride and will update the public on the outcome of their investigation as soon as possible. Holladay’s lawyers believe that it is only a matter of time before the Sky Pad will be permanently closed. Royal Caribbean had a duty to their passengers to perform proper safety analysis and risk assessment before allowing passengers on the Sky Pad. The two ships involved are anticipated to set sail soon for cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The Sky Pad is also featured on the Spectrum of the Seas¸ which is based in Asia. However, this ship was not mentioned in any of the company’s social media...

Carnival Cruise Lines Utilizing AI to Revolutionize the Cruise Ship Experience

Carnival Cruise Lines is looking to introduce a wearable technology that will revolutionize the cruise ship experience. Ocean Medallion, is a quarter-size 1.8-ounce waterproof battery-powered, wearable device. It can be carried in a passenger’s pocket or a bag or worn around the wrist, neck or attached to a belt.  The Ocean Medallion is the central element that allows for personalization and the use of technology to elevate the cruising experience on and off the ship. Carnival currently operates a fleet of more than 100 ships that travel to over 740 destinations across the world. Carnival is now looking to expand the services they offer on these ships by creating “smart cities at sea,” through Internet of Things (IoT) technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These smart cities at sea are being created by Carnival’s customer experience division, headed by John Padgett. Padgett was a part of the creating team for Disney’s $1 billion MagicBand and MyMagic+ program.  He was instrumental in the introduction of the Ocean Medallion, which is a waterproof wearable device that can be carried a person’s pocket, bag or worn around the wrist, neck or belt. This device is a part of the technology utilized by the ship in enhancing the cruising experience. The Ocean Medallion allows the cruise passenger to personalize his or her cruise experience based on preferences for food and other activities. Each passenger has his or her name carved into the Medallion that is connected to that passenger. The device uses the 7,000 sensors scattered throughout the ship to track the passenger’s movements and purchases on the ship. The Medallion also works with...

Failure to Use Turn Signals, a Leading Cause of Miami Auto Accidents

Florida drivers are consistently listed as some of the worst drivers in the country. As experienced Miami auto accident attorneys, we know the financial and emotional toll an auto accident can take on the victim and their family. The Miami Herald reports that failure to use turn signals results in 2 million collisions annually in the U.S., according to research by the Society of Automotive Engineers. That is more than twice the 950,000 annual collisions attributed to distracted driving. Based on the analysis, all 2 million of those collisions take place in Miami, where a basic safety feature could have been used to avoid the accident. Drivers fail to use turn signals 48 percent of the time when changing lanes and 25 percent of the time when making a turn, according to a report by automotive engineer Richard Ponziani, who observed 12,000 turning vehicles.  That adds up to two billion times a day that Americans do not use turn signals. The use of a turn signal is one of the most basic functions covered in driver’s education. The turn signal indicates to drivers which direction you will be traveling in the future. It may seem like common sense, but using a turn signal when changing lanes on the highway or making a turn onto a different street can eliminate the risk of a Miami car accident significantly. If it is that easy, however, why are more drivers not using their turn signals? To provide a bit of history on the turn signal, this safety feature was first introduced in 1939. It was added to alert drivers as to whether a...
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