Second-year anniversary: deadly Florida crashes remembered

Yesterday marked the second-year anniversary of an occurrence that many Floridians starkly remember, and with lingering sadness.

On January 29, 2012, a series of car accidents on the southbound lanes of I-75 near Paynes Prairie State Park in north central Florida took the lives of 11 people. Twenty one other persons were injured.

The deadly pileup south of Gainesville on that morning was caused by extremely low visibility. Foggy conditions predominated and were coupled with heavy smoke from a wildfire at the park.

Tragically, multiple vehicles entered the crash zone unsuspectingly, colliding with other vehicles. Some cars hit large commercial trucks that had stopped on the freeway.

Understandably, there has been much crash-centered talk, and some finger pointing, in the wake of that tragic event. One newspaper marking the anniversary noted that, notwithstanding a Florida Highway Patrol report that primarily attributed the chain collisions to errors committed by multiple driver, the patrol’s response to the accidents was “an even bigger source of frustration.”

The reason: Prior to the crashes, a trooper had reopened a previously closed portion of the interstate.

Changes have ensued in the wake of the occurrence, with reports indicating that more than $2 million will be expended on safety-enhancing roadway improvements expected to be completed sometime next year.

Specifically, a number of technological assists will be implemented on select portions of I-75 and U.S. 441. Those will include infrared cameras, sensors to detect visibility, and vehicle detectors. The tools will be coordinated in a manner that allows for close monitoring of weather and traffic conditions.

The improvements are much needed, notes the Gainesville Sun. The paper adds, though, that more than technology alone is needed to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

An editorial piece notes that “commitment from people on the ground to learn from past mistakes” is also required.

Source: The Gainesville Sun, “Editorial: two years later,” Jan. 29, 2014

Tags: Florida, car accidents

Doctor, hospital liable for $55 million after botched childbirth

Childbirth is supposed to be simple; it’s supposed to be routine; and it’s supposed to be the happiest moment of a family’s life. These are blanket statements, and of course things could go wrong — but they’re just not supposed to. However, sometimes the doctors and nurses on hand simply fail to uphold the most basic standards of medical care, forever change the life of the baby and the family.

That was the case for one young boy and his family after his birth was botched by doctors at a hospital. Despite signs that a Caesarean section procedure was necessary for the wellbeing of the boy and the mother, doctors maintained their course. As a result, the boy was deprived oxygen during birth and her mother began hemorrhaging. As a result, an emergency surgery was necessary, but it was too late. The boy suffered serious brain damage and now lives with cerebral palsy and developmental issues.

The family sued the doctor and the hospital for their shoddy care, and a recent verdict to the tune of $55 million shows just how much damage this botched procedure did to the family. As part of their ruling, the jury said the hospital and the doctor were each 50 percent liable.

While this is a staggering amount of money, remember that medical malpractice cases (and, really, any civil cases) may be reduced due to state caps on civil lawsuit awards. There is also the possibility of the amount being reduced upon appeal by the defendants.

Source: The Express-Times, “Jury awards family $55 million for boy’s injuries at birth at St. Luke’s University Hospital,” Dec. 24, 2013

Tags: Medical Malpractice

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