Honolulu, Hawaii Becomes First Major U.S. City to Ban Smartphone Use While Walking

Walk around the downtown of any city and you will see pedestrians glued to their smartphones.  However, even as smart phones have improved our ability to connect, they have also made walking more hazardous for both pedestrians and motorists alike.  Distracted pedestrians are increasingly causing accidents.  The phenomenon has become so common that some cities are now fighting the problem through fining pedestrians for the use of smartphones while walking.

 

Honolulu Becomes First Major U.S. City to Ban Texting and Walking

 

According to a recent New York Times report, Honolulu recently became the first major U.S. city to extend the ban to pedestrians in July.  Under that law, any pedestrian crossing a street while “viewing” a cellphone can be fined between $15 and $35.  The Times article further notes that a 2015 study in the Journal of Safety Studies found that, between 2000 and 2007, fewer than 400 pedestrians were injured in the U.S. each year due to accidents caused by pedestrians distracted by their phones.  However, after the introduction of Apple’s original iPhone in 2007 kicked off the smartphone revolution, an estimated 1,300 pedestrians were injured in 2012 while absorbed in their cell phones.

 

Pedestrian Duties When Interacting with Motor Vehicles under Florida Law

 

Pedestrians, just like drivers, have duties under Florida law. For instance, pedestrians have a general duty under Florida law to exercise reasonable caution when crossing roads or interacting with cars and other motor vehicles.  In addition, under Florida Statutes Section 316.130, pedestrians have specified laws they must obey.  First, pedestrians must obey all laws applicable to non-vehicles.  For example, a pedestrian is required to obey any traffic device specifically applicable to the pedestrian unless otherwise directed by a police officer.  Pedestrians are also required to obey all traffic control signals at intersections.  Therefore, a pedestrian crossing against the light is violating the law in Florida.

 

Contact Lytal Reiter if You Are Involved in An Accident with a Pedestrian Who is Ignoring His or Her Duties Under Florida Law

 

            There are traffic laws in Florida that apply to pedestrians just like there are laws that apply to motorists.  If a pedestrian is not following these laws requiring because the pedestrian is glued to his or her smartphone, the pedestrian may be at fault if he or she causes an accident in which a motorist is injured.  If you have been injured in Florida due to the carelessness of a pedestrian glued to his or her smartphone, then contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of  Lytal Reiter Smith Ivey & Fronrath today at (561) 655-1990 for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.  Our experienced personal injury attorneys have represented clients who have been seriously injured in many different scenarios, including pedestrian-caused accidents.

 

 

 

Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Florida Law Permitting Defense Attorneys to Speak with Physicians Who Have Treated Medical Malpractice Victims

In a win for Florida medical malpractice victims, as well as for Floridians’ privacy more generally, the Florida Supreme Court on November 8th struck down a controversial portion of a state law that permitted defense attorneys in medical malpractice cases to speak with the victim’s treating physicians.  This will enable victims of medical malpractice in Florida to rest easy knowing that personal or private medical or other information or details unrelated to their medical malpractice lawsuit may be discussed outside of the patient’s or their attorneys’ presence. This will ensure that medical malpractice cases stay focused on whether the defendant physician or healthcare provider committed medical malpractice or not, instead of issues that a defense attorney learns about that hurt a plaintiff’s case simply because of a law the Florida Supreme Court rightly found violates medical malpractice victims’ privacy rights.

 

The Law Permitting Defense Attorneys to Interview Treating Physicians

 

The law in question, which was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2013, allowed a doctor or hospital being sued by a patient to conduct “ex parte,” or one on one, interviews of the patient’s treating physicians without the patient or his or her attorney being present in the presuit portion of a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Thus, neither the injured patient nor his attorney(s) would be able to monitor what went on during such interviews or ensure the defense attorney only asked questions relevant to the medical malpractice.  Instead, the defense attorney could use the interviews as a fishing expedition to find out compromising details about the patient unrelated to his or her medical history or the alleged malpractice-all without any way for the patient or his attorney(s) to ensure that there were some bounds to these conversations.

 

The Justices’ Decision

 

In a 4-3 decision, the Florida Supreme Court wrote that “even the possibility that a person’s extremely sensitive private medical information will be exposed is the type of governmental intrusion that the Florida Constitution protects against because it is impossible to know if an inadvertent disclosure occurred when the meetings are not only ex parte and without a judge, but also secret [and] without a record.”   The Florida Supreme Court further noted that “in the case of protected medical information, the danger is uniquely and unconstitutionally great because once the bell has been rung, it cannot be unrung.”  The decision stemmed from a case from Escambia County in the Panhandle, in which the widow of a patient who was planning to sue a physician for medical malpractice in connection with her husband’s death, challenged the law out of concern that her deceased husband’s privacy rights would be violated if defense attorneys were to meet with her deceased husband’s doctors.

 

Contact Lytal Reiter if You Have Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice in Florida

 

The Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have experience successfully litigating these types of medical malpractice cases. If you believe you have been the victim of a surgical error, contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney from our firm. We are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call today at 561-655-1990 or toll free at 1-800-654-2024 for a free consultation regarding your situation.