November 2010 Archives

Are Home Health Aides Entitled to Overtime?

November 24, 2010

Home health care aides in Palm Beach County may be entitled to overtime compensation if they work more than 40 hours in any given workweek. A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, though not binding in Florida, approved overtime payments to in-home nurses and may have an impact on similar workers throughout the country.

Palm Beach County has a large number of home health care aides and nurses working in people's homes, due in part to its large senior citizen population. While the person receiving the care typically sets the hours and controls the type of services provided, most times the nurse is employed directly by a large company. These companies pay the in-home nurse an hourly rate, and, at least according to the Pennsylvania ruling, should pay them time-and-a-half for working overtime.

Who gets overtime pay?
The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is a set of federal laws that determine who is entitled to receive overtime pay. Some employees, such as those in managerial position or professionals like doctors, are exempt from the FLSA and are not eligible for overtime pay. When an employer fails to properly pay his employee overtime, they may be liable for the amount of unpaid overtime, an amount equal to that in liquidated damages and attorney's fees.

Home heatlh care agencies tell in-home nurses and aides where to be and when to be there. They control the aides' schedules and determine how they will be paid. Home health care aides are typically hard-working and good-hearted individuals. They won't say no to a client who asks them to stay late and won't complaint to their employers about not receiving overtime because theya re thankful to be working. But if they work more than 40 hours in a week, they may be entitled to additional compensation.

If you feel that you are entitled to overtime compensation or other unpaid wages from your employer, contact the Palm Beach County Wage and Hour Attorneys of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano today for a free consultation.

Miami Wage and Hour Cases Rise

November 23, 2010

Seeing a rise in the number of employees claiming unpaid overtime, Miami Personal Injury Attorneys Greenberg, Stone & Urbano are pleased to announce they are now handling wage and hour cases. The employment law division will be headed by Attorney Howard Weitzner.

Wage and Hour claims consist primarily of unpaid overtime and unpaid wages. This can include hourly, worker, salaried workers and people who work on commissions. There are federal and state laws that govern how workers are supposed to be paid. Violating these rules by failing to pay overtime or base wages can subject an employer to strict penalties such as liquidated damages and attorney's fees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, provides a specific framework for who is entitled to overtime payment and who is not. There are certain exemptions from the statute, but a non exempt worker who is not paid overtime can go back two years and also claim liquidated damages, or double the amount of unpaid overtime.

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Greenberg, Stone & Urbano Announce Employment Law Division

November 23, 2010

Palm Beach Personal Injury Attorneys Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A., have announced the opening of an employment law division in their Boca Raton office. The practice will now handle wage and hour cases in Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

Attorney Howard Weitzner will head the wage and hour division. The firm will focus its efforts on unpaid wages, overtime violations and minimum wage violations.

"In down economies, the ones who really feel the crunch are laborers and the working men," says Weitzner. "Companies become greedy and begin pinching pennies, with their employees the easiest target for their efforts to save a buck."

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Nascar Invades Miami, Brings Trucks

November 18, 2010

Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend will host the Sprint Cup Series Finale. In gearing up for the weekend, Miami residents have seen a large number of 18 wheelers and tractor trailers filling the busy highways of South Florida. These monstrous vehicles emblazoned with Nascar logos and team sponsor signs are something to look at, a signal a great time upon us, but also bring with them great danger.

Commercial truck crashes are responsible for thousands of wrongful deaths and devestating personal injuries each year. Large companies putting profit ahead of safety fail to properly qualify and train drivers, and push them to ignore state and federal regualtions regarding service hours, maintenance and speed. Because of the sheer size and speed of the vehicles involved in a tractor-trailer crash, the injuries are usually much more severe than those found in a car accident.

Drive Cautiously Around Trucks

Though this weekend's Nascar Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway is sure to be exciting, it is important to drive carefully on the highways in the days leading up to and following the event. Maintain a safe distance from trucks, as the driver may not be able to see you even though you see him. Don't pass trucks on the right side and be sure to give them adequate breaking time if you are in front of them.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, it is important to hire an experienced truck accident attorney immediately so that they may begin their investigation and gather valuable evidence. Contact Miami Truck Accident Attorneys Greenberg, Stone & Urbano today for a free consultation.

Motorcycle Deaths Rise in Palm Beach County, Nation

November 18, 2010

More than 4,000 people died in motorcycle crashes in the United States last year, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report in which it urged all states to make helmets mandatory for motorcycle riders. The 4,400 motorcycle crash deaths last year are more than all aviation, rail, marine and pipeline wrongful deaths combined. The report also states that, although other traffic fatalities have declined over the past decade, motorcycle deaths have increased steadily.

The National Transportation Safety Board also states that the United States has far more traffic fatalities than other wealthy countries. Other nations have seen their traffic fatality rates drop considerably due to programs such as speed cameras and speed measuring devices, sobriety checkpoints and mandatory motorcycle helmets which have been vehemently opposed in the United States. It is believed that, if these or similar programs were implemented here, thousands of lives could be saved.

Use Care Riding in Palm Beach
Not all states currently have mandatory helmet laws. Florida does not require a motorcycle rider to wear a helmet if they carry the minimal $10,000 in insurance to cover the medical bills. This is particular troubling as head injuries and traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

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Boca Raton CVS Continues to Make Prescription Errors

November 15, 2010

A Boca Raton CVS continues to make prescrption errors after being featured on local news outlets in 2009. The prescription errors are happening at an alarming rate this busy Palm Beach County pharmacy.

A Boca Raton woman was recently negligently given a prescrition for another customer. The CVS gave her a medication which is prescribed for those with high blood pressure. The woman's doctor had not prescribed this medication, as she did not have high blood pressure. The prescription error was discovered after she took the medication for almost one month. She is currently under her doctor's care and is contemplating litigation.

The CVS is located at 7016 Bera Casa Way in Boca Raton and was in the news after Palm Beach County Prescription Error Attorneys Greenberg, Stone & Urbano represented two Boca Raton women injured by pharmacy errors in 2009.

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Delray Beach Assisted Living Facility Fined After Resident's Death

November 15, 2010

A Palm Beach County assisted living facility paid a $7,500 fine to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration last month following the death of a 93 year-old resident who had advanced Alzheimer's Disease. Homewood Residence at Delray Beach, which denied any responsibility, voluntarily paid the fine as part of a settlement with the agency. The incident provides a spotlight on the issue of nursing home injuries and negligence in South Florida.

The resident, Michael Gruen, died after drinking dishwasher detergent that he had found in one of the dementia unit's kitchen. This was the third time in two years that the State has fined Homewood Residence at Delray Beach. An investigation by the Department of Children & Families determined that Mr. Gruen's death was an accident and that no intentional abuse or neglect was involved at the nursing home.
Brookdale Senior Living, the owner and operator of the Palm Beach County assisted living facility, operates more than 70 senior living and retirement communities in Florida, including eight in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

South Florida Nursing Home Negligence on the Rise

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Defective Depuy Hips Found In Palm Beaches

November 11, 2010

Thousands of Palm Beach County residents are potentially subject to a recall of a defective prosthetic hip manufactured by Depuy Orthopedics, a subdivision of Johnson and Johnson. Depuy Orthopedics has instituted a recall of its ASR XL Acetabular Systems and the ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems. The products were used in hip replacement surgeries from July 2003 through August 2010. Approximately 93,000 of the defective hips were used in surgeries worldwide.

Inadequate testing, poor design and placing corporate greed ahead of public safety and welfare are all to blame for the use of the defective product. Some reports have stated that Depuy first began receiving reports of the defective ASR hip systems as early as 2007.

It is believed that the artificial joint is too small and shallow and that the device fails to bond properly resulting in a loose implant. Hundreds of reports have been made to the FDA about the Depuy ASR hip system, with complaints of loose hip cup, stained tissue and pseudotumors being found around the joint. More than 1 in 8 of the Depuy hips need to be replaced within 5 years, a failure rate of over 12%.

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Depuy Hip Recall Affects South Floridians

November 11, 2010

Depuy Orthopedics has announced a recall on all DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Systems and the ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems used in hip replacement surgeries after 2003. Early estimates show that the defective Depuy products were used in approximately 93,000 hip replacmenet surgeries worldwide. If you had a hip replacement surgery after 2003, it is important that you check your records and contact your doctor immediately to determine if you are affected by this recall.

Complaints and complications associated with Depuy artifical joint include loose hip cups,dislocations and additional fractures or muscle damage. Some people have reported increased movement of the joint, popping or clicking sensations and a decreased range of motion in the hip. The defective product has also been shown to cause metallosis, a condition caused by movement of the implant which may result in the release of higher, potentially dangerous levels of chromium and cobalt ions into the body.

Studies have shown that 12% of patients who had received the ASR Resurfacing System and 13% of patients who received the ASR total hip replacement needed to have it replaced through a revision surgery. This is an extraordinarily high failure rate for a prosthetic device. Most hip replacement are expected to last in excess of 15 years.

Depuy Offers Payment for Revision

On its Website, Depuy Orthopedics, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, has initiated the recall and states that DePuy intends to cover reasonable and customary costs of testing and treatment associated with the ASR recall, including revision surgery if it is necessary. However, what most people don't realize is that by agreeing to participate in Depuy's program, they will likely be giving away certain rights. Depuy mentions nothing about compensating the people injured by its defective proudct for their pain, suffering, mental anguish and other intangibles.

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Drunk Drivers and Fatal Car Accidents Rise During Holidays

November 4, 2010

More drunk drivers will be on the road as winter approaches. Holiday celebrations with family, friends and coworkers surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas are often accompanied by alcoholic drinks, leading to more intoxicated drivers on Florida roads. December and November had the second and third highest number of fatal crashes last year, according to the 2009 Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle report.

Fatal car accidents caused by drunk driving are preventable and inexcusable. Rather than celebrating the holidays, some families will be devastated by the loss of loved ones in fatal car crashes caused by drunk drivers. When drivers make the decision to get on the road after drinking, they should be held responsible for the harm that they cause.

Filing a Wrongful Death Suit After a Fatal Car Accident

Florida law allows certain surviving family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a death caused by another's negligence or wrongful act. No amount of money can take away the pain suffered from the unexpected loss of a loved one. However, a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal car accident allows the victims' family to recover financial compensation for damages including the following:

  • Funeral and end-of-life expenses
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of companionship
  • Medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident

Punitive Damages Also Available

Punitive damages may also be recoverable after a fatal car accident caused by drunk driving. "Punitive" means "punishing" or "punishment." Florida law allows a family to seek punitive damages in fatal accidents caused by reckless behavior such as drunk driving, as a means of deterring this behavior in the future. Drunk driving is inherently reckless and demonstrates a gross lack of care. Courts often allow the family of a drunk-driving accident victim to seek punitive damages after proving the driver was intoxicated with no further proof of recklessness.

A Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

If someone you love has been killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, contact a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney, like those at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. An experienced attorney will thoroughly evaluate your claim and help you understand your legal options. For more information, visit us at

Related Resource: Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles "Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2009"

Hospital Medical Malpractice Complicated by Contracts with Doctors?

November 2, 2010

Hospitals across the country have attempted to protect themselves from medical malpractice suits by classifying doctors who work there as independent contractors rather than employees. Under the law, an employer is liable for the acts of its employee, but most times is not liable for the acts of an independent contractor. Though patients often think of the doctor as a member of the hospital staff without a second thought, some of the consent forms signed during a hospital stay expressly state that the doctor is an independent contractor. This may act as a bar to success in a lawsuit for malpractice committed by a doctor in a hospital setting.

Before releasing a hospital from liability for medical malpractice, be sure to examine the contract with the doctor and the admissions forms. Certain factual scenarios will still allow for a cause of action to be brought against the facility for hospital malpractice.

Hospital Employee Errors Can Lead to Hospital Liability

Other hospital employee errors can trigger liability for the hospital as well. The hospital, as an employer, may be responsible for errors by hospital employees, such as nurses, hospital staff and pharmacists. Improper dispensing of medication, lab errors and poor sterilization techniques that lead to infection are all sources of liability for the hospital. Inadequate training, supervision and staffing may also support claims for hospital malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Cases Require In-Depth Investigation

Usually, when dealing with a claim for medical malpractice, the injuries will be significant. Long-term care, future surgery, extensive physical therapy and other treatment can all be very expensive. Often, the doctor or person who committed the malpractice does not carry insurance. Therefore, to improve the likelihood of fair financial recovery for the injured person, it is very important to conduct a thorough investigation into the practices, policies and procedures of the hospital. Sometimes, a suit against the hospital for medical malpractice will be the only hope for a recovery.

An Attorney Can Help

For guidance and an evaluation of your legal rights after a possible incident of hospital malpractice, contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney, like those at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. An experienced hospital malpractice lawyer can assess your case and help you receive the compensation you deserve. For more information, visit us at

Related Resource: ABC News "Medical Errors: Past and Present"