Brain Injury Cuts Future Seminole’s Career Short

One of Florida State University’s top recruits was forced to cut short his promising career in football. Richy Klepal, a senior lineman at Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., suffered a concussion recently while practicing with his high school football team. Lingering medical issues meant that an aggravating injury could seriously endanger his life.

Klepal said that his doctor compared the state of his brain to that of a former patient, a retired NFL player with 10 concussions, and said Klepal’s brain was in worse condition.

Robert Weiner, Klepal’s coach at Plant High, said that Klepal is no longer in any danger from the brain injury. However, the risk to Klepal if his brain sustained further injury in the same spot was too great for him to continue playing football. Considering the danger, the otherwise tough decision was made easy.

The loss of Klepal is a blow to FSU’s 2013 recruiting class. Klepal was rated 4 out of 5 stars on Rivals.com. He committed to attend the university this summer and would have signed to play with the Seminoles in February.

For Klepal, however, it is not all bad news. When he told FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher of his inability to play for the Seminoles, Fisher told him he would honor Klepal’s scholarship to attend the university.

Florida Police Officer Dies in Presidential Motorcade Crash

A weekend of campaigning by President Obama in Florida ended in tragedy as an officer of the Jupiter Police Department was killed while assisting with traffic control for the president’s motorcade.

Officer Bruce St. Laurent, 55, had worked for the department for 20 years. He was one of a number of officers from local departments who had come to West Palm Beach, Fla., to assist with security for the President’s entourage. St. Laurent was riding his motorcycle southbound on Interstate 95 with the presidential motorcade. He moved to an onramp in order to block traffic from entering the highway and was struck from behind by a pickup truck.

Susan Holloway, 56, was driving the Ford F150 up the onramp, accelerating in preparation to merge with highway traffic. She braked to avoid the accident, but nevertheless struck St. Laurent, knocking him off his motorcycle. The officer then became trapped under the truck when it came to rest.

St. Laurent was rushed to St. Mary’s Medical Center nearby, where he died later that day.

The Florida Highway Patrol and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office will conduct investigations that may take months to complete. After the investigations are concluded, state attorneys will decide whether to file any charges in the case.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the president was informed of the officer’s death and said the first family’s prayers were with the officer’s family.

Florida Brain Injury Center Fights Lawsuits from State, Insurer

A Wauchula, Fla., brain-injury rehabilitation facility has been ordered to relocate dozens of its patients after a recent surprise inspection by three state agencies.

Officials reviewed the records of 98 patients receiving inpatient treatment at Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation and found that 50 of them do not meet criteria that the facility is licensed to treat. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration order requires FINR to submit to the state a plan to relocate those patients. Officials also found that the facility was treating patients for too long, in violation of its license as a “transitional living facility.”

Although the violations detailed in the report may seem mostly technical or procedural, the surprise inspection may have been motivated by allegations far more sinister in nature. Shortly before the inspection, Bloomberg News reported on dozens of cases of alleged neglect and abuse at the facility. Indeed, in at least five cases of patient death since 1998, families or state officials have alleged abuse or neglect by FINR staff. Three former staff members currently face criminal charges.

FINR is fighting the relocation order, claiming regulators overstepped their authority. They are appealing the case to the Division of Administrative Hearings and say they will not submit a plan to comply with the order unless their legal challenge is defeated. FINR claims the state is enforcing a too-narrow definition of brain injury limited only to that which results from physical trauma, such as a car accident. That unfairly denies treatment to patients with other kinds of brain injury, the company said.

The matter has recently grown even more complicated for FINR. Allstate Corp., the second-largest auto insurance company in the U.S., filed suit against the company recently in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Fla. Allstate seeks fraud damages of $7.6 million it says it paid FINR to treat its auto insurance claimants.

Florida’s claim that FINR treated patients for longer than its licensing allows is central to Allstate’s lawsuit. The insurer alleges that FINR aggressively recruited brain injury patients from Michigan, where insurance companies are required to provide unlimited medical benefits for auto injury coverage, and promised those patients services they never received. The lawsuit further alleges that FINR tried to prevent patients from leaving the center with incentives and threats. One patient was told that if she left, Allstate would not pay for any further treatment, but if she stayed, she would get a trip to Busch Gardens.

A lawyer representing FINR said the company would not comment on pending lawsuits.

Florida High School Student Struck by Motorist

A high school student from South Fort Myers was reportedly hit by a woman driving a Toyota Tacoma in the predawn hours last Thursday. It is not clear exactly what caused the accident. The driver admitted to being aware of having hit something, but claimed to be unaware that it was a person.

A man on his way to work came upon the injured girl, age sixteen, and noticed she was barely able to breathe. He called 911 and stayed with her, reporting later that he worried that she was going to die before medical care arrived. He said the driver was no longer in sight, but pieces of the vehicle were scattered about the scene. Other teens were also nearby, also calling for help.

Authorities said the driver’s failure to remain at the scene of the accident could result in two felony charges against her.

Florida Highway patrol said they do not believe either cell phone use or alcohol contributed to the accident. The truck was reportedly traveling under the speed limit. Even absent those factors, however, the smallest distraction may be enough to cause an accident. This is especially true at night and during twilight hours. Insufficient street lighting can also play a role. The 911 caller commented to reporters that he wished the area where the accident occurred had better lighting.

Call a Tampa auto accident lawyer with Joyce & Reyes at 1.888.771.1529 or visit http://www.joyceandreyespa.com/

Florida Teen in Critical Condition after Driving Off Ramp

A seventeen-year-old girl is in critical condition after driving her car off an Interstate 75 ramp. The vehicle landed upside-down in a retention pond. She was nearing the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway from the I-75 exit ramp when she went off the north shoulder. At this point it is not clear what caused the accident, but the Infiniti sedan fell about 50 feet before landing in the pond. She is very fortunate to be alive after falling such a distance and landing in water.

Tampa General Hospital is the medical facility where she was taken to be treated and where she remains in critical condition. Road workers witnessed the accident which took place at about 10:18 a.m. Monday. They assisted in retrieving her from the wreckage and reportedly one worker conducted CPR.

The exact cause of the crash remains unknown. If investigators discover that cell phone use played a role, the accident may renew calls for Florida to legislate cell phone use while driving. Teenagers tend to be particularly active cell phone users. Driving and phone use is clearly ill-advised, but various studies have shown it to be commonplace. In a sense, technology has surpassed society’s ability to regulate it effectively.

When public policy catches up with technology, there will be fewer injuries and deaths related to distracted driving. No young person’s life should be endangered because of distracted driving.

To learn more, contact a Tampa auto accident attorney with Joyce & Reyes at http://www.joyceandreyespa.com/