Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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This summer, Cecere Santana, PA celebrates 10 years since partners Michael Cecere and Erick Santana decided to join forces and open Cecere Santana, PA. Attorneys Cecere and Santana met in the early 90s when they were both insurance adjusters for State Farm Insurance Company. Mike-Erik-Final-2017-300x200Their paths crossed again in 1996 when they attended Shepard Broad College of Law at Nova Southeastern University. After graduating and practicing law for several years, the attorneys decided to combine their years of experience in personal injury and property claims and in 2008 they opened their first office in Sunrise.

At the time, the firm consisted of two attorneys and three case managers. Since then, Cecere Santana has moved to a larger office in Plantation and the team has grown to four attorneys and more than 10 paralegals, case managers and support staff, with the sole purpose of offering our clients the best legal representation and the best customer service in the industry. In the last 10 years, Cecere Santana has helped thousands of clients hurt in automobile accidents, slip and falls, negligent security and all types of personal injury cases. We have also collected millions of dollars for home and business owners who have suffered losses to their properties due to hurricanes, storms, fires, water damages or other types of property claims.

At Cecere Santana, our priority is to offer our customers not only sound legal advice, but also excellent customer service. Our attorneys make a point of speaking directly to our clients when they sign with our firm, but also throughout their case. Our staff is trained to assist our clients throughout the legal process, guiding them every step of the way. As a result, our clients are our best referral source. Most of our new clients come to us referred by a friend or family member.

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Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened up an investigation following a fatal Florida car accident involving a Tesla vehicle that killed two teenagers. According to a recent news article discussing the tragic accident and subsequent investigation, the vehicle was traveling southbound on Seabreeze Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale when it left the roadway and crashed into a concrete wall. The vehicle then immediately caught fire.

Tesla Charging StationThe driver and front-seat passenger were both pronounced dead in the accident. The rear-seat passenger was ejected from the vehicle and sustained major injuries but is expected to live. Police believe that speed may have been a factor in the fatal accident.

Following the accident, the NTSB opened an investigation, focusing not on the autopilot feature that has been a matter of recent concern but instead on the vehicle’s electric battery and the possibility that it was responsible for the fire.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida wrongful death case requiring the court to determine, among other things, if the plaintiff qualified as a “surviving spouse.” Ultimately, the court concluded that, although the plaintiff was not married to the accident victim at the time of his injury, the relevant inquiry was whether they were married at the time of death.

Crowded HighwayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving with her fiancé when a car pulled out in front of them. The plaintiff’s fiancé swerved to avoid a collision, but in so doing lost control of the vehicle. The car rolled once or twice before coming to a rest in a roadside ditch.

The plaintiff was not injured in the accident. However, her fiancé was immediately rendered a quadriplegic. Her fiancé filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, as well as the pizza-delivery chain for which he was working at the time of the accident. A few months later, the plaintiff and her fiancé were married. Before the plaintiff’s fiancé’s case concluded, he died due to injuries related to those that he sustained in the accident.

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While the thought of fleeing the scene of an accident is completely foreign to most motorists, the fact remains that there are over 33,000 hit-and-run accidents across the country each year. In many Florida hit-and-run accidents, an accident victim’s injuries are worsened by the fact that they were not able to receive the medical treatment they need in a timely manner. The result is that many hit-and-run accident victims suffer serious injuries.

Fiery CrashAfter someone has been involved in a hit-and-run accident, they may be entitled to monetary compensation from a variety of sources. If police are able to locate the hit-and-run driver, the accident victim can pursue a Florida car accident lawsuit against the responsible driver. However, in some cases, the at-fault driver eludes authorities.

When police are unable to locate a hit-and-run driver, the accident victim may still be able to recover for their injuries through their own insurance policy. Under a policy’s underinsured/uninsured motorist provision, a hit-and-run accident victim can file a claim against his own insurance company as though it was the at-fault driver. Of course, the insurance company may reject the victim’s claim, in which case the victim can then file a personal injury lawsuit in hopes of getting a court to compel the insurance company to pay out on the victim’s claim.

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Over the past few years, the popularity of rideshare apps, such as Uber and Lyft, has skyrocketed. Indeed, last year, over 45 million people used a rideshare app at least once to get to their destination. However, drivers who are employed by these companies do not need to meet any special criteria other than having three years of driving experience and a clean driving record. The result is that, in too many cases, inexperienced drivers looking for a quick buck end up causing Florida car accidents while transporting passengers.

Steering WheelThe rideshare movement, has raised a number of questions involving who can be held responsible when an accident occurs. The two main rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, each maintain $1 million insurance policies to cover drivers, riders, and even third parties, such as pedestrians or other motorists. However, that policy is only in effect once a driver has accepted a passenger’s request for a ride.

If an accident occurs while a driver is waiting for a passenger to contact them, or is using their vehicle for personal reasons, the companies’ $1 million insurance policy will not provide coverage. However, there may be other options for accident victims, including filing a claim under their own insurance policy, filing a claim with the driver’s personal policy, or filing a claim with the rideshare company under their liability-only policy. The companies’ liability policies, however, offer only the greatly reduced coverage limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.

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Florida is known for its temperate, warm climate, which lends itself to nearly year-round motorcycle riding. As a result of this, many Floridians have a motorcycle that they use, if not for their main means of transportation, as a secondary vehicle. At the same time, Florida is also known for its bad drivers. And as anyone who has ridden a motorcycle knows, bad drivers and motorcycling don’t mix.

https://www.southfloridainjuryattorneys-blog.com/files/2018/02/Screen-Shot-2018-02-20-at-7.07.09-PM-300x193.pngIn all, nearly 500 motorcyclists are killed each year in Florida motorcycle accidents. According to one recent government study, this represents the most fatal motorcycle accidents in any state. In fact, aside from Texas (which is just slightly behind Florida), Florida has nearly three times the number of fatal motorcycle accidents as any other state.

The duty to prevent Florida traffic accidents rests with all motorists, but when it comes to multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents, there is a common theme. More often than not, these accidents are caused by another motorist failing to take notice of a motorcycle. This may result in a motorist changing lanes into a motorcyclist, or a motorist attempting to make a left turn in front of an approaching motorcycle. In either case, a distracted driver can be held liable for injuries caused by their negligence through a Florida personal injury lawsuit.

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In most Florida personal injury cases that are tried to a jury, once both parties have concluded their presentation of the evidence, and the jury returns a verdict, that verdict is final. However, Florida lawmakers recognize that jurors can make mistakes, and thus they have provided a mechanism for parties to petition the court in these situations.

Scale and GavelRemittur and Additur

Under Florida Statutes section 768.74, after a jury determines that liability exists and returns a verdict, a party can ask the court to “review the amount of such award to determine if such amount is excessive or inadequate in light of the facts and circumstances which were presented to the [jury].”

If the judge determines that the amount awarded by the jury was inadequate, he or she can order an additur, which increases the amount of the jury’s verdict. Similarly, if the judge finds that the jury’s verdict was excessive, he or she can order a remittur, which reduces the jury’s verdict. If the party asking for review does not agree with the new figure, the judge will then order a new trial on the issue of damages only.

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Being involved in even a minor Florida car accident is a stressful experience, but when an accident victim suffers serious injury in an accident the stress can become overwhelming. initially the physical and emotional recovery consume an accident victim’s time and thoughts, but as the body and mind start to heal, financial worries creep into the picture. What sort of medical treatment is going to be needed in the future? How will it be paid for?

Car AccidentThankfully, Florida accident victims are able to pursue a claim for compensation against the at-fault party through that party’s insurance carrier. Although Florida law requires a base level of coverage, if the at-fault motorist does not have insurance coverage, then an accident victim will likely be able to file a claim with their own insurance policy under the uninsured motorist clause. Similarly, if an accident victim’s injuries amount to a need for compensation in excess of what is available through the at-fault driver’s policy, a claim under the victim’s underinsured motorist protection clause can help fill the gap.

Dealing with insurance companies, however, is rarely an easy experience. Insurance companies operate on a for-profit model, and are often reluctant to approve a claim for what the accident victim deserves. Indeed, in many cases insurance companies look for ways to deny a claim, or approach a motorist with a low-ball offer in hopes of settling the claim quickly and for as little as possible. A recent case illustrates an insurance companies attempt at avoiding financial liability following a Florida car accident.

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Despite the millions of dollars spent by the federal and state governments on drunk driving prevention programs, as well as the harsh criminal penalties that drunk drivers face when convicted, Florida drunk driving accidents are still commonplace. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that there are nearly 800 drunk driving deaths in Florida each year. This represents over a quarter of all traffic fatalities. Sadly, this number represents a 15% increase over previous years.

car keysDrunk drivers place the safety of everyone on the road in jeopardy when they get behind the wheel. In too many cases, South Florida drunk drivers cause otherwise preventable traffic accidents that result in serious injuries or death.

Due to the prevalence of drunk driving and the danger that drunk driving presents, Florida lawmakers have enacted several laws that the victims of a South Florida drunk driving accident can use to seek compensation for their injuries. For example, under Florida law, the fact that a driver was intoxicated at the time of an accident can be evidence of that driver’s negligence in a subsequent South Florida personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, under the state’s Dram Shop Act, some accident victims may be able to hold the establishment that served the drunk driver responsible for their injuries as well as the driver.

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All drivers have a duty to operate their motor vehicles in Florida in a careful and prudent manner under the circumstances. This duty extends to everyone, including to police officers driving police cars, whether or not they are responding to an emergency and whether or not the emergency lights are activated. A police officer’s failure to take the necessary precautions when operating a patrol car may result in the officer, the department, or the city being liable for a victim’s injuries through a South Florida personal injury lawsuit.

Police SirensDuty of Reasonable Care

To establish a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that a defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty, that the breach of that duty caused the plaintiff’s damages, and that the plaintiff has quantifiable damages. A defendant’s “duty of care” in favor of a plaintiff can arise from four sources:  state laws and regulations, judicial interpretations of laws or regulations, other judicial decisions, or a duty arising out of the specific facts of the case.

Police officers must drive carefully and prudently while operating police vehicles, even when responding to emergencies. In fact, if a police officer is driving in a more dangerous situation, like driving through red lights, the officer may have a heightened duty because, as the risk of harm grows to others, a driver’s duty of care is heightened. Police officers owe a duty to exercise reasonable care in carrying out their duties, including a duty to protect innocent bystanders if their police duties create a foreseeable zone of risk. For example, police officers in Florida have been found to have a duty when police were engaged in a high-speed chase and killed innocent motorists, as well as when police were chasing someone on foot and injured a pedestrian. Florida courts have also determined that police do not have to have a person “in custody” to owe the person a duty of care.

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