Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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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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If an individual suffers damages due to the actions of another person, the individual may be entitled to compensation for injuries and other damages. This is regardless of whether the at-fault person was acting with the intent to cause harm or was merely negligent under the circumstances. Most motor vehicle collisions are results of negligent conduct rather than intentional conduct.

OverpassNegligence Claims Arising after Motor Vehicle Crashes

A Florida personal injury claim requires a plaintiff to prove the following:  a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff to conform to a certain standard of conduct; a breach of the duty by the defendant; a causal connection between the conduct and the plaintiff’s injuries; and damages.

Under Fla. Stat. 316.1925, any person who operates a motor vehicle in Florida must drive in a careful and prudent manner, in light of the circumstances, to avoid endangering other people and property. Circumstances to consider in evaluating a motorist’s driving include the weather, the width of the road, the presence of curves, the speed limit, and the amount of traffic. A driver is also responsible for maintaining attention at all times in preparation for the demands of an emergency.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida drunk driving case requiring the court to interpret the state’s reverse dram shop liability statute. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to survive the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient, and it ordered the case to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

golf cartFlorida’s Reverse Dram Shop Statute

In Florida, establishments that serve alcoholic beverages are generally not liable for any accidents caused by their customers once they leave the premises. However, under the Reverse Dram Shop Liability statute, a plaintiff may proceed with a case against the serving establishment if they can show that the establishment served alcohol to a patron whom they knew to be “habitually addicted to alcohol.”

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving family member of a woman who was killed by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, the driver’s blood-alcohol content was .302, which is nearly four times the legal limit of .08. Prior to getting into the car, the driver was at the defendant country club.

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Last year, a Tesla car equipped with auto-pilot technology was involved in a fatal accident with a semi-truck. According to news reports released shortly after the accident, the car was traveling straight on the highway when a semi-truck pulled out in front of the car. Both the driver of the vehicle as well as the vehicle’s auto-pilot system failed to detect the bright-white side of the semi-truck, and the car collided with the side of the truck at full speed.

Car AccidentIn the wake of the accident, many questions arose not just about the safety of self-driving cars but also regarding the many legal issues that the use of self-driving cars brings up. For example, when a person is operating a self-driving car in auto-pilot mode and a collision occurs, is the manufacturer liable for any injuries to a third party? What about the “driver” of the self-driving car?

These questions are no closer to being answered today than they were at the time of last year’s accident; however, as cases involving self-driving cars work their way through the court system, eventually courts will have to come up with answers to these questions.

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Mike-200x300A Miami-Dade jury awarded this week a $9.3 million verdict to a 24 year-old man involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury.

On the morning of March 16, 2014 Dylan Machado, who was represented by attorney Michael Cecere from Cecere Santana Castrillon, PA, was traveling on his motorcycle near SW 67 Ave and 32 Terrace in Miami, when the defendant, Maria Rodriguez, changed into his lane, crashing into his motorcycle. The force of the impact caused Mr. Machado to fly off his motorcycle onto the pavement. Mr. Machado’s injuries resulted in him spending more than two months in the hospital and several months of rehabilitation.

During the one week trial, the attorney representing the defendant argued that Mr. Machado was negligent for not seeing Ms. Rodriguez and was negligent for not wearing his helmet. Mr. Cecere, along with attorney Henry Seiden, argued that Mr. Machado was indeed wearing his helmet and he did not contribute to the accident. In addition, Mr. Cecere contended, the defendant’s negligence had caused Mr. Machado’s severe and irreversible injuries that resulted in a lifetime of challenges and limitations for him.  The Miami-Dade jury only attributed 12% fault to Mr. Machado resulting in the multimillion dollar verdict.