Articles Posted in Workplace Injury

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Earlier last month, three utility workers were killed in a Florida car accident while they were working along the edge of the road. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the three men were working in a roadside ditch while attempting to restore power at the time of the crash.

Evidently, shortly before seven in the evening, a truck was traveling northbound on a state highway while towing a trailer. The truck inexplicably left the roadway and crashed into the three utility workers. After the accident, the driver fled the scene but was later located by police. Based on the circumstances of the crash, police believe that the driver may have been intoxicated at the time. The driver was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, and felony vehicular homicide, among other offenses.

Florida’s “Move Over” Law

Accidents such as the one discussed above were the impetus for the passage of a series of laws across the country, casually referred to as “Move Over” laws. Indeed, hundreds of roadside workers lose their lives each year in accidents in Florida and nationwide, which became a major concern for lawmakers. While each state has a different move over law, the idea behind each state’s move over law is to protect roadside workers from the dangers presented by passing motorists.

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Recently, the state’s supreme court issued a written opinion in a Florida personal injury case discussing an interesting aspect of Florida law that allows for an accident victim to hold the owners of dangerous instrumentalities liable for their injuries under certain circumstances. This application of the vicarious liability doctrine is somewhat unique to Florida and is important for Florida injury victims to understand, as it may provide an additional means of recovery.

Vicarious Liability and Dangerous Instrumentalities

Under Florida law, the owners of dangerous instrumentalities can be held vicariously liable for any injuries that are caused by the instrumentality regardless of another’s fault in bringing about the accident. Courts consider several factors when determining if something is a dangerous instrumentality, including:

  • whether the instrumentality is a motor vehicle;
  • whether the instrumentality is used near the public;
  • whether the dangers presented by the instrumentality are unique; and
  • how the legislature has chosen to regulate the instrumentality.

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