Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog
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A roaming black bear was reportedly the catalyst for a five-car crash resulting in the death of three good Samaritans and injuries to four others. Authorities report a group of duck hunters from Miami-Dade stopped to help a motorist whose vehicle was rendered disabled after a collision with a 430-pound black bear on Interstate 75 in Seminole.carcrash5

As they were pulled over, a passing sport utility vehicle sideswiped one of the pickup trucks and then rolled over several times, striking several of the helpers and other vehicle as well.

Those killed – ages 43, 44 and 46 – were pronounced dead at the scene. At least two others suffered injuries classified as critical.

Our Fort Lauderdale accident lawyers know that while accidents involving bears in South Florida have increased in recent years, they are still relatively rare, with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reporting 232 bears killed statewide by vehicles in 2013, compared to 43 bear deaths in 1993.

What is not as rare is for people to be injured or killed while their vehicle is disabled at the side of the highway, or while assisting someone whose vehicle is disabled.

Typically, investigating authorities will fault the driver of the rear-ending vehicle, finding the car or truck was traveling too fast for conditions or followed too closely behind. This is often true even at night and when disabled vehicles don’t have their lights on – or when those involved are standing behind the lights, blocking them from oncoming traffic.

Cases like this underscore the importance of driving at reasonable speeds, maintaining a safe vehicle distance and paying attention to the road at all times. Each of these actions provides drivers with more reaction time when they encounter some unexpected roadway hazard – such as a disabled vehicle.

With travel industry experts anticipating a record year for roadway trips this December (gas prices are down and the economy is improving), it’s important that all motorists understand the risks involved in stopping to help a disabled vehicle. Unless you are certain you can do so safely, it’s better to call for authorities to assist the stranded motorist.

One should never assume drivers of other vehicles can see you – and this should be a top priority. That means making the vehicle as conspicuous and visible as possible. Flares or reflective triangles can boost visibility, as can emergency flashers or even an interior dome light.

Disabled vehicle drivers should also raise their hood and consider tying something white to the antennae or out the window to alert fellow motorists and safety officials they need help.

Those who stop to help should never try to walk across multiple lanes of high-speed highway traffic. When exiting vehicles, do so on the side away from traffic. If your car is broken down and you find yourself walking to a nearby gas station, if possible use guardrails as protection between yourself and traffic while you walk.

While motorists may not always be able to anticipate the occasional black bear encounter on the roadway, they can make sure their vehicle is in top shape, particularly when preparing for a road trip. Doing so will reduce the chances of your becoming stranded on the highway.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Victims of crash involving black bear identified, Dec. 8, 2014, Sun-Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

Allstate v. Manzo-Pianelli – Florida Umbrella Insurance Disputes, Dec. 9, 2014, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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Drunk drivers cause nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities nationally, or about 10,000 people each year. It’s surprising this figure isn’t higher when you consider research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates there were 112 million trips made by drunk drivers in 2010 alone. drinkinggirl

We know persons injured by drunk drivers – or survivors of those killed – may seek compensation through the impaired driver’s insurance company or against the accused himself. In fact, personal injury judgments stemming from drunk driving cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, like many other kinds of debts. The law takes it pretty seriously.

But what if you are the drunk driver, and you were injured? In most cases, you may have a difficult time securing any significant recovery for damages in Florida unless you can prove your intoxication was not a major factor in the crash. For example: You were impaired, but the other driver ran a red light and caused the crash. Perhaps the other driver was impaired too.

Our Broward County accident lawyers know in these situations, comparative fault would come into play. That is, the court would consider to what extent your impairment contributed to the crash. When both drivers share part of the fault, neither is barred from recovery, but damages may be reduced by the percentage of fault. So in the aforementioned example, a jury may award the impaired driver $100,000, but find the impairment contributed 40 percent to the crash, meaning he or she would only be eligible to collect $60,000.

Still, it can be tough to prove intoxication didn’t play a factor in a crash. This was recently the issue central to Giles v. Eagle Farms, Inc. This was a workers’ compensation case, where the impaired driver in a single-vehicle crash sought compensation – including medical coverage – for injuries sustained in a work-related accident.

In Idaho, where this case was heard, the law holds workers injured on the job can’t recovery for those injuries if intoxication was a primary factor in causing the injury.

Here, a worker was returning from a job around 3:30 a.m. after being called out to repair a sprinkler system. With a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.11 percent, he drove his vehicle more than 120-mph in a 50 mph zone around a sharp curve while reported sending a text and not wearing a seat belt. He was ejected from the vehicle and sustained serious injuries.

This driver had a lot of risk factors happening here, and there was no question he was negligent. However, the issue of whether he could collect workers’ compensation damages hinged on whether his impairment was central to the crash.

He presented testimony from an expert witness who opined the speeding and texting – particularly the speed – where the more significant factors in the crash, compared to his impairment. However, an expert witness for defendant company asserted alcohol impairment would have slowed response time to such a degree it was a primary factor in the wreck.

Ultimately, the Idaho Supreme Court sided with the employer, finding alcohol was central to the crash and therefore, the driver’s injuries were not compensable.

Drunk drivers who are injured face an uphill battle when securing any form of compensation. Still, it’s worthwhile to consult with an experienced lawyer to explore all potential options.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Giles v. Eagle Farms, Inc. , Nov. 28, 2014, Idaho Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

TEI v. Cruz – Florida Highway Guardrail Danger Highlighted, Dec. 6, 2014, Broward Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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Most people give little thought to the guardrails that line countless highways throughout Florida and across the U.S. The purpose of these devices is to deflect vehicle occupants from careening into opposite lanes of traffic, off dangerous hillsides or from overturning. They aren’t 100 percent effective and they won’t usually prevent crashes, but they are intended to minimize the overall impact.highway2

Unfortunately, several companies that make the rails have reportedly undertaken a cost-saving design measure that appears to have endangered public safety. Several different lawsuits against at least two major manufacturers of the devices allege designs were altered so that the edges are no longer cushioned or flat. This has reportedly resulted in the steel rails becoming “spear-like,” impaling vehicles rather than softening the blow, causing severe injuries and even deaths.

One of the largest manufacturers, Trinity Industries Inc., just lost a $175 million federal lawsuit alleging it changed the designs without the required approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Several more injury and wrongful death lawsuits against the company are pending, and 30 states have prohibited new installation of guardrails made by this company.

Our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers know Florida is not among those 30 states. However, that does not mean we are without problems here on this issue. In fact, one pending lawsuit alleges a problem with guardrails on the Florida Turnpike, although those devices were ordered and owned by the Florida Department of Transportation and designed/built by one of Trinity’s competitors, Transportation Engineering Inc.

In TEI v. Cruz, the mother of a woman killed in a single-car crash on the Florida Turnpike asserts the guardrail caused her daughter’s death by impaling the vehicle after the speeding driver lost control and veered off the road.

Similar to the cases pending against Trinity, the Cruz lawsuit alleges those involved in the traffic engineering process sought to save money by cutting corners – literally. Rather than paying for the more expensive – and reportedly safer – cushioned guardrail ends, FDOT ordered the uncushioned guardrail end pieces. In so doing, the lawsuit alleges, FDOT breached its duty of care by failing to remedy or warn the public of a latent dangerous condition. Plus, plaintiffs assert, the agency failed to follow both national standards and its own for guardrails situated at emergency crossover sites.

What’s different about this case is the engineering and construction firm, both named as defendants, received FDOT approval for the modified end pieces before they were built. (The crux of the argument against Trinity was that it did not obtain the approval of federal traffic officials.)

For this reason, the appellate panel for the Fifth District Court of Appeal rejected the argument the engineer or construction firm could be held accountable.

The primary basis for this ruling was the 1959 Florida Supreme Court decision of Slavin v. Kay, in which justices ruled contractors couldn’t be liable for design defects that caused injury so long as the work was finished and the design defects were known or apparent to the owner at the time the work was accepted. Although Slavin didn’t initially allow for release of liability for engineers, subsequent case law established engineers should be included in this group.

The ruling does not mean plaintiff will be unable to collect or pursue damages. First of all, she did already collect the policy limit from the insurer of the at-fault driver. Beyond that, she can continue to pursue action against FDOT; just not the engineering or construction companies.

As these cases gain traction and continue to garner headlines, we suspect more such lawsuits will be filed in coming years.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

TEI v. Cruz, Nov. 7, 2014, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal

More Blog Entries:

Antico v. Sindt Trucking – Evidence of Distraction Sought in Florida Trucking Crash Case, Oct. 30, 2014, Fort Lauderdale Crash Lawyer Blog

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Dram shop laws in most states allow victims of certain drunk drivers to seek recompense from those who illegally supplied alcohol to minors or intoxicated patrons who go on to cause injury or death. coldbeerglassonwhite

However, there are sometimes allowances for the drunk driver (or surviving family) to also seek compensation for injury or wrongful death under these same statutes. The standard varies widely from state-to-state. Some states have expressly forbidden drunk drivers from tort claims relating to their own negligent acts. Others have expressly allowed it, indicating damages can be reduced by the apportionment of comparative fault.

Florida does not bar such claims, though success can be challenging.

Our Broward DUI injury lawyers know it’s important to carefully analyze the facts of each case before going forward.

South Carolina and New Jersey courts are among those that expressly allowed such action in recent years. In 2009, a 20-year-old woman was paralyzed while driving drunk after being served alcohol at a nearby bar, despite her being underage. The court allowed her to pursue damages under the state’s dram shop law. In 2011, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 5-2 the state’s dram shop law allows claims by an injured drunk driver. That ruling stemmed from a 2006 crash in which a motorcyclist with a blood alcohol 2.5 times the legal limit was severely injured after leaving a nearby restaurant. He filed a claim against the restaurant saying he should not have been served alcohol, as he was visibly intoxicated.

However, other states have taken an opposite position. Just recently in Georgia, for example, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the widow of a drunk driver had no valid claim where the state dram shop law expressly bars claims by a consumer of alcohol against the provider. In Dion v. Y.S.G. Enterprises, a man was killed in an early morning, single-vehicle wreck in September 2011. At the time of the crash, his blood-alcohol content was 0.282 percent – well above the legally-recognized intoxication threshold of 0.08 percent.

In the eight hours prior to his death, he was at a local sports bar/restaurant, consuming alcohol. Shortly after he closed his tab, a restaurant worker asked for the keys to his car. The man refused.

After the crash, his wife filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, asserting the conduct of employees was the proximate cause of her husband’s death.

Defendant restaurant moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim, asserting the cause of action would fall under the state’s Dram Shop Act, which does not allow claims for injury by alcohol consumers against providers of alcohol. Trial court granted the motion, rejecting plaintiff’s argument the law was unconstitutional.

Plaintiff appealed, arguing she had a viable wrongful death case rooted in the general principles of tort law. However, the state supreme court ultimately found that because the general tort law cited by the plaintiff partially rested upon the Dram Shop Act, the claim was not viable. A wrongful death lawsuit is derivative of the decedent’s right of action. If the decedent could not have successfully brought forth a claim under state law, neither can a survivor on the same set of facts.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Dion v. Y.S.G. Enterprises, Nov. 17, 2014, Georgia Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Florida Wrong-Way Crash Victims Sue, Officials Take Prevention Action, Nov. 14, 2014, Broward Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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Umbrella insurance policies can provide great relief, both to policyholders and those injured as a result of negligence by policyholders. colorfulumbrella

While Florida law requires drivers to retain a minimal level of auto insurance, umbrella insurance policies aren’t mandated, but they can cover liability damages stemming from a crash. So if one’s auto insurance maximum isn’t enough to fully compensate injured parties for wreck-related costs, the next move would be to see if any other applicable insurance policies may be in place.

Because many people don’t carry umbrella insurance, injured parties usually go straight to their own carrier for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which is supposed to cover the difference between the at-fault driver’s coverage and actual damages, up to the policy limit. But, when the negligent party does have an umbrella policy, your own carrier may require that you make a claim under that policy first, before pursuing UM coverage.

Our Hollywood accident lawyers understand this can create confusion and uncertainty for those grappling with long-term recovery and debilitating injuries. That’s why we work tirelessly to shield you from the stress as much as possible, while fighting tenaciously to ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve.

One recent example of an injured plaintiff seeking coverage under an umbrella policy carrier is Allstate v. Manzo-Pianelli, before Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. Had the at-fault driver also been the named insured on the umbrella policy, this case would likely not have made it to the appellate level. However, the at-fault driver was a permissive user of the vehicle, while the policyholder was the owner of the vehicle.

The crash giving rise to the case occurred in 2007, when a driver of a vehicle owned by someone else was involved in a crash, resulting in serious injury to the driver of another vehicle. The vehicle itself was insured under the owner’s auto insurance policy for $100,000. The full policy amount was tendered, and allowed a partial release of liability against the vehicle owner.

However, the vehicle owner also had an umbrella insurance policy that provided $1 million in coverage. But the umbrella policy carrier denied coverage on the grounds the driver of the vehicle wasn’t covered.

Injured plaintiff then sought underinsured motorist benefits from her own carrier. But her carrier filed a third-party complaint against the umbrella policy carrier, asking the court to issue a determination as to priority of coverage.

Initially, the trial court refused motion for dismissal, finding incidents arising out of permissive use of a motor vehicle were covered under the policy. Instead, trial court issued a summary judgment in favor of plaintiff.

However, on appeal, the 4th DCA found genuine issues of fact were raised with regard to whether the policy provided coverage, specifically because the policy excluded coverage in cases where the insured would not be legally obligated to pay. Here, the permissive user was not a named insured, neither was she a resident relative. Beyond that, the named insured/vehicle owner could not be legally obligated to pay, according to the insurer, because he wasn’t listed a defendant in the case. Further, he couldn’t be added as a defendant because, by that point, the statute of limitations had run out on the claim.

The insurance company argued that because there was no chance the named insured could be held liable in the case, it was not obligated to pay the claim. The appellate panel decided the insurer had a point, reversed the earlier summary judgment favoring the plaintiff and remanding the case to the trial court for further consideration on this issue.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Allstate v. Manzo-Pianelli, Nov. 5, 2014, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal

More Blog Entries:

Bolding v. Kindel Concrete – Proving Crash Injury Causation and Damages, Nov. 10, 2014, Hollywood Crash Lawyer Blog

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A car accident that results in one or more vehicles being submerged in water can be terrifying for victims, and deadly. According to recent reports, Florida has the highest rate of car accident drowning deaths in the nation. Even in a minor accident, a passenger may struggle inside the vehicle to escape and thereby drown. In an Orlando case this year, witnesses saw a woman alive in her car as it sank in a lake. Authorities were not able to find the vehicle for weeks, despite witnesses who reported where it went down. This is only one example of a real threat in Florida — as the state that leads the nation in the number of individuals who drown in their cars every year.

car-waterAccording to reports, there were 49 victims of crash drowning in Florida between 2008 and 2012. Texas, holding the number two spot for fatality rates, had 18 crash drownings reported during the same period of time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that these numbers may actually understate the reality of the problem. According to the NHTSA, Florida had an average of 57 deaths per year, and a total of 384 nationwide. The federal studies have a higher number of incidences reported because they also incorporate death certificates in addition to crash record. The federal agency incorporates death records that are not on public record. According to an analysis of all the documentation, Florida is leading the nation in car accident drownings, and most of the deaths are concentrated in the South Florida region. The highest rate of accidents occurred in Palm Beach County, Broward and Miami-Dade.

There are a number of reasons why Florida has the highest rate of car accident drownings. For one, the state has hundreds more mile of roads with water frontage than in other states. This includes natural waters, such as lakes, as well as man-made retention ponds that road builders are required to dig in accordance with state and local environmental laws. Experts who have studied the high rate of crash drowning accidents blame the Florida roadside canals. Critics and safety advocates also suggest that there aren’t enough guard rails and that state highways are not build to federal safety standards.

In a recent case a 27-year-old woman drowned when her car plowed into a retention pond. Many times, a driver is not able to open the door because the force of the water is too strong. If a driver cannot open the door or escape from the window, they only have mere minutes, even seconds before the vehicle is totally submerged. Every year, there are 1,200 to 1,500 vehicles that end up in the water. For victims, the fight to escape is terrifying and tragic. Our Miami car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping victims and their families after an accident. We will review the facts of your case, identify responsible individuals and entities, and aggressively pursue your rights to just compensation.

Contact Freeman Injury Law for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-561-7777.

More Blog Entries:

Speed Blamed for Fatal Coral Springs Traffic Collision, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, January 4, 2014

South Florida Brain Injuries: Concussions No Minor Matter, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, December 13, 2013

 

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Consumers who suffer from an injury as a result of a manufacturing defect have the right to take legal action against the automobile maker or other companies responsible for the defect. In a recent South Florida case, a woman was in a minor accident when her air bag deployed. A piece of metal shot out of the airbag and struck the woman in the forehead, leaving her permanently scarred. She has brought a lawsuit against the airbag company responsible for the defective product installed in her 2001 Honda Civic.

adriverThe airbag company is currently to blame for a nationwide recall of several vehicle models that have installed the defective product. Unfortunately, for many consumers, they will not realize that they are in danger until it is too late. In this case, the woman did not realize her airbag was defective until she was involved in a collision which resulted in serious injuries caused by the defective airbag. Victims of accidents will often suffer from physical, as well as emotional trauma. In this case, the victim says she is still in shock, sad, and afraid to get behind the wheel.

The victim’s Honda Civic was one of eight million cars that are part of the recall over air bags produced by Takata Corporation. According to victims, police reports, and a growing amount of evidence against the company, the inflators in the air bag have been known to rupture and eject shrapnel in the event of a crash. The list of vehicles that have been recalled include cars from Honda, General Motors, approximately 25 million vehicles in the U.S., as well as recalls in other countries, including China, Japan, and throughout Europe.

In this case, the airbag left the victim permanently disfigured. Had the shrapnel struck her in the eye, she could have been blinded. If struck in another part of her head, she could have been killed. Tragically, defective automobile parts can leave consumers with catastrophic injuries, even in the event of a minor accident. Our Miami car accident attorneys are experienced with the investigation of collisions and defective parts. If you or someone you love has been injured, we can take a strategic approach to collect relevant evidence and pursue a lawsuit against negligent manufacturers or automobile parts companies.

The recent South Florida lawsuit is one of many mounting against Takata. According to representatives from the company, it is working with the federal government and automobile manufacturers to see that cars are safety recalled and repaired. According to the victim in this case, the deployed airbag and subsequent injury should offer a warning to other drivers. If your vehicle matches the make and model of recalled vehicles, you should have it inspected as soon as possible. Additional lawsuits are currently being filed in South Florida for similar accidents and injuries. Our legal team is prepared to investigate any accident claim to determine the cause of the injury, identify responsible parties, and pursue just compensation on your behalf.

Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:
Enforcing Coblentz Agreement Requires Experienced Lawyer, May 23, 2014, Deerfield Beach Car Accident Lawyer Blog

Broward Pedestrian Accidents a Serious, Ongoing Safety Threat
, April 15, 2014, Broward Pedestrian Accident Attorney Blog

 

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Last year, a 20-year-old Coral Springs woman Tweeted she was “2 Drunk 2 Care” shortly before leaving a work-related party at a restaurant where alcohol was served. She then got behind the wheel of her vehicle and drove the wrong way on the Saw Grass Expressway, killing two other young women, both 21, who were headed in the proper direction. dangerturnbackwrongway

One wonders if the 20-year-old cares now. Her ex-employer likely does, after learning it has been named as a defendant in a dram shop liability lawsuit. Already named in the litigation are the driver, a friend who loaned her the vehicle and the restaurant. Now, it is asserted the employer, too, was responsible for hosting a party and allowing underage consumption of alcohol, resulting in injury and/or death.

The now-21-year-old driver is being held in Broward County Jail on $600,000 bail, where she faces DUI manslaughter charges, as well as charges of vehicular homicide, and driving without a license causing death.

Our Coral Springs car accident lawyers know the civil lawsuit is rooted in provisions of F.S. 768.125, which indicates a person who “sells or furnishes” alcoholic beverages to a person not of lawful drinking age can be therefore held liable for damages resulting form the intoxication of that minor.

According to a defense attorney for the driver, she too suffered significant injuries and has no recollection of the crash or that night.

Wrong-way crashes of this nature are an increasing problem throughout Florida, and officials in several areas throughout the state are taking proactive measures to hopefully reduce the risk.

On the Sawgrass Expressway in Broward, officials are installing wrong-way signs with larger letters and flashing warning lights at five separate interchanges. They will be doing the same on 10 ramps along the turnpike between Doral and Miramar on the Homestead Extension.

In addition to the attention-grabbing alerts, the signs will be affixed with sensors that will send a message to authorities if a driver enters those locations from the wrong direction. The message will include a photo image of the vehicle, which will be sent to the command center of the Florida Highway Patrol and the traffic management center in Pompano Beach. That way, they can respond quickly and hopefully mitigate the damage.

Officials in Texas, which has been using this technology for several years now, say wrong-way crashes there have been reduced by a third. Florida researchers say they will study the new signs here over the next year to determine the effectiveness, and if warranted, expand the program.

Officials say between 2003 and 2012, there were nearly 1,200 wrong-way crashes in the state, causing more than 1,300 injuries and 164 deaths. Of those crashes, 224 occurred on the local turnpikes, and resulted in 22 deaths during that time.

Although this initial safety project did not include the Sawgrass interchanges, officials changed their minds after double fatal crash last year that prompted the pending civil case.

Additionally, the emergency response to that incident was found lacking after investigation, prompting a policy change by Coral Springs Police Department and Florida Highway Patrol. Two dispatchers were disciplined after telling several callers who dialed 911 to alert of a wrong-way driver to hang up and call the Florida Highway Patrol. This did not meet standard operating protocol.

Still, the first 911 call was directly transferred to the FHP, as were several others. The incident prompted police to change their policy, now responding to every reckless driving call on the turnpike (rather than leaving it solely to the FHP), and then canceling if officers are not needed.

Hopefully, these efforts combined will reduce wrong-way driving incidents and response times.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Survivors of Sawgrass wrong-way crash victims sue driver’s ex-employer, Oct. 29, 2014, By Linda Trischitta, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

Celebrated Miami Artist Killed in Motorcycle Accident, Oct. 27, 2014, Coral Springs Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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In the recent case of Bolding v. Kindel Concrete, LLC, there was no question plaintiff had been hit by a truck driven negligently by a concrete firm. She eventually settled the case against the driver. However, her claim against the driver’s employer failed because the Wyoming Supreme Court found she had not adequately proven causation and future medical damages. carcrash4

Although this is an out-of-state case, the same general principles are applicable to truck accident victims in Florida. It’s not enough to show the accident occurred and evidence of injuries. There must be significant evidence that one is related to the other.

Additionally, the burden of proof regarding damages is also on the back of the plaintiff. It’s not enough to simply assert a given figure. For example, to assert damages for medical expenses, one must provide concrete evidence of necessary medical treatments, bills, physician testimony regarding future treatment and therapies and cost estimates for each.

Our Broward County car accident attorneys understand that in this case, failings by plaintiff’s attorney reportedly occurred at several turns. At one point, the trial court had to remind the lawyer it could not help him in presenting his case. He failed to provide evidence proving that the trucking company held 50 percent comparative fault, as alleged, and did not submit evidence to support the assertion that future therapies or treatment were medically necessarily, let alone indicate how much they would cost.

This is a good example of why it’s so important to choose your injury lawyer carefully. While no attorney can promise a positive outcome, you need to know you attorney is familiar with personal injury case law, knows the judges and has trial experience.

In this case, plaintiff was rear-ended in 2002 by a driver operating a concrete truck owned by defendant. Two years later, plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver for negligence and the truck owner for negligent entrustment. The at-fault commercial driver reportedly had a poor driving record, and the company hired him anyway.

This should have been the grounds for a strong personal injury case.

Here, defendant company failed to enter a timely response to the original complaint, and a default hearing was ordered. At the hearing, plaintiff testified on her own behalf and a total of five exhibits were submitted.

The testimony she provided included details of the crash and her injuries. She requested $339,000 in damages, with 50 percent of that payable by defendant. However, the district court would later note she presented no evidence the company knew or should have know about the driver’s prior record, thus establishing a necessary foundation for a charge of negligent entrustment. She also presented no evidence of alleged comparative fault, or how she reached the 50 percent figure. The amount of damages she requested was reportedly based on her weekly calculation for physical therapy damages, but she did not present any evidence from a physician that she needed weekly therapy for the rest of her life. (Even her own therapist testified she probably only needed to visit once every other week, and there was no testimony as to how long this would need to go on.) She did not present any evidence regarding life expectancy. While she also requested nearly $70,000 from defendant for loss of enjoyment and pain and suffering, she presented no evidence that would support that request.

As to why this information was not provided, the trial court said, “It remains a mystery.”

Either way, she failed to meet the proof burden, and the state supreme court affirmed this finding.

This case is a stark reminder that the courtroom is an unforgiving atmosphere, and you will need a articulate, knowledgeable advocate on your side.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Bolding v. Kindel Concrete, LLC, Oct. 27, 2014, Wyoming Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Antico v. Sindt Trucking – Evidence of Distraction Sought in Florida Trucking Crash Case, Oct. 30, 2014, Broward County Car Accident Lawyer

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Driver distraction is a major problem in Florida. Although texting-while-driving became illegal on state roads last year (making the Sunshine state one of the last to adopt such a measure), the law has little muscle as a secondary offense that garners only a $30 fine for the first infraction.communication4

Meanwhile, the effects of texting or using social media or e-mailing while behind the wheel are stark, resulting in thousands of fatal crashes across the country each year.

Although there are many different types of distraction that don’t include electronic devices (i.e., fatigue, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio, etc.) those aren’t as easy to trace after-the-fact as cell phone use.

What our West Palm Beach truck accident lawyers want to stress is that just as this information can be invaluable to a personal injury lawsuit, it can also damage the case if there is evidence the plaintiff was engaged in some form of phone-related distraction.

Because Florida adheres to a system of pure comparative negligence, this fact alone will not sink a claim. State law allows recovery of damages minus plaintiff’s degree of fault. So if a plaintiff’s talking on the phone is determined to have contributed to the crash by 65 percent, plaintiff can still recover 35 percent of total damages from defendant.

Of course, the goal is to eliminate the possibility of the jury finding any degree of comparative fault, or alternatively, lessening it to the greatest extent possible.

That is what plaintiffs in the recent case of Antico v. Sindt Trucking Inc. were fighting in their wrongful death action after defendants asserted comparative fault of decedent for a trucking accident. Defendants claim decedent was comparatively if not totally negligent for her own death because she was communicating on her cell phone at the time of the crash.

Witnesses reportedly saw her on her phone in the minutes before the crash, and the deputies responding to the scene found evidence consistent with that assertion (i.e., no skid marks, etc.).

However, plaintiffs – representatives of decedent’s estate – argued that access to her cell phone history would amount to an egregious violation of her privacy. Plaintiffs referred to the requested inspection as a digital “fishing expedition.” When the trial court disagreed, plaintiffs appealed to Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

However, appellate court ruled trial court’s order granting a defense motion to have an expert search the phone’s data from a nine-hour stretch the day of the crash was not a violation of law and didn’t depart from acceptable civil rules.

Defendants wanted to access decedent’s Internet website history, email messages, social and photo media that was posted during that time, as well as determine the location where that information was accessed.

The appellate court ruled the trial court appropriately considered decedent’s privacy by setting strict parameters for defense expert’s confidential inspection of the device, and allowed for the inspection to be videoed to ensure all parameters were followed.

The bottom line is plaintiffs need to recognize in these situations that phone data is potentially accessible by both sides. An experienced lawyer can help formulate the best strategy to reduce the negative impact your own cell phone data can have on your case.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Antico v. Sindt Trucking Inc. , Oct. 13, 2014, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal

More Blog Entries:

GEICO v. Paton – Proof of Damages in UM Trial Sufficient in Bad Faith Action, Oct. 5, 2014, West Palm Beach Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog

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