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A fatal car accident in West Palm Beach over the summer involved tennis superstar Venus Williams. Initially, police indicated they believed Williams to be at-fault in the crash that killed a 78-year-old man, who was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his wife. However, authorities later altered their position, saying Williams was not unlawfully in the intersection. Williams was not injured in the crash.car accident attorney

As we are seeing with the events still unfolding, the civil case does not have to be halted by the conclusions reached by police. It is ultimately the judge and jury who make the call on civil liability. It should also be noted that the state’s comparative fault law, F.S. 768.81, allows that partial liability by a plaintiff won’t prohibit a claim from being filed. It only means that damages will be proportionately reduced. So if Williams were found to be just 1 percent at-fault for this Palm Beach County crash, decedent’s estate could collect on that 1 percent.

That’s not to say all cases with such slim odds are worth filing. However, damages in wrongful death cases tend to be substantial. Let’s say a jury finds damages in the case to be $1 million, but find decedent’s wife to be 95 percent at fault and Williams only 5 percent to blame. Once damages are proportionately reduced, that would amount to a $50,000 payout. So in a case like that, it may still be worthwhile to pursue a claim, even when the police have already made their determination. The conclusions of law enforcement investigators will only be one piece of the evidence.  Continue reading →

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Although Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to auto insurance, personal injury protection (PIP) benefits (paid to insureds, regardless of who is to blame) only goes so far. You’ll get up to $2,500 for emergency medical coverage and up to $10,000 total for medical expenses. If you’re in a serious crash, that won’t go far. PIP also won’t cover your damages for pain and suffering. However, you can step outside of the no fault law and file a liability claim against the at-fault driver for damages that extend beyond PIP, but only if you’ve suffered a disabling condition, permanent scarring, broken bones or your loved one died. car accident attorney

You can’t expect, though, that it will be an easy win. In most cases, insurers put up a fight, whether it’s about the issue of liability or how much they should pay in damages. The fact that this is the norm made it somewhat rare when recently a big name auto insurer agreed to pay the maximum limit on a liability policy to the families of three teens killed in a crash – even though the teens were almost certainly at-fault and the insured was also injured.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, a representative for the insurer insisted that while there was no evidence the insured was at-fault, it was only trying to protect its 29-year-old insured when it paid out $20,000 – the liability limit on the policy – to the families of the three teens who died in the crash and a fourth who survived, but was injured. The insured was injured too, and is still using a wheelchair and enduring physical therapy.  Continue reading →

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Professional drivers – and truckers especially – have a responsibility to use great care because it’s well-known that larger vehicles have the potential for greater harm when they are involved in a collision. When they fail to use reasonable care, they may be held accountable. truck accident lawyer

Jurors in Palm Beach County awarded $45 million to the parents of a medical student who was killed in a May 2015 crash involving a tractor-trailer in a construction zone. The construction company was ordered to pay $35 million in damages while the driver of the truck crash was ordered to pay an additional $10 million.

Another wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of a 17-year-old girl in that same crash is still pending. She had just graduated high school and was looking forward to attending the University of Miami on a full scholarship.

The truck driver who was operating the flatbed truck with an unsecured load of concrete barriers was charged earlier this year with one count of reckless driving causing serious bodily injury (the medical student’s 25-year-old passenger was badly hurt in the crash) and two counts of vehicular homicide. His criminal defense attorney called the incident a “tragic accident.” However, as injury attorneys in Fort Pierce, we find the term “accident” lacking – not because the driver intended harm, but because these are avoidable scenarios when drivers use reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm.
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When asked who is responsible for drunk driving accidents in Florida, the most logical answer is: The drunk driver. This is true, of course, but this may not be the only individual or entity responsible. dui injury lawyer

There are several ways we might establish a third-party liable to pay for the actions of a drunk driver. These might include:

  • Vicarious liability. This is when another person/ or entity may not have been negligent, but can be held liable vicariously via the negligence of the impaired driver. One example would be if the driver was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the crash. The doctrine of respondeat superior allows for vicarious liability when negligent drivers are working. The second would be the vicarious liability of the vehicle owner, if it was someone other than the vehicle driver. This won’t apply to rental car companies, but it can apply in other cases.
  • UM/UIM coverage. This is insurance for which you pay that provides additional coverage when the at-fault driver either doesn’t have insurance or lacks enough insurance to fully cover the cost of your damages.
  • Dram shop liability. Florida has a limited dram shop liability statute in F.S. 768.125. It states those who sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to another won’t be liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting form intoxication of that person UNLESS the drunk driver was under 21 or known by third party defendant to be habitually addicted to any or all alcoholic beverages.

There could be other causes of action too, but it will be case specific, which is why input from an experienced drunk driving accident attorney in Orlando is imperative.  Continue reading →

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there were 14,129 deaths related to all-terrain vehicle use between 1982 and 2015. Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an estimated 23,000 children and teens are treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal off-roading injuries every year – including ATVs, dirt bikes and other similar vehicles.

These incidents may sometimes be linked to negligence by an operator, trail owner or vehicle manufacturer. In some cases, though, a powerful defense of “assumption of risk” can be raised to overcome the “duty” element necessary to prove in negligence lawsuits. dirt bike injury lawyer

Although we know there is something of a risk anytime we get into a car and drive on a public road, our injury lawyers in Orlando know the assumption of risk defense is generally not raised in typical car accident cases. The defense involves demonstrating the plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risks inherent to a dangerous activity in which he or she was involved at the time of the accident. Often, it involves an express assumption of risk, such as signing a liability waiver. It can, in some circumstances, be implied. Most commonly, it’s invoked when we’re talking about recreational activities that are inherently risky, such as scuba driving, parasailing or rock climbing.

However, this defense was recently raised in an off-road dirt bike accident in California, where a woman sued her ex-fiance for a paralyzing spinal injury she suffered when she was thrown from her bike while riding with him. At issue before the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Four, was whether defendant’s “guarantee” of a trail increased the inherent risk of injury to a co-rider on a dirt bike. The court held it was not, and the assumption of risk barred the negligence claim where defendant’s reckless conduct was not totally outside the range of activity involved in riding a dirt bike off-road.  Continue reading →

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Florida law – specifically, F.S. 95.11(3) allows claims of damages for personal injury resulting from negligence (such as those for car accidents) must be filed within four years. This is the statute of limitations. The circumstances under which one can file an injury lawsuit after for years are extremely limited. car accident

However, there is one means by which a new legal claim for which the statute of limitations has expired could be raised: In an amended complaint, so long as they are based on the same facts set out in the original complaint. In fact, the Florida Supreme Court just ruled on this issue to clarify earlier this year. Previously, there had been two lines of interpretations on the “relate back doctrine” (Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.190) in the state’s appellate courts. Justices stated in the new opinion that they sided with the interpretation making it clear an amendment asserting a new cause of action can relate back to the original pleading – so long as the claim arises out of the same conduct, transaction or occurrence as the original. That ruling makes it less complicated to amend complaints and counterclaims.

The case that clarified the rule was actually a family business deal gone south – not a personal injury case – but the rule can be applied to injury cases all the same. Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court did consider an injury case involving the relate back doctrine. Although that ruling technically has no bearing on Florida cases, state high courts will often review sister court rulings in considering how to proceed when similar circumstances arise.  Continue reading →

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When you take your vehicle for repair or service, you have the right to expect the work will be performed competently. That’s part of the duty of care held by the party servicing the vehicle. When the servicer or repair shop fails in this duty, resulting in injury, it can be cause for legal action.car accident lawyer

Auto mechanic liability alleges the mechanic or shop is responsible to pay damages caused by negligence. For instance, if a mechanic rotates the tires on a vehicle but does not properly reattach the lug nuts on one of those wheels and it results in an injurious crash, that could be cause for injured parties to seek damages against the mechanic. Shops may also be liable if they negligently hire mechanics who are not properly qualified for the work they perform.

Recently in Massachusetts, parents of a teen killed in a car accident filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the auto repair service that had allegedly improperly installed tires on her vehicle.  Continue reading →

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Florida follows a pure comparative negligence theory when it comes to sharing blame for incidents resulting in personal injury. What this means is per F.S. 768.81, share of the blame for the car accident or pedestrian accident will not prohibit you from pursuing or collecting damages from other at-fault parties. However, it will have the effect of reducing how much you can collect, so your injury lawyer will try to argue for as little comparative fault as possible.pedestrian accident lawyer

Florida is pure comparative (compared to modified comparative), which means plaintiffs can (in theory) recover 1 percent of damages from a defendant even if plaintiff is 99 percent liable for the accident. Other states only allow one to recover if they are less than 50 percent responsible.

This is important point to make for many clients, because it’s a fear that often keeps them from seeking attorney advice in the first place. They are afraid that because they were partially at-fault, they don’t have any right to file a claim. In some other states, that’s true. In Florida, it’s not. Continue reading →

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The mother of a 13-year-old girl who was killed in a South Florida crash involving her 17-year-old boyfriend is suing rideshare service Lyft, alleging the honor roll student would never have been out that night in the first place had a driver not taken her there at 1:30 a.m. without supervision. car accident

It is reportedly in Lyft’s policy that drivers are not supposed to transport unaccompanied minors to destinations. In this case, according to The Palm Beach Post, the girl’s parents believed her to be in her bed asleep on the night in question. Her grandmother was asleep. Her mother, a nurse, was working the night shift. Around 1:30 a.m., the girl contacted the raid-hailing service and requested a ride from her home in Boynton Beach across town to her boyfriend’s house in Greenacres. A driver with the service reportedly picked her up and dropped her off without issue or question.

She was there for several hours until around 5:30 a.m. At that time, the teen’s boyfriend took his mother’s Ford pickup truck to drive the girl home. He had a learner’s permit that required him to be accompanied by a driver at least 21-years-old in the front passenger seat. Instead, he and his girlfriend – neither of whom were wearing seat belts – ventured out alone on a rain-slicked road.  Continue reading →

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Auto insurance companies universally set per accident and sometimes per person limits on how much can be collected after a collision for which they are liable. These limits are based on the specifics of the policy in question, usually involving how much the insured pays.bicycle accident

While the question of how many accidents occurred is typically a simple one, there are scenarios wherein certain facts could raise doubt. This is commonly the case in multiple-vehicle accidents. It’s not uncommon in these situations for plaintiffs to argue more than one crash occurred. The simple reason for this the more accidents there were, the more insurance money will be available. In many cases, the number of claimants will not affect the per-accident payout (so the more claimants there are, the less can be paid to each individually). Meanwhile, proving there was more than one accident could mean more damages collected per claim.

In a case recently before the Wyoming Supreme Court, this issue was raised by a widowed bicyclist who was seriously injured – and her husband killed – when they were struck by a driver as they rode along a roadway.  Continue reading →

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