Articles Posted in Car Accident

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The Illinois Supreme Court has determined the “named driver exclusion” contained in uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) auto insurance policies is invalid for violation of the state’s mandatory insurance requirements and public policy where the exclusion bars coverage for the named insured. Unfortunately, the exclusion still stands for motorists in Florida.car accident attorney West Palm Beach

The named driver exclusion (also sometimes referred to as the “designated persons coverage exclusion”) can make it very difficult for certain plaintiffs to obtain insurance coverage for their injuries. In general, it is an endorsement added to an insurance policy stating that a specifically named individual with access to your insured vehicle will NOT be covered by the insurance provider to drive the insured vehicle. That means the vehicle’s liability insurance or UM/UIM coverage will not cover a crash if that driver is operating the insured car. Instead, what usually happens is the driver and the owner of the vehicle who allowed that excluded individual form the policy CAN be held liable for damages the at-fault driver caused.

You can see where this would create major problems, not just for the excluded driver, but the insured who allowed that driver behind the wheel and anyone else involved in a crash with them. Pursuing a claim for damages directly against those involved – without insurance coverage – is a tall task because even if you win, there may be slim chances you’ll actually collect those damages. It can leave innocent motorists without remedy for their injuries. Continue reading →

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Crashes in construction zones are an ongoing and serious problem – in Florida and beyond. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports in a single recent year, there were nearly 97,000 crashes in work zones – which represented an 8 percent increase over the previous year and a stunning 43 percent increase in the span of just two years. A crash occurs in a work zone every 5.4 minutes. For the roughly 70 work zone crashes that happen daily, more than 26 percent result in at least one injury.car accident lawyer

In many cases, driver error is to blame. Drivers are distracted, impaired or speeding through construction zones with disregard for workers and warning signs. However, sometimes these car accidents can involve errors on the part of the construction companies and failure to give drivers clear warning of dangerous conditions.

This is what was alleged in a fatal car accident lawsuit recently before the Delaware Supreme Court. It involved allegations of an unsafe road condition known as “raveling.” As explained by Asphalt Magazine, this is a type of pavement distress identified as the wearing away of aggregate particles from the asphalt cement. It can be caused by use of a poor quality mixture, inadequate compaction or dislodging by certain types of heavy traffic.  Continue reading →

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The sunroof is a popular vehicle feature, especially in Florida, where it can be enjoyed virtually year-round. However, a recent court case and New York Times report have highlighted safety concerns about the sunroof, particularly in rollover crashes and even when the window is closed. car accident attorney

For anyone who may not be familiar, a sunroof is a panel on the roof of a car that can be opened for additional ventilation and light. The panel is non-removable, though some can be opened completely to allow for an open window in the roof. A moonroof is a type of sunroof that will tilt open slightly to allow in fresh air, but won’t open completely like a sunroof. It’s estimated 7 million (or 40 percent of all 2017 model cars and light trucks) are sold with a sunroof, compared to 33 percent for the 2011 model year.

The issue, as the Times reported, is that while these features have gained immense popularity, the government regulations regarding them have remained unchanged – which is to say, there are no regulations. It’s estimated there are hundreds of sunroof ejections that happen each year, many of those resulting in serious injury or death. Some automakers are even introducing “panoramic” sunroofs, which stretch the entire span of the vehicle’s top. This is touted as a luxury feature, but the reality is it can be extremely dangerous, particularly when made with glass that isn’t laminated. Some car makers have on their own made laminated safety glass standard for newer models. Others are working on devices that will help reduce the odds of ejection in the event of a rollover. However, those features aren’t required and motorists and passengers continue to be at heightened risk in the event of a rollover because numerous studies have shown vehicle occupants are safest in a rollover if they can stay in their vehicle. Continue reading →

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In many Florida car accident claims, there is more than one tortfeasor (wrongdoer) who may be compelled to pay damages to the injured victim. Prior to 2006 and the passage of F.S. 768.81, Florida’s pure comparative fault statute, injured car accident victims could seek the full amount of damages from a single defendant – even if that defendant was only partially responsible for the crash. That defendant then had a right of action to pursue action against the other responsible parties to pay their fair share. This is the doctrine of joint and several liability, but it was effectively abolished with the introduction of Florida’s comparative fault law, along with the 2009 decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in T&S Enterprises Handicap Accessibility v. Wink Indus. Maintenance & Repair Inc. In that case, the court held that defendants who intend to assert fault on a non-party joint tortfeasor need to do so as an affirmative defense. Another ruling in 2011 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (relying on the decision in Wink) rendered any contribution-related claims “obsolete.”injury attorney

The issue of joint liability is one that varies widely from state-to-state. Recently in Illinois, the state supreme court held that a counterclaim for contribution by joint tortfeasors following an injurious truck accident was rightly dismissed, despite defendants’ claims that a prior settlement was not reached in good faith because the settling defendant’s conduct was intentional.

Here’s what happened: Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on the interstate around 1:30 a.m. At the time, three lanes were closed due to construction. One defendant, a truck driver, was traveling in his semi truck behind plaintiff. He was operating this truck on behalf of his employer and the carrier of the truck, which are the other named defendants. At the same time, another defendant, a driver under the influence of cocaine, was traveling the opposite way on the interstate, made an improper U-turn through the median and collided with the vehicle in which plaintiff was riding. Plaintiff’s vehicle rotated and defendant truck driver did not have enough time to stop. He slammed into the passenger door of that vehicle, causing plaintiff serious and permanent injuries.  Continue reading →

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Can you sue your Uber driver if they cause a wreck and you’re injured in it? uber accident attorney

The short answer is yes – but you may not need to.

Let’s start by explaining that Uber and other ride-sharing services like Lyft have completely revolutionized the transportation system. It’s typically faster and cheaper than a taxi, but it may not necessarily be safer as ride-sharing services sometimes aren’t as well-regulated as livery vehicle services. However, many states, counties and cities have imposed regulation on ride-sharing services to bolster safety for the general public. And while Uber and other services have fought tooth-and-nail to avoid having drivers classified as “employees,” the technology giant does now have insurance coverage for each driver. As Uber explains, it breaks down like this:

  • If a rider is in the car, Uber offers up to $1 million in third-party liability for injuries of riders in the vehicle, other drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists (assuming the Uber driver was at-fault). There is also $1 million in UM/ UIM coverage if another party is at-fault but that person doesn’t have enough coverage to fully compensation for losses. It also covers hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver flees the scene.
  • If a driver is on the way to pick up a rider, Uber offers the same $1 million in third-party liability and UM/UIM coverage.
  • If the app is on and the driver is waiting for a pickup request, Uber pays at least $50,000 in injury liability per person and $100,000 total per crash plus $25,000 in property damage liability.

Continue reading →

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Almost any employer – including government agencies – can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees when those acts or omissions in question occur in the course and scope of employment. However, in a case out of Chicago, the city has agreed to pay $20 million – $10 million each – to the families of two men killed in a fatal DUI accident involving an off-duty city police officer. DUI attorney

The Chicago Tribune reports the city council was embroiled in a fierce debate over the settlement negotiations that followed the families’ wrongful death lawsuits because of concern it would open the city up to liability for a range of wrongful acts committed by employees in their free time. Ultimately, there were two factors that swayed them:

  • The families’ allegations (and supporting evidence) that the police department protected this particular officer in previous incidents of wrongdoing, declining to arrest or punish him for alleged crimes. This, the families say, led the officer to reasonably believe he could break the law with impunity.
  • The assertion by the plaintiffs’ attorneys that if the case were to be decided by a jury, the damage award could conceivably be much higher.

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Vicarious liability is the legal means by which we can pursue action against a vehicle owner or an employer for the negligent and injurious actions of those driving their vehicle or employees acting on behalf of the company. It’s not just long-haul truckers who fall into this category. car accident

Recently, DNCE singer Joe Jonas was named a defendant in a car accident lawsuit that occurred when his assistant was driving his vehicle in Hollywood, CA. According to TMZ, plaintiff alleges the assistant made a left turn into an intersection, t-boning plaintiff, who had the right-of-way. There was no police report filed and there were reportedly no witnesses, but the plaintiff did take down the license plate number, which her injury attorney later traced back to Jonas. The assistant gave her name as the driver, though it’s unclear if Jonas was in the car at the time.

But even if Jonas wasn’t there, he could still be liable because not only was the vehicle his, but the person driving it was reportedly acting in the course and scope of employment. Both situations would fall under the umbrella of vicarious liability. She is seeking damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses and lost wages.  Continue reading →

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Shoddy repair work by an auto body shop nearly cost a Texas couple their lives, and has left them with major burns and crushing injuries. It was a crash from which they otherwise should have walked away relatively unscathed. car accident attorney

The Dallas Morning News reports that prior to the 2013 crash, the couple brought the vehicle into a local repair shop to address damage to the vehicle roof after a bad hail storm. But instead of welding the repair, as is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, the body shop used an approach that was cheaper, untested and involved a glue-like adhesive. This, plaintiffs attorney argued at trial, made a huge difference in the outcome of a subsequent crash.

The message the jury sent with its $42 million verdict favoring the plaintiff is that repair shops must fix vehicles properly, or else pay the price if someone is hurt when you don’t. Plaintiffs are also suing their auto insurer, alleging agents there bullied the auto shop into using the cheaper method – something that is common practice among auto insurers seeking to bolster their bottom line.  Continue reading →

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Investigators examining the evidence in a fatal wrong-way car accident that killed two teenagers – best friends – have concluded the recreational vehicle that struck them head-on had no working headlights. Local media reports are the RV driver, 98, and his 75-year-old companion, were likely not seen by the two teens, 17 and 18, until it was too late. The RV was reportedly traveling west in an eastbound highway lane in St. Lucie County. The girls were transported to a hospital in Fort Pierce, where they were pronounced dead.car accident attorney

Authorities have said the stretch of road where the crash occurred was rural and poorly-lit, so without operational headlights, the RV would have been virtually impossible to see. The girls had almost no opportunity to take evasive action to protect themselves.

Negligent maintenance of a vehicle is a claim that is an extension of one’s duty to use reasonable and prudent care in operating a vehicle. The person who owns or is responsible for managing the vehicle have a responsibility to do their best to ensure it is properly maintained because it’s understood that certain parts of a vehicle are vital to safe driving. If the driver or vehicle owner knew or should have known certain components of the vehicle were in failure or even just untrustworthy and the failure of that component leads to a crash or an exacerbation of injuries, they may be legally liable for the resulting damages.  Continue reading →

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The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that an appellate court’s decision to grant a second trial to a plaintiff in a car accident injury case was the right move, thus securing the $250,000 in damages she won in the second jury verdict after suing her mother for alleged negligence while driving.car accident attorney

It’s important to point out that anyone reluctant to pursue damage claims against loved ones (spouses, children, parents, siblings, cousins, friends, etc.) that naming your loved one as a defendant is really only a technical matter. What you are really after is fair and just compensation from the defendant’s insurance policy. It’s not an indication that you harbor the notion your loved one meant you harm or even that you expect them to pay anything directly from their own coffers. Auto insurance is required for the registration of any motor vehicle in Florida, and therefore if you are a passenger in a vehicle driven by a relative or friend whose negligence caused or contributed to a crash that resulted in your injuries, you may be entitled to pursue damages on that claim just like anyone else. In most cases, plaintiffs cannot name the insurance company as a defendant because courts generally agree that jurors’ knowledge that defendant had insurance can be prejudicial.

Some auto insurance policies have exclusions for “resident relatives,” which are those related by blood or marriage who also reside in the insured’s household. The question of whether benefits are payable to the injured party will depend on the exact language of the policy and the relationship between the insured and claimant. Continue reading →

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