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A recent survey conducted by Travelers insurance found that 4 in 10 drivers conceded they use a phone while they are driving, usually because they feel compelled to be available for work at all hours and/ or they don’t want to upset their boss. distracted driving accident lawyer

Of the 43 percent who are on their phone while behind the wheel:

  • 38 percent were talking on the phone;
  • 17 percent were texting
  • 10 percent were emailing

Of those who admitted they were engaged in work-related communication while driving, more than half were between the ages of 18 and 44. The Washington Post reports the survey was intended to analyze the common practice of people using their personal vehicle for work. Of those who responded, three-fourths said they use their own personal vehicles for some work-related function, outside of simply traveling to and from the office. This raises an interesting legal question with regard to liability for resulting crashes because someone who is acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of a crash could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, if the employee was found to be at-fault, the company could be vicariously liable to pay damages to the injured victims under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superiorContinue reading →

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It’s important for “snowbirds” in Florida (those part-time residents who flock to the Sunshine State when the weather cools up north) to understand their obligations when it comes to car insurance. Failure to do so can result in denial of a claim.car accident attorney

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notes that every vehicle registered in the state must have Florida insurance. Further, any person who has a vehicle in the state of Florida for more than 90 days during a 365-day period must purchase both personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, as well as property damage insurance coverage. Those 90 days do not have to be consecutive for this requirement to apply. Failure to do this can result in denial of a claim.

Recently in New Jersey, one man discovered the consequences of this (though the circumstances were different than a typical Florida snowbird). The New Jersey Law Journal reported the driver lived in New Jersey full-time, but registered his vehicle in Florida because the auto insurance costs were cheaper. When he was involved in a collision in New Jersey, his claim was denied on the grounds he fraudulently maintained the insurance. Continue reading →

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Four years ago on Christmas Eve, a 50-year-old bank branch manager, husband and father of two, spent the evening wrapping and delivering gifts before heading to a co-worker’s holiday party. There, he drank some alcohol. And then a little more. And then he got behind the wheel of his car to head home. However, before he could make it to his destination, he slammed into another vehicle while traveling the wrong direction on Parks Boulevard in Largo. All three occupants of that vehicle – a couple married 63 years and their 58-year-old daughter – a wife and mother herself – were killed. drunk driving accident lawyer

Last year, just before Christmas Eve, that former bank manager with no prior criminal record was sentenced to 23 years in prison for DUI manslaughter after negotiating a plea deal. He faced up to 45 years if convicted by a jury.

Although it can be difficult to feel much sympathy for those who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk, there is no denying that situations like this are tragic all around. We highlight this case, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times, because they underscore the fact that drunk drivers aren’t necessarily “bad” people; rather, they are individuals who made a very poor choice, often misjudging their ability to safely operate a vehicle. It’s especially important to talk about drunk driving at this time of year because there are so many holiday parties, vacations and gatherings happening – and many of those will involve alcohol. Responsibly making prior arrangements for transportation is key.  Continue reading →

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Now, The New York Times reports that self-driving trucks may be closer on the horizon than expected, a development that would not only revolutionize the trucking industry, it could make for fewer trucking accidents. truck accident lawyer

According to the report, the venture capital industry has been investing heavily in self-driving technology. Just this year, investors and firms have placed over $1 billion into development of self-driving technologies for large trucks – and that is 10 times what was being invested three years ago. The potential for growth opportunity is exponential, though our Orlando truck accident lawyers know it may raise some interesting legal questions.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has noted an uptick in trucking accidents in recent years, rising 8 percent between 2014 and 2015. This upward trend poses a safety threat on Florida roads, particularly as the trucking industry has continued to grow with the rise of online shopping. Trucks – and their drivers – are increasingly called on to deliver goods and services, with a heavy demand placed on expedience.  Continue reading →

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Three people died recently in a wrong-way car accident in Florida, including the wrong-way driver and a newly-engaged couple who had just learned they were expecting a child.

The couple, a 24-year-old man and 21-year-old woman, were traveling on Interstate 75 near Tampa when they encountered a 21-year-old motorist traveling in the wrong directcar accident attorneyion. Authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol are investigating the crash, though it’s likely the wrong-way driver will be deemed at-fault. That will open the door for two wrongful death lawsuits against his estate. Although most people don’t have the personal funds to cover the full amount of damages, but usually there are avenues for compensation, such as personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from the victim’s insurer, bodily injury liability benefits from the at-fault driver’s insurer and uninsured/ underinsured motorist benefits from the victim’s insurer. Florida statute also allows for compensation from the vehicle owner (or the vehicle owner’s insurer), if that individual is someone different from the driver.

Wrong-way crashes are a serious problem in Florida, one that the state highway patrol and other advocates have begun trying to address with a number of countermeasures. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports there are approximately 1,500 wrong-way crashes in Florida annually. Not all of those are fatal, but a larger percentage of them are compared to other types of crashes. That’s because most wrong-way collisions are head-on. This type of violent crash accounts for 81 percent of all wrong-way crash fatalities. In cases where motorists are not killed, they are often seriously injured.

FHSMV reports these incidents most often occur at night and during times of transitional light (dawn/ dusk). During these hours, the agency encourages drivers to stay to the right. This can give other motorists the best chance to avoid a collision. If you see a wrong-way driver approaching, immediately reduce your speed, pull ff the roadway and call 911.  Continue reading →

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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.
Continue reading →

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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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