Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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After someone is injured in a Florida car accident, they may pursue a claim for damages against the at-fault party by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Although, these cases may seem straightforward, defendants (and their insurance companies) will go to great lengths to avoid liability. Often, defendants who are uninsured or underinsured will try to avoid liability because they can be on the hook for substantial damages if they are found to be responsible. Florida car accident victims should consult with a personal injury attorney to help them through the various stages of collecting compensation.

The first part of a car accident claims involves investigating the accident. A Florida accident attorney will conduct a detailed, in-depth investigation to determine whether the facts support a claim for recovery. To determine whether a claim is viable, the attorney will determine who was at-fault, what injuries the victim sustained, and whether the parties involved have insurance. The central part of this step requires attorneys to review evidence such as police reports, physical evidence, eyewitness testimony, and expert witness affidavits. In some cases, defendants will encumber the plaintiff’s ability to engage in an investigation.

For example, a recent Florida news report described a situation where a driver refused to allow investigators access to her car. Police reports indicate that the driver is accused of striking and killing a 16-year-old biker. The driver was previously cited for violating the conditions of her learner’s permit and failure to use a signal. The plaintiffs, who are the deceased accident victim’s surviving loved ones, are requesting that the defendant provide access to the car so that they can retrieve information from the vehicle’s “black box.” This event data recovery device may hold significant evidence regarding the circumstances of the accident. However, the allegedly at-fault driver is failing to respond to communication requesting access. It is unclear why the traffic homicide investigators failed to download the data when they were initially investigating the accident. In these cases, it is critical to retain an attorney to ensure that the other party follows all relevant evidentiary laws and abides by their duty to preserve evidence.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit against a hospitality company. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

According to the court’s opinion, the resort provided guests with a shuttle service to take them to various locations within two miles of the lodge, including across U.S. Highway 1. Additionally, it provided guests with a golf cart service to take guests around the property; however, the golf carts were prohibited from traveling on public roads. There was an exception that allowed the golf cart to cross Old Highway 1 to pick up and drop off guests on the east side of U.S. Highway 1.

The case involved a guest at the hotel lodge who got into a golf cart and asked a staff member for a ride. The staff member agreed, but did not know the man’s destination. However, while they were in the cart, the man asked the staff member to take him to the trading post on U.S Highway 1. Following the hotel’s policy, the staff member drove the guest across Old Highway 1, about twenty feet from U.S. Highway 1. As the guest was exiting the golf cart, a vehicle hit him. He died shortly after filing a negligence lawsuit against the vehicle driver and lodge. The executor of the man’s estate amended the complaint to assert a wrongful death claim against the defendants.

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Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in an appeal stemming from a woman’s claim for uninsured/underinsured(UM) coverage against her insurance company. The woman suffered injuries in a car accident and subsequently filed a negligence claim against the at-fault driver, the owner of the vehicle, as well as a UM claim against her insurance provider. After settling the claims with the driver and car owner, the case proceeded against her insurance provider. The trial court granted the woman’s motion for a directed verdict. The insurance company appealed, arguing that a directed verdict was inappropriate and the case should proceed to a jury trial.

The woman argued that she suffered several injuries due to the accident, but the specific issue in the appeal revolves around injuries to her left knee. The evidence indicates that the woman suffered injuries to her knee while attending the Naval Academy and again while walking. About two months before the accident, the woman underwent surgery for a torn meniscus. She reported that her knee was improving until the car accident. The woman sought treatment from numerous doctors until she found one that would treat her under a letter of protection.

A letter of protection is an agreement between a patient who does not have insurance and a health-care provider. This document provides that the medical provider agrees to a deferred payment while the client is involved in a court case. In most cases, the patient is still responsible for the provider’s bill, regardless of the outcome of their lawsuit.

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The majority of Florida car accidents involve a collision between two vehicles; however, accidents involving more than one vehicle tend to cause the most severe injuries and damages. In many cases, the force of the first impact leads to a series of additional accidents. Identifying the parties, establishing fault, and apportioning liability is often complex in these cases because the sequence of events may not be clear. It is crucial that Florida car accident victims contact an attorney if they have suffered injuries in a chain-reaction accident.

Identifying all of the individuals involved in a chain reaction accident can be difficult because the degree of injury and damage often vary. In some cases, a party that only suffered minor damages may leave the scene of the accident without providing their information. Further, in some situations, the initiating driver may flee the scene for fear of liability.

Establishing fault is a critical part of recovering after a Florida chain reaction accident. Individuals who file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against another driver will need to establish liability. This requires that the injury victim present evidence of the series of events that led to their injuries. To maximize the chances of recovery, injury victims should identify all of the parties involved, including the motorist that began the chain of events. Florida injury victims can accomplish this by collecting eyewitness accounts of other motorists, passengers, and pedestrians, reviewing police reports, and assessing vehicle damage.

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Recently a Florida appellate court issued an opinion regarding an accident arising from shoulder injuries a man suffered when he lost control of his bicycle and fell into a drainage ditch. The man filed a personal injury lawsuit against the county alleging that they had actual or constructive knowledge of the unsafe and dangerous ditch, they failed to warn the public of the hazard, and they negligently maintained the ditch.

The plaintiff presented an expert who testified that the shoulder area of the intersection did not have a recovery slope or clear zones for bicyclists to control their bikes safely. Further, during a deposition, the expert stated that the pavement was hazardous because the pavement was deteriorating and cracked. The county moved to dismiss the case, arguing that they were not liable because the plaintiff did not establish causation. They claimed that the plaintiff could not remember how the accident occurred or how he fell into the ditch.

Florida law provides that the party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate that the case presents no genuine issues of material fact, and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In the context of personal injury cases, the inquiry is not whether the plaintiff has evidence or personal knowledge of facts establishing the at-fault party’s negligence. Further, defendants moving for summary judgment do not meet their burden just by pointing to the plaintiff’s inability to prove exactly what caused their damages. Instead, it is the trier of fact’s job to answer questions regarding causation.

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Many people associate weather-related car accidents with the northeast and other areas that are more likely to experience ice, snow, and sleet. However, poor weather conditions and driver negligence are two of the leading causes of Florida car accidents. Florida’s tropical climate frequently results in unexpectedly heavy rainstorms and torrential downpours. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), over 5,000 people die, and almost 450,000 people are injured every year because of weather-related accidents.

For example, recently, a Florida news source reported that a 19-year-old woman died after losing control of her vehicle and crashing into a boulder. Police officials stated that the woman was traveling east on a Florida road when weather conditions caused her to lose control of her sedan. Her vehicle spun clockwise and then swerved off the road. Emergency personnel transported her to a local hospital where she remained in critical condition, before tragically succumbing to her injuries.

Many drivers do not possess the experience and skill necessary to navigate sudden and unexpected inclement weather. Bad weather can prevent drivers from being able to see their surroundings, and their skewed depth perception can increase the chances of a collision. Further, heavy rain makes roadways slick and unsafe, and drivers often face difficulties maneuvering their vehicles during these conditions. Florida drivers should also be sure to keep on top of vehicle maintenance, as worn or damaged tires can cause hydroplaning or sliding.

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Like most other states, Florida law requires all drivers to purchase a minimum amount of auto insurance. However, the statutory minimum—$10,000 of personal injury protection and $10,000 of property damage protection—are far lower than most other states. However, unlike many other states, Florida law does not require drivers to purchase underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage – also called UIM coverage – for car or truck accidents involving those with inadequate insurance. Understanding the importance of UIM coverage can help Florida drivers make informed choices when purchasing insurance, since insurance disputes are one of the most significant barriers for victims injured in Florida car accidents.

UIM coverage protects individuals when they are hit by a driver who has no car insurance or who does not have enough insurance to pay for the resulting injuries. For example, if Driver A is driving carefully and following the rules of the road but Driver B, driving recklessly, runs a stop sign and crashes into Driver A’s vehicle, Driver B is at fault and may be liable to Driver A for damages. Let’s say that the medical bills Driver A had to pay due this particular crash totaled $30,000, making Driver B liable for $30,000. If Driver B does not have insurance, or only has enough insurance to cover $10,000, Driver A may be stuck with no legal recourse and substantial debt.

This is where UIM insurance is helpful; in this situation, Driver’s A UIM insurance coverage could kick in and cover the rest of the costs, protecting Driver A from going into debt for an accident they did not cause. This example is not just hypothetical; a Georgia appellate court considered almost the exact same situation in a recent opinion. The situation often occurs in Florida as well. In fact, Florida has the second-highest rate of uninsured or underinsured drivers in the country, according to the Insurance Research Council, as well as one of the highest accident rates. Because of this, Florida drivers are strongly encouraged to purchase UIM insurance, even though the state does not require it. Not only can the insurance cover a driver if a tragic, costly accident does occur, but purchasing the insurance can grant peace of mind to drivers unsure how they would pay for the resulting damages if an uninsured or underinsured driver hit them.

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The state’s high court recently issued an opinion in a case that arose out of a fatal Florida motorcycle accident. In this case, the motorcycle driver’s estate filed a claim with his uninsured motorist (UM) benefits under his home insurance company policy issued on a collector vehicle. The insurance company denied coverage, arguing that the policy contained a provision that limited the UM benefits to accidents involving the collector vehicle. The family appealed the ruling to Florida’s Supreme Court, arguing that the insurance policy did not comply with section 627.727, Florida Statutes, which prohibits insurance companies from placing limitations on UM coverage, such as the one at issue.

The insurance company argued that the Florida statute does not apply to specialty insurance policies. However, the plaintiffs contended that the statute provides that insurers may offer non-stacking coverage if the insurer notifies the policyholder of the limitations and executes an approved form expressly electing non-stacking coverage. Further, although the statute provides certain exceptions to the statutory limit, the law states explicitly that, “no motor vehicle liability insurance policy shall be delivered in this state unless UM vehicle coverage is provided.” Moreover, the statute allows for limited UM coverage if the policyholder did not purchase it.

Here, the court found that nothing in the statute excludes collector or antique vehicles, the limiting language in the collector vehicle policy violates the law, and the plaintiff did not reject the UM coverage, and he instead selected stacking UM coverage. Ultimately, because the insurance policy did not comply with Florida’s statutory requirements regarding UM limitations, the court found in favor of the plaintiff.

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Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion addressing the presumption of negligence in a Florida rear-end accident. At issue was whether a defendant appropriately rebutted the presumption of negligence when he rear-ended the plaintiff’s car. The accident occurred when a driver in front of the plaintiff suddenly braked their vehicle at a green light. The plaintiff and defendant both applied their brakes. The plaintiff avoided colliding with the car in front of her, but the defendant did not stop in time and subsequently rear-ended the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant based on the damages she suffered as a result of the rear-ending. A jury ruled in the defendant’s favor finding that he was not negligent. The plaintiff appealed the court’s denial of her motion for a directed verdict.

Parties in a civil personal injury lawsuit can make a motion for a directed verdict after the close of evidence before a jury renders their ruling. This occurs when one party believes that the opposing party did not prove their case as a matter of law. Under Florida law, rear-end accidents create a rebuttable presumption that the at-fault driver was negligent.

To rebut the presumption of negligence, the rear-end driver must present evidence or explanation that refutes a fact in the case. Typically, in Florida rear-end accident cases, a defendant can rebut a presumption under four circumstances. These situations include, if the rear-end driver’s car had a mechanical failure; if the in-front driver suddenly stopped; if the in-front driver suddenly changed lanes; and if the in-front driver illegally or improperly stopped. However, presumptions based on sudden stops require additional factors because drivers have a duty to remain alert. If the defendant does not appropriately rebut the presumption, a plaintiff is entitled to a directed verdict in their favor.

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Over the past few years, and ever since the popularity of bike shares has taken off, scooter shares have begun to crop up across the country. A Florida scooter share is a system by which users can rent electric scooters on a short-term basis. Most of the scooters are electric and dockless, meaning that they can be left anywhere. Thus, the scooters can be tracked by GPS, and users looking for a nearby scooter can use an app to search for a nearby scooter. For some, electric scooters are a great way to get around and enjoy the city; however, Florida scooter accidents have dramatically increased since scooter shares have come into existence.

As of earlier this year, there were scooter shares in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa. However, the companies that operate scooter-share are constantly looking for new opportunities. Many cities are reluctant to allow scooter shares, for fear of an increase in the number of serious scooter accidents. Most of the concerns surrounding scooter shares relate to the fact that inexperienced riders are able to take motorized vehicles out on the road with no training or supervision. Some have also raised the concern that the lightweight scooters could get picked up in the heavy winds of a hurricane, turning them into “flying menaces.”

Recently, cities across Florida have started to implement scooter-share bans. In fact, in a recent state appellate court decision, Panama City, Florida passed a law prohibiting the use of overnight scooter rentals. Because the dockless nature of the scooters allowed them to be left essentially anywhere in the city, this had the effect of preventing a scooter-share from opening. The company intending on opening up the scooter-share filed an appeal, and the city’s law was upheld. The court noted that the city had the right to pass the law “when the undisputed facts demonstrate that the restriction is for the safety of the city’s citizens and visitors.”

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