Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Under Florida’s premises liability law, those who suffer injuries on another’s property because of a dangerous hazard, defect, or condition, may be able to recover compensation for their injuries. Premises liability law is based on a property owner’s duty to ensure that their property is safe for visitors. However, liability largely depends on the relationship between the visitor and the property owner. Although some states are moving towards abolishing the distinctions, Florida law maintains that visitors are either invitees, licensees, or trespassers. However, despite these classifications, there are nuances and complexities to the rules. For instance, complications often arise when a person suffers injuries while participating in a recreational activity.

Florida’s recreational use statute protects some landowners from lawsuits when they open their land to the public. In these cases, the property owner must keep the area reasonably safe for visitors and warn visitors of dangerous conditions. This generally applies to property owners who hold their land out to hunt, fish, wildlife viewing, or other similar purposes. However, generally, the recreational use statute does not apply if a landowner charges an admission to enter or use their land.

Similarly, in some cases, companies that offer recreational activities to participants may be immune from certain lawsuits. For instance, amusement parks, water parks, paintball arenas, and mini-golf courses may protect themselves by requiring participants to sign a liability waiver release. Additionally, these entities may defend against a claim by arguing that the participant assumed the risk or was non-compliant with safety rules. However, in some cases, a participant may suffer injuries that are only somewhat related to the recreational activity. This can occur because of an intervening incident or unexpected occurrence.

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After a Florida motor vehicle accident, seeking medical treatment is critical to a victim’s health, well-being, and future legal claims. Under Florida law, an at-fault party may be liable for negligent or reckless conduct. However, these claims often hinge on the victim receiving prompt and appropriate medical treatment.

Prompt medical treatment can help injury victims catch hidden symptoms and receive the correct diagnosis. In many cases, injury victims mistakenly believe that they did not suffer serious injuries because they do not experience pain or symptoms right after the accident. However, the lack of immediate pain may be attributable to adrenaline, heightened emotional responses, or the mere nature of the injury. Receiving medical treatment after the accident can drastically change the outcome of a victim’s medical prognosis.

Further, it is critical that victims continue prescribed treatment. Abiding by a medical professional’s instructions can assist in harm mitigation and quick recovery. Lastly, immediate medical attention and compliance will help a victim protect any legal claims against at-fault parties.

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Driving presents inherent risks, even if a motorist takes all steps to ensure that they abide by safety rules. Despite taking all precautions, drivers cannot protect against other negligent motorists. Many times, Florida car accidents occur during lane changing or merging. The U.S. Department of Transportation attributes about 500,000 accidents to improper lane changes and merging. Some of these accidents may only damage property; however, many result in serious injuries or death. In these cases, determining liability and apportioning fault is critical to recovery.

For example, a Florida news report recently described a fatal accident involving a 12-year-old child. A sedan was driving westbound when it tried to merge into the left lane of a highway. However, when it tried to merge, it slammed into the right side of a pickup truck. The pickup truck, which was carrying the child, overturned. The driver of the sedan suffered minor injuries, and her passenger reported no injuries. The pickup truck driver and two other passengers suffered serious injuries and remain in critical condition. State Police are continuing to investigate the collision.

Victims must be able to establish liability after a Florida merging accident to recover compensation for their damages. Florida statute 316.085(2) requires that drivers must ensure that it is safe to complete their move before changing their direct course of travel. Violating the lane-change law may result in a non-criminal moving violation.

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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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