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Florida Tourist Season – Keeping Our Roadways Safe

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As we are all too familiar with, auto accidents in South Florida can occur in many forms and types; on any given day, our vehicles are exposed to potentially dangerous driving situations due to unique circumstances. As we enter our busiest roadway time of year, the Florida tourist season brings more drivers, more pedestrians, and more bicyclists to our already congested roadways. So it’s up to us, the people who live here, to make sure we are patient and considerate to visiting drivers as we approach the busy tourist season ahead. But, if something should occur out of the ordinary, such as a relative driving a rented vehicle while visiting, I’ve listed a few pointers that could help you out.

If you or someone you know is involved in an accident involving a rented or leased vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist, or an animal, the following may be some good suggestions for you to consider.

For example, in the event you are involved in an accident with a rental or leased vehicle: In Florida an individuals’ own insurance policy will protect them for any automobile that they are driving. There is no need to purchase additional insurance from the automobile rental or leasing company unless they wish to increase their coverage, e.g., add collision coverage.

In the case where a pedestrian or bicyclist is hit there is a presumption of fault if drivers strike a pedestrian or bicyclist. However the presumption of fault is the opposite for a motorcyclist. In a car vs. motorcycle collision the motorcyclist will mostly likely be presumed guilty until proven innocent. Law enforcement officers will almost always apply a presumption of fault to motorcyclists. However, the presumption can be overturned by evidence of fault or statutory violation on the part of the bicyclist or pedestrian, or motorcyclist, e.g., bicycling at night without a headlight, jaywalking, or aggressive driving. In no-fault states, such as Florida, injured pedestrians are often covered by their own automobile policies, even though they were pedestrians at the time, and even if the driver was at fault. If the pedestrian does not own a car and does not have insurance, then the personal injury protection would fall under the blood relative’s household he or she resides in.

In a more often than not case where a domesticated animal is injured and/or damage occurs to the driver, there may be a presumption of fault on the part of the animal’s owner for allowing the animal to run at large. If the accident was caused by driver negligence, the animal owner may file suit against the driver. Most states limit damages to the value of the animal or its medical care, and do not permit non-economic damages such as emotional damages associated with the loss of a pet. However, this is a rapidly developing area of law. Injury or damage to the driver’s vehicle caused by collision with wild animals (e.g., deer) is generally covered without assignment of fault. The driver should render assistance to the animal only if the driver will not further endanger himself or other motorists.

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