Articles Posted in Auto Accident

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An underinsured motorist (UIM) carrier has been deemed responsible to render policy limits for punitive damages an at-fault driver is unable to pay, even when those limits pertained to “property damage” losses plaintiff didn’t suffer. car accident attorney

The case is indicative of why you need a highly experienced Florida car accident attorney to help handle drunk driving and/ or wrongful death accident claims. The reality is, you are likely to have valid claims against numerous insurance companies and making certain you have received payment on all policies rightly owed is imperative. Further, drunk driving accident claims are among the only type of car accident case in Florida wherein one might expect to obtain punitive damages, as outlined in F.S. 768.82. Such damages are allowable in cases where there is clear and convincing evidence a defendant is guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence. They are intended to punish the defendant rather than “make whole” the plaintiff (the latter being the goal of most personal injury claims).

In the case in question (arising in South Carolina, but with issues that may pertain to Florida car accident claimants), plaintiff and his wife were riding in a vehicle owned by the wife’s mother. Without warning, a drunk driver crossed the center line and struck their vehicle. Both were seriously injured, with plaintiff’s wife dying several days later due to catastrophic injuries. The at-fault driver paid its policy limit. Then the vehicle owner’s (decedent’s mother) insurer paid on its  UIM limits for ($25,000 to husband individually and $25,000 to him as representative of his wife’s estate). Husband then sought recovery from his own insurer, which provided split limits UIM policy. This allowed for property damage coverage up to $50,000 and bodily injury coverage of up to $100,000 each. Continue reading →

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The family of a 24-year-old father is suing for his death saving his 3-year-old daughter’s life by jumping into a pond – despite the fact he could not swim – after the car unexpectedly rolled away with the child inside. The vehicle had reportedly been recalled by the manufacturer for a malfunction that could cause it to unexpectedly shift gears and roll away. Additionally, the parking lot of the apartment complex where the vehicle had been parked before it unexpectedly began rolling away had no barriers between it and the pond, despite a sharp downward slope.wrongful death lawyer

His family is pursuing damages against the manufacturer of the car for product liability and against the owner of the apartment complex for premises liability.

A review at several CarMax Inc. locations published late last year found that of the 1,700 vehicles reviewed, 1 in 4 had unrepaired safety recalls, ranging from air bag deflaters linked to deadly malfunctions to fire risks and other hazards that have been linked to serious injuries and deaths. Some vehicles had numerous safety recalls. Selling used cars with unrepaired safety recalls is not technically banned under federal law, though it is condemned by consumer and auto safety advocates who argue it puts unsuspecting motorists and passengers at risk. It is unlawful to sell new cars with unremedied safety recalls. CarMax, which sells used vehicles at 175 locations in 39 states, responded to the report indicating customers sign a release form indicating they have received NHTSA recall information prior to the sale.  Continue reading →

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A motorcyclist who was thrown backward onto the hood of a car driven by a motorist who failed to stop in time for a red light was not entitled to underinsured motorist coverage from the vehicle driver’s insurer.motorcycle accident lawyer

It was an interesting argument made by the plaintiff in the case, as uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage is typically paid by an insurer to its own insured and/ or occupants of that vehicle. It can also be paid to bicyclists or pedestrians by the insurer of the car that struck them because they are not required to have insurance to use the road. In this case before the Alaska Supreme Court, plaintiff alleged he should be entitled to the driver’s UIM coverage as an “insured occupant” because he landed on the car after impact. The liability limits of the vehicle driver’s insurance did not cover the full extent of his damages, essentially rendering the car driver uninsured.

The vehicle driver’s insurer then sued the injured motorcyclist for a declaratory judgment, arguing UIM coverage was not available to him.

The motorcyclist responded, arguing the issue wasn’t ripe for the insurer’s declaratory judgment and thus the court didn’t have any subject matter jurisdiction. He filed a counterclaim seeking his own declaratory judgment in his favor that would assert the coverage was available to him. The trial court found that it did have subject matter jurisdiction, granted both summary judgment and declaratory judgment in favor of the insurer and dismissed the motorcyclist’s third-party claim.  Continue reading →

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It may seem as if the question of driverless, autonomous vehicles is one we aren’t likely to confront for several years, if not decades. In reality, though, legislation passed by Florida lawmakers in 2012 make it perfectly legal for self-driving vehicles to operate on our roads. In theory, a totally driverless car could pull up next to you with no human occupant and there would be no law against it. personal injury attorney

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) is the one who consistently championed that measure and continues to advocate for advancing vehicle technologies. He explained recently to The Tampa Tribune that Florida is one of the most forward-thinking states in regards to mobility and transportation, and the goal is to lure developers and other companies to grow expand this technology here. However, that hasn’t come without concern of the potential risks.

As many personal injury attorneys are noting, this technology may not be fully ready. There are practical and legal concerns about how such vehicles are going to respond in real-life scenarios. One recent example of how things might go terribly wrong occurred recently in Tempe, Arizona. As reported by The New York Times, Uber and other rideshare companies started testing driverless cars a few years ago in Arizona, after officials in that state promised not to impose stringent restrictions on developers. Then earlier this month, an autonomous passenger car operated by Uber (with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel) struck and killed a pedestrian.  It’s believed to be the first pedestrian fatality associated with self-driving technology. Continue reading →

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Public education campaigns have focused for years on the importance of appointing a designated driver if there are plans to be out drinking. However, that concept appears to have been lost to a significant extent among teens and young adults when it comes to the use of drugs by drivers – an increasing threat to road safety.drugged driving injury

A newly-released study published in the latest edition of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reveals that 33 percent of recent high school graduates reported riding with an impaired peer at some point in the last year, being slightly more likely to ride with a driver impaired by marijuana than a driver who was drunk. Researchers said the takeaway here is that while so much of our efforts have been laser-focused on alcohol-impaired driving, perhaps we need to shift our focus more to users of other substances.

While 20 percent of respondents said they had ridden at least one time with an alcohol-impaired driver, 23 percent said they had been a passenger at least once with a marijuana-impaired driver and 6 percent with a driver who was impaired by other illicit drugs (i.e., cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, LSD or ecstasy). Researchers also examined whether the impaired driver was a friend or relative about the same age, a little-known or unknown person about the same age or someone who was older. Results showed the risk of riding with an impaired driver was much higher for peer drivers than it was for older motorists. Continue reading →

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The food truck industry has grown substantially in recent years, with industry researchers forecasting growth to generate about $2.7 billion this year – a 12-fold increase from the $650 million they made in 2012, according to the American Restaurant Association. But food truck liability issues may go beyond a case of food poisoning. Although they are acting as restaurants, they are still technically motor vehicles, and they move from place-to-place – sometimes constantly and sometimes to the same scheduled place every day or week. parking lot injury lawyer

This hybrid status can raise questions if someone is injured by a food truck accident. Obviously, if a crash occurs on the road with a food truck, as it did in a fatal food truck crash in Washington state last year, one might pursue a typical motor vehicle accident claim, with possible claims also against the owner of the business and/or vehicle if different from the driver. However, if an incident occurs in a parking lot, that can raise questions as to whether this is a straight motor vehicle claim or whether it may also give rise to premises liability claims, which hold property owners and controllers responsible for creating or failing to mitigate risks on their property.

An increasing number of businesses are welcoming food truck vendors on site to offer a variety of choices to patrons. This can leave the liability issue a bit murky, which is why if you’re injured, it will be essential to have the best injury attorney working on your behalf.  Continue reading →

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An estimated 50,000 crashes every year in Florida are attributed to distraction, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These collisions lead to 3,500 serious bodily injuries and nearly 250 deaths. Further, it’s a phenomenon that has spiked 26 percent just in the last four years, largely thanks to the advent of cell phones.distracted driving attorney

But for all the destruction and havoc it wreaks, texting and driving is not a primary offense in Florida. What this means is a law enforcement officer may clearly spot a driver who is in violation of F.S. 316.305 (Florida’s texting-and-driving law), and would be able to do nothing about it – even with clear and unequivocal proof – unless that driver was also in violation of a primary offense.

That could change if a bill passes that would make texting while driving a primary offense. It’s not the first time such a measure has been proposed, as The Tampa Bay Times reports, but this time it has the support of several key legislative leaders. The new bill would keep the fine for texting and driving at a meager $30 and there still would not be any points added to the driver’s record if there was a violation. The main difference would be that officers would have the power to stop and cite motorists solely for violating that offense.  Continue reading →

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Typically if you are injured at work, you should be able to collect workers’ compensation insurance. However, because workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive remedy,” your employer is immune from further litigation related to that injury – even if the company was negligent. There are a few exceptions, but they are very narrow.cars

What’s more, this immunity extends also to co-workers who are acting in the course and scope of employment. That means even if your co-worker does something that is extremely careless and you wind up hurt, you still can’t sue them. But (there’s always a “but”) there could be an exception if your co-worker was not acting in the course and scope of employment. This would apply to an extremely narrow set of circumstances, particularly if the plaintiff qualified for workers’ compensation. However, it is possible, as the recent Washington Supreme Court case of Entila v. Cook illustrates.

According to court records, defendant and plaintiff were both employees of the same company. One was heading into work, and one was leaving. The injury occurred as plaintiff was crossing the street on an access road belonging to the company, while defendant, operating his personal vehicle on that same road after finishing his shift. Defendant struck plaintiff with his vehicle, causing plaintiff to suffer serious personal injuries. Continue reading →

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One of the greatest risks on the road is drunk drivers. We all know that. But another hazard that is equally dangerous – and gets far less ink – is drowsy driving. sleepy

A recent study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety opines that acute sleep deprivation exponentially increases the risk of an auto accident. In fact, even mild sleep deprivation ups the risk. Drivers who slept for less than seven hours in the previous 24 hours and also drivers who slept for one hour less than normal had a “significantly elevated crash risk.” As compared to drivers who slept 7 hours or more in the preceding 24 hours:

  • Drivers who slept 6-7 hours had 1.3 times the crash rate;
  • Drivers who slept 5-6 hours had 1.9 times the crash rate;
  • Drivers who slept 4-5 hours at 4.3 times the crash rate;
  • Drivers who slept less than 4 hours had 11.5 times the crash rate.

Meanwhile, drivers who slept 1 to 2 hours less than their usual rate had 1.3 times the crash rate. Meanwhile, those who slept 4 or more hours less than their usual had 10.2 times the crash rate.  Continue reading →

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Many auto insurance policies contain anti-stacking provisions that are intended to avoid applying multiple sets of deductibles or multiple sets of limits to cover a single car accident. It’s important that Florida car accident victims understand whether their policy allows for stacked coverage because it can significantly impact the amount of damages to which you are entitled.

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The allowance of these provisions with respect to uninsured motorist (UM)/ underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage varies significantly from state-to-state.

Recently, the Idaho Supreme Court considered whether the UIM anti-stacking language in two separate policies that covered a young man seriously injured in an auto accident was valid. In Gearhart v. Mutual of Enumclaw Ins Co., the divorced parents of a young man seriously injured in a crash both sought UIM benefits under separate auto insurance policies that both covered him in the event of a crash. Now, following the court’s ruling, they’ll be able to collect on those benefits, which will go toward helping their son recover. Continue reading →

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