Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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Naples accident lawyer
Nothing is more devastating than the wrongful death of a child. As a longtime Naples accident lawyer, I’m unfortunately all-too-aware that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of child deaths in the U.S. I also know most of these deaths are preventable – not only by the drivers involved but sometimes by auto manufacturers who fail to ensure the vehicles they sell are safe.

Car accident lawsuits against the makers of vehicles are a type of product liability claim. These are injury lawsuits, but rather requiring proof of negligence (the standard in a typical car accident case), Florida product liability claims are generally pursued under a legal theory called strict liability. This requires plaintiffs to show the product was unreasonably dangerous as designed or because of a manufacturing defect or because the warnings/instructions were insufficient.

When Vehicles Are Dangerously Manufactured, Designed

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Florida no-fault car insuranceFlorida no-fault car insurance law isn’t going anywhere, at least this year. For motorists, that means continued reliance on personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and proof of serious injury before pursuing a fault-based car accident claim against negligent drivers.

Governor Ron DeSantis has vetoed the bipartisan Senate Bill 54, passed by state lawmakers in April. The bill would have rewritten our unique, no-fault state car insurance law and required drivers to obtain new policies by next year.

In a short statement released by the governor’s office, DeSantis, while calling the current law “flawed,” explained he felt the bill failed to adequately address issues faced by Florida drivers and could have adverse, unintended consequences for both consumers and the market.

The veto was a bit of a surprise, given that the bill had strong bipartisan support, passing with little debate several months ago. Supporters  insisted it would reduce auto insurance premiums in a state that consistently ranks within the top five. However, analysis of potential impacts yielded mixed results. Plus, the insurance industry and medical providers came out swinging hard against it.

What Does Florida No-Fault Car Insurance Mean for Motorists?

The effect of the veto is that nothing really changes for Florida drivers, at least not this legislative term. No-fault auto insurance remains in place.

Florida is one of the few states that continues its use of no-fault car insurance, as opposed to a system of fault recognized by many states. Contrary to what some presume by its name, no-fault insurance doesn’t mean no-fault is assigned in the crash. It just means the coverage pays certain damages incurred by insureds upfront, regardless of who was at-fault. Continue reading

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Florida crash injuriesWhen Florida crash injuries are significant and lasting, it is necessary to analyze all potential avenues of financial recovery. In some cases, that may include claims against car manufacturers for dangerous vehicle design. These types of tort claims are referred to as product liability lawsuits.

Allegations in car accident product liability lawsuits often assert that one’s injuries were exacerbated by design or manufacturing flaws that put occupants at unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.

Recently, a Florida family filed a product liability lawsuit against Honda alleging dangerous design flaws that resulted in severe injuries to a young girl who was riding in the third row of her family’s van. The girl’s mother was traveling with her three children one afternoon in August 2019 when they were rear-ended by a Jeep. According to local news reports, the girl, then 7, suffered a traumatic brain injury and broken bones. She has endured numerous hospital stays, surgeries and daily physical, and occupational therapies.

Although the family is pursuing a claim against the driver of the Jeep for negligence operation, claims against the vehicle manufacturer allege strict liability and negligence for alleged dangerous design flaws that reportedly left third row passengers vulnerable to serious injury. Continue reading

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Florida distracted driving accidentsEmployers of motorists who cause crashes while distracted by work obligations may be liable to cover the damages of those injured. Florida distracted driving accidents are on the rise. AAA reports distracted drivers caused the deaths of 3,142 people in the U.S. in a single recent year, an uptick of 10 percent from the year before. In this Florida alone, 258 people died that year as a result of crashes caused by drivers who were distracted. That figure is likely underreported given that not all types of distractions are easily identifiable.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and traffic safety experts have expressed concern about the still-rising number of crashes, placing significant blame on drivers who aren’t paying attention. “Cognitive overload” after participating in back-to-back videoconferencing, along with atrophied driving skills during the pandemic, was cited by several researchers in a recent NBC News report.

It should be noted that F.S. 316.305 prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle while texting, emailing, reading data, instant messaging, etc. for non-voice communication purposes.

Cognitive distractions after a work-related video conferencing may be a very real problem for drivers, but the question in terms of potential legal liability for the employer will be whether the driver was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the collision. Continue reading

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Florida car accident lawyer Fort MyersThe way drivers pursue civil damages in Florida car accident cases will fundamentally change starting Jan. 1, 2022, barring a veto from Governor Ron DeSantis.  If approved, Florida’s 50-year-old no-fault driver’s insurance law will be no more as of next year, following the majority of state lawmakers’ vote for repeal with SB 54.

The new law will directly impact two types of driver insurance requirements – personal injury protection (PIP) and bodily injury liability coverage. PIP has been required in Florida since 1972 to provide up to $10,000 in coverage for 80 percent of all “necessary and reasonable expenses” incurred as a result of a crash, no matter who caused it. It also includes $5,000 in funeral expenses. Bodily injury liability, which covers damage to others if the insured caused the crash, has not been mandatory for most Florida motorists (with some exceptions for those with prior DUI convictions, etc.). However, Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law has held that drivers must provide up to $20,000 in financial coverage per accident and $10,000 per person if they cause an accident – an amount for which they’d be personally liable if they didn’t purchase insurance to cover it.

Under the new law, vehicle owners would no longer be required to purchase PIP to register their vehicles. However, they would need to pay for:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage, at least $25,000 per occupant, up to $50,000 per accident.
  • $5,000 in death insurance to cover funeral expenses and other bills of anyone killed in a collision.
  • A $10,000 financial responsibility requirement for property damage liability (PDL) coverage.

Those hurt in a Florida car accident would no longer have a dollar limitation on recovering damages for pain and suffering under PIP. Further, insurance companies will be required to offer Med-Pay, with $5,000 and $10,000 in health insurance with no deductible, though insureds could opt-out of this. Continue reading

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Fort Myers car accident lawyer

Fort Myers car accident lawyers are carefully watching Florida legislature developments pertaining to proposed changes to auto insurance claims laws that could impact how we approach crash cases.

The one that would result in the most change is SB 54, which would repeal provisions of Florida’s No-Fault Law to a fault system.

Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyers Explain Florida PIP

Florida is one of just a few states in the country with a no-fault law for car accidents. This does not mean nobody is ever to blame when an auto accident happens. Rather, it has to do with the way crashes are handled for insurance purposes. The type of insurance associated with a no-fault system is called personal injury protection, or PIP. Continue reading

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pedestrian accident lawyer South Florida

Walking in Florida can be hazardous for your health. According to Smart Growth America’s 2021 Dangerous by Design report, the Sunshine State is the deadliest in the nation for pedestrians. Of the 15 most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the U.S., 9 are in Florida. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area ranked No. 11.

Between 2010 and 2019, more than 17 pedestrians a day, on average, were struck and killed by U.S. drivers. That is more than 53,000 total lives lost, and it is getting worse, not better. The number of fatal pedestrian accidents spiked 45 percent in that time frame. Understanding why is critical to curbing the incidence rate. So too, is holding negligent drivers accountable.

Our Fort Myers pedestrian accident lawyers are committed to advocating for safer roads and aiding crash victims in collecting damages – whether via insurer negotiations or pursuing claims in court. While many people use the term “sue” in these kinds of cases, the reality is most Florida pedestrian crash claims are settled without litigation. This means we can often secure compensation while also sparing you the time, emotional energy, and financial resources of a trial. Still, it is important to know at the outset that your personal injury attorney is one who can be trusted to successfully prepare your case for civil trial if need be – especially if your injuries are serious.

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Florida bad faith insurance claims

Drivers and vehicle owners dutifully pay their auto insurance premiums monthly or quarterly with the understanding they will receive a fair claims payout if the need arises. Unfortunately, far too many customers learn the hard way that insurers are primarily concerned with their own bottom line. But as our South Florida civil trial attorneys can explain, insurers are also bound by statutory and common law rules that compel them to act in good faith. Failure to abide by these rules in denying or delaying rightful claims can be the basis for a successful Florida bad faith insurance claim.

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South Florida car accident lawsuits

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently tweeted that speeding-related car accident deaths are up all over the country – in some areas, as much as 15 percent. As the agency pointed out, the higher the speed, the worse the crash-related injuries. What is also relevant for those weighing South Florida car accident lawsuits is that high speed can factor significantly in crash liability.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed is one of the most common – and dangerous driver behaviors – with an estimated 1/3 of all deadly crashes involving at least one speeding driver. Part of what makes speeding such a threat is that so many drivers consider it innocuous and make excuses for it. (“I was running late,” “everyone else on the road is going 70+mph,” “I’d be in more danger going slow than fast on Florida highways,” etc.). In reality, speeding has dangerous consequences, among them being:

  • Reduced ability to maneuver around roadway obstructions or negotiate curves.
  • Longer time/distance needed to stop safely.
  • The distance a vehicle travels while speeding driver reacts to a hazard is increased, meaning there is greater potential for more injuries/people affected.
  • Increased risk for both crashes and injuries because neither drivers nor pedestrians can quickly and accurately assess a speeding vehicle’s distance.

Car accidents killed more than 36,000 people nationally in 2019. As one analysis by ProPublica revealed, the risk of serious injury and death increases rapidly with each mile-per-hour increase. A person is 70 percent more likely to be killed if they are struck by a car traveling 30 mph compared to one traveling 25 mph.

Naples injury lawyers can explain, there is little question that excessive speed can be the basis of liability in South Florida car accident lawsuits. How big of a role it plays will depend on the underlying facts of the case.

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Florida car accident injuries

When it comes to liability for Florida car accident injuries, well-established case law and the dangerous instrumentality doctrine allow vehicle owners to be held liable for injuries caused by the negligence of authorized drivers – even if the owner was not driving or otherwise negligent. However, there are exceptions for rental car companies under the federal Graves Amendment. Still, it may be possible to sue a rental car company for Florida car accident injuries under certain circumstances if the company is negligent.

A recent example is playing out in Florida courts, as reported by The Tampa Bay Times. While the possibility of recovery in this far-fetched case is incredibly unlikely, it will work to illustrate the point. This case started in 2013 when a man rented a vehicle from Enterprise. According to the affidavit, written from a corrections center where he is serving hard time for vehicular homicide, plaintiff stated he was in no shape to drive when he entered the rental center to rent a vehicle.

He reportedly could not get a rental in his own name because his driver’s license had expired. Plus, there was a warrant for his arrest. When he entered the rental facility, he said he was so intoxicated he could hardly walk. Because he did not have his own valid driver’s license, he presented that of his younger brother. He alleges that a management trainee at the facility either knew or should have known that his drunk state alone rendered him unsafe to drive. The fact that he was handed the keys anyway, he alleges, amounted to negligence.

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