Articles Tagged with Fort Myers car accident lawyer

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Fort Myers car accident lawyerRecent changes to Florida’s tort laws have made it a bit tougher to successfully sue for crash-related injuries if you were partly at-fault. That said, you shouldn’t presume it’s pointless until you talk to a Fort Myers car accident lawyer – especially if your injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization or time off work.  While the new comparative fault law certainly creates legal challenges, rarely are matters of personal injury entirely black-and-white.

The vast majority of Florida car accidents are caused by human error. Common causes include inattention, speeding, failure to yield, intoxication, etc. However, there’s a tendency to think of fault in car accident cases as a binary: One person was at-fault, another was hurt because of it. And sometimes that’s true. But it’s also frequently true that more than one person’s actions contributed either to the cause of the crash or the severity of injuries. One driver may have been speeding, but the other wasn’t paying attention. One person ran a red light, but the other wasn’t wearing a seat belt. So then the question for insurers (and possibly the courts) becomes, “To what extent is each person at-fault – for the crash and resulting injuries?”

As a Fort Myers car accident lawyer, I can tell you the answers aren’t always perfectly obvious. In fact, they can often be a bit subjective. Even if you know you made some missteps, an experienced injury attorney will know what evidence is needed to make a compelling case that you are still entitled to compensation. Continue reading

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Florida personal injury law explained by Fort Myers injury law firm

The first introduction many people have to Florida personal injury law is when they find themselves injured and in need of an attorney or being sued. Especially for an injured party emerging from the traumatic fog of that experience and still healing, it can feel overwhelming trying to follow along with the intricacies of the vocabulary, statutes, timelines, court procedures, etc.

Here, our Fort Myers personal injury lawyers offer up 6 facts about Florida personal injury law that we find are most relevant to the plaintiffs, who are our clients in these cases.

1. No-Fault Laws Don’t Absolve Anyone From Liability in a Car Accident.

There’s a common misconception that Florida’s no-fault car insurance law, F.S. 627.736, means that there is no finding of fault in car accident cases. This is false. What is true is that with the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that is required of all registered vehicles in Florida, up to $10,000 in damages can be paid to the policyholder for things like medical bills and lost wages – and this is paid regardless of fault. However, as you likely already know, $10,000 is nowhere near enough to cover one’s losses in a crash, especially if the injuries are serious.

According to the National Safety Council, the average economic cost of a disabling car accident in 2021 is $155,000. That includes wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, property damage, and uninsured costs for employers. The average cost of a fatal crash is $1.8 million. Even in cases where injury is “possible but not evident,” the cost was $24,000 – 150% more than what PIP covers.

Florida’s no-fault law just means you need to go to your PIP insurer first. If your injuries meet the “serious injury threshold,” you can step outside of that system and take legal action against the at-fault drivers.

2. Florida Now has a 2-Year Statute of Limitations.

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Fort Myers teen car accidentsFor a teenager, that first set of car keys feels like freedom – at last! Parents, of course, usually have a different perspective. There’s often a great deal of apprehension around those first few driving years. Unfortunately, those concerns are well-founded, as the risk of Fort Myers teen car accidents is especially high for new drivers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens. In a single recent year, 3,058 teens ages 13 to 19 were killed in car accidents and another 227,000 were injured. Not all of those involved teen drivers of course, but the risk of fatal Fort Myers teen car accidents is three times higher for those 16 to 19 than in any other driving age group (per miles driven). Drivers aged 16 and 17 were at higher risk than those 18 and 19.

The good news is that since the mid-1990s and early 2000s, more states started adopting graduated licensing systems for young motorists. The purpose is to phase in driving privileges, rather than simply hand over the keys and hope for the best.

In Florida, graduated driver licensing laws outline limits and restrictions for drivers 15 to 17. For instance, teens with a learner’s permit (which they hold for at least 12 months or until they turn 18, whichever comes first) are only permitted to operate a car during daylight hours for the first three months. They’re restricted from driving after 10 p.m. They must always be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21, and they need at least 50 hours of supervised driving – including 10 nighttime hours. Once they earn their driver’s license, 16-year-olds aren’t permitted to drive between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., and must always be accompanied by an over-21 licensed driver – unless they’re driving to or from work. Once they turn 17, they are given a bit more freedom with nighttime driving, but still can’t be on the road between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. They also must be accompanied by an over-21 licensed driver unless they’re driving to and from work.

So, Who Pays For Fort Myers Teen Car Accidents?

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Florida yellow light car accidentsWe all know red-lighting running is unequivocally illegal – not to mention incredibly dangerous. But what about Florida yellow light car accidents?

Determining fault in a yellow light crash can be more complicated than identifying negligence in a red light crash. That’s because with yellow lights, the law allows room for driver discretion. When a traffic light is red, we all know that means stop. When it’s green, we know that means go. But yellow is that brief in-between window where drivers have to decide whether they have enough time to safely proceed through the intersection before the light turns red or if they need to stop. Not all drivers are going to make the same call. And whether the call was reasonable may factor into the question of fault if someone is injured in a yellow light crash.

There are two basic approaches to traffic law on yellow light signals: Permissive yellow light law and restrictive yellow light law. It depends what state you’re in. Permissive yellow light law allows a driver to enter the intersection at any point during the entire yellow light interval and be in the intersection/proceed through it when the light turns red, so long as they entered the intersection while the light was still yellow. A restrictive yellow light law is one wherein a vehicle can’t enter the intersection if the light is yellow, unless the vehicle is able to clear the intersection before it turns red OR the vehicle can’t enter an intersection with the light is yellow unless it’s impossible or unsafe to stop.

As our Fort Myers car accident lawyers can explain, Florida has a permissive yellow light law.

All Florida traffic signal devices must use a yellow “caution” light between the green and red lights. F.S. 316.075 explains that with respect to a steady yellow light (as opposed to a flashing one):

  • Vehicle traffic facing the yellow light is considered warned that the green light is being terminated and the red indication – when vehicles should not enter the intersection – will be displayed immediately after.
  • Pedestrians facing a yellow light are advised there isn’t enough time to cross the road before a red light is shown and no pedestrian should start to cross the road at that point.

With respect to flashing yellow lights at Florida intersections, these warn approaching drivers to proceed through the intersection with caution, yielding the right-of-way to vehicles that are already in or approaching the intersection first.

Types of Florida Yellow Light Car Accidents

So what goes wrong in Florida yellow light car accidents? There are a few common scenarios. These include:

  • Drivers who stop at an intersection upon approaching a yellow light are rear-ended by another driver who fails to stop.
  • A driver making a left turn at an intersection yellow light fails to yield the right-of-way to another driver traveling straight in the opposite direction.
  • A pedestrian is struck by a vehicle while making their way across the street at an intersection when the light is yellow – or just after it’s turned red (assuming they didn’t start to cross the street when the light was yellow, but rather the light turned yellow before they finished crossing the road).
  • A driver accelerates through a yellow light, trying to “beat” the red light, and in turn end up crashing into slowing or stopped traffic ahead, a pedestrian, or another vehicle coming from the opposite direction.

How Do Courts Determine Fault for Yellow Light Crashes?

A driver may or may not be liable for a crash at a yellow light. It all comes down to the fact pattern, and whether the driver’s judgment was reasonable and justified based on the circumstances. Continue reading

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Fort Myers car accident lawyerEvery single day, there are an average of 1,050 Florida car accidents, according to the Florida Department Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Almost always, the cause(s) of a crash can be traced to driver error. Common Fort Myers car accident catalysts include things like speeding, failure to yield, improper turning, following too closely, driving carelessly or recklessly, disregarding traffic signs or signals, failure to maintain proper lane, and driving while distracted or impaired.

But what if both drivers were at-fault in a crash?

As longtime Fort Myers car accident lawyers, we know it’s fairly common that both drivers shoulder some degree of responsibility for the collision. But what truly influences the dollar amount outcome in a Florida car accident case is not so much whether the injured plaintiff (the person filing the claim) shares any blame at all, but rather: How much?

This is because Florida follows a system of pure comparative negligence (referred to in F.S. 768.81 as comparative fault).

What is Pure Comparative Fault – and Why Does it Matter in Fort Myers Car Accident Cases?

Pure comparative fault means that in any negligence action – including car crash claims – the at-fault parties are only responsible to pay for their own portion of the blame. So in a two-car crash with both parties sharing some measure of fault, the damage award (legalese for financial compensation aka money) that is available to the plaintiff will be proportionally reduced by how much of the blame they share.

For example, if Driver 1 was 30 percent at-fault, Driver 2 was 70 percent at-fault, and total damages topped $100,000, the most that Driver 1 could collect as a Florida plaintiff would be $70,000. Conversely, the most Driver 2 could collect as a plaintiff would be $30,000.

“Pure comparative fault” means that even a person who is 99 percent at-fault for a Fort Myers car accident could still collect on 1 percent of their total damages from the other at-fault driver. That said, collecting only 1 percent of damages (ex: $1,000 on a $100,000 claim) isn’t a desirable outcome for any plaintiff. Skilled South Florida injury lawyers know how to make effective legal arguments to help minimize assertions of comparative fault – with the end goal of maximizing your damage award payout.

It should be noted that Florida is in the minority of states for its pure comparative fault law. Most other states with comparative fault laws impose a 50 percent or 51 percent “bar.” That means each person or entity is only financially responsible to cover their own percentage of fault. BUT if the plaintiff is 50+ percent to blame, they will be barred from collecting anything at all. Some states take it even further, holding that if a plaintiff shares just 1 percent of fault, they are barred from collecting anything at all.

So Florida is actually one of the most plaintiff-favorable states in this regard. However, that doesn’t mean your car accident case will be easy or that you should cede much ground on this issue if you can help it.

Wait – Isn’t Florida a No-Fault Car Accident State?

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Fort Myers car accident lawyerAnother rainy season is just around the corner here for us in Southwest Florida, where an average of 56 inches of rain falls annually. Just as safely navigating snow and ice are critical skills for drivers up north, careful driving in severe thunderstorms is imperative for motorists in South Florida. As a longtime Fort Myers car accident lawyer, over the years I’ve seen too many preventable crashes caused by drivers who failed to use adequate caution during heavy rain.

Although turbulent weather can be cited as a factor in a collision, it doesn’t negate the fault of drivers who operate their vehicles with less care than they should during a downpour.

If you drive in Florida, you owe certain reasonable duties of care to your passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, construction workers, bicyclists and anyone else sharing the road. Drivers are expected to take any and all precautions to drive safely at all times. Reasonable care is expected with regard to every vehicle or person in the foreseeable zone of danger. That means mostly driving at a speed that is reasonable for the amount of traffic on the road, but it also means adjusting one’s speed and driving behavior in accordance with weather conditions.

For example, a driver caught in a sudden rainstorm may be moving at the speed limit but still deemed to be negligently operating their vehicle because of the significantly reduced visibility and increased potential to skid and slide. Continue reading

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South Florida injury lawyerAs a longtime Florida car accident lawyer, I’ve come across many individuals who were tricked into believing that if they were involved in a crash, they had nothing to worry about because “I have full coverage.”

Unfortunately, in the auto insurance world, “full coverage” doesn’t go half as far as most people think. And even in situations with decent insurance, it can be a tooth-and-nail battle to compel the insurance company to pay their fair share.

In Florida, people have an especially warped view of how much might be covered because of the fact that we are a no-fault auto insurance state. The (erroneous) presumption is that insurance is going to cover damages, no matter who is at-fault. Although it is true that Florida requires personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of every vehicle owner, some (like motorcyclists) are expressly excluded. Plus, it only covers up to $10,000 in damages – and sometimes even getting them to pay that requires negotiation.

What Exactly Does it Mean to Have “Full Coverage” in Florida?

If you’re involved in a crash with another driver who assures you, “Don’t worry – I’m fully covered,” you shouldn’t assume that everything will be covered and that it’s ok to relax. For one thing, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you can’t collect damages from the other motorist at all unless your injuries meet the serious injury threshold criteria, outlined in F.S. 627.737. You’d also have to prove the fault of the other driver. Over the years we have learned that insurance companies often don’t do the right thing and fairly pay claims; if they did our law firm would have little purpose and would likely be out of a job.

But beyond that, “full coverage” simply means that one has the bare minimum coverage legally required by Florida law – and that ain’t much. Specifically: Continue reading

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Florida distracted driving crashesFood delivery services, such as Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash, have been doing booming business in recent years. The online food delivery industry is now generating more than $26 million annually, and nearly one-third of Americans say they used food delivery services twice a week. But as their popularity has risen, so too have reported Florida distracted driving crashes attributed to their drivers.

Last year, there was the tragic case of an Uber Eats driver allegedly slamming into the back of a motorcycle in Tampa, killing a 19-year-old University of Tampa student on the rear of the bike and permanently injuring her brother, the operator. The 33-year-old food delivery service driver was reportedly on her phone making a delivery near campus when the crash occurred. According to The Tampa Bay Times, the police cited the driver for failure-to-yield, but the citation was tossed when the traffic officer failed to appear in court – a ruling the police department is appealing. No criminal charges have been filed, but the victim’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. They allege Uber, its subsidiary, and the driver are all liable for their daughter’s untimely death. Specifically, they say the driver was rushed and inattentive/on her phone, and that Uber is negligent in failing to train her and for encouraging driver distraction with a feature that prompts workers to communicate with customers while they’re driving. Plaintiffs also say the company hired the driver despite a poor driving record that included citations for speeding, carelessness, and a crash.

Similar cases have been reported from Boston to San Francisco. There are currently numerous, ongoing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against the drivers, vehicle owners, and delivery app companies.

Factors in Food Delivery Driver Crashes

The reality is food delivery drivers have always been slightly more prone to crashes, even before smartphones were everywhere. In fact, they have one of the highest occupational fatalities rates in the U.S. Primary factors driving up crashes for food delivery drivers: 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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