Articles Tagged with Fort Myers injury lawyer

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Snowman-Steering-Wheels-300x220Sparkling decor is part of the magic of the holiday season. But as a Fort Myers injury lawyer, I’d strongly advise you to keep it away from your steering wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety administration (NHTSA) just issued a warning not long ago about the dangers of aftermarket, gem-studded decals that can cause serious injury in a crash. In one documented case, a driver lost sight in one eye after a rhinestone-emblazoned decal dislodged from the wheel during a crash and struck her in the face.

Aftermarket Vehicle Parts Can Complicate Product Liability Case

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South Florida school zone crash lawyerSchool zone or zoo? Anyone who’s traversed a school zone South Florida at busy pickup or drop-off times might have a tough time discerning. For all school officials and traffic safety engineers prioritize keeping kids safe, the Florida school zone crash risk is still high : Speeding drivers, school bus drivers with big blind spots, distracted walkers and cyclists (especially those with noise-canceling headphones), jaywalkers, and unsafe pickup/drop off behaviors in among 1/3 drivers (double-parking, stopping in the middle of the crosswalk, etc.).

There are an estimated 3.2 million schoolchildren in the U.S. (public and private). According to the Florida Department of Education, about 500,000 students ride a bus. In Lee, Collier, and Charlotte Counties, about 25%-35% of kids take the bus. The rest walk, ride a bike, or are car riders. In Lee County alone, 1,300 students are classified as facing “hazardous walking conditions” on their way to school (about 12,300 statewide).

According to the Transportation Research Board, an estimated 25,000 kids are injured and 100 are killed each year while walking to or from school. Not all of those happen in school zones, though most do involve speeding vehicles. About 30 percent of school zones do not have crosswalks.

As longtime Fort Myers personal injury lawyers, we know that unfortunately, Florida has the third-highest number of annual child traffic deaths, and consistently ranks at the top of the list for child pedestrian and bicycle deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most dangerous time for child pedestrians is between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. – after school hours.

Traffic Rules in Florida School Zones

The posted speed limit in most Florida school zones is 20 mph, though some cities and counties have lowered it even further to 15 mph. Going even 1 mph over that limit can result in a $50 fine – without any prior warnings. Anything above that, and you’re facing a fine of between $200 and $500 (depending on how fast you’re going), plus 3 points on your license (both of which can be waived if the prosecutor allows you to take a traffic safety course). Flashing yellow lights are drivers’ main indicator upon entering and exiting. Enforcement times are typically posted on road signage, though it’s usually 30 minutes prior to the start of school, during school hours, and 30 minutes after school hours have concluded. And in case you didn’t know: It’s illegal to obstruct a crosswalk in a school zone, even if you’re picking up or dropping off a child. If there’s a crossing guard, drivers must obey all their instructions.school zone crash lawyer Florida

In an effort to bolster student safety near schools, a new Florida law went into effect July 1, 2023 to heighten enforcement of school zone speed limits. The law authorizes city or county governments to enforce speed limits in school zones with speed detection systems (similar to red light cameras). Although the idea of speed cameras¬†isn’t especially popular with motorists, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports their presence can reduce the total crash risk from 8¬† to 49 percent.

Some say it doesn’t go far enough, though, because violators won’t incur points on their license, and their infractions won’t result in higher auto insurance rates.

Existing law outlined in F.S. 316.306 prohibits the use of handheld wireless communication devices (cell phones, mainly) while driving through a designated school crossing or in a school zone. To do so is considered a primary offense (for which police can initiate a traffic stop).

Reduce Florida School Zone Crash Risk

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Fort Myers Florida swimming pool accidentsHere in South Florida, swimming pools are a way of life. Unfortunately, they can also be the cause of death and serious injury. Florida swimming pool accidents result in hundreds of drownings each year – many of them children.

While pools can be a ton of fun, understanding the inherent dangers can go a long way toward keeping pool-goers alert, particularly when kids or other vulnerable populations are in close proximity.

Residential pools – of which there are well over 1.1 million in Florida – are the site of 60 percent of all drownings in the Sunshine State. Still, resorts, water parks, hotels, apartment complexes, and condo associations are common sites as well. Individuals and entities can be held legally liable for drownings or other injuries if there is evidence they failed to provide proper maintenance, signage, security/fencing, or supervision.

Kids under 5 are at the highest risk of drowning deaths. It doesn’t take more than a minute or two. The vast majority of young kids who drown in Florida are out of sight for no more than 5 minutes – and 70 percent of those weren’t expected to be anywhere near a pool at the time it happened.

In addition to drowning, other types of Florida swimming pool accidents include: Continue reading

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Florida injury lawsuitsOnce again, tort reform has made it tougher for victims of Florida car accidents to sue and collect fair damages for their losses. In order to get this passed the legislature has inaccurately pointed the finger at the allegation of frivolous Florida injury lawsuits and sky-high compensation payouts as the cause of high customer insurance premiums.

Reality check: Insurers are doing just fine. They even contributed $7 plus million to Florida politicians last year. Furthermore, the amount of insurance premiums paid by customers has little to do with accident claim payouts. It has a lot more to do with insurer profit margins.

Time and again, we’ve seen legislation enacted that makes it harder to sue and collect fair compensation against negligent motorists, businesses, and doctors – but fails to lower insurance premiums. Take for instance the Florida law passed in 2003 to limit medical malpractice pain-and-suffering damage payouts. At the time, state lawmakers insisted there was a “crisis” facing medical malpractice insurers that forced the industry to charge doctors super high premiums, to the point doctors had no choice but to relocate their practices out-of-state. This was all justified by basically arguing that greedy patients and plaintiff lawyers were exploiting medical malpractice insurance for big bucks. In a 2014 overturning of those damage caps, the Florida Supreme Court blasted lawmakers for their initial reasons for passing the law – while also noting it never made a dent in doctors’ insurance bills. In Estate of McCall v. U.S., the Court called the lawmakers’ justifications “arbitrary” and “irrational,” and an “offense to the fundamental notion of equal justice under the law.” In that 5-2 opinion, the court noted the effect of saving a modest amount for many meant imposing devastating costs on the few – namely those catastrophically injured. “If there ever was an alleged medical malpractice crisis” in the first place, the Court remarked skeptically in its reversal, there wasn’t one anymore.

But state lawmakers haven’t stopped trying to use this as a justification for ongoing efforts to make life easier for insurers. In the years since, they’ve continued pressing measures reducing both liability and damage awards for dangerous property conditions, car accidents, and work injuries. They’ve also targeted payouts from life and health insurance.

Now, proponents of this new law have promised that it will help eliminate the so-called “tort tax” imposed on citizens – something that doesn’t actually exist.

As you can imagine, our Fort Myers personal injury lawyers are among the many trial lawyers who strongly opposed this legislation. We believe that these new laws will disenfranchise people who have suffered serious injuries because of someone else’s wrongdoing. It’s not just lawyers, though. Other vocal opponents include doctors, bicyclists, and previous car accident victims – many of whom showed up in significant numbers at state committee hearings on the issue.

What Exactly Will this the Law Do?

The legislation – House Bill 837 and Senate Bill 236 – has made it more difficult to file, win, and fairly collect on well-founded Florida injury lawsuits. These bills were fast-tracked by lawmakers and quickly signed into law by Governor Desantis.
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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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Florida roadway hazards after hurricaneSouthwest Florida is still reeling from the unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Ian, a huge storm with near-Category 5 winds and storm surges that reached 12-18 feet in some areas of Lee County.

At Garvin Injury Law, we are lifelong Floridians and while we have lived through many previous storms this one was particularly tough. Along with the rest of the community, our hearts are broken at the loss of life and the sheer scope of damage and displacement. As we all grieve what’s been lost, begin to clear the rubble, and prepare for our next steps, we want to make sure folks are aware that there are still a number of ongoing roadway hazards after a hurricane. Motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, truck drivers – all of us need to be using extra caution as we navigate our battered neighborhoods.

We all know it’s not wise to be driving during a big storm if it’s avoidable. But in the wake of a major hurricane, there are many Florida roadway hazards that persist in the days, weeks, and even months following. There’s flooding, of course, though that has thankfully receded for the most part. But it’s given way to new dangers. We’re now seeing the traffic in coastal cities like Fort Myers, Naples, and Cape Coral becoming badly gridlocked. There are also issues with non-functioning traffic signals, damaged/washed out roadways, roadway debris, more pedestrians/bicyclists than usual, and people attempting to drive vehicles that have been damaged by flood waters.

Here, we’ll outline some of the top road concerns – and how to stay safe on our streets as we work toward recovery and rebuilding. Continue reading

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South Florida motorcycle accidents lawyerIn Florida motorcycle accidents, there can be numerous defendants – sometimes including those who weren’t actually behind the wheel. In a recent motorcycle accident lawsuit that settled mid-trial for $1 million, the defendants included the driver as well as the owner of the vehicle, which in this case was the driver’s employer, a commercial cleaning company. They were held responsible by a legal doctrine called vicarious liability.

As our Fort Myers Motorcycle Accident Lawyers can explain, vicarious liability is the legal term for when one party is held responsible for the unlawful actions of another. Vicarious liability is relevant in auto accident cases wherein one party is responsible for/has control over a third party or a type of property.

There are several ways in which third parties can be held vicariously liable for Florida motorcycle accidents. The two applicable in this case are the liabilities imposed on employers and vehicle owners in Florida. 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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Fort Myers personal injury claimsIn our many years practicing civil law, we have come to recognize there are many misconceptions surrounding Fort Myers personal injury claims. Some relate to the motivations of personal injury attorneys (no, we aren’t paid if we file frivolous claims that quickly get tossed). Others misconstrue how the processes works (no, you aren’t guaranteed a payout just because you were seriously hurt).

The reality is that Fort Myers personal injury claims are more complex than they might initially seem, and obtaining full and fair compensation isn’t the cake walk some presume. It often requires meticulous investigation and research, extensive consultations with expert witnesses and painstaking negotiations with hard-nosed (and well-prepared) defense attorneys.

If you’re hurt because of someone else’s wrongdoing, you may have a potential claim. It’s necessary in most cases to prove negligence, or that someone’s breach of a duty of care resulted in your injury. Injury lawyers often extend the courtesy of a free initial consultation, so it’s a good idea to at least reach out to one, even if you aren’t sure whether you have a case.

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Florida's careless driving statute Drivers who cause South Florida car accidents rarely intend to hurt anyone. However, Florida’s careless driving statute does not consider a driver’s intention. What matters is whether the driver was using reasonable regard for the laws and current road conditions. Failure to use reasonable care, the basic allegation in a careless driving traffic case, is also what injury lawyers assert when alleging negligence in many Florida crash cases. As our Fort Myers car accident lawyers can explain, a driver who is negligent failed to use reasonable care. They can be held legally liable to cover some – or all – of the resulting damages (assuming the injuries were serious enough to exceed the criteria set forth in F.S. 627.737).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates some 95 percent of crashes are caused by human error. Florida’s careless driving statute is outlined in F.S. 316.1925. It states anyone operating a vehicle on any street or highway in Florida, “shall drive … in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic and all other attendant circumstances, so as to not endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” Failure to do so is careless driving.

Careless driving is frequently cited in cases like rear-end car accidents and failure-to-yield crashes. It’s also sometimes cited by officers in distraction cases, though if they can specifically prove it, they may assert a violation of F.S. 316.305, Florida’s distracted driving law. This provision bans not only texting while driving, but also emailing, instant messaging, and other forms of nonvoice interpersonal communication behind the wheel.

Allegations of careless driving may cross the threshold into “aggressive careless driving,” as defined in F.S. 316.1923, if two or more traffic violations occur at the same time or one right after the other.

Some examples of applicable violations: Continue reading

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