South Florida is slated to the site of the first major locale in the state to allow dockless, electric scooters on its streets. In Miami, however, not too many elected officials are excited about it, according to The Miami Herald. While those who voted in favor of the scooters say they provide a solution to the congested city’s traffic problems, offering something of a “last-mile” solution in between neighborhoods and public transit options. However, those representing neighborhoods of Little Haiti, Wynwood and Overtown don’t want the scooters back in the neighborhood after they were ousted earlier this summer.
The family of a girl killed in a drunk driving crash fueled by alcohol given to her and her boyfriend by a 22-year-old high school basketball coach sought to sue the school district for liability in the case.
However, the Washington Supreme Court held that the school district could be neither directly or vicariously liable in the case. That does not mean the family is wholly without options in pursuing a claim for wrongful death, but it does mean this is the end of the claim against the school district.
As our dedicated drunk driving death attorneys in West Palm Beach can explain, unlike most car accident lawsuits, drunk driving litigation usually involves more than one defendant, especially when the person who was impaired behind the wheel was a minor who couldn’t lawfully consume alcohol in the first place.
Suing the at-fault driver responsible for your South Florida car accident injuries is really just the first of what could be several legal options. The other driver might be liable for negligent operation of that vehicle, but the vehicle’s owner might be vicariously liable. So too might the driver’s employer, if the driver was acting in the course and scope of employment when they crashed. If the crash was caused in whole or in part due to a defective vehicle or faulty vehicle part, the product designer, manufacturer and/ or marketer could be held responsible too.
Thoroughly investigating the case and identifying and naming potential defendants is imperative because failure to do so could result in you not receiving all the compensation to which you would otherwise be entitled.
In any injury or wrongful death lawsuit, the court will be asked to apportion fault. The defendant driver shares a percentage (sometimes all) of the fault. Sometimes you, the plaintiff, will be assigned a percentage of fault (known as comparative fault, though thankfully in Florida, F.S. 768.81 does not bar you from collecting compensation, even if your damages will be proportionately reduced). Other named defendants may also be apportioned fault, and they will be responsible for paying their fair share. However, if the court finds that a non-party is responsible for some percentage of the blame, you may not be able to collect their share of the damages.
However, there is a bit of good news for plaintiffs who acknowledge there is another potential defendant, but don’t know his/ her identity. (We see this in hit-and-run crashes and so-called “phantom vehicle” cases). The saving grace there is uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) benefits. Continue reading
Auto insurers in Florida have two duties with regard to their insureds:
- A responsibility to indemnify, or pay damages for which insured would otherwise be liable (up to policy limits);
- Duty to defend insured from legal action (i.e., hire a lawyer and help mount a defense).
Even if an insurer argues it doesn’t have a duty to indemnify (the incident is not one that is covered or the person is not one for whom coverage should be extended), there is often still a duty to defend. Failure to adhere can be a form of bad faith insurance. This could ultimately be an issue for plaintiff to deal with directly if the at-fault driver assigns whatever claims he or she might have had against the insurer for this over to plaintiff as part of whatever settlement is ultimately reached.
Insurers are within their rights to outline the parameters under which they will provide coverage, and there are unfortunately a host of rules and exceptions in almost every policy. However, many times insurers will interpret their policies a bit more broadly than they should, which is why it’s important to have an experienced car accident attorney in South Florida who will fight for you and take them to task. Continue reading
A grieving father whose daughter was killed in a highway motor vehicle accident in Tennessee involving an allegedly defective guardrail purchased a television advertisement at a local West Palm Beach affiliate airing the Super Bowl in President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort community. The father did so in the hopes the president would take notice of the ad, noting the president had promised to address highway guardrail safety in his recent infrastructure plan.
The specific guardrail in question is one produced by X-LITE. It’s a brand that state highway officials across the country are scrambling to remove after a rash of serious and fatal crashes wherein the guardrail allegedly pierces rather than absorbs or deflects fast-moving vehicles.
CBS News reported that like so many others involved in these kind of collisions, the man’s 17-year-old daughter was killed when she struck the guardrail, which instead of collapsing (as is the reported intention of the design) acted as a spear. The guardrail struck the girl in the head and chest, resulting in fatal injuries. Continue reading
Courts in Florida have established a legal concept known as “rebuttable presumption” when it comes to rear-end collisions. The rebuttable presumption is that if a vehicle strikes another from behind, the rear vehicle was presumptively negligent, though that can be rebutted. There are some specific exemptions to the rule, and motorists filing claims should pay attention to these.
This rebuttable presumption can make it easier for plaintiffs in these cases to prove liability, and it can also make it tougher for the defendant to prove comparative fault. Florida is a pure comparative fault state. That means whatever percentage of fault is shared by the plaintiff will proportionately reduce the amount of damages paid by the defendant – up to 99 percent. So for instance, if you were 40 percent at-fault for a crash and the defendant was 60 percent at-fault, defendant would only be responsible to pay 60 percent of your total damages.
Some of the grounds on which the rebuttable presumption can be challenged (per the 2007 ruling in Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Saleme) are:
- Evidence of mechanical failure by the rear vehicle (in which case, the vehicle manufacturer may be liable);
- Evidence/ testimony of an unexpected or sudden stop or lane change (drivers must anticipate these scenarios to an extent and maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead; defendants must prove the stop or lane change truly both sudden and unexpected);
- Evidence the vehicle was not stopped legally on the roadway.
Drunk driving is a major threat to Florida motorists, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reporting nearly 8,500 people were killed in Florida drunk driving accidents between 2003 and 2012. The rate of people who self-report driving after having too much to drink in Florida is 2.1 percent, compared to the national average of 1.9 percent. Florida allows sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders, but there may be another way to combat the problem. It starts with targeting those repeat offenders.
A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that a person arrested for DUI once was 615 times more likely to be arrested again for the same offense compared to someone who was never arrested for impaired driving. Given that risk, authorities in Colorado (where 40 percent of DUI arrests involve repeat offenders) the state is trying something new.
The Miami Herald reports the state’s department of transportation distributed 475 personal breathalyzers to residents of the state who had previously been convicted of a drunk driving offense. These devices allow individuals to test themselves to determine whether they had surpassed the legal alcohol limit, indicating they were not safe to drive. That was over the summer. Continue reading
In the midst of the bustle of the holidays, it’s not uncommon for drivers to sacrifice sleep to get where they’re going. While there is a great deal of (deserved) focus on distracted driving and drunk driving during the holidays, drowsy driving is another – often overlooked – catalyst for car accidents in Florida that deserves some attention.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that 21 percent of all fatal crashes involved a driver who was fatigued, as did 13 percent of all car accidents in which a person was hospitalized for personal injury. That amounts to 109,000 injury crashes and 6,400 deadly crashes every single year attributed to a sleepy driver.
Although a number of states have enacted laws that classify drowsy driving as a criminal offense when it results in a death, Florida is not among those. However, drowsy driving can still be considered negligence if the individual knew or should have known they were too tired to drive. That’s because every motorist has a legal duty of care to other drivers to use reasonable caution behind the wheel. Driving while tired can be considered a breach of that duty because it is a failure to use reasonable care. Still, such claims can be difficult to substantiate, which is why it’s important to have an experienced South Florida injury attorney on your side who can carefully assess the merits and strength of your case. Continue reading
A chain reaction tractor-trailer crash in West Palm Beach that injured one and killed two – including a 29-year-old medical student – recently resulted in a $45 million verdict in favor of the med student’s parents.
As our West Palm Beach truck accident attorneys can explain, these kinds of cases tend to result in higher verdicts and settlements than your typical car accident lawsuit for several reasons, including:
- Because of the size disparity between large trucks and passenger cars, any collisions between the two are likely to result in severe injuries to occupants of the smaller vehicle. More severe injuries and deaths are a greater loss to the victim and loved ones.
- Anytime a trucking company or construction firm is involved in a personal injury or wrongful death, there are usually numerous defendants, many with varying degrees of liability.
- Trucking companies and construction firms – particularly construction companies that work roadside – carry high liability insurance policies. Although insurance coverage does not determine the amount of damages (courts are often careful to make sure jurors aren’t informed of the existence or amount of this coverage, as it’s considered prejudicial), the fact that it’s there improves the chances that if high damages are awarded, they will actually be paid. Florida requires passenger vehicle motorists to be financially responsible for a minimum of $20,000 in bodily injury (which is paid in addition to personal injury protection – PIP – benefits of up to $10,000). Meanwhile, federal law requires all truckers to carry at least $750,000 in liability coverage. Those that haul hazmat materials have to carry at least $5 million.
Roughly 3 million people are injured annually in car accidents across the U.S. Meanwhile, there are approximately 800,000 bankruptcies filed every year, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. In some instances, people who cause car accidents soon thereafter file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Except in cases of drunk driving injuries, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can effectively releasing a negligent driver from the obligation to pay for personal injuries they caused prior to the bankruptcy filing.
However, as a recent case weighed by the Alabama Supreme Court illustrates, that does not mean injured crash victims are without options. Although this is an out-of-state case, there is the potential for similar cases to arise in Florida, and justices are known to look to sister court rulings when weighing similar legal issues.
According to court records, a husband and wife (plaintiffs) were injured when their vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by defendant driver. Plaintiffs sued defendant, alleging her negligence caused the crash and their injuries. Their complaint also named their own auto insurer, as they sought to recover underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits. Continue reading