Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Florida is one of the deadliest places in the U.S. to travel by foot. In a single recent year, there were more than 10,000 pedestrian accidents in Florida – 765 of those fatal. Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer

In a recent national analysis of pedestrian accidents by the Governors Highway Safety Commission, researchers reported that among pedestrians 16 or older killed in crashes involving a motor vehicle, nearly one-third of the pedestrians had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater. By comparison, 19% of pedestrian accident fatalities involved a driver who was drunk.

To be clear: Only one of those is against the law. As long as someone isn’t underage or disorderly, it’s not  illegal to walk in public while impaired. In fact, walking home (versus driving) is considered a smart choice for those who have been out imbibing.

It’s true that drunk pedestrians may be more prone to violating certain traffic safety rules. But their impairment alone is not evidence of negligence. Even if they did err, they’re unlikely to hurt anyone but themselves. That’s why drivers still bear the brunt of the responsibility. Even if pedestrians do make a make a misstep, that does not mean they cannot file a Florida pedestrian accident lawsuit (or that their survivors cannot file a wrongful death pedestrian lawsuit).

As our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can explain, the impairment of a plaintiff pedestrian can be used by the defense as evidence of comparative fault in a lawsuit. However, it doesn’t absolve the driver of liability for their own negligence.

Unfortunately, the issue of comparative fault in Florida injury cases has become a much bigger sticking point in recent years, thanks to recent legislative changes. So if you are a pedestrian who was injured while impaired, it is important to hire a personal injury lawyer who knows the proof burden you’re facing — and how to effectively push back on those claims of comparative fault.

Changes in Florida’s Comparative Fault Law

Up until fairly recently, Florida was a pure comparative fault state with respect to negligence claims. Continue reading

Most Palm Beach car accident injury claims do not go to trial. Palm Beach car accident lawyer

Of course, every case is different. If your Palm Beach car accident lawyer has taken the step of filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf, there’s always a chance it will wind up before a jury. But even then, it’s unlikely.

Most Florida car accident cases are actually resolved without the need for litigation (filing a lawsuit) at all. Hiring a South Florida personal injury lawyer doesn’t make the prospect of a lawsuit or trial any more likely. Actually, we may be able to minimize the chance of a courtroom confrontation because we’re adept at negotiating effectively with insurance companies to fight for fair outcomes for our clients. Often the sooner we are brought onto a car accident case, the better the odds we can resolve it without going to court.

Still, we approach every case as if that’s a possibility. From the very outset, we’re meticulous in our investigation, evidence-gathering, researching, interviewing eyewitnesses and consulting with expert witnesses. We’re never bluffing to insurers about our preparedness to escalate to the next level if necessary. But trial is not a common – or even preferable – outcome for most parties involved, usually. If we can settle car accident claims fairly without filing a lawsuit – and especially without going to trial – that’s typically our aim.

Why Palm Beach Car Accident Cases So Rarely Make it to Trial

Some of the reasons why your Palm Beach car accident case is unlikely to go before a judge and jury: Continue reading

South Florida has a reputation for being somewhat risky. It’s got a plethora of alligators, firearms and hurricanes. But as it turns out, one of the riskiest things you can do here is take a stroll. West Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there are an average of more than 9,300 pedestrian accidents in this state every year. As a result of those, more than 5,800 pedestrians are injured (more than 1,360 of those injuries are serious), and nearly 800 die. Risky driver behaviors, such as speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving, contribute to these incidents and have been on the rise.

From 2010 to 2021, the pedestrian death rate in Florida rose nearly 80%, while other types of traffic fatalities increased by 25%. Florida has the third-highest rate of pedestrian deaths nationally in 2021. (In some recent years, it’s ranked No. 1.) That same year, state lawmakers passed a measure requiring the state driver education test to include a minimum of 25 questions on pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

For the majority of adult working Americans, driving is a means to work — and a means for work. This is true despite the rise in remote work in recent years. If you are involved in a Palm Beach car accident while driving for work – or are hit by someone who was driving for work – there may be additional legal considerations for any subsequent personal injury claims.Palm Beach car accident attorney

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 79% of Floridians commute to work by car each day, and the average commute time increased from 25.6 minutes in 2021 to 26.4 minutes in 2022. During that same time, the percentage of people working from home went from 18 percent to 15.2 percent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor of Labor Statistics reports that among civilian jobs, approximately 30 percent require driving some type of vehicle for work. About 21 percent drive passenger vehicles, while 9 percent some type of commercial vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer or construction vehicle. Some occupations, such as trucker, delivery person or policing, primarily involved driving.

As our Palm Beach car accident lawyers can explain, when a car crash occurs involving someone who is working, viability of legal claims may depend on:

  • Whether the driver was an employee of the company (as opposed to an independent contractor).
  • To whom the vehicle belonged.
  • Whether the individual was actively engaged in a work-related function at the time of the crash (as opposed to simply commuting to or from work).

The reason this is important to investigate is that when an employer can be held accountable for a crash, there is a greater potential for higher damages. That’s because employers tend to carry higher liability insurance for their employees than those people would as individuals. Continue reading

Millions of residents, vacationers, and business visitors in Florida rely on ridesharing services like Uber. The company itself reports contributing $1.1 billion in gross state product to Florida’s economy – and that doesn’t even include the UbeEATS branch of the business. But those who rely on Uber and other rideshare services should understand how the state’s new comparative fault standard may impact their Palm Beach personal injury claims.

Let’s start by explaining what comparative fault is, and how it’s changed in Florida in the last year.Florida Uber accident lawyer Palm Beach

Comparative fault in principle is the idea that everyone should be responsible for his or her own wrongdoing. So if you’re injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver but your injuries were exacerbated by the fact that you were speeding, the drunk driver would not necessarily be 100% liable to pay for your damages. A finding of comparative fault proportionally reduces damage awards to whatever extent the plaintiff is responsible for their own injuries. So if there is a finding of 20% comparative fault due to your speeding, you can only collect up to 80% of your total damage awards.

Different states have different rules about how comparative fault is applied. Prior to last year, Florida followed a pure comparative fault model. That means that even if you were 99% at fault for your own injuries, you could still collect the remaining 1% of damages from the other at-fault party. Obviously that wouldn’t be an ideal scenario, as it would dramatically reduce your damage award. But the idea with a pure comparative fault model is that a person who is 45% responsible for causing an accident shouldn’t be off the hook completely simply because the person hurt was 55% responsible. Continue reading

Reckless drivers have caused damage and death on our roads as long as there have been motor vehicles. Although Palm Beach car accident lawyers can attest it had been getting safer in recent decades, we’re now in the midst of one of three historically huge spikes in U.S. traffic deaths. Palm Beach car accident lawyers Florida roads getting deadlier

As detailed in a recent analysis by The New York Times, the first uptick occurred early in the 20th century, when cities were first flooded with large numbers of new, unskilled drivers. The second occurred at the midcentury mark, with the unveiling of the freeway system and powerful vehicles that could go from 0 to 60 mph in mere seconds. Nearly 51,000 traffic deaths were reported in a single year in the 1960s, rivaling the number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat during the entirety of the Vietnam War.

From 1972 to 2011, traffic deaths started declining. Vehicles got safer. The government began requiring stronger roofs and doors. Seat belt laws were passed. Airbags became standard. Medical advances were made. Crashes that would have killed people in the 1960s now only result in a broken leg. Accountability for bad driving behavior, like DUIs and later cell phone use, got more stringent. Young drivers were required not only to pass driver’s education courses, but also to complete graduated driver’s license schedules before being granted a full license.

Dealing with insurance companies can be a pain, as anyone who’s ever been in a South Florida car accident knows. Lawmakers recognize it too. That’s why there are legal protections in place to ensure fair play. Insurers are legally bound to act in good faith when handling claims. When they don’t, courts can impose financial sanctions. hands of attorneys, seated at a table with hands on documents as they negotiate; a gavel and justice scales are on the table

One example of bad faith insurance is when an auto insurer rejects a fair settlement offer in a pending lawsuit. As our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys can explain, if the case proceeds and the plaintiff wins a judgment totaling 25 percent or more than the settlement offer, the court can order the insurer to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.

Few things to note: Plaintiffs don’t pay West Palm Beach car accident attorneys’ fees upfront. These services are provided on a contingency fee basis, meaning we aren’t paid unless or until you win. Our fee is derived as a percentage of the amount you win. But when a defendant is required to pay attorney’s fees, it means the plaintiff keeps the entire damage award and the defendant covers our fees. Insurers would obviously rather avoid that outcome.

In a recent case dealing with this issue, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal held that an auto insurer’s long-delayed payment of UM policy limits – after rejecting an earlier lower settlement offer by the plaintiff – amounted to a “confession of judgment” that can be used as grounds to justify an order for the insurer to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees. Continue reading

In the aftermath of a Southeast Florida car accident, there’s no requirement that you MUST hire a Palm Beach personal injury lawyer with a claim for damages. But there is strong statistical evidence that doing so will significantly improve your odds of prevailing with full and fair damages. Palm Beach injury lawyer

One analysis published by the Insurance Research Council a few years ago revealed lawyer-represented crash victims received damage awards that were on average 3.5 times higher compared to those who didn’t hire a lawyer.

This supports much of the previously-established data on this issue.

In a 2010 empirical evidence study published in the peer-reviewed Seattle Journal for Social Justice, researchers conducted meta analysis of other studies dating back decades on how access to a lawyer impacts the outcomes of civil cases – including personal injury claims. What they found was:

  • In every study reviewed, “lawyered-up” claimants were far more likely to win. (Exactly how much more likely varied from study-to-study, with most ranging somewhere from 20 percent higher to 4 times higher.) Part of this might be explained by the fact that civil lawyers tend to take on more meritorious cases. But then again, that’s one of the many benefits you get with hiring a Palm Beach injury lawyer: Confidence that you aren’t wasting your time because you’ve got a case worth pursuing.
  • To minimize the influence of the merit-based argument, another study involved civil lawyers providing their services at random to a group of sample litigants. The outcomes in their cases were then compared to those of similarly-situated (but non-represented) litigants. Those who had lawyers were 4.4 times more likely to win than those who represented themselves.
  • Another analysis concluded that in higher complexity civil cases (including serious personal injuries, medical malpractice, and wrongful death), plaintiffs represented by attorneys were 40 percent more likely to win.

Why Does Hiring a Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Make Such a Difference?

Some of the researchers’ theories about why hiring a lawyer makes such a difference in case outcomes: Continue reading

Despite the fact that an electric scooter does not meet the technical definition of a “motor vehicle” by Florida law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that does not exempt an auto insurer from having to payout uninsured motorist (UM) benefits. West Palm Beach injury lawyer electric scooter injury

The court’s recent ruling in State Farm v. Spangler reversed the trial court’s previous grant of summary judgment in favor of the insurer.

The car insurance company had argued that its uninsured motorist policies were reserved solely for accidents caused by motor vehicles – which are defined in Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law as well as in the uninsured motorist statute.

Winning a Florida motorcycle accident claim just got harder for helmetless riders – even when the crash isn’t their fault. This is thanks to a sweeping Florida tort reform measure that shifted the way our courts hold negligent drivers accountable. West Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyer

To be clear, Florida’s motorcycle helmet law remains unchanged. F.S. 316.211 allows adults over 21 with at least $10,000 in medical insurance benefits for self-sustained injuries to operate or ride on a motorcycle without a helmet.

The issue is the passage of Florida HB 837 and companion bill SB 236, which changed Florida from a state that follows a fault system of pure comparative negligence to one of modified comparative negligence with a 51 percent bar.

In layman’s terms: More than one person can be at-fault for an accident that results in personal injuries. A pure comparative negligence is a system of fault whereby everyone is financially responsible for their own share of the blame in an accident. So if you’re 35 percent at-fault for your own injuries, you can still sue the other person at-fault to collect on the remaining 65 percent. With pure comparative fault, you can be 99 percent liable/legally responsible for your own injuries, and still collect the remaining 1 percent from the other at-fault party. (That’s an extreme case that certainly isn’t ideal, but you aren’t prohibited from collecting damages inflicted by someone else’s wrongdoing just because you were also responsible.) Florida – up until March 2023 – adhered to a system of pure comparative fault for accidents and personal injuries.

HB 837 transformed Florida into a state that adheres to a system of modified comparative fault with a 51 percent fault. This means you can still hold the other negligent person accountable for their share of fault, even if you’re to blame – but only if your percentage of the fault doesn’t exceed 50 percent. If your share of legal responsibility is 51 percent or higher, you are not able to collect anything at all – even if they are 49 percent responsible.

Now, this impacts ALL motorists in Florida. However, it will have an outsized impact on motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets. The reason? Continue reading

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