Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Florida motorcycle accidents differ from other types of vehicle crashes for a number of reasons – not the least of which being how civil claim attorneys pursue damages for injuries. motorcycle accident lawyer

In educating motorcyclists and passengers about these differences, our hope is they can make smart choices about insurance coverage – as well as what to do after a Palm Beach motorcycle accident to protect their best interests.

Florida is among the most popular – and deadliest – states for motorcycle enthusiasts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports more than 5,000 motorcyclists nationally lost their lives in crashes in a single recent year. Of those, nearly 600 died in Florida. While this is one of the largest states with a rapidly-growing population, that’s not the sole explanation. There are far more motorcycle accidents in Florida than in California or Texas – both of which are bigger and have much larger populations.

How Florida Motorcycle Accidents Are Different Than Other Crashes

In truth, any auto accident has the potential to upend your life. Motorcycle accidents, however, are uniquely hazardous.

In one recent analysis published in the medical journal CMAJ, researchers examined data on 27,000 motorcycle accident patients and 282,000 car accident patients. What they found was the injury rate for those in motorcycle crashes was triple the rate of injury for those in car crashes. Severe injuries were 10 times more likely in motorcycle accidents. The cost of treatment for those involved in motorcycle crashes was double that of car accident survivors.

One explanation for this is that motor vehicle safety has improved substantially over the last two decades. As the NHTSA notes, newer cars are safer cars, with standard three-point seat belts, reengineered air bags (and the addition of side airbags), electronic stability control to reduce spinouts and plow-outs, rearview backup cameras to prevent back-over crashes, blind spot detection, and driver assistance. Motorcycles, however, have remained largely unchanged.

Meanwhile, driver distraction has become increasingly common, putting motorcyclists at even higher risk of drivers who often overlooked them even before smartphones and dashboard systems became ubiquitous.

The greater severity of injuries in South Florida motorcycle accidents means these are going to be higher-stakes civil claims. Insurers know this. They’re often eager to settle these cases quickly, for as little as possible – if they don’t deny them outright. This is where working with an experienced Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyer is to your benefit. We recognize right off the bat what these cases are worth. When we commit to advocating on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled, we do not allow insurers to bully our clients into an unfavorable settlement.

It’s worth noting that compensation in motorcycle crashes is not going to include PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. That’s another major difference compared to car crashes. Continue reading

Recently, a 29-year-old car accident victim was awarded $16 million+ following a protracted Florida legal battle against her own auto insurance company. Although multi-million dollar verdicts are not the norm for most Florida crash cases, our Palm Beach car accident attorneys are sometimes asked about what type of damages one can expect in a typical crash case.Palm Beach car accident lawyer

It’s important to note that every auto accident case is different. Still, factors that can play into the amount a person expects to receive can include:

  • The severity of injuries involved.
  • Who was at-fault (and to what extent – if at all – the plaintiff/injured person shares fault).
  • Whether the at-fault parties are adequately insured.
  • How many victims there were (the more victims, typically the less money available per victim).
  • Whether the injured parties are covered by uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Now let’s look at the facts of the recent $16 million car accident verdict, as detailed by The Florida Times-Union. Continue reading

Good Samaritan laws have been enacted throughout the country with the initial intention of protecting medical personnel from legal liability for rendering aid to someone in a medical emergency outside a traditional hospital setting. Here in Florida, F.S. 768.13 protects not only health care providers and those licensed to practice medicine but any person from liability when they gratuitously and in good faith rendered emergency medical care or treatment either in direct response to an emergency situation or arising out of a declared public health emergency. West Palm Beach injury lawyers

While a health care professional’s code of ethics might compel them to offer medical assistance in an emergency situation, the state’s Good Samaritan law does not require anyone to help others in an emergency situation. However if they choose to do so, they must exercise reasonable care. The law will impose liability when someone’s failure to exercise reasonable care exacerbates the risk of injury to another person. It doesn’t apply in cases where the victim rejects help or when the volunteer is somehow compensated for their help.

But what happens when the Good Samaritan is the one injured?

As South Florida car accident lawyers, we’ve come across this scenario more than once. Recently in Riverview, Florida, a Good Samaritan in his 20s was killed while assisting others just after a multiple vehicle crash on I-75 just before 3 a.m. Local news outlets reported a 19-year-old in a Toyota swerved out of his lane, striking the back of a semi-truck before overturning in the outside lane of the highway. The semi truck driver, who was not hurt, stopped and pulled over on the shoulder to assist. The driver of a third vehicle then slowed down to pull over onto the shoulder when a fourth vehicle failed to slow down and rear-ended the third vehicle. Then the Good Samaritan approached and pulled over to help the other motorists. Just then, a semi truck carrying plywood approached, struck the first vehicle that was turned over on its side, then the back of the next car which was shoved into the next car. The Good Samaritan was struck by that third vehicle. The semi truck pulling the plywood crashed into a guardrail, where the load separated and fell into a ravine. The Good Samaritan was the only one killed. Continue reading

Florida personal injury lawsuits are efforts to compel a negligent party (defendant) to pay monetary compensation for causing some preventable harm to the person who was hurt (plaintiff). There are, however, a number of legal defenses that can be raised to either prevent the defendant from being found legally responsible (liable) or reduce the amount of money they have to pay. One example is called the “alcohol defense.” It was recently raised in the case of Mainstreet Entertainment Inc. v. Guardianship of Jacquelyn Faircloth before Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal. The court tossed a $28 million+ verdict against two bars because the lower court improperly prohibited one of them from asserting the alcohol defense.Florida injury lawsuits

As West Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, the alcohol defense is outlined in F.S. 768.36. It states that in civil actions, a plaintiff can’t recover for any damages for loss or injury if the court finds that at the time the plaintiff was injured:

  • They were under the influence of any alcohol or drug to the extent their normal faculties were impaired OR their blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or higher AND
  • As a result of that intoxication, the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at-fault for their own injuries.

This is especially noteworthy in Florida because our courts otherwise abide by a system of pure comparative fault, per F.S. 768.81. What that means is a plaintiff’s financial damages will be reduced by whatever percentage of the fault they shared – up to 99 percent. So if you’re 75 percent liable, you can still collect damages for the other 25 percent that is someone else’s fault. Many other states won’t let a person recover any damages at all if they are more than 49-51 percent liable for their own injuries. A few states won’t let you recover anything at all if you are even 1 percent at-fault. In Florida, you can theoretically be 99 percent at-fault and still recover on that 1 percent of damages (though that scenario isn’t ideal).

The alcohol defense, however, can eliminate your right to compensation entirely if you 51 percent or more at-fault for what happened because of alcohol or drug intoxication.

So that brings us to the Mainstreet Entertainment case. This was a drunk driving tragedy involving two young people – one a pedestrian and one behind the wheel – both allegedly intoxicated. The question was apportionment of liability. Continue reading

Drunk driving injuries can be horrific, perhaps the more so because they are always wholly preventable. For this reason, people who have suffered West Palm Beach DUI injuries may be entitled to pursue punitive damages on top of regular (compensatory) damages. This is noteworthy because very few types of Florida injury cases allow punitive damages.West Palm Beach DUI injury lawyer

As our Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, compensatory damages are intended to indemnify a person for specific losses or injuries. It replaces what’s lost (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) or in the case of intangible losses (i.e., emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, etc.), it provides some measure of monetary relief. There is no special process to ask for compensatory damages.

Punitive damages are different because they aren’t solely to compensate someone for losses, but rather to penalize the person who caused the damage and/or deter future acts of wrongdoing. You must specifically ask the court to seek punitive damages, and they’re only allowed in certain instances. DUI injury cases are one of those.

This matters because punitive damages can substantially increase the dollar amount of compensation to which you are entitled. While Florida law specifically caps punitive damages at three times the compensatory damages OR up to $500,000 (whichever is higher),  DUI damages are specifically exempted from this cap.

Continue reading

Thanksgiving is all about gathering and good eats. Lots of folks are especially excited about this year’s festivities, as pandemic-related restrictions have increasingly eased. However, many holiday safety concerns persist year after year.Palm Beach injury lawyer

As longtime South Florida injury lawyers, the cases we handle almost all involve preventable injuries resulting from the failure of someone else to use reasonable care – not necessarily because they meant to cause harm, but simply because they weren’t careful. If at all possible, we want people to avoid associating joyful holidays like Thanksgiving with sadness or regret. That’s why we urge everyone to take a few minutes to ensure they’re being as safe as possible – behind the wheel, in front of the stove, through the stores, and at the table.

Driving Dangers on Thanksgiving

A fatal Florida trucking accident lawsuit involving two distracted truck drivers has resulted in a $1 billion verdict.Palm Beach truck accident lawyer

As our Palm Beach trucking accident lawyers can explain, this type of verdict is not typical. However, it does reflect how a punitive damage award can substantially increase the amount one is compensated. Punitive damages, as outlined in F.S. 768.72, require special permission from the court as well as evidence the defendant was grossly negligent or acted with intention or wanton disregard for the safety of others. Punitive damages can amount to treble (triple) the compensatory damages.

This case involved an 18-year-old freshman at the University of North Florida who was struck and killed by a distracted semi-truck driver in 2017. His car was one in a line of standstill traffic on I-95, all backed up because another semi-truck driver had crashed earlier into an RV, causing it to burst into flames. The two vehicles and debris blocked highway traffic well over a mile for more than an hour.

According to the Florida Times-Union, a truck driver approaching from behind was reportedly operating his semi on cruise control at 70 mph. The data recorder on board showed he didn’t even attempt to brake until just one second before the fatal impact. However, he wasn’t the only one deemed negligent.

Testimony at trial revealed the driver whose semi truck flipped in the earlier crash, causing the stalled traffic, reportedly:

  • Was distracted by his cell phone at the time of the crash.
  • Was in violation of federal Hours of Service limit regulations.
  • Did not have a commercial driver’s license at the time of the crash.
  • Ha previous traffic violations on his record, including for speeding and other acts of aggressive driving.
  • Was not given a background check prior to being hired.

Continue reading

Emotional and mental distress are common for anyone who’s been injured in a violent car accident. However, when considering claims for emotional distress or mental anguish, the Florida impact rule (also called the physical impact rule) requires claimants prove either:

  • They also experienced some physical impact, OR
  • Their emotional injuries were somehow manifested physically.

There are a few exceptions, but mostly, you will have a very tough time securing damages for emotional distress (anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, etc.) in Florida if you didn’t personally suffer a physical injury too.car accident lawyer

Generally speaking, a physical injury is a key element in crash claims. Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys often also seek compensation for emotional distress on behalf of our clients, but not without this element. Claims solely involving emotional distress can be exceedingly difficult, though not entirely impossible. It really depends on the individual circumstances. Clients should know upfront the potential challenges of such claims, and consult with several injury attorneys before deciding the next step. Continue reading

If you’re in a South Florida motorcycle accident, you may have sustained substantial injuries and are wondering what to do next. It can be more perplexing if you’re fairly sure you were at least partially at-fault for the crash. motorcycle accident lawyer West Palm Beach

Two things to bear in mind:

  • Never voice your conclusions of fault to the other party or to any insurance representatives without first talking to an injury lawyer. Even if you strongly suspect you’re to blame, there may be factors about which you’re unaware/that were out of your control that skew your perception of events.
  • Even if you were partially at-fault for what happened, Florida law favors a system of fair compensation for which everyone pays their own share. This is called comparative fault, and it means that if you were 30 percent at-fault and the other driver was 70 percent, the other driver would be responsible to pay 70 percent of your damages. So if your total losses were $100,000, you’d be entitled to receive $70,000.

Keep in mind that the final word on fault and what percentage each party shares is not up to the investigating police officer nor necessarily the insurance adjuster. Disputes with regard to fault are settled either in negotiations with your attorney and the insurer(s) and/or by a mediator or judge.

A West Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyer can carefully investigate your case and gather evidence that will allow proper apportioning of fault. We’ll also work hard to protect your right to recover full and fair compensation. Continue reading

Road rage puts motorists at high risk of serious injury and death. And studies show people are aware that aggressive driving behavior is a major problem that contributes to traffic fatalities – yet 75 percent of U.S. motorists admit to driving aggressively. A higher percentage than that admitted in a survey to experiencing anger, aggression or road rage at some point behind the wheel in the 30 days prior.West Palm Beach road rage

It’s most commonly punctuated with tailgating, honking or yelling, though it’s defined as any extreme anger or aggression intending to create or cause physical harm. It might also involve:

  • Speeding in heavy traffic.
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