Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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

If you’re ever in a South Florida bicycle accident with someone driving a car, one avenue through which you might obtain compensation is through your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that you purchase as part of your regular car insurance. As our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can explain, PIP can be applied in bicycle accidents – even if you weren’t driving – so long as the incident occurred in traffic. Technically, bicyclists aren’t required to carry any insurance at all in Florida. However, it’s a good idea – particularly if you enjoy road cycling. And if you have a car, it’s easy, as PIP (which can be paid regardless of fault in the accident) is already required coverage for registered motor vehicles in the state. However, any PIP claims must be accurately and timely filed. Palm Beach injury lawyer

Underscoring this point was a case last year before Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals.

In the matter of USAA Casualty Insurance Co. v. Mikrogiannakis, a bicyclist was struck by a car in Seminole County (Central Florida), and sought medical treatment for his injuries. During that initial visit, his registration form listed his contact information and the name of his personal injury lawyer – but not the name and address for a PIP insurer. That field had been left blank. Over the course of several months, he continued to receive medical treatment from that same provider.

Roughly 18 months after administering these treatments, the medical provider began submitting claims to USAA, the bicyclist’s PIP insurer. However, USAA denied the payments, citing failure to comply with F.S. 627.736(5)(c). The statute is extensive (which is why we recommend consulting with a personal injury lawyer if you aren’t sure of your rights), but that provision in particular refers to the requirement that any bills for emergency services or care must be submitted to the PIP carrier within 35 days (possibly for treatment rendered up to 75 days). The bills in this case weren’t submitted for a full 18 months. Continue reading

 If you’ve ever been involved in a South Florida car accident, you know the incident must be reported right away to the insurer. It’s not uncommon for insurers to request you provide a recorded statement. In some cases, they’ll insist they can’t process a claim until you do so. However, if your injuries were serious enough to require a hospital stay and time off work, it’s a good idea to hold off on this “requirement” until you’ve spoken to a West Palm Beach injury lawyer.West Palm Beach injury lawyer
There are two main reasons for this:
  1. Anything you say has the potential to be used against you. A recorded statement locks you into a specific narrative. This is not to say you need time to cook up a story or lie (you absolutely should not). However, moments of high-stress and pain could cloud your memory. If the recorded statement you give doesn’t match precisely with testimony given during deposition and/or trial, the insurer can use this to attack your credibility – which is exactly what they want.
  2. You may not be required to. If you’re dealing with a third-party insurer, you are likely under no obligation to provide a recorded statement. If your car accident injuries are serious enough that you’re engaging with a third-party insurer outside Florida’s no-fault system, you should probably be working with a lawyer who can advise you of this anyway. If you’re negotiating with your own insurer for personal injury protection or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (the latter of which you should definitely have a lawyer for), you might be contractually obligated to provide a recorded statement to the insurer. But it really depends on the details of the policy language. Don’t just trust vague assertions like, “we can’t process the claim until you give a recorded statement.” Such claims don’t prove you are required, and they’re intended to intimidate you into voluntarily providing recorded evidence. These questions may be designed to trip you up, and the way you answer can determine whether your claim is approved or denied. Talk to a Palm Beach car accident lawyer first.

This and similar issues have arisen before in Florida courts. In late 2006, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal sided with a crash survivor who argued he wasn’t required to give a recorded statement to the insurer – despite the insurer’s firm insistence.

According to court records in Arias v. Affirmative Insurance Company, plaintiff was injured in a West Palm Beach car accident and required medical care as a result. He notified his own insurer so that he could obtain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, pursuant to F.S. 627.736. The insurance company requested the claimant appear in person for an examination under oath, with statements to be transcribed by a court reporter. The claimant was smart and contacted his lawyer before deciding what to do. Continue reading

Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyerWhen it comes to pursuing financial compensation for motor vehicle crashes, those involving motorcycles are unique in several respects. But one thing that is the same whether we’re talking about a Florida motorcycle accident or a car accident is that you can still recover monetary damages even if you were partly to blame.

As our Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyers can explain, it comes down to a legal doctrine called pure comparative fault (also sometimes referred to as pure comparative negligence or contributory fault).

Outlined in F.S. 768.81, the idea is basically that someone whose negligence causes injuries should only be financially responsible for their own percentage of fault. Lots of Florida crashes involve multiple negligent parties responsible by varying degrees for what happened. When there are multiple defendants, each one might be assigned only a portion of the blame – and they’re only liable to cover their fair share of the damages. If it’s the plaintiff who is partly to blame for the accident or exacerbating the injuries, their payout will be reduced in proportion to their own fault.

While lots of other states cut off the possibility of a payout if a plaintiff is somewhere between 49%-51% responsible for their own injuries, Florida (currently) doesn’t have any such rule (though state lawmakers have been considering enacting one at the behest of insurance lobbyists).

That means that if you’re injured in a South Florida motorcycle accident and it was 99%  your fault, you can still collect 1% damages from the other at-fault party. Of course, that’s not an ideal outcome. Let’s say your damages were $100,000 and you can only collect 1% of damages. That’s only $1,000 – probably not worth the trouble of pursuing a claim. But this shows why the question of comparative fault is so fiercely contested in crash cases.

Florida Motorcycle Accident Statistics

South Florida has long been a popular destination for bikers, particularly with annual events like Bike Night Broward, Daytona Bike Week, Palm Beach Bike Week, etc. But the state has also historically had some of the highest rates of fatal motorcycle accidents in the country.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcycle accident deaths are 29 times more common than those involving car occupants (when factoring vehicles miles driven). Motorcyclists just don’t have the same physical protection as others on the road, and they’re less likely to be seen and respected by other drivers. They’re also more susceptible to weather and road conditions, though the majority of fatal motorcycle crashes occur when the weather is reported as “clear.”

In 2020, nearly 5,600 people died in motorcycle crashes throughout the country, accounting for 14 percent of all motor vehicle deaths. In Florida, there were 550 motorcycle accident deaths reported in 2019. There are 590,000 registered motorcycles in Florida – not to mention that hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the Sunshine State annually specifically for the great weather and long, flat stretches of open road.

According to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation, motorcycle crash causation factors include:

  • Roadway design or maintenance issues
  • Unsafe acts by the motorcycle operator
  • Other drivers operating too close to motorcycles
  • Alcohol impairment (both in motorcyclists and other drivers)
  • Motorcyclist inexperience
  • Other drivers’ inattention (70 percent involved an inadequate visual “traffic scan” by the other driver)

Special Considerations for Florida Motorcycle Injury Claims

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