Articles Posted in Car Accidents

An Orlando car accident lawsuit alleges vehicle manufacturer Tesla has mislead consumers into believing the autopilot feature of these vehicles is more capable – and safer – than it truly is. Florida car accident attorneys know that while claims against car makers isn’t a new phenomenon, this case could foreshadow what we can expect in the courts when the auto industry is rolling out ever more advanced tech for use on our roads.car accident lawyer Orlando

According to Wired, the autopilot feature was a key reason he opted to buy the Tesla Model S vehicle last year. His daily work commute was 250 miles round trip, most of it on the highway, and he concluded the semi-autonomous driving system would make his life easier. He used the feature on a regular basis, allowing it to keep the car in his lane and avoid other moving vehicles. During his ride, he relaxed, checked his emails, private messages and social media – though he insists he never completely stopped paying attention. Then a few weeks ago, as he was returning home to Winter Garden from his job in Fort Pierce, Autopilot engaged at 80 mph on the Florida Turnpike, something unexpected happened: He crashed. He struck a disabled, empty Ford Fiesta that was abandoned in his lane of travel.

Now his car accident lawsuit, filed in Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, alleges severe permanent injuries, including a fractured vertebrae. In a written statement, a company spokesperson indicated the automaker has no reason to believe the feature somehow failed, stressing that when Autopilot is engaged, it is still the driver’s duty to stay alert to their surroundings and “in control of the vehicle at all times.” The company insists it has never advertised the feature as a fully autonomous system and never promised that Autopilot would make the car crash-free. Prior to using Autopilot for the first time, drivers are required to watch the road and keep their hands on the wheel. If a driver goes more than a few seconds without their hand on the wheel, a warning bell starts to ding. Continue reading

Anyone involved in a West Palm Beach car accident should become familiar with the acronym, “PIP,” which under Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law refers to “personal injury protection” benefits, as outlined in F.S. 627.736.West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorney

As our car accident lawyers in West Palm Beach can explain, it basically works like this: You’re  in an auto accident. You’re hurt. It doesn’t matter which driver is at-fault, the PIP auto insurance will cover its own insured (and passengers, qualifying resident relatives and in some cases, non-vehicle occupants such as pedestrians or bicyclists).

However, the most you can possibly recover is up to 80 percent of your medical expenses and 60 percent of your lost wages – maxing out at $10,000 (assuming your injuries are emergent; otherwise, you’re capped at $2,500). It’s only in cases of serious, debilitating, permanent or fatal injuries, as outlined in F.S. 627.737, that one can step outside of that no-fault system to file an injury lawsuit against the negligent driver or file a claim for your own uninsured/ underinsured motorist benefits.

Tort Reform Advocates Claim Frivolous Crash Claims Clogging the System Continue reading

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. drunk driving injury attorney

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.Palm Beach car accident attorney

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).car accident attorney

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.car accident attorney

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. car accident lawyer

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.

Continue reading

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.DUI injury lawyer

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.car accident attorney

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

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.car accident attorney

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