Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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

Last week, our West Palm Beach personal injury law firm reported that the National Transportation Safety Board is calling for all states to ban texting and cell phone calls while driving. We also wrote about the upcoming debate among Florida lawmakers regarding whether or not to ban texting in the state.

This week, we’d like to blog about a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey on the distracted driving habits of Americans. Over 6,000 drivers participated. Per the results:

• At any moment, nearly one out of every 100 drivers is e-mailing, texting, surfing the Internet, or doing something else with a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle.
• Most of those surveyed admitted to answering phone calls while driving.
• Close to two out of every 10 drivers surveyed admitted to e-mailing or texting. Drivers in the 21-24 age group were most likely to text while driving.
• Over 50% of drivers don’t believe that making a call affects their driving performance.
• About 25% said they don’t think that e-mailing or texting impacts their driving.
• 90% of drivers don’t like it if the person driving the car they are riding in is e-mailing or texting • More drivers said they read texts over sending them.
• Two times as many drivers admitted to answering calls over making them while operating a motor vehicle.

As evidenced by the survey results, most drivers think that they can text or talk on the phone safely while driving. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Cell phone conversations and texting takes a motorist’s attention away from the task at hand, which means he/she is not 100% focused on the task at hand. This can make it hard to avoid causing or becoming involved in a South Florida traffic crash. Remember that it takes just a few seconds for a catastrophic Miami motor vehicle accident to happen-those same seconds that a driver’s eyes are off the road in order to read an e-mail or dial the phone.

Over the last couple of years, Federal, state, and local safety officials have made a concerted effort to educate people about the dangers. Yet even when there are laws limiting cell phone use or banning texting, some people can’t seem to stop themselves, which places everyone in danger.

Drivers can no longer say that they didn’t know that distracted driving can kill people. As the victim of a distracted driving accident, you may be able to pursue Palm Beach traffic crash damages from the negligent motorist.

More drivers texting but few think it’s dangerous, survey says, The Denver Post/AP, December 9, 2011
NTSB pushes for nationwide ban on cellphone use for drivers, The Washington Post, December 14, 2011
National Distracted Driving Telephone Survey Finds Most Drivers Answer the Call, Hold the Phone, and Continue to Drive, NHTSA (PFD)


More Blog Posts:

As NTSB Recommends Full Cell Phone While Driving Ban, Florida Again Considers Whether to Make Texting Illegal, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, December 13, 2011
Coconut Creek Woman Killed in Broward County, Florida Car Crash Involving Lighthouse Point Police Vehicle, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, December 5, 2011
West Palm Beach Motorcycle Accident Leaves Police Officer with Serious Injuries, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 26, 2011 Continue reading

In the upcoming legislative session due to start next month, Florida legislators will once again consider whether texting should be banned in the state. Right now, Florida is one of 15 US states that haven’t made texting while driving illegal. Florida is also among the few states without any type of restriction on cell phone use while driving. Our Miami personal injury law firm is familiar with the types of catastrophic South Florida car crashes that can occur because someone was distracted driving.

This time around, however, lawmakers who favor a statewide texting ban may be coming into the debate with the extra support they need following today’s recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board that use of cell phone and text messaging devices while driving be made illegal throughout the US-unless, of course, there is an emergency situation. Although the NTSB cannot impose state laws, its recommendations are taken seriously by lawmakers.

The federal safety board called is calling for the ban because it says distracted drivers are threatening public safety. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, distracted driving was a factor in at least 3,092 US traffic crashes last year and at any moment during daylight hours, close to 1 out of 100 drivers is using handheld phones. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt even went so far as to call distracted driving the “new DUI.”

When explaining the need for a nationwide ban, the NTSB cited the tragic multi-vehicle Missouri traffic pileup in August 2010 involving a tractor-trailer, a pickup truck, and two buses. More than 30 people were injured and two people killed, including the 19-year-old driver of the pickup, who, within 11 minutes, sent or received 11 text messages. The other victim that died was a 15-year-old that was riding the school bus.

Texting, emailing, and talking on the cell phone are dangerous activities when done while driving. You want to work with a Palm Beach car crash law firm that knows how to prove that the other party’s negligence caused your injuries or a loved one’s death. Just because these driving habits are still legal in Florida does not mean you cannot recover damages.

Cellphone ban while driving? The tragedies behind the issue, Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2011
NTSB recommends full ban on use of cell phones while driving, CNN, December 13, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Coconut Creek Woman Killed in Broward County, Florida Car Crash Involving Lighthouse Point Police Vehicle, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, December 5, 2011
West Palm Beach Motorcycle Accident Leaves Police Officer with Serious Injuries, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 26, 2011
Miami-Dade Car Accident Lawsuit Filed in Florida Wrongful Death Case Against Coral Gables Teenager, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, October 7, 2011 Continue reading