Articles Posted in Car Accidents

In many ways, the true impact of Florida car accident losses is immeasurable. After all, how can one possibly quantify the death of a loved one? Or the crushing reality that permanent injuries have forever foreclosed on the possibility of doing things that once gave you so much joy? Palm Beach car accident lawyer

But when we do look strictly at those black-and-white numbers, the staggering ripple effect of Florida car accident losses is thrown into stark relief.

Almost 3,400 people die in Florida car accidents annually, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Another 250,000 are injured. If we’re solely focused on medical costs incurred as a direct result of Florida car accidents, it’s a $46 million price tag every year (per the CDC). Work loss costs? $4.35 billion.

Broadening that scope, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just released a new 300-page report that examined the full scope of costs for traffic crashes across the U.S. in a single year.

Among their findings:

  • 36,500+ people died.
  • 4.5 million+ people were injured.
  • 23 million+ vehicles were damaged.
  • $340 billion+ is the cost America as a whole pays for motor vehicle crashes. This includes medical bills and work loss, but also taxes, congestion-related costs, excess fuel consumption, insurance premiums, emergency services costs, legal and court costs, lost productivity. $55 billion of that is in medical bills and lost wages alone.
  • That $340 billion breaks down to $1,035 for every person currently living in this country.
  • $1.4 trillion+ is the cost America pays for motor vehicle crashes when quality of life valuations are considered.

Quality of life valuations are the consideration of the cost when a serious injury or death means that no amount of medical care is going to fully restore the victim. Those who have died – they’re robbed of the entire rest of their lives. Their surviving loved ones will be impacted the rest of their lives as well. Even for those who survive, sometimes there can be lifelong disabilities, physical pain, disfigurement that sometimes prevents them from being independent in even the most basic life functions. Continue reading

No one sets about their day intending to be involved in a car accident – which is why those involved often appear shell-shocked at the scene. Unfortunately when you’re not thinking clearly, it can lead to mistakes that have larger consequences. One such possibility in Broward car accident cases is accepting money on-the-spot from the at-fault driver. Broward car accident lawyer

There are many reasons why this is bad idea.

Our South Florida personal injury lawyers understand it can be tempting, especially if you don’t think you’re hurt badly and your car seems mostly fine. But it’s important to think about why someone would offer you cash or try to arrange for private payment on-the-spot. There are several possibilities – none of them beneficial to the injured or wronged party.

Why Would a Driver At-Fault Offer Cash at a Broward Car Accident Scene?

If someone offers you cash at a crash scene, that should immediately raise some red flags. To be fair, there is nothing illegal about a driver offering you a cash settlement right away, but it’s highly suspicious.

Among the reasons a negligent driver might be eager to settle matters immediately:

  • They don’t want their insurance premiums to spike. This is understandable, and all of us can empathize. After all, even the driver who’s not at-fault may see a slight uptick in their premiums after a claim. But the main problem with this is that you simply do not know the full scope of your property damages and/or injuries in the middle of that moment. If you accept a cash offer in exchange for not reporting the incident or exchanging information, you could be effectively foregoing whatever chance you may have had to be fully compensated.
  • They are uninsured or underinsured. In these situations, the at-fault driver may be concerned about statutory penalties, as Florida imposes a fine of between $150 to $500 for driving  uninsured. Or they may be concerned that legal action could result in direct legal action against them that could lead to wage garnishment, etc.
  • They want to avoid the accident becoming part of their driving record. This may be understandable, but consider that if their existing driving record has them so concerned about a few more points, it may be in the best interests of all road users if they’re held to account.
  • They have a suspended license. In Florida, per F.S. 322.34, driving with a suspended license – or one that is revoked, canceled, or disqualified – is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Penalties can be even more serious if it’s a repeat offense. Not only that, but if their license is suspended, they also are likely not insured.
  • They are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime on its own, but the punishment increases if they’re impaired and cause an accident – especially if someone is injured. They may make a compelling case in the moment about what they have to lose if you summon authorities, etc. But consider that statistically speaking, the average drunk driver has driven impaired 80 times before their first arrest, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They are a danger not only to themselves but to others with whom they share the road, and even if you’re physically Ok, the next person who encounters them may not be so fortunate.
  • They want to avoid paying more in a legal claim. As mentioned before, it’s almost impossible for crash victims at the scene to accurately tally the full scope of damages. But there is a good chance that whatever they are offering upfront in cash is less than what you’d likely receive if you’re filing a claim.

Risks You Run Accepting Cash at a Florida Crash Scene

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We all know distracted driving is deadly, claiming more than 3,100 lives a year, according to the NHTSA. And yet, rideshare drivers have something of a built-in distraction with the need to multitask on the road. They rely on a driver app that must be checked constantly for customers, directions, mileage, and payments.West Palm Beach car accident lawyer

A precedential South Florida product liability lawsuit slated for an upcoming trial alleges a ridesharing app creates an unreasonable danger that puts the public at risk of injuries. Although the case stemmed from a South Florida car accident, it’s filed as a product liability lawsuit on the basis of strict liability. In the legal world, a personal injury lawsuit alleging strict liability allows a defendant to be held legally responsible for the outcomes of their actions – regardless of whether the person was at-fault or negligent.

The upcoming Florida rideshare injury lawsuit, pending in the Palm Beach Circuit Court, accuses Lyft, a California company, and its Florida subsidiary, of creating/using an app is unreasonably dangerous and distracts drivers to the extent it causes crashes. In this particular case, the January 2019 crash on State Road A1A resulted in another driver suffering substantial and lasting brain injuries.  The victim was leaving work at a local resort when the Lyft driver allegedly struck her at an intersection. She spent more than a month in the hospital after the crash, and for a time after that, required 24-aid and attendant care. She also underwent extensive occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other specialty care.

Hertz is also named in the injury lawsuit, as a partnership between Lyft and Hertz allows rideshare drivers to rent Hertz rental cars for their rides.

The original complaint notes that drivers are required to constantly monitor their apps for financial gain (obtaining rides that generate revenue). In addition to a claim of strict liability defective design, plaintiffs allege direct negligence in hiring an independent contractor.

Are Florida Rideshare Drivers Inherently More Distracted?

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As Palm Beach personal injury lawyers, our clients are those who have been impacted by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. However, we have occasionally heard of incredulous third-party defendants who wonder how they could possibly be held liable for someone else’s misdeeds. But there are quite a few instances in Florida injury law wherein statute allows for vicarious and third-party liability. Car accident cases may be among these. West Palm Beach injury lawyer

In general, there are three ways third parties can be liable for Florida car accidents:

  • Drunk driving accidents. In drunk driving accidents, third parties, such as bars or social hosts, can be held legally responsible per F.S. 768.125, if they either served alcohol to the impaired driver prior to the crash – knowing they were either under the age of 21 or habitually addicted to alcohol. This is called “dram shop liability.”
  • Employers of negligent drivers. If a tow truck driver is on the job and runs a red light, crashing into another car and causing serious injuries, the tow truck driver’s employer may be held liable – even if the company technically did nothing wrong. Employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees if the workers were acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the incident. This is based on a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer.”
  • Vehicle owners. This is where we sometimes hear the question, “Can I be sued in South Florida if someone else wrecks my car?” And the answer is: Yes. Florida is a little unique in this because of its recognition of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Basically, it was established in the 1920s by the Florida Supreme Court that motor vehicles are recognized as inherently dangerous instruments. As such, if you own one and you allow someone to use it (with express or implied permission) and that person goes on to operate it in a way that is negligent and causes harm to others, YOU can be held legally responsible. This is another example of vicarious liability for someone else’s negligence. However, it only applies if you have given that driver permission. If someone steals your car and then wrecks it, you would not be vicariously liable in that instance.

Sometimes, vehicle owners can be found directly negligent too – even if they weren’t operating the vehicle. As our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can explain, there may also be grounds for negligence as well. 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

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

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

Florida lawmakers want to put the brakes on the state’s decades-old no-fault car insurance law. Both the state Senate and House passed a measure that would repeal the seventies-era statute requiring personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in favor of a system that would instead require all drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage.West Palm Beach car accident lawyer

Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys know the decision, which is now in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ court, could have a significant impact in the way we pursue damages in Florida car accident cases.

This state is one of only a handful remaining that uses the no-fault system of car insurance. As it stands, all vehicle owners are required per F.S. 627.736 to purchase PIP, which offers up to $10,000 in medical expense and wage loss reimbursements per crash and $5,000 for funeral expenses, regardless of fault. Those figures have stayed the same since 1979 (seven years after the law first went into effect), failing to keep a realistic pace with current medical expenses and other costs. Further, a more recent update to the law caps the recovery amount to $2,500 if the injuries don’t require emergency treatment. Continue reading

Many Floridians are tired, overworked or even exhausted. Behind the wheel, this can be deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly 700 people are killed annually in drowsy driving accidents. The true number is probably much higher. Unfortunately, driver fatigue isn’t as easy to ascertain as conditions like alcohol impairment, even though the effects are similar. An earlier analysis indicated nearly 40,000 accident-related injuries in the U.S. annually are caused by sleepy drivers.West Palm Beach car accident lawyers

In Florida recently, three people – including two sisters – were tragically killed in an overnight highway crash while returning from vacation. Authorities speculated drowsy driving was the cause.

“We believe this driver may have been just tired,” an FHP official told the local news station. “Just drowsy. He did not state that, but that’s indicative of this type of crash that we see especially in the overnight hours.”

How Does Sleep Affect One’s Driving Abilities? 

As noted by the Sleep Foundation, drowsiness can have a significant impact on a driver’s judgment, coordination, attention, vigilance, decision-making skills, and reaction time. Continue reading

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