Articles Posted in Car Accident

After a driver is involved in a South Florida car accident, they will likely make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, seeking compensation for the damages they sustained in the accident. In the event that the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have adequate insurance, the accident victim may then have to file a claim with their own insurance company.

Car AccidentInsurance claims, however, are not always approved. Insurance companies operate on a for-profit model and are often looking for ways to reduce their costs. This may mean trying to find ways to deny a claim that would otherwise be costly to the insurance company. A recent case illustrates the difficulties one motorist had when making a claim with his own insurance company following a serious car accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and his wife were involved in a serious car accident with another driver. The plaintiff’s wife was seriously injured and later died before she could recover from her injuries. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver as well as his insurance company. In addition, since he believed that the at-fault driver’s insurance policy was not going to provide full compensation for his loss, the plaintiff named his own insurance company, based on the underinsured motorist provision in his insurance contract.

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Most people buy car insurance with the hope that they never have to use it. Indeed, aside from being required by law, car insurance provides motorists with the peace of mind of knowing that, should the unthinkable happen, at least they will be covered. However, thousands of South Florida car accident victims are shocked each year when they are made a low-ball settlement offer that doesn’t cover their expenses, or they are told by their insurance company that their claim has been denied.

Rear-EndedFollowing most Florida car accidents, the accident victim will file a claim with the other driver’s insurance policy. However, there may be several reasons why a driver files a claim against their own insurance company as well. For example, if the other driver’s insurance limits are too low, the accident victim may seek compensation through their own policy’s underinsured motorist provision. A recent case illustrates how a driver’s own insurance company may try to limit the amount of money payable to the accident victim.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of two people who were killed in a car accident. At the time, the plaintiffs’ family insured five cars through the insurance company. Since the company had a rule to only have a maximum of four cars per policy, the company generated two policy numbers. Three of the plaintiffs’ cars were on one policy, and two of their cars were on the other policy. Each policy had a limit of $250,000 for underinsured motorist protection.

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After someone is involved in a Florida car accident, they may seek compensation through a South Florida personal injury lawsuit. In order to successfully bring a case against an allegedly negligent driver, a personal injury plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s actions resulted in their injuries.

PedestrianOnce a plaintiff establishes that a defendant violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, the next step is to determine the damages that the plaintiff is owed. The calculation of damages in a Florida car accident case can be a very contentious and complex issue, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Some types of damages are fairly easy to calculate. For example, determining the amount of past medical expenses may be as easy as reviewing medical bills. However, figuring out the exact amount of damages is not always straightforward, especially when there are subsequent injuries sustained by the plaintiff.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that will be of interest to South Florida car accident victims because it illustrates the limits of the doctrine of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that allows a plaintiff to hold a third party responsible for the negligent acts of another party. The classic example of vicarious liability is when an employee causes an accident while working for his employer, and the accident victim seeks to hold the employer liable for the employee’s negligence.

CollisionIn some cases, if an employee negligently causes an accident while acting within the scope of his employment, anyone injured in that accident may seek compensation not just from the employee but also from the employer. However, the burden rests with the accident victim to prove that the relationship between the parties is sufficient to establish legal liability. Generally speaking, this means showing that the person who caused the accident was actually an employee and was acting within the scope of their employment. The case mentioned above illustrates how courts analyze these claims and which types of evidence courts may consider when determining if a person is an employee.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a delivery driver who was working for the defendant. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the driver of the vehicle as well as the company that hired him.

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Florida has long had a reputation for being a state with a large number of “bad drivers.” Indeed, Florida drivers are involved in over 250,000 auto accidents each year, with over 100,000 of those accidents resulting in serious injuries. In all, Florida car accidents are responsible for approximately 1,800 fatalities each year.

Smashed CarIt may come as no surprise, then, that according to a study released earlier this month, Florida ranks among the states with the worst drivers in the country. The study took various variables into account, including the total number of drivers, the number of DUI accidents, the number of traffic tickets issued, the total number of traffic fatalities, and the number of uninsured drivers. After all of the data was analyzed, Florida was ranked as the state with the worst drivers.

Interestingly, one key variable that stuck out when looking at Florida driver data was the unusual number of internet searches for “speeding tickets” and “traffic tickets.” Presumably, if a motorist is researching traffic tickets, they have recently been issued a ticket or warning by a police officer. Florida also had the second-highest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation, second only to Oklahoma.

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There are several elements that a plaintiff must establish before they are able to recover financially after a South Florida car accident. One of these key elements is causation. Simply stated, the causation element requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s conduct was the legal cause of their injuries, or, to use the legal terminology, the “proximate cause.”

Traffic JamThere is not an exact definition of the term proximate cause, and determining whether a defendant’s actions constitute proximate cause is normally left up to a jury. However, in some situations, a court may determine whether proximate cause exists as a matter of law through a summary judgment proceeding. Whether being decided by a judge or jury, the question is whether the defendant’s actions more likely than not “foreseeably and substantially contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.” Importantly, proximate cause does not need to be the only cause of an accident.

A recent personal injury case illustrates how one state court’s causation analysis resulted in the dismissal of a car accident victim’s case.

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The judge’s primary function in a Florida personal injury case is to make sure that the trial follows all of the applicable rules, both substantive and procedural. One of the most important tasks a judge performs is determining which evidence is admissible and may be considered by the jury. Indeed, in many cases, powerful evidence that could change the outcome of a case is not admitted for a variety of reasons.

MotorcycleEvidentiary issues are normally handled in pre-trial motions, before the jury is empaneled. This way, the jury is not at risk of hearing any of the contested evidence, should the judge determine that it is not admissible. These pre-trial motion hearings can be critical to a Florida personal injury case, since they often determine the path a case will take. For example, if a plaintiff is able to get a pre-trial ruling admitting favorable evidence, the defense may consider settling the case rather than taking the chance of proceeding to trial.

In a recent Florida appellate opinion, the court discussed which evidence should have been admitted in a car accident case.

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Florida personal injury cases are routinely decided by a jury, unless both parties agree that a judge should hear the case. When a jury is empaneled, it should be representative of the community where the case will be heard. Almost always, juries consist of laypeople, meaning that the individual jurors have not been schooled on the law or how it applies to a given case. The judge’s job is to assist the jury by providing instructions on what the ultimate question in the case is and what the jurors should consider in making their determination.

Car AccidentIn some Florida personal injury cases, confusing scientific or medical issues arise. In such cases, an expert witness may be required to explain to the jury certain principles or concepts. An expert witness is usually a professional in the field at issue who has specialized knowledge through experience or education. In many Florida personal injury cases, each side presents their own expert witness in hopes of persuading the jury. There are complex rules regarding the admissibility of expert testimony; however, once testimony is admitted, it is up to the fact-finder to determine how convincing the testimony is. A recent case illustrates the difference between admitting evidence and assigning the evidence weight.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving along the highway, about to pass a Department of Transportation vehicle that was pulled off to the side of the road. As she passed, she heard a loud noise. The next thing she knew, her car was upside down and sliding along the roadway. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, and she filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Department of Transportation, as the employer of the driver who was alleged to have pulled out in front of her.

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Anyone who has been injured in a South Florida car accident knows how difficult it can be dealing with insurance companies. In many cases, insurance companies will seek out ways to settle claims for as little as possible or deny claims outright. Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving a passenger’s claim against the driver’s uninsured motorist protection policy. The court concluded that the insurance company improperly denied coverage because the woman was “occupying” the vehicle at the time of the accident, and her claim should have been approved.

Rear-EndedThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the passenger in a friend’s car. The two were on their way to the grocery store and had pulled into the parking lot when they began talking in the car. As they were talking, the plaintiff heard a loud bang and turned her head to see that two cars had collided on an adjacent road.

The plaintiff exited her friend’s vehicle and approached the scene of the accident. She walked around the back of one of the vehicles involved in the accident to get its license plate number. As she was looking down at the license plate, another vehicle crashed into one of the cars involved in the initial accident. The plaintiff was struck by one of the cars and was injured as a result.

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When someone is injured due to a negligently designed or defectively manufactured product, they may be able to pursue compensation for their injuries from several parties, including the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer. These product liability lawsuits often are brought under a theory of strict liability, which does not require a plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent. However, it may benefit a plaintiff to establish that a defendant did know about the alleged defect because this may increase the damages that they are entitled to obtain.

Disc BrakesOne way that product liability plaintiffs can establish a defendant’s knowledge of an alleged defect is through “other similar incident” (OSI) evidence. OSI evidence, often presented through an expert witness, tells of other incidents in which the same product caused an injury or was defective in a manner which is similar to that which the plaintiff alleges. A recent case issued by a federal appellate court discusses OSI evidence and when it may be appropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were stopped at a red light at the end of a highway off-ramp when a 1996 Toyota Camry traveling at 75 miles per hour rear-ended them. At the time, the driver explained that he tried to brake, but the car instead began to accelerate. It was not until several years later that Toyota announced a recall of 1996 Toyota Camrys, based on several other reports that the vehicles were randomly accelerating and could not be stopped by applying the brakes.

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