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Articles Posted in Car Accident

Although every motor vehicle crash has its own complex dynamics, most of these incidents are preventable events. While weather or road design and condition may impact the likelihood and severity of an accident, the human factor stills play a predominant role in Florida accidents. This is especially true in T-bone accidents.

T-bone or side-impact collisions refer to situations when the front of one vehicle slams into the side of another. These accidents can lead to serious life-altering injuries and even death. According to some studies, T-bone collisions are the primary reason for 60% of all deaths in economic cooperation and development (OECD) member countries. Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that these intersection collisions contribute to nearly half of all collisions in the nation.

Who is Liable in Florida T-Bone Accident?

Many situations can lead to T-bone or side-impact collisions. Some common liable parties in a Florida T-bone accident include:

  • Drivers: Negligent drivers speeding through a yellow light or stop sign and slamming into another driver are often responsible for these accidents.
  • Vehicle Manufacturers: These accidents may also result from defective brakes or other car parts.
  • Government Entities: Poorly designed roadways or roads without appropriate signage may increase the likelihood of a T-bone accident.
  • Businesses: Businesses who maintain control over a parking lot with inadequate signage or broken direction signals may be liable for these accidents.

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Driving or riding in the front seat of a car without a seatbelt can increase your risk of moderate to fatal injury by 50% and of dying by 45%, and each year thousands of people experience more severe injury or death in Florida car accidents due to their failure to wear seatbelts. Car drivers and passengers should always wear their seatbelts while the car is in motion. While occupants of cars might be tempted to unbuckle their seatbelts, either because they are driving a short distance or because they are driving at low speeds, doing so could have a significant impact on a victim’s recovery in the event of a car accident.

Given the substantial risk of dangerous car accidents in Florida, drivers should be aware that in Florida, pure comparative negligence in a car accident can have a significant impact on a victim’s recovery. A skillful plaintiffs’ attorney can use pure comparative negligence to advocate for a larger recovery for a victim and navigate past strong legal defenses. A recent local news article discussed a fatal Florida car accident that occurred in July 2022.

According to the news article, the accident occurred when a 23-year-old, driving a jeep with two passengers, lost control and veered off of I-95 South and collided with the guardrail. The force of the collision with the guardrail caused the car to cross over into the center median. During the crash, the front passenger was ejected from the vehicle, landing in the left lane of I-95 North. He was subsequently struck by an oncoming vehicle and killed. The accident occurred around 2:45 a.m. on Sunday approximately 1.5 miles north of County Road 210. The driver and the third passenger in the jeep received minor injuries and nobody in the second car was hurt. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, none of the three individuals in the jeep were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash.

The meteoric rise of the automaker Tesla, known for its stylish electric vehicles that contain an “autopilot” feature, has been accompanied by increasingly concerning reports of accidents that may have been caused by misuse or a malfunction in the autopilot system. A popular international newspaper recently published a report on a Florida accident involving a tesla that left two occupants of the vehicle dead. An investigation is ongoing, but the increasing prevalence of these types of accidents is giving regulators and members of the public concern.

According to the article discussing the accident, the vehicle involved was occupied by a couple in their mid 60’s when it inexplicably exited the highway near Gainesville and crashed into the back of a semi-truck, The tesla went underneath the trailer portion of the semi, and the top of the car was sheared off. Both occupants were pronounced dead at the scene, and the crash remains under investigation. As of the time the article was published, it is not clear whether the autopilot feature was being used leading up to the crash.

Products manufactured and marketed for sale in the United States are expected to be safe for people to use in the manner that they were intended. New technologies like self-driving cars should be implemented with extreme caution, especially considering the inherently dangerous nature of driving. If the Tesla autopilot feature has inherent problems that result in these types of accidents, the manufacturer may be in serious legal jeopardy. Tesla advises its customers to always keep their hands on the steering wheel when using the autopilot feature, but consumers seem reluctant to follow these instructions, and their own lives and the lives of other motorists are being placed in jeopardy.

Accident victims in Florida who have worked with insurance companies probably understand how difficult it can be to get an insurance company to honor a claim. While insurance companies are notorious for making the claims process cumbersome and difficult, they still hold a duty to negotiate and attempt to settle a claim in good faith. A federal appellate court recently reversed a jury verdict that was in favor of an insurance company because the jury had not been properly instructed considering the good faith requirement.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff in the recently decided case is a man who was injured several years ago in a motorcycle accident. The plaintiff retained a personal injury attorney shortly after the accident, but communication was spotty between his counsel and the defendant. Months later, the plaintiff’s counsel sent a settlement offer to the defendant. The defendant did not communicate with their client about the settlement offer, and the plaintiff sued the driver and policyholder personally, obtaining over a $12 million verdict at trial.

After the initial trial, the plaintiff sued the insurance company directly, seeking to collect the $12 million judgment from them. The plaintiff argued that the defendant failed to act in good faith when considering the settlement offer, as required under Florida law. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s failure to consult or advise their client of the settlement offer, or the consequences of a much larger trial verdict, constituted bad faith. After the parties presented their cases at trial, the plaintiff proposed a jury instruction explaining the requirements for a finding of bad faith, but the trial court rejected the instruction. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed the jury instruction issue to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

When a Florida driver acts negligently and causes a car accident, it is well understood that that driver (or their insurance company) will be liable for damages caused by the accident. In some states, including Florida, the owner of an automobile can also be held accountable for damages caused in an accident when someone else was driving the car. This vicarious liability is enabled by a legal doctrine that has been in effect in Florida for over 100 years. Under this “dangerous instrumentality doctrine” A car owner can be held liable for damages caused by a negligent driver that had borrowed their car. Although this legal theory has faced resistance and challenges since its enactment, it remains the law. The Florida Court of Appeal recently affirmed the validity of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine in a recently published decision.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case was a man who intervened in a domestic dispute between the defendant and her son, who were his neighbors. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff approached the defendant’s son, who appeared to be escalating the violent situation, and attempted to calm him down. After a further altercation, the defendant’s son got into the defendant’s car and ran over the plaintiff, causing serious injury. The defendant’s son was charged with several crimes for his actions.

Separate from the criminal charges filed against the defendant’s son the plaintiff sought civil relief from both the plaintiff and her son by pursuing a negligence lawsuit. The plaintiff argued that under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the defendant should be held responsible for the damages caused by her son after she let him use the vehicle. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s claims, finding that because the defendant’s son’s conduct was intentional, not negligent, the plaintiff could not be held liable for the damages.

In the past few decades, trucks and SUVs have become extremely popular with families and daily drivers. Many people choose to buy a large vehicle because they believe that it would be safer in the event of a crash. Although large vehicles do fare better when colliding with smaller vehicles, there are also increased dangers that apply to using a large vehicle for transportation. Notably, trucks and SUVs with high ground clearance can be harder to maneuver around turns, especially when traveling at a high rate of speed. This can result in loss of control and a rollover. A recent single-vehicle accident in Clermont, FL may demonstrate this fact.

According to the facts discussed in a local news story reporting on the crash, a truck containing four people was traveling southbound on County Road 561 in Clermont when the driver failed to properly navigate a curve. The vehicle left the shoulder, tipped over, and rolled down an embankment, striking a tree. When authorities arrived at the scene, all four of the vehicle occupants were dead, including a five-year-old girl. According to law enforcement officers quoted in the report, none of the three adult occupants were wearing seatbelts, and the child was not secured in a car seat. It’s impossible to know if the accident result would have been different if the occupants were using their seatbelts, but it’s reasonable to assume that some or all of the occupants may have survived if they were properly restrained.

Accident victims who are injured or killed in a crash and were not wearing a seatbelt may face obstacles in obtaining full compensation for their injuries. Failure to follow traffic laws, such as Florida’s law that mandates all front-seat passengers and children under 18 must wear a seatbelt, can be seen as an act of negligence on the part of the injured victim. Florida is a state that utilizes the “comparative negligence” theory of liability. This means that an accident victim may have their damage award reduced if the victim contributed to the cause of the accident or the severity of their injuries. Under this framework, an injured passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt may not receive the same damage award they would be entitled to if they were wearing a seatbelt. Because of this, it is advisable for all Florida drivers to properly use safety equipment and follow traffic laws while on the road.

Following a major car accident, it may be obvious who was at fault and who caused the accident. Sometimes, however, car accidents are not as clear cut. In accidents with complex timelines, multiple parties, and conflicting testimony from witnesses and those involved, it can often become messy very quickly to handle the details of who was at fault, for how much fault, and other important elements of the accident timeline.

According to a recent local news report, a major accident left nine individuals injured and one killed. Local authorities reported that a van carrying three adults and four children with special needs was traveling through an intersection when it crashed into the side of another vehicle going in another direction through the intersection. The initial accident caused three other vehicles nearby to be impacted also. Local fire rescue authorities reported nine people, including six children—four of which have special needs—injured. These injured individuals were transported to the hospital, with some of the adults being issued trauma alerts. A 36-year-old woman who was also a passenger in the van was pronounced dead on the scene. The accident remains under investigation by troopers.

Florida, like some other states around the country, is called a “no fault” state. This means that Florida has a law requiring that all drivers have a specific type of car insurance coverage that pays regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death for teenagers. Further, the Florida Department of Transportation (“FDOT”) reports that teen-related accidents dramatically increase between the “100 Deadliest Days”, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Approximately seven teenagers die because of motor vehicle crashes every day. These harrowing statistics highlight the importance of equipping teenagers with the skills to operate their vehicles safely.

The CDC reports that the risk of motor vehicle accidents is highest among teens between 16 and 19 years old. This age group is three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. Data indicates that the accident death rate for male drivers is over two times higher than the fatality rate for similarly aged female motorists. Further, the presence of teenage passengers increases the likelihood of an accident.

Naturally, inexperience is one of the main reasons teenagers are more likely to be involved in a fatal Florida car accident. However, other factors that put teenagers at risk include nighttime and weekend driving, lack of seatbelt use, distracted driving, impairment, and speeding. For instance, national news reports indicated that the Sheriff’s Office charged a 17-year-old driver with vehicular homicide for driving 151 mph in a crash that took the lives of six people. The driver posted videos of himself and asked viewers to guess his speed for a prize. During his escapade, he slammed his BMW into an SUV carrying six people leaving their jobs at a local farm. Further, law enforcement believes the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the accident.

Recently, the Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion addressing a Florida car accident involving a loaner vehicle. The defendant owns a car dealership that operates a service department. Under the car dealership’s protocol, the dealership provides customers with loaner vehicles while their cars are undergoing service. The current incident arose following a situation when the defendant’s customer caused an accident while using a loaner vehicle from the dealership. The accident victim filed a lawsuit against the dealership for vicarious liability under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine.

At issue on appeal was (1) whether the defendant rented or leased the vehicle and (2) whether summary judgment was improper because the defendant used conflicting labels for the vehicle. In reviewing the case, the court analyzed the Graves amendment. Under the Graves Amendment, generally, a motor vehicle owner who rents or leases the vehicle to a person shall not be liable under the law for harm that results from the use, operation, or possession of the vehicle during the rental period if the owner is engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles; and (2) there is no negligence or criminal wrongdoing on the part of the owner.

The plaintiff argued that summary judgment in favor of the defendant was improper because the agreement referred to the vehicle as both a “rental” and a “loaner .”Further, the plaintiff argued that the agreement did not contain consideration because there was no payment of money to the loaner. The court first held that the consideration in the agreement was that the driver agreed to bring their car and pay for repairs in exchange for the use of a loaner vehicle. Second, the court further held that whatever label the defendant happened to assign to the car, be it a “loaner” or “rental,” did not control. Instead, the substance of the transaction, not the labels, controls the transaction. Thus, the court held that the defendant enjoyed the protection of the Graves Amendment.

Florida pedestrian accidents are a serious public safety concern for all road users. These accidents can result in fatalities and severe injuries that require lifelong care. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) studied pedestrian accidents to address these safety concerns and minimize serious injuries. The study defines a pedestrian as any “person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down .”Key findings of the study revealed that Florida was in the top three states with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities. These harrowing statistics highlight the importance of pedestrian and driver safety.

The study also found that pedestrian deaths account for about 17 percent of all traffic fatalities and 3 percent of all people who suffer injuries in traffic crashes. Further, alcohol involvement for the driver or pedestrian was reported in nearly 50 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes. Finally, hit-and-run accidents account for one of every five pedestrian fatalities.

Recently, authorities reported on a fatal Florida pedestrian accident. According to the crash report, a driver was traveling east when he hit a man crossing the road at an unmarked point. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way when moving along a marked or unmarked crosswalk in Florida. However, if a traffic signal alerts the pedestrian to wait to cross, they do not have the right-of-way until the sign indicates.

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