Articles Posted in Car Accident

distracted drivingWhen a plaintiff files a Florida personal injury case, in many instances the defendant will file a motion for summary judgment claiming that the plaintiff’s case is insufficient as a matter of law. Essentially, in a summary judgment motion, the defendant argues that there are no disputed factual issues in the case and that when the court applies the law, the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Thus, to survive a defense motion for summary judgment, a Florida personal injury plaintiff must be able to establish a disputed issue of fact. In a recent personal injury case, the court discussed the plaintiff’s burden to present evidence creating an issue of fact, as opposed to merely calling into question the credibility of a witness’ testimony.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident. The motorist who struck the plaintiff’s car (“the supervisor”) was on the phone at the time of the accident, speaking to a woman whom she supervises at work (“the employee”). The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the supervisor’s employer, arguing that the employer was vicariously liable for the negligent acts of the supervisor.

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drunk driverRecently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a fatal drunk driving accident that occurred during the South-By-Southwest Music Festival (SXSW). The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s lawsuit against the event planners should proceed toward trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case against the event planners should be dismissed because the defendants did not control the area where the accident occurred.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the SXSW festival is a city-wide event with various venues across the city participating in festival activities. Thus, the event planners routinely applied for special use permits from the city to close certain city blocks. Specifically, the use permit that was obtained by the event planners stated that all “traffic controls must be provided in accordance with the approved traffic control plan.

One early morning during the festival, police attempted to pull over a motorist for a minor traffic infraction. However, the driver fled police and drove through a series of barriers and directly into a crowd of people. The plaintiffs were the surviving loved ones of a man who was killed by the drunk driver.

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car accidentThe recovery period following a serious Florida car accident is different for everyone, but it is not an easy time for anyone. Aside from the physical trauma and emotional disturbance caused by the accident, there are the mounting medical bills, the time away from work, and the headache of dealing with insurance companies. Given these issues, it is understandable and expected that most victims of a Florida car accident are quite vulnerable for some time after the accident.

Sadly, insurance companies and savvy defense attorneys often use this time of vulnerability to approach and pressure accident victims into discussing – and potentially settling – their case. It is common to see Florida accident victims sign away the rights to pursue their case for just pennies on the dollar.

Even when the settlement agreement is a fair one, Florida car accident victims should consult with a knowledgeable attorney about the agreement’s fine print. Some settlement agreements contain unexpected language or are phrased in very broad terms that could cause problems for the accident victim if they choose to pursue a claim against other parties. A case that arose recently serves as a warning and excellent example of why it is essential to carefully read and negotiate the terms of a settlement agreement.

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police stopRecently, an appellate court in another state released an opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether a police officer, plus the city entity that employed him, could be liable for injuries arising out of a car accident allegedly caused by the officer. In the end, the court determined that because the officer’s actions did not rise to the level of “reckless disregard,” the defendants were entitled to immunity.

The case presents an interesting issue for those who have been injured in a Florida car accident that was caused by a police officer or other government employer. For starters, Florida law does not provide government immunity as it is applied in this case. However, the Florida Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides for a relatively low total recovery amount unless the plaintiff can establish the actions of the government employee exhibited a “willful disregard for human rights or safety.”

The Facts

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the defendant law enforcement officer received an emergency call and was en route to the scene when he was involved in an accident with the plaintiff. Both the plaintiff and the officer provided very different versions of what occurred, with the plaintiff claiming that the officer inexplicably struck her rear bumper. The plaintiff brought a personal injury claim against the police officer and the city entity that employed the officer.

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mikecphotoDuring the formation of our country, the founding fathers did not provide a mechanism for citizens to hold the federal, state, and local governments liable for injuries caused by government actors, unless the government being named as a defendant agreed to be named in the lawsuit. In fact, governments were then, and still are to some extent, presumed to be immune from tort liability. However, since then, state and federal lawmakers have passed a series of laws known as tort claims acts, which statutorily waive government immunity in certain circumstances.

Generally, a tort claims act requires that certain procedures be followed in order for the government to waive its immunity. The State of Florida is no different. Under the Florida Tort Claims Act (FTCA), if a Florida accident victim fails to comply with the requirements of the FTCA, the accident victim’s case will be dismissed. Thus, it is very important that an accident victim ensure that they follow all the requirements of the FTCA.

A recent case illustrates the strict manner in which courts apply the requirements of a tort claims act.

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car accidentIn Florida car accident cases, one of the first issues the parties may argue over is where the case will be heard. Of course, most plaintiffs would prefer to file the case in a venue that is convenient for them. However, as a general rule venue is appropriate where the defendant resides. That being said, a plaintiff can choose where to initially file a case, and may have some say in where a case is heard.

A recent case discusses a somewhat complicated venue issue that arose after an uninsured motorist collision. The case involved a named and an unnamed defendant, and required the court to determine whether the named defendant should be able to transfer the case to his home county. Finding that the case could be heard in either of the defendant’s home venues, the court determined that the named defendant was not entitled to transfer the case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were involved in a three-car accident after an unnamed driver swerved in front of their vehicle, requiring them to quickly apply the brakes. The named defendant, who was traveling directly behind the plaintiffs, slammed into the back of their car. The plaintiffs claimed the named defendant was following too closely.

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Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a car accident case that raised an interesting issue that frequently comes up in Florida car accident cases. The case involved an accident between an employee who was on his way home from work and the plaintiff. The plaintiff attempted to hold the employee’s employer liable for his injuries under the theory of vicarious liability. However, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim based on the “coming-and-going” rule.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking along the sidewalk when he was struck by a vehicle that had just been hit by another car that was being driven by a county public defender (the “employee”). The employee was on his way home from work at the time of the accident.

The employee worked for the county, which did not officially require that the employee have his own car. However, the employee’s job required that he go to numerous courthouses, visit clients in prison, and go to crime scenes in various cities.  Thus, essentially, the job would not be possible without a car.

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Earlier last month, video of a serious Florida car accident occurring at a toll booth spread across the internet, with most viewers surprised by the fact that no one involved in the accident was killed. According to a local news report, the accident occurred on the Florida Turnpike, near St. Cloud in Osceola County, in one of the road’s several pay booths.

Legal News GavelThe video shows a white sport-utility vehicle traveling toward the toll booth at what seems like full-speed. As the SUV approaches the booth, it does not slow down, takes out several of the warning cones placed in front of the booth, and collides head-on with the cement barrier that divides two of the toll booths.

After the initial collision, the car is thrown upward into the air as it catches fire. However, immediately after impact, one of the passengers in the car was catapulted through the front windshield of the vehicle onto the pavement some 60 feet away from where the accident occurred. The video, which may be too graphic for some viewers, shows the passenger’s head narrowly miss several obstacles before coming to a rest against one of the toll booths.

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A state appellate court recently issued an opinion in an interesting car accident case. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether a plaintiff’s signed rejection of uninsured motorist (UIM) protection was valid under state law. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s rejection of UIM coverage was valid and the defendant insurance company was not required to cover the plaintiff’s claim.

Legal News GavelThe case is important for Florida car accident victims because it illustrates the benefits of UIM coverage and the potential problems accident victims can encounter if they do not obtain sufficient UIM coverage.

The Facts of the Case

The opinion was issued as a result of two consolidated cases that presented similar issues. In both cases, the plaintiffs had obtained auto insurance coverage through the defendant insurance company. As is required by state law, the insurance company included UIM coverage as a default coverage. However, the company allowed for customers to opt out of coverage by signing a UIM rejection form.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case discussing the Slavin doctrine, and how it can protect a contractor from liability that was allegedly caused by their work. The case arose in the context of a motorcycle accident that the plaintiff argues was the result of shrubbery that obstructed the view of motorists as they approached the intersection.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a surviving family member of a motorcyclist who was killed when he entered an intersection and was hit by another vehicle. The plaintiff believed that the accident was the result of shrubbery that obscured the vision of motorists as they approached the intersection. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against several entities, including the company that planned the landscaping project, the general contractor, and the landscaping company (‘the contractors”).

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