Articles Posted in Car Accident

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 1 in 3 car accidents involves a rear-end collision. Quite simply, a Florida rear-end collision occurs when a driver slams into the vehicle in front of them for any reason. In many cases, these Florida accidents are the result of distracted driving, unsafe following, and weather conditions.

Many Florida drivers assume that they can recover all of their damages if someone rear-ends their vehicle. Although Florida law creates a presumption of fault on the rear-end driver, this presumption is rebuttable. The rebuttable presumption allows rear-ending drivers to avoid paying a portion or all of the other driver’s damages if they can establish that the lead driver was partially at fault for the accident.

In a recent case, a Florida appellate court addressed the four situations when a rear-end accident defendant may rebut their presumption of negligence. In that case, a woman appealed after a trial court denied the woman’s motion for a directed verdict and a jury found in favor of the rear-end driver. Under Florida law, a defendant can successfully rebut a presumption of negligence if they prove that:

In Florida, transportation by bike or scooter is popular and widely utilized by many commuters, tourists, and those looking for an inexpensive way to get around. As a result, Florida continues to lead the nation as a state with one of the highest rates of bicycle crashes every year. Similar to motorists, individuals involved in a Florida bike accident can file a personal injury lawsuit for the injuries they suffered because of another driver or cyclist’s negligence. According to statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida has over 100 bicycle-related fatalities every year, which is almost double the national rate.

Florida bicyclists must follow the state’s bike rider requirements. Some requirements include following all traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles, restricting the use of their bike to only one person on a seat, and ensuring that the bike is in proper working condition. Adherence to traffic laws is paramount as the likelihood, and degree of injury to unsafe cyclists is much more severe than that of a motorist.

With the rise in bike-sharing, more inexperienced bicyclists are on the road, and this can cause devastating consequences to the rider, pedestrians, and motorists. Bike-sharing companies usually use a docking system, and riders obtain bikes and return them to the docking station at a later time. However, recently, non-docking scooters and bike-sharing systems have become more prevalent. This allows riders to leave their bikes or scooters at various locations.

A Florida appellate court recently issued an opinion in a lawsuit stemming from an insurance dispute between a Florida policyholder and her car insurance provider. For several years, the plaintiff exercised with the assistance of a personal trainer out of a mobile gym. The gym used the woman’s electricity to power various equipment and machinery. On one occasion, the woman suffered injuries during her workout. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the trainer and the mobile gym’s owner, ultimately settling the claim.

That settlement did not fully compensate the plaintiff for her injuries, however. Thus, to cover her remaining damages, she filed a claim with her insurance company under her uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy. The insurance company refused to pay the costs, claiming that the policy did not extend to the circumstances surrounding her injuries. She filed a claim against the Florida car insurance company. Although these facts are admittedly unusual, the case presents a common issue that arises when a policyholder attempts to collect compensation from an insurance company.

Florida insurance companies often take on an adversarial role, even with their own policyholders. Claims adjusters often receive training to negotiate settlements and deny claims in the insurance company’s favor. Several issues commonly arise when a policyholder tries to collect from an insurance company. First, there may be issues surrounding causation. Insurance companies often require motorists to provide evidence of what caused the accident. After establishing causation, they will usually need the party to prove fault. Adjusters will often deny claims based on who they find to be at fault for the accident. If a policyholder overcomes the initial hurdles, they will then need to claim their damages. Insurance companies may try and limit payouts by contending that the policyholder’s injuries were not as severe as they suggest.

Anyone who has ever tried to read a Florida car insurance policy knows that they are lengthy, complex, and do not clearly outline what coverage is provided. Most Florida motorists end up purchasing insurance after answering a series of questions online about their vehicles, driving habits, and desired coverage amounts. However, few drivers truly know what their insurance policy covers.

After a Florida car accident, most injured motorists rely on insurance coverage to reimburse them for the expenses associated with the accident, including medical bills and lost wages. Florida car accident victims may have also endured significant pain and suffering as a result of the crash. Unfortunately, too often, the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate an accident victim. In this situation, the accident victim may need to file a claim with their own insurance company under the underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) clause.

A UIM clause provides motorists with additional insurance coverage in the event that the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate them for their injuries. This is especially important in Florida, where it is estimated that approximately 23 percent of drivers are uninsured. Due to the importance of UIM insurance, Florida lawmakers determined that an insurance company most provide UIM coverage in the same amount as bodily injury coverage unless the insured specifically waives UIM coverage. The burden rests with the insurance company to ensure that they obtain a valid waiver of coverage; otherwise, the insurance company may still be on the hook for providing UIM coverage.

In order to prove a Florida personal injury claim, a plaintiff has the burden to prove all of the elements of a negligence claim. Negligence cannot be presumed. This means that there must be at least some evidence to prove each element of negligence. In proving causation, Florida courts have held that the plaintiff must show that the accident was “more likely than not” caused by the defendant’s negligence. Evidence of negligence cannot be based on pure speculation. This is true of proving damages as well, which generally are not presumed either.

A recent state appellate decision illustrates this principle. In that case, the appeals court considered whether there was evidence of negligence when a driver claimed he did not see a pedestrian before he hit him on a highway. The defendant left home early in the morning to go to work about an hour away. He was on his way there, driving along the highway, at or under the speed limit. He was shifting to another lane, looking in his rearview mirror, when “his vehicle vibrated and jerked, and his windshield shattered,” and he realized he had hit something.

Glass flew into the defendant’s face, so he continued until he could pull over along the side of the road. He then walked back to the crash and saw a man in the road, who was later identified as the plaintiff’s husband. The husband died as a result of his injuries. The crash happened at about 5:30 in the morning, it was dark out, and the street was dimly lit. The defendant was driving with his headlights on.

In the tragic event of a Florida DUI accident, people other than the driver may be held responsible for the crash in some circumstances. If another person or establishment allowed the operator to drive drunk, they may be found liable for the driver’s actions in a Florida personal injury claim.

A Florida negligent entrustment claim is based on negligently entrusting another person with a dangerous object, such as entrusting a person with a vehicle when the person is drunk. Under Florida law, to prove a negligent entrustment claim, a plaintiff must show that a person supplied directly or through a third person a chattel for the use of another person that the supplier knew or had reason to know would use it a way that involved an unreasonable risk of physical harm to himself and others. Florida courts have held that cars are dangerous instrumentalities and, not surprisingly, also that drunk driving is dangerous. However, Florida courts also generally hold that to prove a negligent entrustment claim in a drunk driving case, an owner will not generally be held liable if a person has a legal duty to return property to its owner. Some Florida courts have found that liability does not depend on ownership, but rather whether the harm was or should have been foreseeable.

Court Affirms $45 Million Award in DUI Negligent Entrustment Claim

Sovereign immunity protects federal, state, and local governments from lawsuits, and can bar many Florida car accident cases from court. However, federal, state, and local governments can still be sued in many circumstances. This includes tort claims against the state of Florida or local governments for any act for which a private person would be held liable under the circumstances. The government cannot be held liable under Florida law unless there is a common law or statutory duty of care that existed that would hold individuals liable under similar circumstances. If a duty is owed to the plaintiff, a court must then determine whether sovereign immunity bars the claim.

In Florida, governmental immunity comes from the doctrine of separation of powers. The Florida Supreme Court has held that the separation of powers provision in the Florida Constitution requires that certain policy-making, planning, or judgmental governmental functions or “discretionary” functions normally do not benefit from sovereign immunity. Meanwhile, sovereign immunity generally is afforded to decisions made for “operational” functions. The court has said that planning level functions are normally those that require basic policy and planning decisions, while operational level functions are those that are required to implement policy or planning. In addition, courts have said that certain discretionary governmental functions are immune from tort liability because certain functions should not be subjected to scrutiny. Whether an act involved a decision of discretion and public policy rather than one of operation and implementation is not always clear. A recent decision from one state’s supreme court dealt with the issue of immunity in a car accident case involving a county garbage truck.

According to the court’s opinion, a man drove his employer’s vehicle into the back of a county garbage truck that was stopped on the side of the highway picking up garbage. There was dense fog and the man said that he could not see the road, and did not see the truck in time to stop. The man filed a complaint against the county for negligence.

In July, 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case discussing whether the defendant, the City of Coral Gables, was immune from liability based on governmental immunity. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence gave rise to a material fact that needed to be resolved by a jury. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s decision granting summary judgment to the City.

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was driving north on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, approaching the intersection with Navarre Avenue. As the plaintiff, who was riding a motorcycle, approached the intersection, he noticed another driver slowly approaching the intersection in the opposite direction.

The other driver initiated a left turn without yielding the right of way, leaving the plaintiff with no time to react. The plaintiff crashed his motorcycle into the right front fender of the other vehicle. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result of the crash. The other driver stated that he could not see the plaintiff as he approached the intersection due to several palm trees that were in the center median.

Florida product liability law is primarily based on strict liability. Strict product liability refers to a claim in which the plaintiff alleges that the product at issue was defective or unreasonably dangerous. The focus of these claims is on the product itself, and these claims do not require a plaintiff to show that the defendant was negligent in any way.

While strict product liability may seem like a straightforward doctrine to apply, determining which parties are subject to strict liability can actually be quite complicated. A recent state appellate decision illustrates the concept of successor liability as it pertains to the plaintiff’s strict liability claim against a rental car company.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured when the rental car she was riding in was involved in a head-on collision. The vehicle was previously rented through National Car Rental Systems (NCRS); however, NCRS sold the vehicle to a private party years before the plaintiff’s accident. The plaintiff filed her claim against Enterprise rental car company because Enterprise eventually acquired NCRS’s rental car business after the NCRS assets were transferred several times through various companies in a complex series of transactions.

Under Florida law, all motorists carrying any load must make sure that the load is secure. This law makes driving on Florida roads safer by ensuring that a motorist’s cargo does not shift during transport, fall onto the road, and cause a serious Florida car accident. However, not all drivers follow the rule, and some who try to tie down their cargo do not do a very good job. The result is hazardous. A recent case illustrates the risks unsecured cargo can pose, as well as the legal issues that may arise in a lawsuit against a motorist who fails to ensure they are transporting cargo safely.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was driving when, suddenly, she looked up and saw a mattress flying towards her vehicle. The plaintiff did what she could to avoid the mattress, but ended up crashing into a nearby barrier. Witnesses to the accident tracked down the truck that was carrying the mattress, and provided the truck’s information to law enforcement. The truck was towing a trailer with seven-foot sides.

Police officers stopped the truck and talked to the driver. The driver told police that he was not aware of any mattress in the trailer, but that there may have been a mattress back there. The motorist told police that he wasn’t sure about whether there was a mattress in the trailer because co-workers were responsible for loading and unloading the trailer.

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