Articles Posted in Car Accident

Accidents involving both cars and bicycles are increasingly common. According to People Powered Movement (PPM), a bike and walking alliance, Florida had 5,952 bicycle collisions in 2021. Such crashes caused 5,574 injuries and 169 deaths. PPM further found that in Florida, bicycle accidents are overwhelmingly caused by automobile drivers. Of the 169 fatal bike accidents in Florida in 2021, law enforcement officers found that automobile drivers were responsible for 140 of them. In total, that means that car drivers were responsible for approximately 83% of all fatal bicycle accidents in Florida in 2021. PPM similarly found that of the 759 bicycle accidents that resulted in life-threatening injuries and the 4,815 accidents resulting in minor injuries, Florida law enforcement officers placed the blame on automobile drivers in 76% of the serious accidents and 69% of the minor accidents.

Bike accidents result in a high percentage of fatalities for a number of reasons. Bicycles and other open-air vehicles expose the rider to greater risk during collisions as they are often thrown clear of the vehicle during a crash, creating more violent landings. Additionally, many bicycle riders do not use proper headwear, resulting in head trauma during collisions. Any impact to a person’s head is disproportionately likely to result in fatal injuries, further increasing the risk of death in bike accidents. A recently published news report detailed a fatal crash between a bicycle and an SUV crash in Bradenton, Florida, earlier this month.

According to a recently published news report, a 33-year-old man died when an SUV crashed into his bicycle. The man was riding his bicycle after midnight on Wednesday, August 9, when an SUV driven by a 23-year-old man struck the bike. A Florida Highway Patrol report stated that the bike rider was not wearing a helmet at the time and was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Law enforcement reports state that both the SUV and the bicyclist were traveling east on State Road 64 when the crash occurred, throwing the rider onto the bridge’s concrete surface before he collided with a raised curb.

Recently, the district court of appeals for the State of Florida Fourth District issued an opinion in an appeal involving a negligence claim by the appellee, the plaintiff, against the appellant, Napleton’s North Palm Auto Park, Inc., (the Dealership). The plaintiff sued the Dealership after an employee (Employee) of the Dealership hit the plaintiff’s parked car while allegedly intoxicated during his shift, alleging negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of the Dealership’s employee. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend her complaint to add a punitive damages claim.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and the Employee were both employed by the Dealership. The Employee maintains that on the day of the alleged incident, he had “a couple drinks” while on his lunch break at home before he returned to work. That evening the Employee “brushed” alongside the plaintiff’s parked car as he was moving his car from an employee lot across the street to a closer parking lot. The Employee was later arrested and would enter a guilty plea to a DUI charge and his employment was terminated on the day of the accident.

The plaintiff then sued the Dealership for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of the Employee. She alleged that the Dealership knew or should have known that the Employee had been found guilty of a DUI offense prior to hiring him, and the Dealership knew or should have known that the Employee consumed alcohol during work hours. The plaintiff then moved to amend her complaint, adding a claim for punitive damages. In doing so, she highlighted three events to establish the Dealership’s knowledge of the Employee’s history of driving while intoxicated: (1) the Employee’s prior DUI conviction in 2006; (2) the Dealership’s discipline of the Employee in January 2020 based on another employee’s suspicion of the Employee being intoxicated while on the clock; and (3) the assistant manager’s observation that the Employee was acting “off” and “loopy.”

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In a recent appeals case, the District Court of Appeals of the State of Florida Fifth District produced an opinion for an appeal involving sovereign immunity for the city of Winter Park in a vicarious liability case involving an off-duty police officer. The plaintiff, a driver involved in the car accident with the police officer, sued the defendant, the city of Winter Park, alleging that Winter Park was vicariously liable for the officer’s purportedly negligent driving. The city of Winter Park moved for summary judgment on sovereign immunity grounds at trial. Following the completion of the discovery process, the trial court denied the motion for summary judgment, finding that the issue of whether the officer was within the scope of his employment was a fact question. Winter Park then filed a timely appeal.

The incident in question occurred on June 17, 2019, when Officer Rojas, a police officer in Winter Park, was involved in a car accident in Casselberry, a municipality in Seminole County. Officer Rojas receives a “take-home” patrol vehicle to drive to and from work and for use during each shift. On the day of the accident, Officer Rojas testified that his shift ended at 3:00 p.m. and shortly thereafter, he left the police station in his take-home patrol vehicle. Roughly 30 minutes after his shift ended, he was involved in a car accident along his customary route home.

The crash occurred in Casselberry, which is beyond the Winter Park city limits. Officer Rojas was not performing any duties as a police officer following the end of his shift, though he was in his Winter Park police uniform. Ultimately, the trial court ruled that the question of if Officer Rojas was within the scope of his employment was a disputed issue of material fact for a jury to resolve. Winter Park appealed, maintaining that it is entitled to sovereign immunity as a matter of law.

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In 2021, Florida experienced a total of 401,533 car crashes, including 3,445 fatal accidents and 163,961 crashes resulting in injuries. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there have already been 146,074 vehicle crashes in Florida this year. The FLHSMV states that those accidents have resulted in 93,662 total injuries and 1,256 deaths. As vehicle accidents and crashes continue to occur throughout Florida, it is vital to be aware of the car accident laws in effect within the state.

Minimum Insurance Requirement

Florida does not require drivers to have bodily injury liability insurance coverage. This is uncommon as the majority of states require this type of coverage. Bodily injury liability insurance covers injury-related losses that a policyholder causes to other motorists if the policyholder is deemed responsible for the accident. Instead of requiring bodily injury liability insurance, Florida requires motorists to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage and a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. Personal injury protection coverage pays for a policyholder’s own losses following an injury from a collision while property damage liability coverage addresses property damage that the policyholder causes others in a collision.

Mandatory Police Reporting

There is a common misconception that automobile accidents must always be reported to the police. In Florida, drivers involved in a collision are required to report a crash to policy only if one of the following two things are true: (1) the crash caused a minimum of $500 in vehicle or property damage, or (2) the crash caused injury or death. If a crash does not meet either of those criteria, drivers may self-complete a “Driver Report of Traffic Crash Report” or a “Driver Exchange of Information” as detailed by the FLHSMV.

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Head-on collisions are some of the most serious and deadly types of car accidents. Head-on car collisions occur when two cars going in opposite directions come into contact, often with devastating consequences. The causes of such crashes are broad, but the resulting crashes are often severe. Occasionally, road design or layout can be responsible, such as if there is inadequate signage or confusing traffic lining on the roads. In some instances, the vehicle manufacturer could be responsible if a vehicle defect causes a crash. However, in most head-on car accidents, at least one of the drivers involved is responsible for the crash. The driver or motorist could be drunk or tired, leaving their lane, resulting in a head-on crash. Determining who is responsible is an essential task when exploring a legal claim for damages. Having a good understanding of the cause of a crash can ensure you recover the maximum compensation for your injury.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), head-on collisions accounted for approximately 10% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in the year 2020. Head-on collisions are extremely dangerous and resulted in 3,621 deaths and thousands more injured throughout 2020 according to the institute. The various causes of head-on collisions range from distracted driving or inhibited driving to reckless driving and fatigue. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), tracked 32,445 crashes throughout Florida in April 2023. The FLHSMV reports that those accident levels are slightly down from the 35,620 car accidents that occurred in March. A recent news article discusses a serious head-on collision in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

According to the news report, the accident occurred on Friday, April 28, when a white Chevy Camaro heading north crashed into a silver Toyota pickup truck heading south. A member of the highway patrol stated that the Chevy Camaro was in the southbound lanes near Northwest 199th Street when it crashed head-on into the Toyota pickup truck heading south. The highway patrol stated that all of the lanes in both the southbound and northbound directions were closed in the area to allow for the landing of an air rescue helicopter. The helicopter transported the driver of the Chevy Camaro to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. The driver of the Chevy Camaro suffered serious injuries while the driver of the Toyota pickup truck had only minor injuries.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), tracked 32,445 crashes throughout Florida in April 2023. The FLHSMV reports that those accident levels are slightly down from the 35,620 car accidents that occurred in March. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), head-on collisions accounted for over 10% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2020. Head-on collisions are extremely dangerous and resulted in 3,621 deaths and thousands more injured throughout 2020 according to the III. Causes for head-on collisions range from distracted driving or inhibited driving to reckless driving and fatigue. Such collisions typically occur when a car crosses into an opposite lane of traffic and strikes a car going in the other direction. A recent news article discusses a fatal head-on collision in Marion County, Florida.

According to the news report, the accident occurred around 11:45 am on Friday, April 28, when a 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer collided with a 2013 Honda CR-V. A member of the highway patrol stated that the Chevrolet Trailblazer was heading East on Highway 387 when it went left of center and struck the Honda CR-V head-on. The driver and both passengers inside the Honda CR-V were all killed in the crash as well as the driver of the Chevrolet Trailblazer. A passenger in the Chevrolet Trailblazer was injured and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. The Marion County Coroner stated that one of the vehicles had Florida license plates while the other car had Ohio license plates. The identities of the individuals involved in the crash had not been revealed at the time of publication.

In most head-on car accidents, at least one of the drivers involved is responsible for the crash. If a driver or motorist is drunk or tired and leaves their lane, resulting in a head-on crash, they would be responsible. Occasionally, road design or layout can be responsible, such as if there is inadequate signage or confusing traffic lining on the roads. In some instances, the vehicle manufacturer is responsible if a vehicle defect causes a crash. Determining who is responsible is an essential task when exploring a legal claim for damages. Having a good understanding of the cause of a crash can ensure you recover the maximum compensation for your injury.

Recently, the district court of appeals for the State of Florida Fifth District issued an opinion in an appeal involving a negligence claim by the appellant, the plaintiff, against the appellee, First Team Ford, LTD d/b/a Autonation Ford Sanford, a Florida Limited Partnership (the Dealership). Ryan Matthews, the general manager of the Dealership drove a Ford Expedition owned by the dealership home one day. On his drive home, he got in an automobile accident with the plaintiff. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff filed a complaint against Matthews and the Dealership, alleging a negligence claim against Matthews, and a vicarious liability claim against the Dealership. The plaintiff settled with Matthews and the case proceeded solely against the Dealership. At trial, the court entered a final summary judgment in favor of the Dealership.

Facts of the Case

On December 21, 2016, Matthews, the general manager of the Dealership, drove his wife’s vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe, into the dealership. Matthews testified that he brought the Chevy Tahoe into the Dealership to get the oil changed, but also that he was interested in purchasing a Ford Expedition, and used this as an opportunity to test one out. While there, Matthews executed a “Loaned Vehicle Agreement” in order to drive home a Ford Expedition owned by the Dealership. Matthews left the Dealership driving the Ford Expedition. On the drive home, Matthews got into a car accident with the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a complaint against both Matthews and the Dealership, alleging negligence by Matthews and vicarious liability against the Dealership under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine. Matthews and the plaintiff settled, leaving only the case against the Dealership.

In a recent case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion in an appeal involving a dispute regarding the definition of a land motor vehicle in an insurance policy. The plaintiff, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm), sued the defendant, an individual with a car insurance policy with State Farm after the defendant filed a claim when she was struck by an uninsured driver of an electric motorized scooter. State Farm denied the defendant’s claim and then sued, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Policy provided no coverage. Both parties moved for summary judgment. At trial, the district court denied the defendant’s motion and granted summary judgment in part to State Farm. The plaintiff then filed a timely appeal.

The incident that triggered this case occurred on a Florida highway when the defendant’s insured Nissan Altima was struck by a driver operating a Razor Pocket Mod scooter (the Scooter). The Scooter had a top speed of 15 mph with a total battery life of 40 minutes of continuous ride time. The Scooter was not manufactured with a taillight, brake lights, turn signals, or exterior mirrors, and no such equipment had been added. The defendant suffered serious injuries to her neck, back, and knee, with surgery expected as a result of the crash. The Nissan Altima sustained a cracked headlight and fog light, a crushed front bumper and fender, and a cracked passenger side mirror.

Following the crash, the defendant submitted a claim to State Farm for UM coverage in the amount of $100,000. State Farm denied the claim, stating that the Scooter was not an “uninsured motor vehicle” under the policy. The State Farm insurance policy stated that it would “pay compensatory damages for bodily injury an insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or driver of an uninsured motor vehicle.

In a recent case, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion in an appeal involving a direct negligence claim and a vicarious liability claim by the appellant, the plaintiff, the appellees, a corporation, and its supervising employees. The plaintiff’s claim arose from a crash he suffered while riding his bicycle along a busy street. When he crossed in front of an automobile dealership, an employee of the dealership was leaving in a company van for delivery and crashed into the plaintiff. Responding to the operative complaint, the dealership admitted ownership of the van and that the driver was driving the van with permission while in the course of his employment when the crash occurred. At trial, the lower court dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims.

At trial, the plaintiff filed claims of negligent driving against the driver and the dealership and additionally filed a claim against the dealership supervisors for negligent training, retention, supervision, and entrustment. He also filed a complaint alleging negligent hiring against the service manager. Finally, the plaintiff filed a vicarious liability complaint against the dealership corporation, North American Automotive Services, Inc. (North American), for the acts of its employee, the general manager. The supervisors, as well as North American each moved to dismiss their respective claims, and the trial court granted all three motions to dismiss. After final orders were entered dismissing the negligent employment claims with prejudice, the plaintiff gave notice of appeal.

On appeal, the plaintiff contended that the trial court erred in dismissing his claims against the supervisors and North American by ruling that, pursuant to Clooney, negligent employment claims against individual supervisors must allege that the subordinate employee’s negligent acts were outside the scope of employment. The appellate opinion found that the trial court’s reliance on Clooney was misplaced. In Clooney, the plaintiff did not allege direct negligence against the employer. Instead, the two counts which the trial court struck alleged concurrent theories of recovery based on vicarious liability. In short, the counts in Clooney were redundant. Additionally, the negligent employment claims in Clooney were brought against the employer and not individually against the supervisor. The appellate opinion further pointed out that in the case before them, the plaintiff did not make any negligent employment claims against the employer of the driver causing the accident, but instead, the negligent employment claims were made against the supervisors individually, and vicariously against an employer of one of the supervisors.

E-bike accident levels have continued to rise as e-bike usage climbs throughout the nation and Florida. Nationally, the sale of e-bikes has rapidly increased, with roughly 804,000 sold in 2021, up from only about 152,000 in 2016, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. E-bikes are a popular vehicle option for several reasons, including convenience, cost savings on gas, and reduced environmental impact relative to cars.

Unfortunately, e-bikes pose an elevated risk relative to conventional bicycles due to the greater velocity of e-bikes. The greater power and subsequent velocity that riders receive from e-bikes places riders at increased risk of accidents and greater harm resulting from such accidents. In fact, a 2020 study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Injury Prevention, found that riders of e-bikes are more likely to require hospitalization following accidents than riders of manual bicycles. A recent news article detailed a fatal crash between a truck and an e-bike in the Upper Keys.

According to the article, the crash occurred when a truck hit and killed a 59-year-old man on an e-bike was hit by a truck while trying to cross the road near Snake Creek Bridge in Islamorada. The Florida Highway Patrol said that the man was traveling north on the east side of U.S. 1 when he collided with a pickup truck driven by a 70-year-old man heading south towards Snake Creek Bridge. Per the law enforcement report, the man on the e-bike entered the southbound lane and into the pickup truck’s path before being struck on the right side. The man riding the e-bike died of his injuries. The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash, and charges are pending.

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