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Articles Posted in Car Accident

Sometimes, no matter how careful we are on the road, what other drivers do is out of our control. When reckless or intoxicated drivers, bad weather conditions, or other external factors occur, accidents are sometimes inevitable. When the factors are preventable or at least avoidable, however, those who are responsible should be held accountable—especially if the accident that takes place results in significant injury, death, or property damage.

According to a recent Florida news report, a local man was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison following a fatal drunk driving accident that left a couple and their unborn child dead. A jury convicted the man of DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a car accident involving a death, and driving with a permanently revoked driver’s license. In 2018 when the initial accident took place, investigators said that the man was heavily intoxicated and driving the wrong way when he hit the couple’s car. He subsequently fled the scene and hid for hours in a ditch until local authorities located him. The man’s records indicated that he had a history of reckless driving, with five previous DUI arrests and his license revoked.

In Florida, like other states, loved ones of a deceased individual may have grounds to bring a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased passed away because of another individual’s actions. Florida law defines wrongful death as taking place when an individual causes another’s death through a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” Negligence-based accidents, such as reckless drunk driving accidents, for example, could serve as grounds for bringing a wrongful death suit.

While walking is an excellent way for people to get around while improving their health, it also poses many dangers, especially in South Florida. According to a recent report by a pedestrian-safety organization, Florida ranks as the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians. South Florida, in particular, ranks as the 13th most dangerous region. The agency uses its Pedestrian Death Index (PDI) to rank states and metro areas. The PDI utilizes risk by calculating the number of people hit and killed by motorists while walking. Even when pedestrian accidents don’t result in fatal injuries, pedestrians tend to face the most serious of injuries after an accident. The most severe injuries include brain trauma, spinal injuries, fractures, lacerations, paralysis, and loss of limbs.

During the last data collecting period, South Florida experienced 1,675 pedestrian deaths, about 2.8 deaths per 100,000 Florida residents. The report revealed that older adults, people of color, and those residing in lower-income neighborhoods had the highest risk of fatal pedestrian accidents. Black residents suffered fatal injuries at a rate over 80% more than White and non-Hispanic residents. Low-income individuals are more likely to suffer fatalities because their neighbors often lack sidewalks and marked crosswalks. Further, older adults may experience serious injuries and fatalities because they often face challenges in sight, hearing, and movement.

Pedestrian accidents in Florida tend to occur more frequently at night and in cities. For instance, recent Jacksonville news reports described a tragic pedestrian accident. The pedestrian was struck by a vehicle around 2:40 a.m. while she was walking northbound on 1-95. A pickup truck hit the woman, and she died at the scene of the accident.

With more than 500 motor vehicle accidents occurring each day in Florida, these accidents make up the largest source of personal injury claims in the state. Last month, a tragic two-car accident killed a 13-year-old girl and one adult. Four others were injured in the fiery crash.

According to reports, the accident occurred when the driver of a pickup truck traveling eastbound in Volusia County failed to slow down while approaching an SUV traveling in front of him. The truck struck the SUV, which then flipped and exited the roadway before hitting a tree, where it caught fire.

The driver of the pickup truck and a 13-year-old passenger in the SUV were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, with four others in the SUV incurring minor injuries.

After an accident, individuals may experience a sense of shock and fear, and these emotions can elicit statements and conduct that may not accurately reflect what the person is feeling. For instance, many people apologize after an accident, despite not being at fault for the series of events that led to the collision. Although it is a natural human emotion to apologize, it is vital that individuals limit what they say after an accident. While expressing remorse or saying sorry does not necessarily destroy a claim to damages, an at-fault party’s apology does not automatically impute liability on that person either.

Under Florida’s evidentiary laws, most out-of-court statements cannot be used as evidence during a trial. Evidence is permissible so long as it is relevant, yet some statements made outside of the courtroom are inadmissible as “hearsay.” However, some statements that an opposing party makes may be used against them during court proceedings. The permissibility of the statements depends on what the other party stated. For instance, if the at-fault driver gets out of their vehicle after an accident and states, “I am sorry this was all my fault,” that statement may be used against them. In contrast, a statement merely expressing remorse may not overcome the hearsay rules.

Apologizing may be an instinctual reaction and does not automatically amount to an admission of guilt. These critical distinctions have presented plaintiffs with evidentiary challenges during Florida car accident claims. Florida’s “apology statute” addresses when a statement may be used as evidence. Under the statute, “benevolent gestures” where one expresses sympathy regarding pain, suffering or death cannot be used as evidence in court. However, a gesture in combination with an admission of fault may be used as evidence. Courts will engage in inquiries to determine whether a statement is admissible.

Earlier this month, one man was killed and two others seriously injured when a pick-up truck careened into a crowd of people participating in a Pride parade. According to a local news report, the collision occurred in Wilton Manors, not far from Fort Lauderdale.

Evidently, the driver of the pick-up truck inexplicably began accelerating into the crowd of people. Most of the people in the area were able to avoid the truck; however, it struck three people. One man was killed and two others were seriously hurt.

Initially, the accident was thought to be a targeted attack against the LGBTQ community. However, upon further investigation, authorities discovered that the driver of the pick-up truck was a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus and that it was an accident.

A Florida appellate court recently issued an opinion considering whether an insurance company acted in bad faith towards its policyholder when it failed to settle a claim. The claim arose when the insured slammed into another driver’s vehicle while driving drunk, pushing it in front of an oncoming train. The driver’s eight-year-old son was killed in the accident, and the driver suffered permanent injuries. After two years of criminal proceedings, the insured pleaded guilty, and the court sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Following the accident, the insurance company tried to settle the claim with the victim and tender the entire policy limits to the woman and her son’s estate. The woman’s attorney stated that they were not ready to accept the payment and would await the culmination of the insured’s criminal proceeding. After the insured’s guilty plea, the woman’s new attorney advised the insurance company that they were ready to accept the settlement so long as it strictly complied with several provisions. Most relevant was that acceptance of the settlement would only release the insured and prohibited any indemnity provisions. The insurance company issued a check and stated that they satisfied all conditions. However, the woman’s attorney disagreed, and the insurance company responded that the attorney could strike any conditions they did not agree with. The attorney did not respond, and the woman filed a lawsuit against the driver in state court and won a judgment exceeding $10 million. The woman then filed a third-party bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company.

Under Florida law, insurance companies owe a good faith duty to their insureds in handling their claims. While the duty typically governs the relationship between the company and the insured, Florida law permits causes of action by the victim against the insurance company for its bad-faith failure to settle. The primary inquiry in these cases is whether the insurer diligently worked to settle the claim as if the victim were in the insured’s shoes. In this case, the victim argued that the company acted in bad faith by including overly broad release language. Although overbroad language can create a jury question, the court reasoned that it does not automatically amount to bad faith. Further, looking at the totality of the circumstances, it is clear that the insurance company attempted to settle the claim in a timely and fair manner. Ultimately, the court found that while the company’s action may have been negligent, it did not amount to bad faith.

After a Florida car accident, injury victims and their loved ones may face a daunting road ahead of them. These accidents can leave victims with significant injuries that may impact their livelihood and daily activities. In addition to complex substantive rules, Florida courts maintain a series of procedural rules that can make a recovery difficult. These challenges become more evident when the at-fault party dies during the accident or during proceedings. Cases in which the at-fault party dies require a comprehensive understanding of the intersection between Florida tort and probate laws. It is essential that injury victims contact an attorney to discuss how the death of a defendant may impact their claim.

A recent Florida car accident highlights a situation where a family may need to file a claim against a deceased defendant’s estate. A local news report described a fiery Florida head-on collision involving an Infiniti traveling the wrong way. The wrong-way driver slammed into a Chevy that was carrying a pregnant mother and her five children. The collision caused the Infiniti to burst into flames. Two people inside the Infiniti died upon impact; however, the pregnant mother and her children survived the accident.

In cases like this, Florida’s law clarifies that a cause of action does not die with the person. However, the cause of action may be inadvertently extinguished if the party seeking recovery does not comply with the state’s procedural rules. The statute governs situations where the party dies pending litigation and before litigation begins.

Losing a loved one is often one of the most painful and traumatic events in an individual’s life. When your loved ones are taken from you suddenly and without warning, however, it can often be even more heart-wrenching. When the loss of a loved one was fully preventable and was the result of another party’s negligence or recklessness, those who are responsible must be held accountable. In these tragic situations, grieving family members can pursue a Florida wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party for compensation.

According to a recent news report, a head-on collision killed two people and left two others injured. Florida Highway Patrol reported that two cars were traveling in opposite directions when a third car got between the other drivers. A Toyota, which was traveling east while a Honda was traveling west were interrupted by a Camaro when it tried to pass the Honda by entering the eastbound lane. To avoid the oncoming Camaro, the Toyota swerved right and landed in the grass shoulder before getting back into the eastbound lane, but it overcorrected and traveled into the westbound lane, where it crashed into the Honda. The driver of the Toyota was pronounced dead at the scene and her passenger was transported to the hospital with significant injuries. The driver of the Honda also suffered significant injuries and was in critical condition following the accident, and her passenger died at the scene.

In Florida, wrongful death claims are governed by the state’s “Right to Action” statute, which states that “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person,” the estate, family members, or personal representative of the deceased individual can file a civil suit in court.

An appeals court recently issued an opinion stemming from a Florida car accident between an insured and an uninsured motorist. The insured purchased non-stacking uninsured motorist coverage from their insurance company. After suffering injuries in an accident with an uninsured motorist, the insured sought to receive benefits of a stacking coverage policy. The woman filed a lawsuit against the insurance company after the company refused to cover the woman under the more comprehensive policy.

The record indicates that the woman’s boyfriend purchased an insurance policy that provided bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverage up to $25,000 per person. During the renewal period, the boyfriend rejected the non-stacking coverage, and the Office of Insurance Regulation approved the form. The policy states that there is no coverage for an insured who sustains bodily injury while occupying a vehicle owned by the policyholder or any resident relative if it is not in the policyholder’s car—the policy applied to the woman and her boyfriend and their Ford pickup truck. The two suffered injuries while operating a motorcycle that the insurance company did not insure.

On appeal, the court reviewed the insurance policy by looking at its plain language. Generally, exclusion provisions are more strictly construed than coverage provisions and tend to be interpreted in favor of the policyholder. However, courts cannot rewrite contracts or add intentions or meaning that are not present. Ambiguities exist when a provision is open to more than one reasonable interpretation. A court cannot deem a contract ambiguous just because it is complex or requires an in-depth analysis.

Self-driving cars undoubtedly provide the public with a sense of intrigue about the future of traveling in this country. Despite the potential benefits of these vehicles, self-driving vehicle technology is still its advent and poses many dangers to motorists and bystanders. These dangers are especially relevant in Florida, as the law no longer mandates that companies testing these vehicles ensure a human driver remain behind the wheel. Proponents of these vehicles and this law argue that it is necessary to promote innovative technology that may improve safety and travel. However, safety advocates continually cite the fundamental issues with allowing these vehicles on the road without an attentive driver.

Florida legislators have explained that this law only applies to autonomous vehicles equipped with technology to function safely without a human operator. While this caveat may prevent some of the inherent dangers of these cars, it does not address many concerns with allowing this novice technology on Florida roadways.

For example, a national news source described a harrowing accident involving a Tesla self-driving vehicle. The reports state that a self-driving car was involved in a fiery explosion after slamming into a tree. Authorities state that although the case is still under investigation, it seems that the car was traveling without a human driver behind the wheel. One of the passengers was in the front seat, and the other occupant was in the back passenger seat. The car was traveling at a high rate of speed when it slammed and wrapped around a tree. Responders worked for over four hours to put out the deadly flames. Tragically, both occupants died in the accident.

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