Articles Posted in Car 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.

Preexisting injury and conditions refer to a person’s medical state before an accident they are making a claim about. In the context of a Florida accident, victims may face challenges recovering compensation after they suffer aggravation to an existing injury. At-fault parties may refute liability and responsibility for damages by arguing that the victim’s injuries were unrelated to the accident.

Accident victims with preexisting conditions should consult with an attorney to ensure that they recover the compensation they deserve. An attorney can collect relevant evidence and present a compelling case for damages. The failure to gather relevant evidence such as medical records, expert witness testimony, and employment records may limit the amount a person can recover.

For example, a Florida district court recently issued a decision in an appeal involving a Florida uninsured motorist claim. According to the record, the injury victim suffered injuries in a collision between her car and another vehicle. She contended that the accident and her injuries were caused by an uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM”). The insurance company appealed the trial court’s order that allowed the victim to argue and present evidence for aggravation of preexisting injuries.

Sometimes, when an accident takes place, the at-fault party faces criminal charges.  However, you may not know that even if the at-fault party is guilty of those criminal charges, you may not receive compensation as the victim of the accident unless you file a separate civil lawsuit successively. Understanding this distinction is crucial, as it directly affects your ability to recover monetarily following a major accident.

According to a recent local news report, a driver who caused an accident that left one individual dead and eight injured likely will not be facing criminal charges. Local police reported that the 75-year-old woman was attempting to parallel park when she suddenly accelerated in reverse, ran over a curb, and hit a parked car before crashing her Bentley into a table with five diners and nearby pedestrians. A 67-year-old man died and eight individuals were injured, but local police reported that there were no signs that the woman was impaired and she will likely only be facing traffic violations. The accident remains under investigation.

Although the woman who caused this Florida accident may not be facing any criminal charges, it does not mean that those who were injured and the survivors of the deceased individual cannot file a civil suit involving personal injury claims separately. Sometimes, when a state’s criminal laws do not hold an at-fault party responsible, suing them for monetary damages is the best way to recover following an accident.

The First District Court of Appeal recently issued an opinion addressing the apportionment of liability stemming from a Florida pedestrian accident. According to the court’s opinion, the underage driver worked at a bar where he received a 50% discount on drinks. After drinking at his place of employment, he drove drunk and proceeded to hit a pedestrian. The pedestrian, who was also underage, was served alcohol at a different bar. The pedestrian filed a lawsuit against both bars to recover damages for her injuries. On appeal, the bar employing the driver argued that they should have asserted a comparative fault defense. The plaintiff asserts that the claim falls under the state’s Dram Shop statute, and therefore the law does not entitle the defendant to this defense.

Florida’s comparative law statute provides that a claimant’s contributory fault reduces their compensation based on their level of fault. However, the law applies to negligence actions, not intentional torts. In this case, the plaintiff cites the state’s Dram Shop statute, which provides that an establishment that sells or provides alcohol to a person will be liable for any injuries or damages resulting from the intoxicated person. The Court reasoned that the dram shop statute does not create a new cause of action; therefore, it does not transform the existing action into an intentional tort.

In light of the finding, the defendant purported to use the “alcohol defense” to thwart liability for the driver’s action. Under the defense, a plaintiff may not recover for damages if:

Florida Statutes Section 768.28 partially waives a governmental entity’s sovereign immunity protections. However, the waiver only applies in cases stemming from a governmental entity’s operational functions and not discretionary planning-level functions. Recently, an appeals court issued a decision addressing a negligence claim involving the government’s discretionary actions.

A plaintiff filed an amended complaint against a Florida town about injuries their minor child suffered while riding their bicycle. The child was riding a bike on a path along a street when they approached a dumpster blocking the path. The child left the bike path and entered the street to avoid the obstruction. A driver struck the child while he was traveling down the street. In response to the plaintiff’s claim, the county moved to dismiss the case based on sovereign immunity.

On appeal, the court reasoned that the law entitles the defendant to sovereign immunity because the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the county was negligent in its discretionary planning-level functions. Florida law provides that sovereign immunity protects governmental entities for their discretionary functions. Discretionary functions include quasi-legislative decisions, policy-making, and judgmental governmental functions. On the other hand, sovereign immunity does not apply to operational functions such as decisions that implement policy. As such, plaintiffs wishing to overcome sovereign immunity must allege negligent acts “at an operational level.”

According to the World Health Organization, motor vehicle collisions cause more than 1.2 million fatal injuries worldwide and even more non-fatal injuries. Various factors contribute to or exacerbate the severity of a Florida accident. While the causes of Florida accidents are complex, most originate from negligence. Amongst younger motorists, inexperience, lack of tactical skills, and risky conduct seem to be leading factors in accidents. Accidents involving older adults tend to stem from visual, auditory, cognitive and mobility impairments. However, many accidents involve a combination of these factors and other contributing circumstances.

When motorists exhibit the conduct described above, they are more likely to miss obstacles, drift lanes, and cause serious accidents. For example, a recent news article described a fatal Florida multi-car accident. The Highway Patrol report indicates that a pickup truck failed to maintain its lane, crossed into the center, and side-swiped a sedan. The truck driver continued in the wrong direction and slammed head-on with a second vehicle. The pickup truck driver and three passengers in the second sedan died from their injuries. The individual driving the first sedan was able to bring their vehicle to a controlled stop without swerving.

The tragic accident above illustrates how even minor moves can set off a path of destruction and fatalities. Failing to maintain a lane and swerving to avoid accidents are common occurrences, but they can lead to multi-vehicle accidents. There is very little a driver can allege to defend their failure to maintain lanes. However, swerving can be an instinctual reaction to avoid an oncoming vehicle; but safety experts urge drivers to understand alternatives to swerving and how to do so safely.

Generally, Florida personal injury lawsuits follow a clear pattern; however, cases involving governmental entities present additional challenges and burdens. Pursuing lawsuits and collecting damages after an accident with a governmental entity or vehicle requires a comprehensive understanding of complex negligence laws. Unlike other states, but for three primary exceptions, Florida permits individuals to pursue negligence actions against governmental entities.

A government employee may be held liable for damages or injuries under certain circumstances in Florida. These situations typically involve cases where the injury stems from a negligent act, omission, or wrongful act of the government employee, there are compensable damages, and the law would hold the responsible party negligent even if they were not a government worker.

Those who have suffered injuries in an accident with a Florida government vehicle should seek legal representation as soon as possible. While the law permits accident lawsuits against Florida police officers, these cases are very fact-specific. For instance, a recent Florida appeals court issued an opinion involving a lawsuit against a police vehicle. In that case, an off-duty police officer rear-ended another vehicle. The vehicle owners filed a complaint against the City of Miami (City) for their damages and losses. However, the City argued that they were entitled to sovereign immunity because the office was off-duty at the time of the incident. The trial court found in favor of the City.

T-Bone or side collisions refer to situations where the front of one vehicle collides into the side of another vehicle. Florida broadside accidents tend to happen at intersections, parking lots, or in situations where one driver fails to stop at a red light or stop sign. These accidents are more likely to result in tin severe injuries or fatalities. Scientific literature from the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine categorized the severity of injuries from these types of accidents.

An analysis of the crash data indicated that about 49% of victims suffered injuries to the chest/abdomen, 24% experienced pelvic/lower extremity injuries, and 4% to their neck/spine. In addition, the largest source of injuries involved arterial damage followed by brain and heart injuries. Generally, four factors influence the severity of injuries in a Florida t-bone accident. These factors include; accident type, occupant exposure, impact area, and crash direction; interestingly, seat belt use was not a primary factor. However, the literature suggests that seat-belt use was critical in reducing ejection and rebound injuries.

Almost all data suggests that the most dangerous type of t-bone accident involves vehicle-to-vehicle collisions. For instance, news reports recently described a tragic accident involving a family vacationing in Florida over New Year. A driver t-boned the family’s vehicle as they pulled into a fast-food restaurant. According to witnesses and a police report, the family’s car rotated across the roadway, onto a sidewalk, and slammed into a light pole. Emergency responders transported the family to a local hospital; however, the mother and son succumbed to their injuries. The case is still under investigation, and it is unclear whether the driver will face charges.

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