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Articles Posted in Car Accident

Recently, Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that insurance companies must comply with Florida Statutes section 627.727, which covers uninsured motorist (UM) coverage minimums. The ruling comes after an insurance company appealed a lower court’s ruling in favor of the plaintiff in a dispute over coverage after a Florida motorcycle accident.

Before his death, a man purchased home insurance coverage that included a collector vehicle. The policy included a UM provision that limited benefits to accidents involving the collector vehicle. After the man’s death, his family tried to recover for damages through the UM provision in his home insurance policy. The defendant insurance company denied coverage, citing the UM limitation. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Florida insurance company, arguing that Florida Statutes section 627.727 prohibits the insurance company from placing restrictions on UM coverage. On appeal, the defendant argued that section 627.727 does not apply to specialty insurance policies, such as the collector vehicle at issue.

Florida Statutes section 627.727 governs “motor vehicle insurance, uninsured and underinsured vehicle coverage, and insolvent insurer protection.” Typically, the statute provides coverage to the policyholder, their spouse, and resident relatives. This coverage applies when a person suffers bodily injury by a negligent motorist, whether they are driving or a passenger in their vehicle, driving or riding in someone else’s car, or suffer injuries as a pedestrian. There are several exceptions to this statute, but there are no exclusions related to a collector or antique vehicle.

Insurance companies play a vital role in most Florida car accident cases and are expected to abide by the terms of their policies faithfully. However, in many instances, insurance companies wrongfully deny claims, and Florida personal injury victims end up in lengthy and costly disputes. These disputes can take longstanding financial, physical, and emotional tolls on Florida car accident victims. Florida has several statutes and remedies in place to hold insurance companies liable for delaying or wrongfully denying claims. Floridians who are at a standstill with an insurance company should retain an experienced attorney to help them get their rightfully due damages.

Florida motorists typically purchase automobile coverage with the expectation that the company will provide them with financial protection if they are involved in an accident. Insurance companies must deal with their policyholders in “good faith” and with “fair dealing.” These terms mean that the insurance company must treat their policyholders fairly and carefully when determining the validity of a claim, and settle claims against the insured within the agreed-upon coverage limit. Insurance companies act in bad faith when they refuse to pay or settle a claim without a reasonable basis, fail to promptly and adequately investigate or defend a claim without justification, implement deceptive practices to avoid paying a claim, or refuse to offer the full value of a claim.

There are generally two types of Florida bad faith insurance claims, first-party and third-party claims. First-party insurance claims occur when a Florida motorist’s insurance company fails to address and pay a claim adequately. This typically occurs when a Florida driver evokes their policy’s underinsured or uninsured coverage.

Florida motorists should engage in a comprehensive and thorough review of their available insurance policies to ensure that they have adequate protection in the event they are involved in an accident. One area of coverage that deserves close scrutiny is the terms of the insurance company’s uninsured and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. UIM coverage protects Florida drivers that suffer injuries because of a negligent driver who does not have adequate vehicle insurance. A shocking 25 percent of Florida drivers do not have insurance, and this can have disastrous consequences for injury victims.

Florida’s no-fault insurance rules require that insurance companies protect their own policyholders in minor accidents, so long as the drivers purchase personal injury protection. However, issues arise when a driver sustains serious injuries in a Florida collision. In these instances, Florida drivers must file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Filing a complaint with the negligent driver’s insurance company often raises challenges because Florida law does not require drivers to purchase insurance coverage that protects them from liability if they injure someone else.

Appropriate UIM coverage can provide a motorist with extra protection in case the other party is under or uninsured. However, policyholders often face difficulty evoking this policy because insurance companies are reluctant to pay out substantial amounts. Insurance companies will sometimes wrongfully delay claims, or assert specific provisions to avoid paying out claims.

The significant growth of ride-sharing companies has resulted in new professional and financial opportunities for many people, in addition to another way for commuters to get to work. However, this method of transportation has its own set of complications, especially when someone suffers an injury during a pickup or ride. In addition to the typical risks associated with car travel, utilizing these companies introduces a whole new set of concerns. Additionally, individuals who use Florida ride-sharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, often face difficulties recovering for damages that they suffer during their rides.

In response to competing with new ride share companies, compounded with the rising concern of the safety of drivers and riders, Uber began a 21-month effort to review their safety standards. In effectuating their safety mission, they undertook a close examination of their business practices by reviewing hundreds of thousands of customers’ support requests and categorized them according to severity and response.

The jarring results revealed that there were over 3,000 reported sexual assaults in 2018 and close to 3,000 in 2017. Additionally, there were 5,500 other incidents involving unwanted sexual advances/touching and groping. Further, the report also showed nine murders in 2019 and 10 in 2017, which accounted for driver and passenger deaths. Finally, the report also indicated that the company recorded close to 60 fatal crashes in 2018 and 49 in 2017.

Florida law requires motorists to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage to cover property damage and personal injuries that may result after an accident. In some situations, Florida injury victims are unable to recover for their losses because the at-fault driver cannot pay. To address this issue, lawmakers require Florida insurance companies to offer their policyholders optional uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects motorists, relatives they reside with, and people who occupy their vehicles. In most cases, insurance companies offer UIM coverage in the same amount that the policyholder has bodily injury coverage. This coverage is essential in instances where a driver is involved in an accident with a negligent driver that does not have enough insurance coverage to cover the victim’s injuries. This coverage typically covers damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitative or nursing care, medical devices, pain and suffering, and death.

This coverage is vital because, despite laws requiring insurance coverage, Florida has a high rate of uninsured drivers. Additionally, Florida has a very low minimum amount of necessary coverage. These two facts can have devastating financial and physical consequences for car accident victims. Injury victims who wish to evoke this coverage may face difficulties because insurance companies are often reluctant to pay out damages. When this happens, injury victims may incur a delay in obtaining appropriate medical treatment, which can contribute to additional serious health conditions.

The risk of a car accident is an unfortunate reality that all drivers must recognize each time that they get into a car. Statistics indicate that close to 2.5 million people suffer injuries or fatalities each year because of a car accident. Many car accidents result from user error, unsafe driving, and inclement weather. The rate of South Florida car accidents may begin to increase as the popularity of self-driving cars and autopilot features starts to gain mainstream traction.

Some say that self-driving cars may eliminate many of the common causes of car accidents, since these vehicles are unable to drive impaired or become distracted, and they can adjust their settings to inclement weather. However, this feature entails its own set of problems that may increase the rate of car accidents in Florida. Recently, the car manufacturing company Tesla has faced significant scrutiny over the company’s autopilot technology. While the company claims that its autopilot feature is safer than traditional driving, there have been several high-profile accidents involving the technology in recent months.

For example, according to a recent news report, a man collided with a disabled police vehicle while his Tesla was in autopilot mode. The man reported that he was tending to his dog in the back seat of the car when his vehicle went off course and slammed into the unoccupied police vehicle. Tesla states that the autopilot feature allows their cars to steer, accelerate, change lanes, and brake automatically. However, they also advise drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and remain alert. To add to this confusion, Tesla’s CEO has posted videos on social media that depict drivers engaging the autopilot feature without their hands on the steering wheel. These facts, compounded with recent fatalities that occurred while this feature was engaged, suggest that autopilot technology is not as advanced as the company claims.

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.

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