Truck accidents are a common everyday occurrence and can, unfortunately, lead to not only road closures, but devastating injuries for the parties involved. In 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 5,005 people killed and an estimated 159,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. NHTSA also found that approximately 10 percent of combination truck occupant (commonly known as semi-trucks or trucks with one or more trailers) fatalities are associated with jackknifing.

Jackknifing is a term that is used to describe a situation where a large truck skids and the trailer attached to the truck swings, or folds in an angle that resembles a folding pocket knife. Jackknifing accidents are considered one of the most common types of trucking accidents and can be caused by various factors. These factors may include, but are not limited to, speeding, turning too quickly, improper loading, or driving in bad weather conditions when there are slippery roads.

For example, in a recent news report, a big rig was traveling in the center lane when a tractor-trailer hit the left rear of another big rig in the outside lane. As a result, the first big rig jackknifed in the center and outside lanes, while the second big rig ended up in the outside lane and shoulder. The driver of one of the big rigs was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, while the driver of the other big rig had minor injuries.

Dealing with the preventable death of a loved one is one of life’s most challenging burdens. Under Florida’s wrongful death statute, individuals or entities who acted negligently or recklessly in causing another’s death may be liable for the damages they caused. The state’s statute allows the deceased person’s survivors a mechanism to secure compensation for the death of their family members. However, these cases require a comprehensive understanding of the state’s complex evidentiary and procedural laws. An experienced Florida wrongful death attorney can represent family members in their wrongful death claims.

A recent Florida wrongful death appeal highlights the onerous burdens that many plaintiffs encounter when pursuing these cases. The Third District Court of Appeal issued an opinion addressing the dismissal of a wrongful death complaint involving an uninsured motorist. According to the record, the uninsured motorist collided with another motorist, rendering that motorist permanently disabled. After several years of litigation, the motorist died by suicide.

As the personal representative of the motorist’s estate, the motorist’s brother brought a wrongful death lawsuit against some of the motorist’s former attorneys. According to the complaint, the brother alleged that the attorneys’ negligence and legal malpractice were the proximate cause of his brother’s death. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the attorneys’ failure to render reasonable care and professional skill prevented him from having the ability to pay for treatment and medication and caused him to experience pain and suffering that ultimately led to his suicide.

Companies or individuals that manufacture, market, or distribute consumer products in Florida have a duty to ensure that the products are safe for public use. If a person is injured or killed while using a dangerous product, the companies who manufactured or sold the product may be liable for damages stemming from the incident, however, many exceptions apply to this theory of liability. The Florida Court of Appeal recently denied a plaintiff’s claim against the manufacturer of a computer duster product that was misused and resulted in a car accident that injured the plaintiff.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case is a man who was injured when a driver lost control of her vehicle and crashed into cars parked in his driveway, pinning him under a vehicle and resulting in serious injury. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the woman driving had recently purchased and inhaled a can of computer duster manufactured by the defendant corporation and sold by Walmart (also a defendant in the case). The woman admitted to using the computer duster to “get high,” and was charged with a felony DUI offense after the crash.

The accident victim sued the driver for negligence based on the injuries he suffered in the crash, and also sued both Walmart and the product manufacturer for designing, marketing, and selling a dangerous product. Using a strict liability theory of negligence, the plaintiff claimed that the manufacturer and seller of the computer duster could be held accountable for reasonably foreseeable conduct that resulted from selling the product, namely that it could be abused as an intoxicant. In response to the plaintiff’s claim, the defendants disputed their liability for the crash, arguing that strict liability should only apply if a person is using the product as intended by the manufacturer.

When a Florida driver acts negligently and causes a car accident, it is well understood that that driver (or their insurance company) will be liable for damages caused by the accident. In some states, including Florida, the owner of an automobile can also be held accountable for damages caused in an accident when someone else was driving the car. This vicarious liability is enabled by a legal doctrine that has been in effect in Florida for over 100 years. Under this “dangerous instrumentality doctrine” A car owner can be held liable for damages caused by a negligent driver that had borrowed their car. Although this legal theory has faced resistance and challenges since its enactment, it remains the law. The Florida Court of Appeal recently affirmed the validity of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine in a recently published decision.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case was a man who intervened in a domestic dispute between the defendant and her son, who were his neighbors. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff approached the defendant’s son, who appeared to be escalating the violent situation, and attempted to calm him down. After a further altercation, the defendant’s son got into the defendant’s car and ran over the plaintiff, causing serious injury. The defendant’s son was charged with several crimes for his actions.

Separate from the criminal charges filed against the defendant’s son the plaintiff sought civil relief from both the plaintiff and her son by pursuing a negligence lawsuit. The plaintiff argued that under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the defendant should be held responsible for the damages caused by her son after she let him use the vehicle. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s claims, finding that because the defendant’s son’s conduct was intentional, not negligent, the plaintiff could not be held liable for the damages.

In the past few decades, trucks and SUVs have become extremely popular with families and daily drivers. Many people choose to buy a large vehicle because they believe that it would be safer in the event of a crash. Although large vehicles do fare better when colliding with smaller vehicles, there are also increased dangers that apply to using a large vehicle for transportation. Notably, trucks and SUVs with high ground clearance can be harder to maneuver around turns, especially when traveling at a high rate of speed. This can result in loss of control and a rollover. A recent single-vehicle accident in Clermont, FL may demonstrate this fact.

According to the facts discussed in a local news story reporting on the crash, a truck containing four people was traveling southbound on County Road 561 in Clermont when the driver failed to properly navigate a curve. The vehicle left the shoulder, tipped over, and rolled down an embankment, striking a tree. When authorities arrived at the scene, all four of the vehicle occupants were dead, including a five-year-old girl. According to law enforcement officers quoted in the report, none of the three adult occupants were wearing seatbelts, and the child was not secured in a car seat. It’s impossible to know if the accident result would have been different if the occupants were using their seatbelts, but it’s reasonable to assume that some or all of the occupants may have survived if they were properly restrained.

Accident victims who are injured or killed in a crash and were not wearing a seatbelt may face obstacles in obtaining full compensation for their injuries. Failure to follow traffic laws, such as Florida’s law that mandates all front-seat passengers and children under 18 must wear a seatbelt, can be seen as an act of negligence on the part of the injured victim. Florida is a state that utilizes the “comparative negligence” theory of liability. This means that an accident victim may have their damage award reduced if the victim contributed to the cause of the accident or the severity of their injuries. Under this framework, an injured passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt may not receive the same damage award they would be entitled to if they were wearing a seatbelt. Because of this, it is advisable for all Florida drivers to properly use safety equipment and follow traffic laws while on the road.

Water sports and other outdoor recreational activities play a significant role in Florida’s economy and help make our state desirable for tourists and locals alike. Many water sports, especially the motorized type, carry risks inherent to the sport itself. Consumers seeking to participate in a sporting activity facilitated by a private company are usually required to agree to a liability waiver to disclaim the company from legal liability in the event a customer is injured or killed while participating in the activity. An Illinois woman recently died in an accident that occurred on a parasailing excursion that was organized by a Florida company.

According to the facts discussed in a local news report covering the tragedy, the woman and her two sons decided to go parasailing on Memorial Day near Pigeon Key with the company Lighthouse Parasail Inc., based out of Marathon, FL. Parasailing is an activity where one or more people are attached to a parachute, which is tethered to a boat. As the boat accelerates, the parachute fills with air, and the parasailers fly above the water, similar to a large kite being flown from a moving boat. While the mother and her two sons were parasailing, winds picked up and resulted in the cable snapping and the parasailers flying away from the boat without guidance.

Shortly after the parasailers broke free from the boat, the winds pushed them toward the Old Seven Mile Bridge, eventually smashing the three parasailers into a wall portion of the bridge. Bystanders arrived to render aid and free the parasailers from the chute and bridge cables. The mother was pronounced dead at the scene, with the two boys each suffered moderate injuries. While the crash is still under investigation, preliminary reports blame the unexpected weather.

Mediation and arbitration are commonly used forms of alternative dispute resolution in Florida. While many use these terms interchangeably, there is a critical distinction between mediation and arbitration. During mediation, the mediator assists the parties in communicating to reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In contrast, during arbitration, an arbitrator listens to the parties’ evidence and arguments before ultimately deciding the outcome of the dispute.

On its face, arbitration seems less adversarial and serious than formal legal proceedings; however, in reality, binding arbitration agreements can seriously affect a person’s compensation claims. A long history of case law indicates that Florida courts tend to favor arbitration agreements, even when the agreements are silent regarding the procedures to be followed. As such, it is crucial that those subject to arbitration agreements contact an attorney for representation.

For instance, a Florida appeals court recently reversed a trial court’s ruling and found that a valid agreement to arbitrate existed in a plaintiff’s claim that a massage therapist sexually assaulted her. The case arose when the woman visited a Florida Massage Envy. Following her appointment, the woman filed a multi-count complaint against several entities, including Massage Envy and her massage therapist. Massage Envy filed a motion to compel arbitration in response to the complaint. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff and concluded that no valid agreement to arbitrate existed.

Following a major car accident, it may be obvious who was at fault and who caused the accident. Sometimes, however, car accidents are not as clear cut. In accidents with complex timelines, multiple parties, and conflicting testimony from witnesses and those involved, it can often become messy very quickly to handle the details of who was at fault, for how much fault, and other important elements of the accident timeline.

According to a recent local news report, a major accident left nine individuals injured and one killed. Local authorities reported that a van carrying three adults and four children with special needs was traveling through an intersection when it crashed into the side of another vehicle going in another direction through the intersection. The initial accident caused three other vehicles nearby to be impacted also. Local fire rescue authorities reported nine people, including six children—four of which have special needs—injured. These injured individuals were transported to the hospital, with some of the adults being issued trauma alerts. A 36-year-old woman who was also a passenger in the van was pronounced dead on the scene. The accident remains under investigation by troopers.

Florida, like some other states around the country, is called a “no fault” state. This means that Florida has a law requiring that all drivers have a specific type of car insurance coverage that pays regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

South Florida drunk and impaired driving accidents are a far-too-common occurrence. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), millions of people choose to drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol each year. Impaired driving contributes to over 800 deaths in Florida every year and often claims the lives of the most vulnerable, such as children and older adults. These deaths are predictable and preventable, yet people continue to engage in this deadly conduct.

In Florida, those who suffer injuries or lose a loved one because of another driver’s negligence may file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the culpable parties. In addition to the negligent impaired driver, victims may file cases against the vendor who served alcohol under Fla. Statutes section 768.125, commonly known as the Dram Shop Law.

A wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate in tragic cases where the victim succumbs to their injuries. For instance, local news reports recently described a deadly Florida DUI involving a WWE Hall of Famer. The driver rear-ended a 75-year-old driver who was stopped at a traffic light. Emergency responders transported the 75-year-old victim to a hospital, where he succumbed to injuries. Police reported that the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. Toxicology reports revealed that her blood-alcohol level was more than 3.5 times the legal limit. Authorities charged the driver with DUI causing death, causing death while operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, DUI causing injury to a person, and three counts of DUI property damage.

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.

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