Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Kim Smith had dedicated her 20-plus year career to helping the disabled as a therapist. Now, at 57, she is a patient. She will always be a patient, now that she has been rendered paraplegic and is now a resident of an apartment complex for seniors and the disabled after a drunk driver slammed into her two years ago. It’s been a year since she moved into the complex, following a year of being hospitalized after the crash. wheelchair

Recently, the man responsible for her injuries was sentenced by a Broward County judge to 12 years in prison. The Sun-Sentinel reported that while the 31-year-old defendant apologized to Smith, saying he is, “infinitely regretful,” Smith doubted his sincerity. She did however take comfort in the fact that he will be off the streets, at least for a time. It’s only a small measure of comfort, though, considering the daily pain she lives with. She calls the wheelchair, “exhausting.” She notes the pain that radiates from her back to her rear. She explained how she had fallen out of it several times just in the last month. She lamented that every system in her body is compromised, and will continue to be for the rest of her life, which is now expected to be much shorter.

She told the court about all the life events she missed due to being hospitalized after the car accident. She wasn’t able to say goodbye to her dying brother. She wasn’t there to help her 91-year-old mother transition into a nursing home. Meanwhile, defendant was a college graduate with honors who had started his own online marketing company. He didn’t fit the mold of most defendants, the judge noted. Yet he had a pattern of abusing substances and then getting behind the wheel, prosecutors allege. They sought 19 years. His defense lawyer sought to go below the minimum mandatory five years. In the end, he received 12 – three in county jail and nine in state prison.  Continue reading

A lot of folks will be making long trips this holiday season to spend time with loved ones and ring in the New Year. Now, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has a warning for those who get behind the wheel with too little sleep: You are imperiling yourself and others the same as if you just downed four drinks. car with keys

Prior studies by the foundation established that as many as 13 percent of all serious crashes and 21 percent of deadly crashes involved a driver who was tired. This newest research delves into quantifying the relationship between sleep and driving ability. What they discovered was fascinating – and disturbing. Drivers who got less than four hours of sleep in the last 24 hours had a crash risk that was 11.5 times than someone who had gotten seven or more hours of sleep. That’s similar to drivers who have a blood-alcohol concentration of somewhere between 0.12 and 0.15 0 which is nearly twice the legal limit. Drivers who slept between 4 and 5 hours had a crash risk that was 4.3 times higher. That is akin to someone who has a blood-alcohol level that is just at or above the legal limit of 0.08. Those who were lucky enough to get between 5 and 7 hours had a crash risk that was 1.9 times higher. And even those who got at least six hours a night still had a crash risk that was 1.3 times higher.

Of course, this issue isn’t just a problem during the holidays. In the hustle of a go-go world, the reality is many people don’t get enough rest on a daily basis. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report approximately 35 percent of Americans get fewer than the recommended seven hours of shut-eye a night. Twelve percent say they are getting fewer than five hours of sleep daily.  Continue reading

In a perfect world, the truth would be the only thing that decided the outcome of a civil injury lawsuit. And of course, the truth is a critical element. But what also matters is how skillfully your attorney can present it. What facts, records, testimony can he or she bring to support your assertions? How well does he or she understand the technicalities and procedures? How well-equipped is their law firm to meet the requirements? gavel

In the case of Small v. Sayre, several car accident victims, injured in a collision, were awarded lower damages than what they believed they were entitled to receive, based on the weight of evidence at trial. However on appeal, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that because the verdicts were not first challenged before the trial court, all of the challenges were waived. This really comes down to a technical issue, and it illustrates why it is so important to have an experienced injury attorney.

According to court records, plaintiff was idling in traffic with his wife and daughter when defendant rear-ended his vehicle. Plaintiff, his wife and daughter were each transported to the hospital, where they were treated, prescribed pain medication and advised to follow up with their primary care doctor. In the months and years that followed, the family members sought treatment for a variety of ailments they asserted were the result of the crash. Plaintiff sought treatment from doctors and chiropractors for neck and back pain. His wife sought treatment from a half dozen medical providers, including neurologists, chiropractors, an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapists. She suffered from chronic migraines and upper body pain. She was recommended for spinal fusion surgery, but ultimately did not undergo it, first due to her pregnancy and later due to cost.  Continue reading

Our roads and bridges are in terrible shape, and that puts us all risk for serious injury and death while driving. cars

According to a recent report by TRIP, a transportation solutions research group in D.C., we would need to shell out $740 billion to repair the infrastructure deficiencies that exist right now on highways, roads and bridges. And even that wouldn’t be a long-term solution. We need to find a sustainable source of funding if we’re going to keep pace with the ever-increasing amount of vehicle miles traveled – which has increased 15 percent in the last year and is expected for heavy trucks to increase 72 percent in the next 15 years.

The report, “Bumpy Roads Ahead, America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make Our Roads Smoother,” details how poor road conditions affect our wallets and our safety. Potholes and pavement deterioration are bad for our tires and for the level of control we maintain over our vehicles. This is especially perilous on highways, which get high volumes of heavy vehicles. If those drivers lose control of their vehicles – even momentarily – the it could prove deadly.  Continue reading

In a multiple-vehicle accident, there are more than two cars that hit each other or are involved in a chain of rear-end collisions. It can be difficult enough to sort out liability in these scenarios, but it can be even more complicated when there is an allegation of a phantom vehicle or a “John Doe” driver. A “John Doe” or  phantom vehicle is one that may have played an integral role in causing the crash, but never actually made contact with any of the others and either has not been identified or is not a party to the case.traffic

This is what was being alleged by the defendant in Reboulet v. Schlosberg, tried before a jury in Georgia.

Ultimately, jurors concluded defendant was liable for the collision and awarded plaintiff $813,000 for his spinal damage.  Continue reading

Anyone can catch a cold year-round, but people are most susceptible to the common cold during the winter months, as colder, drier air more easily spreads germs among those indoors. Most people don’t think much of going about their day with the common cold. However, research suggests that if you are sick, you may be a danger to yourself and others on the road.medicine

For example, one study by the Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre in the U.K. reports that concentration when one is driving with a bad cold or a flu is lowered by 50 percent. To put that into perspective: That’s like drinking four double whiskey shots. Researchers studying the effects of being ill on reaction times behind the wheel discovered that sudden braking became increasingly common among sick drivers, who were much less aware of their surroundings. Instances of drivers hitting the curb went up by a third, as drivers were also apparently less capable of accurately judging the distance. A heavy cold, researchers say, impacts a motorist’s mood, judgment and concentration – all of which play a central role in safe driving.

Aside from this, there are numerous cases of drivers who are impaired by medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – to treat colds, the flu and other conditions. Just recently in South Carolina, a woman was criminally prosecuted in Kranchick v. State for driving impaired on cold medication, which resulted in her losing control of her vehicle on the highway, slamming into a tractor trailer and a smaller truck, killing that vehicle’s driver and seriously injuring a passenger and the tractor-trailer driver.  Continue reading

Florida law generally does not allow defendants in personal injury lawsuits to present evidence of collateral benefits plaintiffs receive from third parties. These would include benefits like health insurance or workers’ compensation. The concern is that such evidence might confuse the jury. Still, F.S. 768.76 requires judges to reduce the jury’s verdict by any collateral source benefits received by the plaintiff, except in cases where there is a reimbursement or subrogation right. Further, the statute specifically states that benefits received under federal programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, aren’t considered collateral sources. doctor

Still, evidence that a person qualifies for Medicare or Medicaid is typically deemed highly prejudicial, so it’s not usually admissible. The 1984 case of Florida Physician’s Insurance Reciprocal v. Stanley did allow for one narrow exception, which is that defendants can introduce evidence of low-cost or free governmental and charitable programs that are available in the community to cover portion’s of a person’s health care costs. However, courts in this state had struggled since then with whether future Medicare and Medicaid benefits should be admissible. It was only last year, in the case of Joerg v. State Farm, that the Florida Supreme Court drew a line in the sand: Defendants are not allowed to introduce collateral source benefits a plaintiff might receive in the future from Medicare or Medicaid. The rationale is that there is no guarantee a plaintiff can for sure count on these programs in the future.

Recently, the Delaware Supreme Court held that, just like in Florida, Medicare and Medicaid write-offs do not fall under the collateral source rule. However, the court also held that future medical expenses were not subject to Medicaid reimbursement limitations.  Continue reading

The number of people dying due to teen driver negligence is on the rise for the first time in a decade, reports the AAA automobile club and the Governors Highway Safety Association. In fact, this figure has shot up 10 percent in just a year. teen

This increase follows 10 years in which the number of people killed in teen driver crashes had been slashed by half. In the last five years, AAA reports, teen drivers were involved in some 14,000 fatal crashes. More than 1 in 3 involved speeding. The number killed in those crashes rose from 4,272 in 2014 to 4,689 in 2015. Rewind to 2005, and fatalities in teen car accidents was at 8,241.

It’s not exactly clear what’s behind this increase, though safety advocates blame an increasing number of crashes involving speed and driver distraction (mostly from texting or talking on cell phones).  Continue reading

Since the Graves Amendment was enacted into federal law, rental car companies have been able to evade any vicarious liability for the negligent actions of their drivers. That means if you’re injured by someone driving a rental car, you can’t hold the owner of the vehicle responsible (as you normally would be able to under Florida law) unless the company was in some way directly liable for the accident.car inside

What’s perhaps even more troubling is that there is no federal requirement mandating that vehicle renters purchase liability coverage on that vehicle. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for rental car companies to rent out their fleet to motorists who are not insured.

This means those injured by uninsured renters may find themselves with little recourse – unless they have uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. This was the scenario in the recent case of Martin v. Powers, weighed by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Here, plaintiff was battling his UM/UIM carrier because the company refused to find a rental vehicle “uninsured/ underinsured” for purposes of the policy. True, the vehicle was owned by a large, wealthy company. The problem was the only insurance to which plaintiff was entitled was a $25,000 liability policy maintained by the allegedly drunk driver – and that company wouldn’t pay either because it asserted the injury was intentionally inflicted. Continue reading

Generally speaking, Florida state courts have the authority and the jurisdiction to oversee civil lawsuits pertaining to car accidents that happen in this state. However, as the recent case of Erie Insurance v. Larose reveals, a tricky matter of personal jurisdiction of an insurer may force a plaintiff to pursue their claim in a federal courtroom.car accident

In the Larose case, the question was whether an out-of-state auto insurance company that issued a policy to an insured out-of-state:

  • Met the criteria for Florida’s long-arm jurisdiction statute in F.S. 48.193;
  • Had a sufficient number of contacts with Florida so that subjecting it to jurisdiction in Florida courts wouldn’t offend constitutional due process.

While the court found Florida’s long-arm statute was applicable, it could not find that plaintiff proved defendant had a sufficient number of Florida contacts. Continue reading