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It is not often that car accident lawsuits make it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. The recent case of Fridman v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Ill. was one of those rarities, and it resulted in a victory for the injured victim.caraccident4

At the heart of the case was the auto insurance company’s years-long effort to deny, delay or not respond to the claims of the insured, even when liability was reasonably clear.

Plaintiff in this case waited for years – on the eve of trial – for the insurance company to finally extend an offer to compensate him for his claims. But it came with strings attached that would have required plaintiff forego any future action for bad faith. Trial was continued another six months and again, just before that, insurer again tried to extend an offer for policy limits, but still wanted to remove a future bad faith insurance lawsuit from the table.  Continue reading

A trial court overseeing a traffic accident lawsuit erred when it allowed the jury to hear evidence of plaintiff’s purported mental anguish when at-fault driver allegedly attempted to flee the scene, as well as information about his financial hardships. gavel21

Jurors awarded plaintiff $1 million in damages, and although Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal initially affirmed judgment, finding the errors were harmless, it reversed upon rehearing on the basis of a new “harmless error” test as handed down by the Florida Supreme Court in Special v. West Boca Center.

In the case before the 4th DCA, Hurtado v. Desouza, the trial court allowed testimony to enter the record pertaining to a mental anguish claim not supported by Florida law and also regarding plaintiff’s financial struggles in the wake of the crash.

It just got harder in Florida to prove guilt of hit-and-run in criminal court.

The Florida Supreme Court, in its decision in Florida v. Dorsett, ruled that in order for prosecutors to secure a conviction in a criminal hit-and-run case, they must prove the accused had “actual knowledge” of being involved in a crash.backseatride

The underlying case involves a Boca Raton hit-and-run crash that nearly killed a 15-year-old in 2007. What this ruling, now applied to all future criminal hit-and-run cases, means is prosecutors can’t argue a driver intentionally and willfully left a crash scene unless it’s proven to a jury the driver knew about the impact in the first place.

Lawmakers as well as the courts have taken seriously the responsibility of insurance companies to treat insureds fairly and to promptly compensate injured parties for reasonable expenses related to covered incidents. When insurance companies fail, it’s called “bad faith.” crash

Bad faith insurance claims can result in verdicts that far exceed the original coverage limit. Still, these findings are increasingly common because insurance companies are seemingly always looking for ways to minimize liability. So they delay or outright deny claims or push outrageously low settlements on people who paid for coverage.

Recently in Pennsylvania, a settlement agreement has reportedly resulted in the largest-ever bad faith insurance payout in the state’s history, according to The Legal Intelligencer. The case of Hennessy v. Allstate Insurance resulted in a $22 million payment, where a jury had previously found the auto accident victim’s damages to top $19 million. The original policy limit was $250,000.

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal ruled that a bankruptcy court’s order effectively barring a car accident victim from seeking a personal liability judgment against the at-fault driver was erroneous as a matter of law. carcrash1

In Whritenour v. Thompson, justices reversed the earlier summary judgment, based on a bankruptcy court’s ruling that the victim could only pursue damages against the at-fault party’s insurance company – not her personally.

Boca Raton car accident attorneys recognize this is an important ruling, as the justices noted the situation was “unprecedented.” The justices strove to find a balance between ensuring the protections of bankruptcy, while preserving the rights of the injured to be compensated for the negligent acts of another driver.

As our northern neighbors are enduring yet another bout of arctic weather that is rendering the roadways extremely hazardous as far south as Atlanta and Birmingham, we have been hearing a great deal about chain-reaction crashes attributed to this weather. carsassorted

Also known as “pile-ups,” USA Today recently reported that since the  beginning of December, there has been one such weather-related pile-up reported on U.S. highways every single day. In all of last year, there were nearly 110 such incidents, averaging about two each week, though most occur between the stretch of December through February, when winter weather is at its peak nastiness.

Our Boca Raton car accident attorneys want to stress that Florida is not immune to pile-ups, though in our case, such crashes typically occur for different reasons. We may not have the build-up of snow and ice that precede northern chain-reaction crashes. However, we do have extensive problems with fog, smoke and heavy rain that have proven just as deadly.

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