Articles Tagged with car accident attorney

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 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

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

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

In the case of Etheringon v. Owners Insurance Co., the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a $2.25 million verdict against a car insurance company for engaging in bad faith during settlement of an underinsured motorist (UIM) case. drivefastsaab

According to the complaint, the insurer was sued for breach of contract and unreasonable delay or denial of a claim for benefits.

Bad faith insurance cases, while they may be arduous to pursue, are important for two big reasons:

  • They can result in treble (triple) damages for those who suffered injury;
  • They provide incentive for insurance companies to deal fairly with customers.

Continue reading

Poor tire tread is being blamed in a car accident that claimed the lives of four sisters on I-95 Memorial Day.tire1

The group – 11 total in a sport utility vehicle – were in Titusville, on their way home from celebrating their mother’s birthday at a BBQ. The girls who died were 15, 13, 10 and 11. Their 9-year-old sister survived, as did a toddler and several boys, the girls’ mother (who was driving) and her boyfriend, who was in the front passenger seat.

Florida Highway Patrol officials say they intend to investigate the condition of the tire with the tread separation, as well as previous issues with that particular model of vehicle – a Dodge Durango – as well as reported recalls. Authorities also are interested in learning the role that having so many passengers in the car may have played, as well as how many of the individuals in the vehicle were wearing seat belts, as required by law. Continue reading

Although some people would argue they are “attached” to their cell phones, the reality is that under the law, these are two separate entities. No matter how dependent one feels on that little device, there is a clear distinction: The owner is a person and the phone is property.prostheticleg

Currently, there is a mostly similar distinction when it comes to a prosthetic limb and the person who uses it. However, an interesting point was raised recently at the University of Oxford’s Human Enhancement and the Law: Regulation for the Future Conference. This was a British conference, but the issues discussed are highly relevant this side of the pond.

The idea is that as new and advanced prosthetic devices become available and an increasing number of people are using them, the delineation between person and property becomes muddled. The traditional distinctions that have been upheld in the past may be challenged. Continue reading

Distracted drivers are more than twice as likely to crash their vehicle. That’s according to a recent Virginia Tech study published in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.brake1

This was the first large-scale, crash-only analysis of naturalistic driving data to study this issue. Researchers culled information from 3,500 drivers and 1,600 crashes over a three-year time frame using multiple on-board videos, radars and sensors. What they discovered was that crash causation has shifted dramatically in recent years. Ninety percent of crashes during the study period involved some type of driver error, which included fatigue, impairment or simple error. But most of the time, the problem was distraction, usually with a handheld electronic device.

In light of the impact smart phones have on driving, smart cars have become all the more desirable. Another study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), revealed vehicles equipped with front crash prevention technology are far less likely – by 40 percent – to be involved in a rear-end collision. Continue reading