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This is the second installment of our two-part blog post discussing potential insurance issues that face car crash injury victims.  While we have attempted to discuss significant insurance coverage issues, every situation is unique.  If you have specific questions about your specific situation, we invite you to contact us to speak to an experienced Miami auto collision injury lawyer.

Uninsured Motorists/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage: Stacked vs. Unstacked

Although Florida law requires all motorists to carry BI liability insurance or a bond if the driver is at-fault in an accident, many drivers fail to comply with this mandate.  When the negligent party that causes a car crash is an uninsured driver, an injury victim might need to pursue a first party insurance claim against his or her own insurance carrier unless there are other viable defendants.  Many people presume that their insurance carrier will cooperate since policyholders pay premiums for this form of financial security.  Unfortunately, the insurer-policyholder relationship becomes adversarial when an insured needs to pursue a first party insurance claim under his or her uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pursuant to the injury victim’s own policy.

The risk of being injured by a drunk, speeding, or careless driver who is uninsured is significant because Florida has 3.2 million uninsured drivers according to the Insurance Research Council, which is the second highest number of uninsured motorists in the U.S.  Further, motorists often are uninsured because they face barriers to obtaining coverage that include high insurance rates based on their driving record, which might include moving violations, DUI convictions, and past motor vehicle accidents.  In other words, uninsured drivers who lack the ability to pay a damage claim also tend to be the most dangerous drivers on Florida roadways.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage provides compensation for past and future medical costs, past and future lost income, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering that is not included within PIP coverage.  This form of coverage also can provide a form of compensation if you are injured as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or passenger in another person’s vehicle.  Although UM/UIM insurance is not required under Florida law, this form of coverage can be extremely valuable especially “stacked coverage.”  If you purchase “stacked” coverage, your UM/UIM policy limit is multiplied by the number of vehicles that you own.  While “unstacked” UM/UIM coverage will be subject to a lower premium, the policy limit is not multiplied if you include several vehicles under the policy.

Our lawyers assist personal injury victims in this situation by negotiating with their insurance company.  When an insurer refuses to fulfill its obligations, our law firm also can explore the possibility of pursuing a lawsuit against the insurer for breach of contract and potentially insurance bad faith.  If the other driver has inadequate insurance, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage can provide another source of recovery beyond the limited coverage of an at-fault driver.

Because our law firm represents car accident victims on a regular basis, our accident lawyers see the devastating consequences when there is insufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate victims and their families.  Generally, we recommend carrying a minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

If you or your family member has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Miami or the surrounding areas of Florida, our Miami-Dade Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. can explain your options and tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/IRC%20UM_NewsRelease_1.pdf

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

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If you are involved in a serious car accident that results in hospitalization for broken bones, fractures, spinal cord damage, brain injuries, or other significant injuries, you can quickly be overwhelmed by legal requirements and insurance company obstacles.  When you suffer an injury or lose a loved one to a motorist who is alcohol impaired, distracted, or a reckless driver, you will need to navigate insurance issues to maximize your financial recovery.  Our Miami auto accident lawyers have provided an overview of a couple of key insurance issues relevant to Florida crash injury victims.

Woefully Inadequate Florida Liability Insurance Requirements

The Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that all drivers carry bodily injury (BI) liability coverage or post a bond if they are at-fault in an accident.  However, this requirement rings hollow given the minimal amount of coverage that motorist are required to purchase.  The statutory minimum for BI liability coverage under Florida law is $10,000 per injury victim and $20,000 per crash for all victims.  The minimum liability coverage for property damage is $10,000.

When drivers carry nothing more than this negligible amount of coverage, policy limits will be woefully inadequate to compensate a victim who has suffered catastrophic injuries.  If there are multiple vehicle occupants injured by an at-fault motorist, policy limits might be exhausted without an injury victim receiving any compensation unless he or she wins the race to file a claim.   Even more alarming, drivers convicted of DUI on or before October 1, 2007 are subject to the same minimal requirements for coverage.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result in debilitating conditions that cause cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, diminished sensation, paralysis, distorted emotional responses, and memory loss.  The cost of catastrophic injuries like a TBI can amount to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in economic and non-economic losses, including medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, lost earnings, diminished earning capacity, supportive assistance, loss of consortium, burial/funeral expenses (wrongful death), punitive damages, and other relevant forms of damages.

The nominal amount of liability coverage required under Florida law typically will not even cover a seriously injured car accident victim’s hospital bills.  An experienced Miami auto accident attorney recognizes the importance of identifying all viable sources of compensation, including other potential defendants with insurance coverage and assets, assets of the at-fault driver, the victim’s own coverage, and other financial resources.

Potential Traps for Policyholders Pursuing Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage

Under Florida law, drivers are required to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP), which pays for medical bills and disability benefits on a no-fault basis.  The coverage pays for 80 percent of all reasonable expenses from medically necessary medical, surgical, X-ray, dental, and rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices and medically necessary ambulance, hospital, and nursing services.

PIP disability benefits cover any loss of gross income, loss or earning capacity, or loss of household services the injury victim would have provided if not for the disabling injuries.  This form of coverage also includes a $5,000 death benefit for surviving family members in the wake of a fatal collision.

However, changes in Florida law that went into effect January 1, 2013 created a number of potential pitfalls for policyholders.  First, policyholders can be limited to only $2,500 in coverage unless the insured is determined to have an emergency medical condition.  Second, an insured must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the collision to claim PIP benefits.  Third, injury victims must obtain certification from a specifically designated medical professional that immediate medical attention was necessary.

PIP coverage also was revised to exclude certain healthcare practitioners, such as acupuncturists and message therapists.  These so-called “reforms”, which were the product of intense pro-insurance lobbying efforts, also permit insurers to make changes to PIP coverage without prior notification to policyholders.  Our Miami Car Accident Lawyers explore all available sources of compensation to obtain the fullest monetary recovery.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

If you or your family member has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Miami or the surrounding areas of Florida, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. can explain your options and tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/IRC%20UM_NewsRelease_1.pdf

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

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This is Part II of our two-part blog post reviewing why Florida has been deemed the most dangerous state for pedestrians and discussing the benefits and difficulties faced by injured pedestrians pursuing legal remedies.  As this post makes clear, pedestrian accident lawsuits often involve severe injuries and aggressive attempts by insurance companies to transfer blame to the pedestrian.  If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Miami, we invite you to contact our lawyers about your specific situation.

Florida Criminal Justice System Often Fails to Achieve Justice for Injured Pedestrians

If you are a pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle or a family member of someone who dies in a pedestrian accident, your grief and anguish can be intensified by a lack of justice.  Negligent drivers who cause injury to pedestrians often receive sentences in Florida that do not provide the victim and/or the victim’s family with a sense of justice.  The Orlando Sentinel article that closely analyzed pedestrian accidents in Florida reported that out of 54 criminal cases involving drivers who ran over pedestrians, motorists who caused serious injury and death faced negligible or no jail time.

The tragic story of Bobby Stout provides a telling example.  Bobby Stout was run down while walking on the sidewalk, but an Orange County circuit judge did not sentence the driver to any jail time.  The writer of the story reviewed 333 pedestrian accident deaths and 880 incapacitating injuries to pedestrians in three Florida Counties from 2007 through 2012.  Shockingly, the article reports that 80 percent of the drivers got traffic tickets for running red lights, careless driving, failure to yield, and speeding, but the typical penalty imposed was a $166 fine.

According to the article, there is rarely an additional penalty even if a pedestrian is killed in the collision.  Of the 54 motorists who were charged with more serious criminal driving offenses, only eleven received more than a year in jail.  Even more appalling, the vast majority of cases involved drivers under aggravating circumstances or with prior criminal records.

While a fatal pedestrian accident that resulted in the stiffest sentence of ten years might sound like a rare case of justice being served, this is not so clear when the circumstances of the fatal crash are considered.  The driver had a prior state prison record relating to an incident where the driver navigated his car around an officer directing traffic onto a busy sidewalk before seriously injuring a pedestrian after slamming into her.  Instead of stopping to render assistance, he fled the scene and led police on a high-speed chase.  Some of the other sentences included:

  • 25 drivers who received probation with no jail time
  • 6 people who received a few days in jail
  • 3 driver who got one to five months
  • 4 motorists who got one year in jail
  • 5 of the 54 cases still pending at the time of publication of the article

Civil Lawsuit Provides Opportunity to Hold Careless Drivers Accountable

Although legal claims for injuries suffered in pedestrian accidents can present difficult issues of proof, civil lawsuits often provide the best option for holding negligent drivers accountable for the harm they cause.  Obviously, the primary objective of a personal injury lawsuit is to obtain compensation for an injury victim, but a secondary objective is to ensure that intoxicated, distracted, and otherwise unsafe drivers are punished.

The analysis of Florida pedestrian accidents conducted by the Orlando Sentinel found that drivers were at-fault, at least in part, in 20 percent of pedestrian crashes.  The investigating officers determined that these motorists engaged in such unlawful or unsafe driving practices as speeding, running traffic lights, driving under the influence (DUI), distracted driving, failing to yield, and reckless driving.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a careless driver in Florida, you might consider the penalties imposed by a criminal court unsatisfying.  Although the principle function of a personal injury lawsuit involves recovering monetary damages to compensate the injured, civil lawsuits also serve a justice and deterrent function.  A large monetary judgment against a negligent driver can impose “financial penalties” while discouraging similar unsafe driving in the future.

Admittedly, financial compensation cannot give a parent back the love of a child or a spouse the companionship of a husband or wife killed in a pedestrian crash.  However, a loved one can obtain the financial means to help a permanently disabled family member maintain the highest quality of life and obtain a sense of closure by holding a drunk, distracted, or reckless driver accountable for the pain, emotional harm, and financial challenges caused by the driver’s irresponsible conduct.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Injuries and Wrongful Death Suffered in Pedestrian Crashes in Florida

If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian accident, our Florida Pedestrian Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/pedestrian-deaths-central-florida/os-pedestrian-central-florida-20130703-story.html#page=1

 

 

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Florida offers enviable tropical weather, an abundance of beaches, and tourist attractions that draw visitors from around the globe.  Foot traffic is extremely common whether we are talking about University of Miami students headed to the beach or nightclubs on the weekend, tourists visiting Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, or fitness minded individuals jogging to stay in shape.  During a six year period ending in 2012, 333 pedestrians were killed in pedestrian accidents in Orlando with similar pedestrian death tolls in Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa, which makes Florida the nation’s deadliest state for pedestrians.  This two-part blog post examines the risk of injury and death faced by a Florida pedestrian, as well as the challenges and benefits of pursuing a legal claim for injuries or wrongful death.

Florida Receives Notorious Title “Most Dangerous U.S. State for Pedestrians”

During the 2000 decade and so far this decade, the author of a widely cited study based on census data that evaluated pedestrian safety ranked Orlando as the nation’s deadliest city.  Tampa was the second most dangerous city with Jacksonville not far behind in third.  Approximately 850 pedestrians are hit by motor vehicles in Central Florida annually with about 150 suffering debilitating injuries and 40-70 dying.

While Miami has not yet been mentioned, it would be a mistake to Miami is safer.  Orlando has the second worst pedestrian fatality rate of any major metro area behind only Miami.  The main reason Orlando has garnered the title of deadliest city in America for pedestrians rather than Miami is that Miami has a higher number of walkers, joggers and runners, so the percentage of fatalities is lower based on the total number of pedestrians.

Challenges in Seeking Compensation for Injuries: Disputes over Fault

Injured pedestrians tend to suffer devastating injuries that can cause permanent mental and physical disabilities, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of limbs, and internal organ damage.  These types of injuries can result in months or even years of hospital treatment and rehabilitation, as well as partial or total permanent disability.  Skyrocketing medical bills combined with the long-term disability of a primary wage earner can undermine the financial security of a family.  While a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death action might result in the recovery of much needed monetary compensation, the issue of fault often is hotly contested.

Many people might be surprised to learn that of the 1,188 serious crashes from 2007 through 2012 that resulted in debilitating injury or death to a pedestrian, pedestrians were at-fault 80 percent of the time according to an analysis by the Orlando Sentinel.  When a pedestrian is hit by a car, the insurance company for the motorist will routinely attempt to blame the pedestrian.  The insurance carrier for the driver might argue the pedestrian “darted” into a roadway with a high speed limit, so the driver did not have a reasonable amount of time to stop.  The scenario can be even more complicated when the pedestrian is wearing dark clothes at night.

Insurance companies usually attempt to shift responsibility for causing a pedestrian-auto collision to the person on foot.  If the insurer for the driver is able to convince the jury that a pedestrian failed to take reasonable care for his or her own safety, the amount of the pedestrian’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the pedestrian.  If a pedestrian suffers a traumatic brain injury that results in damages amounting to a million dollars, the amount the pedestrian would actually receive would be reduced to $800,000 if the jury apportions fault 80 percent to the driver and 20 percent to the pedestrian.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Injuries and Wrongful Death Suffered in Pedestrian Accidents in Florida

If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian accident, our Florida Pedestrian Accident Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/pedestrian-deaths-central-florida/os-pedestrian-central-florida-20130703-story.html#page=1

 

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This is the second installment in our two-part blog post offering an overview of some of the tactics used by insurance companies to refuse to pay for damages caused by the negligence of their insured.  Our Miami personal injury lawyers have provided a few examples of ways insurance companies will try to mitigate their liability and avoid paying valid claims.  If you have specific questions about your situation, we invite you to contact us.

Providing a Check for a Low-ball Amount: The insurance company might surprise you by sending a check shortly after the accident or offering a quick settlement.  The initial settlement proposal from an insurance company will NEVER be equal to the actual value of your claim.  A quick settlement offer or check means that the insurer has a reasonable concern you might receive a substantially larger recovery in litigation.  The insurance company also knows that the best time to persuade a car crash victim to accept a lowball claim is early before the insurer obtains legal advice regarding the strength and value of his or her claim.  The check or settlement offer will be accompanied with a document called a “General Release” or a similar document that releases ANY AND ALL claims including those that an injury victim does not even know exist.  If you discover injuries after signing a General Release, you might not even have access to funds to pay medical bills.  The best practice is never to sign any documents provided by an insurance company without obtaining legal advice.

Communicating Directly: The insurance adjuster also might call you and attempt to ask you questions or communicate with you about your claim.  Frequently, insurance adjusters are affable people, but they do not have your best interest in mind.  The adjuster will attempt to obtain information that can be used to weaken your chance of recovery or decrease the value of your claim.  All communications with the at-fault driver’s insurance company should be conducted by an experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney.

Dismissing the Need for an Attorney: Insurance company representatives might contend that the claim can be resolved without the need for you to retain legal counsel.  This statement is absolutely false!  The insurance company has absolutely no reason to pay you close to the full value of your claim unless the insurer has a legitimate concern about litigation and the possibility of a larger judgment at trial.  When you retain counsel, your lawyer can estimate your potential damages, evaluate the likelihood of success at trial, and assist you in deciding whether to accept a settlement.

Waiting for Unrepresented Parties to Make Mistakes: The insurance company will be in no hurry to settle a claim with an unrepresented injury victim.  The insurer recognizes that personal injury victims without the benefit of legal advice often make devastating mistakes.  The failure to comply with deadlines related to legal claims, for example, can have serious consequences.  The statute of limitations is the deadline that dictates how long a personal injury victim has to initiate a lawsuit.  If an injury victim fails to comply with this deadline, the claim will be permanently barred subject to narrow exceptions.  There is no hardship exception, so the claim is barred regardless of the merits.  Similarly, a lawsuit against a public entity usually requires an injury victim to comply with special procedures and timing requirements.  If you fail to provide timely notice to the public entity under the applicable “tort claims act,” your right to sue the public entity generally will be barred.  The time limit imposed under tort claims acts is usually much shorter than those imposed by the statute of limitations.  If you are in a car accident with an uninsured driver, the financial consequences of losing your right to sue the State of Florida for a dangerous road can be catastrophic.

Monitoring Social Networks: Insurance companies are increasingly using information gleaned from social media websites as evidence in personal injury lawsuits.  The insurer might search for photos of an injury victim engaging in conduct inconsistent with a claimed injury.  Alternatively, the insurer could scour a Facebook page for a potentially damaging admission, such as indicating you were not wearing a seatbelt or were speeding during a crash.  Although many people assume information in password protected areas on social media sites is safe, judges are increasingly ordering parties involved in civil litigation to provide login information for social media sites during discovery.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

If you have been injured in a car accident, our Florida Auto Collision Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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The debate over mandatory helmet laws continues to wage in many states.  However, enough time has passed since Florida and a number of other states repealed their universal helmet laws to assess the impact of these reforms.  Florida exempted adult motorcycle riders with a minimum of $10,000 in health insurance coverage from mandatory helmet use in 2000.  In the immediate aftermath of modification of the Florida helmet law, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities increased substantially.  While a higher number of registered motorcycles explains some of the increased deaths, the majority of the additional fatalities involved riders without helmets.

Our surge in fatal motorcycle accidents has made Florida a case study for why universal helmet laws should not be eased in other states.  During the three years prior to modification of Florida’s universal helmet law, our state was the site of approximately 160 motorcycle deaths annually.  Helmet use plummeted the year after the helmet law was revised, and the number of motorcycle fatalities soared to 246, amounting to a 65 percent increase in a single year.  By 2006, the number of motorcycle accident deaths in Florida had risen to an all-time high of 550.  During the initial five year period after Florida’s helmet law was changed, the state experienced nearly a 3.5 fold increase in motorcycle accident deaths.  Although the number of fatalities dropped as the economy soured, this trend has since reversed.

Although all states that eliminated or loosened their laws requiring universal helmet use have seen a rise in motorcycle fatalities, Florida has seen the highest increase because the climate allows for a longer riding season.  A sufficient enough period of time has passed to allow federal safety authorities to reach some conclusions about the impact of repealing universal helmet laws.  States with universal helmet laws save eight times more riders lives per 100,000 registered motorcycles annually than states without helmet laws.  Universal helmet jurisdictions also save three time more lives than states with a partial helmet law according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There is now a range of data that indicates universal helmet laws both increase helmet use and reduce motorcycle crash-related injuries and deaths.  While helmet usage tends to approach a hundred percent in states where helmet use is mandatory, the percentage of motorcyclists who strap on helmets drops to fifty percent in states without helmet laws.  Helmets decrease the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent and reduce the risk of brain injuries by 67 percent.

Our Florida motorcycle accident attorneys see the devastating impact of motorcyclists exposed to inattentive and careless drivers.  Motorcyclists tend to suffer severe injuries in crashes because they have virtually no protection.  Regardless of the type of motorcycle, bikes do not provide a protective frame, air bags, seat belts, or other safety features that are standard in passenger cars.  Because of this high degree of vulnerability, motorcycle riders are 35 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than occupants of passenger cars according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Further, the federal agency reports that riders without helmets face a forty percent higher risk of suffering a fatal head injury than helmeted riders.  This fact is particularly relevant because head injuries are the leading cause of motorcycle accident fatalities.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Injuries Experienced in Florida Motorcycles Accidents

If you or a close family member suffers a serious injury or you lose someone you love in a motorcycle crash, our Miami Motorcycle Crash Injury Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. work diligently to obtain a full recovery for our clients.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/advocates-for-motorcycle-helmet-laws-say-rising-florida-deaths-prove-need/2175820

http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/mc/guide/save.html

 

 

 

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When you are involved in an car accident in Miami or other areas in South Florida, you might be saddled with overwhelming medical bills at a time when you are unable to work.  If you are disabled for an extended period of time, you might struggle to pay your mortgage, car note, and other monthly expenses.  While an injury victim can pursue legal compensation from a negligent driver, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will usually handle the claim and pay the settlement or judgment unless the at-fault driver is uninsured.

While an insurance company owes a legal duty of good faith and fair dealing to its policyholder, the other driver’s insurer does not have an obligation to treat your fairly.  Rather, the insurer of an at-fault driver has an adversarial relationship with a plaintiff seeking damages, and the insurer will use a range of strategies to avoid paying a claim or to minimize any payment.  Our experienced Miami car accident lawyers have provided some examples of strategies that insurers might use to prevent injury victims from receiving the full value of their legal claim in this two-part blog post.

Requesting a Recorded Statement: The insurer for the at-fault driver might contact you and ask that you agree to provide a recorded statement.  The insurance adjuster might seem cordial and helpful, but the adjuster’s job is to ensure you receive as little compensation as possible for your claim.  Although the adjuster might contend that the recorded statement will allow the insurance company to evaluate your claim and cut you a check, the purpose of the recorded statement is to acquire information that can be used to deny or lowball your claim.

Stalling Settlement of the Claim: Insurance companies benefit from any delay in paying a claim because the money that would be used to satisfy a settlement or judgment can remain invested and earning a return for the insurance company.  By contrast, an injury victim who is facing prolonged time off work and mounting medical bills often feels increasing pressure to accept a less generous settlement offer if the claim process drags on.  Insurance companies will be particularly inclined to drag out the claims process when an injury victim is not represented by an experienced Miami Auto Accident Attorney.  An attorney who regularly litigates car accident claims can keep the process moving by conducting discovery and filing motions to counter tactics primarily intended to cause delay.

Disputing the Cause or Severity of Injury: Even when the fault of the other driver is reasonably clear, such as when you are rear-ended while stopped at a red light, the insurance company will not simply cut a check for the value of your damages.  When the evidence regarding fault is overwhelming, the insurer will shift its focus to disputing the nature and/or extent of your injury.  The insurer might ask you to sign a consent to release of information, so the insurer can go on a “fishing expedition” through your medical records.  The insurer might look for prior injuries or medical conditions reflected in the records that can be blamed for the injuries you attribute to the car crash.  If you seek immediate medical attention following a crash, doctors can conduct a diagnostic evaluation and scans like an MRI, X-ray, and/or CT scan that can provide evidence showing the collision caused your injuries.  If you delay medical treatment, the insurance carrier also might argue that you did not seek medical attention right away because you were not actually injured in the crash.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

If you have been injured in a car accident, our Florida Auto Collision Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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While most parents recognize that distracted drivers constitute a significant cause of many fatal teen collisions, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests the problem is even worse than previously suspected.  The recently published study based on an analysis of actual crash video footage from 1,700 teen crashes reveals that distractions are a factor in almost 60 percent (58 percent) of all moderate-to-severe collisions involving teenage drivers.  Although distractions have long been considered a significant cause of teen driving fatalities, previous National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates postulated about 14 percent of teen car accidents were linked to driving distractions.

The study has been lauded as the most comprehensive study ever done that examines the relationship between teen driving accidents and distracted driving practices.  The research was conducted by evaluating six seconds of video footage from data event recorders in vehicles driven by teens involved in crashes.  This emerging technology also provided other significant information about teen distracted driving.  Distractions constituted a factor in 89 percent of road-departure collisions while distracted driving contributed to 76 percent of rear-impact collisions

Types of Driving Distractions Causing Teen Traffic Accidents

The varied types of distractions included the following:

Type of Distraction                                                                             Percentage of Crashes

Conversation with Passengers                                                                        15 percent

Use of a mobile phone                                                                                    12 percent

Locating objects inside the vehicle                                                                 10 percent

Gyrating or singing along with music                                                             8 percent

Personal grooming (e.g., applying makeup, shaving, brushing hair)               6 percent

Trying to grab an item                                                                                     6 percent

This study provides valuable teen driving information that can guide policymakers in making our state safer for teen drivers and others with whom teens share Florida roadways.  The study revealed that teen drivers manipulating or using a cell phone in some fashion diverted their eyes from the roadway for an average of longer than 4 seconds.  The researchers also found that over half of the time teen drivers were involved in rear-end crashes while multi-tasking, the teens made no effort to steer or brake prior to the moment of impact.

Lessons for Policymakers in Charge of Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) Programs

An important objective of the research was to provide guidance to states in updating their graduated driver’s license programs based on real world teen driving behavior.  The statute offers significant guidance for the Florida legislature.  GDL programs grant driver’s licenses in stages, so novice teen drivers are granted increasing privileges based on experience behind the wheel and the maturity that theoretically accompanies aging.

While all states limit drivers with a learner’s permit, GDL programs involve issuing “restricted driver’s licenses” (also called “provisional driver’s licenses”) that place certain restrictions on newly licensed teen drivers.

Many states prohibit any use of a cell phone by teen drivers and restrict the transport of teen passengers with an intermediate license because these have long been thought to be the leading causes of distracted teen driving.  This current study reaffirms this conclusion given that more than 25 percent of teen distracted driving crashes involve one of these two forms of distraction.  Although Florida law has a universal ban on text messaging while driving regardless of age, all other uses of cell phones, which include making phone calls and posting on Facebook, are not prohibited practices even for teen drivers.

Florida law only limits driving during certain nighttime hours, but this research suggests that cell phone and passenger restrictions might also save lives.  Another important finding for teens is the prevalence of other driving distractions.  Extensive public awareness campaigns have helped educate teens about cell phone use behind the wheel, but there might be fewer teens that even consider traditional distractions like putting on lipstick, looking for a textbook, or reaching for a beverage as a form of distracted driving.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Teen Distracted Driving Accident Injuries and Deaths

If you or a family member has been injured in a collision caused by a distracted driver, our Florida Teen Accident Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

http://newsroom.aaa.com/2015/03/distraction-teen-crashes-even-worse-thought/

http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/teendriv.html

 

 

 

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The tragic story about a toddler who was mauled to death by two “mixed breed” dogs earlier this year provides a reminder that dog attacks and bites can cause devastating injuries and even fatalities.  The horrifying story of 18-month-old Declan Moss viciously being mauled by two family dogs while in his grandfather’s care was even more disturbing because last year Florida had four fatal dog attacks, the second highest total in the U.S.  While dog attacks can cause serious injury to people of all ages, children are most susceptible to severe injury or death caused by a vicious dog attack.  Three of the four fatal dog attacks in Florida last year, as well as this most recent tragedy, involved children ages 6 or under.

Our Miami personal injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A. recognize that a personal injury lawsuit cannot give parents back their child or truly compensate a severely injured victim.  However, financial recovery can provide the monetary resources to promote the fullest recovery and highest quality of life for injured dog mauling survivors.  When dog owners are held financially accountable for the harm their animals cause, the result can be some degree of justice for the victim and an incentive to take steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Florida dog bite law favors dog attack victims because there is no state law requirement that dog owners have any reason to know their dog has a propensity for viciousness, such as a prior dog bite.   Florida Statute Section 767.04 imposes strict liability on dog owners for bite injuries that occur when the victim is in a public place or lawfully on private property.  The statute expressly provides that liability can be imposed regardless of any prior viciousness by the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness

While Florida law favors dog bite victims, the statute does raise potential defenses that can be used by a dog owner to avoid or mitigate liability.  A sign can be posted by the dog owner that includes the words “Bad Dog,” which can provide a defense to strict liability provided the victim is not under 6.  Although the dog owner can still be liable when such a sign is posted, the dog bite victim might need to establish that negligence by the dog owner or violation of a leash law constitutes a basis for imposing liability.  However, the statute clearly provides that even if the dog owner posts an appropriate warning regarding the dog, this measure does not provide a defense to other theories of liability based on statute or common law, which include negligence, negligence per se, or scienter.

Aside from whether the owner has posted a “Bad Dog” sign, these other legal theories might be relevant in the following situations:

  • Negligence: This legal theory might be appropriate if the statute does not apply, such as the injury is caused by something other than a dog bite. If a dog gets out of the owner’s yard and knocks over a 10-year-old riding a bike down the sidewalk, negligence might be an appropriate theory of liability.
  • Negligence Per Se: This approach to imposing liability is based on a violation of a safety law or regulations. An example might include violation of a leash law where the failure of the dog owner to keep the dog on a leash results in the dog chasing and injuring someone in a fall or bite incident.
  • Scienter: The scienter requirement which refers to a reason to know of a dog’s prior vicious behavior also might be an appropriate legal theory if the dog has bitten someone in the past. This legal theory also might be helpful if the injury by a vicious dog is not caused by a bite.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

If you have been injured by a dog bite or dog attack, the Miami Personal Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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Despite stricter DUI penalties, more aggressive law enforcement strategies and enormous expenditures on public awareness campaigns, drunk drivers still cause approximately 10,000 fatalities and 170,000 injuries annually, which amount to one-third of all traffic crash-related deaths.  This high toll in bodily injuries and fatalities has led many traffic safety advocates to argue that additional steps are necessary to prevent alcohol-related accidents in Florida and across the U.S.  Our Miami personal injury lawyers have been following a proposal that the .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for finding a driver is intoxicated be reduced.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that the .08 percent BAC level be lowered by nearly half to .05 percent.  The federal agency cannot require such changes, but it can make recommendation that can be adopted by other states.  The federal government often offers financial incentives to prompt state compliance.  Currently, all fifty states have established .08 BAC as the legal threshold at which a driver is presumed to be too intoxicated to drive.  According to the NTSB, the change would save an estimated 1,000 lives per year along with preventing many other injuries.  Research cited by the agency indicates that motorists experienced a decline in vision, reaction time, reflexes, and cognitive brain activity if they have a .05 percent BAC.

The agency has also recommended that all drivers convicted of DUI be compelled to install an ignition interlock device (IID).  An IID requires motorists to blow into a portable breath testing device installed in the vehicle, which prohibits the engine from starting unless a breath test reveals the driver has a BAC significantly below the legal limit.  While Florida forces many drivers convicted of DUI to install an IID, the requirement is left to the discretion of the judge for a first time DUI unless a child passenger was in the vehicle or the driver had a BAC of .15 percent or above.

Restaurant trade groups and the alcohol beverage industry have criticized the traffic safety proposal.  These organizations contend that the approach punishes drivers who are engaging in perfectly safe and responsible behavior.  They further argue that the proposal would have little impact because motorists who cause the majority of alcohol-related accidents are hardcore offenders with high BAC levels.  However, the country of Australia reported a 5-18 percent drop in traffic fatalities when it reduced the legal blood alcohol level from .08 to .05 percent.  Further, the NTSB indicates that a driver with a BAC of .05 percent presents a 39 percent higher risk of being involved in a car crash than a driver with no alcohol in his or her system.

While the proposal might seem like a radical change for many in the U.S., lower BAC levels for drunk driving are common in other countries.  While the U.S., Iraq and Canada have .08 BAC levels, most countries in Europe, including Russia, Australia and the majority of South America have imposed a .05 BAC level as the legal limit for drunk driving.

Our Florida personal injury law firm lauds attempts to make our state’s roads safer because we see the tragic consequences of alcohol impaired drivers far too often.  While it is still unclear whether the NTSB recommendations will be followed, we commend efforts to prevent life-altering car accident injuries and deaths.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Caused by Drunk Drivers 

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, our Miami DUI Drunk Driving Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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