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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  However, enough time has passed since Florida and a number of other states repealed their universal helmet laws to assess the impact of these reforms.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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Recent recalls involving exploding airbags have received extensive media coverage and regulatory activity by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other governmental entities and officials.  Airbags generally constitute one of the most effective motor vehicle safety features.  When airbags are defective, they can provide a false sense of security or even increase the risk of severe injury to vehicle occupants.  While defects in airbag systems can result in their deploying at the wrong time, deploying too aggressively or failing to deploy at all, the Takata® airbag recalls are related to a novel and especially alarming risk – exploding airbags.

The record setting scope of the Takata® airbag defect recall includes approximately 17 million vehicles in the U.S. and ten different automakers.  While the majority of vehicles covered by the recall are models that were issued from 2002 through 2008, the recall has been expanded to cover vehicles through 2014 in certain cases.  This blog post provides important information that owners of vehicles included in the recalls need to know.

What danger do the Takata® airbags subject to recall pose to vehicle occupants?

The airbags have been exploding when they inflate causing the propulsion of shrapnel that can cause serious injuries.  The defect has resulted in more than a hundred reported injuries and six fatalities as of April 30, 2015.  While multiple investigations have failed to produce a definitive answer regarding the cause of the defect, the explosions that occur when the airbags inflate cause shrapnel from the metal airbag inflator to be propelled at vehicle occupants.

How prevalent are airbags manufactured by Takata®?

Takata® is by far the leading manufacturer of airbags with approximately one-fifth of the market.  Although the company is losing market-share because of the exploding airbag recalls, the manufacturer remains the leading producer of air bags for Honda.

Are only vehicles in high humidity areas at-risk?

Although the air bag manufacturer initially confined its recall to air bags in vehicles in high humidity areas, the theory that the danger is confined only to these geographic locations has now been debunked.  However, the risk might still be higher in high humidity regions because the chemical (ammonium nitrate) used to cause the explosive reaction that expands the air bag tends to become unstable when vehicle temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.  Moisture also was considered to be a factor which resulted in a small initial recall limited to vehicles in hot humid areas.  In Florida, the internal temperature in a vehicle during a hot humid summer day can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why is the recall taking so long to completely implement?

While the enormous scope of the recall has slowed the process of getting all of the faulty air bags replaced, Takata® allegedly contributed to these delays by resisting efforts to expand the recall and dragging its feet in implementing the recalls.

When the first reported Takata® air bag explosion occurred in a Honda Accord in Alabama in 2004, causing injury to the driver from shrapnel, Honda® deemed the incident “an anomaly” and declined to issue a recall or elicit the involvement of federal vehicle safety regulators. The potential risk of exploding air bags was not disclosed for years after the 2004 incident despite multiple red flags, which included 3 additional air bag rupture injury incidents reported to Honda according to a New York Times report based on regulatory filings, interviews and court documents.

The New York Times report also indicated that Takata’s failure to concede that the defect extended to more than a small number of Honda vehicles resulted in significant delays in Toyota, BMW and Nissan realizing that they had a substantial number of vehicles equipped with the defective air bags.

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

If you have been injured in a Florida car accident or by a defective air bag, 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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This is the second installment in our two part blog analyzing the challenges and special issues involved in personal injury claims involving hit and run accidents and uninsured drivers.  While this blog series addresses specific issues involved in cases where there are challenges in identifying a viable defendant or source of funds to pay a settlement or judgment, we recognize you might have specific questions about your unique situation, so we invite you to speak to one of our experienced Miami personal injury lawyers.

Alternative Sources of Financial Compensation

If you are injured in a collision with an uninsured motorist or hit and run driver, lawyers at our Miami Personal Injury Law Firm investigate all potential responsible parties, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Owner of the vehicle: Liability may be imposed on a vehicle owner who “negligently entrusts” a vehicle to an obviously unqualified or unsafe driver. “Negligent entrustment” might be a viable legal theory if the owner of the vehicle lends the car to a driver with knowledge the driver is unlicensed or has a poor driving record that includes prior accidents and serious traffic offenses.
  • Governmental Entity: The public authority responsible for designing, constructing and maintaining the roadway can be liable when street or interstate defects contribute to or cause a crash. Because public entities often have the benefit of protection against liability claims based on sovereign immunity, the injury victim might need to comply with special notice requirements and deadlines to bring a lawsuit against the public entity.  While the precise substantive rules in a dangerous road case will depend on the law of the jurisdiction and other factors, the injured party might need to establish facts showing the public entity “knew or should have known” the road was unsafe.  Evidence that might prove valuable in a defective road lawsuit can include reports to the governing public entity of road defects and a history of accidents or near misses at the location.
  • Employer of the Driver: The employer of a driver who flees the scene of a crash can be liable even if the driver cannot be tracked down or lacks insurance. An employer can be liable for the negligence of an employee involved in an accidents in the course and scope of employment.  The employer might be liable even if the accident occurs outside business hours as long as employee is engaged in a task that benefits his or her employer.
  • Other Motorists: More than two motorists can play a role in many collisions, so another driver might be liable even if the driver who fled the scene cannot be found.
  • Vehicle (Parts) Manufacturer: If a defective component or vehicle contributes to a crash, the vehicle or component manufacturer might be liable under a theory of product liability. Even if the defective component affected the vehicle that you were driving, you might have a viable legal claim against the automaker.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) & Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage: If you purchased personal injury protection (PIP) and/or uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, these forms of coverage can provide a valuable source of compensation when you are injured by a hit and run or uninsured driver in Florida. PIP coverage provides $10,000 to cover your medical bills and lost wages regardless of fault.  If you are not at-fault, your insurance premiums will not increase unless you have had three crashes within a five year period.  UM coverage provides compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering once your PIP coverage and bodily injury liability coverage of the at-fault driver are exhausted.  While many people presume they do not need a lawyer to pursue payment from their own insurance company, insurance carriers are not anxious to pay benefits, so you might want a Florida Uninsured Motorist Claims Lawyer in your corner.

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

If you have been injured in a crash with an uninsured or hit and run motorist, our Miami UM Claims 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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Pedestrians and vehicle occupants are injured by hit and run and by uninsured drivers on a daily basis in Florida.  Although a driver who flees the scene of a car accident and uninsured in Florida might be liable for causing a crash and/or failing to stay and render assistance, legal claims for injuries caused by such drivers raise unique issues and special challenges.  Although a law enforcement investigation might result in tracking down a driver who flees the scene of an accident, many hit and run cases go unsolved every year.  Further, uninsured drivers might be “judgment proof,” so they have no viable means to satisfy a judgment or settlement.

When the at-fault driver cannot be located, the task of identifying a defendant with insurance or viable resources to pay a personal injury settlement or judgment can be difficult.  The legal theories that may be applicable to assign liability to a particular individual or entity will depend on the facts and circumstances of the crash.  States differ in terms of the specific legal theories recognized in the jurisdiction.  Therefore, car crash injury victims should promptly seek legal advice from an experienced Florida Personal Injury Lawyer who can analyze the situation and conduct research to determine the best way to pursue financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other forms of loss.

The Risk of a Crash Caused by an Uninsured or Hit and Run Driver Greater Than You Think

Although many drivers presume that their odds of being in a collision with a hit and run or uninsured driver are extremely low, real world data tells a different story.

  • Hit and runs rose to such epidemic proportions in Los Angeles during a recent year almost half of all crashes involved a driver who fled (USA Today)
  • Fatal crashes involving drivers who left the scene recently rose 13.7% during the same three year period that fatal collisions declined by 4.5 percent overall (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • 1 in 5 pedestrian accidents involve hit and run drivers (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)
  • Approximately 29.7 drivers in the U.S. with no insurance
  • 2 million uninsured drivers in Florida

Another important factor that increases the risk that motorists or pedestrians will be involved in a collision with a hit and run driver is that poor drivers are more likely to flee the scene.  While any driver might panic and leave the scene of a crash to avoid criminal charges and civil liability, drivers have a greater motivation to flee from the scene of a crash if any of the following apply:

  • Record of prior accidents especially those resulting in injuries or deaths
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (currently and/or on prior occasions)
  • Operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver’s license
  • Fleeing because he or she is at-fault
  • Lack of insurance

Uninsured drivers also tend to be among the worst drivers because their reason for driving without a license often involves a suspension or revocation based on prior accidents, tickets, or DUIs.  If you have been involved in a hit and run accident or a crash caused by an uninsured driver, we invite you to read Part II of this blog to learn more about you legal rights and options.

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

If you have been injured in a crash with an uninsured or hit and run motorist, our Miami UM Claims 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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This blog post is Part II of a two-installment blog reviewing the dangers posed by vehicles that are exempt from the requirement of implementing vehicle defect recalls.  Many people do not realize that the requirement to ensure that safety defects are corrected on vehicles prior to making them available to consumers is limited to new vehicle sales.  Despite efforts to get defective rental cars and used cars off the road, consumers should confirm that a used car or rental can is not subject to a recall prior to purchasing or renting the vehicle.

Vehicles Exempt from Safety Recalls

Despite proposed legislation intended to close loopholes involving vehicles that are not required to fix defects, public safety remains dependent on voluntary action.  The law does not require that a rental car be repaired before it is rented to another customer following issuance of a safety recall.  Admittedly, certain rental car agencies voluntarily pull vehicles subject to recall out of circulation, but there are strong economic incentives not to take this step.  An article in Fortune magazine discussing this issue indicated that a major vehicle recall can impact one-third of a rental car company’s entire fleet of vehicles.

Under current federal law, a new car dealer cannot sell a vehicle subject to a safety recall until the issue has been fixed.  There is no similar requirement imposed on the sell or rental of cars from a rental car agency, used cars, or loaners.  The loophole is so large that used car dealerships, rental car companies, and dealerships that provide loaners do not even need to inform customers about significant safety recalls that affect a vehicle.

Danger of Fatal Accidents Caused by Unrepaired Vehicle Defects Claiming Lives

Although it might be tempting to dismiss this potential dangers as more theoretical than actual, the loophole that allows certain categories of defective vehicles to remain on our roads have caused traffic fatalities and catastrophic injuries, such as the following:

  • Two sisters tragically perished in a vehicle fire when they were driving a rental car that had been recalled because of a fire hazard.
  • A woman rented a car with an airbag that was subject to recall. She suffered significant injuries when her defective airbag failed to deploy during a crash.
  • A California Highway Patrol officer and three family members were involved in a horrific crash when their loaner Lexus suddenly accelerated unexpectedly until it reached a top speed of 120 mph. The vehicle went over an embankment and burst into flame.  Three vehicle occupants died in the crash.

These high profile examples demonstrate that unrepaired vehicle defects are actually causing harm to unsuspecting drivers and vehicle occupants who have no idea they might be driving a moving death trap.

Efforts to Require Compliance with Safety Recalls for All Vehicles Have Failed

Traffic safety advocates and lawmakers have been promoting new legislation to mitigate the danger posed by this loophole for years.  However, there is an increased urgency because of the seriousness and scope of recent vehicle defects.  Some rental car companies have voluntarily entered into an agreement not to re-rent recalled cars until safety issues have been addressed.  Unfortunately, these voluntarily measures have left millions of defective used vehicles and rental cars on our roads.

While federal lawmakers and regulators have been slow to formally respond to this risk, motorists are not without remedies when defects cause accidents.  When a defect causes a collision involving a vehicle exempt from recall requirements, the following parties might be liable for significant injuries or death:

  • Manufacturer of the vehicle
  • Rental car agency that re-rents the defective vehicle
  • Used car dealership that sells a defective vehicle to an unsuspecting consumer
  • New car dealership that furnishes a loaner to a customer while the customer’s car is

being serviced

These parties might be liable along with other negligent parties who constitute a substantial factor in causing an auto accident, such as other drivers, public entities, vehicle repair shops, vehicle owners, employers of negligent drivers and others.

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

If you or your family member have been injured in a Florida car crash, our Miami Auto Accident 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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With the arrival of summer, families are making vacation plans which might include getting a loaner car while you take your car in to get it serviced or making arrangements for a rental car.  While you might presume that used car dealerships and rental car agencies confirm that the cars they provide to customers are mechanically sound and comply with safety recalls, there is no factual basis for this assumption.  Although new car dealers are required to comply promptly with car defect safety recalls, this requirement of federal law does not apply to dealers that provide loaners, rental car companies, and used car dealerships.

2014 Brought a Record Number of Vehicle Safety Recall Defects

Although the loophole that exempts used cars, dealer loaners, and used cars from recalls has always posed a serious danger to the public, this risk has been magnified by the record number of recalls in 2014.  Last year, carmakers recalled a record 62,000,000 vehicles for safety defects.  The most prominent recalls that dominated the news involved faulty ignition switches and defective airbags.  General Motors (GM) recalled millions of vehicles because of a potentially deadly ignition switch defect.  The defect caused the switch to rotate into the off position while the vehicle was moving, disabling steering, brakes, and airbags.  GM ignition switch defects has claimed the lives of over a 104 people as of May 18, 2015.

While the ignition switch recall was limited to GM, the recall of airbags manufactured by Takata® involved as many as ten different automakers and constitutes the largest recall in history.  The airbags at issue rupture violently when they deploy causing metal shrapnel to be propelled at unsuspecting drivers.  The number of vehicles affected by the defective airbags continues to rise at the time of the writing of this blog post, but the toll claimed by the defect is currently at six fatalities and dozens of fatalities.

Along with these vehicle defects, recalls have been related to a range of other safety issues involving faulty fuel gauges, fire hazards, impaired steering, sudden brake failure, and other airbag defects.  The public was inundated with safety recalls, and over 700 recalls were announced during 2014.  The failure of Hyundai and GM to act promptly enough when implementing recalls even resulted in significant fines imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Given the massive number of safety issues with vehicles, loopholes that exempt rental cars, used vehicles, and loaners from recalls is concerning.

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

If you or a love one has been injured in a motor vehicle collision, our Miami Car Accident 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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