Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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In the past two years, South Florida has experienced a high number of fatal hit and run accidents, with Miami-Dade County leading the surge in these catastrophic accidents. This increase in hit and run accidents is leaving many to question why the trend and what can be done to ensure that drivers who flee the scene of an accident are brought to justice.  The Florida Highway Patrol reports that hit and run crashes in the state have increased 23 percent from 2013 to 2014.  In 2014 alone, there were over 80,000 hit and run accidents, equating to one in four crashes involving a hit and run.  Our Miami personal injury lawyers found that nearly half of the hit and run accident victims were pedestrians, which is a substantial increase from previous years.  Hit and run accidents involving bicyclists have also increased alarmingly by 55 percent from 2013 to 2014.

One of the most infamous hit and run accidents occurred on the Rickenbacker Causeway in 2012.  Aaron Cohen was riding a bicycle on the Causeway when he was struck and killed.  The driver fled the scene of the accident and was later comprehended, but served less than a year in jail.  In response to the outcry over Cohen’s death and the lack of justice served, a law was passed strengthening hit and run punishments.  Now, if a driver hits someone, resulting in death, and flees the scene of the crime, the driver will face a minimum of four years in prison.  Continue reading →

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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 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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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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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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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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