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Many motorists injured in motor vehicle crashes presume that they cannot prevail in a personal injury lawsuit because the investigating police officer has determined that the injury victim was at-fault.  While police officers are trained in analyzing crashes, law enforcement officers do make mistakes and draw improper inferences, especially when they possess inaccurate or incomplete information.  If you are injured in a traffic collisions, you should seek legal advice despite the conclusions of the investigating officer because an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer might have a different perspective.  Further, the evidentiary impact of such conclusions are limited under Florida law as evidenced by the Florida 5th DCA case, Diaz v. FedEx Freight East, Inc.

In Diaz, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate brought a wrongful death action against FedEx after a motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer driven by the defendant.  The plaintiff alleged that the truck driver crossed the motorcyclist lane while executing a left-hand turn.  The maneuver involved moving across two lanes of traffic traveling in the opposite direction including the motorcyclist’s lane.  The truck had crossed one of the lanes and come to a complete stop in the median because of an interruption in the flow of traffic.  The decedent slammed his motorcycle into the side of the big-rig.  Evidence revealed that the decedent’s speed was approximately 59 to 79 miles per hour when the crash occurred though the speed limit was only 45 miles per hour.  The evidence also revealed the motorcyclists could have avoided the accident had he been obeying the speed limit. Continue reading →

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There are many reasons that an injury victim’s selection of a motor vehicle accident lawyer is important to the outcome of a legal claim for compensation.  One vital consideration involves the injury victim’s comfort level in communicating all relevant facts, including information that is unflattering or detrimental to the lawsuit.  Misrepresenting or withholding negative information often causes substantial damage to a civil lawsuit because the adverse facts usually will come out at some point in the legal process.

The advantage of candid communication between an attorney and client is that the sting of the damaging information often can be mitigated by a skilled legal advocate.  The way this information ultimately is presented to the judge or jury typically determines the impact of adverse facts.  Further, the court can actually dismiss a case when there is a pervasive pattern of fraud or misrepresentation by a plaintiff.

In the recent 3rd DCA case, Middleton v. Hager, 179 So.3d 529 (3rd DCA), the passenger in a vehicle brought a lawsuit against the driver after suffering injuries in a rear impact crash.  The trial court appointed a magistrate to review the decision-making process related to discovery.  The magistrate noted a litany of material misrepresentations about her medical treatment and physical condition prior to the collision that included: Continue reading →

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Many motor vehicle accidents that cause catastrophic injury or even wrongful death involve motorists with no insurance or insufficient coverage.  In such situations, the potential liability of government entities for unsafe road design or maintenance becomes an important issue.  Government entities have the financial resources to pay a personal injury judgment.  Because public entities benefit from sovereign immunity to the extent not waived by tort claims acts, personal injury lawsuits against the State of Florida, counties, or municipalities involve additional issues, special procedures, and tighter deadlines for providing notice of a legal claim.

In Manfre v. Shinkle, the 5th DCA considered whether the Sheriff of Flagler County owed a duty of care to a motorist who hit a dead horse laying in the roadway.  The plaintiff filed a tort claim against the sheriff alleging the sheriff was negligent in neutralizing the hazard created by the two horses that were running-at-large near the roadway.  The jury returned a verdict for the sheriff.

The plaintiff alleged that the sheriff’s office was notified that two horses had wandered into the road an hour and a half prior to the accident.  A deputy was dispatched to the location, and the horses, which were perhaps spooked by the flashing lights, retreated from the roadway to a pasture.  The deputy did not get out of the vehicle or talk to the owner of the horses.

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In most auto accident lawsuits, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will tenaciously work to dispute its insured’s negligence.  However, there are situations where the defendant might be inclined to concede that he or she engaged in unreasonably unsafe conduct to keep egregious facts from appearing relevant to the litigation.  The theory is that admitting fault makes facts that could poison the jury against the defendant no longer relevant after the defendant concedes liability.  This strategy is designed to prevent the jury from hearing facts that might motivate the jury to award larger damages.

The Florida 4th District Court of Appeals case, Lenhart v. Basora, 100 So.3d 1177 (4th DCA 2012), provides an example of a negligent driver attempting to use this litigation strategy.  The plaintiff was riding a scooter when the defendant suddenly moved into the lane of the scooter which caused the collision.  The plaintiff, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash involving the scooter and car, suffered a serious traumatic brain injury.  Continue reading →

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This is the second installment in our two-part blog post discussing the potential danger to children when vehicles back out of a driveway.  Although motorists might not consider this simple driving maneuver a high risk activity, hundreds of kids die and over ten thousand are injured by vehicles backing up every year.  This installment discusses legal changes and safety strategies designed to prevent these tragic child pedestrian accidents.

New Rear Visibility Safety Standards

Fortunately, The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act has prompted new standards from the Department of Transportation (DOT).  Under the final rule issued April 7, 2014, the required field of vision for all passenger vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds has been expanded.  The regulations mandate that the area behind a vehicle be visible to a driver when the vehicle is put into reverse.  The DOT presumes that motor vehicle manufacturers will install rear back up video monitoring systems with in-dash displays to comply with the requirements. Continue reading →

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Although most people recognize the danger posed by intoxicated and distracted drivers on Florida roadways, the risk of injury or death posed by a motor vehicle can exist much closer to home.  The family driveway can be a dangerous place for small children.  Vehicles backing over children while pulling out of driveways claim the lives of fifty children per week according to the website kidsandcars.org.  The site also indicates that approximately 7 in 10 fatal back up accidents occur when a relative is behind the wheel.  In this two-part blog post, our Miami personal injury attorneys provide important safety information that can reduce the risk of a back over crash.  Part I of this article focuses on important risk factors while Part II discusses new safety standards and preventative measures.

Many of these tragic fatal pedestrian accidents are the result of something referred to as the “Bye-Bye Syndrome.”  This situation occurs because children do not want adults to leave, so they frequently follow departing adults outside into the driveway.  The drivers are unaware that their kids are no longer safe inside the home because they do not check behind the vehicle before climbing into their car.

These types of auto accidents have a particularly high fatality rate because extremely young children often lack the experience and cognitive skills to fully appreciate the potential danger of an approaching vehicle.  This mean that small children who are not visible through rearview mirrors and not protected by safety equipment face a disproportionately high risk of suffering a severe injury like a traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), or even death. Continue reading →

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The process of discovery, which is part of the pre-trial process in personal injury lawsuits, is a critical stage of litigation.  During this process, each party has an opportunity to obtain information, documents, and other relevant evidence from the other side.  When evidence favors one party, the evidence by its nature typically will be “prejudicial” (harmful) to the other side.  Jury verdicts or decisions to settle a legal claim often turn on a judge’s ruling regarding the admissibility of unfavorable evidence.  When courts consider the admissibility of evidence that adversely impacts one of the parties, the court considers whether the “probative value” of the evidence outweighs “unfair prejudice.”  An experienced personal injury lawyer will attempt to exclude such evidence or mitigate its impact.  In a recent case from the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Maniglia v. Carpenter, the court demonstrates the impact this evaluation can have on the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit.

Magnilia (the defendant) crashed into Carpenter (the plaintiff) when he was changing lanes causing damage to the rear region of Magnilia’s vehicle and the passenger side front of Carpenter’s vehicle.  While Magnilia contended the collision was only a minor bump, Carpenter claimed the crash was a major sideswipe accident.  Carpenter went to a chiropractor the day after the crash and complained of pain in his back and neck.  The chiropractor found no evidence of significant injury from the collision and did not impose any work restrictions. Continue reading →

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The process of proving damages in a car accident lawsuit can be difficult especially when attempting to establish intangible damages like pain and suffering.  While lost wages and medical costs can be established based on objective evidence, one of the important functions of an experienced Florida car accident lawyer involves persuasively advocating for a maximum award in terms of these types of hard to quantify forms of loss.  The recent decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeals for Florida, Ortega v. Belony, demonstrates the importance of skilled advocacy in the measure of compensation received for this type of damages.

The plaintiff Blanchard Belony suffered a broken neck and was hospitalized in traction for eight days following her crash.  Belony’s doctor suggested surgery, but the plaintiff elected an alternative course of treatment that involved wearing a “halo” (used to immobilize the head and neck) for a three month period while the fracture healed.  Evidence presented at trial reflects that Belony moved in with his brother during this recovery period to obtain assistance with bathing and other basic needs.  Belony also experienced insomnia and had to return to the hospital to have screws on the halo tightened.  After the halo was removed, Belony’s only complaint was residual neck pain. Continue reading →

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Distracted driving is a tremendous national problem that has reached epidemic levels.  The personal injury attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, are concerned by the high rates of distracted driving nationally and locally.  We have provided the following list of frequently asked questions concerning distracted driving in hopes of raising increased awareness to the tremendous problem of distracted driving and the penalties texting drivers may face in Florida:

What is considered distracted driving?

Distracted driving encompasses driving while engaging in any other activity that distracts your attention, eyes, or hands from the road.  Distractions could include simple things like changing the radio station, inputting information in your GPS, or attending to a small child.  It can also be more complex, such as texting while driving, taking pictures on your cell phone, or engaging in social media. Continue reading →

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Whiplash injuries are among the most common injuries clients walk in with, particularly those involved in rear end accidents.  Whiplash symptoms and side effects can linger for weeks following the accident, and sometimes even continue to impact the car accident victim for months or even years.  Whiplash is a common, but serious injury that nearly anyone can suffer if they are involved in a car accident.  There is little you can do to prevent whiplash injuries, but you can take steps following the accident to protect your legal rights.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck, also commonly referred to as neck strain or sprain.  Whiplash is often sustained in car accidents, especially rear-end accidents. It occurs as a result of the rapid back and forth whip-like motion of the head and neck which stems from another vehicle hitting your vehicle. Continue reading →

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