February 19, 2015

Moses v. Drake - Pregnant Women Involved in Car Accidents Require Special Consideration

In any car accident litigation, one of the primary issues is causation. That is, plaintiff has the burden of proving that injuries for which damages are sought were indeed caused by the crash.
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In some cases, this is relatively straightforward, particularly in a serious crash, where one seeks immediate medical attention and the injuries sustained are well-documented and undisputed.

For pregnant women, damage to the unborn child as a result of the crash is unquestionably a compensable injury. However, proving the cause-and-effect relationship can be difficult, particularly if the pregnancy was considered high-risk prior to the crash.

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February 18, 2015

Vargas v. FMI, Inc. - Truck Injury Liability per FMCSA

A federal law called the "Graves Amendment" was passed several years ago at the behest of the rental car industry, seeking to eliminate liability for the wrongdoing of customers who rented their vehicles. Prior to that, virtually all owners of vehicles could be held vicariously liable for damages resulting from negligent use of that vehicle.
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While the Graves Amendment was intended to ease the burden on the rental car industry, it has been increasingly used by the trucking industry to attempt to limit liability by owners of tractors and trailers. Because of the way the industry is structured, the owner of a large truck is not necessarily the same as the owner of the trailer and is not necessarily the employer of the driver. In fact, a fragmented structure is the norm.

The good news is legislators have recognized the public must be protected in the event of a collision with a large truck. Laws have been written in such a way that courts' interpretations of them have limited the reprieve - if any - trucking companies can receive under Graves.

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February 17, 2015

Fort Myers Bicycle Safety Fight Gets National Stage

A Fort Myers bicyclist's successful challenge of a ticket for failing to adhere to the right side of the road went national, after a story in The News-Press was picked up by USA Today, likely in recognition of the fact that an increasing number of cyclists are trying to protect themselves by riding in the center of a lane.
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They do have the right to do so, though many motorists and even police officers - as this case reveals - don't appreciate the practice. Florida law requires bicyclists to ride either in a marked bicycle lane or, if their is none, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

FS. 316.2065 allows for exceptions when it's reasonably necessary to avoid a condition or potential conflict that might make it unsafe to do so. That includes in situations where the lane is of a substandard width - that is, where the lane is too narrow for the cyclist and the other vehicle to travel safely side-by-side. In these instances, cyclists are allowed to take up the entire lane.

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February 14, 2015

Mincey v. Honda and Takata - Air Bag Lawsuit Filed

An elderly woman was rendered quadriplegic following a car accident last year in Northern Florida. Now, the 76-year-old has filed lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer, as well as the maker of an allegedly defective airbag in her Honda Civic.
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In the 60-page lawsuit Mincey v. Honda and Takata, she details the day she was involved in a relatively minor crash last June at an intersection. Her airbag, rather than deploying with reasonable force, exploded violently, she asserts. This was the result of excessive pressurization.

Not only did the airbag system fail to protect her from injury, but she says it actually increased or enhanced injuries sustained above beyond what she might have incurred had the airbag system not deployed at all.

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February 13, 2015

Bitgood v. Gordon Greene Post of Am. Legion - Bar Fight Injury Liability

When injuries stem from an altercation fueled by barroom bravado or alcohol, it is possible the owner of the bar, restaurant or nightclub could be held liable for damages.
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It depends on the underlying circumstances. Under Florida premises liability laws, establishments have a responsibility to keep their property reasonably safe from foreseeable danger. In places where alcohol is served, that means ensuring there is adequate security and protocol in place to respond when disturbances inevitably occur.

It was on this basis plaintiff in Bitgood v. Gordon Greene Post Number 27 of the Am. Legion was able to secure judgment against a bar where his injuries were inflicted by another patron. The case was recently weighed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

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February 12, 2015

Florida Report: DUI Ignition Interlock Program Expansion Recommended

DUI ignition interlock devices are effective at driving down recidivism rates among impaired driving offenders - but only so long as they are installed. Those rates begin to creep back up as soon as the devices are uninstalled. alcohol.jpg

This is according to a new report by The Florida Legislature Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, which recommends the state expand its ignition interlock program to encompass all first-time DUI offenders, as well as imposition for extended duration. The report also looks at how we might address problems with the program, such as the fact that only about half of those required to install the device actually do so.

According to researchers, there were 50,377 drivers arrested in Florida for drunk-driving in 2013. Most typically have their driver's license revoked for six months or more upon conviction.

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February 2, 2015

Fort Myers Beach Accident Blamed on Fainting Driver

News of a terrifying crash on Fort Myers Beach recently made national headlines after the emergence of a surveillance video that captured the scene. The 67-year-old driver, from Michigan, reportedly fainted behind the wheel before slamming into a pickup truck and flipping her own vehicle into the eating area of taco stand on Estero Boulevard.
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Her 80-year-old passenger grabbed the wheel but was unable to remove her foot from the accelerator as they careened toward the box truck traveling 60 mph.

The woman would later tell a local news affiliate she had begun to have fainting episodes prior to embarking on her Florida vacation. However, she insists she was cleared by a doctor to drive.

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February 1, 2015

"Daredevil Motorcyclists" Not the Norm in South Florida

A large group of speeding, wheelie-popping daredevil motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle operators have made headlines as they've roared across South Florida highways, recklessly weaving in and out of traffic and surprising unsuspecting motorists.
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Most weren't riding helmets as they zoomed by at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Some were even operating on the wrong side of the road, performing stunts and blocking roads. Other drivers called authorities to complain members of the group weren't stopping for red lights.

Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol arrested one man and cited two others recently as one large group raced northbound along I-95. Not long after, there was unsurprisingly a crash with injuries involving one of the riders from the group.

In recent weeks, reporters noted there has been a flurry of activity on sites like Twitter, where one South Florida rapper with 3 million followers has been promoting "Miami Bike Life" stunts and rides.

Law enforcement insists it is monitoring these groups, and the greatest concern has been the fact they sometimes put other motorists at risk.

While these kinds of incidents rightly stir debate and generate a fair amount of web traffic for news sites, they aren't indicative of the typical motorcycle rider. Further, the crashes involved aren't indicative of the typical motorcycle accident in Southwest Florida.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the overall number of motorcycle fatalities occurring in 2012 (the latest year for which statistics are available) increased 7 percent compared to the prior year. The number of motorcycle injuries climbed 15 percent in that same time frame.

Florida had more motorcyclists killed that year than in any other state - 456 - followed by Texas and California.

Of those involved in fatal crashes, four out of five did not have any prior speeding convictions and most did not have any prior recorded suspensions or revocations. Only 4 percent had prior DUI convictions and 12 percent had any recorded prior crashes.

What that tells us is the vast majority of motorcycle operators are responsible and law-abiding. Most of the time, crashes occur because drivers of other vehicles aren't keeping a proper lookout, and end up causing a collision. In fact, federal statistics show the top cause of motorcycle accidents is a motorist who fails to yield and turns into the path of an oncoming rider.

Motorcyclists inherently lack the same kind of protection as those in motor vehicles, and therefore sustain more frequent and more serious injuries.


It as recently reported troopers in Fort Myers are looking for a hit-and-run driver who struck and killed a 45-year-old husband and father of two on a motorcycle on I-75 earlier this month. Friends say he was always cautious on his motorcycle, had taken safety courses and always wore a helmet.

In another recent case, a 25-year-old motorcyclist was killed in South Fort Myers on U.S. 41 when a 53-year-old pickup driver reportedly crossed into the path of the motorcyclist and struck him while trying to turn left. The motorcyclist died at the scene.

Those injured in motorcycle accidents should contact an experienced motorcycle injury lawyer to protect their rights.

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January 31, 2015

Negligence Alone Insufficient for Compensation

In any personal injury lawsuit, there are some basic legal and factual requirements that must be met in order for the claim to succeed.
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These requirements include establishment of:
--A duty owed by defendant to plaintiff;
--A breach of that duty;
--Proof that breach proximately caused plaintiff's injuries;
--Compensable damages.

If any one of these elements goes wanting, the entire case will fail.

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January 28, 2015

Police: Speed Primary Factor in Fatal Cape Coral Crash

While traffic homicide investigators continue to piece together evidence from the wreckage following a recent fatal crash on Del Prado Boulevard in Cape Coral, they say one thing seems certain: Speed was a primary factor.
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It seems both vehicles - a Toyota Corolla car and a GMC Envoy sport utility vehicle - were traveling the same direction at speeds of up to 80 miles-per-hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone.

The Corolla was driven by a 17-year-old male. The Envoy was driven by an 18-year-old. The two vehicles were traveling side-by-side when they collided, sending the SUV careening across the median and into oncoming traffic, where it rolled several times. The SUV driver, of Cape Coral, was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, 20, sustained injuries. The 17-year-old driver of the other vehicle was reportedly not injured.

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January 27, 2015

New Report: Florida Still Among Deadliest for Cyclists

If there was anything positive for Florida cyclists in the latest Governors Highway Safety Association report "Bicyclist Safety," it's that the Sunshine State is no longer No. 1 in cycling fatalities. That dubious distinction now goes to California.
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However, that state - with 28.8 million more people than Florida - had exactly three more bicycling deaths than Florida - 123 compared to 120. A year earlier, Florida logged 126 bicyclist death, while California tallied 115.

In total between 2010 and 2012, Florida counted 329 cycling deaths, while California reported 338. In looking at the rate of bicycle deaths (the percentage of bicycle deaths in relation to other traffic fatalities), Florida ranked highest at 5 percent. California's rate was 4.3 percent, Massachusetts 4.3 percent and New York 3.9 percent.

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January 26, 2015

Nucci v. Target - Facebook Privacy Trumped by Relevancy in Injury Case

If Facebook were a country, it would rival China as the world's largest. As of October 2014, The Washington Post reports the number of unique users cleared 1.35 billion. It has effectively revolutionized the way we communicate.
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Most people are on these sites to connect with others. However, privacy settings are available to block dissemination of certain information to the general public. But take heed: That information is not actually private, and whatever you post may be subject to scrutiny in a court of law.

That point was underscored recently in a slip-and-fall lawsuit weighed by Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal. In Nucci v. Target et al., plaintiff argued against a trial court order compelling her to allow defendants access to her social media pictures dating back two years prior to the incident. (The court also ordered her to turn over pictures taken with her cell phone, but those were not at issue on appeal.)

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