Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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When examining liability for a South Florida car accident, our injury lawyers in Cape Coral will of course first examine the negligence of the other. We’ll examine the potential vicarious liability claims of the vehicle owner, the driver’s employer and the motor carrier (if applicable). We may even look closely at whether there was a vehicle defect that would render the auto manufacturer or repair shop responsible to cover damages. In some cases, the local county or municipality could be liable too if there is evidence the entity failed in its duty to maintain public roads.car accident

It’s not often in these cases that we will lodge a premises liability claim – but it’s not something that should be discounted. Premises liability involves the responsibility of property owners to maintain their site in a reasonably safe condition. Usually, these types of claims would include things like slip-and-fall accidents or trip-and-falls or drownings. However, it may arise in a car accident claim if there is evidence some condition on the property that posed a danger to drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians. There are a number of successful Florida premises liability claims that have stemmed from car accident injuries.

The California Supreme Court recently considered one such case involving a pedestrian accident that resulted in the injury of a church member who was struck crossing the street from the church overflow parking lot to the main parking lot on his way to attend services. The court ruled that a landowner does not owe a duty of care to assist invitees to cross a public street when the landowner maintain a parking lot requiring invitees to cross the street to access the landowner’s main site – as long as the typical dangers of a public street aren’t in some way magnified or hidden by some condition of the landowner’s property or by some action taken by the landowner.  Continue reading →

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While the majority of auto accident injuries are the result of negligence by one or more motorist involved, crash victims shouldn’t overlook the possibility that a vehicle defect may have been a contributing factor, if not the sole cause.car accident attorney

The auto industry hasn’t garnered a great deal of public trust in recent years, as numerous class action lawsuits have revealed a long-standing pattern within the industry to conceal vehicle defects from unsuspecting members of the public. Last year, as noted by Automotive News, auto makers recalled a record 53.2 million vehicles for defects ranging from seat belt failures to malfunctioning airbags to non-working breaks. These are serious deficits that, even if they don’t cause a crash, may result in one suffering injuries that far worse than they otherwise would have been.

Now, we receive news of the latest reported problem, which involves an alleged defect wherein Chrysler Pacifica vans are shutting off suddenly in mid-travel. The New York Times reports one man in San Francisco was driving at 70 mph down the highway in his brand new van when the vehicle shut off without warning. As she explained, “It just died.” In the middle of a congested highway, the van slowed to a crawl with no power steering or electrical power. The driver edged his way over as far to the right as he could, trying desperately to get to the shoulder with what little juice was left as vehicles whizzed by. He was barely missed by a semi-truck that laid on the horn and was forced to swerve.  Continue reading →

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When someone’s negligence causes injury to another, victims can pursue compensation. Negligence is generally understood as the failure to use reasonable care when one was required to do so. In some cases, injury to another is the result of a criminal act. On the road, some criminal acts also amount to negligence, though the criminal and civil cases will be handled by the separate courts, respectively. car accident

The primary purpose of a criminal court is to attain justice for the state (on behalf of the victim). The purpose of civil court is to ascertain whether one is owed compensation, and if so, determine how much is necessary to make the victim “whole.” Restitution to the victim is not the primary purpose of the criminal justice system – but it can be a consideration for certain crimes. The impact this will have on a pending civil case should be discussed with an experienced injury attorney in Cape Coral.

F.S. 775.089 holds that restitution can be ordered by the court (in addition to any punishment) for:

  • Damages or losses caused directly or indirectly by defendant’s offense;
  • Damages or losses related to the defendant’s criminal episode.

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Most car accident auto insurance settlements are handled quietly and often rather quickly. Those involving the death may take longer, but even then, it often doesn’t generate headlines. A recent case out of South Florida was different for the fact that an auto liability insurer, while conceding all the evidence unequivocally shows their client to be the clear victim, agreed to pay families of several teens who died while joyriding in a stolen car. car accident attorney

It’s somewhat of a unique case, but it also illustrates the various avenues of recovery that may be available to those involved in serious car accidents, even when there is evidence they are partially (or, as in this case, largely) to blame.

According to The Tampa Bay Times, the 29-year-old insured was on his way to work at a grocery store in Tampa around 4 a.m. when a sport utility vehicle barreled through a red light at 112 mph, slamming into his compact car. He would later learn that the vehicle had been stolen and the driver was 16-years-old with no license. The driver and two of his three passengers – all young teens – were killed. A fourth survived and was later charged with grand theft auto.  Continue reading →

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If you’re injured in a car accident or have lost someone you love in a crash, one of the questions important to ask is whether the negligent driver was acting in the course and scope of their employment. This matters because if they were furthering the interests of their employer at the time of the crash, the employer could be held vicariously liable. car accident lawyer

Vicarious liability of employees is allowed thanks to the doctrine of respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “let the master answer.” Vicarious liability does not require a showing that the company necessarily did anything wrong. Rather, one must show the employee – acting on behalf of the employer – was negligent. We see this a lot in trucking accident cases or bus accident cases, but it can also be applied with many other types of workers as well. In our increasingly mobile workforce, it’s not uncommon for employees to be on the move regularly throughout the course of their work day, or to be running errands for their employer outside of normal business hours.

In cases of professional drivers, vicarious liability may be easy to establish because it’s the employee’s job to drive. If they were on-the-clock, it’s pretty easily settled. However, there are some nuances to this. Some of the same legal doctrines that apply in workers’ compensation cases can come into play in these cases too.  Continue reading →

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Typically in the event of a work-related accident, a worker’s only recompense is workers’ compensation. There is an exception if there is third-party liability (i.e., someone other than the employer was at-fault). But if the work-related injury was the result of a motor vehicle accident and if the employer paid for auto insurance coverage, it is possible employees might also be able to pursue a claim from that insurer for the injuries. It will depend heavily on the terms of the policy.truck accident lawyer

Recently in a case decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the question was whether an employer’s uninsured motorist carrier is entitled to subrogation on an under-insured (third-party) at-fault driver’s assets – including excess insurance coverage – for the amount previously paid to the injured party. The court answered no.

The case illustrates how complex these claims can be when they involve commercial vehicles (which tend to cause more damage, and thus, more severe injuries) and large companies.  Continue reading →

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Uninsured motorist benefits are critical for drivers in Florida. While not technically mandated (though insurers must offer it, and motorists must sign a waiver if they choose not to buy it), this coverage is often the only way to obtain adequate compensation for losses suffered in a Fort Myers car accident.car accident lawyer

But just because you pay for this coverage doesn’t mean the insurer will pay up without a fight. Auto insurance companies are notorious for rooting out any and all possible loopholes to either deny coverage or minimize the amount payable. Fighting for just compensation is important to our injury lawyers, and we have a long track record of success in this arena. Many of these cases are resolved through negotiation – often long before trial and many times without even needing to file a lawsuit. However, we will not hesitate to bring a case to trial if that’s what is in the best interests of our clients.

Recently in Alabama, the state supreme court affirmed a jury verdict against a UIM insurer favoring a plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit that has been ongoing since 2011. Continue reading →

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Most car accident lawsuits are a simple matter of proving negligence, shown by establishing:

  • Duty owed to plaintiff (i.e., duty to other motorists to obey laws and act in a reasonably prudent manner);
  • Breach of duty (carelessness or violation of law);
  • Causation (breach of duty caused the accident);
  • Damages (plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the accident).personal injury lawyer

However, there are some Florida auto accident cases that delve into more complex areas of law because they involve a negligent driver who was either on-the-job or at least furthering an employer’s business at the time of the crash. In these cases, the employer can be held vicariously liable for the worker’s negligence. This means plaintiff doesn’t have to prove employer was negligent, only that worker was in fact an employee (as opposed to an independent contractor) and was acting in the scope of employment when crash occurred. This legal theory is referred to as “respondeat superior,” which is Latin for “Let the master answer.”

If there is evidence an employer was negligent also (i.e., negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, negligent vehicle maintenance, etc.), the company could be found both directly and vicariously liable. A skilled personal injury attorney in Fort Myers can help you sort out the type of case you have and identify all potential defendants.  Continue reading →

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Commercial drivers – particularly those who ferry human passengers or hazardous materials – are beholden to more stringent federal and state rules when it comes to their conduct on the road.bus accident attorney

For instance, F.S. 322.61 disqualifies commercial drivers from operating a vehicle for a year if they are convicted of operating a commercial vehicle with a bodily-alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher. For most other adult drivers, the limit is 0.08.  If a commercial drivers is convicted of two or more serious offenses (i.e., reckless driving, following too closely, unlawful speed of 15 mph or more over the speed limit, causing a crash resulting in serious injury or death, etc.) in a span of three years, the driver will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for 60 days.

However, there are some apparent loopholes, as a recent bus accident revealed. Last month, U.S. News & World Report detailed the background of a bus driver who ran a red light and slammed into another bus in New York City, killing himself and two others. It was later publicly revealed the driver had a history of crashes and even a drunk driving conviction. However, he was still legally permitted to drive under federal rules that grant “one strike” before a driver can be banned for life.  Continue reading →

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Most auto insurance policies impose per-person or per-accident limitations. This is typically a pretty straightforward issue. However, a dispute about how many “accidents” occurred can leave a big question mark as to how much claimants are entitled to receive. bicycle accident

In a recent bicycle accident injury case before the Wyoming Supreme Court, plaintiffs were suing a single driver after an incident wherein they were riding bicycles together and both were struck by defendant driver operating a car. One bicyclist died and another was seriously injured. They had uninsured motorist coverage through their own carrier, which had a policy extending $300,000 in damages per accident. That would mean no matter how many claimants, the insurer would only pay out a maximum $300,000.

Plaintiffs, however, contended they were each entitled to a maximum $300,000 because there had actually been two accidents, not just one. While the trial court granted summary judgment to the insurer, the state supreme court found the record insufficient to conclude there had only been one accident. The case was remanded for further proceedings.  Continue reading →