Articles Tagged with Fort Myers car accident lawyer

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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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Florida received one of the worst rankings for gaps in highway safety laws, which are costing lives on our roads every day. The ranking was issued by Advocates for Highway Auto Safety in its most recent report, 2017 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. The 58-page report begins by detailing the fact that we’ve had two consecutive years nationally of rising death rates on our roads. In 2015, there were nearly 35,100 people killed in motor vehicle accidents, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. That’s a bigger increase than we’ve seen in almost 50 years, and Florida has followed similar trends. car accident

The Florida Department of Transportation reported in 2015 that there were 374,350 total crashes that year, an increase of almost 9 percent from the previous year. As far as fatal crashes, there were 2,700 in 2015, which was an increase of 15.5 percent from the year before. There were an average of 1,025 crashes every day in the Sunshine State in 2015, versus 943 the previous year.

One of the main reasons, according to Roadmap researchers, has to do with the fact that states are failing to enact – or maintain – the kinds of legislation that we know can help save lives. Florida in particular is failing on this front.  Continue reading →

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When word spread that traffic deaths had increased 8 percent in the first nine months of 2016, continuing an alarming surge in roadway fatalities, one of the many explanations offered by traffic safety experts was that there were more people on the roads. However, as The Associated Press pointed out, this is only half the story.traffic

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did note that drivers are logging more miles on the road these days than ever before. However, that doesn’t really give us the full picture because the increase in car accident deaths is actually rising faster than our collective increases in mileage. While crash deaths are up 8 percent, vehicle miles traveled only rose 3 percent during that time frame, according to the NHTSA.

In the first three quarters of 2016, there were nearly 27,900 traffic deaths nationally. That’s compared to the 25,800 recorded during the first eight months of 2015. Continue reading →

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The number of traffic deaths in Lee County soared higher than at any point in a decade – and more than 10 percent in just a single year. airbag

That’s according to the latest report from The New-Press, which as of Jan. 1st still only had numbers through early December 2016. There were more than 100 deaths by that time, which is the first time they went over that mark since 2007. And actually, the early 2016 figure was slightly higher – 109 compared to the 106 counted in 2007. There were 121 in 2006 and 150 in 2005. But the numbers had been steady falling the last ten years. The number of Lee County roadway deaths dipped to the lowest point in 2012, when there were 64 who lost their lives on our roadways.

These figures fail to take into account the hundreds of more people who were seriously injured – sometimes permanently – as a result of careless drivers in Southwest Florida. Statewide, the news agency reported there were 3,161 traffic deaths as of Dec. 30th. That marked an increase of 222 over the previous year – and didn’t include figures from the notoriously perilous New Year’s Eve.  Continue reading →

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The goal of any civil injury litigation attorney is to either resolve the matter favorably for a client in a pre-trial settlement or to secure a winning verdict at trial. Unfortunately, law, as in life, is not always so clean-cut, and some cases prove more challenging than others. At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we believe in our cases and our clients and we will fight tirelessly to obtain fair compensation for their injuries.drivefast

However, we also recognize that in some situations, appealing part or all of a verdict may be in a client’s best interest. For this reason, it is imperative to make your injury lawsuit appealable. The legal war isn’t necessarily over when you receive an unfavorable trial court judgment. In some cases, you can appeal that finding. Doing so could result in a reversal, an order for a new trial or an order for increased damages. In order to get to that point, your case needs to be appealable.

What does this mean? In general, it includes:

  • Keeping the record clean by immediately correcting any misstatement by the court or the opposing counsel;
  • Taking remedial measures to clean up prejudicial evidence and preserve the evidence if it remains (i.e., filing a motion for mistrial if prejudicial evidence gets before a jury);
  • Preserve objections to the court’s imperfect jury instructions;
  • Preserve appellate arguments post-trial with careful post-trial motions (i.e., motions for judgment notwithstanding verdict, motions to modify/ correct/ reform judgment, motions for a new trial, etc.)

Continue reading →

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People might assume that a vehicle legally owned by a multi-million dollar corporation is adequately insured. But when it comes to rental cars, they may find themselves disappointed. car crash

Approximately 1 in 4 drivers in Florida has no insurance, despite law that requires it. Florida’s vicarious liability laws consider motor vehicles to be a dangerous instrumentality, which means vehicle owners (if different from the driver) can be held responsible for injuries caused – even if the owner wasn’t directly negligent. It used to be that rental car companies were included. However, the 2005 passage of a federal law known as the Graves Amendment eliminated this avenue of financial recovery. The Graves Amendment, codified in 49 U.S.C. 30106, preempts and abolishes any state statute or common law precedent that held rental or leasing agencies vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their drivers – except when the owner was negligent or engaged in criminal wrongdoing.

When drivers rent a vehicle, he or she is given the option to purchase insurance through the rental car company. However, they aren’t required to do so and many don’t. Further, it’s not unheard of for rental car companies to rent vehicles to drivers with no insurance. But that effectively leaves the vehicle with no insurance in the event of a crash. So what’s the best way to protect yourself? Uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. Yet even then, as the recent case of Martin v. Powers shows, injured plaintiffs may still find themselves in for a fight.  Continue reading →

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation is still liable to pay $3 million for the deaths of three people on a state roadway where a traffic signal was promised but never installed. That was the ruling handed down recently by the North Carolina Supreme Court in Holt v. N.C. DOT.highway14

The state appealed the trial court verdict that found it was liable, despite the argument that fault rested solely with two drivers who were drag racing at speeds that topped nearly 90 mph. Justices ruled that fact didn’t negate the DOT’s responsibility to install this traffic light – one engineers knew was needed. Although state officials argued they could not anticipated every illegal action that might take place on a public road, the state high court justices found that speeding vehicles was a foreseeable possibility.

Victims in this case include a local professor and her 2-year-old daughter, who were on their way to church, and a 13-year-old boy who was returning from a nearby amusement park. According to appellate court records, the 13-year-old was riding in a vehicle with his 11-year-old friend, driven by a 20-year-old man. When the driver stopped for traffic at one intersection, he and decedent noticed two female friends in an adjacent vehicle. They began joking and gesturing at one another. When the light turned green, both drivers took off at a high rate of speed in the same direction, approaching the intersection where the professor was preparing to make a left turn. The two young drivers were engaging in a race in which speeds reached 86 mph.  Continue reading →

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While 90 percent of all auto accidents are caused by human mistakes, 1 in 10 are caused by some other factor, including poor road conditions. That could include some dangers posed by inclement weather, but primarily, we’re talking about conditions of the actual road or traffic engineering that make it unsafe.cracked yellow line

Some examples might include:

  • Obscured road signs;
  • Worn/ uneven surfaces;
  • Defective guardrails;
  • Tar overbanding;
  • Potholes;
  • Poor drainage;
  • Ill-positioned tree/ pole/ bridge;
  • Faded paint on the road;
  • Inoperative/ non-existent traffic signals.

All these elements are the responsibility of city, county or state governments to maintain. A 2009 study commissioned by the Transportation Construction Coalition revealed that over the course of 18 months,  poor highway design and conditions are a factor (if not the cause) of about half of all fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. Study authors opined bad highway design played a role in more motor vehicle deaths than speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and alcohol use. Continue reading →

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Proving fault in a car accident is not enough to prove one is entitled to monetary compensation. One must also prove causation. This means the person injured has to show that it was defendant’s breach of duty that caused plaintiff’s injury, and not some other intervening action or inaction.carcrash1

In the recent case of Finkel v. Batista and Sanchez, the issue was whether trial court erred in granting a new trial after defendant was found 100 percent liable for a car accident, yet plaintiff was awarded $0 in damages. The court was basing its decision on the precedent set in the 1997 case of Sparks-Book v. Sports Authority, Inc., wherein the Third District Court of Appeals decided as a general rule that plaintiffs should at least be able to recover medical expenses for diagnostic testing reasonably necessary to determine whether an accident caused injury.

However, the 3rd DCA, in weighing Finkel, reversed, noting there are exceptions to the general rule and there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict of the jury. Further, plaintiff might have valid grounds to assert a new trial on the basis of a verdict form that indicated the jury should return a verdict that was “all-or-nothing.” The problem was, plaintiff’s counsel never objected to that verdict form, and thus she lost the right to fight it on appeal. Continue reading →

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A Florida Gulf Coast University student was killed recently in a Fort Myers car accident, making him the 75th person to die on Lee County roads in 2016. The 20-year-old student was killed on Michael G. Rippe Parkway, near the intersection of Briarcliff Road, shortly before noon when his passenger vehicle was rear-ended by a dump truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. driver1

WINK News reported the victim, Ryan Wendler, had been an Eagle Scout who worked at Moe’s Southwest Grill while earning his degree in sociology at FGCU. He had recently started volunteering at a local soup kitchen and Meals on Wheels. Authorities say he was stopped at a red light when he was struck by the truck, driven by a 75-year-old man from Cape Coral. Investigators are exploring whether speed might have been a factor, and charges may be filed depending on the outcome of that investigation. It’s not clear which company owned the dump truck, but it should be noted that companies can face vicarious liability for the negligence of an employee who was either working at the time of a crash or driving a company vehicle off-the-clock.

The 74th traffic fatality in Lee County happened just a couple of days earlier, when a Punta Gorda man reportedly suffered a medical event before losing control of his vehicle while traveling northbound on I-75 just north of Daniels. The News-Press reported the vehicle, a Cadillac DeVille, drifted off the shoulder, through a wire fence and then slammed into a sound barrier wall and numerous trees. The driver of that vehicle died after he was transported to Gulf Coast Hospital Medical Center, though it isn’t clear if that was the result of the underlying medical condition or due to injuries sustained in the wreck.  Continue reading →