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Hopefully as you enter the new year, you aren’t grappling with a financial hangover due to the holidays. Regardless of where you stand, the new year is a good time to take stock of your finances and make sure you have a strong estate plan in place, not only for your own security but that of your family. Many of the disputes that arise in Florida probate litigation can be headed off with proper estate planning to start. estate planning attorney

One of the primary reasons people avoid estate planning is because they erroneously assume it’s something reserved for the wealthy and maybe the elderly. The fact of the matter is, pretty much everybody has an estate and people tend to underestimate the confusion or even animosity that can arise among surviving loved ones regarding the contents of that estate. That includes the care and well-being of any young children you have, should something happen to you and your spouse.

A review of your estate planning documents may not sound like a particularly festive way to being a brand new year, but it is a smart one. You’ll want to make sure that your will, trust and powers of attorney still comply with your wishes. And if you don’t have these in place, it’s time to make it one of your resolutions to do so. Continue reading

A woman was injured seriously recently when a vehicle crashed into her home as she sat at her kitchen table. The Orlando Sentinel reports the 61-year-old motorist reportedly failed to maneuver her vehicle properly at a curve in the road, causing her to continue straight into the residential structure. The 67-year-old resident was pinned and immobile until firefighters arrived to remove her.car accident lawyer

Although such incidents tend to be reported as “freak accidents,” the reality is they occur with startling regularity. Home and auto insurer Ameriprise research reveals there are an average of 60 incidents daily wherein drivers crash their vehicles into retail outlets, homes, office buildings and restaurants. These incidents result in an average of 500 deaths annually, not to mention thousands of injuries. In fact, these types of car accidents claim more lives than lightning, tornadoes and earthquakes – combined. Economic losses for these collisions is estimated to be about $200 million every year, which includes both the cost for personal injury and wrongful death claims, as well as those for property damage.

Causes of these incidents are varied, but there are several trends the insurer has noted in the claims it reviewed. The three most common causes were:

  • Pedal Error – 28 percent. (Of these, 57 percent were caused by foot slip and 43 percent by accidentally stepping on the wrong pedal.)
  • Operator Error – 28 percent. (This would include incidents like those recently reported by the Sentinel.)
  • DUI – 18 percent.

Other causes included traffic accidents, medical incidents and burglaries. Continue reading

New Year’s Day is all about the celebration of new beginnings. Unfortunately, it’s one that is all too often associated with tragic endings, at least on the roads. drunk driving injury lawyer

An analysis released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals Jan. 1st is the single deadliest day of the year when it comes to alcohol-related crashes involving motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. The IIHS late last year looked at the most recent five years of deadly crash information, and discovered that on that day, an average of 70 people were killed in collisions where at least one driver, pedestrian or cyclist had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. In fact, 62 percent of all deadly crashes in the U.S. on that day were attributed to impairment by alcohol, which is almost double the overall rate of 35 percent.

In just looking at occupants of motor vehicles (excluding large trucks), an average of 83 people were killed in car accidents on New Year’s Day over that five-year time frame, compared to an average of 59 on any other given day.

It especially doesn’t bode well this year that overall traffic deaths have spiked, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the number of alcohol-impaired driving crashes in rose nearly 2 percent between 2015 and 2016. Nearly 10,500 people died in drunk driving accidents last year.  Continue reading

A woman in Virginia has settled her car accident lawsuit for $8 million, according to a recent report from The Daily Press in Newport News. Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know it is unusual for someone to receive such a high amount, it’s not unheard of – particularly in cases with catastrophic injury or death and especially when the motorist was on the job or in a company vehicle, as was the case here. car accident lawyer

According to reports of the case, plaintiff suffered a closed-head traumatic brain injury, and as a result, lost the ability to earn a living, as well as partake in many activities of daily living. This kind of catastrophic injury results in a tremendous, lifelong loss of life enjoyment, which was likely something defendant took into account when agreeing to settle for such a significant sum (it’s the fourth-highest in Virginia to date, according to Virginia Lawyers Weekly).

The defendant in this case was a Massachusetts-based environmental services firm that was hired to clean out a number of tanks at a site in Virginia. It was a months-long, eight-person assignment. One of those workers was the purportedly negligent driver.  Continue reading

Florida auto insurance laws require that if you have a car in the state for more than 90 days annually – and those days need not be consecutive – then you are required to comply with Florida’s registration requirements. You aren’t necessarily required to obtain insurance if you are regularly driving back-and-forth to your home state, but if you park the vehicle here year-round, you need to obtain auto insurance for it here. Also if you are required to register it here, you’ll be required to obtain auto insurance here too.car accident attorney

This can create headaches for snowbirds, but it’s important to discuss these matters openly and honestly with a licensed insurance agent because, as our personal injury lawyers know, failure to do so could result in a lost opportunity to collect damages.

This was what happened recently in New Jersey to a driver who, a court concluded, wrongly registered and insured his car in Florida, despite being a New Jersey resident. Law.com reports a judge in the Essex County Superior Court dismissed plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit, finding that allowing him to proceed would violate insurance statutes because he fraudulently obtained car insurance in Florida.  Continue reading

If one suffers an injury in a Florida car accident caused by another’s negligence, there may be an opportunity to step outside the state’s “no-fault” system (which allows for up to $10,000 in compensation through PIP benefits) and take action against the other driver. However, in order to ensure the damages are covered, one must prove they are causally related to the crash. car accident

In many crash cases, this is a fairly straightforward process, particularly if the injured party immediately sought medical attention. However, causation can be tougher to prove when one waits to obtain medical care or when injuries are latent, not becoming fully apparent until days or weeks later. It may also be an issue when not all alleged injuries are physical. This is not to say one cannot collect compensation for emotional or mental damages, but they can be harder to prove.

Recently, the Montana Supreme Court weighed this very issue, reversing a summary judgment in favor of plaintiff (injured party), finding there were questions of material fact as to whether the medical bills and lost wages she claimed as damages were causally related to the crash.  Continue reading

Just ahead of the holiday shopping rush, consumer watchdog Consumer Affairs reported on the annual list of most dangerous toys, as released by the World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH). The toys on the list are there for a variety of reasons. For instance, some, like the extremely popular Fidget Spinners, have small parts that can be dangerous choking hazards. Others have the potential to cause blunt force injury.child injury lawyer

Some of the most common risks in previous years have included things like:

  • Small, pointed parts;
  • Projectile pieces;
  • Inadequate warnings on toy labels.

Holiday shopping reportedly accounts for 65 percent of all annual toy sales, which is why our Fort Lauderdale product liability lawyers urge consumers to pay attention. That means buying toys that meet the age specifications for the child recipient and be cautious to avoid small parts in gifts intended for small children. However, manufacturers have a great responsibility too. When their product is used either as intended or in a manner that is reasonably foreseeable, yet results in an unreasonable risk of harm, they can be held accountable. Continue reading

Truck accidents involving large trucks result in more than 4,000 deaths a year and some 116,000 injuries, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Florida accounts for 5.3 percent of the total fatal large truck crashes nationally (only California and Texas had more), and large truck collisions account for 5.2 percent of Florida’s total deadly motor vehicle accidents.truck accident lawyer

Now, a recent report by The New York Times explores how those figures may soon be significantly reduced – with the prospect of self-driving trucks. The report cites a CB Insights log detailing the fact that companies and investors have put more than $1 billion into self-driving technologies for trucks, which was 10 times what was being invested in just three years ago. Further, auto manufacturer Tesla is slated soon to unveil an electric truck that has a number of self-driving abilities. Meanwhile, a California start-up announced it’s been testing self-driving truck technology in partnership with a truck leasing firm and a large appliance company.

Most in the industry agree self-driving trucks will be reality, but there is disagreement as to exactly when we can expect it. However, there is strong speculation it will happen a lot faster than fully self-driving passenger cars. Continue reading

When an employee acting in the course and scope of employment is negligent and causes injury to someone else, the employer can be held vicariously liable for those injuries – even if there is no evidence the employer did anything wrong or breached any duty of care. car accident attorney

However, Florida employers may also be held directly liable if there is evidence they breached some duty of care. Usually we see this manifested in legal theories such as negligent hiring or negligent supervision.

Recently, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed a long-standing rule in that state that plaintiffs have to pick one or the other: Vicarious liability or direct liability.  Continue reading

Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance, which means per F.S. 627.736, motorists have access to $10,000 in medical and wage loss benefits from their own insurer – regardless of who is at fault. It also means they cannot sue the at-fault driver for further damages unless they have a broken bone, have lost the use of an important body function, suffered a permanent disability or scarring. Wrongful death claims also may be pursued outside of no-fault laws. car accident lawyer

Lawmakers in Florida are working to change this. HB19, sponsored by a South Florida Republican and slated for consideration during the 2018 session, would repeal Florida’s Personal Injury Protection law that was first enacted in the early 1970s. The law would scrap PIP coverage and replace it with bodily injury liability coverage. Most states require bodily injury liability coverage (which covers others’ injuries if you’re at-fault in a crash). While most insured drivers in Florida have it, it’s not technically required. The state’s Financial Responsibility Law does mandate drivers be responsible for a minimum of $20,000 in damages to others if they’re at-fault in a crash, so most motorists opt to purchase it so they can avoid personal liability.

A House panel recently voted 18-7 to propel the measure forward to the House Floor when the new session starts in January.  Continue reading

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