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Florida is a biker’s dream – long, flat roads, sunny skyways and blissful sea breezes. Not only do a lot of Floridians own motorcycles (about 550,000), but riders from all over the country flock to our roads regularly. (The Insurance Highway Safety Institute reports California and Florida have the largest number of registered motorcycles in the U.S. – and by a large margin.)Broward motorcycle accident lawyer

The sheer volume of motorcycles in the Sunshine State is part of why the Florida motorcycle accident rate is so high. It consistently ranks at the top of the charts for motorcycle crashes, serious injuries, and deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida outranks every other state – even California, which has nearly double the population – for the highest number of motorcycle fatalities. There were 600 motorcycle accident deaths reported in Florida just in 2020 alone. California ranked No. 2 with 539. The lack of motorcycle awareness by other motorists as well as Florida’s high speed limits don’t help matters.

But there are several ways in which suing after a Florida motorcycle accident is different compared to other types of crash cases.

Here, our Broward motorcycle injury lawyers explain.

What Sets Motorcycle Accidents Apart From Other Crashes?

There are several unique factors with motorcycle accidents that alter the way personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys approach these cases. A few of those include: Continue reading

When we talk about Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawsuits, we’re referring to cases that fall under the umbrella of legal “torts.” As our Broward personal injury lawyers can explain, a tort is an act – or omission – that results in injury or harm to another for which courts can impose legal liability.Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer

In most Florida personal injury cases, it’s necessary to prove that the “tortfeasor” (aka alleged wrongdoer or defendant) owed a legal duty of care to the person who was hurt. By breaching that duty of care and causing injury, the tortfeasor is responsible to pay financial damages to those adversely impacted.

There are many different kinds of torts. But when it comes to Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawsuits, there are a few types we see crop up time and again.

1. South Florida Car Accidents

Auto accidents are the root of most personal injury claims in Florida. All motorists owe one another – as well as passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users – a duty of care to obey all traffic rules and use reasonable caution behind the wheel. If they violate traffic laws and someone gets hurt, they can be held liable. Even if they don’t explicitly violate the law but failed to use reasonable care when driving, they can be held legally liable in a Florida personal injury case.

It’s worth noting that (at least for now) Florida is a no-fault car accident state. What that means is that all motorists are required to carry a type of insurance coverage called personal injury protection, or PIP. This coverage will kick in and cover up to $10,000 in damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) to the insured and other parties covered by the policy – regardless of who is at fault. However, if the injuries sustained in the crash meet the “serious injury threshold” as outlined in F.S. 627.737, those hurt can step outside that no-fault system and pursue financial recovery from those who were at-fault in the crash. (Generally, a serious injury is defined as one that results in significant or permanent loss of a key body function, permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death.)

Florida follows a system of pure comparative fault, per F.S. 768.81, which basically means everyone is expected to bear legal responsibility for damages that is proportionate to their level of fault. (This applies in many different types of Florida personal injury cases.) As it pertains to Fort Lauderdale car accidents, if the plaintiff (person filing the claim) is found to bear a percentage of the blame for what happened, their financial recovery will be reduced by that percentage. For example, let’s say you’re injured in a crash with another driver, you suffer $100,000 in damages, but are found 20 percent at fault. The most you could collect from the other driver would be $80,000. Continue reading

Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of Fort Lauderdale car accidents, and such circumstances create a rebuttable presumption that the driver in the rear was at-fault. But brake-checking – when a driver purposely slams on their brakes in order to scare or intimidate another driver – can be the basis to refute such claims. Fort Lauderdale rear end collsion

As our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can explain, brake checking is essentially a form of road  rage. It can be done in response to someone following the brake-checker too closely, a practice called tailgating. Or it can simply be an aggressive driving tactic intended to annoy or scare the driver behind them for other reasons. The intention is rarely to cause a crash, but that’s a very real risk with brake-checking.

Brake checking is illegal. The Florida law on tailgating, F.S. 316.0895, explains that drivers can’t follow other motorists more closely than is reasonable and prudent. They must also have regard for the speed of traffic and road conditions. Sudden braking is a known potential on any road as hazards can quickly arise or conditions can abruptly change. That’s why the law requires drivers to maintain a reasonable distance from the car in front of them. However, if the driver in the lead intentionally or improperly slams on the brakes or stops, this can be used as evidence to effectively rebut the presumption of rear driver negligence in the event of a crash.

In the 2019 case of Fonger v. Nall, the Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal noted that if left unrebutted, the presumption in rear-end collisions is that the rear-driver was negligent and at-fault. Rebutting the presumption requires proof of one of the following:

  • A mechanical failure affecting the rear driver’s vehicle.
  • A sudden stop by the lead driver.
  • A sudden lane change by the lead driver.
  • An illegal or improper stop by the lead driver.

Brake-checking would fall under the second or fourth point here. Continue reading

Florida wrongful death lawsuits can help families obtain a measure of accountability from those whose wrongdoing took their loved ones from them. But beyond that, they can make the future safer by compelling changes that may prevent someone else from being harmed in the same way. Through all this, it is our hope as Broward wrongful death attorneys, that surviving family members find some measure of peace and closure. Florida wrongful death lawsuits Broward wrongful death attorney

An example of this was seen recently in the $8.2 million Florida wrongful death lawsuit against a bridge operation company facing allegations of negligence in the death of a 79-year-old West Palm Beach bicyclist who died after plummeting from a bridge that was abruptly raised while she was in the midst of crossing it. She’d been just 10 feet away from the edge of the bridge when she fell to her death in the gap. The bridge tender at the time of the incident has been arrested and faces a single count of manslaughter by culpable negligence. (She told investigators she had gone outside to visually check that the bridge was clear before raising it, but video evidence and other testimony have thus far contradicted this, according to local news sources.)

Meanwhile, the decedent’s family filed a Florida wrongful death lawsuit against the bridge tender’s employer, a company called Florida Drawbridges, Inc. Plaintiffs in this case not only sought monetary damages for their lawsuit, but also industry-accepted safety changes to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again to another Florida family. In their filing, the family specifically stated they wanted an outcome that resulted in “change to preclude this preventable tragedy from occurring in the future.”

Ultimately, that’s what they got in addition to the $8.2 million settlement. Among the procedural changes that the defendant drawbridge company agreed to undergo:

  • Subjecting all bridge tender applicants to successfully pass criminal background checks.
  • To schedule recertification training with all current bridge tenders.
  • To facilitate periodic audits of operations with out-of-area supervisors.
  • To require all bridge tenders to watch a 23-minute video on the decedent’s life, driving home the profound price one family paid because one of its bridgetenders allegedly failed to use due caution.

The family reportedly donated a significant portion of the settlement proceeds – including the creation of an annual $30,000 scholarship that will carry on for the next three decades. As the family’s wrongful death attorney was quoted as saying, the family wanted fundamental changes to be central to this settlement agreement. “At the end of the day, we got those changes. Hopefully at the end of the day, this never happens to another family.”

Damages in Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Proving wrongful death in Florida (as codified in F.S. 786.16 – 786.26) requires evidence that: Continue reading

Large trucks pose an outsized safety risk on Florida roads, mainly because of the size disparity compared to other vehicles and the fact they frequently travel at such high speeds. But there’s another – often overlooked safety issue that truck crashes present: The risk of underride.truck underride accident

As our Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers can explain, underride collision truck accidents occur when a passenger vehicle collides with a semi truck and is forced underneath the trailer. Whereas an average passenger vehicle is about 40 inches high, the lowest point of the average trailer is about 45 inches off the ground, meaning the smaller vehicle can get trapped underneath. During these crashes, the trailer or truck might “intrude” into the passenger compartment, which almost always leads to either severe injuries or death.

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized a rule updating two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards intended to bolster protections for drivers and passengers in rear underride crashes where the front end of the smaller vehicle crashes into the back of a larger vehicle (such as a semi truck) and slides under that vehicle.

Noting that truck underride crashes are often fatal, the new rule requires rear impact guards on trailers and semis with sufficient strength and energy absorption to protect occupants of passenger vehicles in multiple crash scenarios, keeping drivers safe and preventing deadly crashes. The final rule amends FMVSS No. 223 and FMVS No. 224 pertaining to rear impact guards and rear impact protection.

In addition to setting these new standards, the rule also requires more research on these crashes and establishes an advisory committee on underride protections. Rear impact guard designs are going to be more closely studied, with state tracking of underride crashes more systematic. Continue reading

Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car accident claims. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue monetary damages from negligent drivers. It also doesn’t mean you can’t be held responsible (at least partly) for your own injuries. The seat belt defense is a good example of the latter, as our Broward car accident lawyers can explain.Broward car accident lawyer

Let’s start with the fact that with very few exceptions, seat belts are required by Florida law for all drivers and passengers in motor vehicles.

Florida’s no-fault car insurance law holds that all vehicle owners must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that provides up to $10,000 in compensation for any insureds injured in a crash with that vehicle – regardless of who was at-fault in causing the crash. An injured person can step outside the state’s no-fault PIP system and pursue a claim for additional monetary damages against any at-fault parties IF their injuries meet the serious injury threshold. As set forth in F.S. 627.737, they must prove their injuries – caused by the crash for which the defendant is responsible – resulted in significant/permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, significant/permanent scarring/disfigurement or death.

It’s worth noting that Florida is recognized as a pure comparative fault state when it comes to negligence claims. Per F.S. 768.81, that means each person/entity can only be held legally responsible to pay for the damages they caused. So for example, if one suffers $100,000 in damages and Defendant A is responsible for 40 percent and Defendant B is responsible for 60 percent, Defendant A will be ordered to pay $40,000 and Defendant B will be ordered to pay $60,000.

But what if one of the people responsible for a plaintiff’s injuries is the plaintiff themself? That is what we call contributory negligence. By way of their own negligence, they contributed to their own injuries. So if you suffered $100,000 in damages – but are 20 percent responsible for your own injuries – the most you can expect to be awarded is $80,000.

That brings us to the seat belt defense. Continue reading

If you’re injured in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, you may be aware that your first avenue to collect damages is personal injury protection (or “PIP”) coverage. This is state-mandated auto insurance that you pay for that will cover a portion of your medical bills and lost wages if you are injured in a Florida car accident – regardless of who is at-fault. However, as our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can explain, PIP is not likely to cover all of your damages – particularly if it was a serious wreck. That is why if someone else caused the crash (or exacerbated your injuries from it), you will want to explore stepping outside of that no-fault system and filing a claim against the at-fault driver. Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

What PIP Does NOT Cover

Although PIP is the go-to for no-fault accident coverage in Florida, it does not cover every scenario, every type of loss – or even every person. The following is a list of what PIP won’t cover:

  • Property damage. If your car is damaged in the crash, you’ll need to file a separate claim with your own insurance company (or the insurer of the at-fault driver) in order to be compensated for necessary repairs. Florida law requires drivers carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage.
  • Motorcycle operators. PIP coverage is not mandated – or even available – to owners/operators of motorcycles or other self-propelled vehicles. Motorcyclists must rely on other types of auto insurance coverage.
  • More than $10,000 in medical expenses. No matter how serious your injuries are, PIP is only going to cover up to $10,000 in medical expenses. In fact, PIP is only designed to cover up to 80 percent of “reasonable medical expenses.” Furthermore, if your injuries are not “emergent,” PIP may cover no more than $2,500 in medical expenses. Unless you take legal action against the at-fault driver, you and/or your health insurer will be liable for the rest. If your injuries are “serious and permanent,” as outlined in F.S. 627.727, you may step out of the no-fault system and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for damages for the full amount of your losses. If they do not have insurance or lack enough insurance, you may file a claim with your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) carrier for the difference.
  • More than 60 percent of your lost wages. PIP will cover up to 60 percent of your lost wages if you can’t work due to your injuries – but not if it equals more than $10,000 (and usually far less because that is all that’s available to cover your medical expenses too). If you can’t return to work at all or must take a lower-paying job as a result of your injuries, you could be facing substantial income losses. These are recoverable from the at-fault party if you step outside the no-fault system and pursue damages.
  • Pain and suffering. PIP coverage only covers economic losses. This would include things like medical bills and lost wages. But Florida car accident victims are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. The law recognizes the impact of this, which is why crash victims can pursue damages (compensation) for pain and suffering – but only in a civil claim. You won’t recover pain and suffering damages from your PIP carrier.

Continue reading

A spate of deadly Florida motorcycle accident reports during Bike Week 2022 throws into sharp relief the danger many two-wheeled riders face when taking to the streets of the Sunshine State. The Daytona News-Journal reports there were six motorcycle deaths during the annual motorcycle enthusiast gathering in Daytona Beach this year. Two of those deaths (plus two injuries) occurred in a single crash when a car driver drove into an opposing lane of traffic where a group of motorcyclists were traveling.Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident lawyer

In a single recent year, more than 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives while riding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports Florida has more motorcycle fatalities than any other state – with 591 reported in a single recent year. That’s more than either California or Texas – both of which have substantially higher populations.

For survivors of motorcycle accidents and their loved ones, knowing the basic steps of a claims process following a serious crash can help ease some of the mental load that can feel insurmountable those first few days. As longtime Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident attorneys, we can explain that these aren’t handled like your typical Florida car crash claim. There are unique considerations, and it’s worth taking a few moments to better understand them before beginning the process.

What Makes Florida Motorcycle Crashes Different From Others?

The reality is any car accident has the potential to turn your whole world on its axis. With motorcycle crashes, though, there are a few differences. Those include:

  • Severity of injuries. Motorcycle operators and passengers lack the same level of protection as other motorists. Helmets aren’t required for adult motorcyclists in Florida, but even with them, riders don’t have the benefit of steel cage protective layer between them and the pavement. The severity of injuries in these cases means they tend to be inherently higher stakes.
  • Motorcyclists cannot purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage is required under Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law, extending up to $10,000 in compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was to blame. Without this, many motorcyclists tend to rely heavily on their own health insurance plans. But that won’t cover things like lost wages and other damages. This makes it all the more imperative to closely examine fault of all involved parties – and hold other drivers accountable. Claimants can step outside the no-fault system when they’ve meet the serious injury threshold, as spelled out in F.S. 627.737.

I’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident – Now What?

Continue reading

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a question that concerns Florida personal injury plaintiffs. Specifically, should the state’s Medicaid program be allowed to seek reimbursement for past medical care by siphoning personal injury lawsuit settlement funds that are expressly dedicated to future medical expenses? Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer

As our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers can explain, this could impact how we as attorneys approach settlement negotiations.

The case that kickstarted the dispute in Gallardo v. Marstiller is a tragic one. A 13-year-old girl has been left in a persistent vegetative state after she was hit by a truck while getting off a school bus. She received a settlement of $800,000 against the owner of the truck, the driver, and the school board. (The cost of catastrophic injuries like this for someone so young can easily stretch into many millions of dollars over her lifetime.)

But then, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration imposed a lien on her settlement money, asserting that it was entitled to seize $300,000 of the money that was set aside for past and future medical expenses. The district court in Florida ruled against the state, arguing the federal Medicaid Act barred the state from being reimbursed for past paid medical expenses from the portion of the settlement that is set aside for future medical expenses. In the summer of 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed in favor of the state’s action.

It was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in January and is expected to rule in the coming months. Continue reading

No matter how you dice the statistics, Florida has the highest rate – and number – of bicycle accidents in the entire U.S., a fact that has remained fairly consistent for years, illustrated by the growing number of white-painted “ghost bikes” dotting the urban landscapes and intersections. Florida bicycle accidents lawyer

Bicyclists remain among the most vulnerable road users on South Florida streets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports in its latest analysis of the issue that of the 856 bicyclists who died in the U.S., 161 of them lost their lives on Florida roads. The only other state that even comes close is California, a state with nearly double our population that reported 131 fatal bike crashes. Of the 3,183 total traffic deaths reported in the Sunshine State in a single recent year (third only to California and Texas), 5.1% of those were bicyclists. The national rate is 0.26%. Delaware technically has a higher percentage rate in this regard, but had 7 total bicyclist deaths that year, compared to our 161. Plus when factoring population, our rate is higher.

This is not a badge we wear proudly by any means, and of course every preventable crash death is one too many – no matter where it is. But our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers know that this recurring fact does beg the question: What is Florida doing wrong? This question is particularly poignant in areas like Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Jacksonville, where rates are the highest. Continue reading

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