Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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

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

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

South Florida car accidents involving dump trucks have been piling up in recent years, prompting concern about why these commercial vehicles in particular pose such a serious threat to the public as well as workers.Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer

Dump trucks carry heavy, uneven loads and are known to make frequent stops. They’re often out early in the morning, when streets are still dark. Drivers who work long hours, making them more prone to fatigued driving. All these issues lead to outsized danger when you’re dealing with a dump truck, a Class 8 vehicle that can weigh 33,000 pounds or more.

Dump Trucks and Garbage Trucks are Considered “Large Trucks”

Dump trucks and garbage trucks aren’t the same as the big rigs and 18-wheelers you spot barreling down the highway, but legally, they’re in the same category as other “large trucks.” Weight is the primary determining factor in terms of what is considered a “large truck” by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Vehicles with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more is considered a “large vehicle.”

Per the FMCSA, Large Truck Traffic Safety Facts, more than 70 percent of the people who die in crashes involving large trucks are the people in the other vehicle. Nearly 160,000 people are injured in large truck accidents each year in the U.S. In three-fourths of deadly crashes involving large trucks, the truck involved weighed more than 26,000 pounds, placing them in the “heavy” large truck category.

Despite the massive size and weight, dump trucks are used to make repeated trips between construction sites, suppliers, and waste drop-off points. Repeated trips increase the potential for collisions. Drivers are often under significant pressure to get the job done, leading to dangerous actions behind the wheel, including speed, distraction, and aggressive driving.

Another significant danger with dump trucks is that in their rush, dump truck drivers sometimes travel with loads that are uncovered. This can result in debris falling off onto the road – and into the path of falling traffic. This creates a serious road hazard that puts others’ lives at risk.

Garbage trucks, meanwhile, are similar to dump trucks in that they are considered heavy vehicles, though as Class 7 vehicles, they tend to weigh in at slightly less, between 26,000 to 33,000 pounds. The disparity of weight and mass between a garbage truck and passenger vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist makes a collision with one incredibly dangerous. Data from the FMCSA reports that in a single recent year, more than 100 garbage/refuse truck deaths and more than 1,400 injuries. A quarter of those killed were sanitation workers. An analysis by OSHA on garbage truck accidents reveals dozens of fatal or serious injuries among employees in one year. Continue reading

Car accidents are traumatic experiences. They can be frightening, stressful, and disorienting. In the immediate aftermath, when you realize not everyone is Ok, it can be an almost automatic response to blurt out, “I’m sorry.” Even if you know you haven’t done anything wrong, even if you know it was the other driver’s fault, you might still slip and say, “I’m sorry.” Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

Lots of us were raised to apologize anytime we think someone has been hurt or inconvenienced, even if we didn’t directly cause their pain. And it’s one thing to say you’re sorry if you accidentally bump into someone in the grocery store or step on their toe in a movie theater aisle. But offering a mea culpa following a Fort Lauderdale car accident can cause you problems down the road when it comes to determining legal responsibility for the crash.

To be clear, whatever spontaneous utterances you make at the scene of the crash won’t be the last word in the case. Liability (or fault) is going to be based on the totality of the evidence. But an apology from one of the drivers involved can be used as a piece of evidence. Continue reading

Florida motorists take on numerous responsibilities every time they get behind the wheel. One of those is carrying the statutory minimum amount of insurance coverage, or having the ability on their own to cover losses up to a certain dollar amount. Unfortunately, there are far too many motorists who fail to do either. Per the Florida Insurance Council, the Sunshine State has one of the highest rates of uninsured motorists anywhere in the country. If the driver who hit you was not insured, you may still have several options for financial recovery. It’s important to discuss these with an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney.Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer

Florida Law Requires Vehicles Be Covered by Car Insurance

Before you registering a four-wheeled vehicle in Florida, you need to show proof of both personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability. PIP is going to cover 80 percent of what are considered “necessary and reasonable medical expenses” up to $10,000 – no matter who caused the crash. The property damage liability will cover damages to another person’s property if you or someone else cause a crash driving a vehicle insured by you.

You may notice that what is not required is bodily injury liability (unless you’re driving a taxi or commercial vehicle or if you’ve been convicted of a DUI). Bodily injury liability is the kind of coverage that will go to cover the expenses of others injured in a crash you cause. Continue reading

Florida lawmakers are looking to ditch the decades-old no-fault car insurance law that has dictated personal injury recovery from crashes since the 1970s. As our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can explain, the new law, if signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, will do away with requirements to purchase no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and instead require bodily injury liability coverage. Ultimately, this will fundamentally change the way we pursue damages in Florida car accident cases. Florida car accident lawsuit

Both the Florida House and Senate signed off on SB 54, a bill subject to substantial back-and-forth to close out the end of this legislative session.

Current law requires all vehicle owners to purchase PIP that covers $10,000 for their own medical, disability and funeral expenses if they’re hurt in a crash – regardless of fault. But as any Florida car accident attorney will tell you, $10,000 isn’t nearly enough to cover healthcare costs after most accidents. (The amount hasn’t changed since 1979.) Besides that, only $2,500 is available if injuries don’t require emergency treatment. Furthermore, PIP isn’t always as easy to obtain as it should be, and many injured motorists need assistance from an attorney to ensure they’re fairly compensated. The only way to step outside the no-fault system and pursue compensation from the at-fault driver is if one’s injuries meet or exceed the serious injury threshold, as outlined in F.S. 626.737. Continue reading

With more than 15 million licensed drivers and even more annual visitors, Florida roads are never wanting in traffic. The problem is not all those drivers are insured. In fact, Florida is No. 1 for uninsured motorists in the country for driving uninsured. More than 27 percent lacking the proper coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers

There are many theories about why this is, but the bottom line for us as Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers is that many accidents involve an uninsured driver. This poses some definite challenges in terms of how we approach an injury case.

You can still often recover damages if you’re injured in a crash with a driver who isn’t insured, but it will depend on your own coverage, the personal finances of the at-fault driver, who owns the vehicle that was driven and whether any third-parties were at-fault. Continue reading

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