Articles Posted in Car Accident

In most Florida car accident cases, the issue of who is liable for the harm caused by the accident is disputed. Thus, throughout the course of litigation, both the plaintiff and defendant will attempt to gather facts and evidence in support of their respective positions. Even if the parties cannot agree on all of the facts regarding how the accident occurred, either party may be able to narrow the issues that will be disputed at trial through requests for admissions. Recently, the District Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Florida discussed the purpose and limitations of request for admission, in a lawsuit arising out of a car accident.  If you were harmed in a South Florida car accident that was caused by another driver it is critical to retain an experienced South Florida car accident attorney who will vigorously fight to help you recover any damages you may be owed.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff was driving a car when she was involved in a collision with a boat trailer driver. The plaintiff subsequently filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that she struck the defendant’s boat trailer from behind because he was driving under the speed limit and his brake lights were not operational. Conversely, the defendant alleged that his lights were operational, and he was traveling at the speed limit. The defendant sent the plaintiff requests for admissions, asking the plaintiff to concede causation, negligence, and damages. The plaintiff denied the requests. Following a trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant. The court subsequently granted attorney’s fees to the defendant, pursuant to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure pertaining to requests for admissions. The plaintiff appealed.

Award of Attorney’s Fees for Requests for Admission

The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure permit the trial court to award attorney’s fees against a party that fails to admit facts set forth in a request for admissions. The purpose of requests for admissions is to narrow and define the disputed issues between the parties by compelling admission to those facts that cannot reasonably be disputed. In the subject case, the court noted that there is an important distinction between requests for admissions that would narrow facts for trial and requests that go to the ultimate dispute of the case. As the requests in the subject case went to the ultimate issue of the case, permitting the defendant to recover attorney’s fees would render the rule a prevailing party rule, which was not the intent of the statute. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.
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In any lawsuit arising out of a car accident, it is essential for the injured party to obtain any evidence that supports his or her theory of liability or can be used to substantiate a claim for damages. As such, discovery is an important part of any car accident case. In some cases, however, the defendant may refuse to provide data requested via discovery on the grounds that the data is irrelevant or privileged. Recently, a Florida District Cournt discussed whether data downloaded from a vehicle’s electronic control module was discoverable in a case in which the plaintiff was injured in a car accident with a tractor-trailer. If you suffered injuries due to a car accident in South Florida it is important to hire an assertive South Florida car accident attorney who will diligently pursue any evidence, you may need to prove your claims.

Facts Regarding the Accident

It is reported that the plaintiff when his vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer driven by the defendant driver for the defendant employer. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants alleging claims of negligence and strict liability, and seeking compensation for injuries, pain and suffering and other losses. The defendants subsequently conceded that the defendant driver was negligent, and that the defendant employer was vicariously liable for the defendant driver’s negligence. The parties disagreed, however, as to whether the data downloaded from the electronic control module in the tractor-trailer was protected by the work product privilege. The plaintiff requested the data via discovery, after which the defendant filed an objection, arguing that the evidence was both irrelevant and protected by the work product doctrine.

Relevancy of Evidence

Upon review, the court overruled the defendant’s objection. The court noted that the purpose of discovery is to disclose any relevant information so that the parties can come to a fair resolution of the issues of the case. The party seeking information via discovery must show that the information sought is relevant. Evidence is relevant if it tends to make a material fact more or less probable.
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There are endless scenarios that can cause a car accident to occur, but some are more unusual than others. Even if an accident occurs under unlikely circumstances, it is important to identify and gather any evidence that may be helpful in proving the defendant’s negligence caused the accident. For example, if a plaintiff can show that prior accidents happened under similar circumstances it can support the position the defendant could have prevented the accident and should, therefore, be liable for the plaintiff’s harm. Not all evidence of prior accidents is admissible, however. In a case recently decided by a Florida appellate court, the court addressed when evidence of prior car accidents is admissible, in a case in which the accident arose under unusual circumstances. If you were injured in a car accident in South Florida it is critical to retain a capable South Florida car accident attorney to help you pursue damages from the party responsible for your accident.

Circumstances Leading to the Accident

Reportedly, the plaintiff was driving on a dark road shortly before 5:00 am when he struck cows that were on the road. He subsequently sued the defendant, the owner of the cows, under the Warren Act, which imposes liability on owners of livestock for injuries caused when the livestock wanders onto public roads due to the owner’s negligence. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant left his gate unlocked and unlatched which allowed the cows to wander onto the road. During discovery, the defendant testified regarding other instances in which the cows escaped and wandered onto the road. According to the defendant, there were various reasons for the prior escapes, but in only one instance did the cows’ escape result in a collision. The defendant filed a motion in limine to preclude the plaintiff from introducing evidence of prior escapes. The court granted that motion, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found the defendant was not liable and the plaintiff appealed, arguing the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion in limine.

Admission of Evidence of Prior Accidents

On appeal, the court held that because the prior accident caused by the defendant’s escaped cows did not occur under similar circumstances it was not relevant to the plaintiff’s theory of negligence and was properly excluded. The court explained that the Warren Act is not a strict liability statute; rather, it requires a showing of negligence. Further, the court pointed out that the plaintiff alleged that the defendant negligently left his gate open which permitted the cows to escape. In the prior accident caused by the defendant’s cows, however, the cows were frightened by a loose dog and broke through a fence. Thus, the court found that the prior accident was not substantially similar to the subject accident, and therefore, was properly precluded as irrelevant evidence.

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In car accident cases, the jury relies on the evidence presented at trial to determine whether the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s damages, and if so, what compensation the plaintiff is owed. While economic losses incurred for medical treatment or repairing a vehicle are easily calculable, determining appropriate damages for non-economic harm such as pain and suffering is less straightforward. Rather, in assessing the appropriate compensation for pain and suffering a jury will usually rely on the injured party’s testimony and an account of how the accident occurred.

Until recently, it was unclear whether a plaintiff could produce evidence of how an accident occurred to establish pain and suffering in a wrongful death case. A district court applying Florida law just ruled, however, that plaintiffs in a wrongful death case could submit evidence regarding the way a fatal car accident occurred to show their pain and suffering. If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to a South Florida fatal car accident you should speak with a capable South Florida wrongful death attorney regarding the facts of your case and what damages you may be able to recover.

Facts Regarding the Accident

Reportedly, the defendant driver was a 99-year-old man who was known to be a dangerous driver. At the time of the accident, he was driving a large recreational vehicle without working headlights on the wrong side of the road at night, when he struck the plaintiffs’ decedent’s car. The decedent ultimately died due to her injuries, after which the personal representatives of her estate filed a wrongful death claim against the defendant driver’s estate. The defendants conceded liability but argued that the plaintiffs should not be permitted to introduce evidence regarding how the accident occurred. The plaintiffs and the defendants both submitted motions regarding what evidence should be admitted.
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One of the defenses commonly asserted in vehicle accident cases is that the plaintiff’s negligence caused the accident and therefore, the plaintiff should not be able to recover damages. Under Florida law, however, even if a plaintiff is at fault, in most cases he or she can still recover damages. There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as instances where the plaintiff was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A Florida appellate court recently vacated a verdict in favor of the defendant in a case involving a motorcycle accident, finding that the trial court erred in applying a statute that barred the plaintiff’s recovery due to the use of drugs or alcohol. If you were involved in a South Florida motorcycle accident, it is important to retain an attorney who can anticipate any obstacles or hurdles to your recovery and provide you with strong arguments in support of your claim.

Trial Court and Jury Findings

There was a multi-vehicle accident on a highway in South Florida. The defendant reportedly made a left turn to avoid the accident, and moved in front of the plaintiff’s motorcycle, causing the plaintiff to be thrown from the motorcycle. The plaintiff subsequently sued the defendant, alleging the defendant’s negligence caused him to sustain personal injuries. Following a trial, the jury found the defendant forty-five percent liable for the accident and the plaintiff fifty-five percent liable. The trial court then applied a drug or alcohol statute that barred plaintiff’s recovery of damages. The plaintiff appealed.

The law affords plaintiffs in car accident cases certain rights and protections, so that they may pursue their case without fear of disclosure of privileged information. One of the protections afforded is the attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client privilege allows a plaintiff to communicate with his or her attorney freely, with the assurance that the contents of any communication will not be disclosed.

A Florida appellate court recently analyzed the attorney-client privilege in the context of a plaintiff’s medical treatment in a car accident case, ultimately holding that the privilege protected information regarding the relationship between a plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff’s treating physician. If you sustained injuries in a car accident in South Florida, you should meet with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney regarding your options for pursuing damages.

Procedural Background

Reportedly, the plaintiff was a pedestrian injured in a car accident with the defendant, an attorney, while the defendant was driving a company car. During discovery, the defendant sought information regarding the relationship between the plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff’s treating physician. The plaintiff objected to the requests, but the trial court found that the request did not seek information that was protected under the attorney-client privilege. As such, the plaintiff provided the defendant with information regarding payments made from his attorney’s firm to the plaintiff’s treating physician and letters of protection.

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Under Florida law, in cases arising from car accidents in which a second driver rear-ends the first driver, the first driver is entitled to a rebuttable presumption that the second driver is solely at fault for the accident. Recently, a Florida court of appeals discussed the sufficiency of evidence needed to rebut the presumption, in a case in which it upheld a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff as to the issue of liability. If you were involved in a South Florida car accident in which you were rear-ended, it is important to retain a skilled personal injury attorney to assist you in pursuing any damages you may be owed.

Allegations Regarding the Accident

Reportedly, the plaintiff was driving on a road she was not familiar with when she wanted to make a U-turn. She moved toward the median of the road and realized she could not make a U-turn. She slowed down but still maintained a speed of at least thirty miles an hour, and denied applying her brakes at any time. She was subsequently struck from behind by the defendant. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant. Prior to the trial, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment as to the issues of causation and liability. After a jury issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant appealed the court’s order granting the motion.

Rebuttable Presumption of Liability Under Florida Law

The court stated that under Florida law, there is a rebuttable presumption that a driver who rear-ends another driver is negligent. The court noted, however, that the presumption that the rear driver should be held solely liable for the accident can be rebutted if there is evidence that shows the first driver was also negligent. Additionally, the court stated that the presumption of negligence of the rear driver does not render the front driver immune from liability for comparative negligence. Rather, if the facts are disputed as to whether the first driver was comparatively negligent the issue should be submitted to the jury.

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Discovery is an essential tool in litigation. It allows plaintiffs to gather support for their claims that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s harm and should be held accountable for any resulting damages. Defendants are afforded certain protections in the discovery process, however, and cannot be compelled to produce privileged information.

As shown in a recent case in which a Florida appellate court upheld an order compelling discovery, a defendant is not permitted to inappropriately evade discovery based on false claims of privilege. If you sustained damages in a South Florida car accident, you should confer with an experienced attorney to discuss your case and any potential obstacles to your recovery of damages.

Factual and Procedural History

Reportedly, the plaintiffs were involved in a motor vehicle collision with the defendant driver. At the time of the accident, the defendant driver was driving a tractor-trailer owned by the defendant employer. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the defendants and the parties engaged in discovery. During the discovery process, the defendants listed a private investigator as a fact witness. The private investigator was subpoenaed for a deposition and asked to bring any documents containing information regarding his investigation of the plaintiffs. At the end of the private investigator’s deposition, plaintiff’s counsel indicated the private investigator would provide further opinions at a later date.

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While in many car accidents it is easy to identify the party that caused the accident, in some cases the negligent driver cannot be identified. In cases involving a phantom motorist, an injured party may be able to recover uninsured motorist benefits from his or her insurer, if the injured party can establish negligence. Often in cases involving a phantom motorist negligence must be established via circumstantial evidence.

In a recent case, a Florida district court of appeal set forth the standard under which inferences that are described or claimed in a negligence action must be reviewed. If you suffered harm due to a South Florida car accident, it is important to retain a seasoned attorney who will work diligently on your behalf to help you recover any damages you may be owed.

Facts Surrounding the Accident

Reportedly, the plaintiff was a passenger in a minivan when the minivan came upon a ladder that was laying across the road. The driver of the minivan stopped suddenly and was struck from behind by a delivery truck. The plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the driver of the delivery truck and an uninsured motorist claim against the driver of the minivan’s insurance company. At trial, following the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case the insurance company filed a motion for a directed verdict, arguing that there was no evidence the ladder came from another vehicle, and even if it did there was no evidence of negligence. The court denied the insurer’s motion. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found the phantom motorist that allegedly owned the ladder sixty percent at fault and the delivery driver forty percent at fault. The insurer appealed.

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In car accident cases where liability is clear it is often easier and more efficient to agree to settle. While theoretically settling a case is easier than proceeding with litigation, there must be clear evidence of an agreement to settle and the agreed upon terms for a case to be disposed of via settlement.

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida rejected a defendant’s motion for summary judgment asking the court to dismiss a case due to a settlement agreement, on the grounds that an issue of fact existed as to whether a valid agreement was entered into by the parties. If you suffered harm due to a car accident in South Florida, you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney to develop a plan for seeking compensation.

Settlement Negotiations

Allegedly, the defendant rear-ended a car driven by a second driver, causing it to rear-end a car driven by the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s son was in the car at the time of the accident. The plaintiff’s attorney subsequently sent a settlement demand to a claims adjuster for the defendant’s auto insurer, stating the plaintiff and his son would settle the case for the defendant’s policy limit of $20,000 if the defendant provided affidavits verifying that there was no other insurance covering the defendant and that the defendant was not acting in the scope of her employment at the time of the accident. The demand also set forth a deadline for the insurer to reply.

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