Articles Posted in Car Accident

Drunk driving accidents are unfortunate occurrences that frequently cause serious and often fatal injuries. In addition to seeking damages from the drunk driver, Florida law permits injured parties to seek compensation from anyone who served the driver alcohol if they knew the driver was a habitual addict.

The injured party must present adequate evidence of addiction, however, and the failure to do so may be fatal to their claim, as illustrated in a recent case decided by a Florida appellate court. If you were injured in a South Florida car accident caused by a drunk driver, you should retain an experienced personal injury attorney to provide you with a strong chance for a successful outcome under the circumstances.

Facts Regarding the Driver’s Consumption of Alcohol and the Subsequent Accident

Reportedly, the defendant driver struck two couples on mopeds from behind at 10:15 pm when he was on his way home from work. All of the individuals on the mopeds were injured and one individual died from her injuries. The driver was employed at a Key West restaurant and worked until 5:00 pm that evening. After he was done working, he remained at the bar and consumed several alcoholic beverages.  The bartender on duty stated the defendant was not drunk when he arrived, but when he left at 10:00 pm he was intoxicated, stumbling and slurring his speech. It was stipulated that the defendant driver’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was .2 grams per deciliter. The injured parties and the personal representative of the deceased party filed an action to recover damages from the defendant driver and his employer. The plaintiffs’ claims against the employer were based, in part, on a Florida statute that imposes liability on anyone who serves alcohol to a person habitually addicted to alcohol, if the person then injures a third party.

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Many car accidents are not caused solely by the negligence of one party but occur due to a combination of factors. Under Florida law, if a party who is injured in a car accident is partially at fault for causing the accident, he or she is not barred from recovering damages, but any damages awarded will be adjusted proportionately to his or her degree of fault.

Recently, a Florida court of appeals overturned a verdict in favor of a plaintiff who was injured in a car accident, where the trial court refused to instruct the jury regarding the plaintiff’s unlawful operation of his vehicle. If you or a loved one were harmed due to a South Florida car accident, you should consult a knowledgeable car accident attorney to help you analyze any detrimental evidence that may be introduced against you.

Evidence Introduced at Trial

Allegedly, the plaintiff was injured while operating a scooter on a causeway. Evidence introduced at trial established that he was operating the scooter at approximately 30 miles below the posted speed limit and below the average speed of motorists on the causeway. During the trial, the defendants requested a jury instruction regarding Florida statutes which prohibited the use of any motor-driven cycle on a limited access facility and defining a limited access facility as a street or highway designed for traffic. The court rejected the defendants’ request, and the jury issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him $6,000,000. The defendants appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in refusing their requested jury instruction. On appeal, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial.

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Most car accident cases are pursued on a theory of negligence. Under Florida law, recovering on a negligence claim requires, in part, evidence that the defendant’s behavior caused the plaintiff’s harm. It is not sufficient to merely show that an action was one of the causes of the resulting harm, however. Rather, the action must be shown to be a proximate cause for a plaintiff to recover damages.

Recently, a Florida court clarified what constitutes proximate cause, in a case in which it reversed a verdict against a defendant due to lack of proximate cause. If you were injured in a South Florida car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced car accident attorney to discuss whether you may be able to pursue damages.

Factual Background

Reportedly, the plaintiffs were involved in a rear-end collision while they were stopped, waiting for trucks to pass between two cars that were parked on the street. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a suit against the other driver and the homeowners’ association that managed the community where the accident occurred. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant association allowed overnight street parking despite the fact that the ordinances of the town in which the community was located prohibited street parking that interfered with the flow of traffic. There were frequently cars parked on both sides of the street, which created a condition that would only allow one car to pass through the parked cars at a time.

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Trial courts have the discretion to grant a new trial based on attorney misconduct. The trial court must engage in a thorough analysis prior to granting a new trial, however, to ensure a new trial is properly warranted. This was discussed in a recent case out of a Florida Court of Appeals, where the Appeals Court overturned an order granting a new trial where the trial court failed to engage in required analysis prior to granting a new trial and the evidence was insufficient to necessitate a new trial. If you sustained property damage or injuries in a South Florida car accident, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney to assist you in your pursuit of damages.

Facts Regarding the Accident

Purportedly, the plaintiff was stopped at a stop sign when she was rear-ended by the defendant. It was undisputed that the defendant was traveling at less than 5 miles per hour when she struck the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff did not report any injuries at the time of the accident, but nine days after the accident the plaintiff alleged she had pain in her left arm. Eight months later, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages, alleging she sustained permanent injuries in the accident.

A trial was held, during which the defendant’s attorney asked the plaintiff why her boyfriend testified she did not complain about her injuries if she was still injured. The plaintiff’s attorney objected to the question as hearsay. Following the trial, a jury found in favor of the defendant, finding that the plaintiff did not suffer any permanent injury. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for a new trial, alleging that the question the defendant’s attorney asked the plaintiff regarding her boyfriend was so prejudicial it necessitated a new trial. The trial court agreed, granting the motion. The defendant appealed.

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Juries do not always assess damages and liability accurately, and the law affords both plaintiffs and defendants the right to request a new trial if they believe a jury’s verdict is improper. The standard a trial court must apply in determining whether a new trial should be granted is whether the verdict is against the weight of the evidence. If a trial court fails to apply this standard and issues an order granting a new trial on a different basis, it can result in the order being overruled on appeal, as illustrated in a recent case decided by a Florida Court of Appeals. If you were injured in a car accident you should consult with a South Florida car accident attorney as soon as possible to assist you in your pursuit of damages.

Facts Surrounding the Accident

Allegedly, defendant-wife was driving defendant-husband’s car on a day when it had been raining and the roads were wet. She approached an intersection where a car had stopped in front of her and applied her brakes but was unable to stop and consequently hit the car. The plaintiff’s husband was driving the car that defendant-wife struck, and the plaintiff was a passenger in the car. None of the parties involved in the accident went to the hospital following the accident. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging claims of negligence against the defendants to recover damages for personal injuries sustained in the accident.

Evidence Submitted at Trial and the Jury’s Verdict

The main issues disputed at trial were whether the defendant-wife caused the accident and whether the plaintiff’s alleged injuries were caused by the accident. The plaintiff’s husband, defendant-wife, and another driver testified as to how the accident occurred and the events leading up to the accident. The court also heard testimony from the plaintiff and from both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s medical experts regarding the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. While it was admitted that the plaintiff suffered from back issues prior to the incident, it was disputed whether the accident caused a new injury, exacerbated an existing injury, or caused no additional harm. The jury found in favor of the defense.

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Injured parties generally do not consider the procedural aspects of a lawsuit, but they are very important to advancing a case. Where an attorney does not comply with the applicable rules of procedure it may result in delays in a resolution of the claims and, in some cases, may cause the case to be dismissed altogether.

In a recent case, Moss v. Estate of Hudson, a Florida Court of Appeals found that service of a Complaint on the defendant was not proper, and therefore, entered a motion to quash service. If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to a car accident in South Florida, it is important to retain an experienced South Florida car accident attorney who is thoroughly versed in what is required to comply with the laws of procedure.

Florida Laws Regarding Service of Complaint

Florida law requires a plaintiff to serve a defendant with the Complaint. If the plaintiff is unable to serve the defendant, in some cases the plaintiff can obtain substituted service. Under Florida Statute 48.171 if the defendant is a non-resident or resident who owns and operates a vehicle in Florida, who has since moved or is concealing his or her location, the operation of the vehicle within the state constitutes the Secretary of State as the defendant’s agent with regards to service of a Complaint in a case arising out of a car accident.

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Car accidents involving uninsured motorists often cause financial hardship. In many cases, your insurance policy allows you to recover uninsured motorist (UIM) benefits from your insurance provider, which can help ease your financial burden.  At times, however, you and your insurer may not agree on what benefits you are entitled to under the terms of your policy.

In a recent case, a Florida Court of Appeals held that where a policy’s language was unambiguous, an exclusion for uninsured motorist benefits for resident relatives of the insured was valid. If you are involved in a car accident in South Florida, you should consult a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney to aid you in understanding the terms of your policy and the meanings of any exclusions.

Coverage under the Policies

Reportedly, the plaintiff and her mother lived together and each owned a vehicle. The defendant insured both the plaintiff and her mother under separate auto insurance policies. The mother was the only named insured on her policy, which had an uninsured motorist coverage limit of $100,000, while both the plaintiff and her mother were named insureds under the plaintiff’s policy, which had a substantially lower uninsured motorist coverage limit of $25,000. The policies were otherwise the same. Both policies included exclusionary language stating there was no coverage for an insured who sustains an injury while occupying a vehicle owned by the insured or a resident relative if it is not the insured’s car. The policies also stated that if the uninsured motorist coverage of the policy and any other policy issued to the insured or a resident relative both applied to the same injury, the coverage limits would not be added together.

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It is important to be aware that many contracts contain arbitration clauses. An arbitration clause means that instead of bringing a dispute to court, any disagreements will be heard by an unbiased arbitrator. Arbitration is faster and less costly than traditional litigation. However, the parties also do not have all the rights that they would normally have in court. In a case heard by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, the court looked at an arbitration clause that was included in a contract to buy a car. If you are in a car accident like the plaintiff here, you should contact an experienced South Florida car accident attorney and they can help you to bring your claims in court. They also can represent you in any arbitration mandated by a contract.

Events Leading Up to the Car Accident 

The plaintiff purchased a car from the defendant. In the contract for the sale of the car, there was an arbitration provision. It allowed the plaintiff to bring any actions arising out of the purchase of the car in arbitration. A few hours after buying the car, the plaintiff got into a car accident. He believes that the accident was caused by defects in the new car. The plaintiff then filed suit against the defendant.

When someone is injured in a car accident, an applicable insurance policy may cover their losses due to the accident. However, any damages after a car accident are only recoverable if the accident was the cause of the damages. This may seem obvious, but as your experienced South Florida car accident attorney can tell you, in the courtroom it can be more complicated than it seems at first.

Trial Court Holding

While he was driving, the plaintiff was struck from behind. Luckily, the plaintiff had an insurance policy that covered him under his uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. As he did not believe he was properly compensated, he sued the insurance company. Both the insurance company defendant and the plaintiff agree that the driver who hit him was acting negligently. However, where the parties disagree is whether certain injuries were caused by the accident or whether they were already existing and thus not eligible for compensation under the policy.

You probably know that people injured in car accidents in Florida can recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, in some cases, people who have been injured in car accidents or other personal injury actions may also be able to recover attorney’s fees on top of their other damages. Your skilled South Florida car accident attorney can help you to determine whether your case may qualify for recovery of attorney’s fees.

When You Can Recover Attorney Fees 

As noted above, if you are injured in a car accident, you may be able to recover attorney fees as well as your other damages. Before your case goes to trial, typically your attorney will have sent the other party a proposal for settlement. If they decline the settlement, and you go to trial, you can get attorney fees if the jury awards you at least 25% more than what you asked for in the settlement.

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