Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Law-Book-150x150In the State of Florida, there are special laws and procedures that apply to wrongful death cases. Only certain survivors of a deceased family member can pursue damages for the mental anguish and loss of services of a family member.  These provisions are codified under the Florida Wrongful Death Act in Chapter 768 of the Florida Statutes.
First and foremost, it should be pointed that no amount of money (even an award in the millions of dollars) can adequately compensate a child for losing a parent, a spouse for losing a partner, or a parent for losing a child.  The emotional pain and scars last a lifetime and there really is no way to quantify these damages.  From a legal standpoint, there is a process in place to the pursuit of a wrongful death case.  From an administrative standpoint, an estate will be opened to name a person as the personal representative of the estate of the deceased person.  Whether the deceased person also referred to as the decedent is a child or an adult, an estate must ultimately be opened so that there is a person authorized under the law to be the point person for the claims or lawsuits filed on behalf of the estate for the wrongful death.
With respect to the damages that can be claimed, there is no formula or math that is set forth by Florida law as to what award or settlement would be appropriate.  Generally speaking, there are factors that are considered when evaluating a Florida Wrongful Death case.  Here are some of the factors that are considered:

Bicycle-Helmet-150x150Many States, including Florida, have helmet laws requiring children under a certain age to wear a bicycle helmet. With or without these laws in place, it is important from a safety standpoint that a child wear a helmet.  Whether the child is out for a short ride or a longer one, a bicycle helmet can make a big difference in preventing injuries from taking place or by reducing the severity of the injuries caused by a bicycle accident.

Nearly 50 children visit the emergency room every hour due to injuries sustained in wheeled sports activities, like riding a bicycle. Due to this risks of head trauma associated with bicyce riding, parents should go over basic bicycle safety with their children. While riding a bike, children should look both ways while crossing the street and walk their bikes while crossing busy intersections. If riding on the road, they should use bike lanes whenever possible and obey all traffic rules, but children under the age of 10 should stay on the sidewalks. Parents should teach their children the proper hand signals while biking and do regular maintenance on their bicycle to make sure it is safe. All of these techniques are important in keeping bicycle riders safe, but the most important precaution often goes overlooked – the bicycle helmet.

Wearing a helmet by bicycling is paramount in ensuring a child’s safety. Research shows that helmet usage does decrease the occurrence and seriousness of head injuries.  Despite this clear research, the statistics as to the non-use of helmets for children while riding a bicycle are staggering. It is estimated that 18% of parents claim their children never wear a helmet while biking. Parents can be quite lenient with their children as to helmet usage. Some children complain about the look or fit of their bicycle helmet, so parents (to avoid yet another right or argument) do not require their children to wear it. But this should not be the case. Helmets are the best method of preventing serious head injury if a rider falls or is hit by a car. The costs of a helmet is a small price to pay for this crucial safety measure.

Motorcycle-and-Bicycle-Safety-150x150Florida is a state with beaches and scenery that people love to bike through. Unfortunately, bicyclists as well as motorcyclists are at risk when a careless driver does not give due respect and distance to motorcycles and bicycles.  It has been reported that over 9,500 motorcyclists were involved in a crash in 2018.  This is a slight increase from the numbers for the calendar year 2017.  Furthermore, it was reported over 7,000 bicyclists were involved in a crash in 2018.  Combined, there were over 16,500 motorcyclists and bicyclists involved in a crash, over 600 of which ended fatally.

The month of May is Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Month, and motorists are reminded to pay attention and share the road safely. Drivers should avoid following motorcycles and bicycles closely, keep a four-second buffer zone between themselves and a motorcyclist or cyclist. Always utilize caution while on the road, look twice before crossing the street, and do not drive distractedly; keep your eyes on the road and watch for bikers and cyclists. They have the rights and responsibilities as drivers, so drivers must share the road accordingly.

In addition to precautions taken by drivers, bicyclists and motorcyclists can also make strides to act safely. All bicyclists and motorcyclists should wear helmets. Almost 90% of the people involved in a bicycle accident in the last year were not wearing a helmet. Motorcyclists should make an effort to drive defensively and avoid reckless speeding and weaving between lanes. Cyclists should make themselves noticeable with bright clothes and lights, especially while riding at night. They should act predictably in order to minimize surprises for other drivers and think ahead to avoid hazards. Both cyclists and motorcyclists can benefit from referring to the official Florida Driver License Handbook to familiarize themselves with the rules of the road.

wrongful_death_book-150x150In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities throughout the State of Florida, a car crash is just about something you see every day. With the growth of the State and more and more vehicles on the road, car crashes are a common occurrence.  Tragically, some of these car accidents result in the untimely and tragic death of a  child.  As passengers of a vehicle, children are almost never at fault for the crash taking place.  Certainly, the death of a child has a ripple effect through the parents, family, neighborhood, school and community.  Having attending a number of funerals involving a child, it is clear that no words or compensation for that matter can console a parent or family member who has lost a child due to the negligence driving of another person.
In Jacksonville, Florida, the Florida Highway Patrol reported a recent accident that tragically led to the death of two children and personal injuries of two other children.  It was reported that Symere Woolbright – age 5 – and Rickale Woolbright – age 10 – died as a result of this rear end crash.   See Children Killed in Jacksonville, Florida Crash – 2 Killed and 2 Injured
While some accidents may seem cut and dry as to fault or liability, there are a number of challenges and issues that go with the pursuit of a Florida Wrongful Death case on behalf of the parents of a child who dies as a result of a motor vehicle accident.  It is important to determine all applicable insurance policies that may provide coverage for the damages / losses as a result of the automobile accident.  Insurance companies do not always act in the best interest of the family of a deceased child.  The insurance company has a duty to act reasonably and timely.  If the insurance company fails to do so, the applicable insurance policy limits may be expanded to what is called extra-contractual compensation. It means that the insurance company may ultimately be pressured to pay out more than the applicable policy limits but only if it can be shown that the insurance company failed to act timely and reasonably.  To prove such conduct, documentation is vital.

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Halloween is a holiday mostly celebrated by children and for children. There are also adult parties and adult participation; however, the core part of Halloween is the journey through the neighborhood engaged in the tradition of visiting houses and collecting candy just by virtue of the statement “Trick or Treat”.  Let’s face it, there is a certain paradise for children on Halloween which is in the form of “Free Candy”.   Dressing home and pretending to be a favorite Disney character or super hero is pretty cool as well.  For most children, Halloween evening / night is just about the best night of the year.  For others unfortunately, Halloween night can be the time in which a child suffers a serious personal injury or even dies due to the negligence of others.

Some tragic events that take place during Halloween can be avoided.  Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.  Some are fairly basic and well know.  Nevertheless, it is important to keep these tips in mind and actually follow them to make Halloween night as safe as possible:

Don’t Trick or Treat at All.  Find alternatives to the door-to-door trick or treat journey.  Have a party.  Have the neighbors gather together in one place for a candy distribution.  While it does seem counter intuitive to discourage traditional trick or treat activities, having children remain in one general area or home can avoid many accidents or incidents from taking place.

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The tragedy of a child being injured or killed is one that cannot be overlooked and impacts communities on a large scale. All around the country, especially in major cities, there are many busy roads filled with pedestrians, including children, and vehicles being driven by distracted drivers. Adult pedestrians and children alike often need to cross the street in order to arrive at their desired destination, and while many use the nearest crosswalk, sometimes circumstances arise (either because there is not one present or it is far out of the way for the pedestrian, to name a couple) which result in the individual crossing the street where there is not a designated crosswalk. This can also be the case, if not more so the case, in smaller cities or residential areas where children are present. This is common because children may feel more comfortable or safer crossing the street without a crosswalk in their own neighborhood, whether it is because of lack of traffic or simply just level of comfort around their residence. When a pedestrian is injured in a crosswalk or in another part of the street due to the negligence or inattention of a driver, there is a ripple effect through the family, neighborhood, and the community. Certainly, crosswalks serve a purpose in delineating the area, warning motorists, and providing a seemingly safe passage across the street; however, the fact remains that all drivers should be watchful of pedestrians especially those who are children and often lack safety awareness and at times common sense.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf, a partner with the law firm of Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., is a child injury attorney who handles automobile accidents, bicycle accidents, trucking accidents, and, yes, pedestrian accidents throughout the State of Florida. The pursuit of a case will depend on a number of legal and practical factors. With over 26 years of experience, David Wolf can provide guidance, advice, and when appropriate legal representation in the aftermath of a pedestrian accident. Contact David Wolf today for a Free Consultation.

Drivers need to pay full attention to the road and their surroundings, slowing down near crosswalks and school zones as well as residential areas, undistracted. The tragedy of a child being hit by a vehicle while crossing the street will leave the family, friends, and community of the child shocked and devastated, to say the least. Just one telephone call, one text message, or one Facebook post (all of which typically have little importance) can result in serious personal injuries and even the death of a pedestrian.

Pedestrian-Triangle-Sign-150x150In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities, drivers should be on the look out for pedestrians and bicyclists especially those who are young children.  Drivers should slow down in school zones, residential areas, crosswalks, and anywhere else there may be a child pedestrian or child bicyclist.  It should be noted that Florida is a comparative fault state.  As such, the injured child and / or parents of an injured child can bring a legal action for personal injuries or wrongful death even if the child may have been partially at fault for the incident or accident.  It should also be noted that children under the age of 6 years old cannot be held to be negligent or at fault as a matter of law in the State of Florida.

A recent tragedy was reported in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was reported that a child was hit by a vehicle while attempting to cross a street with other children at the intersection of A1A and the Wonderwood Connector in Mayport – Jacksonville Florida.  It was reported by the local media that the driver continued through the intersection on a yellow light.  It was also reported that the child, who ultimately died as a result of the pedestrian – vehicle accident related personal injuries, was in the sixth grade. You can read more about this story at Boy Hit While Crossing the Street in Jacksonville, Florida (Mayport).

The wrongful death of a child has a ripple effect through the family, neighborhood, school, and community.  It is heartbreaking for the parents and extended family.  It is extremely upsetting for the school.  It can be quite a bewildering experience to have a friend / classmate sit in front of a student one day and then never to return because of a tragic pedestrian accident.

Red Light Automobile Accident.001In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities, traffic signals serve an important purpose.  When drivers ignore traffic signals, serious automobile accidents can take place that cause horrific personal injuries and even the wrongful death of innocent drivers and passengers.  Section 316.075 (1) (c), Florida Statutes mandates that a driver facing a steady red signal (red traffic light) shall stop and remain stopped until a green light or green arrow is shown.  While this a fairly simple statute and rule of the road, it is quite amazing and disturbing how often this statute is violation.  This, in turn, can disrupt and even end the lives of others who are following the rules of the road and otherwise operating their motor vehicles in a safe and prudent manner.
It was recently reported that there was an automobile accident at the intersection of St. Johns Bluff and Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was reported by local media outlets and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that a woman driving a Nissan SUV ignored a red light and proceeded at a high rate of speed.  Thereafter the vehicle crossed over a median and crashed into a Honda vehicle and a commercial vehicle and another passenger vehicle. Tragically, a young man (Denny Grahovic), who was only 18 years old at the time of the crash, died as a result of the accident related personal injuries.  Two other Honda passengers, who were also teenagers, were transported to a local hospital with significant injuries.   See Crash Ends Life of One Teenager and Results in Serious Personal Injuries to Others in Jacksonville, Florida. 
Based on the facts reported, it does not appear that Denny Grahovic was negligent in any manner.  Since there was a death that resulted from this crash, JSO and possibly the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct a detailed traffic homicide investigation to determine the cause and preventability of the crash.

Auto Crash.001As parents, we do our best to protect our children from harm. As part of regular every day life, children are transported to and from school, sport practices, and other activities. It is common to see children in vehicles before and after school as well during the school day while attending field trips and other school related activities. Unfortunately, there are far too many drivers on the road who fail to pay attention to traffic, road conditions, weather, and, yes, the presence of children in passenger vehicles, school buses, day care center vans, and other vehicles.

When a child is injured as a result of the negligence of another driver, the parents on behalf of the child can pursue a personal injury claim or case. Certainly, as a passenger, there can be no fault attributed to the child passenger; however, it should be noted that only children under the age of 6 years old are immune from being blamed in part or whole for his or her actions. As such, let’s say a 12 year old is a passenger in a vehicle but fails to wear a seatbelt. The 12 year old may be blamed in part for the personal injuries if it can be established that there was an operational seatbelt and that the use of a seatbelt would have prevented the injuries in the entirety. If the seatbelt would have lessened the injuries, then a case or claim can still be pursued. In most instances, a child is wearing a seatbelt and this particular issue is avoided due to the child’s reasonable actions in wearing a seatbelt.

Moving beyond potential seatbelt issues, it is important that the injured child receive immediate care through an emergency room, urgent care center, clinic, or pediatrician’s office. From there, if the child is still experiencing pain and / or other medical complications, follow up care should be sought and obtained on behalf of the injured child. Handling a personal injury case or claim is not an easy task or endeavor. This is especially true when the parent is dealing with the challenges or issues on his or her own without the benefit of legal advice or legal representation. As such, when a child is injured, it is important to consult with a Child Injury Lawyer who can provide the necessary guidance, direction, and, yes, legal representation when the injuries warrant the involvement of an attorney.

School Zone - Pedestrian AccidentIn Florida and other states during the school year, there is a common danger in and around schools.  Student pedestrians who walk to school or who are walking near a school are at risk for being hit, injured, and even killed.  Disturbingly, student pedestrians are hit far too often while doing someone we, as parents, encourage them to do – attend school.   It should be noted the Florida is a Comparative Fault state.  In other words, the negligence or fault for the incident does not have to fall 100 % on any particular person or party in order to pursue a case or claim on behalf of the injured student.  When a student / child is hit and suffers injuries or dies as a result of the incident, there can be a cause of action or case pursued on behalf of the injured child.  
When a child suffers a serious personal injury or dies as a result of the incident, there is a full incident report / police report completed as to the cause and preventability of the incident, injuries, and / or death.  It should also be noted that the conclusions of the investigating officer is not binding on a civil case or claim.  While it is helpful to the pursuit of the case or claim if the police officer cites the driver for the cause and fault of the pedestrian incident, such a finding or citation is not necessary to pursue a case or claim on behalf of the injured child or on behalf of the surviving parents of the child who tragically dies as a result of a pedestrian accident or incident.
Florida has laws in place for drivers and pedestrians alike as to the use of crosswalks, schools zones, speed limits, etc . . . Here is a link to read Section 316.130, Florida Statutes – Pedestrians and Traffic Regulations has the applicable rules and regulations for crosswalks.