Articles Posted in Automobile Insurance

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.

Stop Sign Negligence.001A Stop Sign is posted due to he traffic pattern and flow in a particular geographic area. It should also be noted that there should not be any ambiguities or doubts as to the purpose and function of a Stop Sign. Furthermore, it is clear that once a driver stops at a Stop Sign – he or she should diligently be on the look out for other traffic and then take whatever time is necessary to safely proceed through the intersection at issue. In Florida and other States, many automobile accidents occur due to the failure to obey speed limits and traffic signage. There is also a significant problem with Distracted Driving due to mobile phone use, Web Browsing, and Text Messaging.  Many lives can be saved and many personal injuries due to Florida Automobile Accidents can be avoided by simply obeying and following the traffic signage like a Stop Sign and by being more attentive to traffic and weather conditions.

It was recently reported in Hastings, St. Johns County, Florida that four people were transported to a hospital.  The intial news and media reports indicated that a pick up truck driver ran a stop sign.  Due to fact that a death and serious personal injuries resulted from this Florida Automobile Accident, a full investigation including a Traffic Homicide Report will be completed by local law enforcement officials and / or the Florida Highway Patrol.   Certainly, any time that a person dies as a result of a Florida Automobile Accident – it is tragic.  Even more so if it is determined that that the automobile accident was avoidable with more attentive driving.  It should be noted that with more attentive driving and patience – many such Florida motor vehicle crashes can be avoided.

When there is a motor vehicle crash, the personal injury victims are faced with a number of challenges and issues.  It is important that the victims and families get support from their extended family, the neighborhood, churches and religious institutions, and others.  The injury victims and families certainly deserve compassion in this time of need following a horrific traffic crash. It is also important for the injury victims and families to have legal representation early on in the process.

Many automobile accidents in the State of Florida as well as the rest of the country result from a rear end crash or collision.  In most crashes, the driver, who crashed into the vehicle in front of him or her, is at fault.  There are some exceptions to this general rule if there is a sudden and abrupt stop by the vehicle in front.  Section 316.0895, Florida Statutes – Following Too Closely provides that driver’s shall not follow another motor vehicle more closely than is reasonably prudent.  On Florida streets, highways, and roads, drivers should have due regard of the speed of other vehicles, traffic, road conditions, and weather when driving behind other vehicles and / or when approaching other vehicles.

Some may believe that once a rear end crash is essentially an open and shut case.  The automobile insurance company will recognize and admit liability and responsibility for damages to the vehicle that was rear ended and admit liability and responsibility for the injuries to the driver and passengers who were occupying the vehicle that was rear ended.  The truth is that automobile insurance companies scrutinize every part of a claim or case including the cause and details of the crash, the extent of the impact or the force of the impact, the relationship of the crash to the injuries complained of, the age of the injury victim, the prior medical history and condition of the injury victim, the reasonableness and necessity of the medical care provided, the finding of the treating medical providers, the finding of the treating radiologist, and the reports of the treating medical providers.  Florida law provides that it is the burden of the injury victim to prove by the preponderance of the evidence all elements of a personal injury case which are as follows:
  1. Duty;

Interstate 95In the State of Florida, just one crash can change the lives of many people and families.  This is especially true when there are multiple deaths or multiple claimants involved with a traffic crash. There are many issues and challenges to a case involving one injured person or party.  The issues are compounded when there are multiple victims, injuries, and claims.
For most personal injury claims or cases, the amount and type of automobile insurance often come into play and require a close evaluation and study.   It is important for a personal injury victim and / or the family of the personal injury victim to retain the services of an experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney to determine the rights of the victim, the rights of the family, and the recommended courses of action.  It should be noted that there is a big difference between the legal rights of the victim and the practical options or practical resolution of a case.  For instance, let’s assume that a person suffers a fractured leg requiring surgery and an extended hospitalization.  Let’s further assume that the reasonable value for such a case is $450,000.  The at-fault driver had an automobile insurance policy with a bodily injury policy limit of $50,000.  As such, the total amount of liability insurance in place for this particular claim was $50,000.  Under these facts and circumstances, the fair value of the case is $450,000; however the practical resolution of the case may end up being the $50,000 policy limits.  Again, there is a difference between the legal rights of the personal injury victim and the practical resolution of the case.
On Interstate 95 near Titusville, Florida, there was a recent fatal crash that was reported by news and media outlets.  The crash ended the lives of three young girls who were ejected from the vehicle.  It was reported that there were 11 people occupying the vehicle that was manufactured with a maximum capacity of 8 passengers / occupants.  A tire problem caused the Dodge Durrango SUV to go off off the road and then the SUV flipped several times.  Certainly, this tragic crash will have a ripple effect through the family, neighborhood, and community.   

Vehicle - Large SUV OrangeHit and run accidents are unfortunately part of every community. There are drivers who carelessly cause accidents and injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants of other vehicles and then simply flee the scene.  Some are caught in the act or thereafter. Others are never located.  For those who are located, there can be both criminal and civil law consequences to these actions.   For many of these hit and run accidents, the at-fault driver lacks insurance OR lacks good insurance to cover the accident related personal injuries, bills, and damages.  If there is no insurance or just minimal insurance, there are other sources of compensation to accident / injury victims in the State of Florida as follows:
Victim of Crimes Compensation Fund.  An injury victim can claim up to $10,000 through a fund set up through the State of Florida. The process can be started through the local sheriff’s office or the local state attorney’s office. 
PIP (Personal Injury Protection).   The injury victim can utilize available PIP benefits under a vehicle owned by the victim or owned by a resident relative of a victim.   If a parent has an automobile insurance policy, the medical bills for the injured child can be processed under the parents’ PIP insurance policy even if the child was injured as  pedestrian or a bicyclist.

Pick Up Truck SilverIn the State of Florida, there is a minimal type of coverage that needs to be in place to own and operate a motor vehicle.   Many people do not understand these minimal requirements.  In fact, many people are drive in the State of Florida under the impresssion that he or she has “full coverage” when there is only minimal coverage in place.  One reason that people are not better informed is because many such automobile insurance policies are obtained online.   There is no contact with a qualified insurance agent or just minimal contact with an insurance agent.  It is important for every driver and owner of a motor vehicle in the State of Florida to know and understand the types of insurance coverage currently in place on the policy and otherwise available for purchase.
By the time a person is an automobile accident, it is too late to purchase additional coverage or get coverage in place if it had lapsed.  The time to get the insurance papers and coverage in place is prior to the accident.  Here are the types of coverage available in the State of Florida:
Property Damage Coverage.   This type of insurance will pay the other vehicle owner for his or her property damage if you are at fault for the accident.  Minimum state required coverage is set at $10,000.   Additional coverage can be purchased which will result in higher premiums.   If a person has property damage in excess of $10,000 and you only have $10,000 in coverage, the other vehicle owner can come after you for the additional damage.  Your insurance company is only obligated to pay out what you purchased in insurance coverage. It is advisable to get more than $10,000 in property damage coverage.

Car Keys Automobile Accident and InjuriesIn the State of Florida, a teen can get behind of the wheel of a vehicle as the driver at the age of 15.  Teens can get a Learner’s License or a Restricted Driver’s License at the age of 15.   If the teen driver meets the necessary driving requirements and then passes the driver’s test, then, at the age of 16, a teen can get a driver’s license that does not have the restrictions on it.  As such, in the State of Florida, we have teen drivers on the road between and including the ages of 15 through 19 years old.   When a teen is at-fault for an automobile accident in the State of Florida, the issue or question that arises is who is responsible for the careless driving or negligence.
For purposes of this article, we are going to restrict the commentary to the teen drivers in the following age range:  15 year old to 17 years old.   These drivers are still minors and the liability laws in Florida are different than those for an 18 year old or a 19 year old driver.  Here are the potential people liable for the negligence driving of a teen in the 15 – 17 year old age range:
1.  Teen Driver.   That’s right, a teen can be sued for his or her own negligence arising from an automobile accident.  The guardians or parents of the teen would need to be the representative relatives in the lawsuit but the teen himself or herself can be sued for his or her negligent actions or conduct.   In the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years of age cannot be held liable or responsible for his or her negligent conduct.  For children 6 years old and older, then a portion or even all of the negligence can be attributed to the child or teen. 

 Highway ViewSince people began driving automobiles, there have always been a problem with distracted driving.  Now that virtually every driver out there owns a mobile phone or has access to one, distracted driving is even more prevalent if there is any mobile phone use during the driver.   That’s right, any mobile phone usage.  Whether it is a quick check of a text message or a telephone call, mobile phones take a driver’s eyes, ears, and / or mind off the primary task and responsibility of driving.   It is estimated that in 2012, there were over 3,000 who died as a result of automobile accidents caused by distracted driving.  Another disturbing figure involves the number of people suffering personal injuries as a result of distracted driving. In 2012, over 420,000 people suffered personal injuries as a result of distracted driving.  Most such accidents are avoidable and preventable.   Children, as drivers or passengers, are often injured due to the negligence, fault, and / or distracted driving of another person.  Here are some types of distracted driving:
* Mobile Phone Use (talking – conversation);
* Text Messaging;

Buckman Bridge CrashOn March 2, 2015, there was a crash in Jacksonville Florida that caused the death of four people – two deaths and two children.   The crash took place on the Buckman Brigde which was later shut down.  The ripple effect of this crash was felt throughout the roadways of Duval and Clay County.   Tragically, four people died as a result of this rear end crash involving a semi-tractor trailer and two SUVs – a Chevrolet Tahoe and a Nissan Murano.

The Florida Highway Patrol Released a Media Report following the crash with the following details:

Excerpt from Florida Highway Patrol Media Report

vehicle car keys alarm blackIn, Florida, children of the unfortunate victims of personal injury and even death as a result of an automobile accident.   There are a myriad insurance regulations and traffic laws in the State of Florida.  When you attempt to apply these regulations and laws into an automobile accident fact pattern, things can become quite complicated and confusing.  Furthermore, it should be noted that in many instances insurance claims are challenged and heavily scrutinized by insurance adjusters.  It is often helpful for a parent of an injured child to consult with a Florida Child Injury Lawyer for advice, consultation, and potential representation.   When a child is injured as a result of the negligence or fault of another person, there may be a viable case to pursue on behalf of the child; however, it should be noted that each cases should be evaluated on its own facts and merits.  

Florida has unique laws for automobile accident, insurance claims, and civil cases.  Before speaking to an insurance company, a parent should first speka to a Florida Child Injury Lawyer who can help review the documentation, facts, and circumstances to provide the parent with some needed guidance in moving forward with an insurance clai or case.  Questions that often arise in the situations include but are not limited to the following:

Should I contact the insurance company?

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