Articles Posted in Statutory References (Florida)

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.

Florida Bicycle Accident Injuries.001Florida is a state that is filled year round with bicycle rides and cyclists of all ages and skill levels.  During any given trip by a driver of a motor vehicle – long or short, there is a high probability that you will pass or see a bicyclist on or near the roadway. It is vital that all drivers slow down near bicyclists and treat each bicyclist with due respect.  Let’s face it – a bicyclist / bicycle is no match (weight, force, and speed) for any motor vehicle out on the roads.   Distracted driving is an ongoing problem in the State of Florida.  Drivers are unfortunately and tragically paying more attention to their phone, text messages, and e-mails than other drivers, pedestrians, and, yes, bicyclist on or near the roads, highways, and streets.
Florida has adopted a comparative fault set of laws applicable to automobile accidents, trucking accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.  In other words, in order to pursue a case for compensation for personal injuries, the injured bicyclist can be partially at fault for the accident or incident.  In representing an injured bicyclist, it is preferable if the driver is 100 % at fault; however, there may be circumstances where the bicyclist is partially at fault. There also can be situations in which two or more drivers may be at fault for a bicycle accident leading to personal injuries.
It should be noted that under Florida Statutes a bicyclist is given the same rights as a pedestrian under many situations.  As such, drivers should keep the law in mind as well the safety of all bicyclists and pedestrians in mind when operating a motor vehicle in the State of Florida.  It should also be noted that Florida has adopted a Dangerous Instrumentality Law as it applies to automobile accidents and bicycle accidents.  As such, the registered owner of a motor vehicle is liable for the negligence of a permissive driver even if the owner did nothing wrong OR was not even present at the time of the incident or crash leading to the personal injuries of the bicyclist.

Red Bicycle.001In the State of Florida, a bicycle can be operated on a street, sidewalk, and crosswalk.   Pursuant to Section 316.2065 (9), Florida Statutes – Bicycle Regulations:

316.2065 (9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

As such, a bicyclist is essentially considered a pedestrian when operating a bicycle on a sidewalk and crosswalk. It is important for all drivers to be on the look out for bicyclists in the community whether the bicyclist / cyclist is a toddler, child, teen, adult, or competitive cyclist of any age. Florida weather permits bicycle riding year round.  As such, drivers should always be on the lookout for cyclist at all times.  Unfortunately, far too many bicyclist are injured every year due to the negligent driving of others and / or distracted driving of others.

Autombile-Accident-Car-Keys-150x150
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;

Boat Silhouette.001Florida is well known for its waterways, oceans, lakes, canals, rivers, coasts, and other aquatic areas. With a flurry of boating activity year round and more so over the summer, Florida is also the location or site for boating accidents causing personal injuries to children, teens, adults, and seniors. Florida has laws in place that cover the use and operation of a boat or vessel. Just because a boat owner / operator is out on the water, there is no freedom per se to act negligently, carelessly, or recklessly just because you are off the land and seem to be away from civilization.   Section 327.33, Florida Statutes provides as follows:
It is unlawful to operate a vessel in a reckless manner. A person is guilty of reckless operation of a vessel who operates any vessel, or manipulates any water skis, aqua plane, or similar decide, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property at a speed or in a manner as to endanger, or likely to endanger, life or limb, or damage the property of, or injury any person.
Florida law under Section 327.33, Florida Statutes further provides that:

 No Swimming.001During the past week, I have lectured and written on the issue of negligence, child injuries, and the unfortunate and tragic incident that took place at the Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando where a 2 year old child was attacked and ultimately drowned by an alligator.  It has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted in or near the area.  Some people, who I have spoken to, believe that this fact should then be a bar to recovery if there is a claim or case pursued by the parents of the child who died.  Florida is a state that has adopted a Comparative Fault system for the pursuit and trial of personal injury cases.  In other words, even if an injury victim is comparatively or partially at fault, there can still be a case pursued on behalf of the injury victim and / or the injury victim’s family.   It should also be noted that there are some special laws in place in Florida when a child is injured.  For instance, in the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault as a matter of law.  As such, a 2 year old cannot be comparatively at fault as a matter of law even though there were “No Swimming” signs that were posted.  However, a parent, as a third party of sorts, can be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault if the parent’s actions or inactions contributed in whole or part to the situation or incident taking place.
As for the Disney alligator attack, it has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted.  The family of the 2 year old were from Nebraska and may not have been aware of the presence of alligators throughout the State of Florida in its rivers, lakes, canals, ponds, and lagoons.  Furthermore, the sign read “No Swimming”.   The reason for the posting of the sign could have included any of the following:
*There was no regular lifeguard in the area.

Parents work tirelessly to raise and mentor their children.   Parents make sacrifices every day to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of their children.  During the infant and toddler years, parents or appropriate care providers are typically with the child at all times.  As a child grows older, it is not practical, possible, or necessary for a parent to be that 24 / 7 protector of their children.  As a child grows older, we, as parents, cannot be everything for our children.  They must and do venture out in the world.   As teenagers, parents still provide for their children and serve as guides and mentors.  When a teen is away from a parent on a short trip or a long one, a parent will worry but, again, cannot be there at all times.  Tragically, many teens die as a result of Florida Automobile Accidents on a far too frequent basis.  Through no fault of the teen victim, a life is lost due to the negligence or carelessness of another driver.  The at-fault driver may be another teen driver, an adult driver, a commercial driver, truck driver, etc. . .  No matter the identity of the at-fault driver or at-fault owner of the automobile, truck or vehicle, a teen’s life is lost and parents will grieve after the accident and for a lifetime for that matter.
It is interesting to note that in the English dictionary there is no word designated for a parent who loses a child.  When a man loses his wife, he is a widower. When a wife loses her husband, she is a widow.  When a child loses his parents, he is an orphan; however, when a parent loses a child, there is no word to describe the parents. Furthermore, the pain in losing a child is indescribable.
Certainly, the first thought that enters a parent’s head following the death of a child is not “Let’s get an attorney.”   It is more common and natural for a parent to be in shock and a loss for word or rational thought.   Questions that commonly arise include the following:  What happened?  How could this be?  Is this a nightmare?  Is this a mistake?  Could my child really be gone?  

Ambulance on Blue BackgroundFlorida roads, highways, and streets are far too often the locations of tragic automobile and trucking accidents.  Whenever there is a death on Florida roadways, the lives of surviving family members, friends, and neighbors are forever changed. There is a certain ripple effect from the death of even one person who untimely dies as a result of the careless driving of another person.   In Green Cove Springs (Clay County), Florida, there was a tragic accident reported in which 5 people died and 2 children were injured.  The Florida Highway Patrol reported that one driver drove over the double yellow lines and into the right of way of the there driver.  A fatal head on accident resulted with just tragic results. You can read more about this story at Fatal Accident Reported in Green Cove Springs, Florida. 
When a death is caused by the negligence or fault of another person, entity, or business in Florida, a wrongful death case can be pursued under Chapter 768, Florida Statutes.  It should be noted that when a person dies in the State of Florida, the civil lawsuit focuses on the loss, pain, and suffering on the surviving family member which may include a parent, child, or both.   Certainly, a person who dies as a result of an accident may have suffered extreme pain prior to death. There may have been an extended hospitalization leading to death.  However, once the person dies, the type of case that is pursued is a Florida Wrongful Death case assuming that the death was proximately caused by the trauma from the automobile accident or trucking accident. 
There are many twists and turns to the pursuit of a Florida Wrongful Death Case.  Because of this, it makes sense for family members to consult a Florida Personal Injury Attorney for advice, consultation, and legal representation.  The book titled – When a Parent’s World Goes From Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of a Child – What You Need to Know About the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  The book has sections on Personal Representative, Settlement / Compensation, Damages, and other topics. You can get this book for free at From Full to Empty

Scales of Justice - Yellow and BlueIn Florida, cases handled on behalf of minor children for personal injuries are subject to certain laws, rules, and regulations. The overall purpose of these laws is to protect the financial interests of child. It is important that the attorney / lawyer handling a child injury case be experienced and knowledgeable about the Florida law and to make sure that all laws, procedures, and practices are followed in order to act in the best interest of the minor child.   When handling a case on behalf of a minor child, there should be a high level of advocacy and protection kept in mind at all times to enforce and protect the legal rights of the injured child.
If a tentative settlement is reached on behalf of a minor child, court approval will be required if the settlement exceeds $15,000.  This is the law in Florida pursuant to Section 744.301, Florida Statutes and Section 744.3025, Florida Statutes.  If the child will receive a net settlement in excess of $15,000 – then the court will require a guardianship of the property in order to safeguard  and secure the funds.   The funds for this guardianship will then need to be held in a restricted depository.  No funds can be withdraw from this account without court order.  It should be noted that the settlement funds belong to the child and not the parent.  Settlement funds are not in place to pay rent, car payments, grocery bills, . . . .  
These are ordinary expenses that a parent has a duty to pay.   The funds are for extraordinary expenses like unexpected medical bills, tutoring, etc. . . Even for these extraordinary expenses, a court order will be required to access any funds from the guardianship restricted account.   Ideally, the funds are not spent or used during the child’s minority and at the age of 18 – the child will have some funds to purchase a vehicle, pay for college, or otherwise use the funds as he or she deems fit.  Again, the settlement funds belong to the child and not the parent. 


IFire Rescue Graphic Blue in Squaren Jacksonville and North Florida, there are a number of bridges (large and small) that connect commuters to various areas over and beyond major waterways like the St. Johns River and the Intercoastal.   Once such bridge is the Buckman Bridge.  Construction began on the Buckman Bridge in 1964 and the Buckman Bridge was completed in 1970.  The bridge spans over 16,000 square feet and connects the areas of Mandarin – San Jose (Duval County) to Orange Park (Clay County).

While driving upon any large bridge, there are many safety issues and problems that can arise.  Traffic, congestion, and visibility can be factors that lead to crashes. Another problem inherent in bridge traffic is the inability to pull off the roadway to safety when there is a vehicle approaching that is about to cause a rear end accident.   Tragically, there are crashes upon North Florida bridges that lead to serious personal injuries and even death.  One such crash that took place on March 2, 2015 had the effect of shutting down a major part of Jacksonville / Orange Park traffic because the Buckman Bridge was closed to manage and investigate the crash scene.

Action News and other media outlets reported that a semi-tractor trailer crashed into a SUV just before 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  It was reported that the driver of the large commercial tractor trailer noticed that traffic was slowing but was unable to bring his truck to a stop.   This, in turn, led to a rear end type of crash.  Thereafer, the SUV caught on fire and 4 occupants of this SUV died at the crash scene.  It was reported that the 4 crash victims included 2 adults and 2 children. A second SUV was also involved in this Florida Automobile Accident.  The 3 occupants of this vehicle were later treated at a local hospital for non life threatening personal injuries.  You can read more about this Buckman Bridge crash at 4 Dead and 3 Injured in Buckman Bridge Fiery Crash.