July 3, 2012

Two Men Killed After Drunk Driver Crashes Into Historic Liberty City Restaurant

506099_caution_%20sxchu%20username%20ugaldew.jpgTwo men were killed outside of an historic Liberty City eatery when an allegedly drunk driver lost control of his truck and struck them. 60-year-old Wilton Harris and 61-year-old Al Hamlin were standing on a sidewalk in front of Jumbo’s Restaurant when a white pickup truck driven by 53-year-old Antonio Lawrence reportedly sped into the parking lot. Initially, the pickup hit a car parked outside of the eatery. The force of the impact then pushed the parked car into the two men before the vehicle went through the front windows and came to a stop inside of the restaurant. During the accident, Hamlin was reportedly thrown into the restaurant while Harris was pinned under the pickup truck. Both men died at the scene of the crash. Luckily, although about a dozen patrons were inside of the restaurant at the time, no one else was injured.

According to an accident witness, Lawrence appeared to be intoxicated as he stumbled out of his pickup truck following the crash. He was later arrested and charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter. Lawrence is reportedly being held in Miami on a $30,000 bond.

Unexpected car crashes are one of the leading causes of wrongful death in Florida every year. Because of the number of beaches, amusement parks, seaports, and other attractions located in the state, many people are on the roadways and sidewalks at any given time. Unfortunately, commuters, pedestrians, students, tourists, and others risk being hurt by a careless or impaired motorist every day.

When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the resulting injuries are frequently catastrophic. Pedestrians who are hit by a car often sustain broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and may even be killed. In Florida, an injured pedestrian may recover compensation for medical costs, physical and occupational therapy expenses, pain, suffering, and lost wages. Close relatives of someone killed in a Florida pedestrian accident may also be able to recover for wrongful death. If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident caused by a careless or intoxicated driver, it is a good idea to contact a knowledgeable Florida car accident lawyer as soon as you are able.

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June 25, 2012

Two Killed, Several Injured in Five Vehicle Crash Near Tampa

494062_that_hurt%20sxchu.jpgIn June, two people were killed in a five vehicle accident on State Road 54 in Odessa. 16-year-old Matthew Capelo-Fine of Trinity was driving a BMW Sedan east towards Lake Polo Drive when he unexpectedly lost control of the car and skid across a median. After he crossed the median, Capelo-Fine struck a westbound Hyundai carrying five people. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Capelo-Fine’s sedan began to spin following the initial crash. Capelo-Fine's vehicle then hit a PT Cruiser that was sent spinning into the Hyundai he collided with initially. Meanwhile Capelo-Fine’s BMW continued on to strike a Nissan Altima. A nearby Chevy Impala also received damage to its windshield when it was struck by flying debris.

Unfortunately, Capelo-Fine died at the scene of the accident. 91-year-old Anna Davis, 13-year-old Collene Carberry, 15-year-old Jilly Horaneck, and the driver of the Hyundai, 71-year-old Joseph Furphy, were transported by rescue crews to Tampa General Hospital where Davis later died. Both Furphy and Horaneck reportedly suffered serious injuries in the crash and Carberry received only minor injuries. Although the cause of the collision is still under investigation, alcohol is reportedly not a suspected factor in the accident.

In Florida, we often spend countless hours in our automobiles every week. Unfortunately, with so many drivers and passengers on the roads, motor vehicle collisions are a fact of life. Every year, auto collisions are one of the leading causes of personal injury and death in the State of Florida. Injuries sustained in a car accident may be minor or they may be catastrophic. Car crashes are frequently caused by inattentive or inexperienced drivers, defective vehicles, weather, road debris, speeding, fatigue, and aggressive or impaired driving. If you or a loved one was injured through no fault of your own in a motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and any resulting disability. If you were hurt or lost a loved one on a Florida roadway, you should contact an experienced Florida car accident lawyer to help you file a claim against the negligent party.

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June 6, 2012

Three Killed, 12 Hurt in Volusia County Rollover Accident

869866_crash_car%20sxchu%20website.jpgIn early June, three people were killed and 12 others were injured on Interstate 95 in Volusia County when the driver of a 15-passenger van lost control and left the roadway. 57-year-old Vilbrun Bertrand of West Palm Beach was driving a group of Haitian migrant farm workers to New Jersey for the blueberry harvesting season when one of the van’s tires separated north of Ormond Beach. According to Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol, the van rolled repeatedly and several passengers were thrown from the vehicle.

Three passengers who were not wearing seat belts, Benitoh Delice, Sonja Maubrun, and Berteau Nazaire, died at the scene of the crash. Two other passengers were taken to Halifax Health Medical Center in critical condition. Nine additional passengers were taken to four different Central Florida hospitals for their injuries. Bertrand, who was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, was treated for only minor injuries.

Sgt. Montes stated there was visible damage to the van’s tire and the vehicle itself was significantly damaged in the accident. Although alcohol is not a suspected factor in the crash, the Central Florida automobile accident is currently under investigation. According to Sgt. Montes, a language barrier made the accident investigation difficult. State Troopers reportedly required the assistance of translators to interview the injured passengers at each of the four area hospitals.

Unfortunately, the van crash was the second fatal accident on Interstate 95 in Volusia County in a single weekend. On the previous day, a 40-year-old Titusville man was killed when his stranded vehicle was run over in the shoulder of the roadway by an 18-wheeler tanker carrying liquid nitrogen.

Automobile accidents cause a large percentage of the Florida wrongful death and personal injury claims filed every year. Tourists, students, and commuters risk being hurt in a car accident every day on Florida roadways. Some common causes of motor vehicle crashes include speeding, driver impairment, poor road conditions, driver inattention, and automobile defects. In Florida, those hurt in an automobile collision are eligible to receive compensation from a driver’s mandatory Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to cover the first $10,000.00 in medical treatment. Oftentimes, however, PIP insurance is not sufficient to cover the immediate medical costs associated with recovering from a catastrophic injury as well as the costs of future medical treatment and a lifetime of pain and suffering. It is a good idea to contact a qualified Florida car crash attorney to discuss your options for recovery following any injury accident.

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May 21, 2012

Report Says Florida Highway Patrol Erred in Reopening I-75 Before Deadly Gainesville Crash

3491_car_steering_wheel_in_the_rain%20sxchu%20website.jpgA recent report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement states Florida Highway Patrol officers made errors in connection with a January 29, 2012 accident that killed 11 people on Interstate 75 near Gainesville. On the day of the multi-vehicle crash, the interstate was closed through Paynes Prairie State Park prior to the accident due to a mix of fog and smoke from a nearby wildfire. According to the report, Sgt. Bruce Simmons was reluctant to reopen the interstate and warned Lt. John Gourley that poor visibility was likely to return. In a conversation recorded on Simmons’ in-vehicle video equipment, he told a deputy from a local Sherriff’s Office that his warning fell on deaf ears. Gourley allegedly ordered that the roadway be reopened because he believed keeping the interstate closed through the dark, unlit stretch of road also created a potentially hazardous situation for drivers. Gourley was reportedly concerned about creating secondary wrecks like those he had investigated in the past. Gourley was also allegedly concerned about a lack of suitable alternative routes for drivers. Department of Law Enforcement investigators stated Officer Gourley made the decision to reopen the interstate without any sort of proper formal training.

Although the Florida Forest Service and the Florida Department of Transportation reportedly supported reopening the roadway, the accident investigation report placed blame on the Florida Highway Patrol due to a lack of effective safety guidelines and procedures. The report stated troopers refused to share information that was vital to decision-making with one another prior to the pile-up accident. The investigation report also said troopers failed to adequately monitor conditions on the interstate after it was reopened. As a result, more than 12 passenger vehicles, six semi-trucks, and a motorhome crashed in six different pile-up accidents on the dark roadway. Several vehicles burst into flames. In addition to the dead, 18 people were hospitalized for their injuries.

The investigation report suggested that the Florida Highway Patrol adopt written and mandatory guidelines for reopening roadways when visibility is poor. It also suggested the state add signs along the interstate to warn drivers the roadway through the State Park may be hazardous. The Florida Legislature recently appropriated about $4 million to improve interstate warning signs in areas where visibility may be diminished throughout the state.

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May 11, 2012

New Study Finds Failure to Use Turn Signals More Dangerous Than Distracted Driving in Florida, Nationwide

209511_motorway%20sxchu.jpgA study recently published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) found that driver misuse of turn signals contributes to approximately 2 million car crashes in Florida and elsewhere throughout the United States each year. The study found drivers fail to use their turn signals when making lane changes or leave their signals on after changing lanes about 48 percent of the time. It also found that one quarter of the time, American drivers do not signal before making a turn. This means U.S. drivers fail to properly use turn signals approximately 2 billion times every day.

Distracted driving such as talking, texting, using email, or even eating behind the wheel is a hot topic in the news lately. In April, United States Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called for federal legislation that would ban cell phone use while driving. Still, only about 950,000 U.S. accidents are blamed on distracted driving each year. That is less than half the number associated with misuse of turn signals.

The SAE turn signal study was reportedly the first of its kind. Police and other law enforcement officers allegedly tend to refrain from enforcing turn signal requirements and instead focus more on compliance with speeding and other laws. The author of the study report, Richard Ponziani, stated although turn signals are highly effective for communicating with other drivers and avoiding collisions, their lack of use has reached epidemic proportions. He also said drivers should view their duty to use turn signals in the same way they view their obligation to stop for red lights.

The SAE study suggested the use of smart turn signal technology may be useful in avoiding collisions. Ponziani said a turn signal that shuts itself off after a specified period of time or after detecting a lane change could be helpful to drivers and contribute to roadway safety. Additionally, a system that reminds drivers who regularly fail to use their turn signals may also aid in preventing crashes. According to Ponziani, incorporating smart turn signal technology into new vehicles may actually be cheaper than current turn signal mechanisms. He believes implementing such technology would not only reduce the nation’s accident rate, but may also make drivers more courteous.

Unexpected automobile accidents can happen at any time. If you or a loved one was hurt in a motor vehicle collision as a result of another driver’s inattention or carelessness, it is a good idea to contact a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney as soon as you are able. You may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering, disability, lost wages, and other damages based on the severity of your injuries.

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May 3, 2012

Bond Lowered for Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher Arrested After DUI Hit and Run

Matt%20Bush%20Mug%20Shot.jpgIn early May, the bond for Tampa Bay Rays baseball player Matt Bush was reduced from $1 million to $440,000. Bush has remained in the Charlotte County Jail on multiple driving under the influence (DUI) charges since March. He was arrested on March 22nd after the sport utility vehicle he was driving allegedly hit a motorcycle carrying 72-year-old Anthony Tufano on US Highway 41. Although Tufano was seriously injured as a result of being thrown from the motorcycle, Bush reportedly fled the scene of the collision. The Rays pitcher was later stopped by police on another road and subsequently arrested. Following the accident, Tufano was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

According to local law enforcement, Bush exhibited slurred speech, poor coordination and balance, bloodshot eyes, and smelled of alcohol following the crash. When police administered a breathalyzer test, Bush blew a .180 and a .171, more than twice the State of Florida’s legal limit of .08. Bush admitted to hitting a pole earlier in the day, but told police officers he did not remember hitting a motorcycle. He was previously charged with DUI in both Arizona and California.

Following the crash, Bush was charged with fleeing the scene of a serious injury accident, DUI with serious injuries, DUI with property damage, and driving on a suspended license. If he is released on bond, he will be required to wear both an alcohol monitoring device and a GPS tracking bracelet. The judge who lowered his bond also told Bush he was not allowed to leave Charlotte County or enter any establishments that serve alcohol. Although prosecutors argued Bush was a flight risk, his attorney stated Bush cannot afford bail and will likely remain in Charlotte County Jail even with the lowered bond.

Intoxicated drivers threaten the lives of those traveling on Florida roadways every day. If a drunk driver has hurt you or someone you love, you should contact a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the crash. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, disability, and lost wages. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you receive fair compensation for your injuries or relieve your financial burden following a family member’s Florida wrongful death.

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April 6, 2012

Authorities Say Deadly Fort Pierce School Bus Accident Caused by Inattentive Bus Driver

1012894_cn_tower___%20sxchu.jpgLast month, a nine-year-old boy was killed and more than one dozen other children were injured when a school bus collided with a semi-trailer truck carrying landscaping sod near Fort Pierce. Many students, including the child killed, were wearing lap belts as required by Florida law. Still, several were ejected from the bus and lying on the ground when emergency crews arrived. The bus driver, Albert Hazen of Port St. Lucie, reportedly led the injured children off of the bus and directed them to rescue crews before collapsing and being taken to a local hospital.

According to a seven-page crash report released by the Florida Highway Patrol, the Frances K. Sweet Magnet School bus accident was caused by an inattentive bus driver. The report states the bus driver caused the accident when he turned left into the path of the oncoming tractor trailer. Despite that the 24-year-old semi-truck driver, Charles Cooper, attempted to avoid the accident, his vehicle struck the right side of the school bus and sent it spinning. Cooper was also taken to the hospital over injuries he sustained in the collision.

On the day of the accident, the sky was reportedly clear and the roadway was dry. Although toxicology results are currently pending, the driver is not suspected of using alcohol or other drugs prior to the crash. Still, the Florida Highway Patrol has stated charges related to the deadly accident are currently pending.

Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of personal injury and wrongful death claims filed in the State of Florida. Commuters, students, tourists, and others risk being injured in an auto accident every day. Some of the most common causes of Florida car accidents include drunk or impaired driving, driver inattention, and speeding. Many car crashes are also caused by drivers who are distracted by other vehicle occupants, cell phones, email, or text messaging.

Although car accidents may be minor, they can also be fatal. The medical costs related to recovering from an unexpected injury can be enormous. According to Florida law, those hurt in a collision are protected by mandatory Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Unfortunately, the costs of recovery are often not completely covered by PIP. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can explain your rights and your options for recovery following a car crash.

Continue reading "Authorities Say Deadly Fort Pierce School Bus Accident Caused by Inattentive Bus Driver" »

March 28, 2012

Pregnant Woman Killed in Fort Lauderdale Poolside Cabana Accident

1197277_by_the_pool%20sxchu.jpgLast week, a pregnant Massachusetts woman was killed when a car drove into a Fort Lauderdale hotel's poolside cabana while she was inside. 27-year-old Alanna DeMella died after 35-year-old Rosa Rivera Kim of Plantation lost control of the car she was driving, drove over a curb, and hit a cabana at the Riverside Hotel. DeMella’s 31-year-old husband was inside a nearby men’s room at the time of the accident. He was taken to Broward General Medical Center for minor injuries. The couple’s unborn son also died in the accident.

Kim was also taken to Broward General Medical Center for her injuries. Police did not perform a breathalyzer test or draw Kim's blood immediately following the accident due to her injuries. The accident is currently under investigation and police are still determining whether to file charges against Kim.

The Massachusetts couple was reportedly in town for a marriage conference paid for by their church. They apparently chose to extend their vacation by one day after the conference. Just hours after the couple checked into the Riverside hotel, DeMella, a teaching assistant for third-grade special education students, was killed.

Although most are not as bizarre as this one, unexpected automobile accidents are one of the main causes of wrongful death in the State of Florida. Because of Florida’s many beaches, seaports, and amusement parks, our state often has a great number of tourists on both sidewalks and the road. Every day, tourists, commuters, students, pedestrians, and others risk being injured by a motor vehicle. Common causes of Florida pedestrian accidents include impaired driving, speeding, driver inattention, failure to yield, and drivers who are distracted by cell phones, email, or text messaging.

Pedestrian accident injuries are often catastrophic and the expenses associated with recovering from such an injury can be high. In Florida, injured pedestrians may recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, surgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and pain and suffering. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a pedestrian or car accident, it is highly recommended that you speak with a qualified Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

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March 27, 2012

Palm Beach County Polo Magnate Convicted of DUI-Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide

1334670_stop_sign%20sxchu.jpgOn Friday, a South Florida jury convicted polo magnate John Goodman of vehicular homicide and DUI-manslaughter in connection with a fatal February 2010 automobile accident that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson. The six member jury deliberated for less than six hours before handing down a guilty verdict. Following the jury’s decision, 48-year-old Goodman was immediately taken into custody and now faces up to 30 years in prison. Although he plans to appeal the conviction, Goodman will likely remain in custody until he is sentenced on April 30th.

The high profile case made international headlines after Goodman, heir to a $1.4 billion fortune, adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins. At trial, Goodman was accused of driving his Bentley while impaired, speeding, running a stop sign, crashing into Wilson’s vehicle, and leaving the scene of the accident despite that Wilson’s vehicle was upside down in a canal. Goodman also allegedly called his girlfriend following the accident and reportedly waited more than one hour before calling authorities. Wilson drowned as a result of the Wellington car accident.

Goodman testified at trial that he suffered a concussion in the crash and did not see Wilson’s vehicle in the canal. He also testified he tried to stop, but his Bentley instead surged forward out of control. The defense provided expert testimony that the throttle on Goodman’s car was somehow stuck open immediately prior to the collision. According to jurors, the expert’s testimony was not convincing.

When authorities tested Goodman’s blood alcohol level, it measured .177 percent, more than twice the State of Florida’s legal limit. Goodman’s defense team claimed although he drank over the course of the evening, he was not driving while impaired. According to Goodman, he instead drank most of the alcohol in his system following the crash at a nearby barn owned by a fellow polo player. Part of Goodman’s defense was that he drank in a so-called “man cave” in his friend’s barn in an effort to alleviate the pain of a broken wrist. Still, it reportedly did not sit well with jurors when Goodman admitted to running the stop sign and having a few drinks prior to getting behind the wheel.

In addition to the criminal trial, Goodman is also facing a $100 million wrongful death civil lawsuit brought by Wilson's parents in connection with the accident.

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March 20, 2012

Debate Continues Over Elderly Driver Testing in Florida

1101435_highway%20%20sxchu.jpgThe debate over driver testing for seniors in Florida has recently resurfaced. One out of every five drivers in the state is over the age of 65 and that number is expected to increase as the nation’s population ages. Currently, elderly Florida drivers are not required to take a driving test when renewing their license. Due to a high elderly driver collision rate, some believe this should be changed.

Approximately 15 percent of the fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred in Florida in 2010 involved a driver over the age of 65. Last weekend, a woman was killed in Delray by an 89-year-old driver who backed into her in a parking lot. Another woman died in Deerfield Beach after she was hit while walking on a sidewalk and dragged across a church property by an 88-year-old-driver. Tragic accidents such as these often inspire a public call for additional senior driver testing.

The State of Illinois requires seniors to submit to a road test when renewing their driver’s license. In Texas, drivers over the age of 79 are required to renew their license in person. Eight other states also require elderly drivers to renew in person beginning anywhere between age 69 to 75. As the baby boomer generation ages the debate over elderly driver certification will likely continue. Florida is one of 40 states which require vision testing for senior drivers. Driving tests, however, are not required.

According to Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there is no concrete proof elderly driver regulations reduce accident rates. She said although a recently conducted study suggested in person driver's license renewal requirements for seniors may lower collision rates, other evidence was decidedly mixed. McCartt also stated Florida drivers over the age of 80 had a lower accident rate than those in the 15 to 34 age range in 2010.

The AARP has publicly opposed any age-based driver testing standard. The lobbying organization has instead advocated for promotion of Florida’s medical-review program. The program allows citizens, police officers, and doctors to report dangerous drivers as well as drivers who were diagnosed with an illness which may impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Once a driver is reported, state licensing agents determine whether to administer a road test. The organization also expressed support for in person license renewal requirements for all drivers.

Some, such as Representative Irv Slosberg of Boca Raton, believe the safety focus should be on teenaged drivers rather than seniors as elderly drivers rarely speed or text behind the wheel of a car. Still, reliable crash rates can be difficult to obtain since senior citizens tend to drive fewer miles per year than younger drivers. Most agree, however, a bright lane driving age cut-off is unnecessary.

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March 14, 2012

Florida Lawmakers Reform Personal Injury Protection Insurance

1334532_ambulance.jpgLast week, the Florida Legislature passed reforms to the state’s mandatory no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance requirement. House Bill 119 was passed after a 22-17 vote in the Senate just prior to midnight and immediately before state lawmakers adjourned. The reforms are designed to rein in insurance prices by making it more difficult for individuals to commit fraud or abuse PIP insurance.

PIP was adopted in Florida in 1972. The law allows those injured in a motor vehicle accident to receive up to $10,000 for medical expenses and lost earnings regardless of fault. The costs associated with PIP insurance have purportedly increased by approximately $1.4 billion over the last four years. Some believe the increase is due in large part to fraud and staged accidents. The State of Florida reportedly has the most staged accidents nationwide, and the problem is particularly pronounced in the Tampa and Miami metropolitan areas.

The measure passed by lawmakers requires anyone who is injured in a Florida car accident to seek treatment within 14 days from a hospital, ambulance, physician, dentist, or chiropractor. An accident victim will only be allowed to receive the full PIP insurance benefit of $10,000 if a treating medical provider determines he or she suffers from an emergency medical condition. If not, the victim’s PIP benefit will be limited to $2,500. Additionally, the new law requires an accident victim to receive a referral from a health care provider prior to obtaining any follow-up medical services and eliminates payment for massage or acupuncture treatment.

The new law almost didn’t make it to a vote. Florida Senators narrowly accepted House changes to the measure by a 21-19 vote. According to Senator Joe Negron, who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate and negotiated the compromise legislation, the new law will have a large impact on PIP insurance fraud. Senate President Mike Haridopolos admitted to collecting on IOUs in order to get the legislation approved.

Governor Rick Scott was in favor of the legislation, but some Florida lawmakers believe the new law will only serve to create larger profits for insurance companies. Although the initial bill would have guaranteed a PIP rate reduction of 25 percent, the bill that was passed only requires a 10 percent rate reduction with no guarantees. If insurance companies fail to reduce PIP rates by 10 percent, they must provide a detailed explanation regarding why the reduction was impossible. If PIP rates are not reduced by 25 percent by January 1, 2014, another explanation is required.

Representative Scott Randolph of Orlando expressed concern regarding whether lawmakers should take insurance companies at their word. A spokesperson for the Florida Consumer Action Network, Bill Newton, doesn’t believe the legislation will have an impact on PIP insurance fraud. Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami also expressed his concerns over the new measure and stated insurance companies were already in control the PIP formula.

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March 13, 2012

Two Killed, Five Injured in Automobile Collision Near Boca Raton

570770_metal%20sxchu%20website.jpgA mother and her adult daughter were killed and five other people were injured in a two car accident west of Boca Raton Friday night. According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, 85-year-old Angelina Ferrarella and 54-year-old Donna D'Angelo died after the car Ferrarella was driving was broadsided in an intersection by a 2003 BMW that allegedly ran a red light. Ferrarella’s husband, son-in-law, and grandson were also seriously injured in the crash. At the time of the accident, Ferrarella and her family were about one block away from their destination.

The driver of the BMW, 19-year-old Joanne Luu, and her passenger suffered only minor injuries. Although a toxicology report is currently pending, police believe alcohol or drugs may have been a factor in the crash. Police stated Luu's passenger was also believed to be under the influence at the time of the accident. No arrests were made in connection with the accident.

Since the accident, Luu took to posting photos of her injuries and her own account of the accident on social media website Twitter. According to Luu, Ferrarella ran a red light and broadsided her vehicle. Twitter has since deactivated Luu’s account.

Drugs and alcohol can have a dramatic effect on a driver's perception, judgment, and reaction time. A drunk or impaired driver is not only a hazard themselves, but also a danger to everyone they encounter on the road. Drunk or impaired driving is one of the leading causes of deadly automobile accidents in the nation. You and those you love are put at risk each time someone chooses to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you or a loved one was hurt by an intoxicated or impaired driver, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, disability, pain, suffering, lost wages, and other damages. By filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver who hurt you or your family, you have the opportunity to send a message to other drivers that operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or on drugs is not acceptable behavior.

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February 28, 2012

Florida Highway Patrol on the Lookout for Aggressive Drivers

232051_semi-truck_1%20sxchu.jpgThe Florida Highway Patrol will be on the lookout for aggressive drivers this week. According to state law, an aggressive driver is someone who commits two violations such as following too closely, speeding, making unsafe lane changes, failing to yield, passing improperly, and running stop lights or signs at the same time. Additional State Troopers will be dispatched to major state roads such as Florida’s Turnpike and interstates 75, 95, and 595 this week to combat aggressive driving.

By stepping up enforcement, the Highway Patrol seeks to reduce or eliminate the number of collisions between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks such as 18-wheelers. According to the law enforcement agency, 88 percent of such crashes result from driver choices and behavior. Meanwhile, only 12 percent are caused by road conditions and motor vehicle defects. In 2010, Florida law enforcement officers ticketed 23,180 aggressive drivers. That number was almost 20,000 more tickets than were issued in 2003.

The Florida Highway Patrol is also seeking to reduce accidents by using educational tools such as roadside billboards and radio spots. Drivers are also being warned to take safety precautions such as ensuring they stay out of a commercial truck’s blind spots. In 2010, approximately 10 percent of all traffic deaths in Florida resulted from crashes between semi-trucks and passenger cars.

Florida Trucking Association Road Team driver Frank Silio believes most drivers are not trying to be unsafe, but do not fully realize the amount of time it takes for an 18-wheeler to stop when traveling at interstate speeds. He stated at 50 miles per hour it can take more than 100 yards to stop due to the truck’s weight. Silio and 22 other Road Team drivers work with the Florida Highway Patrol to educate drivers about safe driving near 18-wheelers. He believes drivers ought to be more cognizant of a commercial truck’s large blind spots and allows individuals to sit in his cab during educational events in order to see the road from a truck driver’s perspective.

Folks in Florida spend a great deal of time in their automobiles each year. Unsafe or distracted drivers are a hazard to everyone on the road. Aggressive driving can lead to major injuries and death. An individual who is hurt in an automobile accident due to someone else’s negligence may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, disability, pain, suffering, lost earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life and other damages. If you or a loved one was hurt in a motor vehicle collision, a qualified car accident attorney can help you evaluate your case.

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February 21, 2012

Florida Lawmakers Consider Statewide Driver Texting Ban

1307593_mobile_phone_in_hand%20sxchu%20website.jpgFlorida’s Budget Committee is considering a bill which would ban texting while driving throughout the state. Senate Bill 416 would prohibit drivers in Florida from sending or reading non-voice communications using a wireless device. If approved, the ban would go into effect on October 1st of this year.

Senate Bill 416 was introduced by Senators Margolis, Sachs, Sobel, Lynn, and Altman. If the law is passed, a driver caught texting while driving would be subject to a $30 fine and gain 6 points on their driver’s license. A driver cited twice within 5 years would be subject to a $60 fine and receive an additional 6 points. In Florida, once a driver has received 12 or more points the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may suspend their operator’s license for 30 days.

If passed, the law would not apply to police or emergency personnel engaged in their official duties. It would also provide an exception for those reporting an emergency or crime. Emergency alerts, messages concerning weather or traffic, and navigation systems would also be exempted under the proposed law. As written, the bill would make texting behind the wheel violations a secondary enforcement offense. This means a driver could only be cited for violating the law if initially pulled over for another violation.

According to Captain Mark Brown, Chief of Public Affairs for the Florida Highway Patrol, nearly 2,600 motor vehicle collisions in Florida in 2011 involved an "electronic distraction." He also stated all use of cellular telephones in Florida Highway Patrol cars is banned unless a hands free device is being used. The Highway Patrol instituted this policy in an effort to set a good example for Florida residents.

Senate Bill 416 is modeled after a 2009 Executive Order which prohibits federal employees driving a government vehicle from texting behind the wheel. At present, 35 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. Previous attempts to prohibit texting while driving never made it out of the Florida Legislature. The current Senate bill has seen support as it traveled through several committees, but it has not been scheduled for a full chamber vote. House Bill 299, the House counterpart to Senate Bill 416, has not moved forward.

Florida citizens spend countless hours in their automobiles every year. Drivers distracted by cellular telephones, text messages, and email can be a hazard to everyone on the road. Serious injuries and even death may result from their inattention. If you were injured in a car accident due to another person's negligence, you may be eligible to receive monetary damages for lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical bills, suffering, pain, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life. Since no two injuries are alike, it is a good idea to contact an experienced automobile accident lawyer to help you assess your damages.

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February 12, 2012

Civil and Criminal Trials Against Polo Magnate Who Adopted 42-year-old Girlfriend Begin Soon

658107_polo_player%20sxchu.jpg
On February 11, 2010, 23-year-old Scott Wilson drowned in his car when it flipped and landed upside down in a Wellington canal after an early morning auto accident. The other driver, polo mogul John Goodman, is accused of driving while drunk and impaired, speeding, running a stop sign, colliding with Wilson’s vehicle, leaving the scene of the accident, and waiting about an hour before calling 911. Goodman also allegedly called his girlfriend prior to alerting authorities to the accident.

A criminal trial against Goodman is scheduled to begin in South Florida on March 6th. He is charged with D.U.I. manslaughter and motor vehicular homicide. According to Goodman, now 48, his cell phone was not working at the time of the accident and he left the scene to get help. After the accident, Goodman’s blood alcohol content was purportedly more than twice Florida’s legal limit of .08 percent.

Wilson’s parents have also filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against Goodman. The lawsuit, also scheduled to begin in March, made international headlines after Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins. Although attorneys for Goodman’s minor biological children have asked a Miami-Dade judge to toss out the adoption, it makes Hutchins the current beneficiary of a $300 million trust established for his children.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley is presiding over the Wilsons’ civil case. He has expressed disbelief over the adoption and called it a “legal twilight zone.” In September, Judge Kelley refused to allow the Wilsons to introduce evidence in the civil case regarding the contents of the trust because Goodman’s children, not Goodman, were the beneficiaries. On January 26th, Judge Kelley reversed his decision and stated information about the trust may now be presented to jurors.

Goodman is an heir to a $1.4 billion fortune. According to Goodman’s civil attorney, the adoption was merely an estate planning tool designed to protect the contents of the trust. Litigation concerning the adoption is currently taking place in Florida, Texas, and Delaware.

Losing someone you love is always devastating, but it can be especially difficult when your loved one died as a result of a preventable accident. Unfortunately, tragic deaths such as this are increasingly common. A wrongful death claim can provide compensation to close relatives of someone killed due to another person’s carelessness, negligence or wrongful act. Your ability to file a wrongful death case will depend on your relationship to the deceased person. In Florida, a family member has up to two years to file a claim for wrongful death. Because of the limited time period in which to file your case, it is important to speak with a qualified wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after a fatal accident.

Continue reading "Civil and Criminal Trials Against Polo Magnate Who Adopted 42-year-old Girlfriend Begin Soon" »

February 2, 2012

Eleven Dead in Gainesville Interstate Pileup

285433_car_accident%20sxchu%20website.jpgEarly Sunday morning, 11 people were killed and 21 injured in a massive vehicle pileup on Interstate 75 south of Gainesville. The accident, which involved seven 18-wheelers and 12 passenger vehicles, left behind fiery wreckage which spanned more than one mile of roadway. Poor visibility from a mixture of heavy smoke and fog is being blamed for the crash. Rescuers on the scene stated it was nearly impossible to find victims in the dark cloud.

According to crash survivor Steven Camps of Gainesville, it was a horrific scene. Camps said he hard vehicles crashing into one another, explosions, and people screaming. He also stated it looked like the “end of the world,” had arrived. Camps said while he was headed home traffic on the northbound interstate stopped. While stopped, Camps’ vehicle was purportedly struck twice. He also claims he witnessed the car stopped next to his own smashed into and forced underneath a stopped semi-truck trailer. After that, Camps and his passenger exited his vehicle and ran to a grassy bank nearby.

Accidents occurred on both sides of the interstate and all six lanes of I-75 were closed throughout most of the day on Sunday as fire crews extinguished the last of the flames. According to a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, portions of the northbound lanes actually melted from the various fires.

Ludie Bond, spokeswoman for the Florida Forest Service, stated roadside fires began along I-75 sometime on Saturday. Previously during the weekend, the interstate was closed for a short time due to poor visibility. It was later reopened prior to the deadly crash. Because no controlled burns were scheduled in the area, investigators are currently examining whether the roadside blaze may been the result of arson.

Sadly, automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and death in Florida each year. Injuries sustained in a car accident may be very minor or quite disastrous as was the case on Sunday. Although the causes of a vehicle crash can vary, hazardous road conditions, driver inattention, driver impairment, and driver fatigue are commonly to blame. Other factors include defective vehicles, road debris, driving too fast for conditions, and aggressive driving. If you were hurt in a car crash due to someone else’s carelessness, an experienced automobile accident lawyer can help.

Continue reading "Eleven Dead in Gainesville Interstate Pileup" »

January 27, 2012

New Study Reveals Red Light Cameras May Actually Increase Fatal Accidents in Florida, Nationwide

480202_broken_car%20sxchu%20website.jpgAccording to research recently released by the University of South Florida, cities that utilize red light cameras have a 25 percent higher rate of traffic fatalities related to red light running than cities that do not use the technology. The research, published in the Florida Health Review, completely refutes a February 2011 study disseminated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which stated red light cameras would have prevented approximately 800 additional traffic deaths in 48 cities during a five year period.

In the February 2011 study, a five year period during which 62 cities did not have red light cameras was selected. Next, a five year period during which 14 of the cities had active red light cameras installed and operational and the remaining 48 cities did not use red light cameras at all was chosen. After the Insurance Institute compared the data, it arrived at the conclusion red light cameras could have prevented many red light running fatalities in camera-free cities.

In contrast, the University of South Florida study concluded the Insurance Institute’s analysis was not only scientifically flawed, but also highly suspect because the insurance industry funded the entirety of the research. Insurance companies have a significant financial stake in red light camera tickets. Although tickets from red light cameras do not add points to a Florida driver’s license, they are still used to increase insurance premiums.

Other problems with the Insurance Institute’s research also existed. For example, several of the cities evaluated that never implemented red light cameras experienced very few or no fatal accidents associated with red light running during the relevant time periods. Consequently, it was impossible for researchers to truly compare before and after death rates. After researchers at the University of South Florida re-analyzed the statistics used by the Insurance Institute using valid research methods, they concluded red light running fatalities were in fact significantly higher in red light camera cities.

Florida residents spend countless hours in their automobiles each year and motor vehicle collisions are an unfortunate fact of life. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and death in Florida. Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision can range from minor to catastrophic. Automobile accidents are generally caused by driver inattention, impairment or fatigue. Other factors may include defective vehicles, speeding, road debris, and aggressive driving. If you were injured on the road, a knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you file a claim against the negligent party.

Continue reading "New Study Reveals Red Light Cameras May Actually Increase Fatal Accidents in Florida, Nationwide" »

May 26, 2011

Facts about Auto Accidents during Memorial Day Weekend to Keep you Safe

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As Memorial Day approaches, people will be heading to and from our great Florida cities with their families and friends for a weekend getaway. Whether it’s a trip to Disneyworld in Orlando or a day at the beach in Miami, many of us will be on the road, which means a greater risk for auto accidents, especially with drivers behind the wheel after having a drink or two at that weekend barbecue.

Holiday travel in on the Florida roads can be hectic enough with all the traffic, but an auto accident can be a big speed bump on the road to your long weekend. According to a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report, there were 22 fatalities due to car crashes on Memorial Day Weekend in 2009. That same year, May was the 2nd highest month for total crashes, with 20,688.

We want you to have a safe and fun-filled weekend, so here are some tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe when you’re on the road:

• Try to avoid driving during the busy, gridlocked times of the weekend (i.e. Friday after work) when everyone will be heading out for vacation
• Always put your seatbelt on before driving, and be sure that your children are buckled up
• Do not text while driving, as distracted driving can also lead to an auto accident
• If you’re on the highway or turnpike, remember that a lot of people will be on the road as well, so keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you
• Obey all traffic laws, speed zones and proceed with caution in areas of the road with heavy construction
• Avoid driving late at night, when drunk drivers are more likely to be out on the road
• If you decide to drink, do so responsibly and do not drive

The Florida Highway Patrol also has helpful tips to help make your holiday travels easier and safer. If you are involved in an auto accident this weekend, be sure that you know what to do and consult with a Florida auto accident attorney Florida auto accident attorney to handle your case. Stay safe and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

May 22, 2011

Wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage Dies in Florida Auto Accident

On Friday, May 20, wrestling legend Randy “Macho Man” Savage, a two-time champion known for his vibrant style, his “Oh Yeah” catch-phrase and his ad campaigns for Slim Jim, passed away in an auto accident in Florida. He was 58 years old.

Yahoo News and the Sun Sentinel reported that Savage, born Randy Mario Poffo, was near his home in Seminole, Florida when his vehicle lost control. Though an autopsy will likely be performed to determine the cause of the crash, Savage’s brother Lanny Poffo said that he suffered a heart attack while driving his Jeep Wrangler which went over a concrete median and into oncoming traffic before slamming into a tree. Both savage and his wife, Barbara Lynn Poffo, were wearing seatbelts.

Watch the video on the Macho Man’s tragic death from CBSNews:

Auto accidents occur every day, leaving the parties involved with serious, sometimes fatal, injuries. They can be caused by human error, intoxication, texting while driving, or even a vehicle defect and can be very stessful if you don't know what to do after an accident. If you have been involved in an auto accident and you have questions, contact our offices.

May 15, 2011

New Florida Bill on Product Liability Claims for Auto Accidents and what it Means to You

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Last week, the Florida House of Representatives approved a bill which will have a significant impact on Florida auto accident cases. The Miami Herald reported that this bill was approved by a large margin of 80-35 and is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott.

Under the bill, SB 142, juries must consider the fault of every contributing party to the accident when apportioning damages for products liability claims against auto makers. According to the Herald, this bill will do away with the D’Amario v. Ford Motor Co. decision in 2001 which held that, “evidence of the primary cause of the cause of a crash, such as driver error or drunkenness, cannot be introduced in product liability cases.”

So what are the pros/cons of this bill? What does this mean for Florida plaintiffs in auto accident cases?

Proponents argue that this pro-business bill will open doors for more auto makers to set up shop in Florida and allow juries to consider all evidence before having auto makers pay up for product liability claims. On the other hand, critics of the bill are concerned that big businesses will not be held accountable for potentially defective products which will effectively pass the buck to Florida tax payers.

Though this will be an additional hurdle for product liability claims against auto makers, victims of auto accidents will still have their day in court and our lawyers will continue to pursue legitimate claims and fight vigorously for our clients’ rights. Our hope is that this bill will further educate, rather than confuse or distract, jurors with all the facts necessary to appropriately apportion liability and damages.

August 6, 2010

City of Davie Approves Red Light Cameras

In a vote of 3-2, the town council for the City of Davie, Florida approved the use of red light cameras within their city limits. As I wrote about this issue previously, the implementation of red light cameras is highly controversial. The controversy exists because there really is no credible evidence that the use of red light cameras actually decreases traffic accidents. On the contrary, the studies appear to prove the exact opposite, that red light cameras increase intersection collisions.

As long ago as 1995, the Australian Review Board conducted a study comparing the use of red light cameras with the number of traffic accidents. This study analyzed the long term effect on accident-types of red-light cameras at 41 intersections in Melbourne, Australia. The cameras were installed in 1984, and reported accidents for the period 1979 to 1989 were used in the detailed analysis. The study concluded the following:“The results of this study suggest that the installation of the RLC at these sites did not provide any reduction in accidents, rather there has been increases in rear end and adjacent approaches accidents on a before and after basis and also by comparison with the changes in accidents at intersection signals.”
“There has been no demonstrated value of the RLC as an effective countermeasure.”

In 2007, the Virginia Transportation Research Council issued a report which also showed an increase in traffic accidents. The study concluded: “After cameras were installed, rear-end crashes increased for the entire six-jurisdiction study area… After controlling for time and traffic volume at each intersection, rear-end crash rates increased by an average of 27% for the entire study area.”“After cameras were installed, total crashes increased.”

In 2001, the office of U.S. Congressman Dick Armey uncovered a very interesting fact when performing their own analysis of the issue. Representative Armey’s office found that the author of those studies that advocated that red light cameras improved traffic safety was the very same man who invented the device and stood to profit from its widespread acceptance and implementation. This study concluded: In short, the only documented benefit to red light cameras is to the pocketbook of local governments who use the devices to collect millions in revenue.”

I have to agree with Representative Armey’s conclusion. Because of the devastating impact that our economic recession is having on local governments, local governments appear to be looking for any way to increase revenues. However, the implementation of an idea that will actually increase traffic accidents is extremely shortsighted, in that an increase in traffic accidents will place an additional monetary strain on police and fire rescue units who are required to respond to an accident scene.

Continue reading "City of Davie Approves Red Light Cameras" »

July 27, 2010

Suing for Aggravated Injuries After An Auto Accident

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If you have a previous injury that is aggravated after a car accident in Florida, what are your rights? Can you collect damages for medical bills incurred even though you already have a pre-existing condition? Can you collect ongoing payments for your long-term injury if it gets worse as a result? Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you figure out what is rightfully yours and fight the insurance companies to get it.

Many people suffer from pre-existing conditions at the time of an accident. Common injuries that can be aggravated by such an event include: arthritis, head and neck injuries, back injuries (herniated disks, bulging disks, spinal cord injuries, etc.), knee and hip injuries and more. Sometimes, though, an insurance adjustor will claim that your pre-existing condition precludes you from receiving compensation for your injuries.

Making Your Case Stronger
Generally speaking, the driver who is at fault for an auto accident is liable for paying for medical bills, lost wages and/or pain and suffering caused during the collision, even for people with pre-existing injuries. Proving new aggravation of old injuries can be tricky, though, and there are a few things you can do to improve your chance at recovery:

- Be sure to seek medical attention right after an accident.
- List all pre-existing conditions with your doctor or medical professional immediately after an auto accident.
- Carefully document all of your symptoms, doctor’s visits and other medical attention received after the accident. This documentation can help distinguish old health problems from new ones caused as a result of the accident.

Contact a lawyer as soon as you’ve been in a car accident. The insurance companies may offer you a settlement or they may deny your claim altogether. The only way to know if you’re getting what is fair is to speak to a legal professional today.

June 24, 2010

Never Discuss Fault at the Scene of an Accident

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In Florida, drivers must carry a minimum amount of car liability insurance because it is a “no-fault” state. This means that no fault is assigned to drivers when accidents occur and insurance companies automatically pick up expenses for medical bills and lost wages, up to the policyholder’s limit. However, the no-fault rule does not apply when it comes to paying for the car’s repair after an accident.

This means that insurance claims for car repairs are still based on fault. So, at the scene of a crash, it is vital that you never acknowledge your part in the accident (if any). Insurance adjustors can use this information against you to deny you benefits. Instead, simply exchange information and allow your insurance company to deal with the investigation. Similarly, be sure to make note if the other driver admits fault in the accident, as this information can be used to strengthen your case as well.

If you have talked to your insurance company and the insurer of the other driver and are getting nowhere, it’s time to hire a reliable auto accident attorney. An attorney can file the necessary documents to get the insurance company to pay. They can also expedite the process if you’re having trouble getting straight answers on your own. Although Florida is a no-fault state, there is still plenty of room under the law to fight for the compensation you deserve.

June 18, 2010

What To Do If You’ve Been In An Auto Accident

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If you’ve ever been involved in an auto accident in Fort Lauderdale, you know how scary the experience can be. In the moments just after a collision occurs, most people are in shock for a few minutes and many people aren’t sure of the steps they should take immediately after a crash. Here’s a list of auto accident basics that can help you expedite the claims process:

1. Stop your vehicle. Never flee the scene of an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault.
2. Check for injuries to yourself and your passengers. Call 911 immediately if anyone is hurt in your vehicle. If you can move safely, check the driver/passengers of the other vehicle(s) as well to see if they need emergency assistance.
3. Call the police if the accident is serious or if it is a hit and run. Minor fender benders don’t need police attention in most situations.
4. Exchange information. Regardless of fault, you have to exchange information with the other driver(s). Be sure to provide and receive names, phone numbers, addresses, license plate numbers, insurance information and driver’s license numbers. Get contact information from witnesses as well.
5. Document the scene and the damage. Use your cell phone camera or a digital camera to take pictures of all vehicles at the scene or as soon as possible. Take note of the weather conditions, the other driver’s car and any other pieces of pertinent information.

After you’ve taken these steps, contact your insurance company and report the accident. Also, be sure to seek medical attention for any injuries you may have received. This step is a crucial part of your personal injury case against another driver who is responsible for your injuries. Be sure to call a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney to handle your case. Insurance companies will work hard to deny you adequate coverage and an experienced lawyer can help you recover damages for your injuries.

December 2, 2009

Search Is On in South Florida for Hit-and-Run Driver

The Sun Sentinel reported on December 1 that an investigation is underway surrounding an incident just before Thanksgiving.

On November 25, a 62-year old pedestrian was struck by a car in Fort Lauderdale. Anostrave Benjamin is reported to be in critical condition at Broward General Medical Center. According to the story, a white Dodge Neon struck Benjamin while he was crossing West Sunrise Boulevard at Northwest Fourth Avenue Lauderdale. Though not much is not known about the vehicle, police stated that the Neon was missing hubcaps and had tinted windows.

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We have discussed many stories about pedestrian accidents on our blog. Attention has grown due to incidents such as this, and staggering statistics which show that 502 pedestrians were killed in Florida in 2008. Despite the drop in fatalities over the past four years, it’s stories like this that remind us to be careful when crossing the streets in the major metropolitan areas of South Florida, especially during the holidays.

If anyone has information regarding this incident, police have asked that you call Fort Lauderdale Traffic Homicide Investigator Cheri Creque at 954-828-5825 or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

November 29, 2009

Study Reveals Florida is the Least Safe State for Pedestrians

Pedestrians may want to think twice before taking a stroll in South Florida. According to NBC Miami, a study by Transportation for America showed that Florida is the least safe state in the country for pedestrians and bikers. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranked 3rd overall, with the Orlando-Kissimmee area and the Tampa-Clearwater-St. Petersburg area beating out South Florida. Jacksonville was ranked 4th.

The study and the report by NBC note that much of the problem may be due to infrastructure. Florida is constantly growing and the truth is that our cities may not have been prepared for such growth. State highways throughout the country have widened, and state governments have put sidewalks and bike lanes on the back-burner to accommodate traffic.

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However, the study also notes budgetary spending might be an issue. According to the study, no state uses more than five percent of federal transportation funds on pedestrian-friendly mechanisms such as crosswalks, sidewalks and speed humps.

Our state must act quickly because the numbers are high and, without attention, will continue to rise. In Florida, there are 3.02 pedestrian fatalities for every 100,000 people while the U.S. average is 1.26 people, according to Transportation for America. Over 16 percent of traffic deaths in Florida involved pedestrians, yet only 1.5 percent of state funds are used for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

With straining state budgets throughout the country, there are no guarantees that our legislature will be able to implement more safety measures without more resources. It is up to us as drivers to promote safety in all of our cities.

November 29, 2009

South Florida Cycling Event Honors Teen Biker Killed by Driver

About a month ago, 17-year-old Rodolfo Rojo of Bay Harbor Islands was killed in an auto accident around 2:30 a.m. when he and his friends were riding their bikes on Biscayne Boulevard near 113th Street in Miami and Rojo was struck by a vehicle.

To honor Rojo, Critical Mass, an event in which cyclists gather in a large group to promote bicycle safety and awareness, dedicated their Friday bike ride in his memory. According to an article in the Miami Herald, the bike ride will proceed along the same route where Rojo was killed and parents and friends will leave a white painted bike with a plaque.

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This is another unfortunate story pointing out a major problem with cycling fatalities in South Florida. According to the article, Florida has the highest number of fatalities in the U.S. Bicycles are classified as vehicles and cyclists have rights. Though they are required to have front and back lights when riding at night and cyclists and drivers must observe safety laws, a lack of bike lanes on Miami’s busy streets and growing numbers of bikers leaves many people concerned.

It is obvious that more action will need to be taken to ensure cyclist safety, focusing on both the driver and the cyclist’s observance of the law.

November 27, 2009

Tiger Woods Injured in Florida Auto Accident

On the day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday for shoppers, both sports and news networks throughout Florida and the U.S. that Tiger Woods was involved in an auto accident. According to original reports, including report by WSVN Fox News in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, Tiger Woods was seriously injured in an auto accident and taken to Health Central Hospital.

The crash occurred near Woods’ Windermere home when he pulled out of his driveway and hit a fire hydrant and tree with his Cadillac SUV, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Florida Highway Patrol stated that the accident was not alcohol-related, although charges are pending.

Thankfully, further updates reported that the airbags in Woods’ vehicle did not deploy because the vehicle was traveling at less than 33 miles per hour. Furthermore, Woods was released from the hospital and it is likely that he only suffered facial lacerations. Spokespersons for Woods said that he was okay and in good condition.

Traditionally, we will see a noticeable increase in auto accidents during the holidays. Thanksgiving had the highest numbers of fatalities in Florida with 52 fatalities, almost half of which involved alcohol. This is likely due to the fact that Thanksgiving involves a longer weekend than New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July and as it is a more family-oriented holiday, we see more travelers on the road. South Florida is particularly susceptible to increased accidents and traffic due to our warm weather throughout the winter.

While the story continues to develop, we wish Tiger Woods a speedy recovery and we urge that everyone drive safely and responsibly during the holidays.

November 22, 2009

Auto Accidents Involving Trains a Growing Concern in South Florida

Several publications in South Florida have reported on an auto accident last week in Fort Lauderdale in which a car was stuck on the tracks and hit by a Tri-Rail commuter train. Two women were killed in the accident while another passenger was seriously injured.

However, as a recent article in the Sun Sentinel showed, this is not the first auto accident with a train. Unfortunately, as the article noted, South Florida has a very high incidence of train accidents. For example, along with the recent accident in Fort Lauderdale, a similar accident occurred recently in Pompano Beach in which a train struck a car, killing one woman and injuring another.

The article listed five other accidents lthis past year alone, involving both Amtrak and Tri-Rail trains. The accidents were spread throughout the South Florida area, in cities such as Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach and Boynton Beach. Most of the incidents involved a collision with a car which was stuck on the tracks at a railroad crossing and involved serious injury or death.

It is difficult to pinpoint the cause for this high rate of accidents. Many organizations, such as Operation Lifesaver, were established to educate people on the issues and to prevent these accidents. As stated by Operation Lifesaver, statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration show that there were 2,391 highway-rail crossing collisions last year. Florida ranked 9th among the Top 15 states with 75 collisions, while the highest ranked state, Texas, had 228 collisions.

Despite efforts to educate, the problem persists in South Florida. In the wake of increased cell phone usage while driving, growing impatience of drivers during rush-hour traffic and increased dependence on public transit during tough economic times, changes must be made by drivers, regulating bodies, train companies and the cities which rely on must take action to ensure the safety of drivers, pedestrians and passengers.

It is important that drivers take it upon themselves to be proactive and use proper safety procedures to ensure the safety of themselves and their passengers. Following are seven steps recommended by Operation Lifesaver which should be used by all drivers of motor vehicles when approaching and crossing train track intersections:

1. Approach crossing with care. Slow down when you see an Advanced Warning Sign.

2. Prepare to stop. Turn off fans and radio, roll down windows.
Look and listen for a train.

3. Stop at least 15 feet from nearest rail, but not more than 50 feet, if you see a train.

4. If it won’t fit, don’t commit. Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least 3 feet on each side. If your vehicle has a trailer, remember the additional length.

5. Double check, back left and right. Before you move look in both directions.

6. Cross tracks with care. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, use a gear that will not require shifting until you reach the opposite side.

7. Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come
down.

November 20, 2009

Cyclists in South Florida Taking a Stand, Promoting Safety

We have posted about bicycle accidents in the past, noting our concern as the statistics show that eight cyclists were killed in Palm Beach County alone last year, and a total of 118 bicyclists were killed last year in Florida.

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In light of the dangers cyclists face every day, bike groups are taking a stand to ensure the safety of their groups and of all cyclists in the South Florida area. Along with ensuring that their groups follow traffic laws and erecting safety signs, these groups are working with local authorities to ensure that uniform bike laws are enforced and that motorists follow theses traffic laws while keeping the safety of cyclists in mind.

Part of this movement is a campaign called “Ride Right, Drive Right”, an idea by Broward resident and founder of cycling group zMotion Pat Patregnani. According to the Sun Sentinel, Patregnani came up with the campaign after an incident in August in which a cyclist and motorists were involved in an altercation. The hope is that the campaign will educate both cyclists and motorists, encourage patience and sharing of the roads and prevent bicycle and auto accidents. Groups such as zMotion, the South Florida Bike Coalition and the Boca Raton Bicycle Club have all done their part, requiring their members to ride in small groups and in single file.

The campaign also includes signs designed to notify motorists of laws such as giving a cyclist three feet of clearance when passing them. The signs will be posted along State Road AIA in Palm Beach County and the Department of Transportation will review the signs. Hopefully, this campaign, along with efforts by cyclists, motorists and the police will encourage both groups to share the road and work together to prevent accidents and injuries.

November 18, 2009

School Bus Drivers in Miami-Dade: No Texting While Driving

The Sun Sentinel reported that the Miami-Dade school board passed a ban on Tuesday which disallows bus drivers from using their cell phones. The ban also includes other district employees who use district-owned vehicles. However, the ban does not include school police officers.

This is just another case of a South Florida city cracking down cell phone usage while driving, as we have already seen a similar ban on texting in Parkland, Florida. The report noted that 19 states have banned texting while driving and six states require every driver to use hand-held devices if they are making a phone call. According to the Sentinel, there are some experts who think distracted driving is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While Florida does not have any official laws on the books yet, Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota has been very active in pushing for legislation on this issue.

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School buses safety is a major concern for parents. According to the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, over 22 million kids around the country ride the bus. A 2002 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study showed that school buses were involved in over 26,000 crashes, which resulted in almost 1,000 incapacitating injuries. Earlier in October school buses caught everyone’s attention in South Florida when a man in Tequesta, Florida was struck and killed by a school bus.

In our practice we encounter the issue of cell phone use while driving on a daily basis. It is a fact that distracted driving causes accidents and accidents can cause serious personal injuries to those who are unfortunately involved in these accidents. Please contact our offices if you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident so we can protect your rights.

November 16, 2009

Will Red Light Cameras in South Florida Last?

We have followed the red light camera issue in South Florida for some time now. From our posts about the red light cameras in West Palm Beach to the cameras in Pembroke Pines, the use of red light cameras by cities to prevent auto accidents has become a hot topic.

This week, the Sun Sentinel reported that the city of Pembroke Pines is now under fire in a class action lawsuit for the use of the red light cameras. According to the story, the city has delayed the installation of five more cameras.

Drivers say that the cameras are a violation of equal protection and due process and that under state law, local governments cannot regulate stop lights. They point out that the cameras only punish the owner of the vehicle, not the driver, and that the only form of appeal is through a magistrate who works for the city. Drivers also feel that in spite of the city’s stance that the cameras are being used for driver safety and to prevent auto accidents, the primary goal is to generate revenue during the current financial crisis. The cameras have already sent out over 1,500 citations which have generated about $90,000.

We noted in our post about the Obama administration that the President and his cabinet are taking a strong interest in vehicular safety and passing laws to outlaw distracted driving. Several other cities, such as Aventura and West Palm Beach, have also installed red light cameras, so the question now is whether the cameras will last and what kind of precedent will decisions in these cases set for South Florida, the rest of the state, and even in other states facing the same questions. In any case, it is likely that whether or not the cameras survive in Pembroke Pines, this will not be the last that we hear about red light cameras.

November 9, 2009

Former NFL Star Lawrence Taylor Involved in South Florida Hit-and-Run

The Miami Herald reported this week that NFL legend Lawrence Taylor was arrested on Sunday night for leaving the scene of an auto accident in Miami-Dade. The 50-year-old former New York Giants pass rusher was released around 9:57 p.m. on $500 bond.

The crash occurred around 6:30 p.m. on the Palmetto Expressway at Northwest 103rd Street when Taylor hit a 1984 Ford van, tearing off the front tire of his Cadillac Escalade and sending the van spinning in front of the Escalade. According to authorities, he drove about two miles on his axle before pulling off to the side of the road. Police spotted Taylor outside of his car on his cell phone. He told police that he thought he hit a guardrail.

Taylor is an NFL Hall of Famer, known for his power and tenacity as a linebacker for the New York Giants. He has considered by many as one of the greatest defensive players of all time and is no stranger to the limelight. Taylor has acted in films such as The Waterboy and Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, and recently competed in the eight season of ABC’s popular dance show Dancing with the Stars. He owns a house in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Though his successful career in the NFL was at times marred by admitted drug use and arrest for possession, Lt. James Durden of the Florida Highway Patrol said that Taylor showed no signs of impairment and was not given a sobriety test. Thankfully, no one was injured in the auto accident.

November 8, 2009

Ford’s New Seat Belt Technology Hopes Prevent Serious Injuries in Auto Accidents

South Florida drivers and motorists around the country can look forward to a new innovation in seat beat technology by Ford Motor Co. Ford will introduce a seat belt-mounted air bag in its 2011 Ford Explorer back seat and, according to Ford, will be the first automaker put this technology in mass production.

According to a recent article on Yahoo Auto, the air big fits in a pocket in the seat belt. The car sends a signal to release the bag, which inflates with cooler air and more safely as compared with front air bags. The air bags are particularly situated for the safety of children. A Ford engineer responsible for its development, which has been in the works for a decade, claims that the seat belt provides even distribution across the chest, providing less chance of injury and support to the head and neck.

The New York Times reported that along with the seat belt, Ford hopes to use this and other safety features to attract new customers. Ford also has developed MyKey, which allows parents to put restrictions on their teenage drivers, radar-enable cruise control and systems for hands-free mobile phone and audio operation.

However, Ford will have obstacles to overcome. In “Ford Defective Switch Recall to Add Over 4 Million Vehicles” we reported the automaker coming under fire due to a product defect in the cruise control switch of some of its vehicles. The New York Times also noted that a survey from Carmax showed that consumers rank safety fifth out of six factors they consider the most important when purchasing a vehicle. The Yahoo Auto report also noted that belt usage in the back seat is only at a 60 percent, while overall usage of seat belts is 83 percent.

Though Ford admits the technology is expensive, their hope is to make the seat belts available as an option particularly geared towards families with small children. The price may come down if the technology expands to Ford’s other vehicles. We hope that automakers continue to develop technology in driver safety to make cars safer for everyone.

November 6, 2009

Study: Bad Driving May be due to Genetics

Changing lanes without signaling, running red lights, driving too slow on I-95: those of us who drive every morning on the streets and highways of South Florida are familiar with these displays of bad driving. These are the very acts which lead to the many auto accidents we see every day on the way to work. However, a new study shows that the reason for such bad driving may partially lie in the variations of our genes.

According to the Sun Sentinel, a study from the University of California, Irvine, linked a gene variation among individuals, which gives them less of the brain protein related to memory retention, to performance levels in a driving simulation 20 percent worse than individuals with higher levels of the protein. However, the study noted that this was only one factor in bad driving, and that 1 in 3 people have the gene variant.

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The study, led by Dr. Steven Cramer, put 19 volunteers, ages 18 to 30, in a driving simulation. The results showed that drivers with the gene variant which limits the level of secretion of the protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) performed worse on the simulation and were not able to retain as much information about the simulation as the volunteers with higher levels of BDNF.

Dr. Cramer hopes that the study could help victims of auto accidents who suffer memory loss or brain trauma. However, others are hesitant to attribute bad driving to genetics.

Outside forces, such as failing to comply with the rules of the road, alcohol/substance abuse, rush-hour traffic and distractions are still the predominant causes of auto accidents, especially in busy South Florida cities such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Hopefully, however, more studies such as Dr. Cramer’s will continue to explore the inherent factors and ultimately point us toward solutions so that we can promote safe driving.

November 3, 2009

More Red Light Cameras in South Florida: Preventing Auto Accidents or Raising Money?

In August, we posted “Red Light Cameras: A Violation of Florida Law?” where we discussed the city of Pembroke Pines and its decision to install red light cameras at intersections. As we stated in the post, more and more cities in South Florida will be following the trend which many feel will prevent auto accidents.

This week, CBS 12 News in West Palm Beach reported that city officials decided that red light cameras will be used to encourage safe driving and monitor the streets. Currently, there is a 90-day probation period where only a warning will be issued to drivers. After that, drivers will receive a $125 fine in the mail, which officials say the money will go towards traffic programs. The civil infraction will not add points to your license.

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Much like in Pembroke Pines, there are drivers are on both sides of this issue. Peter Robbins, a public information officer with West Palm Beach, stated that accidents involving red light-running are the number one types of accidents in urban areas, and that studies show that the cameras help prevent those accidents.

Other drivers, however, see the cameras as an invasion of their privacy. They also question the legality of the cameras, saying that they are a violation of their constitutional rights and merely a way for cities to raise money. In “Red Light Cameras,” we discussed how traffic laws in Florida must be uniform across the state, that variations violate state law, and the legal concerns our governor had about using red light cameras. We also discussed how cities are getting around those concerns. Be that as it may, city officials, who are aware of the likelihood of a class action lawsuit, feel that the red light cameras will stand.

October 29, 2009

Obama Administration Focusing on Distracted Driving, Flying Laws

By now, all of us have heard of and are following the story of the Northwest Airline pilots who earlier this month overshot their arrival to Minneapolis by 150 miles. The pilots notified investigators that they were distracted because they were using their laptops to organize crew schedules.

In a recent Sun Sentinel article, it reported that in light of the Northwest fiasco, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that the Obama administration will now expand its efforts in distracted driving to flying. According to LaHood, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt is considering whether a uniform ban on use of electronic devices such as laptops during flight is in order.

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As the article noted, lawmakers have expressed interest in tackling the issue of distracted driving. In September, LaHood held a summit on distracted driving, inviting researchers, regulators and other experts.

So what does this mean for South Florida drivers? We have already felt the effects of the push for banning electronic devices, as we noted in “South Florida City Bans Texting while Driving” and the Cell Phone Use section of our blog. With the White House concerned about the issue, we will likely see many changes which may have a dramatic effect on the litigation of auto accidents and aviation accidents in South Florida.

At the other side of the issue, however, is the concern for a driver’s autonomy and personal freedom while on the road. Our post entitled "Does Cell Phone Use Cause Florida Accidents?" recognized that this is a position which many people take on the electronic device issue.

Ultimately, we hope that as more developments in cell phone usage unfold, the determining factor in future legislation will be to maintain the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

October 21, 2009

Weston Boy on Bicycle Strcuk by Automobile

A 10-year old boy was struck by a van on Tuesday, October 20, in Weston, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The Sun Sentinel reported that the boy was riding his bicycle when a van hit him on the 4400 block of Foxtail Lane.

Apparently, the bicycle accident occurred when the boy was crossing the street when he rode into the path of the van. He was taken to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in South Florida, where he was treated for non-life threatening head injuries. It is important to note that the victim was not wearing a helmet.

We’ve noted in several previous postings that riding a bicycle can be a very dangerous activity in South Florida and that drivers need to be more cautious to avoid accidents with bicyclists. However, the wearing of a helmet is a basic safety measure that should never be overlooked, especially in the case of children. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, riders who don’t wear helmets are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash then those who wear helmets, and head injuries account for over 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths. Anywhere from 45 to 88 percent of a bicyclist’s brain injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet.

Parents need to be especially careful when their children go riding and insist that their children always wear a helmet. Another safety precaution that would help to decrease the number of bicyclists injured would be to avoid areas of heavy traffic to minimize the risk of injury.

Our firm specializes in and has been handling accident cases for over 19 years, Therefore, if you or your loved one have been injured in an accident, please contact our office. We are here to answer any of your your questions and concerns.

October 19, 2009

Concern Grows as South Florida Bicyclist Struck by Automobile Dies

On Saturday, October 17, a bicyclist was struck from behind by a pickup truck in Boca Raton near Palmetto Park Road and Shorewind Drive. Police identified the bicyclist as Elizabeth Victoria Stewart of Tamarac, Florida, according to the Sun Sentinel. She was pronounced dead at Delray Medical Center.

This tragedy adds to the growing list of bicycle injuries and fatalities from auto accidents, and to the concern many South Florida residents have about the general safety of bicyclists. The Sun Sentinel noted numerous bicycle fatalities like this which have occurred in Palm Beach County this year, including: a Pompano Beach man killed in a hit-and-run crash in September, a 17-year-old hit during rush hour in Boynton Beach in March, and a 12-year-old hit by an SUV in West Palm Beach in April.

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Eight cyclists were killed in Palm Beach County last year, and 333 were injured, while 336 were injured in 2007. Palm Beach County has a higher fatality rate than Miami-Dade and Broward, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Bicycle advocates are very concerned and calling for more safety programs to prevent injuries and fatalities. Based on the statistics, it seems that bicycle safety is a legitimate concern and more needs to be done to ensure the rights and the safety of our citizens.

October 15, 2009

Ford Defective Switch Recall To Add Over 4 Million Vehicles

Last week, Ford Motor Company announced its biggest recall in historry due to a product defect which covered about 14.3 million vehicles. The Sun Sentinel has reported that Ford will add 4.5 million more vehicles to the list.

The recall came when Ford found a defect in the cruise control deactivation switch, manufactured by Texas instruments . According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the switch can leak hydraulic fluid and can overheat, creating the risk of fire even if the ignition is turned off or the car is parked.

Ford anticipates recalling about 1.1 million of its Windstar minivans from 1992-2003, according to CNN. The other 3.4 million vehicles from the Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury lines with the same switches will be recalled due to a risk of fire.

CNN also reported that the following models as those included in the added list of vehicles: 1995-2003 Windstars, 2000-2003 Excursion diesels, 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 F-Super Duty diesels, 1992-2003 Econolines, 1995-2002 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Rangers and 1994 F35 motorhomes.

Ford will being notifying owners by the end of the month about the recall, and also warns that drivers who own Windstar minivans from the years 1992-2003 should park their vehicles outdoors.

Continue reading "Ford Defective Switch Recall To Add Over 4 Million Vehicles " »

October 10, 2009

Auto Accident on Expressway Kills Two in South Florida

On Friday, October 9, two men were killed in a car accident on the Palmetto Expressway near NW 122nd street in Hialeah, Florida. According to the Miami Herald, the auto accident occurred at about 4 a.m., pinning one man under a boat and leaving another driver dead. Heavy traffic problems resulted.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a Ford pick- up truck, towing a boat, pulled over on the shoulder and a red vehicle pulled off in front to help. While the men were underneath the boat, a Chevy Malibu went out of control and hit the boat, which fell on the men, killing one. Apparently, the second man ran in the red vehicle was frightened and drove off.

The driver of the Malibu was also killed, while the passenger in the Malibu was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Police are still investigating, and FHP has determined that the boat and the truck were stolen. The police also found a bag of marijuana near the Chevy and three bags of a substance which they are testing for cocaine.

Our blog posting entitled “Florida Auto Safety: Move Over Law Saves Lives” discussed laws and safety tips which drivers should follow to avoid tragedies such as this one. While one can’t control an out of control vehicle or other outside factors, drivers should always remember to move far over to the side of the road when checking for damage to your car or any cargo you may be towing, and to be mindful of other drivers while parked on the shoulder.

October 3, 2009

Miami Beach Man Killed in Auto Accident on Florida’s Turnpike

Police identified the body of a man who was killed in an auto accident on Florida’s Turnpike as Avi Cohen of Miami Beach, Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The crash occurred near Martin County at about 2:15 p.m. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Cohen, 21, was driving a Ford Explorer when a tire blew, causing the Explorer to veer of the road and roll over. Cohen was apparently not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the Explorer, and died from injuries. Cohen’s passenger, Victor Cohen, was also injured in the car accident. The crash currently under investigation.

A Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report showed that last year, there were a total of 5,207 seat belt violations reported by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, with 3,286 violations reported by the Miami-Dade County Sheriff’s Office. According to a Floridadrivers.com Fact sheet, there were 2,889 traffic fatalities in Florida, of which over 59 percent of the drivers were not using available restraint systems. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association showed that seat belt use on highways increased to 90 percent, up from 87 percent in 2007. The consumer/safety group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety note that lap-shoulder belts will decrease a front seat driver’s risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injuries by 50 percent, depending on seating position and type of vehicle.

Campaigns for seat belt safety such as Click it or Ticket, safety advocates, and laws penalizing drivers who fail to use their seatbelts hopefully have made drivers aware of the importance of wearing your seat belt when driving. An accident causing serious injury and/ or death should not be the wake up call to abide by the law. It is clear that statistically, seat belts save lives, so please for your safety, always wear a seat belt when driving.


October 1, 2009

Pedestrian Killed in South Florida Auto Accident

On Tuesday, September 29, 71-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Judith Testa was struck by a vehicle and severely injured while crossing the street near East Commercial Boulevard. Unfortunately, it was reported today that Testa died from the pedestrian accident. She was apporxiamtely a block away from her apartment.

According to police, 31-year-old Natalie Affiany of Coral Springs, Florida was making a left turn near the intersection and struck Testa. Ms. Affiany’s driving records showed that she was driving on a suspended license.

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Statistics show that South Florida is prone to high rates of pedestrian accidents. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Traffic Statistics Report is a great source of this statistical data. The Report states that there were 8,471 pedestrian crashes in Florida last year, with 7,878 crashes resulting in injury and 502 crashes resulting in death. While these numbers reflect a considerable increase since 2007, fatalities decreased approximately 5% from 2007. In fact, the information in the report clearly evidences that Miami-Dade and Broward County had the two highest numbers of pedestrian fatalities statewide last year (66 and 51, respectively).

So far, no charges have been filed yet in this incident, but police are asking for your help. If you have any information about this incident contact Coral Springs Traffic Homicide Investigator Jill Hirsch at 954-828-5753. You can also contact Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).

Large cities like Fort Lauderdale and Miami are prone to heavy traffic, so whether you drive or, like many others, prefer to walk the streets, you can do your best to avoid risk of injury to yourself and others by following traffic signs, observing the rules of the road and keeping a sharp eye out for crossing pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

September 29, 2009

Defective Floor Mat Causes Toyota Recall of Millions of Vehicles

Toyota has announced that it will recall 3.8 million vehicles in the U.S. due to a product defect in which the floor mat can interfere with the accelerator and cause an auto accident. This is the company’s largest recall in its history, according to the Miami Herald. Previously, its largest recall was about 90,000 vehicles in 2005 due to a problem with the steering wheel.

This recall will have an impact on South Florida drivers. With so many Toyota dealerships in the Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, 2,217,662 in Toyota vehicle sales, and with the Prius and Camry being very popular vehicles, Florida drivers are likely to feel the affects of the recall.

The vehicles being recalled are: the 2007-2010 Toyota Camry, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and the 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350.

Toyota is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find a solution to this product defect. Toyota expects owners to be notified as early as next week, but advises that, as a safety measure, owners should remove the floor mat from the driver’s side and not replace it. The NHTSA has already reported 102 incidents of owners claiming that the accelerator may have become stuck, although the NHSTA is unsure as to how many incidents involved a crash.

A report of a crash involving a Lexus in San Diego prompted the investigation into the vehicles. In August, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three others were killed in an auto accident. The NHSTA noted that the all-weather mat found in vehicle was longer than the mat the one belonged in it, which could have caused the mat to get caught under the pedal.

Continue reading "Defective Floor Mat Causes Toyota Recall of Millions of Vehicles" »

September 28, 2009

Broward County Officer Victim of Hit-and-Run Injury

On Sunday, September 28, Officer Elijah Rodgers of Lauderhill, Florida was released from Broward General Medical Center after suffering injuries from a hit-and-run driver, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Officer Rodgers has worked with the Lauderhill Police for four years. He was conducting a routine traffic stop on Thursday around 3:40 in the afternoon at NW 25th Court and 52nd Avenue. The driver of the vehicle, however, took off, striking and injuring Rodgers. Luckily, Rodgers suffered no broken bones and is recovering at home. Rodgers got a look at the driver’s tag number while on the ground, memorized it, and gave the information to other officers. The driver was found and arrested an hour later.

The driver, Charles Anderson, of North Miami, will face charges, including failing to stop or yield at an intersection, aggravated battery on an officer and driving with an invalid license.

A hit-and-run accident in Florida is a serious offense, punishable by very strict explicit laws. Florida’s laws create a duty to drivers involved in an accident to stop at the scene, among other requirements. Violation of these laws may result in criminal charges and civil suit, a jail sentence, and community service. Some of the Florida statutes on hit-and-run accidents can be found on Deadlyroads.com, a website dedicated to victims of hit-and-run deaths and injuries.

In a previous blog entitled "South Florida Hit and Run and Drunk Drivers" we outlined our many concerns regarding the rights of the injured victims of hit and run and drunk drivers. The victims of these drivers often sustain serious injury and it is our job to ensure that their rights are not violated and that they are duly compensated for the injuries that they have sustained as a result of the negligence of a hit and run and/or drunk driver.

September 20, 2009

South Florida Auto Accident Kills Man, Injures Three

On Saturday, September 19, three people were injured and a man was killed in an auto accident near Boyton Beach, Florida. The accident occurred at about 11:15 a.m., according to the Palm Beach Post.

According to the Palm Beach Sherriff’s Office, which overseas 14 districts in one of South Florida’s largest counties, the man, whose name was not released, was driving his Hyundai Sonata westbound on Le Chalet Boulevard near Military Trail when his car veered to the left and ran into a palm tree in the median. The crash is still under investigation.

The three other three passengers in the car, two women and one man, were injured and taken to the JFK Medical Center in Lake Worth. So far, no updates have been available as to their condition. The man who died was taken to Delray Medical Center.

September 14, 2009

Auto Accident with Tanker Causes Florida Turnpike Closure

On Monday, September 14, a gas tanker on the Florida Turnpike crashed with a van near Okeechobee Road, causing the tanker to overturn. The auto accident occurred on the southbound lanes at about 2:30 a.m. The Turnpike was closed for about nine hours.

According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, the van was pulled over on the side of the road due to a flat tire, JustNews.com reported. The tanker tried to swerve to avoid the vehicle, but in doing so jackknifed, causing the tanker to overturn.

Both the driver of the van, Emilio Martinez-Rodriguez, and tanker’s driver were taken to the hospital. Due to the accident, Martinez-Rodriguez was launched out of the vehicle and suffered serious injury. The tanker contained 9,000 gallons of gas, so fire rescue sprayed foam on the spill to prevent ignition. The truck was finally moved from the road at about noon, after fire crews emptied the gasoline from the tanker.

According to the Miami Herald, because the valves which are normally used to empty the tanker were damaged, the emptying process was more difficult. Crews had to drill through metal while pouring water on the site to prevent fire or sparks from causing an explosion.

The area had to be inspected by environmental experts to determine the safety of the road. If the gas cannot evaporate quickly and soil needs to be dug up, further delays on the Turnpike will be required.

September 7, 2009

New Evidence Found In Former MLB Player’s South Florida Auto Accident Case

A new videotape has been found which may aid former New York Yankee Jim Leyritz’s DUI manslaughter case which was to begin this September. In 2007, at about 3:19 a.m. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, police claim that Leyritz was drunk and ran a red light, causing an auto accident and killing 30-year-old Freida Veitch of Plantation.

According to the Miami Herald, the videotape, recorder a half block from the accident from a light pole, reveals a time stamp which is sooner than what has been alleged, and could aid Leyritz’s defense by casting doubt on the toxicology results. The defense says that the earlier time span from which the accident occurred would call to question the effect that alcohol had on Leyritz’s driving.

If convicted, Leyritz could face 15 years in prison. He is currently out on bond awaiting trial which, because of the surfacing of this video, may be postponed until as late as January. Leyritz faced legal troubles earlier in July when his ex-wife accused him of domestic battery.

This story Jim Leyritz is unfortunately one of many similar stories of late putting the spotlight on the consequences of drunk driving in South Florida. In March, professional football player Donte Stallworth pled guilty to DUI in an auto accident in Miami Beach, which resulted in the death of a pedestrian. In July, actor Jeffrey Donovan, star of USA’s hit series ‘Burn Notice’ was also arrested in Miami Beach on suspicion of DUI when he almost hit a police car.

South Florida has been a hot spot for celebrities for many years, from professional athletes to stars of the stage and screen. Florida’s beaches and cities known for their nightlife such as Fort Lauderdale and Miami attract visitors from all over the world. However, average citizens and celebrities alike are all subject to the same laws and regulations. Every person is innocent until proven guilty in our legal system and each case must be looked at under its given circumstances. Florida’s laws are in place to assure us that our streets are safe, and that those violators, whether an everyday resident or a high-profile celebrity, will be punished fairly and without any preferential or unreasonably harsh treatment.

September 3, 2009

Auto Accident in Fort Lauderdale Kills Cyclist

A cyclist was found dead from an auto accident on Friday, August 28, in an auto accident which occurred shortly after midnight on State Road AIA in Fort Lauderdale. The Miami Herald reported that the cyclist was heading northbound when a Mercedes Benz, also headed northbound, collided with the cyclist.

Police had not released the man’s name because they had yet to notify the family. The cyclist was pronounced dead at Broward General Medical Center. Police continue to investigate whether the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident.

While driving under the influence is speculative in this case, it brings up a concern that Florida drivers are no stranger to. Concerns for drunk driving grow on holiday weekends, such as this weekend’s Labor Day. According to a study referred to in a previous blog entitled "Broward County auto accident puts eight in hospital", last year there were 36 fatalities on Labor Day weekend, 12 of which were alcohol-related. That same study showed that, in 2008, there were 4,380 bicyclist injuries and 118 bicyclist fatalities in traffic accidents.

The Florida DMV calculates that, in 2006, there were 1,606 DUI convictions in Broward County and 1,824 convictions in Miami-Dade County. Statewide, there were 34,638 convictions. While this reflects an 8 percent decrease from 2005, the numbers are staggering.

However, Florida has enforced strict laws to crack down on drunk driving. Florida’s zero tolerance law enforces an automatic 6-month suspension for any driver under the age of 21 who has a blood alcohol level (BAL) higher than .02. The level for drivers over 21 is .08. The effect is that a driver under 21 in Florida cannot have a single drink of alcohol and get into a vehicle.

With warnings of DUI road stops and increased police force during these weekends, and the risk of serious and fatal injury, drivers are encouraged to do all that is necessary to prevent from driving under the influence. The abundance of taxis in large South Florida cities such as Miami have given drivers a safe alternative. For others, choosing a designated driver or finding activities that don’t involve alcohol will ensure a safe ride home for ourselves and for others as we celebrate a great Labor Day weekend.

August 31, 2009

Red-light Cameras: a Violation of Florida Law?

Many cities in South Florida have followed a practice that the city of Pembroke Pines put in place last year: installing a red-light camera. However, since then, the question has been raised as to whether this practice conflicts with Florida state law. Several lawsuits have been filed in cities such as Aventura and Miami, with varied results.

The goal of the red-light camera is simple: to monitor the streets of our cities so as to prevent auto accidents and deter drivers from running red lights. The camera takes a photo of the vehicle before it reaches the intersection and after it passes. Another camera takes a 12-second video of the vehicle, which allows police to view the scene and assess whether the violation was necessary and determine whether or not to issue a ticket. Later, drivers can see the evidence online for themselves.

There is also a great financial incentive. Tthe Miami Herald reported that tickets in Pembroke Pines are $125, with American Traffic Solutions, the vendor, taking about $17.50 to $47.50, and the city keeping the rest. One camera in Pembroke Pines, Pines Blvd. and Southwest 129th Ave., has issued more than $100,000 since March. Aventura’s five cameras have brought in almost $1 million, and Fort Lauderdale’s proposed cameras hope to bring $1.8 million.

While proponents of the cameras stress the importance of safety for drivers, while making a few extra dollars amid harsh economic times, critics raise concerns about their due-process rights. In Florida, traffic laws must be uniform across the state. Having varied city camera laws would be a violation of state law. Furthermore, critics raise concerns as to an owner being cited for a violation, rather than the actual driver of the vehicle.

Legislation has been proposed for cameras in the past, but has not passed due to legal concerns. Last year, Legislation tried to legalize the cameras but failed. In 2005, then-Attorney General Charlie Christ noted that local governments had the right to set up cameras, but further added that state law would need to be changed for cities to issue tickets with red light cameras.

Continue reading "Red-light Cameras: a Violation of Florida Law?" »

August 21, 2009

Broward County Auto Accident Puts Eight in Hospital

On Wednesday, August 20, the Sun Sentinel reported an auto accident that occurred in Hallandale Beach, where eight people, including two children ages 3 and 7, were sent to the hospital after a three –car collision on Pembroke Road, about 1 block east of I-95. The accident occurred at about 3:30 in the afternoon. The driver, a man in his 70s, was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood in serious condition. The accident occurred when the driver, heading west on Pembroke Road, crossed into the eastbound lane, crashed into a Lexus, then crashed head-on into a pick-up truck. The cause of the accident is still unknown. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2008, the state of Florida had 243,342 traffic crashes last year, down about 5% from 2007. The report shows that Broward County had a total of 26,417 traffic accidents in 2008, with the greatest concentration of accidents on a weekday occurring after noon, between the hours of 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Broward County was second only to Miami-Dade in total crashes last year. The risks associated with driving increase in larger metropolitan cities, such as Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Modern-day distractions (cell phones, mp3 players, etc.) and other factors, such as alcohol/drug abuse, poor vision, and aggressive driving all add to the danger. We have recently written about the issue of cell phone use and driving in a previous article "Does Cell Phone Use cause Florida Car Accidents?" It is clear that cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle can cause drivers to be distracted and distracted drivers can cause accidents. We all need to make a conscious effort to be safer drivers. Our lives and the lives of our friends and families depend upon it. The Florida Safety Council is one of many great sources of information for tips on driver safety. By knowing the facts and being informed, drivers of all ages can get a better understanding and take more preventative measures to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
August 5, 2008

South Florida Citizens To Be Charged Fees For Automobile Accidents

In a misguided attempt to find other sources of revenue, cities throughout South Florida are actually considering charging a fee to those citizens who are involved in auto accidents within their city limits. This month, the town of Davie will likely vote whether to bill non-residents who are involved in automobile accidents in their city.

The Florida Sun Sentinel reports that Davie is defending the fee as “a way of recouping tax dollars that are spent on non-residents”, town spokesman Braulio Rosa said. Davie is considering an average charge of $840.00. Miramar, Plantation and Southwest Ranches are still undecided as to what to charge, if anything, and under what circumstances.

There are those that are worried that this will start a fee war between the cities. The city of Weston has already threatened to respond by passing a similar ordinance if their residents are charged. The American Civil Liberties Union may challenge these ordinances on constitutional grounds. Brandon Herslan, a spokesman for the ACLU of Florida, stated that by singling out non-residents, proposals being considered in Davie and Miramar “raise questions about equal and fair treatment of citizens” and could spur lawsuits.

The cities are responding by saying they will bill the driver’s insurance companies. Michael Connolly, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance, the state’s largest private insurer, responded by saying automobile insurance premiums will rise.

This issue represents a microcosm of the problems that have been caused by the cuts in our state’s budget. These cuts have left local governments in a desperate search to make up the lost funds that they were once receiving from the state. Compounding this problem is the decrease in the local tax base caused by the pop of the real estate bubble and the significant increase in foreclosures.

However, by creating these quasi tax schemes, the citizens of all cities are the ones that are harmed. With the state and national economy causing widespread problems for everyone, it is time for the cities to slash even more fat out of their budgets.

Cities should retain independent companies to analyze their budgets and recommend reasonable cuts that will force the cities to operate more efficiently. Disparate tax schemes, like the one discussed in this article, are not the answer and may in fact be unconstitutional depending on how they are framed.

July 30, 2008

Does Cell Phone Use Cause Florida Car Accidents?

Where do you stand on this issue? It seems wherever you go, people are on their cell phone even while driving their cars. This has caused many to wonder whether cell phone use should be permitted while operating a motor vehicle. There are three sides to this issue:
1. A ban on cell phone use by drivers due to the fact that many Florida car accidents happen when a driver is distracted while talking on the phone.
2. No ban on cell phone use due to the opinion that it is possible to drive safely while speaking on a phone and no one should dictate that drivers should not be able to talk and drive.
3. A compromise – allow cell phone use only with a hands-free headset or ear piece.

Earlier this year bills were introduced by Florida Legislators which were aimed at reducing cell phone calls in moving cars, none were passed. One bill was aimed at banning all Florida drivers from sending a call, texting, dialing, listening or speaking on a wireless device without a hands-free device. Another would have banned teen drivers from driving and talking on hand-held devices.

We have found in our practice that there are more and more accidents that are caused by drivers who are on there cell phones and there are statistics that do seem to suggest that legislation is needed. The leading cause of fatalities for teenagers and drivers in their 20’s and 30’s reported by the CDC are car accidents. In addition, it is well known that car accidents also cause many serious injuries to drivers and passengers. The following studies have found a link between fatalities and injuries in vehicular accidents and cell phone use by the drivers:
1. In 2002, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study, found that about 2,600 fatalities each year are caused by drivers who are distracted by cell phones at the time of an accident.
2. The California Highway Patrol also conducted their own research in 2001 and found that during a nine month period 4,699 car crashes were linked to drivers distracted by their cell phones.
3. Another study conducted by the University of Utah found that drivers using cell phones had the same response times as drunk drivers. The drivers using cell phones, the research revealed, were 9% slower to brake and 19% slower to return to normal driving speeds.

It’s almost impossible to believe that our Florida legislature decided five years ago to make it illegal for local jurisdictions to ban cell phones. The studies listed and data from our own Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reveal that in 2006, 26 car accident fatalities and 1,364 car accident injuries in Florida involved driver distractions. We all need to let our legislature know that the citizens of Florida want their streets and highways to be safer and legislation that limits the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle will help to accomplish that goal. This is not about convenience or taking away our rights, it is about saving lives that are needlessly cut short as a result of drivers who are unnecessarily distracted while operating a vehicle.

July 11, 2008

Florida Personal Injury Checklist

You are driving down the road in Broward County, wearing your seatbelt and obeying all traffic signals and laws. The last thing you thought would happen is a car running a red light and striking your vehicle at the intersection. You advise the Officer at the scene of your statement and the other driver is cited at fault for the accident. You are injured so you go to the ER. You are waiting to be seen and so many things are running through your mind…am I going to be OK…what about my car…how am I going to get to work…etc… These are questions our South Florida firm answers everyday when we speak with our prospective clients for the first time. In an effort to help our prospective clients we have compiled a checklist of sorts that can be used by anyone who is injured in an accident in the State of Florida.

1. Be truthful to everyone about any physical limitation you now have. In order for your doctors and attorney to help you with your case we need to know about all of your symptoms.

2. Don't accept a check or sign a release from an insurance company for your property damage claim unless you are sure you know exactly what it covers. Sometimes insurance companies will attempt to get you to release "any and all claims" - including your personal injury claim when you are only settling your claim for property damage. Please check with your attorney if you're not sure.

3. Do not hide past accidents or injuries from your lawyer. Insurance companies have access to accident information in a central database, so the other insurance company will more than likely find out about your prior medical history and accident.

4. We find that it is extremely helpful when clients keep a record of how they feel. A diary is an excellent way to organize this information. The diary should contain notes of their doctor and therapy appointments, medications, and inability to work and enjoy any of the activities that were enjoyed and participated in before the accident. In real life there are few "cant's" after an accident. Most people recover the ability to perform most activities, unless they are bedridden. But generally, if they have limitations, it's because they can't do the activity as long, as hard, or as strongly as they used to. A diary which reflects these limitations is important to your injury case because they can really show the adjuster how you have been affected on a daily basis as a result of the accident.

5. Do not try and deal with pain. See a doctor or go to the ER immediately after your accident. Tell your doctor everything: about how the accident occurred, and advise him or her of any past accidents or medical conditions.

6. Video cameras can be hidden anywhere. You may not know you are being videotaped and it could be at anytime or in any place. We have seen this many times. You will lose all credibility if you claim you cannot perform a certain way and then are caught “on tape” doing those exact things or something similar. If you are honest and truthful about your injuries and limitations this invasion of your privacy will only bolster your case. Go on as usual if you see someone following you and let them record for all to see how your injuries have affected your ability to perform your normal everyday functions. This will be your best evidence.

These are just a few of the things we routinely go over with our clients so they can be educated on what they can do to help us to obtain the maximum recovery possible for their individual case. Insurance companies are for profit businesses and in order for us to obtain fair, speedy and just compensation to persons injured through the fault of another (the insurance company's policyholder) we have to do everything we can do to present a case in the light most favorable to our clients and convince the Insurance Companies that our clients are entitled to be paid a fair, speedy and just settlement as a result of their insured's negligence. If you want to read more about what not to do after you are in an accident you can read an article in our blog : “Florida Auto Accidents: The Mistakes People Make” dated June 26, 2008.

June 27, 2008

Florida Auto Safety: Move Over Law Saves Lives

On Monday, June 23, 2008, a statewide campaign was instituted by the Florida Highway Patrol to spread awareness of Florida's Move Over Law. This law is designed to protect Police Officers, Emergency Workers and Pedestrians at the scene of accidents from being struck by vehicles on Florida roads. The Move Over Law states that a driver must vacate the lane next to where a law enforcement vehicle has stopped on the side of a road with its lights flashing. During the weeklong campaign officers will issue warnings to motorists through Wednesday and on Thursday will begin issuing tickets for violations.

Florida’s Move Over Law was meant to prevent tragedies such as these:

• A case in Miami recently when Rescue crews amputated a man's leg on a Miami highway after he was crushed between two vehicles. The accident occurred while the man was checking the damage to his car after he was struck from behind by a sport utility vehicle. Another vehicle then crashed into the SUV, pinning the man.

• According to Florida Highway Patrol three people were killed since the Memorial Day weekend while checking their vehicles for damage after a crash in the middle of a road.

• A Road Ranger was critically injured while assisting a motorist on the Palmetto Expressway. The Road Ranger was assisting a vehicle that was disabled when another car struck the Ranger's truck, which then in turn struck the Road Ranger.

Tragedies such as these can be been avoided if all drivers adhere to the following safety precautions:

1. Drivers should move their cars to the side of the road before checking for damage after minor accidents;
2. Drivers should vacate the lane next to where a law enforcement vehicle has stopped on the side of the road; and
3. Drives should vacate the lane next to the scene of an auto accident.

June 26, 2008

Florida Auto Accidents: The Mistakes People Make

Quite often during meetings with our clients in our Fort Lauderale and Weston offices, we are frequently asked the question: What do I do when I am injured in a car accident in the State of Florida? The answer to that question in our opinion is better answered by providing our clients with a very short list of things they should never do. These are the mistakes that we are often faced with when clients first come to our office and we find that they have:

1. Failed to report the accident to the Police and to the insurance company;
2. Failed to document their Injuries to the Police, Rescue, and the insurance company;
2. Failed to take photographs of their injuries and property damage;
3. Failed to go to a doctor to document their injuries;
4. Made a signed or recorded statement to their own insurance company without first seeking legal advice; and
5. Made a signed or recorded statement to the party at fault’s insurance company without first seeking legal advice.

These may seem like fairly simple things that need to be done at the time, but at the time of an accident most people are upset, anxious and sometimes injured and as a result may not be thinking clearly. If you take our tips and follow them you will at least have ensured that the necessary information is being documented properly at the outset of your case. This documentation is essential in helping our offices to be better able to resolve your case either through settlement or litigation.

June 4, 2008

Stack$ Survives South Florida Car Accident

Well known Rapper, STACK$ was involved in a serious car crash in Miami, Florida on May 30, 2008. He escaped severe injury despite the substantial property damage to his vehicle.

Stack$, a hip-hop star and nightclub owner, was driving with a friend when he collided with another car, and his Ford Explorer was sent airborne. His SUV crashed into the barriers of an overpass, narrowly avoiding the 40 foot fall from a bridge.

Stack$'s injuries included second degree burns, a broken hand, chiropractic injuries and numerous cuts and bruises. Both Stack$ and his passenger were taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, where they both spent the night before being discharged. He is now resting at his South Beach home and is grateful that he survived the near-fatal accident.


June 3, 2008

South Florida Hit and Run and Drunk Drivers

Within the past few weeks the police in the Fort Lauderale area have been investigating two instances of pedestrians being injured in vehicular accidents. In the first instance, law enforcement is attempting to locate a car that a surveillance camera caught hitting a pedestrian, Marshall Clinton, 51,and then driving away. The crash happened about 11 p.m. Friday, May 23, 2008 as Mr. Chilton crossed the street. Marshall Chilton, 51, was admitted in the hospital with broken bones and is expected to recover.

In a second incident in Fort Lauderdale, a man is accused of killing a woman, Ms.Kathleen Gosnell, 60, and injuring Mr. Raymond Haruben, 63, after striking them with his vehicle on Thursday, May 22, 2008. Toxicology reports confirmed that he was Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI). Steven Kopson, 53, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged with manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, among several charges.

Both these incidents raise the question, "If I am a pedestrian in an accident who was struck by a hit and run driver- who will pay for the treatment and pain and suffering I have sustained through no fault of my own?" The answer is that even though you are a pedestrian, your own PIP and UIM insurance will ensure that you are fully protected and covered for your injuries even though you weren't driving your vehicle at the time.

The importance of PIP coverage and UIM coverage on your automobile policies is especially important when you are a pedestrian and you you are struck by a hit and run driver. It is in that instance that your own insurance coverage is there to protect you. Your PIP Insurance or Personal Injury Protection Insurance will cover the first $10,000.00 of your medical bills and your UIM Insurance will afford you coverage for everything over and above the first $10,000.00 up to the limits you choose.

What if your injuries are serious and you need treatment well over and above $10,000.00 and what about pain and suffering, wrongful death and lost or diminished capacity to earn a living? UIM coverage is the only coverage that will protect you if the party at fault in an accident either is unknown, has no Bodily Injury coverage (which is not required in the State of Florida) or has a minimal amount of Bodily Insurance Coverage. In effect you can seek compensation for your injuries and damages from your own insurance company should any of these circumstances occur, but only if you have UIM Insurance coverage.

If you would like to read further about this issue, we have addressed the Florida UIM and PIP Insurance issue in a previous article on our blog entitled: "Florida No-Fault, Med Pay and UIM Insurance" dated May 12, 2008. It is our hope that all Florida drivers will contact their insurance agents and demand a quote for UIM coverage on their policies. That way, should the unfortunate happen and you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver or underinsured driver, you won't have to worry about your financial future being decimated by medical bills.

If you have any questions about these issues please feel free to call our offices. We want every Florida driver to be aware and informed about their right to protect themselves through proper and FULL automobile insurance coverage.

April 22, 2008

South Florida Car Accident Injures Two Girls

Two children were struck by cars and seriously injured in separate accidents Sunday, police said. Both are expected to survive despite their serious injuries.

About 4:45 p.m., a car hit a 13 year old girl who was riding her bicycle near Northwest 28th Street and University Drive, said Mike Moser, a spokesman for Coral Springs Fire-Rescue. She was expected to survive, Moser said. The girl was flown to Broward General Medical Center as a precaution.

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About two hours later in Davie, a 7 year old girl was run over when she tried to grab the right rear door handle of a neighbor's car, Davie police Lt. Bill Coyne said. The accident occurred as the car pulled into a driveway in the 4400 block of southwest 74th Avenue. Paramedics rushed the girl to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood where she was in critical but stable condition.

March 17, 2008

Orange County, Florida Car Accident, Woman Dies, 2 Injured.

A 40-year-old Orlando woman was killed and two passengers were injured early Sunday after she drove off the road in east Orange County and hit a concrete culvert, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

About 2:30 a.m., Tonya M. Shepherd was driving a 1998 Ford Mustang south on West Christmas Road near Fort Christmas Road when she failed to negotiate a curve, drove onto the east shoulder and hit the culvert.

Shepherd was pronounced dead at the scene. Passenger Jerry Kincaid, 42, of Orlando was ejected from the car and suffered minor injuries. Another passenger, Tiffany Adkins, 21, of Orlando, was critically injured. No one in the car was wearing a seat belt, the FHP said.

October 28, 2007

Miami Firefighter loses life in Automobile Accident

A Miami firefighter lost his life in a fatal car crash in Miami on Friday Night.
Investigators stated that two teenage girls in a Red Honda were traveling Northbound on NW 24th Avenue, at which time they ran a stop sign causing the collision and the firefighter's Wrongful Death.

Roberto Garcia, the firefighter, was a 20 year veteran of the Miami Fire Dept. who moved up to the rank of Captain. His passenger and he were out celebrating and were returning home when this tragedy occurred. Ironically, rescue personnel from Captain Garcia's own station responded to the call. "We found one of our own", said Ignatius Carroll, a Miami-Fire Rescue spokesman.

Captain Garcia's passenger received only minor injuries. The two girls, whose names have been withheld, were taken to the Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition. Our Condolences go out to the family of Captain Garcia.

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October 25, 2007

Miami, Florida Police Officer in Serious Automobile Accident

A Miami Police Officer was involved in a serious automobile accident on Wednesday with a 19 year old pre-med student who also lives in Miami. The student was taken to Kendall Medical Center with nine life threatening Injuries. There is some controversy surrounding the accident involving whether or not the officer had his sirens on.

Investigators say that the officer was responding to a call and had his lights and sirens engaged at the time of the impact with the female student. However, witnesses to the collision have a different version. Orestes Perdigon, the student's father stated that, "He had no sirens on, nothing at all." Apparently, the student had the right of way as the officer may have drove through a stop sign just before impact.

This Miami incident follows a similar occurrence just days ago, when a Middle School Student was badly injured after being struck by an Orlando Police Officer in pursuit of a criminal. The officer was chasing another vehicle who ran a red light when suddenly, the Officer collided with a Volkswagen which careened into the 11 year old student who was waiting to cross the street. According to one woman, the officer was exceeding the speed limit. "It looked like it was a chase to me", said Celine Gasco, 33 who was stopped in her car at an intersection when the collision took place. Once again, as with the incident in Miami, Orlando investigators appear to be claiming, despite the eyewitness testimony, that the officer did nothing wrong.

Law Enforcement Agencies must provide better training to their officers on the issue of pursuing Criminals. While most Police Departments, like the Orlando Police Department, have a policy which only allows a high speed chase when the officer is in pursuit of a violent felon, Police Officers often violate the local traffic laws and injure innocent citizens. These Officers are performing their job in a vacuum because they are not weighing the interests of the innocent bystander when they pursue non-violent criminals.

Under Florida law, this constitutes Negligence and subjects the Police Department and the Police Officer to a lawsuit so that the injured bystander can collect for their Injuries. It would be in the public's best interest if some of these officers were to spend less time in the gym and more time in the library. While a majority of police officers are fine individuals who act professionally while doing their job, there is a percentage of officers who are unable to see the big picture and often do not have their priorities in order. This often leads to incidents like the ones we just saw in Miami and Orlando where innocent bystanders suffer Injuries as a result of the Officer's Negligence.