NHTSA: Florida Now More Dangerous For Cyclists

May 24, 2015

Florida has become a more dangerous place for cyclists, according to the most recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The latest Traffic Safety Fact Sheet, which reflects final numbers from 2013 indicate bicycle fatalities in Florida rose from 122 to 133 - an increase of 9 percent.

Nationally, the number of bicycle fatalities has been on the rise as well. In 2010, there were 618 bicyclists killed in crashes. In 2011, there were 677 bicyclists killed. The following year, that figure climbed to 726. And then in 2013, it increased again to 743. That is a staggering 20 percent increase from 2010 to 2013.

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Bennett v. Highland Park Apartments - Landlord Liability for Crime-Related Injuries

May 22, 2015

In any premises liability claim, success often hinges on whether the property owner or operator had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition.
So in the case of a slippery floor, we have to determine whether a property or business owner knew the floor was wet or slippery.

However, it gets a little more complicated in claims alleging liability due to inadequate security or negligent security following a third-party crime. After all, it almost never happens that the property or business owner had actual knowledge of a crime before it takes place.

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McDermott v. State - Construction Site Accident Kills Passerby

May 15, 2015

Most construction accident lawsuits stem from injuries sustained by on-site workers.

However, if a construction, demolition or renovation site is not properly secured or if outsiders aren't given proper warning to keep a certain distance, the public in general may be put at risk of serious injury or even death.

That's what is alleged to have occurred in the case of McDermott v. State, recently weighed by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

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Siruta v. Siruta - Husband Sues Wife for Child Car Accident Death

May 12, 2015

It is not highly unusual for passengers in a crash or their survivors to sue drivers following an accident, even when they are family members or close friends. The goal is not malice, but rather compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other costs, which are often paid by insurance companies rather than the individual directly.

Also, in order to collect any uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage the passenger may have had, it's imperative to exhaust all other legal remedies for compensation, and so claims against a negligent driver are necessary.

But the case of Siruta v. Siruta, in which a passenger in a wreck sued the driver for the wrongful death of his son, also a passenger, is unusual for a number of reasons. The legally perplexing case was recently before the Kansas Supreme Court.

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Florida Lawmakers to Approve $700k Claim for Bicycle Accident

May 2, 2015

Lawmakers are expected to approve a $700,000 claims bill to compensate an engineering professor at Florida State University who suffered serious injury after he was struck by a garbage truck while riding a bicycle five years ago.

It may seem an odd step in the civil litigation process, but the reason the case took this route is because in Florida, claims against the government are capped at $200,000 - no matter what the circumstances or expenses incurred. The legal doctrine of sovereign immunity prevents people from bringing claims against the government unless the government approves. Capping damages is one of our state's limitations on civil claims. Even when the court finds or the government concedes liability for a higher sum, the additional amount must get a final approval stamp from the state legislature in the form of a bill.

In this case, the city of Tallahassee, where this accident occurred, conceded liability and agreed to pay the cyclist $900,000. It gave him the $200,000 it was allowed to give by law, but in order to fulfill the rest of the out-of-court settlement obligation, the case had to go before state lawmakers.

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Report: Defective Airbags Linked Now to 105 Injuries, 6 Deaths

April 29, 2015

The death and injury toll stemming from faulty airbags manufactured by Japanese company Takata continues to rise. Currently, authorities have tallied 105 injuries and six deaths linked to the defective auto parts.airbag.jpg

Some of those in the count occurred more than a decade ago, and are only now being recognized as likely connected.

The massive recall that was issued involved 17 million older model vehicles from 10 different auto makers, both in the U.S. and abroad.

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Florida Bicycle Accident Victim Options After Hit-and-Run

April 28, 2015

A bicyclist was killed in Coral Gables recently after being struck by a driver who then fled the scene. Authorities say it's clear the driver likely knew he or she had hit someone because there is evidence the driver needed stop to remove the bicycle from underneath the vehicle before driving away.

Just minutes after the crash, which occurred around 3 a.m., an officer spotted the victim. He stopped to render aid, but the cyclist was already deceased.

Using bits of the vehicle left at the scene, officers were able to determine the make, model and color of the vehicle, and from that information, were able to locate the vehicle in Miami. The car sustained heavy front-end damage consistent with the crash details, including a shattered from window. Still, no arrests have yet been made.

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Jones v. Alayon - Seat Belt Defense in Florida Car Accident Lawsuit

April 26, 2015

Add to the list of reasons one should always wear a seat belt: The seat belt defense.
Although some states have specifically barred defendants in car accident lawsuits from using this defense, Florida is not among them.

The seat belt defense essentially holds that a person who is severely injured or killed in a car accident may be found partially to blame if not wearing a seat belt, as required by law. A person may still recover damages in Florida in cases of comparative fault, but compensation will be reduced by whatever percentage of blame he or she is deemed by a judge or jury to hold. With the seat belt defense, defendant will assert liability only for injuries that might have been sustained had plaintiff or decedent been wearing a seat belt - which is to say, they will assert injuries would have been far less severe, and thus they should not have to pay nearly as much.

When injuries result from another person's negligence, the victim should not have to foot the bill, regardless of whether he or she buckled up that day. Those who have sustained auto injuries in Fort Lauderdale can overcome the seat belt defense or at least minimize the impact, but it requires experienced legal representation.

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92-Year-Old Driver Won't be Charged for Triple Fatal Wreck

April 22, 2015

Authorities will not criminally charge a 92-year-old man believed at-fault for a Florida crash that resulted in the deaths of three utility workers and the injury of another motorist.
Although investigators with the Florida Highway Patrol have not indicated any age-related condition contributed to the crash, it has nonetheless sparked a debate about the point at which older drivers should hang up their keys for good.

According to news reports, the three utility workers, from Georgia, were working alongside the highway installing a utility pole when the older driver attempted to make a right turn onto that road from a nearby cross street. As he did so, he reportedly entered the center lane, as opposed to turning directly into the right lane. In so doing, he struck the 20-year-old driver, and the impact sent the second vehicle careening into that ditch.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Accident Insurance Reimbursement Issue

April 20, 2015

Federal circuit courts are torn on the question of whether an employee who is injured on the job is free to spend the benefits of a third-party lawsuit or other settlement agreement, or if he or she must use that money to reimburse their health insurance provider.

Most courts have said employees can't spend the money and have to repay their insurers. Under the federal Employee Retirement Security Act (also known as ERISA) workers are promised that if they are hurt on the job, they will quickly be paid benefits. However, they also agree to repay whatever funds they obtain later, usually from a settlement or lawsuit.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit isn't on board with this reasoning. In the 2012 ruling in Bilyeu v. Morgan Stanley Long Term Disability Plan, the insurer is unable to collect funds awarded by a third party if the beneficiary has already spent that money. The Eighth Circuit has issued similar findings, but other federal district courts have sided in favor of insurance companies.

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15-Passenger Vans Among the Most Deadly Vehicles on the Road

April 14, 2015

The safety of 15-passenger vans has once again been called into question following three fatal crashes in the Southeastern U.S. - including two in Florida - which killed 14 people and injured dozens more over the course of just two weeks.
These vans, popular for use among church groups, sports teams, senior travelers and large family vacationers, are notoriously poorly-weighted, with a heightened risk of rollover. There are also increased risks of tire blow-out and driver error, as the vehicles are known to be difficult to control.

Safety advocates have seized on these incidents as an opportunity to encourage authorities to warn the public regarding the dangers of these vehicles and the importance of proper maintenance, not overloading and always wearing a seat belt.

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Bicycle Crash Reporting Needs Improvement, Study Suggests

April 12, 2015

Bicycling has become an incredibly popular form of transportation and recreation across the country, but particularly here in Florida, where the weather permits riders to enjoy the activity year-round. In fact, between 2000 and 2013, there was a 62 percent spike in ridership in the U.S.

However, this has inevitably led to an increase in bicycle accidents, particularly because our streets weren't designed to safely accommodate cyclists and because most drivers still don't look twice for them.

A recent study has now identified another issue: The outdated way in which police departments around the country are reporting these crashes is failing to provide crucial information that could help make our streets safer for cyclists.

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