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That’s No Myth: Distracted Driving in Florida

That’s No Myth: Distracted Driving in Florida

With all the talk about distracted driving on U.S. roads in recent years, some people have started to tune out the statistics and horror stories. Some people might even characterize the alleged epidemic of distracted drivers as a myth. However, statistics show that it is decidedly not a myth, and indeed, the tendency to drive while multitasking is actually increasing in frequency. It is one of the most common causes of automobile accidents across the country, and in Florida, the problem is exceptionally relevant for a variety of reasons. Patterns Are Clear While most people think of distracted driving as using a smartphone or other electronic device while driving, in reality, anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road can qualify under Florida law. Texting qualifies, and it is perhaps the worst offender in terms of causing accidents – studies have shown that more than 50 percent of people have used a mobile app beyond GPS while operating a motor vehicle. For the last four years of available data, the overall crash rate in Florida has risen, with a significant rise between 2015 and 2016. The numbers of injuries have risen slowly but steadily – from 39,141 in 2013 to a record-setting 49,231 in 2016. In terms of texting or smartphone use specifically, the numbers give one pause for concern. A recent study conducted nationwide gave Florida the second-worst percentage of distracted drivers, second only to Louisiana. However, there are demonstrably fewer consequences for distracted drivers in Florida because it is one of only five states where texting while driving is not a...
Can Florida Businesses Be Liable for the Actions of a Drunk Person?

Can Florida Businesses Be Liable for the Actions of a Drunk Person?

It is an obvious fact that drinking and driving is a deadly combination and can result in a very preventable tragedy.  Tragedies are only magnified when a drunk driver kills multiple people, such as when on New Year’s Eve, 2016, an alleged drunk driver killed five individuals when driving the wrong way down I-95 in Florida, or when two young children died and six others were hospitalized from an alleged drunk driver in October of 2016. For those who survive a drunk driving accident, life is irrevocably altered but they must pick up the pieces and find a new normal without their loved ones or learn to live with their new injuries and physical limitations.  When the driver’s insurance only covers a small portion of the damages or when the drunk driver ends up in jail and with no assets, where do the injured and aggrieved parties turn to in order to pay for the injuries and losses?  If a mother or father of a household can no longer work, it is a legitimate question to ask as to how the family will survive financially. In many cases, it may be necessary to prove liability beyond the drunk driver themselves and look to the establishment that served the driver the alcohol.   Dram Shop Actions Florida’s Dram Shop law is limited compared to other states and only covers two specific circumstances.  In Florida, a bar or establishment that serves or sells alcohol may be liable for the damages or injuries caused when they do either of the following: Willingly and unlawfully sell or furnish an underage person alcoholic beverages; or When...
Have You Been Hit by a Drunk Driver?

Have You Been Hit by a Drunk Driver?

Every person who has a driver’s license should know that it is both dangerous and against the law to drive a vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol. However, numerous drivers continue to make the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking too much each and every day. Such drivers may believe they have not had too much to drink, may believe that they are good enough drivers to get home without incident despite their intoxication, or may simply believe they are invincible from the law and safety regulations. Regardless of their justification, it is generally only a matter of time before a drunk driver causes an accident and serious injuries to others. Injuries Caused by Drunk Drivers Because of their delayed reaction times and lack of focus on the road, drunk drivers tend to be involved in severe collisions. Whether they hit another vehicle, a motorcyclist, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian, drunk drivers can cause devastating injuries to accident victims. Often, a drunk driver will stray from their lane and cross over the center line, or perhaps they may turn the wrong way on one-way street or highway. These actions can result in head-on collisions at high speeds that leave victims with life-changing injuries and impairments. Some of these injuries can include: Spinal cord injuries Paralysis Amputations and crushed limbs Traumatic brain injuries Back and neck injuries Burns Internal organ damage What to do After a Drunk Driving Accident As an accident victim, it is only natural to be shaken up after any type of collision. However, there are steps you should take whenever possible...
Common Causes of Distracted Driving that Result in Collisions

Common Causes of Distracted Driving that Result in Collisions

Distracted driving1 is a major contributing factor in many automobile collisions. In an effort to gain insight into the common types and causes of distracted driving and the resulting accidents, Erie Insurance did a study of all fatal collisions in the US that took place in 2010 and 2011 in which the driver was distracted.2 The results were stunning. In 62% of the fatal accidents studied, the distraction was solely the fault of the driver. Namely, the driver was just inattentive or “lost in thought.” The other 38% of drivers were distracted by external factors. This comprehensive study outlined the major causes of distracted driving and shows their likelihood to contribute to an accident. Cell phone use – The biggest external factor in distractions that Erie found was cell phone use, occurring about 12% of the time in fatal collisions involving a distracted driver. Cell phone use includes talking on the phone, listening to something on the phone, texting, and dialing. Florida has specifically tried to address this issue with its ban on texting and driving3 and many automobile manufacturers now produce vehicles that allow for hands-free phone use to attempt to address the safety issue created by people paying more attention to their phone than the road. Using these hands-free devices and waiting to respond and send texts until you’ve reached your destination are your best bets at avoiding this risk. Outside person, object or event – The next biggest distractor, occurring about 7% of the time, is where the driver is paying more attention to something outside of the car than to the road. Frequently referred to...
Discussing Auto Accidents with a Ft. Lauderdale Insurance Adjuster

Discussing Auto Accidents with a Ft. Lauderdale Insurance Adjuster

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles[1], there were 344,170 automobile crashes in the state of Florida in 2014. That averages 943 collisions a day. Nevertheless, many consumers may not know what steps to take or basic information to share, or not share, after an accident. Individuals may even put their identities and safety at risk by sharing too much personal information. Consumers generally need only share their names and correct vehicle insurance information, which should include the phone numbers of insurance providers. Sharing additional personal information, such as driver’s license numbers and home addresses, can place consumers, their property and their safety at risk. Conversations with a Ft. Lauderdale Insurance Adjuster After an automobile accident, you will likely be contacted by an automobile insurance adjuster. There are several things to keep in mind before and during that conversation: • Personal Information: Provide your name, address, and telephone number as well as your employer’s address, but it is not necessary for you to provide any additional private information regarding your income, medical history and the like. • Identify the Caller: Be sure to obtain the name and telephone number of the person to whom you are speaking as well as the name and address of their employer; the insurance company. • Injuries: Even if the adjuster inquires as to your injuries, refrain from providing a detailed description. You may inadvertently leave out a detail or discover later that an injury has worsened or that you have suffered an additional injury. • Accident Details: Do not provide a formal statement or engage in an informal conversation...
Evidence in a Drunk Driving Accident Case

Evidence in a Drunk Driving Accident Case

Despite the obvious and well-known dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported [1] that an individual sustains injuries in a crash caused by a drunk driver every two minutes in the United States. This statistic means that more than 260,000 people suffer needless and preventable injuries each year due to intoxicated drivers. Such drivers should be held liable for all of the losses that accident victims incur and victims can receive their compensation by filing a claim for personal injury in civil court.   In order to recover in a personal injury claim, however, you must present sufficient evidence that an individual breached their duty of care (i.e. a driver’s duty to operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner) and caused you injury as a result. In order to prove these claims, you must present evidence in line with the Florida Rules of Evidence [2] to support your allegations that the driver was intoxicated and was, therefore, negligent. The following are some examples of evidence that an attorney may gather and present in a drunk driving accident case.   Police reports – It is always important to wait for law enforcement officers to arrive on the scene of the accident, especially if you believe the driver who caused the accident may be under the influence of alcohol. Police officers can perform Breathalyzer tests, field sobriety tests, blood tests, and use their observations to determine whether there is probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI. The results of all of the tests as well as what they observed should go into the...