April 14, 2014

Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Exception to the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine Regarding Car Accidents

On April 10, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court issued an important ruling regarding Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine as it applies to the owners of vehicles involved in auto accidents. Generally speaking, Florida's dangerous instrumentality laws provide that the owner or owners of a vehicle are responsible for any injuries caused by anyone else driving the vehicle with permission. The rationale for this rule is that the owners of a vehicle are in the best position to ensure that persons operating it are safe drivers.

There is an exception to this rule, commonly referred to as “beneficial ownership” exception. This exception applies when the ownership interest in the vehicle has been transferred from one person or entity to another but the title hasnot yet been changed when an auto accident occurs. This situation usually occurs when, in the sale of an automobile, the buyer takes possession the vehicle, yet the title has not been changed to reflect the new owner. In this situation, the seller no longer has the ability to control who is driving the car after possession is given to the buyer, so the rationale of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine is not undermined.

In the case ruled on last week by the Florida Supreme Court, a husband was placed on the title as co-owner with his wife. They later divorced . After the divorce, the husband did not have access to the vehicle nor did he have keys to the vehicle, yet his name remained on the title as a co-owner. The case proceeded to a jury trial and the jury determined that the husband was not a beneficial owner at the time of the accident, and, therefore, the husband was not liable to the plaintiff. Unfortunately, the car accident at issue caused the wrongful death of the driver of the other car. The appellate court held that the husband was still responsible as the owner of the vehicle. The issue was certified as one of great importance to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the ex-husband still had the ability to exert control of the vehicle as an owner even though he chose not to do so. The ex-husband's subjective intent that the wife be the sole owner of the vehicle, and that he gave the vehicle to her as a gift, was not relevant. As a result, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the ex-husband was responsible for the wrongful death damages resulting from the car accident.

In so doing, the Florida Supreme Court limited the beneficial ownership exception to Florida's dangerous instrumentality law to apply to the narrow circumstance where the ownership of a vehicle has been transferred, yet the title work has not caught up with such transfer. To rule otherwise would allow co-owners in all sorts of car accidents to avoid liability for injuries by claiming an intent to have no actual interest in the vehicle despite the fact that, legally speaking, he or she did have the right to exert control over the vehicle.

In short, the ruling was a victory for persons injured in car accidents as a co-owner will not be able to escape liability by merely claiming that he or she did not intend to exercise any control over who used the vehicle.

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March 31, 2014

Florida Supreme Court's Ruling Clarifies Duty Owed to Prevent Injury by Third Parties

Last Thursday (3/27/2014), the Florida Supreme Court rendered an important decision regarding the duty to prevent harm by reason of the misconduct of a third person.

Generally speaking, a person does not owe a duty to prevent someone else from injuring another person. For example, the law does not require that you step in if you see someone assaulting another person.

The facts of the Supreme Court case; however, are intriguing. In that case, three men were at a bar drinking to the point of intoxication. One of the men, Dennis Dorsey, was critical of Robert Reider's boisterous behavior and he left the bar. Mr. Reider, and his freind Mr. Noordhoek, followed and trapped Mr. Dorsey between two vehicles. Mr. Noordhoek then retrieved a tomahawk from one of the vehicles. Mr. Reider prevented Mr. Dorsey from leaving, whereupon Mr. Noordhoek struck Mr. Dorsey in the head with the tomahawk, causing personal injury.

A trial was held and Mr. Dorsey was awarded in excess of $1,500,000.00 against Mr. Reider. In all likelihood, Mr. Reider had homeowner's insurance that would provide coverage for the personal injury claims against Mr. Reider. Mr. Reider appealed and the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and held that Mr. Reider owed no duty to Mr. Dorsey to prevent Mr. Noordhoek's actions.

The Florida Supreme Court noted the exceptions to the general rule that a person does not have a duty to prevent injury by a third party. Those exceptions provide for a duty where the defendant is in control of: the dangerous instrumentality (the tomahawk); the premises on which the tort occurred (the bar's parking lot); or the tortfeasor (Mr. Noordhoek). Since Mr. Reider was not in control of any of these three things, the appellate court ruled he had no duty to prevent Mr. Noordhoek's attack with the tomahawk.

The appellate court's result seems harsh and, frankly, absurd. Mr. Reider initiated a physical encounter and prevented Mr. Dorsey from being able to leave. While Mr. Reider may not have known Mr. Noordhoek was going to engage in such a violent attack, he had to know some degree of injury to Mr. Reider was possible at the hands of Mr. Noordhoek as the confrontation was certainly not friendly in nature.

The Florida Supreme Court referred to another exception that applies when a defendant creates a foreseeable zone of risk to someone. When this occurs the defendant has a legal duty to minimize the risk. Previously, the appellate court held that this exception only applies when the third person's (Noordhoek's) actions occur with such frequency that it can be expected to occur again.

This exception is commonly seen in injury cases involving crimes that occur at a shopping center, hotel, bar or apartment complex. In such cases, the reoccurring nature of criminal attacks on patrons creates a duty on the part of the business owner to take measures to increase security. Since there was no evidence that Mr. Reider was aware of any prior aggression by Noordhoek, the appellate court held that this exception did not apply.

The Supreme Court clarified that the zone of risk analysis only required that some degree of harm to Mr. Dorsey was foreseeable and the exception did not require that Reider was aware that Noordhoek was likely to strike Mr. Dorsey with a tomahawk. The Supreme Court got it right as Mr. Dorsey was prevented from leaving by Mr. Reider and Mr. Reider certainly did not do this with good intentions, despite the fact that Mr. Reider probably did not know that Noordhoek was going to engage in such brutality.

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March 7, 2014

Doing Your Homework Before Entering an Assisted Living Facility in Jacksonville

Jacksonville has nearly one hundred assisted living facilities ("ALFs"). ALFs are a step between independent living and a nursing home. ALFs provide housing, food and personal services; however, they do not provide medical care. In limited circumstance, an ALF may provide some nursing care and assistance with medications. They allow for greater privacy, and are usually much less expensive, than a nursing home.

ALFs are licensed and inspected by Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration. Because they do not provide nursing or medical care, ALFs are not as tightly regulated as nursing homes. Unlike nursing homes, the State of Florida does not maintain a rating for assisted living facilities. This can make picking out an ALF a daunting task.

Floridahealthfinder.gov has a list of all licensed ALFs in the state broken down by region and county. Each ALF on the list has links to provide the types of licenses the ALF has, the number of beds, the name of the administrator and inspection results.

Fees for ALFs vary greatly depending mostly on the degree of services being provided. Generally speaking, Medicare or Medicaid will not pay ALF fees.

Other factors to consider when selecting an ALF include: whether the resident will have his or her own room; whether the resident will have to share a bathroom with one or more other residents; whether the resident has kitchen facilities in his or her room; and whether pets are allowed.

Of course, there are alternatives to assisted living facilities including adult day care centers and adult family care homes. Adult day care centers are a day time supplement for persons living at home. They provide opportunities for social activities, counseling, limited training for activities of daily living, and meals.

Adult family care homes provide a home environment for up to five adults who are not related to the owner of the home with the owner of the home residing there as well. These homes provide housing, meals and assistance with health care arrangements, transportation and medication administration.

If the decision has been made to move into an assisted living facility, we recommend the following actions be taken: find ten or more that are in a convenient area for family members to visit (remember that family members are the very best people to notice if an elderly person is experiencing unsatisfactory care or changes that require medical attention - the more convenient it is for family members to visit, the more often they are likely to visit); go to Floridahealthfinder.gov to learn more about the size of the facilities, whether they have special licenses necessary for your situation (for example, a limited mental health care license may be appropriate for a resident showing early signs of dementia) and view inspection reports; visit the facilities; determine cleanliness; evaluate the general condition of the other residents; consider the activities and services provided; and determine the exact room that is available. Meeting with the administrator and staff is also a must. If other resident's family members are present during your visit, ask them if they are pleased with the facility.

Continue reading "Doing Your Homework Before Entering an Assisted Living Facility in Jacksonville" »

February 19, 2014

Florida's Nursing Home "Watch List" Includes 6 Nursing Homes in Jacksonville, 3 in Orange Park and 1 in St. Augustine

The State of Florida's Agency for Healthcare Administration maintains a "watch list" of nursing homes that have either financial or care related concerns. To be placed on the list, a nursing home must have either
Old%20man.jpg filied for bankruptcy protection or that failed to meet minimum standards at the time of an inspection. The list is updated quarterly. Approximately 140 of Florida's 600 nursing homes are currently on the watch list.

Jacksonville Nursing Homes on the Watch List

In Jacksonville, there are six nursing homes that have been put on the nursing home watch list. The nursing homes that have been added to the watch list are:

- Consulate Health Care of Jacksonville;
- Cypress Village;
- Palm Garden of Jacksonville;
- San Jose Health and Rehabilitation Center;
- Summer Brook Health Care Center; and
- West Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Orange Park Nursing Home on the List:

- Consulate Health Care of Orange Park

St. Augustine Nursing Home on the List:

- St. Augustine Health and Rehabilitation Center

To access the watch list click here.

The items that typically cause a nursing home to be placed on the watch list usually result from one of AHCA's facility inspections. However, events that have taken place during outside the extremely limited time period of an inspection do not show up on an inspection report.

Because of this, the watch list can be misleading. Many nursing homes that are not on the watch list have been sued for providing substandard care. As a result, the watch list can only be used as one tool in a family's process of determining which nursing home is appropriate.

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration maintains a Nursing Home Guide that provides a rating system based on its inspections ranging from one to five stars on various categories including: Pressure Ulcers; Quality of Care; Nutrition and Hydration; Dignity; Quality of Life; Administration; and Restraints and Abuse.

In addition to considering these documents, we recommend that you visit several nursing homes before a decision is made. During the visit, ask to speak with the Director of Nursing and the Assitant Director of Nursing. Make sure that the nursing home is able to accept the special needs of your family member. For example, some nursing homes do not accept patients who breath via a tracheostomy tube.

While there, ask to see the common areas of the nursing home. Observe the overall cleanliness of the facility and the appearance of the residents.

Finally, once your loved one is admitted, visit regularly and be a care advocate. If you notice something that is not being addressed, bring it to the attention of staff. If it is not corrected promptly, send the administrator a certified letter explaining the situation. Certified letters are almost never ignored because the nursing home administration knows that it is dealing with someone who is not easily appeased and someone that will hold the nursing home accountable for negligence care resulting in injuries.

Continue reading "Florida's Nursing Home "Watch List" Includes 6 Nursing Homes in Jacksonville, 3 in Orange Park and 1 in St. Augustine " »

January 27, 2014

Hope for Spinal Injury Victims: New Products Aim to Make Spinal Surgeries Safer

Unquestionably, the spine - from the neck down to the tailbone - is the most commonly injured body part in car accidents, falls and workers compensation accidents. While bone fractures do occur, more commonly, the intravertebral discs become compressed and permanently mishapen due to an accident - typically referred to a disc that is "bulging," "protruding," or "herniated."

A bulging or herniated disc can press on the spinal cord itself or nerve roots that exit the spinal cord, causing pain, numbness and paralysis. A common symtptom, called "sciatica," occurs when pain travels from the lower back down into one or both legs. When this happens, surgery is usually the only option to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root.

Sucess rates for surgeries to remove the disc and fuse the vetebrae above and below the disc space together are good; however, the risks are huge. Due to the necessarily close proximity of the disc to the nerves being compressed, surgery to remove the disc carries the very real risk of permanent damage to the nerve. Just take a look at any written disclosure of the risks of surgery that a surgeon provides and you will see a parade of lurking horribles, including permanent paralysis. Thankfully, these severe side effects are very rare.

Several medical device manufacturers have developed new technology to make these surgeries safer. Some of the common risks of spinal surgery are excessive bleeding, tears to the dura surround the spinal cord, and leakage of spinal fluid.

One new type of device uses ultrasonic bone emulsification which uses heat generated by radiofrequency and saline to seal the soft tissue and bone being cut during the surgery. In essence the bone is "melted" as it is cut. In this manner, bleeding and leakage of spinal fluid is reduced significantly. The end result is that the spine or nerve roots can be decompressed without the patient suffering collateral injury from excessive bleeding or leakage of spinal fluid.

Many of our personal injury clients decide against having cervical or lumbar fusion surgery because they are understandably concerned about the potential side effects of surgery. The result is that they live with chronic debilitating pain. Hopefully, these advances, along with more on the way, will provide hope to these people and give them a chance to resume a normal product pain free life.

Continue reading "Hope for Spinal Injury Victims: New Products Aim to Make Spinal Surgeries Safer" »

January 20, 2014

Steps to Take if You Think Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse May be Taking Place

We frequently hear from family members who are concerned about the care their relative is receiving at a nursing home. The concerns range from injuries due to falls - to bedsores - to outright abuse. This blog answers some basic questions about what family members can do in this situation.

Your Gut Feelings May be Correct

Many nursing homes provide appropriate care. However, there are numerous instances where neglect or abuse happens and results in a serious decline in a resident's quality of life. Our experience has been that family members often suspect something is wrong long before things get critical.

Demand a Meeting

If you are uncertain whether your relative is being cared for appropriately, you can request a meeting with the nursing home staff. Request that the Director of Nursing and Assistant Director of Nursing be present.

The nursing home may require that medical information releases be signed by your relative allowing the nurses to discuss the medical conditions at issue. A power of attorney relating to health care issues or a designation of a health care surrogate will allow a specific person to discuss medical conditons with the nurses; however, other family members may not be able to attend. If you do not have forms for a records release or a power of attorney/health care surrogate, our law firm can provide these forms to you free of cost.

The resident should sign such documents while he or she retains the capacity to comprehend what is being signed. Documents executed after the resident no longer has the capacity to understand what has been signed may not be effective.

Residents always have the right to move to a different nursing home. If it is decided that your relative will stay in the same nursing home, write a letter that summarizes the promises made by the staff and mail it to the nursing home's admininstrator via certified mail. This will get their attention and may turn statements that were only intended to appease you into real action.

Get the Records

It is important to obtain your relative's nursing home records. You will need a signed release. The nursing home records can be hard to read and signs of negligence or abuse are usually not obvious.

Have a Nurse Review the Nursing Home Records

Having a nurse that is not affiliated with the nursing home review the records may reveal issues of concern or neglect. These nurses routinely review records for nursing home neglect and injury cases and know what to look for in order to determine if neglect is taking place. Our firm can provide you with contact information for nurses in the Jacksonville area who are willing to review records at a reasonable cost.

Call the Abuse Hotline

Florida’s Department of Children and Families investigates abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults, The hotline number is 1(800)96-ABUSE. Calls are answered at any time of the day, 365 days a year. The person with whom you speak can tell you know if the matter will be investigated. Information regarding the hotline is located here.

Call an Attorney that Focuses on Nursing Home Cases

Lawyers are typically willing to consult with you without cost to discuss your situation. If the case seems strong, you will probably be able to retain the nursing home lawyer via a contingency fee agreement, through which you only have to pay attorney fees and costs in the event of a settlement or verdict in your favor.

Continue reading "Steps to Take if You Think Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse May be Taking Place" »

December 21, 2013

One Dead, Two Injured in Jacksonville Auto Accident on I-295

Earlier this month, a tragic accident on I-295 took the life of one college student and injured two others. According to a report by the Florida Times-Union, the three college students were travelling on I-295 in Duval County, Florida, shortly before noon on December 13th, when they came upon a pickup truck that was travelling slowly in their lane. As the driver attempted to swerve around the pickup truck, she lost control of the vehicle and she over-corrected. The vehicle then spun out of control.

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The vehicle containing the three college students then hit a semi truck in a neighboring lane before rolling over. The vehicle ultimate came to a rest upright a few lanes away. All three occupants were wearing their seat belts when the accident occurred. One girl was killed in the accident and the other two were taken to Shands Jacksonville in critical and serious conditions. Police do not believe that drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident.

This is certainly an unnecessary and sad accident. Giving the timing and the age of the occupants, they may have been headed home for Christmas break from college. The grief of their families must be tremendous.

Reckless Driving Causes Accidents

It certainly seems that, in the above example, the driver came needlessly close to the vehicle in front of her before changing lanes. Perhaps this was the result of: failing to properly observe conditions in front of her; being distracted; or driving too aggressively.

Generally reckless or negligent driving can be considered to be any of the following:

- Inattentive Driving (talking to a passenger, day dreaming);
- Distracted Driving (texting, applying make up, reading, eating);
- Speeding;
- Impaired Driving (drugs or alcohol);
- Erratic Passing (cutting in and out of traffic, speeding while passing, passing on the right).

This list is not exhaustive, however. Anytime a driver is not paying full attention to the road, fails to properly maintain their vehicle, or intentionally disobeys a traffic law, that driver is negligent. Negligent driving causes accidents.

When drivers act in an aggressive manner, they greatly increase the chance of causing a car accident. When a driver's reckless or negligent behavior causes an accident that injures another, that victim is entitled to recover for the cost of their medical bills, future medical expenses, as well as for the pain and suffering resulting from personal injuries.

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December 13, 2013

Florida Man Charged in DUI Auto Accident that Injured Six

Last month, a Florida man was allegedly driving under the influence when he collided with a car that was pulled over on the side of the road to help a friend change a flat tire. According to a story by the Tampa Bay Times, three female motorists got a flat tire and called three male friends to help them change the tire. When the male friends arrived, they parked behind the females’ vehicle and began to change the tire.

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In the middle of changing the tire, a BMW came speeding down the highway and apparently didn’t see the cars on the side of the road until it was too late. The driver attempted to veer away from the parked cars, but ended up slamming into the back of the males’ car, sending it into the rear of the females’ car. All six of the victims were taken to the hospital and are recovering well.

The man driving the BMW was apparently driving under the influence with a breath alcohol content of .10. He was arrested and charged with felony DUI causing serious bodily injury. This was not the first time the driver had been charged with a DUI. Apparently, he was charged several years back with a DUI-related offense in Texas.

Driving Under the Influence in Florida

In Florida, like most states, driving under the influence is taken very seriously. And for good reason: the crime kills hundreds of people per year in Florida and thousands across the United States.

In Jacksonville specifically, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a breath alcohol content of .08 or greater. There is no way to gauge exactly how many drinks it takes for a driver to get to that .08 limit, but generally two to four drinks in two hours will put a driver right at the limit.

DUI Accidents and Civil Liability

When a driver is operating a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes a car accident, the law holds that driver responsible to his or her victim. Victims in drunk driving accidents are generally able to recover for past medical bills, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering caused by the drunk driving accident. Punitive damages are also available pursuant to Florida law.

Jacksonville juries are generally unsympathetic to drunk drivers. Many in the community know someone who has been injured or killed by a drunk or negligent driver.

Have You Been Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident?

If you have been injured in a drunk driving auto accident, you may be able to recover a monetary award to compensate you for the injuries caused by the accident. To find out what rights you have and whether you need to act soon to preserve them, you should speak to an experienced Jacksonville personal injury attorney immediately. Click here, or call (904) 632-0077 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

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- Man Dies after Being Hit by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority Bus

December 4, 2013

Man Killed Crossing the Street in Jacksonville

Earlier this week, a 66-year old man was hit as he was trying to cross a street in Jacksonville's westside. According to a report by Jacksonville.com, the man was attempting to cross the 1300 block of Cassat Avenue when he was struck by a Saturn car that was heading south on Cassat. The car vs. pedestrian accident, that occurred shortly after 10:30 p.m., left the pedestrian dead and the driver of the Saturn uninjured. Police do not suspect that alcohol was a factor, and criminal charges have not been filed.

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Pedestrian Accidents Are Increasingly Common on City Streets

If you have been paying attention to the headlines lately, you may have noticed that there has been an increase in car accidents involving pedestrians. This deadly trend is due, in part, to the increasing stress placed on Jacksonville's streets as populations increase, as well as an increase in pedestrian traffic as more people eschew cars for public transit and walking options, especially in light of many people still suffering financially from the recession and having to forego the expense of owning a car.

Pedestrian auto accidents are, not surprisingly, often fatal. Generally, the pedestrian does not see the car until it is too late. In many of these situations, the pedestrian is not at fault for the accident.

Dangers Inherent in Walking the City Streets

Jacksonville is no exception when it comes to the dangers of navigating the city streets. To keep safe while out there walking the streets, there are some common-sense guidelines all pedestrians should follow:

- Make sure to always be aware of your surroundings;
- Always use a sidewalk if one is provided;
- Make eye contact with drivers as they approach;
- If you have been drinking, take a cab rather than walk;
- When crossing, assume that cars do not see you and stay out of their way until you know they do see you.

Some Accidents Can't Be Avoided

Despite all the precautions in the world, some auto accidents cannot be avoided by the pedestrian. This is because, in some cases, drivers act negligently and strike pedestrians due to no fault of the pedestrians. This may be due to any of the following factors:

- Distracted driving;
- Driving under the influence;
- Failure to yield;
- Inattentive driving.

In these cases, the pedestrian has a right to recover for the damages caused by the accident. In some cases, pedestrians are able to recover even if they were partially at fault for the accident. Recoverable damages include medical expenses, future medical bills, and pain and suffering. To find out what you may be entitled to, contact an experienced Jacksonville accident attorney today.

Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident as a pedestrian, you may be entitled to monetary damages. To find out what rights you have, and to see if there are any deadlines you need to be concerned with, contact an experienced Jacksonville accident attorney today.

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- Man Who Ran Over Jacksonville Girl Turns Himself in to Police
- Man Dies after Being Hit by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority Bus

November 28, 2013

Two Injured on I-295 in Jacksonville Accident When Driver Tries to Avoid Trash Being Thrown from Truck

Earlier this month in Jacksonville, a driver of a Honda Accord crashed into a truck when the driver was attempting to steer clear of trash being thrown from the truck’s cab. According to a story by ActionNewsJax.com, the driver of the Honda was heading northbound on Interstate 295 when the occupant of a red truck began throwing trash out of the truck’s window.

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As the driver tried to get away from the debris coming from the truck, she ended up colliding with the truck and eventually overturning. The passenger of the Honda was ejected from the vehicle and was taken to UF Jacksonville in serious condition. The driver was also taken to Shands Jacksonville in critical condition. The truck did not stop, but continued on down the highway. Police are still looking for the driver of the red truck.

Just One Example of Careless, Negligent Driving

The above illustrates an example, albeit an odd one, of careless driving on the part of the truck driver. All drivers who use public roads are required to operate their vehicles with caution and in a manner that is safe to their fellow drivers. Barring any emergency circumstances, throwing trash out of a moving vehicle’s window while on the highway is extremely negligent.

The Law Protects Victims of Negligent Drivers

The laws in the State of Florida protect those who have been injured by negligent drivers by allowing them to recover for their injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering. In Florida negligence cases, the injured party must prove that the other driver caused the accident by being negligent, and that the driver’s negligence was the proximate cause of the victim’s injuries.

What Can an Attorney Do To Help My Case?

An experienced Jacksonville accident attorney is an accident victim’s best friend in a negligence lawsuit seeking damages for personal injury, property damage, and pain and suffering. With an attorney’s assistance, you can help to make certain that the driver who caused the accident is brought to justice, and is required to compensate you for all that you have been through. The process is not always an easy one, but with the help of an experienced attorney it can be that much simpler.

Being in an auto accident is not just about the physical recovery. There is also the mental anguish and financial worry that comes along as well. For instance, who is going to pay for the medical bills? How will you find a replacement for your car? Which doctor specializes in your specific type of injury? An experienced Jacksonville accident attorney will be able to help you with all these questions.

If you have been injured in an auto accident, you should seek the assistance of an experienced Jacksonville auto accident attorney immediately. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the more time they will have to put together a strong case for you. Click here, or call (904) 632-0077 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

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- Man Dies after Being Hit by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority Bus

November 21, 2013

Off Duty Lake City Officer Involved In DUI Related Crash

Last week, a police officer for the city of Lake City, Florida, was arrested for driving under the influence after she was involved in a car accident. According to a report by ActionNewsJAX.com, the police officer was off duty when she crashed her personal car. When the local police showed up, they an administered a breath alcohol test, and the officer registered a blood alcohol content of about .13. The officer was then arrested for driving under the influence.

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Both the Florida Highway Patrol and the Lake City Police Department have said that they will investigate the accident and take appropriate action. The officer was taken to the Columbia County Detention Center, where her bail was set at $1,000.

DUI Accidents in Jacksonville

Unfortunately, this is not the first time a police officer has been charged with a DUI related offense in the Northeast Florida area. While it may be more shocking to see an officer of the law engage in such dangerous activity, the fact is that it does not make a difference who does it: drunk driving is dangerous and must be avoided by everyone.

In Florida, drunk driving accidents cause more fatalities than any other kind of traffic accident. This is due in part to the fact that, generally, these types of auto accidents involve higher speed than other auto accidents.

The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Florida is .08. While every person is different, generally speaking, this limit can be reached with two to three drinks. When these drivers cause an accident, the victim of the accident can recover from the drunk driver for medical expenses, pain, lost wages, disability and punitive damages.

DUI Cases Turn on Negligence

Almost all auto accident cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. Generally speaking, a finding of negligence turns on whether the driver of a car acted unreasonably. The law allows for injured victims of negligent drivers to recover for their medical bills, future medical expenses, as well as for their pain and suffering that was caused by the accident. In DUI cases, the victims often have an easier time proving negligence than in traditional auto accident cases - simply put, it is very difficult for a drunk driver to convince jurors that his or her actions were reasonable.

Continue reading "Off Duty Lake City Officer Involved In DUI Related Crash" »

November 14, 2013

St. Augustine Bicyclist Killed in Hit and Run Accident

Over the weekend, a bicyclist was hit and killed near the intersection of State Road 16 and Four Mile Road in St. Augustine, Florida. According to a report by the St. Augustine Record, the bicyclist was heading east on State Road 16 shortly after 10:30 a.m. when a car, attempting to turn unto Four Mile Road, hit the bicyclist. The bicyclist was riding in the designated bicycle lane at the time of the accident.

The bicyclist was taken to Flagler Hospital immediately, but then transferred to UF Jacksonville by lifeflight shortly after. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the bicyclist’s death on Monday morning, although Jacksonville television stations had already reported the death on Saturday.

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The driver of the car that hit the bicycle did not stop and there were no eyewitnesses to the hit and run accident. Police are still in search of the driver of the car, and have asked that anyone who knows anything about the accident to come forward.

Hit and Run Accidents in Jacksonville

In Jacksonville, there have been a multitude of recent hit and run car accidents. These tragic accidents make a sad situation worse for the victims and their families; instead of being able to get closure, they must suffer knowing the culprit has evaded accepting responsibility for his or her actions.

However, when a hit and run driver is located and identified, they are often held responsible for their actions in both civil and criminal courts. In civil suits, the fact that a driver fled from the scene of a serious accident shows that driver’s negligence and disregard for human life. After all, what can be more negligent than causing an accident and then fleeing the scene before knowing that you didn’t cause serious injury?

All drivers have a duty to stop and render aid when they are involved in a car accident. Failure to do so violates a legal duty that we all undertake by obtaining a Florida Driver’s license and using the public roads. Those who violate the duty can, if caught, be held responsible to the party who suffered as a result of the fleeing driver’s negligent actions. In addition, the injured pedestrian or bicyclist's own uninsured motorist insurance may provide coverage for injuries caused by a driver that flees the scene.

Have You Been Involved in a Hit and Run Accident?

If you have recently been injured in a hit and run auto accident, you should retain the services of an experienced Jacksonville personal injury attorney. With the assistance of a dedicated accident attorney, you will be able to better understand your options and pursue the path that is best for you and your family.

Accidents rarely occur without one party failing to live up to a duty to be careful towards another driver, pedestrian or bicyclist. In these cases, the law allows for the innocent victims of an accident to recover for the medical bills and pain and suffering that arises for the other driver’s failure to exercise the required caution.

Photo Credit: Patrick_Down via Compfight cc

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