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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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 Who Ran Over Jacksonville Girl Turns Himself in to Police
- 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.

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High School Student Hit and Killed Near School

Interstate 95 Crash Results in Another Motorist Death

November 14, 2013

Online Crash Reports for Minor Car Accidents

If you have ever had to wait for police to arrive following a car accident, you know it is no fun and can take a long time. This is especially true when it comes to minor fender benders occurring in larger cities, like Jacksonville.

The Florida Highway Patrol prioritizes accidents in terms of severity. Car accidents involving severe injuries, death, or accidents with vehicles that are no longer operable take precedence over minor accidents like fender benders. Considering the fact that Florida Highway Patrol investigates more than 100,000 accidents each year, it is easy to see why this is the case.

Now there is a more convenient solution. A new online system introduced by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles makes it much easier for drivers to report minor car accidents on their own. As long as the accident meets the following criteria, it is acceptable to submit an online form rather than calling the police:
• The damage to the vehicles is less than $500
• There were no injuries
• The accident did not involve an impaired driver
• The accident was not a hit and run
• None of the vehicles involved required a tow truck
• The accident did not involve a hit and run
You can access the form through Florida's Department of Highway and Motor Vehicle’s website. Before this online system was developed, drivers either would have to wait for a police officer to arrive or go online, download the paperwork, print it out and mail it to Tallahassee. Now drivers can simply fill out the form, press a button to send and they are done.

When Is It Necessary To Wait At The Scene of an Accident?

If your car is still functioning after you've been involved in a minor crash, you do not need to wait for police. In these cases, you can choose to download and complete a crash report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle's web site.
To complete the online report, you will need to have the driver’s license numbers of those involved, registration and proof of current insurance. If the other driver cannot or refuses to show you these items following the accident, call the police and wait for them.
When deciding whether to wait for police or file your own crash report, be cautious and make sure that you have all of the necessary documents.
Why file an accident report?
It is important to report all car accidents, even minor ones, because having a legal record of the accident will help if a driver refuses to pay for damages or you have any insurance problems down the road. It is not uncommon for drivers without insurance to try to dissuade you from calling the police or filing a report to avoid being at fault.

What types of conditions cause the most fender benders?
Like most cities, there tends to be a big spike in car accidents – severe and minor -- in Jacksonville when it rains. During the summer months, you can count on a thunderstorm, sometimes severe ones, almost every afternoon. When driving in the rain, give yourself more space between you and the vehicle in front of you to allow for more breaking time during wet conditions. It is also important to slow down when driving in the rain and if conditions are severe enough to impact visibility, it may make sense to pull over and wait for the rain to subside.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "Online Crash Reports for Minor Car Accidents" »

November 7, 2013

High School Student Hit and Killed Near School

Last week a high school student who attended Samuel L. Wolfson High School in Jacksonville was killed in a traffic accident when he was struck twice while crossing Toledo road. According to a report by Jacksonville.com, the student was first hit by a car driven by another 17-year old student. Afterwards, a utility truck ran over the student’s legs.

The case is still under investigation and criminal charges have not been levied against either of the drivers.

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The Dangers of Being a Pedestrian

It may be the oldest means of transportation, but walking is hardly the safest. Across Florida, pedestrian deaths have been increasing for a variety of factors. One reason is that current economic stress and higher gas prices require some people walk, rather than drive.

When you are out on the road as a pedestrian, you must take certain precautions to ensure that drivers see you and that you remain out of their way. Below is a list of recommended precautions that all pedestrians should take when out on the roadways.

- If possible, walk during the day and opt for public transit options when it is dark.
- Make sure to wear bright clothes when walking in low-light conditions.
- Walk in a predictable manner. You do not want to surprise a driver by stepping out in front of their car.
- Always use sidewalks, if possible.
- Cross only at designated intersections where there is a crosswalk.
- Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to ensure that they see you.

By taking these precautions, you can help to make certain that you are safe while you are walking, whether it be in a big city or a smaller town. With that said, there are some accidents that cannot be avoided by taking precautions. Sometimes, drivers are not paying attention when they drive, are intoxicated, or are otherwise distracted.

In fact, several years ago, on Sunbeam Road in South Jacksonville, a young woman was tragically killed when she was struck by a vehicle while she was jogging on the sidewalk. This illustrates that pedestrians are vulnerable even when they are not in, or crossing, roadways.

In these cases, the law provides a mechanism for the innocent victims of auto accidents to recover for the costs associated with their injuries, including medical bills and pain and suffering.

What Should You Do if You Have Been Involved in an Auto-Pedestrian Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an auto pedestrian accident, it may have been the fault of the driver. As mentioned above, sometimes there is nothing a pedestrian can do to avoid an accident with a car; no matter what precautions are taken.

If you think that your injuries may have been caused by another driver’s negligent actions, contact an experienced Jacksonville accident attorney today. With an attorney’s assistance, you will be able to better understand your potential case and which option is best for you and your family.

To find out what rights you have, and to see what time restrictions may be in place, contact an experienced accident attorney today.

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- How Does Fault Work in Florida Negligence Cases?

October 30, 2013

Interstate 95 Crash Results in Another Motorist Death

Last week, another fatal accident occurred on Interstate 95 in Jacksonville. According to a report by Jacksonville.com, a man driving a Honda north on Interstate 95 near Bowden Road, when he changed lanes without realizing that another car was occupying the lane. As the driver of the Honda entered the occupied lane, the other driver attempted to avoid the car, but ended up clipping the rear end of the Honda in the process. As a result, the Honda spun out of control, off the road, and into a tree. The driver of the Honda was killed and the passenger was taken to the hospital in critical condition. She is expected to survive. Fortunately, the driver of the second car did not suffer any injuries.

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Driving Requires Full Attention

While this particular stretch of I-95 can be quite busy, the truth is accidents occur on all types of roads. From scenic rural roadways with their hills and curves, to the larger roads connecting the major cities across our beautiful state, accidents happen.

Safe driving requires 100 percent of our attention on any type of road. Most of us drive every day and we get used to the process, forgetting how important it is to stay focused. Many times, drivers do not pay as much attention as they should, engaging in activities like talking on the phone, texting, applying makeup or shaving.

All of these activities constitute what has become known as distracted driving. Distracted driving is responsible for a huge number of traffic accidents and deaths nationwide. In fact, cell phone use causes 28 percent of all car accidents each year, according to the National Safety Council. That amounts to 1.6 million automobile accidents annually that could be prevented if drivers would put their cell phones down while on the road.

In Florida specifically, lawmakers have begun to crack down on distracted driving by enacting laws such as the recent texting ban that went into effect October 1, 2013. The law—which considers texting while driving a secondary offense—is just one step toward the eventual goal of creating safer roadways.

Continue reading "Interstate 95 Crash Results in Another Motorist Death" »

October 23, 2013

Bicyclist Critically Injured in St. Augustine Traffic Accident

Over the weekend, a bicyclist was critically injured when he was struck by a Nissan Altima. According to a report by Jacksonville.com, the bicyclist was crossing the street on U.S. 1 at Deltona Boulevard in St. Augustine Shores. As the bicyclist began to cross the road, the driver of a Ford Explorer saw him, and stopped in time to avoid hitting the man on the bicycle. However, the driver of the Nissan was unable to stop in time and crashed into the man.

The bicyclist was taken to UF Health Jacksonville. Neither the driver of the Nissan, nor the Ford Explorer, suffered any injuries.

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Bicycle Accident Statistics
In an effort to get fit and combat rising gas prices, many people are turning to bicycles as a mode of transportation. Many cities across the country are becoming more and more bicycle friendly, installing bicycle lanes and signage.

With these improvements, bicycle accidents have been coming down in recent years. However, despite these improvements, bicycle accidents remain high. For example, in 2011, there were 38,000 bicycle related injuries in 2011 throughout the country.

Jacksonville is not known as a safe city for bicyclists. In 2010, there were approximately 200 cyclists injured in motor vehicle accidents in Jacksonville. This makes Jacksonville the third-most dangerous city in the United States for bicyclists and pedestrians. Unlike other major cities, many Jacksonville streets do not have designated bike lanes. As a result, many cyclists ride on a sidewalks, which can lead to accidents.

Bicycle Safety Tips

While riding a bicycle can be a fun, quick way to get around that provides good exercise and saves gas, it can also be dangerous and precautions should be taken. Below is a list of things bicyclists should do to ensure they remain safe while on the road:

· Make sure to follow all posted traffic signs.
· Always ride WITH traffic.
· Don’t pass on the right of a vehicle.
· Install a rear-view mirror and periodically scan the road behind you as you ride.
· Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times so you can brake immediately, if need be.
· Always wear a helmet certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
· Learn and use the appropriate hand signals.
· When riding at night, make sure to have a headlight, reflectors on your tires, and to wear bright, reflective clothing.
· Make eye contact with drivers near you.
· Never ride with head phones because you will not be able to hear road noise and respond accordingly.

Remember, as a bicyclist, you are entitled to be on the road, provided you follow the same rules that cars do.

Continue reading "Bicyclist Critically Injured in St. Augustine Traffic Accident" »

October 9, 2013

Pedestrian Hit and Killed By Truck

Last week, a 46-year old man was walking his dog at the intersection of State Road 16 and County Road 208 in St. Augustine, Florida, when he was hit by a truck. According to a report by Jacksonville.com, the man was walking north in the eastbound lanes of State Road 16 at around 9 p.m. when the truck came along. Unfortunately, the man was not using a crosswalk to cross the street.

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The pedestrian was rushed to Baptist Medical Center South, where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the car was wearing a seatbelt and did not suffer any injuries.

Pedestrian Accidents Are Common and Often Deadly

When an automobile collides with a pedestrian, it is not hard to imagine who is going to fare worse. Cars weigh thousands of pounds and often send the unwary pedestrian flying into the air upon collision.

In recent years, the number of pedestrian deaths has increased. For example in 2011, there were more than 4,400 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents. Most victims were male (65%) and a large portion were children under the age of 14 (15%). For the past three years, Jacksonville has ranked as one of the worst cities in which to be a pedestrian.

Safe Walking Tips

Walking is a means of transportation for some. To counteract the dangers of being a pedestrian in today’s bustling society, walkers should take extra precautions. A few of these precautions include:

- Wear bright clothing: The brighter the clothes, the better the chance that drivers will be able to see you while you are on the road, especially when it is dark outside.
- Stay on sidewalks: If sidewalks are provided, be sure to use them. Consider whether a route has sidewalks before you begin your journey and try to walk on roads with well maintained, safe sidewalks.
- Walk during daylight hours: This might not always be possible, but to the extent you can, walk during the day. If it gets dark during your walk, consider using public transportation to get back home.
- Assume cars do not see you: If you assume that the car does not see you, then you are in a better position to get out of the way in situations where a driver really does not see you. Drivers are not usually looking for pedestrians, especially on busy roads. Do not ever get in the way of a car assuming a driver will see you and will stop.
- Only cross at marked crosswalks: This should go without saying. Drivers do not expect to see pedestrians crossing the street where they are not supposed to cross. Doing so only increases your chances of getting struck by an inattentive driver.

No matter what precautions walkers may take, sometimes drivers are negligent. Because of that fact, sometimes there is nothing a pedestrian can do to avoid an accident. In such cases, the law provides a means of recovery for these victims.

Injured in a Pedestrian-Auto Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian-auto accident, you may be entitled to monetary damages. To find out what your rights are and what steps to take, contact an experienced Jacksonville accident attorney to discuss the facts of your case. Click here, or call (904) 632-0077 to schedule your free initial consultation 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

October 2, 2013

Woman Dies in Auto Accident While Waiting to Leave Church

A woman was killed last Tuesday afternoon when a Dodge Durango crashed into her car as she was waiting to pull out of a church parking lot at 2:30 in the afternoon.

According to a story by Jacksonville.com, the driver of the Durango was traveling at excessive speeds and could not properly negotiate a turn near Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Edgewood Avenue in Jacksonville. As the driver lost control, the Durango slammed into the woman’s car. One passenger from the Durango got out and was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the Durango and the other passenger fled the scene. Police have apprehended the driver, but are still looking for the passenger.

Speeding Remains a Leading Cause of Traffic Accidents

Among all the potential causes for fatal traffic accidents, speeding is still one of the most common. About one third of all fatal traffic accidents are the result of at least one car traveling in excess of the speed limit. In 2007, there were more than 13,000 lives lost in the United States due to speeding. Other major causes of fatal traffic accidents are distracted driving and drunk driving.

According to the American Association of Automobiles, half of the drivers in a recent survey admit to exceeding the speed limit by more than 15% on residential roads and highways. The same survey shows that most drivers consider speeding acceptable.

A significant safety hazard posed by speeding is that it decreases the amount of time it takes a driver to recognize there is a hazard in the road and respond to it. Obviously, a car takes longer to stop the faster it is going. In addition, sometimes drivers don’t realize how tight some turns are. That is what happened in the above story; the driver failed to properly negotiate the turn and ended up losing control of the vehicle.

Consequences of Speeding

Aside from being issued a traffic ticket, paying a fine and possibly adding points to your driving record, a speeder might also face serious civil penalties for an injury or property damage he or she causes as a result of speeding. In many cases, if the injured party can show that the driver was negligent in traveling at the excessive rate of speed, and the driver’s speeding caused the injury or property damage, the injured party can recover monetary damages from the speeder. Aside from compensating the injured party, this serves a useful purpose in deterring dangerous driving habits.


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Continue reading "Woman Dies in Auto Accident While Waiting to Leave Church" »

October 1, 2013

No More Texting While Driving in Florida

Florida has joined a growing number of states to ban texting while driving. As of today, October 1, 2013, it is illegal to text while driving in our state. Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law at a South Florida high school in May.

The new law makes texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning you will not get pulled over solely for texting and driving. Drivers must be stopped for a different violation, such as speeding or not wearing a seat belt, before being ticketed for texting while driving. On their first offense, drivers will be fined $30; a second offense earns drivers at $60 fine, along with points possibly added to their driving record.

The governor signed the bill at a high school to send a message to teenagers about the dangers of texting and driving, citing that the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest days on the road for teens.

Representative Irving Slosberg was instrumental in getting Florida to adopt the new law. He made it his mission to ban texting while driving in Florida after he lost his own daughter in a car accident.

But young drivers are not the only age group that texts while driving. The American Association of Automobiles (AAA) reports that two-thirds of drivers admitted to reading a text or email while on the road.

It is not surprising that more than 4,500 accidents were caused by distracting driving during 2012. Of those auto accidents, 255 were linked directly to texting. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, five seconds is the average amount of time a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that is enough time to travel the length of an entire football field.

The new law will allow cell phone records to be used as evidence in a car wreck investigation. Law enforcers will be able to see if texting was relevant and if it was a factor in the accident.

Some traffic safety advocates want the law to be harsher, making texting while driving a primary offense. Others believe the new law will be difficult to enforce. The new law bans manual texting only when driving, but allows texting when drivers are stopped in traffic or at traffic lights.

Whether the new law will actually curtail the number of drivers who text while on the road is yet to be determined. We can all do our part to make the roads safer by turning off or silencing our cell phones while driving. No text is worth endangering yourself and others on the road.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "No More Texting While Driving in Florida" »

September 25, 2013

Driver in Fatal Jacksonville Traffic Accident Had Been Previously Involved in Another Fatal Crash

As a mother and young daughter were on their way to a Yom Kippur service in Jacksonville, they were both hit by a Toyota Camry as they walked across San Jose Boulevard in Jacksonville. The car accident, which occurred last Friday, left the mother dead and the daughter in critical care. The daughter was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where she is in stable condition.

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According to a story by The Jewish Daily, the driver of the Camry had been involved in another fatal traffic accident in 2006 resulting in the death of a 6-year old girl. That accident occurred while the girl was crossing at a crosswalk with her mother and younger brother. While the driver was not found to be at fault in that particular accident, he did have a significant record of traffic violations dating back several years.

What Does a Previous Accident Mean in Terms of the Driver’s Liability?

If you ask most people whether it is relevant that the driver was involved in a previous fatal accident, many would say yes, it is relevant. However, under Florida law, it is not quite that easy to say. Previous acts that do not constitute criminal acts are admissible in a trial only under certain, limited circumstances.

The law is structured this way to discourage jurors from basing their decision on previous involvments rather than focuing on the current charge. The purpose of a trial is to determine whether the defendant is liable for the accident in question, not an incident that occurred years ago.

However, if the previous accident is introduced for a permissible reason, it might be considered evidence, albeit with a “limiting instruction.” A limiting instruction is basically an instruction that the judge gives to the jury telling them they can only consider the evidence for its proper purpose; the purpose for which it was admitted. In other words, a judge issuing a limiting instruction might say, “You are instructed that the evidence suggesting the defendant was previously involved in a fatal accident is not relevant as to his fault in this accident and is only to be considered for the purpose of understanding his prior driving history.”

Did the City of Jacksonville Play a Role in this Accident?

Orthodox Jews are prohibited from using electric devices on Jewish holidays. In keeping with Orthodox Jewish custom, the woman crossing the street did not push the "walk" button which gave her only 21 seconds to cross the eight-lane intersection. Pushing the button would have given her twice the amount of time to make it across the busy boulevard. Some residents believe that the amount of time given to cross the busy intersection is not long enough, even when the button is pushed.

The Rabbi of Etz Chiam Synogogue, the one the woman and her daughter were planning to attend, says he has contacted a Jacksonville representative to see if the green light could be extended to provide longer times for crossing the street, especially during Jewish holidays. The Rabbi said he never recieved a reply.

Have You Been Involved in an Auto Accident?

If you or a loved one have recently been involved in an auto accident, you should contact an experienced Jacksonville injury attorney. With an attorney’s help, you will best be able to gauge what available options you have and which course of action is best for you and your family. Contact the Lawrence Law Group immediately to discuss the fact of your specific case. As always, there is no risk to speak to an attorney because we do not bill you for anything unless we are able to make recovery for you. Contact us today at (904) 632- 0077.

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September 19, 2013

How Does Fault Work in Florida Negligence Cases?

It is easy to determine liability when one party is completely at fault and the other party is completely free of any wrongdoing. For example, consider a drunk driver who runs a red light and hits a pedestrian as he or she lawfully crosses the street at a crosswalk in downtown Jacksonville. The pedestrian walked out of his or her way to the crosswalk, waited for the signal, and then crossed the street, but got hit by the drunk driver nonetheless. Most juries would probably find the drunk driver completely at fault here.

However, fault is not always easy to determine. What if the pedestrian was not paying attention, did not cross at a crosswalk, and ran across a freeway when the drunk driver hit him or her? This presents a more difficult question: should the pedestrian still be entitled to compensation for his or her personal injuries?

The law in Florida addresses this situation through what is called “comparative negligence.” Under comparative negligence, a plaintiff's recovery is reduced by his or her degree of fault. The doctrine, adopted by Florida in 1973, enables juries to assign blame or negligence more proportionately, rather than rendering an "all or nothing" verdict.

Comparative negligence applies an intuitive system to the law of negligence and victims’ ability to recover. Prior to 1973, Florida had what was called a “contributory negligence” law in effect. Under contributory negligence, if the plaintiff was at fault at all, there could be no recovery. Florida legislators realized that this often led to unfair results because victims were prevented from recovering when they were only 5 percent at fault for an accident. Under this method, the pedestrian in the first example above might not have been able to recover any monetary award at all if he or she failed to look both ways before crossing.

The difference between comparative and contributory negligence is critical to victims in any type of car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident. Often a negligent driver's attorney will claim that the accident victim was at fault and not entitled to compensation. The defendant's attorney may try to scare the accident victim into accepting a low settlement offer. However, this tactic should not be tolerated when it comes to accident cases in Jacksonville, because Florida applies comparative negligence. It is important to know your rights under the law so you can avoid being bullied into accepting a less than favorable settlement offer.

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Comparative negligence also allows for multiple parties to be responsible to an accident victim. So, say two cars get into an accident and, as a result, a pedestrian is injured. The pedestrian will be entitled to damages from possibly both drivers, according to their share of fault.

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September 13, 2013

Top Five Ways to Avoid a Car Accident: Play it Safe

Nobody intends to get into a car accident, but, unfortunately, it happens. According to the most recent data from the City of Jacksonville, 87 people died in Jacksonville as a result of car collisions in 2011. Obeying speed limits and following traffic laws are obvious ways to reduce your chances of being in a car wreck, but here are some additional suggestions to make your commute a safer one.

Eliminate all distractions. In 2011, more than 3,000 people lost their lives due to distracted driving. So put down that cell phone and mute it when driving so you will not be tempted to look at it. Although texting and talking on the phone are the most common types of distracted driving, other distractions, such as eating, grooming, looking at a map, or simply talking to a passenger, can result in taking your eyes off the road. It only takes a split second of driver inattention to cause an accident.

Avoid traveling in the fast lane. Most highway accidents happen in the left lane, according to Edmunds.com. Stick to the middle or right lanes. Doing so gives you more options if you need to pull over or switch lanes quickly. Traffic may be travel a slower than it does in the left lane, but your odds of arriving safely increase. As of July 1, drivers going too slowly (10 miles per hour slower than the speed limit) in the left lane can actually get ticketed if they fail to move over to the right lane.

Be observant. Keep an eye on the cars around you. Frequently scan your rearview and side mirrors to monitor drivers in front, beside and behind you. Being aware of your surroundings increases your chances of seeing a problem early on and gives you more time to react.

Resist the urge to tailgate. Many people who consider themselves safe drivers tailgate frequently. This can easily lead to a rear-end collision, which is the most common type of car accident not only in Jacksonville, but in the country as a whole. Tailgating is never a good idea, even if the driver in front of you is going slower than you would like. Doing so can earn you a ticket and points on your driving record. Make sure you allow at least one car length between you and the car in front of you for every 10 miles per hour you are going. (Seventy miles per hour means seven car lengths between you and the car in front of you.)

Be aware of blind spots. Do not make abrupt lane changes. Before changing lanes, look in your side mirrors and turn your head to make sure nobody is in your blind spot. Also, be aware of other drivers’ blind spots (especially large trucks) and minimize the amount of time you spend in those areas. And do not forget to use your turn signal when changing lanes.

Why not play it safe and follow these tips? We can all do our part to make Jacksonville’s roads safer.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "Top Five Ways to Avoid a Car Accident: Play it Safe" »

September 11, 2013

Motorist Kills Teenage Bicyclist in Hit and Run Accident

On August 26, a 14-year old boy was riding his bike on Sibbald Road in Northwest Jacksonville at one o'clock in the morning when he was fatally struck by a car. According to a story by News4JAX.com, the teen was riding beside two pedestrians when a car, traveling south, collided with the teen, sending him flying into a ditch. The driver of the car did not stop and render aid, and instead chose to flee the scene of the accident.

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While neither of the pedestrians was injured, the teen was found dead by emergency personnel upon their arrival. Charges have not been issued against the driver.

Why Have No Charges Been Filed Against the Driver?

While police were able to quickly find the car that hit the teen and interview the owner, the owner denies that he was driving the car at the time of the accident. Jacksonville Police are still trying to determine who was driving the car.

This is an issue that is not uncommon with hit and run accidents. Due to the nature of a hit and run, the driver is obviously not present at the scene to be identified. In addition, hit and run drivers are not usually the type of drivers who are concerned for fellow citizens (after all, they usually make a conscious decision to flee the scene of an accident rather than stay and render assistance) and might also be prone to lying to police when asked if they were driving the car.

How Do These Cases Get Resolved?

In cases like these, the police have little choice but to hope that either that a camera caught the driver in the act—which is rare—or that an eyewitness will come forward. In this case, police are hoping an eyewitness comes forward. In addition to asking for an eyewitness to come forward, the police have issued a $3,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest of the hit and run driver.

Hit and Run Accidents in Civil Cases

In cases initiated by the injured or the deceased’s family against hit and run drivers, the fact that the driver fled the scene becomes relevant in proving the driver’s liability to the injured party. If the injured party can show that the driver knew that he hit someone, and chose to flee, this shows the driver’s recklessness and disregard for human life. Juries are likely to consider this fact when determining guilt, as well as any punitive damages that may be at stake.

If the injured party can show that the driver knew he hit someone and chose to flee, then the driver can be held liable for wrongful death. This term refers to a death that is caused due to someone else’s misconduct or negligence.

Wrongful death claims differ from other types of lawsuits because the victim--the person who died-- is not the plaintiff. Instead, the suit is brought by the decedent’s family members or members of the estate. The purpose in a wrongful death suit is not to recover damages which are personal to the victim, but to provide compensation to the family members who have suffered emotional and financial harm due to their loved one's death. Compensation in a wrongful death suit may include an award for loss of support, love, benefits or services of the deceased. Awards may also include compensation may include an award for medical and funeral expenses, punitive damages or for the loss of the deceased’s future wages.


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August 30, 2013

Accident on Philips Highway Involving Garbage Truck Kills Two

Last Friday, just before 5 a.m., two people traveling in a minivan died after colliding with a garbage truck on Philips Highway in Jacksonville. According to a story by Jacksonville.com, the minivan was heading southbound on Philips Highway on the inside lane when the garbage truck pulled out in front of it. The garbage truck turned left from the outside lane into the path of the minivan to make a left turn through the median. Not having time to react, the minivan struck the rear end of the garbage truck. The minivan overturned and the driver and the passenger, both males, were found dead when emergency crews arrived shortly thereafter.

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Part of Philips Highway was closed for nearly four hours as Highway Patrol worked to clear the accident. One of the two occupants was wearing a seat belt. The driver of the garbage truck was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.

Collisions involving large trucks and regular size cars are often fatal for the occupants of the car. More than 100,000 people are involved in a collision involving commercial trucks every year. Injuries arising from collisions with garbage trucks are especially severe and often fatal. This is not surprising when you consider that a full size garbage truck weighs about 25 tons, compared to just 4,000 pounds for an average car.

Drivers Must Pay Attention

The law generally requires that all drivers remain attentive while driving, in order to discourage accidents like the one mentioned above; when drivers stop paying attention, people get hurt. To ensure that drivers are attentive, respectful, and take driving seriously, the law provides those injured by inattentive drivers the opportunity to seek compensation for their injuries.

This is called the law of negligence. Negligence, if proven by a plaintiff, can provide actual and, in some cases, punitive damages to the injured party. Punitive damages act to “punish,” or discourage, certain types of behavior. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must show that the other driver acted negligently and that actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

A Recent Example of Punitive Damages

For example, recently some courts across the country have started issuing punitive damages to plaintiffs injured by drivers who were texting while they caused the accident that injured the plaintiff. Assessing punitive damages, which can often be quite hefty in size, is an effective way to discourage behavior that, while it may not be technically illegal, is undesirable and negligent. In fact, texting while driving is actually against the law in Florida as of this year. Drivers cannot be pulled over solely for texting however, as it is considered a “secondary offense.” However, what really may deter drivers from texting is the fact that, if they do cause an accident, they may be responsible for punitive damages if the case is decided against them.

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August 26, 2013

Red Light Cameras in Jacksonville: Safety Precaution, Revenue Generator or Both?

A yellow traffic light means slow down, but many drivers speed up instead, hoping to beat the light before it turns red.

This strategy may backfire; however, with the installation of red light cameras at many of Jacksonville’s busiest intersections. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is installing red light cameras at 25 intersections that snap a photograph of the driver as he or she runs the red light. Of course, with that proof, comes a traffic ticket – $158 if paid on time and $274 plus three points added to your driving record -- if not paid within 30 days.

Cameras are being placed in strategic locations where car accident statistics are high. For example, there are cameras at Baymeadows Road and Southside Boulevard, the intersection with the highest number of car accidents in Jacksonville. This intersection had 97 crashes in 2012.

The goal of the program, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, is to improve safety by catching drivers who run red lights or those who make illegal left turns when lights are red. Drivers are not issued tickets until 30 days after the red light cameras are installed. After the 30-day grace period, a notice is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle in the photograph.

Proponents of red light cameras say the devices will save lives. And they have lots of data to support their position. A study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows a 26 percent decrease in traffic fatalities at intersections equipped with cameras. The same study shows 159 fewer deaths during a five-year period in cities that use cameras.

Opponents believe that the cameras are designed to generate revenue and that they target safe drivers and penalize them for shorter than usual yellow lights. More than $100 million was generated last year in Florida communities with red light cameras. The funds are divided between the state, cities and counties, and the camera companies.

A subtle change to decrease the duration of yellow lights in Florida has led to more red light violations. The Florida Department of Transportation enacted shorter yellow light intervals in 2011. These reduced intervals are below federal recommendations. Studies show that just a half-second reduction can result in double the amount of red light camera violations. Not all cities shortened their yellow light intervals, in fact, some increased the yellow light times because they were not in compliance with the minimum interval time.

As new cameras are installed, warning signs will notify drivers as they approach intersections with the devices. In addition to Jacksonville, red light cameras have also been installed in Green Cove Springs and Palatka and have been approved for Orange Park as well.

For a complete listing of the locations of red light cameras in Jacksonville, visit the City of Jacksonville’s official website. Details about the Red Light Enforcement program, tag lined “Respect the Red,” are also available on the city’s website.

Written by Elizabeth Allen


Continue reading "Red Light Cameras in Jacksonville: Safety Precaution, Revenue Generator or Both?" »

August 21, 2013

Elderly Driver Experiences Medical Emergency, Causing Car Accident on San Jose Blvd

Last Wednesday, a two-car accident shut down all southbound lanes of San Jose Boulevard near I-295 in Jacksonville. According to a report by Jacksonville.com, an elderly man was in the drive-thru lane at Hardee’s, when he slumped over the wheel and lurched into moving traffic. The man’s car struck a pickup truck moving southbound and both vehicles were sent careening into a nearby light pole. Both drivers were taken to the hospital, and are expected to recover.

Southbound traffic on San Jose Boulevard was completely stopped for almost three hours, as emergency personnel cleared the scene. On top of that, because of the damage to the light pole, Jacksonville Electric Authority had to shut off the power to an adjacent power line.

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Police say the elderly man suffered some kind of medical emergency that caused him to lose consciousness, although an investigation is ongoing as to a more specific cause.

Many senior drivers are safe on the road. Older drivers typically do not speed or drink and drive, and usually obey traffic rules. However, as we age, it is natural for our abilities to change; what we could do five years ago with ease might present more of a challenge today. Driving is no different. Whether it is reduced arm strength to turn the wheel of a car, or an increased reaction time, aging can have substantial effects on our ability to drive.

AAA provides some excellent tips and resources to help senior drivers evaluate their driving skills. Go to SeniorDrivingAAA.com to learn how to improve driving skills and remain safe on the road. There is also a section on the website for family and friends to help elderly loved ones assess whether they are able to drive safely.

Helpguide.org suggests several driving tips for aging drivers:

- Get your eyes checked at least once a year.
- Have your hearing checked once a year.
- Avoid driving when it is dark.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Know your limitations.
- Listen to the concerns of others.
- Remain open to letting others drive.
- Know your transportation alternatives.
- Keep in mind any side effects your medication may have.

Another idea is to pre-plan your driving routes to avoid confusing, stressful intersections and traffic situations. With the way Jacksonville is growing, traffic signals are constantly changing. Road construction is everywhere. It may be best to design your driving route around these high-risk areas.

By taking these steps, aging drivers can ensure that they remain safe drivers. No one wants to cause an accident, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes accidents happen. To encourage safe driving at all times, the law requires that all drivers remain fit to drive and physically and mentally able to handle the stresses of driving.

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August 21, 2013

Back to School: Exercise Caution with School Buses

Early yesterday morning, four students suffered minor injuries when their school bus and another vehicle were involved in a collision. The car accident occurred at Galveston Avenue and Lamson Street near Arlington, according to The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. The students were taken to the hospital to be evaluated.

The bus was en route to Terry Parker High School on the second day of school for Duval County Public Schools. Apparently, the driver of the car ran a stop sign and crashed into the school bus. Now that school is back in session, there is much more traffic on Jacksonville’s roadways. Drivers should take extreme caution have patience, especially in school zones and around school buses.

During the school year, there are approximately 480,000 school buses on America’s roads, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Approximately 26 million students – elementary and secondary school – ride on school buses twice a day during the school year. The average school bus has 54 students.

The National Safety Council reports that school bus accident rates are .01 per 100 million miles traveled, compared to .04 for trains, .06 for planes and .96 compared to other passenger vehicles.

While riding in a school bus is relatively safe, continued low accident rates hinge partially on whether drivers obey school bus safety rules. If you encounter a school bus, it is your responsibility to follow Florida’s School Bus Laws:

• Drivers must come to a complete stop when traveling behind a school bus displaying its flashing red lights and extended stop signs. Do not pass a school bus until the sign is collapsed.

• If you are traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus on a two lane road with no barrier or median, you must stop and remain stopped until the bus stop sign and flashing lights recede.

• If you are driving in the opposite direction of the school bus on a divided highway with an unpaved space of at five feet or more, a physical barrier or a raised median, you are not required to stop.

Drivers who pass a school bus while its lights are flashing and the stop signs are extended can be issued a moving violation, along with fines and points on their driver’s license. Repeated offenses can result in having your driver’s license suspended.

Students, too, should be careful at bus stops and while on the bus. If your child is a bus rider, here are some good safety tips to share:

• Get to the bus stop about five minutes before the bus’s scheduled arrival.

• At the bus stop, be sure you are in a safe area away from the road while waiting for the bus.

• When boarding, wait for the bus driver’s signal that it is okay to get on the bus. Use the handrail when going up and down the bus stairs.

• Depart from the school bus only at your designated bus stop.

• Never walk behind a school bus or run after a school bus.

• Follow your bus driver’s rules and instructions.

• Never talk to strangers at the bus stop and never get in a car with someone who you do not know.

We can all work together to make this school year a safe one.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "Back to School: Exercise Caution with School Buses" »

August 15, 2013

Three Jacksonville Residents Hospitalized After Three-Car Crash on I-295

Just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday of last week, two cars collided on I-295. According to jacksonville.com, the accident occurred right around the Normandy Boulevard exit. Apparently, an SUV was changing lanes and ran into a car in the adjacent lane. Then, possibly due to an over correction, the SUV veered off the road, eventually running into a tree. The vehicle had three Jacksonville residents traveling in it; one was a five-year-old child. The child and one of the adults were wearing their seat belts, although the other passenger was not and was ejected from the vehicle. Despite that, all three in the SUV, as well as the driver of the other car, suffered only minor injuries and are expected to recover.

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It is common practice for most of us to look where we are going when we change lanes. But sometimes drivers fail to do this, and this kind of distracted, inattentive driving can, and often does, cause car accidents resulting in injury or death. Unfortunately, Jacksonville is not immune to this type of auto accident.

We are all aware that the law in Florida requires drivers follow the posted speed limits and obey all traffic laws. What you may not know is that, in addition to those basic requirements, the law also requires that all drivers exercise care in their driving, in hopes of decreasing the number of accidents like the one described above. In other words, drivers do not necessarily need to be speeding, or drunk, or breaking a traffic law to be “at fault” in an accident. In a suit against a party who caused an accident, it is sometimes enough to prove that the other driver was not taking the care and precaution that he or she should have. In the law, this is called negligence.

The concept behind the law of negligence is fairly intuitive: if someone is not exercising the care they should in an activity (such as driving), and hurts someone or their property (by causing an accident), that person is responsible to the party they harmed. Proving negligence it court is more difficult and is best handled by an experienced accident attorney.

Because nobody really intends to get into car wreck, most auto accident lawsuits are based on negligence, meaning it was not intentional. Proving negligence is complicated. There are four requirements that must be demonstrated: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

In most auto accidents, causation is the biggest point of contention. The defending attorney will likely argue that his or her client did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries, or that the plaintiff was responsible for his or her own injuries. Another common dispute is breach of care. The defendant’s counsel may argue that their client did not breach their duty of care, meaning that the defendant did not breach their responsibility to drive safely, such as disobeying or ignoring a traffic sign or signal. All of these scenarios illustrate the importance of having a skilled and experienced auto accident attorney on your side.


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August 9, 2013

Man Who Ran Over Jacksonville Girl Turns Himself in to Police

Earlier this summer, a three-year-old girl was hit and killed on Johnson Avenue, a small residential street off St. Augustine Road in Jacksonville's Southside. According to a report by News4JAX.com, the driver of the car claims to have felt a bump as he ran over the young child. He then stopped the car, got out, moved her body to the side of the road, and left the scene.

Several people witnessed the tragic accident and immediately contacted the police. The witnesses provided police with the license plate number of the car and enough information to lead them to the driver’s vehicle, which was found on the 2300 block of Kinwood Avenue, about 10 miles away. Before police could find the driver and arrest him, he turned himself in. As it turns out, the driver’s license had been revoked since August of 2011. He is currently being held on $500,000 bail for causing an accident resulting in death and driving with a suspended license. Whether that driver did anything wrong to cause the impact with the girl has not been released by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

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Hit and Runs are Surprisingly Common

This is just the latest tragic instance of a fatal hit-and-run accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 12% of all fatal vehicle accidents involve a pedestrian. That turns out to be about 4,800 pedestrian deaths a year. One in five of these pedestrian deaths is the result of a hit-and-run.

Even if a driver is not at fault for hitting a pedestrian, the driver still has a legal duty to stop and render aid to the injured person. Aside from being the right thing to do, stopping to help the victim is in the best interest of both the victim and the driver. The victim will receive prompt medical care, increasing the chances of survival, and the driver will not “look guilty” for fleeing the scene. Not to mention, if a driver does not stop and render aid to his victim he or she may be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, a third degree felony.

If you or a loved one has been victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Even if the driver of the car cannot be identified, the victim's uninsured motorist coverage may provide compensation for his or her injuries. In Florida, a resident relative's unsinsured motorist coverage may also apply to cover such injuries.

If you have questions about a claim for injuries resulting from a hit-and-run accident, please contact one of our experienced Jacksonville accident attorneys and see what we can do for you. Because we work on a contingent fee basis, you will not incur any legal fees unless we make a recovery for you.

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August 4, 2013

Jacksonville Roads Ranked Among the Worst in the Country

Floridians are not known for their safe driving. In fact, many Florida cities appear on lists of the country’s most dangerous driving cities. Jacksonville is no exception; for the past three years Jacksonville has been ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in which to drive, or be a pedestrian. Every day in Jacksonville, we read about hit and run accidents, drunk driving accidents, rear-end collisions and distracted driving accidents. But one recent article by the Orlando Sentinel offers an interesting explanation for the excessive number of traffic accidents in Jacksonville: poor city planning.

CarAccident7706.2.JPG Despite the $3.6 billion dollars a year Floridians spend on public roadways, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, all are ranked among the most dangerous cities in which to drive. This is due in most part to the way city planners favor speed over safety. It doesn’t take a genius to realize, the faster cars are moving, the more dangerous a collision will be.

For example, most cities in Florida, including Jacksonville, do not operate on the traditional “grid” system, but instead use a network of arterial highways and feeder roads. While these high-speed roadways sound good in theory, they draw motorists from all around the city, depositing them all on one road. In turn, these main arteries become easily congested and traffic grinds to a halt. In turn, city planners widen these roads and draw motorists from even farther away; and the cycle continues.

Instead, the article suggests, new city planners should revert back to the old grid system. This disperses traffic more evenly throughout the city and results in slower moving automobiles, but with less “stop and go” as on busy freeways. Slow and steady wins the race. The article cites the case of Edgewater Drive, in College Park. City planners there removed two lanes of traffic. In turn, the commute increased by a whopping one minute, but traffic accidents fell to zero. As a side benefit, because the road was no longer constantly congested, economic activity began to flourish as well.

Also important is where new malls, apartment complexes, grocery stores, etc. are built. City planners should really think about where they allow these business to pop up, and whether the existing roads can support the increase in traffic that will inevitably accompany new development. Letting businesses set up shop “willy nilly” will result in a patchwork road system that has gotten Jacksonville and too many other cities in Florida the bad reputation of being one of the most dangerous driving cities in the country.

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July 30, 2013

Man Dies after Being Hit by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority Bus

A Jacksonville man, 61 years old, died after being hit by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus. The man was hit last Tuesday morning while crossing a street in downtown Jacksonville. The side mirror of the bus struck the man’s head and knocked him down before its rear wheels ran over him. Although the bus stopped, it was too late. The man was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus was turning left from Laura Street onto State Street when the pedestrian was hit. A sergeant from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said it did not appear that the man was using the crosswalk when the bus hit him.The bus had a green light to make the left turn.

Approximately 20 percent of accidents at intersections involve pedestrians. Accidents occur more often when the driver is making a left turn. In fact, three times as many pedestrians are hit by cars making left turns than cars making right turns, most likely because both parties are focused elsewhere. The driver is focusing on oncoming cars rather than looking for pedestrians, and the pedestrian is looking straight ahead. According to Science Daily.com, about four to nine percent of the time, drivers do not check for pedestrians when making left turns.

Pedestrians are at even more risk when drivers are turning left at a green light rather than a green arrow. Especially in heavy traffic, drivers “gun it” and turn as soon as they get a break in traffic. Again, this requires a driver to focus on oncoming traffic, sometimes at the expense of a pedestrian trying to make it across the intersection.

In general, a vehicle making a left turn is usually found negligent when an accident occurs with another vehicle. In cases involving pedestrians , however, the pedestrian can be found at fault if he or she disobeys the law, such as not crossing the intersection at the crosswalk. Of course, each case is different and depends on the facts. Sometimes, both parties may be partially at fault. But no matter who has the right of way, both drivers and pedestrians have a responsibility to exercise care and caution, especially at intersections. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is cooperating with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in the investigation of the fatal bus accident.

Even if the investigation finds the Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus driver to be at fault, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority cannot be held liable beyond state caps on damages. This is due to a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling resulting from a lawsuit filed by woman who was injured by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus in 2005. This Supreme Court decision is not good for those involved in accidents with Jacksonville Transportation Authority drivers because as state employees, they are protected by “sovereign immunity,” even in wrongful death cases.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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July 18, 2013

Alert: Road Construction Requires Extra Caution for Drivers

No doubt if you live in Jacksonville, you have encountered numerous roads under construction. As the city’s roads try to keep pace with Jacksonville’s expanding population, it is par for the course to experience construction along major roadways, including Interstate 95, Interstate 295, and Interstate 10.

While the improvements will ultimately mean better traffic flows and less congestion, road construction can present challenges for drivers, especially when workers are present. Road construction signs, barricades and cones can be tricky to maneuver. Sudden traffic stops, lane closures, and the presence of large machinery can distract even the safest drivers, leading to car accidents in Jacksonville.

As drivers, it is our responsibility to be cautious and pay extra attention when approaching road construction. In fact, it is the law: Florida Statute 316.079 says drivers must yield to highway construction workers. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, along with the Florida Highway Patrol, has upped their vigilance to ticket drivers who disregard road construction zone laws. Speeding fines are often doubled when workers are present. Construction companies and contractors are also required to follow laws to make the construction site as safe as possible.

Despite these efforts, many drivers speed through construction areas, putting road workers and other drivers at risk. The National Safety Council reports that 100 road construction workers are killed on the job each year in the United States and that number is predicted to rise. According to the Council, Florida ranks second in car accident related fatalities at road construction sites. A few years ago in Jacksonville, a driver in an SUV hit and killed a construction worker on J. Turner Butler Boulevard. The worker was killed while he was painting stripes on the road, even though he was wearing a bright orange vest and road construction signs were present.

Here is what you can do to avoid car accidents when traveling through road construction:

- Slow down and increase your following distance.

- Avoid all distractions such as cell phone use, programming navigational devices or even changing the radio station.

- Stay aware of changing conditions, especially in areas where workers are present for long periods of time. The construction is likely to present different challenges – such as lane closures and rerouting -- throughout the project.

- If the construction requires vehicles to merge, do so as soon as you can to avoid bottlenecks.

- Travel in the furthest lane possible away from the construction to avoid workers and equipment.

- Do not assume that workers are not present if you do not see them immediately. Use extreme caution, especially at night, until you see a sign that says “End Road Work.”

- If possible, avoid road construction by taking an alternate route. If you must travel through road construction, expect delays, and give yourself more time to reach your destination.

For a complete list of road construction projects in Jacksonville, visit the North Florida Roads website. The site allows you to search by road, city or county.

Written by Elizabeth Allen


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June 27, 2013

North Miami’s DJ A.O.L. Causes Fatal Drunk-Driving Accident

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Ervens Prudent, a well-known North Miami entertainer who goes by the name DJ A.O.L., was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter after he crashed into another vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the report in the Miami Herald, a couple in a car was approaching the intersection of 8th Street and Douglas Road in Coral Gables shortly after 1:20 a.m. on June 10th. As the couple’s car began to slow down for the upcoming red light, Prudent’s car rapidly approached from the rear, eventually colliding with the other vehicle and causing the fatal impact. Sweetwater residents, Maria Martinez and Marlon Gutierrez were both pronounced dead at the scene.

Prudent was severely injured by the collision and was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital while police investigated the crash. Currently, DJ A.O.L. is being held on a $15,000 bail. Not much is being said about the specifics of Prudent’s level of intoxication.

Still Common Despite the Dangers

Unfortunately, despite the severe risks of drunk driving, and high cost of an accident, people continue to drink and drive. This is especially true among teens and twenty-somethings. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that in 2010 almost half of all drunk driving accidents were caused by those under the age of 25.

It does not take that many drinks to be legally drunk. A very general rule (ignoring factors such as sex, height, and weight) is that two drinks in the first hour of drinking will put a drinker at about .05% blood-alcohol content (BAC). The body only can metabolize about one drink per hour. So, three drinks in the first hour and a drinker is already skirting the line. The same holds true for four drinks in two hours, five drinks in three hours, etc.

The Law Protects the Victim of Drunk Driving

The maximum legal BAC for an adult of drinking age in Florida is .08% (for minors under the age of 21 the limit is .02%). Anyone over 21 caught driving with a BAC over .08 is guilty of “driving under the influence” and can be criminally prosecuted.

Let’s say that same driver crashes into another car, causing property damage or bodily injury. In that case, the fact that the driver had a BAC over .08% creates what the law calls a “presumption” that the driver was intoxicated. This presumption of intoxication makes it easier for the victim who was injured, or whose property was damaged, to establish that the other driver was at fault and recover monetary damages.

Injured by a Drunk Driver?

If you or a loved one has been injured by someone who may have been drunk driving, you might be entitled to compensation. Give one of our experienced accident attorneys a call and see what we can do for you. Because we work with you on a contingent-fee basis, there is no risk to you; we won’t collect unless you do.

See Related Blog Posts:

Are You Really Okay To Drive? Fatigued Driving Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving
Read Between the Lines: Don’t Text and Drive

June 26, 2013

Are We There Yet? Tips for a Safe and Stress-Free Summer Road Trip

Loading up the car and hitting the open road ranks high on the list of summertime rituals for many of us. What better way is there to take in beautiful scenery and experience fun roadside attractions along the way? Even with gas prices slightly higher than they were last year, road travel is still an extremely popular way to reach vacation destinations. In fact, two-thirds of Americans plan to take road trip vacations between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Among those planning to travel by car, most will make multiple trips – an average of 3.5 getaways during the summer says AAA. Not surprisingly, increased road travel during the summer months leads to more car accidents on Florida’s roadways. The Florida Highway Patrol reports a significant increase in car accidents during the summer, many of which are attributed to long-distance road trips. August is the most dangerous month for car travel, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

What can you do to make your road trip a safety success? The first step is to make a plan. Lack of preparation can result in unforeseen events, like getting lost, running out of gas, or breaking down, resulting in stress and frustration. Map out your route and do some research beforehand about heavy traffic or road construction so you are not caught off guard. Before hitting the road, check your tire pressure, oil and water levels. Do not forget road trip essentials, like an emergency roadside kit, snacks, water, maps and a navigational device. If you are traveling with children, be sure to pack plenty of games to help mitigate the number of “Are We There Yet?” lamentations.

Also vital to road trip safety is to avoid driving for prolonged stretches of time. Statistics show that drivers who have been on the road for eight or more hours double their chances of having a car accident, compared to drivers who have been on the road for less than two hours. There is no reason to power through and try to reach your destination in one long trip. Break it up and take time to enjoy the sights. Stop every couple of hours to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Consider switching drivers every few hours to avoid driver fatigue.

Speaking of fatigue, make sure the driver has had plenty of rest. People who had less than five hours of sleep prior to a trip are four to five times more likely to have an automobile accident than drivers who get a full eight hours. A safe driver is the key to arriving safely.

It goes without saying that seatbelts and proper car seats for children are a necessity. Still, many drivers and passengers neglect to buckle up. Seatbelts reduce serious car accident injuries and deaths by 50 percent, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

One final tip: Enjoy the ride! A safe road trip makes great memories for years to come.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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June 21, 2013

Driving Too Slowly Could Cost You

When you think of traffic tickets, speeding most likely comes to mind. Starting July 1, 2013, driving too slowly could also result in a fine. A new Florida law recently signed by Governor Rick Scott states that motorists must move over if they are driving too slowly in the “fast” lane.

The new law will target drivers going 10 miles per hour or slower than the designated speed limit while traveling in the left lane, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Most people naturally move over to allow faster motorists to pass, but some drivers refuse to move over to the middle or right lane. Driving too slowly can result in traffic slowdowns and car accidents. In fact, drivers who remain in the left lane under the speed limit will be charged with “aggressive careless driving,” according to the new law. The fine for Florida drivers who “reasonably know” they are driving too slowly will be $60.

Multi-lane highways were designed to accommodate high traffic volumes while giving drivers options for going various speeds. We all know that faster drivers should travel in the left lane while slower drivers should travel in the right lane. Unfortunately, not everyone abides by the rules of the road. Jacksonville has its fair share of slow drivers who cause frustration for other motorists. Some are simply unaware they holding up traffic, while others may be distracted by a cell phone or trying to read a map.

When encountering a slow driver, one of the most common reactions leading to car accidents in Jacksonville and throughout the country is tailgating. Frustrated drivers behind a slow driver in the left lane tend to tailgate in an effort to nudge the driver over to a slower lane. Usually, the more time that goes by, the closer the tailgater gets. Tailgating is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Jacksonville, not to mention the fact that it is illegal and can also lead to a traffic ticket and points added to your driving record. The standard rule is to allow one car length between you and the driver in front of you for every 10 miles per hour. If you are driving 70 miles an hour, allow seven car lengths between you and the car in front of you to give you enough lead time to stop safely. If you find yourself behind a slow driver who will not move over, try flashing your lights first or gently beeping the horn.

The new law is part of a larger bill nicknamed the “Road Rage Bill,” which was recently passed by the Florida House and Senate. Also included in the 226-page bill are measures to align Florida’s commercial trucking laws with federal rules. While speeders will remain high on law enforcement’s radar, Florida State Troopers and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will begin to focus on slower drivers and ticket violators. The new law goes effect on any Florida road with two or more lanes starting July 1.

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June 17, 2013

Read Between the Lines: Don’t Text and Drive

Governor Scott just signed a new ban on texting while driving into law. Florida joins 40 other states in implementing the latest in “Distracted Driving” laws designed to make roads safer.

The Law
The ban, which will go into effect October 1 of this year, considers texting while driving to be a secondary offense, which means that a police officer may not pull a driver over solely for texting while driving. Texting can, however, result in an additional citation. A driver’s first violation will result in a $30 fine plus court costs. Upon subsequent violations, drivers will be fined $60, assessed court costs, and have three points added to their driver’s license record. There are further enhancements if the texting-while-driving takes place in a school zone or results in a traffic accident.

Even under the ban, drivers will still be permitted to use their phones under some circumstances. For example, drivers will continue to be able use their phones to obtain emergency information, such as weather and traffic alerts. The ban also does not apply to the use of phones as navigation devices.

The new law does allow for authorities to review cellular phone records when an accident results in death or personal injury. In such a case, evidence of texting while driving will be some evidence of negligence. Police officers, however, cannot require the driver hand over a cell phone at the time of the accident to verify that the driver was texting.

The Debate
Critics of the law suggest that it is too weak; urging that texting while driving should be a primary offense. They also point out that, under the ban, drivers will not be prohibited from texting while stopped in traffic or at red lights. Also, the current ban does nothing to prohibit talking on the phone while driving. These critics would rather Florida enact a complete ban on the use of cellular phones while driving. Eleven states currently have a complete ban. Many other states completely ban young drivers from using cell phones at all while driving.

Distracted Driving in Florida
Driving while distracted is dangerous. In 2010, over 3,000 people were killed by distracted drivers. Eleven percent of drivers aged 18-20 who were involved in an accident admitted to sending or receiving texts immediately before the accident. Some studies suggest that texting while driving is even more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol, noting that reaction times and stopping distances are worse for those drivers who are texting. Despite its dangers, texting while driving is quite common. One recent study found that 52 percent of drivers over the age of 18 admitted to texting while behind the wheel.

Legal Help in Florida
If you or a loved one has been injured in car accident because of someone else’s negligence, contact our Jacksonville car accident attorneys. Our office is located on the southbank in downtown Jacksonville, but we are willing to meet with you at your home or a location convenient to you. You pay nothing unless we recover damages on your behalf.

June 13, 2013

Rear-End Car Accidents in Jacksonville - New Fault Rules?

In a community the size of Jacksonville, dozens of car accidents are bound to strike on a daily basis. There are simply too many travelers and too many opportunities for mistakes to be made behind the wheel. Some of the accidents are minor fender-benders with only minimal property damage. Others are more serious, involving significant personal injuries.

These accidents have a myriad of causes, from driving too fast and failing to keep eyes on the road to mechanical failures and dangerous weather conditions. No matter the underlying cause, the single most common type of accident is a rear-end collision. As the name implies, this refers to a situation where one driver fails to stop in time and runs into the back of the lead vehicle.

For example, two weeks ago, the Florida Times-Union reported on a Jacksonville car accident where a police vehicle was rear-ended by a motorcyclist. According to the report, a police car was stopped at a red light near Interstate 95; a minivan and motorcycle were in the same lane and coming upon the police vehicle. Before reaching the light, the minivan changed lanes. The motorcyclist apparently did not properly adjust to the change and ran into the back of the squad car before veering off and hitting the minivan in the other lane.

Investigations are still underway, and it is not clear why the motorcyclist was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the police car in front of him.

Collisions of this type--running into the stopped car in front--are incredibly common on roadways in Jacksonville and surrounding communities. For that reason, it is helpful for local community members to understand potential legal ramifications of rear-end accidents.

Florida Rear-End Crashes - Presumption of Fault
Unlike many other types of auto accidents, rear-end collisions are unique in that there is a presumption in the law that the rear driver is at fault. These presumptions are incredibly important in possible Florida car accident cases, because the negligent party (or their insurer) is the one who is required to provide redress for those harmed in the accident. In the past, this meant that the driver of the second vehicle usually did not have standing in court to sue the driver of the first vehicle.

Interestingly, late last year the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion which slightly changes the legal dynamic in these rear-end cases. Essentially, the court ruling now allows the rear driver to rebut the presumption that they were at fault. If there is sufficient evidence that that first driver actually caused the accident, then the tables can be turned.

In the new case, Cevalles v. Rideout, the third driver in a three-car collision was allowed to pursue damages against the driver of the vehicle in front of her. In that accident, the middle driver was talking on her cellphone before slamming into the first vehicle. This sudden stop caused the third driver to hit the middle car. Because of this new ruling, the third driver will be able to argue that even though she was the rear vehicle, the collision was actually the middle driver’s fault.

While this new ruling may affect unique cases, most of the time the rear driver will still be found liable in these accidents.

Jacksonville Rear-End Accident Lawyer
All those involved in a rear-end collision should ensure they seek out legal help as soon as feasible following the incident. There are strict time requirements on many of these matters, and so delay should be avoided. The Lawrence Law Group is available to help community members throughout the area on any manner of accidents, including rear-end collisions. Feel free to contact us today to see how we can help.

June 6, 2013

Are You Really Okay To Drive? Fatigued Driving Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

We all know about the dangers of drinking and driving, but how many of us get behind the wheel when we are exhausted? Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, according to studies released by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Drowsy driving causes one out of every six fatal car accidents and is the cause of more than 12 percent of accidents requiring hospitalization, according to AAA estimates. This does not include the number of near-miss collisions when a driver dozes off then suddenly reawakens and gains control of the vehicle.

Nobody sets out to fall asleep behind the wheel, but it happens. Last spring in Jacksonville, a man fell asleep and drove his car into a pond off of Bartram Springs Parkway. Fortunately, he awoke when the car hit the water and was able to roll down the window and escape. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident, according the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Divers and a tow truck had to retrieve his car from the 20-foot deep pond.

A surprisingly large percentage of drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. AAA reports that a staggering 41 percent of drivers admit to falling asleep while driving and that more than a quarter say they have driven when they were so tired they could barely keep their eyes open. Of course, this presents problems not only for the drowsy driver, but for anyone else in his or her pathway. Even falling asleep for a second can be fatal. Fatigue is linked to poor driving performance, such as slower reaction time, reduced psychomotor skills, and faulty decision making.

Being a responsible and safe driver means taking an honest inventory of whether you are well rested enough to get behind the wheel. Today’s fast past-society with numerous commitments, double work shifts and a 24-7 mentality contribute to the problem of drowsy driving. Add to that the fact that 70 million Americans have sleep disorders and you can see why accidents involving drowsy drivers are on the rise. The National Sleep Foundation along with AAA launched a public awareness campaign last year to alert drivers about the dangers of sleep-deprived driving or becoming fatigued when driving.

The good news is that drowsy driving accidents are preventable. However, just as is often the case with drunk driving, people frequently deny how sleepy they are or fail to pay attention to important signs, like:
- Head nodding and frequent blinking
- Trouble focusing on the road
- Daydreaming or forgetfulness

If you notice any of these signs, or just feel sleepy, postpone your trip or ask someone else to drive. In addition, pay attention to signs that another driver may be drowsy (such as swerving) and stay out of their way.

Drowsy driving accidents are more likely to happen in the dark early morning hours due to natural brain rhythms. This can happen even if the driver has had adequate sleep. Similarly, monotonous routines, such as driving for long periods of time on non-descript interstates, can also cause fatigue. By paying attention to the signs of sleepiness, you can help reduce the number of sleep-related car accidents in Jacksonville .


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March 1, 2013

Jacksonville Woman Killed in Car versus Pickup Truck Accident

A 60-year-old woman was killed in a tragic automobile accident early this morning in Jacksonville. The car accident occurred while the woman was traveling north on New Kings Road. As she was passing through a green light at the intersection of Dunn Avenue, a pickup truck driving south turned left onto Dunn Avenue heading east. The driver of the pickup did not see the woman’s car, which crashed into the left side of his truck. The woman died upon impact. The southbound lanes on Kings Road were closed for about an hour after the car accident, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Unfortunately, car accidents involving cars and pickup trucks almost always result in the car and its passengers sustaining much more damage than the truck. This is due in part to the truck’s weight – anywhere from 7,000 to 12,000 pounds, compared to just 4,000 pounds for an average car. The massive weight translates to the car receiving a greater share of the impact.

Another contributing factor is the height difference between a truck and a car. The best scenario in a car accident is for both vehicles to hit each other’s crumple zone, or crush zone. These are the areas on a vehicle, such as bumpers, designed to crumple during the crash, absorbing the impact and protecting the passengers from being crushed. However, in a car versus. truck accident, the truck’s bumpers or “crumple zone” is much higher than the car’s, referred to as “crash incompatibility.”

Because of this, when a car collides with a truck, the height difference between the two vehicles can cause the truck to literally ride up over the car’s floor and invade the passenger area. The good news is that compatibility has improved over the years, although pickups still tend to cause more damage than SUVs when colliding with a car, according to a USA Today report.

The fact that a pickup truck’s weight is usually much heavier in the front – especially if there is no cargo in the bed – also adds to the likelihood of fishtailing or losing control. Their size and construction make them less agile and less capable of avoiding collisions. A higher center of gravity in pickup trucks causes them to rollover more than cars do.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that it is unclear whether efforts to correct the height mismatch between cars and trucks has led to less fatalities. In fact, the NHTSA report shows that in 2010, 2,740 people died in cars colliding with SUVs or pickups, while 749 passengers the trucks died. Vehicle crashes with pickups led to five percent more car fatalities, and there was no reduction in fatalities for about 50 percent of the vehicles in the study.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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February 1, 2013

Road Rage: Avoiding Unnecessary Conflicts and Accidents

It happens to the best of us. Someone cuts you off in traffic and brings the worst out in you. The next thing you know, your adrenaline is running high and emotions are clouding your judgment. Getting revenge seems paramount. This is the time to slow down and think.

Aggressive driving, or “road rage” has become all too common and Jacksonville is not immune. In fact, in 2005, a local doctor caused a car accident that killed a woman on J. Turner Butler Road in Jacksonville. The doctor was charged with vehicular homicide after causing her to lose control and run off the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 66 percent of traffic fatalities are at least partially caused by aggressive driving each year. Add to that the fact that there has been a 51 percent increase in road rage car accidents since 1990, and it is clear that we should all do our part to avoid aggressive driving situations.

Some examples of aggressive driving include speeding, cutting off a driver, weaving through traffic, running a stop light or tailgating. Many people do not understand the serious consequences of following someone too closely. The rule of thumb is one car length for every 10 miles per hour you are traveling. That means if you are going 50 miles an hour, allow at least five car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you. Following any closer makes it extremely difficult to stop in time and often results in rear-end automobile accidents.

Sometimes aggressive driving actions escalate, and lead to forcing another driver completely off the road, yelling and using offensive hand gestures. In worst-case scenarios, road rage incidents involve the use of physical force or firearms. In fact, 37 percent of all road rage car accidents since 1990 have involved a firearm.

Here are some tips to avoid aggressive drivers or becoming one yourself:

• Give yourself plenty of time. Being late can cause stress, which often leads to frustration with other drivers. Having plenty of time to reach your destination will help you to relax and enjoy the ride without speeding.

• Make sure you are well rested. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Association reports that more than 56,000 car accidents are caused by sleepy drivers every year.

• Do not challenge drivers by tailgating them to get them to switch lanes. Speeding up and passing them, then putting on your brakes is a recipe for disaster.

• Practice amnesty. Give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they have a special situation, like a medical emergency, where they need to get ahead of you. In the long run, it will not save you much time by not allowing them to merge.

Being angry and impatient on the road does not pay off. Drive defensively and calmly. Avoid distractions and other drivers who are exhibiting aggressive driving behavior. Nobody wins when it comes to road rage.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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January 31, 2013

Be a Winner on Super Bowl Sunday: Do not Drink and Drive

When you think about it, Super Bowl Sunday is really the “perfect storm” for increased vehicle accidents in Jacksonville and throughout the country. People get together with neighbors and friends to watch the big game, eat fat-laden foods, and wash it down with a few or more alcoholic beverages. Add to that the increased popularity of restaurants and bars with Super Bowl themed food and drink specials and more people on the roads, and the results can be deadly. Statistics show there are more car accidents in Jacksonville and across the country on Super Bowl Sunday, many involving drunk drivers.

The hours immediately following the Super Bowl are the most dangerous for drivers. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that car accidents jump by more than 40 percent after the Super Bowl, resulting in approximately 1,300 more car crashes, 600 more injuries and seven more deaths throughout the United States. Fatal injuries are highest in the state with the losing team, compared to the state with the winning team or states that had no team in the Super Bowl.

Of course, alcohol plays a big role, but so does driver fatigue after a long day of eating and drinking. Combined the emotional highs of winning or losing, the roads become more dangerous and prone to fatal accidents on Super Bowl Sunday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 48 percent of all U.S. car accident deaths are alcohol related on Super Bowl Sunday.

Before you plan to host a Super Bowl party, get a game plan in place to make sure your guests arrive home safely:

•Do not let your guests drive drunk. If you need to, take their car keys and call a taxi.
•Stop serving to anyone who appears to be inebriated.
•Do not let guests mix their own drinks. Designate a responsible bartender.
•Do not provide alcoholic drinks mixed with carbonation; the body absorbs these types of drinks rapidly.
•Make sure you serve plenty of high protein foods, such as meat or cheese, to slow alcohol absorption.
•Provide non-alcoholic drinks as an option for guests.
•Cut off the alcohol during the third quarter of the game and offer more food, desserts and coffee.
•Do not serve alcohol to minors (anyone under age 21).
•Encourage guests to designate a non-drinking driver or to call a taxi if needed. Have the numbers of local cab companies on hand.

When driving home after the Super Bowl party, report drivers who appear to be drunk. The Jacksonville Sherrif’s Office recommends calling 911 if you believe a driver has been drinking. Be prepared to provide a location, description of the car and the license tag number if possible. Finally, when leaving the party, do not forget to buckle up – it could be your best defense against a drunk driver.

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January 29, 2013

The One-Year Anniversary of One of Florida’s Worst Series of Interstate Collisions: The Aftermath

Today marks one year since a chain reaction of auto collisions on I-75 near Gainesville, Florida that claimed 11 lives and injured 24. The series of collisions happened, in part, because of visibility that was extremely limited due to dense fog and wildfire smoke.

The multi-vehicle collisions included a dozen cars and pickup trucks, a motor home and six tractor-trailer trucks. Florida Highway Patrol closed the interstate for three hours until the fog and smoke cleared to an acceptable level. Unfortunately, the fog and smoke returned, and some drivers came to a complete stop on the interstate. The motorists behind the stopped cars were unable to see brake lights ahead and slammed into the stopped cars just before dawn, resulting in an explosive pile up.

Since then, those injured in these car accidents have filed notices that they intend to pursue negligence lawsuits against the state of Florida for allowing the road to reopen under what became unsafe conditions. There are also concerns that the state should implement additional road safety standards and new protocols for closing and opening roads.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report provides that the Florida Highway Patrol erred in reopening the road. The Florida Highway Patrol defends their decision to reopen the road. Whether or not it acted negligently is yet to be determined.

Drivers have a responsibility to drive defensively and pay close attention to road conditions at all times. According to DefensiveDriving.com, fog is one of the most dangerous conditions in which to drive and should be avoided. If a driver encounters fog, the website recommends slowing down and driving with low beam headlights, as high beams can reduce visibility even more due to glare reflecting off the fog. The Weather Channel recommends using your wipers and defrosters to improve visibility and using the right edge of the road as a guide.

No matter how thick the fog, drivers should never stop on the roadway. If visibility is poor, pull off of the road completely, stop, and turn on your emergency flashers so others can see you. Do not make any sudden stops or turns when pulling off the road. Tap your brakes, slow down, and pull to a safe spot gradually.

In fog situations or other weather conditions that make driving difficult, it is especially important to keep your eyes focused on the road and avoid distractions, such as talking or texting. Even talking with other passengers can be a distraction. Avoid the radio and crack the window slightly to increase your ability to hear other vehicles. And finally, if you do not absolutely need to drive, do not drive in fog. Take heed of dense fog advisories, which happen frequently in Jacksonville’s humid subtropical climate. If fog is present, consider postponing your trip until mid or late afternoon, when fog usually dissipates.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "The One-Year Anniversary of One of Florida’s Worst Series of Interstate Collisions: The Aftermath" »

January 2, 2013

Jacksonville's New Year's Eve Accident Toll

New Years Eve continues to be a tragic event for Jacksonville's roadways as three separate accidents claimed four lives. Jacksonville authorities have not confirmed whether alcohol was involved in these car accidents.

An accident on Atlantic Boulevard near Hodges Road in Jacksonville's eastside killed two persons when the SUV they were in was struck by a station wagon that came across the median and struck them. The SUV flipped multiple times before coming to a rest. The driver of the station wagon suffered minor injuries.

On Beach Boulevard, a young woman driving near Kernan Boulevard left the roadway for unknown reasons and struck a utility pole causing her death. Two passengers in her car were taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center with critical injuries. A fourth person in this single car accident suffered injuries but is in stable condition.

In a third accident, a pedestrian on San Juan Avenue was struck and killed by a motorist. Police have indicated alcohol "may" have been a factor in this accident, but have not indicated whether it was the driver or the pedestrian that may have been drinking.

Regardless of whether drinking was involved, each of these accidents and fatalities were entirely preventable. Of course, given that this all happened on New Year's Eve, there is a good chance alcohol was involved.

What more can we do to prevent drunk driving? The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has established road blocks and increased the number of officers working during holidays. In addition, over the last 25 years the penalties for driving under the influence have increased significanlty. Further, groups like AAA offer free towing for persons who find themselves unable to drive home.

Despite all of these efforts, drunk driving accidents during holidays continue to occur in Jacksonville. Our advice? Stay off the roads after dark on holiday evenings. If you must drive, do not consume a single drink and drive very defensively.

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January 1, 2013

The City of Jacksonville Planning Board Working to Improve Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

Jacksonville is not known as a particularly bike friendly city. In fact, according to the Transportation for America's "Dangerous by Design" report, Jacksonville is the third most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians and bicyclists. Indeed, it seems there is a news report of an accident between a car and a pedestrian or bicyclist every few days.

The City of Jacksonville Planning Board is developing a new mobility plan that addresses many factors including bicycle and pedestrian safety. Jacksonvillle does have 170 miles of bike paths; however, many of them are not connected to each other. In addition, designated bike paths do little good if motorists do not observe them.

For nearby St. Augustine, the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization prepared a bike plan recommending additional bike lanes. That plan identified the most common causes of bicycle accidents as: riding on the sidewalk; riding against the flow of traffic; and riding at night without lights.

Hopefully, the measures being taken by Jacksonville and those proposed for St. Augustine will decrease the amount of bike and pedestrian accidents in our area.

Continue reading "The City of Jacksonville Planning Board Working to Improve Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety" »

December 5, 2012

Senior Drivers Surprisingly Safe

A recent "Today Show" report reveals that senior drivers are surprisingly safe on the roads when compared to motorists in other age groups. In fact, drivers over 65 have the same crash rates as those in their 30s, and drivers in their 80s perform twice as well as teenagers and have half as many car accidents.

This is because most senior citizens are safe drivers, according to AAA. Typically these drivers do not speed, do not drink and drive, obey traffic rules and usually do not drive after dark.

The number of seniors killed on U.S. roads is declining. In 2010, 4,500 senior drivers died in car crashes on U.S. roads – a 40 percent decrease over the last 30 years. This decrease in fatalities is occurring despite the fact that seniors are the fastest growing age group in our country. Every day 10,000 people turn 65 in the U.S.

Florida is known for attracting the elderly and Jacksonville is no different with over 89,000 residents over the age of 65.

There are some resources available through AAA at SeniorDriving.AAA.com to help seniors evaluate their driving abilities, understand mind and body changes, and how to improve their driving skills. There is also a section for family and friends to help their elderly loved ones with alternative transportation if they are no long able to drive.

AAA provides the following tips for senior drivers:
- A push to start ignition
- Four-door car with adjustable seat controls
- A big grip steering wheel
- Big dashboard buttons
- A back-up camera
- Big windows with good visibility

Continue reading "Senior Drivers Surprisingly Safe" »

December 3, 2012

New Florida Supreme Court Ruling: Jacksonville Transportation Authority Bus Drivers Protected by Sovereign Immunity

Bus drivers who work for a company owned by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority cannot be held liable beyond state caps on damages, according to a recent ruling by the Florida Supreme Court. This ruling is a result of a lawsuit a woman filed after being injured in a bus accident involving the Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus in 2005.

While this decision could save the Jacksonville Transportation Authority from having to fully compensate injured claimants, it is not good news for people who fall victim to vehicle accidents caused by Jacksonville Transportation Authority drivers. The ruling provides that, although city bus drivers technically work for a nonprofit entity, the Jax Transit Management Corporation, they are still considered state employees. Because of this, these drivers and the Jax Transit Management Corporation are protected by “sovereign immunity.”

As a result, the most a victim can collect for injuries caused by a JTA driver is $200,000.00. Plaintiffs, especially those suffering permanent injuries, would otherwise have been entitled to sue for the full amount of their losses.

The original Circuit Court ruling provided that the bus drivers were not state employees, but the Florida Supreme Court rejected that ruling, stating there is no real difference between the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and the nonprofit that is responsible for running the transportation service, since the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is in control of the nonprofit.

This ruling stems from an auto accident that occurred in Jacksonville seven years ago, in which a woman was hit by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus on Bay Street. The woman sued the driver and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority for negligence. The recent Florida Supreme Court ruling provided the driver could not be named as a defendant because he is technically a state employee. The court ruled that under Florida law, state employees cannot be sued as individuals in cases related to their jobs.

This disappointing ruling makes it clear that in cases against the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, injured persons will need representation by attorneys experienced in the nuances of handling claims against State of Florida agencies.
Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "New Florida Supreme Court Ruling: Jacksonville Transportation Authority Bus Drivers Protected by Sovereign Immunity" »

October 12, 2012

Baker County "Wrong-way" Car Accident on I-10 Kills Two and Injures Ten

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, at 2:30 a.m. last night, a driver entered the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10, heading west. Tragically, but not surprisingly, that driver collided with an eastbound van carrying ten people.

Two people were killed and ten were taken to hospitals, including Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

The two car accident happened on I-10 near Macclenny, about thirty minutes west of Jacksonville, Florida.

Wrong way car accidents on interstates always baffle me. First of all there are signs posted all along exits warning any entering drivers that they are going the wrong way. Somehow these drivers continue after making it to the interstate lanes. They do this despite the fact that nearly all merges (especially on rural stretches of interstate like this) are to lanes on the driver's left, not right.

There are also interstate lanes separated by a large grass median far to the driver's right - instead of to the left. Finally, another clue is provided by cars on the other side of the interstate which are traveling the same direction as the wrong way driver.

Given that this car collision happened at 2:30 a.m., you can probably guess what I am thinking. It is completely unnecessary and it is a sad sad shame. We see our fair share of drunk driving accidents and the victims are almost never repaid even their medical expenses as drunks tend to have little or no insurance.

Continue reading "Baker County "Wrong-way" Car Accident on I-10 Kills Two and Injures Ten" »

August 31, 2012

Remember Safety During Labor Day Weekend

As Labor Day approaches, as many as 33 million Americans are expected to take road trips, according to the Consumer Federation of America. For many of us in Jacksonville, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and is the perfect long weekend for a get-away. Unfortunately, more people on the roads mean more car accidents in Jacksonville and throughout the country.

During the past few years, approximately 30 car accidents have occurred in Florida over Labor Day weekend. Not surprisingly, many of these car accidents involve alcohol. According to the National Highway Safety and Transportation Association, 38 percent of all car accident fatalities during Labor Day involved alcohol-impaired driving.

Tough laws do not seem to deter people from driving while drinking. Did you know that every year in Florida, police arrest more than 60,000 people for alcohol-impaired driving?

As Labor Day approaches, plan ahead and avoid getting into situations which could lead to car accidents. If needed, appoint a designated driver, make sure all passengers wear seatbelts, and drive defensively.

Here are some additional tips from the Department of Motor Vehicles:
• Plan ahead by making sure your vehicle is in good shape for a trip – check air pressure, brakes, gauges, and other basic functions.
• Sleep well the night before your trip and be sure to take breaks every few hours
• Do not travel too closely behind large trucks or vehicles and follow even further during rain.
• Do not travel on the roadway shoulder.
• Use your hazard lights if your vehicle breaks down and either call police or wait for a routine patrol to come.

If you’ve been in an automobile collision, it is important to exchange information with the other driver and contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. It is also a good idea to get the names and phone numbers of anybody who witnessed the accident and if you can, take pictures of the damage to both cars. Capturing details will help make the accident recovery period go more smoothly for all involved.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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August 31, 2012

Motorists and Cyclists Must Follow Laws to Share the Road Safely

A 58-year old man was struck by a car while riding his bicycle on Kings Road in Jacksonville, Florida, recently. According to police, the cyclist attempted to turn left in front of the vehicle and was knocked off his bicycle upon impact. He was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive.

There have been a number of car accidents involving bicyclists lately in Jacksonville. A 17-year old was killed recently on Kernan Boulevard; another cyclist was a hit and run victim on Philips Highway and suffered critical injuries.

Many times, as drivers, it is easy to get frustrated when cyclists are sharing the road. However, in Florida, bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same rights to the roads as cars. As such, they must follow the same traffic laws that drivers are required to follow, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs. Cyclists must also ride with the traffic flow, use lights when riding at night, and ride as far to the right of the road as possible without incurring danger. Where provided, cyclists should use bike lanes. Cycling on interstate roads is against the law.

When planning to make a turn, cyclists must use a hand signal at least 100 feet in advance of the turn. If a cyclist intends to make a left turn, he or she may use the full lane from which the turn is made. The left turn can be made only after checking for oncoming cars, signaling, moving to the middle of the lane, and then proceeding only if it is safe to do so.

Likewise, there are laws drivers must follow when encountering cyclists on the road. For example, if a car and a bicycle are on a narrow lane, the cyclist has the right to use the entire lane. Common courtesy calls for the cyclist to ride on the right half so the car can safely pass the cyclist. The driver should allow at least two feet of space between the car and cyclist when passing; three feet is preferable.

Motorists should be mindful that cyclists are often sharing the road and sometimes, this is the person’s only means of transportation. Drivers should be aware of cyclists just as they would check for vehicles, especially when switching lanes, turning or passing an intersection. Taking the time to look for cyclists exiting and entering streets can save lives. Likewise, cyclists should be sure to yield the right of way when entering a roadway.

The bottom line is that cyclists and motorists must respect each other and obey traffic laws pertaining to sharing the road to avoid accidents involving cars and bikes. More information about motorists and cyclists sharing the road can be found on the Florida Department of Transportation’s website.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "Motorists and Cyclists Must Follow Laws to Share the Road Safely" »

August 20, 2012

Take the Pledge to End Distracted Driving

We have all heard about the devastating effects of distracted driving, but how many drivers are actually refraining from activities that can easily cause car accidents?

According to U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 3,000 people were killed in car collisions caused by a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. In 2009, 20 percent of car accidents with injuries involved distracted drivers.

There are three main types of distracted driving: manual, which is taking your hands off the wheel; visual, which involves taking your eyes off the road; and cognitive, meaning taking your mind off of driving.

Text messaging is particularly dangerous because it affects a driver in all three ways. In fact, a driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to become involved in a car accident than a driver who is not texting, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The average amount of time a person takes his or her eyes off the road when texting is five seconds, which amounts to the length of an entire football field if you are traveling 55 miles per hour. Drivers in Jacksonville, Florida, are particularly at risk because the state of Florida has no law banning cell phone use while driving.

Of course, texting is not the only culprit distracting motorists. Talking on a cell phone, even hands-free, is a major distraction. Many other common activities take drivers’ attention away from the road. Simple things like eating, drinking or just talking to passengers can lead to distractions resulting in car accidents. Other pitfalls include grooming, reading a map or looking at a navigation system, or adjusting the radio. Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is dangerous.

To help reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving, the NHTSA encourages drivers to take a pledge which includes:
• Never texting or talking on the phone when behind the wheel.
• Speaking up if the driver of the car seems distracted.
• Asking friends and family members to drive without using their cell phone.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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August 8, 2012

Preventing Injuries to Children in Car Accidents

Did you know that car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14 according to The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration? Every day in the United States, about four children under age 14 are killed and 530 are injured in car accidents, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

As injury attorneys in Jacksonville, Florida, our firm sees far too many unnecessary injuries to children involved in car accidents. With this in mind, we need to take every precaution available when traveling with children on the roads.

With many families hitting the road for vacation travel this summer, it’s important to take safety seriously to prevent injuries. Of course, making sure everyone has their seat belt properly secured is a must. Where children are seated makes a safety difference, too. Do not allow small children to sit in the front seat with an activated airbag, as the force they exert when deployed can be extremely dangerous to young children.

Making sure children are in the correct seating restraint for their age is also critical. The NHTSA reports that the use of child restraints declines as children get older. From birth to one year, 99 percent of children ride in a restraint. That figure drops to 92 percent for children ages one to three, and drops further to 89 percent for children four to seven. For kids age eight to 12, only 85 percent ride in a restraint.

Here are some recommendations for the proper car seats for kids from the NHSTA:
• Children age 1 and younger should always travel in a rear-facing car seat that has been properly installed.
• For kids age 1 – 3, keep them rear-facing as long as possible. Until your child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer, he or she should remain in a rear-facing car seat.
• Children age 4 – 7 should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit specified by the manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, he or she may travel in a booster seat in the backseat of the car.
• It’s important to keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly, meaning the lap belt must lie tightly across the upper thighs, not the abdomen. The shoulder belt should lie across the shoulder and chest, and not across the face or neck.
• No matter their age, all children should ride in the backseat for increased safety.
For more life-saving tips, visit the National Highway Safety and Transportation Association at www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.
Written by Elizabeth Allen


Continue reading "Preventing Injuries to Children in Car Accidents" »

August 3, 2012

Another Left Turn Accident Claims a Life

Early yesterday morning, an elderly Flagler Beach man was killed in a two car collision according to the Florida Highway Patrol. A young woman suffered serious injuries in the collision. The man was not wearing a seatbelt.

This car accident was avoidable and resulted from a scenario we see very often. The man was attempting to make a left turn across oncoming traffic. Why he failed to appreciate the approach of oncoming traffic is unknown. The woman driving in the other direction was faced with a head-on collision.

Next to rear end collisions, left turn cases represent the second most common type of car accident we see. In addition to being so common, these accidents involve impacts at high speeds, with the occupants in both cars suffering sudden decelerations and serious personal injuries. The impacts are often described as "T-bone" collisions, where one driver's vehicle is impaced on the passenger side with the other driver experiencing a head-on crash.

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May 22, 2012

Car Accidents with Pedestrians on the Rise in Jacksonville

Lately, several times each week, we hear about accidents where a pedestrian is seriously injured or killed after being struck by a car here in Jacksonville, Florida. This year has been especially high in Jacksonville for pedestrian fatalities. In fact, as of May 10, pedestrian fatalities were up by 100 percent in Jacksonville compared to last year, according to the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office.

Car accidents involving pedestrians usually result in very serious injuries if not death. So far this year, pedestrian deaths doubled from seven to fourteen. Unfortunately, Jacksonville is not an extremely pedestrian-friendly city. In fact, Jacksonville was ranked as the third-most dangerous city for pedestrians in the country after Orlando and Tampa, according to The Florida News Journal. The lack of infrastructure and convenient crosswalks were cited as the major contributing factors. Furthermore, Florida drivers are ranked as the most distracted while driving. Common distractions include talking on the phone, texting, shaving and putting on makeup.

If the driver is responsible for an accident with a pedestrian, his or her bodily insurance coverage will apply to compensate the injured person or his or her family for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.

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May 18, 2012

Unanswered Questions: Florida's New Personal Injury Protection Insurance Coverage for Car Accidents and The Meaning of "Emergency Medical Condition"

As previously relayed in our blog, Florida's personal injury protection insurance coverage for injuries resulting from car accidents has changed dramatically. Instead of an injured person having $10,000.00 in personal injury protection coverage for medical bills and lost wages resulting from injuries in car accident, the limit of coverage will now be only $2,500.00, unless the injured person has suffered an "emergency medical condition," as determined by the person's medical care providers.

Emergency medical condition is a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following: (a) Serious jeopardy to patient health; (b) Serious impairment to bodily functions; or (c) Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

What will qualify for these conditions is uncertain. What is certain is that there is going to be a flood of litigation to answer this question. Will injuries to a person's muscles, ligaments or intervertebral discs with potentially worsening symptoms if additional treatment is not provided satisfy this requirement?

The provisions of the new personal injury protection statute are similar to existing federal legislation relating to situations where hospitals are required to provide emergency care to persons taken to the hospital even if that person has no health insurance. In cases interpreting that statute, the courts have made clear that only care for an acute condition will qualify. In other words, hospitals are not required to provide long lasting care for chronic conditions or chronic pain for uninsured persons.

While such an interpretation may make sense when forcing hospitals to see uninsured patients (a hospital should not be required to provided long-standing care for chronic but stable conditions), it does not make sense for persons suffering injuries in a car accident.

Meanwhile, the threshold requirements that a person must suffer a permanent injury in a car accident to recover damages for pain and suffering remain intact. Because of this, a person is denied their constitution right to access to the courts for a claim against another for car crash injuries that are not permanent. Because the former personal injury protection coverage provided a reasonable alternative to an injured person's right to bring his or her action in court, the former statute was considered constitutional.

Since the time the original personal injury protection coverage amounts were set, medical care costs have risen substantially. As such, in order to remain a reasonable alternative to a person's right to access to the courts, the personal injury protection limits should be increased and not decreased over time. You can expect a constitutional challenge to the new statute on these grounds very soon.

Continue reading "Unanswered Questions: Florida's New Personal Injury Protection Insurance Coverage for Car Accidents and The Meaning of "Emergency Medical Condition"" »

April 23, 2012

Sweeping Changes to Florida's Auto Accident Personal Injury Protection Laws

In 1972, the State of Florida enacted car insurance legislation designed to provide car accident victims with insurance for medical expenses and lost wages. In exchange for these insurance benefits, persons injured in car accidents could only bring a lawsuit for non-economic damages, i.e., pain and suffering, if he or she suffered a permanent injury as determined by a doctor.

Recently, in a supposed attempt to prevent insurance fraud, sweeping changes were passed by the Florida Legislature and approved by Florida Governor Rick Scott. These changes greatly limit a person's benefits in the event of he or she being injured in a car accident. Whether a proportional reduction of car insurance premiums will result is questionable.

In order to qualify for any medical benefits, an accident victim must obtain obtain treatment within 14 days of an accident from a hospital, medical doctor, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or a dentist. The full $10,000 PIP medical benefit is available only if, within that fourteen day period, such a medical provider - chiropractors not included - determines that the insured has an “emergency medical condition.” If not, the PIP medical benefit is limited to $2,500.00.

"Emergency medical condition" means that without further care, the person will suffer: serious jeopardy to health; serious impairment of bodily functions; or serious dysfunction of bodily organ or parts. Exactly what qualifies for such categories of injury will take some time, and lots of court decisions, to iron out.

If a person injured in an accident does not obtain medical care from a listed category of provider within fourteen days, that person will not be entitled to any personal injury protection benefits at all.

Senator Bill Nelson (whose office is located in our firm's building here in Jacksonville) is among those who are opposed to this new legislation. He has been outspoken about his views that the changes will not prevent fraud, but will, instead, result only in increased profits for insurance companies at the expense of those suffering injuries in accidents.

The new law will become effective on January 1, 2013.

Continue reading "Sweeping Changes to Florida's Auto Accident Personal Injury Protection Laws" »

April 11, 2012

Thirteen Injured in Vehicle Accident While Riding a Jacksonville Transportation Authority Bus

Thirteen riders of a Jacksonville Transportation bus suffered personal injuries in an accident that occurred on St. Augustine Road in Jacksonville's southside. The accident occured on Monday when the driver of the bus collided with a sport utility vehicle. The injured passengers were taken to a Jacksonville hospital.

If the driver of the Jacksonville Transportation bus was at fault for causing the auto accident, injured riders will have personal injury claims against JTA which is protected by Florida's sovereign immunity laws.

Sovereign Immunity is an old doctrine that limits or eliminates claims against governmental entities. For accidents that occuring after October 1, 2011, the applicable liability limits for Florida governmental entities is $200,000.00 per person and $300,000.00 per accident.

There are two instances in which these limits can be exceeded. One occurs where a state entity has purchased insurance in an amount above the limits. The second occurs where an injured person is able to get the Florida Legislature to pass a claims bill. The claims bill process is very long, and, by far, the majority of such requests are not passed.

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March 22, 2012

"Left-Turn" Car Accident Results in Death of Nassau County Woman

A woman died and her daughter suffered serious injuries in a car accident that happened yesterday in Nassau County, Florida. The auto accident happened when the woman attempted to turn left across oncoming traffic in order to enter the on-ramp to I-95 southbound. She was traveling east on Florida A1A when she made the turn and was struck by a logging truck traveling westbound.

The driver of the truck suffered minor personal injuries. He was taken to the Baptist Medical Center - Nassau hospital.

"Left-turn" accidents represent the second most common type of car accidents seen by our Jacksonville attorneys, after rear-end collisions. Left turn auto accidents are extremely serious as they are essentially head on collisions for the car going straight. Usually the driver of the car going straight has little or no time to avoid a collision.

The most common reason that left turn car accidents seem to occur is that the driver of the turning car thinks he or she has enough time to clear the intersection before the approaching car closes the distance.

Continue reading ""Left-Turn" Car Accident Results in Death of Nassau County Woman" »

February 20, 2012

A Good Change: Fewer Car Accident Deaths on Jacksonville Roadways

According to the Jacksonville Sherriff's Office, fatalities due to automobile accidents in Jacksonville dropped 15.6 percent from 2010 to 2011. In general, Jacksonville area car wrecks as a whole have dropped by 6.5 percent. At the same time, Jacksonville police officers issued fewer tickets while increasing the number of warnings given to drivers.

Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said the increase in warnings, rather than citations, has contributed to the decrease in auto accident deaths. Experts attribute the decline to better technology road safety measures, increased seat belt useage, and people driving less due to the economy and high gasoline prices.

Jacksonville's statistics mirror a national trend of fewer highway deaths. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of 2010, the number of traffic fatalities were at an all-time low since 1949.

Still, traffic fatalities and crashes are all too common. In 2011, 103 people died in Jacksonville due to traffic accidents. Let's hope the trend continues. Getting texting while driving banned would certainly help.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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January 5, 2012

Truck with Jacksonville Mother and Child Collides with School Bus

An accident involving a truck and a school bus in downtown Jacksonville led to hospitalization for a mother and child. Despite the fact that the bus had its yellow warning flags on, the mother tried to pass the school bus on the left and was hit as the bus turned. The truck flipped several times until it landed in a fence and yard. The school bus accident occurred on Jacksonville’s East 11th Street just east of Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway.

Fortunately, the mother and child’s injuries were not life threatening. The school bus contained just two elementary school students in addition to the driver, none of whom were injured.

Considering a school bus weighs up to 40,000 pounds when filled to capacity, it is critical that motorists adhere strictly to school bus safety laws. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 10,000 motorists illegally pass school buses every day. Ignoring school bus safety laws can have grave consequences; the NHTSA reports an average of 35 students die in school bus accidents each year. It is against the law for drivers to pass a school bus when its amber or red lights are flashing.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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November 16, 2011

Fatal Car Accident on J. Turner Butler Causes Traffic Standstill

A woman was recently killed in a car accident traveling westbound on J. Turner Butler Road in Jacksonville, causing traffic on three main thoroughfares to come to a standstill for more than an hour. The accident occurred when another motorist also traveling westbound drifted over from the right lane and hit the woman’s vehicle in the far left lane, causing the car to crash into a concrete barrier wall in the middle of Butler Boulevard and then flip until it came to a stop near the center median. The woman died at the scene. The driver causing the accident, and a small child who was also in the car, were taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center with non-threatening injuries.

Although the cause of the accident was not reported, distracted driving may have played a role. Distracted driving is any non-driving activity, such talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, or reading while driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved distracted driving. Texting is particularly dangerous, because it usually involves taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off of what you are doing, according to the NHTSA.

In addition, the area where the crash happened, on J. Turner Butler westbound near Belfort Road, is a particularly dangerous stretch where numerous accidents occur. The combination of fast speeds, incoming traffic from Belfort Road, and road construction, requires that drivers pay close attention and avoid distractions.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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August 9, 2011

Three Children Injured in Jacksonville Car Accident

Recently on Jacksonville’s Southside, three children were seriously injured, at least one critically, in a car accident. The accident happened when the driver of the three children ran a red light and hit a car making a left turn. Unfortunately, the children were not wearing seatbelts.

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for children age 3 – 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not surprisingly, seat belts, if used properly, reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and deaths by 60-70 percent, according to a recent study by James Madison University. However, three out of four families with child safety seats use them incorrectly. Guidelines about proper use of car seats, boosters and seatbelts can be found at www.safekids.org. In addition, to have a car seat inspected and installed in Jacksonville, call Safe Kids of Northeast Florida Fitting Station at (904) 202-4302.

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July 22, 2011

Another Accident in Jacksonville Caused by Items Falling Out of A Truck

This morning, a series of car accidents happened on San Pablo Road on Jacksonville's Intracoastal West area as a result of construction materials falling out of a pickup truck.
After the items fell, the driver stopped to retrieve the items. An oncoming vehicle was unable to swerve in time to avoid colliding with both the truck and the man. The man was rushed to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center with life-threatening personal injuries. A second car accident happened in the lanes going the opposite way because a driver was looking at the first accident.

This as an all too familar and wholly unnecessary scenario. In fact, our lawfirm is currently handing a case involving a young woman who was seriously injured in an auto accident that resulted from a ladder falling from a truck. We are also handling the case of a man injured as a result of a surfboard falling off of racks on top of a car on J. Turner Butler Boulevard. Tragically, a few years back, a woman was killed on the Buchman Bridge when a ladder fell from a construction vehicle.

In Florida, the owner and operator of the vehicle is responsible to pay for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering for personal injuries or wrongful death caused by items falling from the vehicle. Simple and thorough strapping down of such items will prevent these unfortunate tragedies.

Continue reading "Another Accident in Jacksonville Caused by Items Falling Out of A Truck" »

June 23, 2011

Man Killed in Baker County Trucking Accident

A 47-year-old man was killed when the car he was in was struck by a tractor-trailer rig on U.S. 90 in Macclenny. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the trucking accident happened when the tractor-trailer failed to stop at a red light. The eighteen wheeler struck the passenger side of the vehicle.

Both the driver and passenger in the car were wearing seatbelts. The passenger died and the driver was taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

If the driver of the tractor-trailer did indeed run a red light, then the driver of the car has a claim for personal injuries and the family members of the passenger have a claim for wrongful death. We find that trucking companies typically purchase signficant insurance coverage as trucking accidents can often result in the most serious of injuries. Nevertheless, situations where individual owned trucks without sufficient insurance do ocurr.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

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May 31, 2011

Car Crash Fatalities Decrease Among 16 to 21 Year-Olds in the Greater Jacksonville Area

In the North Florida counties of Clay, Duval and St. Johns, the number 16 to 21 year-olds killed in car accidents decreased 47% from 2007 to 2010, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Seat belt usage was cited as the reason for the decrease in auto accident deaths. Drivers in the 16 to 21 age goup are the most likely to be involved in car accidents. Statistics also show that they are also the least likely to wear seatbelts. The effectiveness of seatbelts is highlighted by the fact that 27 of the 35 young drivers killed in 2010 were not wearing seatbelts.

Distracted driving, such as texting or talking on the phone, plays a large role in car accidents among the 16 to 21 year-old age group. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal vehicle crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. Drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to have accidents.

Written by Elizabeth Allen

Continue reading "Car Crash Fatalities Decrease Among 16 to 21 Year-Olds in the Greater Jacksonville Area" »

May 27, 2011

Holiday Weekend Starts with a Fatal Car Accident on I-10

One person died and another person was seriously injured in a head-on car accident on I-10 in Baker County, near Macclenny, Florida, this afternoon. The Florida Highway Patrol reports that the driver of a car westbound on the interstate crossed the median and struck a car travelling east head-on. It is unknown why the driver lost control of his vehicle.

The driver of the car that crossed the median was taken to a hospital in Macclenny. One other person was flown to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

Because this is a holiday weekend and the start of summer, the number of drivers on the roads, especially the interstates, will be higher than usual. Every year we see an increase in the number of serious car accidents during holidays. In an attempt to curb this problem, local and state law enforcement step up efforts to ticket speeders and often conduct DUI checkpoints.

Reports published by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reveal that Memorial Day weekend has one of the highest rates of auto accidents and fatal auto accidents. Surprisingly, it is comparable to New Year's Eve. Drinking and driving is involved in a disproportionate number of Memorial weekend accidents.

Our advice is to always practice defensive driving, always wear your seatbelt and try to stay off the roads late at night.

Continue reading "Holiday Weekend Starts with a Fatal Car Accident on I-10" »

March 22, 2011

Deja Vu: Yet Another Death on Highway 121 in Nassau County

Yesterday, we reported on a fatal accident that occurred on Highway 121 in Nassau County, Florida. In that blog entry, we wrote about how common serious car and truck accidents are on the portion of Highway 121 located in Nassau County.

Unbelievably, another fatal trucking accident happened on Highway 121 this morning. Like Sunday's accident, this morning's involved a pick-up truck colliding with a tractor-trailer. Tragically, a young man was killed when his pick-up truck drifted across the center line and struck a semi truck. The driver of the pick-up was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from his vehicle. The driver of the tractor-trailer, from St. Augustine, suffered minor personal injuries.

We can only hope that state and local authorities recognize the danger of this highway and take some measures to improve its safety.

Continue reading "Deja Vu: Yet Another Death on Highway 121 in Nassau County" »

March 21, 2011

Another Serious Auto Accident on Highway 121 in Nassau County

One person died and another was seriously injured last night when a pickup truck struck a tractor trailer on Highway 121 in Nassau County, Florida. The tractor trailer was backing into a driveway at the time of the collision. The person critically injured was rushed to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

The portion of Highway 121 in Nassau County has been the scene of many serious car accidents over the years. This portion of the highway parallels the St. Mary's River and has many curves. In addition the roadway is narrow and there is no median or other structure separating oncoming lanes of traffic. Finally, the speed limit on most of the roadway is 55 and drivers often exceed that speed.

Our belief is that work needs to be done to improve the safety of this highway. Perhaps slower speed limits, increased patrolling, widening the road or constructing a median would prevent additional accidents.

Continue reading "Another Serious Auto Accident on Highway 121 in Nassau County" »

February 24, 2011

Beware of Insurers Making Settlement Offers Soon After a Car Crash

Recently, I met with an eighteen year old woman who had been injured in an auto accident on Hodges Boulevard on Jacksonville's Southside. The collision resulted in serious damage to both cars. Within a few days of the accident, an adjuster from the insurance company for the at-fault driver visited her. At that time, her back was a little stiff and painful, but she had already improved some and expected to feel fine within a few days.

The insurance adjuster offered her what seemed to the young woman to be a generous offer of $1,500.00 to compensate her for her "trouble." In exchange, the adjuster had the woman sign a general release, in which the woman gave away all rights to pursue the at-fault driver, or the insurer, for her injuries.

Well, you guessed it, the woman's injuries did not get better. In fact, her pain worsened and her doctors were discussing the possiblity of surgery. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do. Releases obtained under such circumstances may be terrribly unfair but they are almost always enforceable.

I always tell clients injured in car accidents, that we will not know the value of their claim until they have completed their medical care. A few days after a car accident is no time to make such an important decision.

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February 10, 2011

St. Augustine Man Seriously Injured in Accident with Tractor Trailer

A St. Augustine man was seriously injured when his car and a tractor trailer truck collided this morning. The car accident happened on State Road 207 in St. Johns County, Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol reports that the tractor trailer was turning off of Deerpark Boulevard in an attempt to travel north on 207. The car was traveling south on 207. The tractor trailer had to cross the car's path of travel to get to the northbound lanes. The car struck the tractor trailer and drove under the trailer portion it.

Troopers reported that the driver of the tractor trailer failed to see the car and pulled out directly into its path. The reason for the truck driver's failure to see the approaching car was not provided. The driver of the car was taken to Flagler Hospital by St Johns County Fire Rescue with serious personal injuries.

Continue reading "St. Augustine Man Seriously Injured in Accident with Tractor Trailer" »

January 28, 2011

Alcohol Suspected in Fatal St. Johns County Head-on Collision

Two SUVs collided head-on on County Road 210 in St. Johns County last night. The car accident happened on the section of 210 between I-95 and U.S. 1. Although in St. Johns County, the area of this accident is near suburban areas of south Jacksonville.

The driver of a Chevrolet Trailblazer crossed the center line and struck a Ford Explorer traveling in the opposite direction. It is unknown why the Trailblazer crossed the center line; however, alcohol is supected in the accident.

The driver of the Explorer died at the scene. The driver of the Trailblazer was airlifted to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, for injuries that are not life threatening.

In situations where a person is killed in an auto accident due to another person's negligence, the family members have the right to bring a claim for wrongful death. Florida's Wrongful Death Act allows a surviving spouse, children, and in some cases, parents and other relatives to recover for pain and suffering, or lost support and services, or both, from the negligent driver. The act also allows the estate of the person who died to recover for funeral expenses, medical bills and for the loss of savings the person would have accumulated over his or her lifetime.

Continue reading "Alcohol Suspected in Fatal St. Johns County Head-on Collision" »

January 21, 2011

Traffic Signal Outage Causes Serious Collision and Injuries

Thursday night a serious car accident happened in Palatka, Florida, at an intersection where a traffic light was out. Palatka is located about one hour south and west of Jacksonville, Florida.

A vehicle traveling north on Mosely Avenue and a vehicle traveling west on St. Johns Avenue collided in a "t-bone" fashion. The vehicle that was t-boned was propelled into a nearby building. A passenger in that vehcle suffered personal injuries and was taken to the hospital.

Where a missing or malfunctioning traffic control device causes a car wreck, the municpality responsible for maintaining the light, whether it be the City of Palatka or Putnam County, may be responsible if it was negligent in maintaining the light. Of course, liability and the potential to recover for personal injuries does little to erase the pain of such injuries. Police advise that when a traffic light is out that all drivers should treat the intersection as a four way stop.

January 14, 2011

Green Cove Springs Installs Red Light Traffic Cameras

In Clay County's Green Cove Springs, the police department is installing cameras at three intersections plagued by people running red lights. The cameras are designed to photograph the license plates of vehicles running a red light. The camera footage will also be available in the event a car accident occurrs at the intersections.

The Green Cove Springs Police Department reports that there is an average of thirty people who run the red light at the intersection of U.S. 17 and State Road 16 alone. The City of Jacksonville is planning to install similar cameras in Duval County later this year.

As injury attorneys practicing in both Clay and Duval Counties, we see many accidents caused by drivers running red lights. These car accidents cause some of the worst personal injuries as an oncoming car usually has little opportunity to avoid a head-on or "t-bone" collision. Hopefully, these cameras will deter people from running red lights and will decrease the number of accidents.

Continue reading "Green Cove Springs Installs Red Light Traffic Cameras" »

January 10, 2011

One rear end Collision Leads to Another in Jacksonville's Southside

Friday morning, a series of accidents occured on Philips Highway in Jacksonville's southside near Bayard. First, a rear-end accident occurred after traffic stopped for a school bus. In that accident, a pick-up truck rearended a car causing the pick-up to flip and land on its roof. Both the driver of the pick-up and the car were injured and taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

After police responded to the scene, a police cruiser was struck from behind by another pick-up truck. A Jacksonville Community Service Officer was injured in that accident.

Secondary auto accidents often happen after an initial accident. This is because traffic tends to slow due to the first accident and because people are distracted looking at the accident scene instead of looking forward.

Accidents with emergency vehicles at the scene of an auto accident are all too common as well. Florida law requires that drivers yeild to emergency vehicles by vacating the lane closest to the vehicle if travelling on a roadway with multiple lanes in each direction. Failure to do so is a fineable traffic offense.

January 5, 2011

Two Killed and Four Injured in Columbia County Car Accident

A vehicle carrying six people between the ages of 17 and 20 on I-75 left the roadway, became airborne and then hit a pine tree. No one in the car was wearing a seatbelt. The driver and the front passenger were both killed in the accident. All four back seat passengers were ejected from the vehicle and suffered serious personal injuries. The single vehicle accident happened in Columbia County on I-75 just north of Lake City, Florida. The cause of the accident is being investigated.

Car accidents like this are a stark reminder of the need to wear seatbelts. No one escaped from this accident without injuries. Of course, it is not a certainty that seatbelts would have helped, but the probability is that they would have.

In Florida, seatbelts are required by law, and for good reason. Seatbelts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of car crash injuries by fifty percent. Nationwide, seat belt use is higher than ever; however seat belt use remains lowest among young drivers.

Continue reading "Two Killed and Four Injured in Columbia County Car Accident" »

November 15, 2010

Woman Critically Injured at Eastside Jacksonville Intersection

A sport utility vehicle ran a red light at the intersection of Altantic Boulevard and St. Johns Bluff Road at 12:40 a.m. Sunday morning and struck a vehicle driven by a 19 year-old woman. The woman suffered critical personal injuries and was taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. The driver of the SUV also suffered personal injuries and was taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. Thankfully, both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.

Previously, on this blog we reported on Jacksonville's most dangerous intersections. All of the major intersections with Altantic and Beach Boulevards are very dangerous with repeated instances of car crashes. Traffic moves very quickly on these roadways and, if a driver, gets distracted for even a brief moment, he or she may miss that a light has changed. I am not sure if defensive driving would have done much for the woman struck as it seems she was blindsided by the truck running the red light. This auto accident serves as a reminder than an auto accident can happen anytime without any warning. Our advice: do your best to drive defensively; buckle up; and buy uninsured motorist coverage.

Continue reading "Woman Critically Injured at Eastside Jacksonville Intersection" »

July 23, 2010

Multiple Vehicle Crash in South Jacksonville Causes Injuries to Three

A multiple vehicle accident in Fruit Cove, just south of Jacksonville, Florida, sent three people to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center late last night. A man ran from the crash site into nearby woods and was arrested Friday morning.

Because the driver fled from the scene and hid in the woods, one must wonder if he was intoxicated. Unfortunately, if enough time passed before he was arrested, blood alcohol testing may not be worthwhile.

As Jacksonville auto accident lawyers, we notice that some of the worst drivers, especially drunk drivers, tend to be irresponsible across the board. Often this translates into such drivers having little or no bodily injury liabilty insurance.

Your best ally if such an auto accident occurs is to have significant uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage will provide you payment for medical expenses, lost wages, disability and pain and suffering for personal injuries caused by an uninsured driver.

Continue reading "Multiple Vehicle Crash in South Jacksonville Causes Injuries to Three" »

June 14, 2010

Bicyclists Hit by Car in Saint Augustine

Three bicyclists were struck by a car on U.S. Highway 1 in St. Augustine, Florida, today. All three suffered personal injuries. Two of the cyclists were lifeflighted to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. The third was taken by ambulance to Flagler Hospital.

After the collision, the driver of the car left the scene but was later stopped by police. The cause of the crash has not been reported.

Distance bicyclists often use the long stretch of highway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville; however, there is no separate bike lane for them. There have been several similar accidents in recent years. Because this area is not heavily congested, there is little reason for accidents to occur provided that drivers are paying attention. However, drivers have more distractions than ever, with cell phones, texting and dvd players now playing a role in car accidents.

Continue reading "Bicyclists Hit by Car in Saint Augustine" »

May 18, 2010

Improvements to JTB - I-95 Intersection Planned on Jacksonville's Southside

The intersection between J. Turner Butler Boulevard and Interstate 95 on Jacksonville's Southside may get some much needed improvements.

Currently, the intersection is congested and includes some awkward traffic patterns. For example, drivers turning on to Northbound I-95 from Westbound JTB must switch lanes and merge with traffic coming from Salisbury Road just a few hundred feet prior to the exit to get onto I-95.

Daily, there are backups in the mornings getting on to I-95 and in the evenings getting on to JTB from I-95. Some help has already taken place as evening congestion on Eastbound JTB has been alleviated by the opening of additional lanes in the section of JTB near Kernan Boulevard.

It is also the site of many car accidents. At or near this intersection there were 448 car crashes from 2004 through 2008. Funding for the much needed changes has not been established; however it is a top priority according to state officials.

March 1, 2010

Woman Killed in Car Accident on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville

A wife and mother of two died when her SUV was involved in a car accident and forced off of the Buckman Bridge late Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida. Her car landed in the St. Johns River in approximately 45 feet of water.

The driver of the car that caused the auto accident fled the scene. Witnesses followed her to an apartment on Jacksonville's southside. That driver has been charged with DUI manslaughter.

Witnesses claim that that driver was driving erratically before the vehicle collision. She had recently been charged with several traffic offenses, including leaving the scene of another accident.

While the family will have the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit, no amount of money can ease their pain.

Continue reading "Woman Killed in Car Accident on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville" »

February 17, 2010

Middleburg Florida Man Killed in Collision with Tow Truck

A 25-year-old man from Middleburg, Florida (located approximately 30 minutes Southwest of Jacksonville) died Tuesday when he was involved in a collision with a truck. Around noon, his car rear-ended a tow truck on Southside Boulevard in Jacksonville.

The man was driving at a high rate of speed and was not wearing his seat belt when he collided with the rear of the tow truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The man was ejected from his vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

While it is not known if wearing a seatbelt would have prevented this man's death, in all likelihood, it would have prevented his ejection, which presumably, was through the windshield. An ejection through a window causes devastating personal injuries, if not death. The need to always wear a seatbelt cannot be overstated.

Continue reading "Middleburg Florida Man Killed in Collision with Tow Truck" »

January 4, 2010

SUV Flips Near St. Augustine - One Man Dies

A man from Elkton, Florida, near St. Augustine was killed Thursday night in a single car accident when the truck in which he was a passenger rolled over. The man along with the driver were in Jeep Grand Cherokee on State Road 207, when the vehicle left the roadway. The driver then overcorrected, causing the SUV to flip.

The deceased was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. The driver was also not wearing a seatbelt either and was seriously injured. The driver was taken to Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine. The official FHP report says alcohol was involved.

Once again, we see an example where an unbelted occupant of a vehicle is ejected in a vehicle rollover crash and killed. Ejection from a vehicle that flips is very common due to inertia causing the body to remain in place while the vehicle tumbles around that person causing the occupant to forcefully strike windows, doors or open spaces, such as an open window or the open top of a convertible car.

When personal injuries or wrongful death occurr in a car accident in Florida when a person is not wearing a seatbelt, the recovery for such injuries or death can be severely reduced. If the defendant can prove that the person would have received less significant or no injuries, then the jury is to award only for the injuries that would have occurred if the person was seatbelted.

An attorney for an injured plaintiff can face serious challenges proving that the same degree of injuries would have resulted if the injured person was belted.

Continue reading "SUV Flips Near St. Augustine - One Man Dies" »

December 29, 2009

Truck Crashes Into Car on I-95 in Georgia

A car crash on Interstate 95 occurred in McIntosh County, Georgia, when a tractor-trailer rear-ended a minivan. A three year old boy was killed and two adults and two other children suffered personal injuries and were taken to area hospitals. The auto wreck happened shortly before 1 p.m. in the southbound lanes of I-95.

McIntosh County is halfway between Savannah and Brunswick, about an hour and a half north of Jacksonville, Florida. Witnesses say that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed prior to the automobile accident. The driver of the truck is from Jacksonville, Florida.

Tractor-trailer accidents often involve the most serious of personal injuries and wrongful death. Due to the immense weight of tractor-trailers, breaking distances can be quite large. As such drivers of eighteen wheelers must be especially careful of traffic conditions in front of them.

We are currently handling a similar case that occurred on I-10 in Jacksonville, where, thankfully, the victim in the car did not die, but did suffer serious personal injuries. Traffic conditions, especially during holidays and in areas of construction can cause sudden stops even on interstates, making it all the more important for all drivers to be on the lookout for slow down or stop conditions.

Continue reading "Truck Crashes Into Car on I-95 in Georgia" »

December 14, 2009

Single Car Accident in Jacksonville Kills One and Injures Two

A vehicle traveling west on Valley Forge Road near the intersection with Edgewood Avenue in Jacksonville struck a sign and a telephone poll and went airborne. All three occupants were ejected from the vehicle.

A woman died in the single vehicle accident and the other two people, including a baby, were hospitalized with personal injuries. The woman was pronounced dead at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. Police are still investigating the cause of the accident. Thick fog may have played a role.

Car accidents such as this are all too frequent in Jacksonville. Whether any of the ejected occupants were wearing a seatbelt is unknown. It is also unkown if the baby was properly restrained in an infant car seat. It is very common for unrestrained occupants to be ejected from a vehicle if it flips or becomes airborne, often throwing occupants through closed windows. Obviously serious personal injury or wrongful death can result from being ejected.

Seatbelts are not only legally required to be worn in Florida, they can prevent ejection in rollover accidents and can prevent the resulting devastating injuries.

Continue reading "Single Car Accident in Jacksonville Kills One and Injures Two" »

November 17, 2009

Flagler County Jury Awards $5.1 Million in Fatal Truck Accident Case

A Flagler County jury returned a $5.1 million verdict in a wrongful death case resulting from a fatal trucking accident. A tractor trailer struck a husband and wife driving a minivan. The accident happened at a rural intersection and the plaintiff claimed that the truck driver ran a stop sign.

The wife was killed instantly and the husband suffered personal injuries including a pelvic fracture. The two had recently retired and moved to Palm Coast, Florida, located about one hour south of Jacksonville.

In wrongful death truck accident cases such as this, it is important that the attorney for the plaintiff thoroughly investigate the driver and the employer's decisions regarding hiring and retaining the driver. In addition, it is important to determine how many hours the trucker had been driving in order to determine if federal laws limiting the number of hours a driver can work in a given time period were violated.

Continue reading "Flagler County Jury Awards $5.1 Million in Fatal Truck Accident Case" »

November 11, 2009

Pedestrian Struck by Car in Jacksonville Suffers Life-Threatening Injuries

Last night, a pedestrian was struck by a sport-utility vehicle at a Jacksonville Northside intersection. The SUV was traveling on North Main Street near 53rd Street when the man was struck. It was raining at the time of the accident.

The victim was taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center with life-threatening personal injuries. A relative told the Times-Union that he died.

Car accidents involving pedestrians seem are far too common in the Jacksonville area. Of course, these types of accidents cause devastating if not fatal injuries to a pedestrian.

Continue reading "Pedestrian Struck by Car in Jacksonville Suffers Life-Threatening Injuries" »

October 28, 2009

One Dead, Two Injured in South Jacksonville Auto Crash

Tuesday night, near the intersection of Old Kings Road and St. Augustine Road, in Jacksonville Florida,crash123.jpg a car collision killed one person and caused personal injuries to two other people.

The car accident happened at about 8:30 p.m., when a van T-boned a vehicle that was traveling on Old Kings Road. The passenger of the vehicle died at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

As Jacksonville accident attorneys, we see "T-bone" car accidents quite frequently. Often they result from one car attempting to turn left across oncoming traffic. Given that it was the passenger side of the car that was T-boned in this instance, it very well could have been a left turn scenario.

The difficulty posed by a left turn accident is that the driver with the right of way, the one going straight, often has little or no warning that the other car is going to turn across his or her lane of travel. These types of car collisions typically result in severe impacts and serious personal injuries.

Continue reading "One Dead, Two Injured in South Jacksonville Auto Crash" »

October 21, 2009

Obtaining Medical Care for Personal Injuries When You Have No Insurance - Letters of Protection

As Jacksonville injury lawyers, we have many clients who are injured that have no health insurance. With the downturn in the economy many people have lost their jobs and the health insurance benefits that came with the job. Also, some employers have stopped offering health insurance as a way to save money.

A letter of protection can be an important tool for personal injury clients who lack health insurance or have used all of their personal injury protection ("PIP:) benefits following an auto accident. Many doctors and facilities in the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Fernandina areas will accept a "letter of protection."

A letter of protection permits the patient to continue to receive treatment without having to pay for it until their personal injury case resolves. Typically, the health care provider receives a direct reimbursement from the settlement or jury award.

Continue reading "Obtaining Medical Care for Personal Injuries When You Have No Insurance - Letters of Protection" »

October 21, 2009

Single Car Crash Causes Injuries in St. Augustine, Florida

This morning, a woman was driving north on Masters Drive in St. Augustine when she lost control of the car.overturned%20car.jpg The car went into a roadside ditch and flipped. The woman was partially ejected and trapped in the car.

The woman was life flighted to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center for her personal injuries including a fractured ankle and lacerations to her head.

Interestingly, the area of Masters Drive where this auto accident occured, near Highway 16, has numerous speed bumps, as it has had many problems with motorists driving too fast. It is unknown if speed was a factor in this crash.

Continue reading "Single Car Crash Causes Injuries in St. Augustine, Florida" »

October 20, 2009

Crash on Interstate 295 Causes Life Threatening Injuries

Multiple vehicles crashed on I-295 near Duval Road on Jacksonville's Northside Monday. Because of the car accident, one person was rushed to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center with life-threatening personal injuries.

One vehicle was heading northbound when it struck a ladder in the roadway and veered across the median, striking two southbound vehicles. One of the southbound vehicles was struck head-on.

A similar incident ocurred several years ago on the Buckman Bridge here in Jacksonville, when a ladder fell from a truck. As a result of the ladder in the roadway, there was a serious vehicle collision. One person was killed in that accident. A wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the vehicle that dropped the ladder resulted in a significant recovery for the family of the deceased person.

Continue reading "Crash on Interstate 295 Causes Life Threatening Injuries" »

October 16, 2009

St. Johns County Motorcyclist in Critical Condition After Accident with SUV

A man driving a motorcycle rear-ended a sport utility vehicle (SUV) in St. Johns County yesterday.856888_bobs_choppa_1.jpg The auto accident happened on U.S. 1 North of St. Augustine, Florida.

The driver of the motorcycle was flown by lifeflight helicopter to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. His passenger also sufferred personal injuries; however not as severe.

Collisions between motorcycles and vehicles often result in catastrophic injuries to the motorcyclist and any passengers. Of course, motorcycles do not have seatbelts and the riders are usually thrown far from the collision only compounding their personal injuries. Although wearing a helmet is not longer required by law in Florida, doing so can prevent serious brain injury, spinal injury or death.

Continue reading "St. Johns County Motorcyclist in Critical Condition After Accident with SUV" »

October 15, 2009

Five Year Old Struck by Pickup Truck in St. Augustine

A five year old boy was injured when he was struck by a pickup truck in front of his home in St. Johns County, Florida. St. Johns County is one county south of Jacksonville, Florida.

The driver of the truck left the scene and was charged with leaving the scene of an automobile accident with injuries. The boy was taken to Flagler hospital in St. Augustine.

Pedestrians struck by a vehicle have the right to bring an action against a negligent driver and can obtain compensation from that driver's bodily injury liability coverage. Of course, accidents between vehicles and pedestrians often involve trafic or fatal injuries.

Continue reading "Five Year Old Struck by Pickup Truck in St. Augustine" »

October 13, 2009

Five People Injured in a Single Vehicle Wreck in Yulee

This morning, a car traveling on Harts Road near the intersection with William Burgess Road overturned causing personal injuries to five people. overturned%20car.jpg
The accident happened in Yulee, which is in Nassau County about 30 minutes north of Jacksonville, Florida. All five people were taken to a nearby hospital. The cause of the car accident has not been reported.

Car accidents involving an overturned vehicle can result in severe personal injuries and wrongful death. Given that the injuries in this car accident have been reported to be non-life threatening, I would bet the occupants were seat belted. Very often passengers that are not seatbelted are forced through window glass and ejected from a vehicle that rolls over causing tragic personal injuries.

Continue reading "Five People Injured in a Single Vehicle Wreck in Yulee" »

October 12, 2009

Four Killed in Car Crash on I-10 near Panama City

Four people were killed in a car accident on Interstate 10 when a pickup crossed the centerline and crashed into their car. The car accident happened in Jackson county, which is about three hours west of Jacksonville, Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol reports that the driver of a truck heading east on I-10 through Jackson County Saturday morning lost control and ended up in the westbound lane. He crashed head-on into a car carrying four people. All four people in the car were killed. The driver of the truck sufferred personal injuries and was taken to a hospital.

The cause of the car crash is not currently known.

October 10, 2009

St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Fights Texting While Driving

As Jacksonville car accident and injury attorneys, we have seen more and more car accidents caused by texting while driving. mobile_phone_1.jpg Several news stories have reported that texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. Some authorities are starting to take action.

Last week, the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce became the first chamber in the state to ask its affiliated businesses to sign a safe-driving pledge that their employees will not text and drive. The AAA Auto Club South initiated the idea, which has support from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Texting is now legal for Florida drivers. A bill was introduced in the Florida Legislature this year to ban texting while driving; however it was not taken up before the legislative session adjourned.

The federal government has estimated that motorist distractions may have caused as many as 5,800 wrongful deaths last year. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that banned the nation's 3 million federal employees from texting while driving federal vehicles.

Continue reading "St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Fights Texting While Driving" »

October 6, 2009

Two School Buses Collide in St. Johns County

Monday afternoon, two school buses were involved in an automobile accident that happended in the 10000 block of Russell Sampson Road in St. Johns County, Florida. A. St. Johns County Fire and Rescue spokesperson said three students complained of personal injuries.

There have been a number of bussing accidents for this early stage of the school year in the greater Jacksonville area, as can be seen in our prior blog entries.

Continue reading "Two School Buses Collide in St. Johns County" »

September 30, 2009

Two People Die in Clay County Collision With a School Bus

In Middleburg, Florida, located about 30 minutes south of Jacksonville, two people died after their car collided with the back of a school bus. As a result of the auto collision, the car caught on fire. The driver and front passenger died as a result of the accident. A passenger in the rear of the vehicle suffered non-lifethreatening personal injuries. All three were wearing seatbelts.

The driver of the car ran into the back of the schoolbus at the intersection of Hall Boree Road and Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg. The reason for the driver's failure to stop safely is not currently known.

As Jacksonville car accident attorneys, we see more rear-end collisions than any other type of automobile accident. Often, the driver causing the accident was distracted by something and failed to appreciate that traffic ahead came to a stop.

September 28, 2009

Two Die in Nassau County Car Accident in Hilliard

Early Sunday moring, firefighters were called to a single car accident on County Road 208 in Hilliard, Florida. nassa.jpg When they arrived they found the vehicle on its driver side near a power pole.

One of the occupants was thrown from the vehicle, and the other had to be cut from the vehicle. Both died. Neither were wearing their seatbelts. The cause of the vechicle accident is unknown.

As Jacksonville injury lawyers, we see this type of scenario far too often. When a vehicle rolls over in a crash, passengers that are not seatbelted usually suffer catastrophic, if not fatal, injuries. Serious personal injuries and wrongful death can often be avoided by simply wearing a seatbelt.

Continue reading "Two Die in Nassau County Car Accident in Hilliard" »

September 28, 2009

Two Pickup Truck Crashes in St. Augustine Lead to Power Outage

Late last night, a pickup truck traveling on Martin Luther King Boulevard in St. Augustine, Florida, left the road and struck a power pole. According to police, the driver of the pickup then got into a friend's pickup nearby in an attempt to flee; however, the friend then lost control of his truck and struck an air conditioning unit connected to the United Way building on Weeden Street.

The first driver has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Both drivers are under investigation for suspicion of driving under the influence. The two accidents left local Florida Power and Light customers without power for hours.

September 24, 2009

Pregnant Woman Dies in Accident on Jacksonville's Westside

Tuesday afternoon, two pickup trucks collided in Jacksonville's westside. A nineteen year old pregnant woman was thrown from one of the pickup's beds and died. Her unborn child did not survive.trucks%20accident.jpg

The pickup in which the young woman was riding turned left in front of the second pickup on Normandy Boulevard near the intersection with Parrish Cemetary Road. The woman who was ejected from the bed of the pickup was airlifted to Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center, where she died. According to authorities, three other people suffered personal injuries in the crash, including a 4-year-old girl in the second pickup.

Although there are circumstances where riding in the bed of a pickup is legal in Florida, it is never a good idea. Of course, pickup beds do not have seatbelts or other safety devices and being thrown from a vehicle in any accident often results in tragic, if not fatal injuries.

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September 10, 2009

Jacksonville's Car Crash Rate Higher Than Average in Florida

In 2008, there were 14,064 car accidents in Duval County - Jacksonville. With a total population of 859,421 in Jacksonville, the rate of car crashes per 1000 people comes to 16.36. The statewide average was 12.94 vehicle crashes per 1000 residents.

Although Jacksonville's rate of automobile accidents is higher than the state average, it is lower than ten other large cities in Florida, including Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Tallahassee.

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September 9, 2009

Chemical Truck Crash on I-75 West of Jacksonville Shuts Down Traffic

A tractor-trailer carrying chlorine and other chemicals on Interstate 75 in Halmilton County, about one hour west of Jacksonville, Florida, left the road and crashed. Parts of I-75 were shut down for hours.

Because of the location of I-10 and I-95 in Jacksonville along with its large industrial port, trucks carrying toxic chemicals routinely pass through the City. Accidents involving these trucks can cause serious personal injuries to those involved in the trucking accident, and due to the chemicals being transported, to those nearby as well.

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September 8, 2009

Pedestrians, Bicyclists and Motorcyclists Account for Greater Than 38% of All Traffic Deaths in Florida

Our blog entries below reflect a significant number of traffic deaths occuring to pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcylists in the Jacksonville area. Jacksonville is no different than the rest of Florida in this regard. In 2008, 16.8% of all traffic accident deaths in Florida were suffered by pedestrians, 4% were byclists and 17.8% were motorcyclists. This comes to over 38% of all Florida traffic fatalities!

With our warm climate in Florida, a lot of people run, walk and bike along our roadways. Unfortunately, when there is an accident between a vehicle and a person walking, bicycling or driving a motorcycle, the consequences are often fatal.

These accident statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, further demonstrate that safety equipment is not used often enough. For example, seventy-two percent of the bicyclists killed were not wearing helmets and thirty five percents of those dying in motorcycle accidents were not wearing helmets.

Continue reading "Pedestrians, Bicyclists and Motorcyclists Account for Greater Than 38% of All Traffic Deaths in Florida" »

September 4, 2009

School Bus Crashes Into Tree With 41 Children on Board

Yesterday, in Alachua County, near Gainesville, Florida, a school bus driver lost control on a wet dirt road and crashed into a tree. Five children suffered minor personal injuries from flying glass. The driver was cited for driving too fast for the conditions.

Whether bussing children to school is handled directly by county _bus_with_child.jpg government or contracted out to private companies, it is obviously of the utmost importance that drivers act with care. Most bus drivers are very safe and have good driving records. However, sometimes unsafe bus drivers are hired and the results can be catastrophic.

In Florida, when a county operates school buses, there is a $100,000.00 liability limit for personal injury to a child if the driver is negligent. When a county, such as Duval County, Jacksonville, contracts with private companies to operate the bussing system, there is no such limit.

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September 3, 2009

Man Dies After Rear End Collision While Driving Scooter

Late last night, a young man was struck from behind by a car while he was driving a scooter on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville Florida. The car that rearended him left the scence. The victim was thrown onto the road and struck by a second car. The driver of the second car left the scene as well.

The vehicle accident happened at 2:20 a.m. Of course, given that both drivers that struck the victim left the scene, it is currently unknown if drinking was involved. Sadly, the driver of the scooter died at the scene from his injuries.

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September 2, 2009

Heavy Rains in Jacksonville Shut Down Roads and Causes Accidents

Duriing the last 24 hours many streets in Jacksonville have been shut down due to flooding from heavy rains. rain.jpg The Arlington Expressway and portions of Beach Boulevard were flooded with as much as three feet of water and had to be shut down, causing severe traffic jams and numerous car accidents.

This slow moving rain cell came from South Georgia, through Nassau County, Duval County and then St. Johns County. In some places rain was reported to be falling at the rate of 9 inches per hour.

Especially during the summer months and early fall in Jacksonville, we experience dramatic weather that makes driving all the more dangerous. As Jacksonville accident lawyers, we see many vehicle crashes with serious personal injuries that are caused in part to the weather. Heavy rain decreases visibility and greatly increases breaking distance. When possible it is best to avoid traveling during such weather conditoins, to drive carefully when driving cannot be avoided and to make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition.

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August 24, 2009

Several Injured in Three Car Crash at Jacksonville Beach

Several people were injured in a three car accident that happened in the 400 block of Third Street North in Jacksonville Beach yesterday night at 9:40. One who suffered personal injuries was taken by helicopter to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

Details of how the accident happened have not been made available. Although there are numerous bars in the area of the accident, it is unknown if alcohol played a factor.

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August 21, 2009

St. Augustine Man Killed in Single Vehicle Crash

Yesterday, at 1:30 a.m., a man driving near the 312 bridge in St. Augustine, Florida, died after he lost control of his pickup truck causing it to roll over repeatedly. The man, only 18 years old, was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown from the truck.

Unfortunately, rollover accidents almost always cause the ejection of vehicle occupants that are not seatbelted. seatbelt.jpg Being thrown from a vehicle can cause severe personal injury or death. Such injuries occur from striking the inside of the vehicle, being thrown through a window, by the vehicle landing on the person, or by striking the ground.

Wearing a seatbelt is the law in Florida, and for good reason. As Jacksonville accident lawyers, we often see situations where a rollover occurs with seatbelted passengers surviving the accident while those not seatbelted are ejected and either seriously injured or killed.

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August 18, 2009

Man Killed When he Strikes Tractor Trailer with His Pickup Truck West of Jacksonville

A man travelling west on Interstate 10 west of Glen St. Mary, Florida (about 30 minutes west of Jacksonville), truck.jpgwas killed when his pickup truck crossed the median and collided with a tractor trailer traveling eastbound on I-10.

The force of the collision knocked the pickup truck back into the mediation. The tractor trailer jack-knifed and crashed into another car eastbound car on I-10. Afterwards, the cab of the tractor trailer caught on fire. No one else suffered any personal injuries.

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August 14, 2009

Hilliard Woman Dies in Nassau County Accident

A woman from Hilliard died Thursday in a single vehicle accident. She was driving on County Road 108 in Nassau County when she swerved to the right shoulder of the road. She was driving a Ford Explorer. After leaving the roadway she crossed over a culvert and the SUV overturned. It is unknown why she left the roadway. It had been raining. The driver was taken to Shands Jacksonville where she was pronounced dead.

The amount of rain we have been having in the Jacksonville area has made driving more 1050117_drops_of_rain.jpgdangerous. As Jacksonville personal injury lawyers, we see many auto accidents that resulted, in part, from rain. Heavy rain causes driving difficulties including: decreased visibility; increased braking distances; slick roads; hyrdoplaning; traffic jams; and flooded roadways. Drivers should take additional precuations when it is raining including making sure their windsheild wipers are in good shape, driving slower, and using headlights.


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August 12, 2009

Clay County Motorcycle - Bicycle Accident Leaves One Dead and One Injured

A motorcycle and a bicycle collided this morning in Middleburg, Florida, leaving one person dead and one injured. The collision took place at approximately 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Blanding Boulevard and Kingfisher Boulevard according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office. One of the victims was lifeflighted to a Jacksonville Hospital. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating this motorcycle accident.

Here in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas, many forms of transportation share the same roadways: cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, runners, mopeds, farm equipment,and ATVs, to name a few. As Jacksonville injury lawyers, we see that accidents between different types of transportation are often catastrophic as one person is travelling via a much smaller and lighter object. For example, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists almost always suffer serious personal injury or death as a result of accidents with vehicles.

When driving a vehicle, it pays to be especially careful to check blind spots thoroughly and to be especially mindful of the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists. Finally, when walking, jogging, or riding a bicycle, you should not let your "defensive driving" guard down. Being on the lookout for drivers who may not be paying proper attention could safe your life.

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August 10, 2009

Tickets for Not Wearing Seatbelts on the Rise in Jacksonville

Recently, it became a primary violation in Florida for a driver to not wear a seatbelt. This means that a driver can be pulled over for that reason alone. Previously, a driver could only be cited for not wearing a seatbelt if he or she was stopped for another offense.

Since this change in the law, the number of tickets written in both Jacksonville and Northeast Florida has greatly increased. seatbelt.jpg In Jacksonville, the number of tickets issued for failing to wear a seatbelt by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office went up 31% in July compared to June. In Northeast Florida, the Florida Highway Patrol wrote 60% more tickets in that same time frame.

As Jacksonville injury lawyers, we see many unfortunate accidents where people not wearing seatbelts suffered serious personal injuries in a car accident or truck accident. Often, we see collisions with multiple people involved where all of the occupants wearing seatbelts suffered little or no injury yet a person who was not seatbelted suffered a very serious injury or death. Our experience is that seatbelts truly do save lives.

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August 5, 2009

Woman and Child Injured in Three Car Crash in Jacksonville Neighborhood

Yesterday, a woman and a young child suffered personal injuries when the car they were in was involved in a three vehicle collision. crash.jpg The woman and child were in a car that collided with a BMW. Their car then flipped and crashed into a Ford Explorer. All of this happened in a residential neighborhood in east Jacksonville.

Police were uncertain about what happened and are considering whether a crime took place. They are looking into whether the two drivers knew each other. Neighbors reported that drivers often speed in the area.

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July 30, 2009

Florida's Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine Assists Car Accident Victims

A recent personal injury lawsuit filed in Duval County, Florida, illustrates one of the important rights held by individuals injured in car accidents. While working roadside, a Jacksonville man was hit by a teenager driving a car she did not own. The teenager admitted she was looking at her cell phone at the time of the accident, and the worker suffered devastating injuries including the amputation of his right leg.

As a result, a lawsuit was filed against the teenage driver and the owner of the car even though the owner was not directly involved in the accident. That is because Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine provides that car and truck owners are responsible for the people they let drive their vehicles.

This is a crucial legal safeguard. While all vehicle owners are required to have certain automobile insurance, some drivers, and especially teenagers, may not have insurance or assets to pay for injuries caused by their negligence. Because of this, our lawyers who handle car accident and truck accident cases throughout North Florida, including Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Orange Park, know how important it is to investigate the details of each accident to make sure all responsible parties are identified and held accountable.

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July 29, 2009

Serious Accident on I-95 in Jacksonville Near A Construction Site

This afternoon, I was travelling back to the office from a client meeting in Callahan when I came across a very serious auto accident on I-95, just north of downtown Jacksonville. When I drove by, there was a full size pickup flipped upside down and the cab space was almost entirely crushed. Hopefully the occupants of the truck were not hurt; however, it did look pretty serious.

The vehicle accident occured at a location on I-95 where one lane was closed for construction. Traffic in that lane had to merge left into the two remaining lanes. Obviously, there is a lot of road construction going on in the Jacksonville area now and, as Jacksonville accident lawyers, we see many crashes that occur when high speed traffic is required to merge due to a lane being shut down for construction purposes.

Remember, just because you are paying attention to the lane merges and changes, do not assume others are. With cell phone usage and texting on the rise, drivers can easily be distracted. Given that a vehicle travelling 70 miles per hour travels over 100 feet per second, if a driver's attention is distracted for even a very short period of time, the consequences can be catastrophic. Make certain that a driver that is going to need to merge does not stay even with your vehicle, either speed up or slow down, in case the other driver is not aware of the upcoming merge. Defensive driving in these situations is a must.

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July 21, 2009

Jacksonville Had the Highest Number of Drivers Per Capita Causing Three or More Car Accidents from 2006 through 2008 in the State of Florida - A New Law is Designed to Remove Such Drivers From the Road

Here in Jacksonville, we have more than our fair share of bad drivers. In fact, Duval County is the second highest county in Florida for the numbercrash_car.jpg
of drivers causing three or more car accidents during the three year period of 2006 to 2008. A new state law aims to remove such careless drivers from the road.

Starting January 1, 2010, motorists convicted of three moving violations that result in auto accidents, will lose their licenses. In order to get their licenses restored, they will have to attend a drivers' education course, pay $548.00, and retake the driving test.

From 2006 through 2008, Jacksonville had 372 drivers that caused three or more car crashes. The only county higher is Miami-Dade County, with 378 such drivers. However, Miami-Dade County has three times as many licensed drivers, meaning Jacksonville has, by far, the highest number of such careless drivers per capita in the state.

Statewide, there were 3,277 such drivers during the 2006 to 2008 time frame. Thirty-two percent of these auto accidents caused personal injuries. Five of these car wrecks resulted in death.

Continue reading "Jacksonville Had the Highest Number of Drivers Per Capita Causing Three or More Car Accidents from 2006 through 2008 in the State of Florida - A New Law is Designed to Remove Such Drivers From the Road" »

July 9, 2009

Florida's Seat Belt Law Changed

Our lawyers who handle personal injury and car accident claims in the greater Jacksonville, Florida,buckle_up.jpg area have seen far too many serious personal injuries which could have been avoided with the simple use of a seat belt.

In an attempt to help with this problem, the Florida Safety Belt Law has now gone into effect. Unlike before, police officers are now permitted to stop and ticket drivers solely because they are not wearing seat belts. Previously, police officers were only allowed to ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt if they stopped that driver for another violation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the new bill will save 124 lives and prevent over 1,700 serious injuries every year in Florida.

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July 8, 2009

Florida Fatal Car Accidents Decreased in 2008 - Jacksonville (Duval County) Followed Suit

Auto accident deaths in the State of Florida decreased each of the last three years. Last year, 2,983 persons died in car wrecks. In 2005, that number was 3,533.

Duval County had 120 traffic related deaths in 2008, down from 166 in 2007. Clay County and Nassau County also saw reductions in 2008; however, St. Johns County experienced an increase in vehicle accident deaths.

State and local officials attribute the decrease to increased enforcement and education regarding seatbelt usage, drunk driving and obeying traffic control devices.

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July 2, 2009

Fernandina Beach Pedestrian Dies in Logging Truck Accident

Unfortuanately, truck accidents involving pedestrians often prove fatal. Earlier this week, a pedestrian was struck by a logging truck and killed in Nassau County.

The pedestrian, a resident of Fernandina Beach, was on the side of Florida A1A near Sadler Road about 10:30 a.m. when he was struck by an empty logging truck.369139_truck.jpg

The police beleive the pedestrian walked into the path of the rig and was struck by the rear trailer. It is currently unknown why he stepped into the truck's path.

Sometimes, pedestrians or drivers will fail to realize that a tractor-trailer is pulling an empty logging trailer. Unlike trailers that pull containers or that have a high sided box, an empty logging trailer is much harder to see.

As Jacksonville injury attorneys, we have also seen accidents where a tractor-trailer makes a right turn too tightly and the rear wheels of the trailer come onto the sidewalk. An unsuspecting pedestrian can easily be struck in such a scenario.

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June 9, 2009

Some Seat Belt Laws You May Not Know

Our Jacksonville injury lawyers regularly meet with clients throughout Jacksonville, Orange Park, St. Augustine, Fernandina, and Callahan who were injured in automobile and truck accidents. Thankfully, their personal injuries have often been minimized by the use of a seat belt.

While we all likely know that drivers and passengers in the front seat must wear a seatbelt at all times, here are some more important facts regarding Florida's laws:

All rear passengers under the age of 18 must wear a seatbelt.

Children ages 3 years and younger must be secured in a federally approved child restraint seat.

Children ages 4-5 years must be secured either by a seatbelt or a federally approved child restraint seat. This can include the use of a booster seat in conjunction with the vehicle seatbelt.

Drivers are legally responsible for ensuring that children in the vehicle are properly restrained.

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May 21, 2009

What To Do in the Event of a Car Accident

Often people involved in car wrecks throughout Jacksonville are uncertain what they should do in the event of a serious accident.

Calling the police is a must, especially if the other driver suggests that you do not. If you are able, it is important to get the names and contact information of witnesses. Make a mental note of any skid marks on the road as they can be photographed later and can provide valuable evidence about how an accident happened.

It is common for a person to be upset and full of adrenaline immediately following an accident. This can mask serious personal injuires. When in doubt, go to the hospital or to a doctor. In addition, it is common for injuries, especially soft tissue injuries, to first cause serious symptoms the day or two after an accident.

If you have any bruising from a seatbelt, it is important to take photographs of the bruises to be able to resolve any claims later on that you were not wearing a seatbelt. Photographs depicting the damage to your car are important as well in order to demonstrate the significance of the impact. The old adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words" is especially true in car accident cases.

It is not necessary to contact an attorney immediately; however, it may be very helpful as the application of no-fault insurance benefits, employment issues, lost wages, and getting your vehicle repaired or replaced can be very confusing.

You are not obligated to give a statement to the other driver's insurance company; however, you should give a statement to your own insurer in most circumstances.

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May 15, 2009

Personal Injury Claims and Medical Liens

Our injury lawyers in Jacksonville see many clients for whom the financial burdens resulting from an injury can be as devastating as the physical pain and suffering. Whether caused by a car or truck accident, an on the job injury, or other negligence, the ability to recover past and future medical bills is a crucial component of any personal injury claim.

However, when all or some of the medical bills have been paid by a health insurer, a lien may arise which would entitle the insurer to a portion of the proceeds from settlement or trial. Importantly, the lien rights differ whether the payment was made by a private health insurer, insurance provided by an employer, Medicare or Medicaid.

When seeking a personal injury lawyer in the Jacksonville area, it is important that the client confirm that the lawyer has the knowledge and experience to address and resolve these complicating factors so that the client’s personal injury recovery can be maximized.

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April 7, 2009

Beware of "Full Coverage" Automobile Insurance

Many of our Jacksonville personal injury clients think they have uninsured motorist insurance coverage because they were told they purchased "full coverage" from their insurance agent or broker. How the term "full coverage" has become so widespread is puzzling since there really is no such thing. A person can always have more insurance coverage. Its like saying someone has a "full" bank account.

Unfortunately, some injury victims only learn after suffering serious injury in a car accident that "full coverage" often means just the opposite: the absolute minimum coverage required by law, which does not include uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage provides coverage for you in case you are injured in an automobile accident and the at-fault driver has either little or no bodily injury insurance coverage.

Far too often we meet with people who have suffered serious injuries in a car wreck, where the at-fault driver has no bodily injury coverage. In this circumstance, the person would be compensated by his or her own uninsured motorist coverage. Without uninsured motorist coverage, such a person will usually receive no compensation for his or her injuries, medical expenses and lost wages.

We believe that uninsured motorist coverage is even more important because often the worst drivers have no insurance. We find this to be especially true with respect to drunk drivers.
Because uninsured motorist coverage is not particularly expensive, we recommend that everyone consider carrying at least $100,000.00 in coverage.

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March 24, 2009

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Benefits Can Be Reserved to Pay Only Lost Wages

In handling car accident cases throughout the Jacksonville area, our lawyers often see clients who are struggling with severe budget contraints as a result of being out of work following a vehicle collision. Personal Injury Protection, or "PIP," benefits will cover lost wages at the rate of 60%. insurance%20policy.jpg

However, PIP also pays medical expenses and the limit of coverage can quickly be exhausted long before the client is able to return to work, leaving him or her without any income at all. This can be avoided by reserving the PIP coverage to pay only for lost wages. Many injured persons have no idea that this can be done causing them more financial hardship than is necessary.

Since many employed clients have health insurance, reserving PIP benefits to cover only lost wages does not prevent them from obtaining medical care.

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February 13, 2009

Jacksonville Teens Texting While Driving Causes Accidents

Throughout Jacksonville, automobile collisions occur when drivers are sending text messages and fail to pay sufficient attention to traffic conditions. Often, car accidents with serious injuries are the result. We find that young drivers are the most likely to engage in this dangerous habit. texting.jpg


Anyone with a teenager is most likely familiar with their texting habits. According to a recent poll, 46% of the 1000 teens surveyed admitted to texting while driving. The danger involved in typing out a message while behind the wheel of a car that is moving at sixty miles an hour should be obvious.

Rep. Doug Holder, of Sarasota, Florida has introduced a bill to make it illegal in Florida to text while driving. He introduced the bill in response to the death of several teens in tragic auto accident last year in New York in which it was determined that the driver was texting while driving. It remains to be seen whether the bill will become a traffic law and whether it will be obeyed, but one of the most frustrating things in the practice of personal injury law is to see the tragic harm that results from injuries or ">wrongful deaths which could have easily been avoided through responsibility and a little common sense.

Continue reading "Jacksonville Teens Texting While Driving Causes Accidents" »

December 19, 2008

Yulee Man Seriously Injured in Auto Accident Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt

As I recently wrote in our blog, as Jacksonville accident lawyers, far too often we see instances of serious collisions where the only person injured is the one not wearing a seat belt. Unfortunately, the examples just keep coming.602535_seatbelt.jpg

A man was traveling westbound on Florida 200 on Amelia Island when he rear-ended another vehicle. The man in the vehicle that was rear-ended was wearing his seat belt and was not hurt. The other driver was not wearing his seat belt and suffered serious injuries.

According to the State of Florida, seven people not wearing seat belts were killed in car crashes in 2006 in Nassau County and fifty two people not wearing seat belts were killed in Duval County.

If you are involved in a car crash and would like a free consultation to learn about your rights, please contact our North Florida accident attorneys.

November 17, 2008

Jacksonville's Most Accident Prone Intersections

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the intersection of Kernan Road and Atlantic Boulevard has the most car accidents each year of any intersection in Jacksonville. The second most common intersection for car wrecks is Beach Boulevard and University Boulevard.intersection.jpg

What do both intersections have in common? They both generate very long waits during rush hour, which may make some drivers impatient enough to run a red light.

At my Jacksonville Florida law firm, we have seen many accidents caused by impatient drivers, especialy those who run red lights. Almost all of us on the road routinely witness drivers turning long after their light has turned red.

To avoid an accident, it may pay to allow a second or two to elapse before entering an intersection after your light turns green. If you are approaching an intersection and your light turns green before you come to a stop, it may be best to slow your vehicle as you will otherwise be entering the intersection more quickly than a red-light running driver may have anticipated.

Remember, defensive driving is your best ally to avoid an accident. If you are injured as a result of an accident, consider contacting our Jacksonville Accident Attorneys.

October 30, 2008

Head-on Collision on I-295 Kills Jacksonville Woman - A Reminder About the Importance of Seat Belts

Last night, on Interstate 295 in Jacksonville, an auto accident was caused by a vehicle traveling the wrong way. A young woman appears to have been driving southbound in the northbound lane of I-295 when she collided with a woman driving northbound. How she ended up going the wrong direction is currently unknown.

Unfortunately, the woman driving the wrong direction was not wearing her seat belt and she died from her injuries. While it is uncertain whether a seat belt would have saved the young woman's life in this situation, sixty-two percent of Florida's car accident fatalities involved people who were not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

As Duval County accident attorneys, we review many types of accidents. We often see accidents where there are several occupants in a car with all of them wearing seatbelts except one person. Very commonly the person not wearing a seatbelt is the most seriously injured.

For example, several years ago, we handled a case where three teenagers were driving in a car when the driver accidentally ran a stop sign. Their car collided violently with a van properly driving through the intersection. The driver and passenger, who were both seatbelted, suffered no serious injuries. Sadly, a fifteen year old girl, who was not wearing her seatbelt, was ejected from the car and died from internal injuries.

Of course, wearing a seatbelt is required by Florida law. In addition, if someone else wrecks into you and you are not wearing your seatbelt, the at-fault driver's insurer will only be obligated to compensate you for the degree of injury you would have suffered if you had been wearing your seatbelt. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please feel free to contact one of our Jacksonville Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.