Jacksonville Injury Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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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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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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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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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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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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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.
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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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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.

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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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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.
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