Articles Posted in Car Accident

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627.7288 Comprehensive coverage; deductible not to apply to motor vehicle glass.

“The deductible provisions of any policy of motor vehicle insurance, delivered or issued in this state by an authorized insurer, providing comprehensive coverage or combined additional coverage shall not be applicable to damage to the windshield of any motor vehicle covered under such policy.”

What this legal jargon means is if you have comprehensive or combined additional coverage, there is no deductible for repair to any vehicle covered under such policy.  Why does it matter to you and why should it?  Number one, no deductible means no out-of-pocket expense to the insured.  It sounds fairly simple.  But often times it is not.  Most insurance companies seek to direct you to their vendor, which on its face is okay, but the problem comes when you decide you want to use your own vendor.  Services provided may range from the repair of a chip to the obviously more costly replacement.

car wreck accident south florida miami personal injury
I was hurt on a motorcycle am I entitled to PIP coverage? Considering that injuries to motorcycle riders in accidents are more likely to be of greater severity, this puts the rider at great risk of both financial and physical trauma in the event of a crash.  PIP is not available to motorcycle riders or passengers.

The driver of a car who is injured in a crash can sue for damages over and above the maximum on his PIP if medical bills exceed that amount. He may also sue for pain and suffering but only if the injury was considered permanent. This permanency threshold rule does not apply to motorcycle riders. The bike rider may seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company without being required to pass any threshold.  PIP is not available in Florida even if the driver (or passenger) of the motorcycle has PIP coverage on another 4-wheel vehicle.

I was hurt while a passenger on a County/City Bus am I entitled to PIP coverage?  The term “motor vehicle” under which would be required to carry PIP (No-Fault Coverage) excludes from its definition buses and taxis used in mass transit.  Under this scenario no PIP would be available.  Medical bills incurred would be payable only through an individual or group health insurance policy or out-of-pocket by the injured party. Of course the threshold requirement in accident cases where PIP benefits are available is no longer an issue in these cases. What that means is there is no requirement that the Plaintiff sustain a permanent injury as defined in §627.737(2)(a-d) as described hereinbelow:

car wreck accident south florida miami personal injury

Personal Injury Related Car Accident in Miami Increase

Recent statistics on traffic accidents in Miami area are quite surprising. As a Miami car accident attorney, it was my hypothesis that current technology in newer vehicles would result in far fewer collisions. However, this premise seems to be erroneous. Reports from the Florida Department of Highway safety and Motor vehicles relay this increase from 2014 to 2015.

It should be noted that fatalities have increased, as well.  Fatalities increased dramatically 17% from 2014 to 2015. There are about 1025 crashes throughout Florida any given according to these statistics. These daily occurrences have increased about 9%. One attributable element may be an increase in registered vehicles from 2014 to 2015. Another factor that may have contributed to the increase could be that drivers are simply driving more. Therefore, although safety mechanisms may have increased. But these safety features may be negated by an increase in exposure by drivers to the road. The more miles of the road, then the higher the risk. If you analyze this trend from 2011 to 2015, then it would appear the increase in miles traveled per driver is what caused the spike from 2014 to 2015. From 2011 to 2014 the numbers of injuries and fatalities seem static.

It is not our nature to comment on political matters in out notes. We would like to focus this analysis from a purely pragmatic stance. The word pragmatism is thrown around constantly of late by many politicians and commentators. However, the use of the pragmatism as a form of analysis is perverted in the mainstream.

Pragmatism, is an essential American philosophy. The idea behind pragmatism is to analyze things from a data driven or scientific point of view. In other words, to analyze circumstances based on factual analysis, rather than focus on ideological or partisan points of view. This ideology has percolated below the surface and influenced American endeavors since the 1870’s. Indeed, it has been a blessing to this great nation due to its nature in finding solutions without being hinged to ideals, and ultimately infused with a forward looking stance.

We would like to remain pragmatic when it pertains to the issue of undocumented drivers in the state of Florida and in the Miami area in particular. As Miami Car accident attorneys we understand profoundly issues pertaining to undocumented drivers. It would appear that about 23% of drivers in Florida are  uninsured or underinsured. This would mean that if you are injured in an accident in Florida, then there is a 1 in 4 probability that the person who caused the injury has no coverage. This statistic may be higher as Florida law does not require bodily injury coverage, which covers injuries caused by a driver to other parties. In other words, even if a driver has insurance, it may be possible that the coverage they acquired was inadequate to cover bodily injury damages.

As a practicing attorney dealing with car accidents in Miami since 1982 I have found that the most mischaracterized and misunderstood areas of the law is automobile insurance coverage.  Coverage.   often than not the client has been led into buying coverages that the agent suggests.  Just as often the agent will often advise against the purchase of UM coverage, commonly known as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.  “Uninsured” is just that if you are involved with an uninsured driver or vehicle and you have purchased UM coverage you will be able to recover as if the ‘uninsured’ party was insured.  Underinsured is when the adverse party’s coverage is not adequate to compensate the injured party.   Again, the UM coverage will come into play as if the adverse party had the higher limit policy purchased by the injured party or insured.

The UM coverage is a problem due to the high number of uninsured or underinsured motorists in the south Florida area.  Many agents recommend against this coverage since it is not mandatory.  An agent recommending against this coverage (among others) in south Florida is ignoring the facts that approximately 25% of all vehicles in Florida are uninsured.

An equally egregious problem with agents is their zeal to sell a policy even if it does not meet the client’s needs.  Very often an agent will provide the absolute minimum coverage to make the sale.  Bodily injury liability coverage is not required to drive in Florida.  The real problem arises is when the driver who thought he had purchased full coverage purchased the minimum to legally operate a motor vehicle in Florida.  The agents rarely disclose all the negatives if a driver without bodily injury coverage is involved in an accident where there is bodily injury.  The main negative is liability of the offending driver.  The offending driver may lose their Florida Driver’s License without an agreement with the injured party.

As Miami Injury attorneys we often hear from our prospective clients about their lack of understanding regarding their insurance coverage. To truly understand an insurance policy, it is important to understand the basics. As we explained in our previous blog pertaining to post loss conditions, an insurance policy is nothing more than a contract. It is essentially a promise to cover certain losses or events, in exchange for premium. Most insurance policies require an insured to comply with certain conditions. If this conditions are adhered to and no exclusions apply, then coverage of the loss should occur.

With insurance policies it is paramount to look at details. Whether a loss or event is covered will turn on specific language in the policy. Do not assume that certain items or losses will be covered because they were covered in your previous policy. On many occasions, policy language changes from year to year. Therefore, one may assume that certain circumstances are covered when a policy is renewed, but due to policy language changes that may not be the case. In other words, when buying new coverage it is important to know exactly what you’re getting.

So how do you know what is covered under your policy? The declarations page of most policies will relay what and who is covered. For example, with a car policy one can see what types of coverage is available and what cars are covered. Here we note that Florida is one of the only states that does not require Bodily Injury coverage. The only requirements in Florida are PIP property damage coverage. The PIP coverage should cover your own medical expenses up to $10,000.00, and property damage coverage provide at least $10,000 to cover damage to other vehicles. Indeed, if your policy complies with these requirements, then one is most likely complying with the minimum requirements in Florida. However, meeting the minimum requirement may not be the best course of action when it comes to acquiring insurance. The declarations page will relay whether Bodily Injury, Med Pay, Uninsured Motorist, and or Collision coverage is present as well.  Bodily Injury offers coverage to the other parties that may have been insured as a result of a collision. Med Pay offers coverage for medical expenses beyond the PIP coverage. Uninsured Motorist provides coverage if you were insured in an accident and the culpable party has no Bodily Injury or insufficient ability to compensate for the damages. Collision coverage covers damages to your own vehicle.

The title to this note would be simpler if one referred to damages. A victims of a car accidents is entitled to certain compensation for damages, if injuries are present. When it comes to car accident in Florida, in order to recover, a certain threshold must be met. Florida Statute 627.737(2) is a good starting off point to further explore this issue:

In any action of tort brought against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of a motor vehicle with respect to which security has been provided as required by ss. 627.730-627.7405, or against any person or organization legally responsible for her or his acts or omissions, a plaintiff may recover damages in tort for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of such motor vehicle only in the event that the injury or disease consists in whole or in part of:

(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.

There are about 1.7 million rear-end collisions each year.  As a Miami accident attorneys, we understand that rear-end collisions are common and can cause significant injury. Our sincere hope is that rear-end collisions decrease significantly in the near future. Our hope is that front-crash prevention systems will become a standard feature in most vehicles, thereby significantly reducing the number of injuries and deaths caused by these impacts.  In fact, in 2015 the NHTSA reported that 10 major manufacturers have committed to making emergency braking a standard feature. It is estimated that emergency braking systems can reduce rear-end accidents by as much as 35%. These systems have resulted in a measurable decrease of property damage claims.

Now that we have discussed rear-end collision claims in general, let us turn to Florida law on the subject. In Florida, there is a rebuttable presumption that the rear-ending vehicle is at fault when such an accident occurs. In other words, the rear-ending vehicle is deemed to be at fault, unless proven otherwise. The Florida Supreme Court addressed this presumption in Maria Cevallos vs. Kerri Ann, (No. SC09-2239, 2012).  There the Supreme Court of Florida clarified this presumption and stated that, “where evidence is produced from which a jury could conclude that the front driver in a rear-end collision was negligent in bringing about the collision—or that the negligence of the rear driver was not the sole proximate cause of the accident—the presumption that the rear driver’s negligence was the sole proximate cause of the collision is rebutted, and all issues of disputed fact regarding comparative fault and causation should be submitted to the jury. ” (Id). Given the courts previous statement, we must then define comparative fault. Luckily, the State of Florida has provided us with a pertinent statute and definition. Florida pertinent statute is 768.81 and states in part the following, “[i]n a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.”  This means that recovery may be limited by the amount of negligence contributed by each party. For example, a victim may be partially liable and be determined to be 20% at fault. This would mean that the victim would recover 80% of his damages. Florida is a pure comparative State, which means that a victim can recover even if he bears most of the fault. Some States bar recovery even when the victim contributes in a very minor way, this is call pure contributory negligence. Only Four States in the union use the pure contributory negligence standard.

There are some 1,900,000 rear collisions in the U.S.A. About 6.6% of these rear end collisions result in fatalities. Stats show that about 31.7% of rear end collisions result in some type of injury. The types of injuries that can result from a rear end collision vary.  The injuries can vary from light injuries to severe injuries. However, we will leave this topic for another blog. The DRG Firm and its Fort Lauderdale accident lawyers are here to assist and to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 1.888.413.8353.

 

Last week I wrote about accidents caused by apps with augmented reality features. As a Miami injury attorney I relayed the dangers these apps can cause by distracting drivers from their environment. I also touched on the issue of autonomous vehicles, but did not really expand the issue. There are interesting and concerning liability issues concerning autonomous vehicles.

It should be mentioned that autonomous mechanisms also have a tremendous impact on society, as well. I want to note though, that I am in no way criticizing advance, but rather just making observations. It should be noted that jobs that include driving employ a tremendous amount of the male population in the U.S. and around the world. In fact, some companies have already developed the technology to turn trucks into automated vehicles.

In recent years we hear how immigrants are taking away jobs, but these critics fail to see that most jobs have disappeared due to the advent of automation. The immigrant issue seems to be a well organized distraction. For example, a simple AI (artificial intelligence) can answer thousands of calls a day. These phone center jobs use to be a very import source of employment. It goes without saying that automation also reduced the need for many positions on factory floors and this number is increasing because of the evolution of robotics.