Common Questions About Florida Car Accidents
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Texting and Driving in Florida
Electronic devices are the biggest cause of distractions for drivers nationwide. In 2016, Florida alone saw roughly 50,000 accidents and 233 fatalities as a result of distracted driving.
In the time it takes to glance at a text message, a driver can travel nearly 300 feet—enough to strike a pedestrian, hit the back of a stopped line of cars, or even veer off the road entirely.
Florida Drivers May Be Ticketed for Texting and Cell Phone Use
In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law strengthening protections against electronic distractions and making texting and driving a primary offense. As of July 1, law enforcement officers may pull over drivers who are texting without any other reason for the traffic stop.
Florida detracted driving laws place specific restrictions on:
- Cell phones. While it's legal for drivers to make and answer calls, all drivers in school zones and construction areas must use hands-free systems in order to talk on the phone. Troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol troopers may begin issuing warnings for cell phone use beginning October 1, 2019 and issue citations for the practice after December 31.
- Texting. It's illegal for drivers in Florida to text while driving. This includes manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a virtual keyboard, hitting a button on a wireless device to send messages, or reading any data off a device while a vehicle is in motion. Drivers face a $30 fine for a first offense, plus court costs; with second and subsequent offenses within five years, there's a $60 fine and an addition of three points to their licenses. Drivers caught texting in a school zone may have two additional points added to their licenses, while motorists whose texting resulted in a crash will have six points added to their licenses.
- Truckers and bus drivers. Operators of trucks and buses are held to a higher standard than other drivers. Both truck and bus drivers are only allowed to use wireless communication devices if they're hands-free, and can be pulled over and charged if they use a handheld electronic device while driving in Florida law without committing another violation. For the first violation, commercial drivers can receive a fine up to $500 and their companies can be charged separate costs up to $2,750. If a driver commits three texting violations or more, he or she can be liable for a $2,750 fine and license suspension for 120 days, while the employer can be fined up to $11,000.
If you've been injured in a distracted driving accident, you should have the incident investigated as soon as possible. A thorough examination can reveal if a driver was using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident, which can significantly affect the amount of damages a victim is awarded.
Our attorneys can help you build a strong injury case and advise you of all of your legal options. Simply fill out the form on this page today to make an appointment in our offices, or call the number on this page to speak to an attorney.
Can I receive damages for pain and suffering after a Florida car crash?
Under the state’s injury laws, Florida victims may be awarded payment for their medical bills as part of their economic losses. However, this isn't what is meant by “pain and suffering.”
Pain and suffering is the legal term for an additional amount of damages that are paid on top of medical and disability costs, and it's up to a jury to decide how much should be awarded in each case.
When Can Florida Victims Be Compensated for Pain and Suffering?
Florida has rules regarding who may and may not be awarded pain and suffering damages in an injury case. As Florida is a no-fault insurance state, drivers are required to file claims with their insurers to collect the costs of an accident, regardless of who caused the crash. If these claims aren't sufficient to cover the costs of injury, an accident victim may sue the at-fault driver or another negligent party whose actions led to the injury.
Under Florida law, victims who seek pain and suffering damages in car accident cases must meet the state’s “injury threshold.” Simply put, in Florida, if you have been in a car accident, you cannot sue for pain and suffering damages unless the crash has resulted in one or more of the following:
- Significant loss of ability to perform a necessary bodily function
- Permanent injury or a permanent aggravation of a pre-existing condition
- Significant and irreversible scarring or disfigurement
Types of Pain and Suffering Damages That Can Be Recovered After a Crash
Victims may be awarded two kinds of damages in car accident cases: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic losses are costs that can be totaled, such as medical bills and lost wages. Pain and suffering awards are a form of non-economic damages, and aren't easy to quantify. Depending on the degree and severity of the injury, the extent of medical treatment, and the impact of the accident on the victim’s life, non-economic damages may range from a few thousand to several million dollars.
Pain and suffering damages may be awarded to compensate a victim for:
- Physical suffering. This is meant to compensate a victim for the trauma at the time of the injury; the pain throughout the recovery process; and any discomfort he or she will suffer in the future.
- Mental anguish. Victims suffer a wide range of psychological effects after an accident. The stress of paying medical bills, the fear and embarrassment of living with physical restrictions, the anger of having to deal with a new problem every day, anxiety and depression throughout recovery, and lingering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can all qualify as emotional pain and suffering.
- Other non-economic loss. Accident victims may sue for the injustice of the accident and inconvenience of having portions of their lives taken away. Common effects of a sudden and traumatic crash include disability, loss of fertility, loss of a family member, and lost enjoyment of life.
A jury has to consider many different factors to determine how much should be paid to an accident victim for his or her suffering. Two people injured in the same crash can be awarded vastly different amounts, depending on their personal circumstances.
For example, a victim who is retired to a wheelchair after the crash, may be awarded a significant sum, if he or she was very active before the accident. On the other hand, a victim who had suffered a pre-existing injury to the same part of the body, may see a reduced award, unless his or her attorney can prove that the damage from the accident played a significant role in her suffering.
We Help Minimize the Difficulties
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we can examine all of the details of your case to maximize the amount of your pain and suffering award. We'll carefully review the change in your activities, career path, medical treatments, family situation, and future prospects, securing the rightful compensation fo you, to put the accident behind you. And we don't collect any fees until your case is won.
Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
What do I have to prove to get compensation for a pedestrian accident in Florida?
It may seem relatively straightforward who is at fault in a pedestrian accident. The driver of a car travels much faster and is far less likely to be injured in a crash, so there's often no question in the victim’s mind that the driver of the car will be seen as responsible for the accident.
Unfortunately, these injury claims are rarely open-and-shut cases that offer quick compensation to pedestrians.
In order to get payment for medical bills and lost income, pedestrians are required to prove that someone else’s actions directly led to their injuries and losses.
What Injured Pedestrians Have to Prove to Recover Damages
In all injury cases, the victim is responsible for providing clear evidence of negligence. Negligence is a legal term that describes an action that a reasonable person in a similar situation wouldn't have done. If someone's negligence caused or contributed to an accident, he or she can be held liable for the costs.
The injury victim must prove four elements to legally establish negligence in a pedestrian crash case:
- The person at fault owed the victim a duty of care. This tenant of an injury case establishes that the negligent party was responsible for acting as safely as possible under the circumstances. If the person at fault is a driver, proof of this duty is contained in state traffic laws that require drivers to be capable and alert at all times.
- The person at fault breached the duty of care. Many actions that fail to uphold the duty of care constitutes negligence, such as driving distracted, speeding, ignoring traffic signs or signals, and driving while intoxicated.
- The at-fault party’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries. Negligence in itself isn't enough to win a claim. The breach of care must have directly led to the injuries the pedestrian suffered. For example, texting at the time of the crash may be a direct cause, but sending a text three minutes before the accident is likely not a cause of the crash.
- The victim suffered actual harm. Victims must provide evidence of the economic losses they suffered as a result of their injuries, such as financial hardship, increased medical bills, permanent disability, and other costs.
Who Should Be Held Liable for a Pedestrian’s Injuries?
The legal process for proving negligence can go a long way to determining who's at fault for the accident. In the majority of cases, pedestrians file injury claims against the driver of the car that struck them. However, there are many other parties who could have played a role in the accident, including:
- The local municipality. In some cases, a city government may share responsibility for a crash. Public entities may be liable for accidents involving poorly-placed crosswalks, malfunctioning traffic control devices, ineffective sidewalk or parking lot maintenance, and other safety hazards.
- A product manufacturer. You may be able to file a product liability claim if a malfunctioning device caused you to veer into the path of oncoming traffic, such as a scooter or skateboard.
- Insurance companies. Victims often rely on their insurance providers to pay for medical bills after a pedestrian accident. As Florida is a no-fault insurance state, the pedestrian may exhaust his or her policy and pursue a claim on the driver’s insurance policy. These claims are often met with resistance, and may require a lawsuit to get proper compensation.
- Another person or entity. A pedestrian usually doesn't have a right to enter the street outside of a crosswalk. If someone was struck because he or she couldn't use the crosswalk, the case may name additional parties that made safe sidewalk travel impossible. For example, you may take action against a driver or passing cyclist that forced you off the curb, a restaurant owner whose tables blocked the sidewalk and forced you to walk in the road, or a construction company that didn't reroute pedestrian traffic during road repairs.
- The pedestrian. Pedestrians who contribute in some way to their injuries may be assigned a portion of negligence. In Florida, victims can share negligence and still win the injury case, but their damages will be reduced by their percentage of blame for the crash.
If you're struggling after a pedestrian accident, we can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve—and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation with an attorney.
What should I do if I was hit while walking and the driver took off?
Florida is one of the most beautiful places to walk and bike in the nation. While pedestrians can enjoy the health benefits of traveling without a vehicle year-round, they are also at particular risk of hit and run accidents. Thousands of people are struck and injured every year by drivers who speed away, leaving the victim to pay for his injury costs.
Steps to Take if You Were Hit by a Car While Walking in Florida
Any accident that involves a driver failing to stop after striking someone else can be considered a hit and run collision. Cars may collide with pedestrians, and also people traveling on scooters, bicycles, skateboards, or other modes of non-vehicular transport.
Unfortunately, Florida sidewalks are often built close to the roadway, placing pedestrians at risk of accidents when they are next to the road as well as in crosswalks.
If you or someone you love is struck by a car while walking, it's vital you do the following as soon as possible:
- Report the crime to the police. Florida law carries high penalties for offenders in hit and run injury cases. A driver who leaves the scene of an accident, and has caused an injury, may be charged with a felony, face jail time, heavy fines. The sooner the collision is reported, the better chance a police officer will tracking down the driver—improving the odds of getting compensation for your injuries.
- Get medical attention. Don’t take the risk of going home after the accident: go to the hospital immediately. Even at low speeds, a pedestrian accident can result in significant physical, financial, and emotional losses. Adults may suffer broken bones or head injuries that cause them to lose months away from work, while accidents involving children or the elderly may result in permanent disability or death.
- Speak with an accident lawyer. The best way for victims and their families to get compensation after these kinds of accidents is to speak with a personal injury attorney. In order to prove your case, you will need to gather evidence, give statements, and total your medical costs and financial losses accurately. We can examine the circumstances of the crash, tell you what to expect in your case, and work to protect your rights as you take the time you need to heal.
Ways to Pay for Medical Costs After a Pedestrian Accident
If the driver who struck you is never found, there are still many payment options available to you. Other ways to get compensation after a pedestrian accident in Florida include:
- The Crimes Compensation Trust Fund. This fund is paid to victims of crimes, or their survivors, who are struggling financially after an injury. In order to be eligible, victims must have reported the crime to police within 72 hours of the event. Individuals must also apply to the Florida Bureau of Victim Compensation within one year of the accident.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Victims of pedestrian accidents may claim compensation from their auto insurance, even if they weren't driving at the time of the crash. While all Florida drivers are required to carry PIP insurance, the coverage usually only provides up to $10,000, which may not be enough to cover the costs of a pedestrian’s injuries.
- Uninsured motorist insurance. Drivers who have selected uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of their auto policies can get additional compensation if they are struck while walking.
As the options for compensation in these cases will vary depending on the individual circumstances, it's a good idea to meet with an attorney after a hit and run pedestrian accident. Your lawyer can go through your various insurance policies to determine the best way to get maximum coverage for your injury costs.
Our law firm works on a contingency-fee basis, so we do not collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation with an attorney.
What evidence can be used in a Florida car accident case?
Most people aren’t thinking about protecting their injury claims in the moments after a car accident. Victims are often shaken and just want to go home, or are taken away from the scene by an ambulance while they're not yet conscious.
While receiving medical treatment is the most important thing you can do after a crash, collecting evidence to help your case should be the next thing on your agenda.
7 Pieces of Evidence You Need for Your Florida Crash Case
Whether you're filing a case in court or filing a claim with the insurance company, it's vital that you gather as much evidence as possible. The more documentation you have to support your losses, the more likely you are to get a settlement that covers your injuries and property damages.
Strong evidence in a car accident case includes:
- Police reports. Law officers are required to fill out an accident report whenever they attend to an accident scene. You may have to pay a fee for a copy of the police report, but the cost is usually minimal—and it's worth it, if the police officer made any observations that help your case. Insurers know that it's difficult to refute the word of a police officer at the scene, so if the officer’s report says you aren’t at fault, you have a good chance at compensation.
- Photographs. Pictures are invaluable to your case because they present an impartial view of the facts. There's no limit to the items that may be photographed, but common photos include the position of the vehicles after the crash, the damage done to both vehicles, the appearance of skid marks, the position of road signs and traffic lights, and photos of your injuries.
- Eyewitnesses. If you were unconscious at the time of the crash, the police report may include the names and contact information of the other driver as well as any witnesses that were at the scene. Any one of these people may be called to give their testimony regarding what they saw at the crash scene.
- Medical records. Your medical information is key to getting fair compensation for your injuries. You should have copies of all of your medical bills, including receipts for amounts both due and paid. You should also have copies of medical procedures, scans, tests, and treatment beginning on the day of the crash to the current date.
- Work absence records. If you've been unable to work as a result of your injuries, you will need proof of the days you have taken off of work as well as proof of lost benefits, such as lost sick days, bonuses, or opportunities for advancement.
- Property damage estimates. It's important to have all records relating to the damage to your vehicle, not just a repair estimate and car rental receipt. Some supporting evidence many people overlook is documentation of the condition of the vehicle before the crash, such as recent upgrades or improvements that increased the value of the car. Car maintenance records can also help prove that your car was in good working order and the crash wasn't caused by a problem with your vehicle.
- Items from the day of the crash. If your case goes to court, personal items may be admitted as evidence to show the extent of your loss, such as clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident, or the recording of your 911 call.
Strong evidence in your case is not only required to prove you weren't at fault, but also impact how much you're awarded in your claim. A forgotten out-of-pocket expense will leave you with less than you deserve for your medical costs, while doubt regarding fault may cost you thousands in pain and suffering damages.
Your Best Asset: An Experienced Attorney
The best way to gather evidence after a car accident is to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Our legal team can preserve information that may otherwise have been destroyed, work with accident reconstructionists to recreate the scene, or call expert witnesses to give testimony on your behalf.
Fill out the contact form on this page today to set up your consultation with an injury attorney. We work on a contingency-fee basis, so you will not have to pay our firm anything until you receive compensation.
What are the most common causes of Florida car accidents?
Nearly every American will be involved in a car accident at some point in his or her life. While it's the responsibility of every driver to stay safe on the road, many people engage in risky or even outright dangerous behaviors that place them and others at risk.
By learning the most common threats to road safety, drivers and passengers can recognize danger early on, and maybe even prevent an accident before it happens.
Driver Actions and Other Common Factors in U.S. Road Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has performed numerous studies on car accident causes over the years. Each year, driver error is by far the biggest single cause of car accidents nationwide, with a much smaller percentage of accidents caused by vehicle malfunction or adverse road conditions.
Those statistics are right in line with what happens on Florida's roadways as well. The most likely factors that lead to car accidents include:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving has been on the rise since the invention of smartphones, with as many as one in four auto accidents involving some level of distraction. Cell phone use is the biggest distraction, including talking on the phone, checking email and social media, or texting while driving. If a driver doesn't notice the lights change, hits the brakes suddenly, or is holding one hand up to his face, stay well clear of his vehicle in traffic—and of course, resist the urge to use your phone.
- Impaired driving. While alcohol and drug use is less prevalent than distracted driving, it's still a leading factor in accidents that involve fatalities. Drinking and use of illegal drugs or prescription medications can decrease reaction times, impair judgment and vision, and even cause hallucinations. If you see someone acting erratically on the road, always report the behavior to police. Your actions could stop the impaired driver from causing a crash.
- Drowsy driving. Drowsy driving carries many of the same risks as driving under the influence. While it's not illegal to drive while fatigued, tired drivers place both themselves and others at risk if they fall asleep while driving. Even if they don't fall completely asleep, their comprehension and motor skills are still impaired. Beware of drivers who “drift” in and out of lanes, as this is a common sign of fatigue.
- Reckless driving. Reckless driving is a combination of risky or illegal maneuvers that increase the likelihood of an accident. Aggressive actions such as speeding, tailgating, or “chasing” other cars due to road rage can be considered reckless, as can running a red light or engaging in street racing. A driver can be held liable for an accident if he or she was traveling too fast for weather conditions, such as a downpour or heavy fog, even if the driver was within the posted speed limit.
- Unsafe lane changes. Many accidents on the freeway are a direct result of unsafe lane changing, such as late merging or failing to signal a lane change. These types of accidents can also occur on city streets, in traffic circles, and anywhere two lanes of traffic flow in the same direction. The majority of these accidents can be prevented by leaving plenty of space between vehicles, leaving enough time to complete the lane change safely, and checking mirrors and blind spots before proceeding into the desired lane.
- Road conditions. Even if all road users are driving as safely as possible, they're still at the mercy of the road surfaces and driving conditions around them. City and state governments have a duty to make all public areas as safe as possible, including the roads drivers use every day. Potholes, oil slicks, spilled gravel, dangerous curves, road debris, and other hazards can easily cause a driver to blow out a tire or lose control of the vehicle.
- Car defects. From the design of your vehicle to the different components installed in its many systems, automobiles have an almost limitless potential for malfunction. If your car wasn't performing properly before or during a crash, the manufacturer could be held liable for selling a dangerous or defective product.
We Can Help
If you need help after a car accident, we can get you the compensation you deserve—and you won't have to pay our firm anything until you receive compensation. Fill out the contact form on this page today to set up your consultation with an injury attorney.
How much is my Florida car accident claim worth?
Many accident victims want to know how much they could receive if they proceed with a car accident claim. The amount of compensation depends on your losses. The amount of your losses make the difference between filing an insurance claim and filing an injury lawsuit.
Since losses vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case, it literally pays to accurately calculate how much your life has been affected by the crash.
Types of Compensable Losses in a Florida Crash Claim
While no victim can completely predict how much compensation they'll receive in a car accident case, they may be able to estimate the range of compensation available in each category of loss.
When totaling the costs of your claim, remember to account for:
Past and future medical bills
Medical costs of an accident can quickly soar into the tens of thousands, especially if a victim needs ongoing care. Everything from emergency medical treatment and initial hospital stays to prescriptions and follow up appointments should be factored into the total, as well as a doctor’s estimate of your future treatment costs.
It's common for injury victims to miss work for several weeks after a crash, and they often have limitations on the amount they can earn while they recover. Lost wages should include:
- All time spent off work due to the accident
- Any money lost due to working part time because of injury limitation
- Work missed to attend doctor’s appointments
- All wages you are likely to lose in the future due to the effects of the accident
If you are unable to work at all for the rest of your life, the total amount of your lost income is typically estimated by taking your annual earnings and multiplying by the number of years you have left until retirement age. This amount is adjusted for inflation, raises and bonuses, and cost-of-living adjustments.
The damage to your vehicle can make up a significant portion of your claim. When your car is damaged in a Florida crash, you have the right to choose a body shop and have your vehicle repaired with "like" kind and condition parts. You can also hold the at-fault driver accountable for the cost of a rental car, as well as for the time that you were without a vehicle due to the accident.
If the cost to repair your vehicle is more than 80 percent of its fair market value, your insurer can declare the vehicle a "total" loss. In this case, the at-fault driver can be on the hook for some or all of the value of the totaled vehicle, as well as any other personal property—such as eyeglasses, electronics, car seats, stereos, or luggage—that were lost or damaged in the crash.
If you needed to make changes in your living situation due to the accident, you can claim the costs of these expenses. These may include installing a wheelchair ramp, hiring visiting nurses or caregivers, moving into a one-floor home, or moving into a 24-hour care facility.
Permanent physical effects
Long-term or permanent effects of an accident can have financial and psychological consequences for a victim. Permanent disability may often lead to depression, while scarring or disfigurement can significantly impact a victim’s career options and earning capacity. It's best to have an experienced injury attorney calculate the full impact of these losses.
Non-economic damages, also called punitive damages, are an amount above and beyond the exact dollar amount that you paid or will pay for the accident. The court will assign these based on its impression of the suffering you've endured, whether the accident forced you to change your regular activities, effect on your marriage or relationships, and your overall quality of life. The judge may assign further punitive damages to compensate you for the other driver’s negligence, such as if the other driver was drunk or texting at the time of the crash.
We Can Help
If you need help calculating your losses after a crash, we can provide a personalized assessment of your case at no cost to you. From your first consultation to the conclusion of your case, you won't have to pay our firm until you receive compensation. Fill out the contact form on this page today to have us begin an investigation into your accident claim.
What are the most common kinds of car accident injuries?
Car accidents happen so frequently, it's nearly impossible to find someone whose life hasn't been affected by a crash. Even when an accident doesn't cause serious injury, it can still result in the loss of a vehicle or time off of work to recover from the strain.
The good news is that most accidents are entirely preventable—and just knowing how they're most likely to occur can help you avoid a crash before it happens.
Different Types of Car Accidents Can Cause a Wide Range of Injuries
The most frequent crash scenario by far is the rear-end accident. One car is following another too closely, and the lead car suddenly stops, forcing the following car directly into the back end. In these accidents, the most common injury sustained by the driver and passengers in the lead car is whiplash. The driver of the following car is almost always determined to be at fault.
After rear-end collisions, the most common kinds of car accidents fall into the following categories:
- Left turn accidents. Accidents tend to occur in intersections or anywhere cars may cross paths. The most common example is the left turn accident, where a driver attempts to make a left turn in the path of a driver going straight through the intersection. Common front-end damages for drivers and passengers in the crash include facial injuries or chest trauma from front airbags, and broken bones if the cross impact was severe and they're not protected by side airbags.
- Head-on collisions. These happen when two vehicles strike each other on the front, usually because one or both drivers veer out of their travel lanes. Head-on crashes cause serious injuries and are often fatal, especially since motorists in these accidents tend to travel at high speeds.
- Side-impact accidents. These collisions are also known as “broadside” or "T-bone" accidents, as the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another. A left-turn accident is a type of side-impact crash. Most side impact crashes are due to driver inattention or speeding, and both behaviors make injuries more likely.
- Sideswipe accidents. Any traffic situation that requires vehicles to travel close to one another has the potential to cause an accident. Merging is especially dangerous, as it may force cars to “line up” while traveling at high speeds, increasing the risk of a sideswipe collision. Two cars that collide while traveling in the same direction can cause body damage to the vehicles and soft-tissue injuries for both drivers—and more serious injuries can occur if one of the drivers loses control.
- Single-vehicle crashes. These happen when a car runs off the road, strikes a tree, or spins out on ice or gravel. While a driver is generally assumed to be at fault for this type of crash, he or she may still be able to file a claim against a municipal entity or construction company if the road wasn't properly cleared of debris, and such conditions contributed to the accident.
- Multi-vehicle accidents. A multi-vehicle collision can involve many different individual kinds of crashes and injuries. These kinds of accidents usually occur on highways or in densely-populated areas, and they carry unique complications due to the various types of vehicles involved and the number of victims. Rescue workers may also have trouble reaching victims in the middle of the pile-up, while a fire from one vehicle can quickly spread throughout the crash area. Vehicles involved in these accidents are sometimes hit multiple times, further increasing the risk of injury.
Getting Help If You've Been Injured
While the type of car accident can affect the range and seriousness of injuries, there are many other factors that might determine how much a car accident case will be worth. If the driver who struck you was speeding, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or texting before the crash, the driver can be held liable for negligence and you could recover a significant amount for your injuries.
Fill out the contact form on this page today to have us begin an investigation into your accident claim.
Am I required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Florida?
While it may be legal for some people to ride motorcycles without helmets in Florida, it's a good idea for riders to wear helmets at all times.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that bikers without helmets are 15 percent more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries, and roughly twice as likely to suffer fatal head injuries, after an accident than helmeted riders.
With that being said, state law only requires riders who are under the age of 21 to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. This state law is compliant with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Riders over the age of 21 may operate or ride motorcycles without helmets as long as they're covered under an insurance policy that offers at least $10,000 in injury benefit protection.
In addition, Florida law requires riders of all ages to wear eye protection such as goggles or face shields while operating a motorcycle, even the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield. Sunglasses and prescription glasses are usually not considered adequate to meet the eye protection requirement.
License Requirements for Florida Motorcyclists
Proper training and licensing is essential in the prevention of Florida motorcycle accidents. Florida has strict licensing and road skills assessment requirements for any person wishing to operate a two or three wheeled motorcycle with an engine size greater than 50cc. Motorcycle operators may be obtain a license by achieving and maintaining a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s licenses or by holding a Motorcycle Only license.
In general, motorcyclists need to compete the following to be legally licensed in Florida:
- Florida driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement. Drivers who wish to add a motorcycling endorsement to their licenses must hold at least a valid Class E operator’s license, as well as pass the Basic Rider Course (BRC), offered through the Florida Rider Training Program, with an authorized sponsor. These courses involve on-cycle riding sessions to practice road safety techniques and cover a variety of programs on gauging the riding environment, understanding hazards, and avoiding crashes. A motorcycle endorsement can be added to a license within one year of successful completion of the BRC.
- Motorcycle Only license. By state law, no person under 16 can legally operate or obtain a license to operate a motorcycle, moped, motorized scooter, motorized bicycle, or any other two or three wheel motor vehicle on Florida street or highways. In addition, anyone who is at least 16 but under 18, will have to hold a Learner’s License for at least one year, with no traffic convictions, before applying for motorcycle licensing. If you are over 16, you must pass the same road knowledge test that is necessary for a regular Class E driver license, and you must complete the BRC with an authorized sponsor. When the BRC is successfully completed, you must report the completion of the course and show your state-issued ID to a driver’s license office. You will need to pay any required vehicle or endorsement fees before your Motorcycle Only license can be issued, and the license will be restricted to operating motorcycles.
- Motorcycle endorsement on a driver’s license issued by another state. If your driver’s license was issued by a state other than Florida and is endorsed for motorcycle operation, Florida will recognize the endorsement automatically. The only exception is for holders of Alabama licenses with motorcycle endorsements, who must provide proof of completion of a Motorcycle Safety Foundation BRC, or complete the BRC, before the motorcycle endorsement is considered valid.
Although many motorcyclists take every hill and corner with the utmost care, motorcyclists are often surrounded by drivers who may not practice the same diligent safety precautions. If you or someone you love has been involved in a motorcycle accident, our aggressive legal team can take over the case while you take the time you need to recover. Simply fill out the form on this page today to make an appointment in our offices.
Why do I need an injury attorney with truck accident experience?
In the days and weeks after a semi-truck accident, victims are forced to struggle with overwhelming physical and financial demands. They may be coping with extensive injuries, have trouble collecting fair payment from an insurance company, or even have lost a family member in the crash. When it becomes clear that a person needs a legal advisor to get proper compensation, he is then faced with an important decision: which accident attorney should represent him?
The Importance of Choosing an Injury Attorney with Truck Accident Experience
Crash injury cases are normally complicated, but are even more so when commercial trucks are involved. In order to be fully compensated for your losses, your legal team must have the experience needed to win these types of claims—and the attorney you choose for representation can make or break your case.
Your truck crash attorney should be well-versed in the details of these kinds of cases, including:
- Trucking regulations. Trucking companies must adhere to federal regulations on the condition and proper operation of their vehicles. Improper maintenance, cost-cutting measures, and failure to properly screen and train drivers can also constitute negligence. Your attorney should be familiar with these laws as well as the penalties for breaking them, in order to negotiate a fair settlement.
- Commercial insurance companies. Payment for truck accident injuries will usually be made by the trucking company’s insurer. These commercial insurance carriers are paid based on their ability to save the company money, may use underhanded tactics to deny or underpay claims. Your lawyer must know how to negotiate with commercial insurance companies and handle a claim against a powerful defendant.
- Loading requirements. In some cases, accidents may be caused by cargo loaded by a truck driver and hauled in the semi, or another party may have loaded the trailer. A truck loaded beyond capacity or not loaded securely could make the rig unbalanced, causing cargo to spill into the road where it strikes a car. A lawyer's full understanding of loading and commercial transport laws is vital to a truck crash case.
- Third party claims. Some accidents are caused not by trucking company negligence, but the fault of a product manufacturer, government agency, or other entity. Just as a loading company may share fault for causing a crash, the maker of defective tires or brakes, or a city government that didn't address dangerous road conditions, may be held liable for an accident.
- Hours of service requirements. Truck driver fatigue is a major cause of Florida trucking accidents. Although there are strict regulations on the length of time a driver can spend behind the wheel, truckers and their employers often disregard them, in order to make more deliveries. Your attorney should make a full investigation into the trucker’s driving logs, driving history, and company policies regarding mandatory breaks and non-driving time.
- Crash scene investigation. Trucking companies and their insurers gather evidence and investigate the scene immediately after a crash. They have procedures in place to reduce their liability and limit the financial recovery of people injured in the crash, and get started before the victims have even left the hospital. Your attorney must immediately conduct a crash scene investigation on your behalf, this includes requesting any evidence collected by the opposition, and issue a spoliation letter to preserve evidence.
- Proving the extent of your injuries. A collision with a semi-truck is more likely to cause severe injuries than with another passenger car. Your attorney should be able to accurately total the amount of damages you are owed, including your past medical bills, damage to your vehicle, lost income, future medical or disability costs, and a fair amount for the pain and suffering you have endured. If you've lost a loved one, your attorney should build a strong claim to recover compensation for the family’s loss and to punish the trucking company for any wrongdoing that led to an untimely death.
From collecting evidence to filing your claim, we have the legal experience it takes to get you fair compensation for your truck accident case. Our attorneys can take over the fight on your behalf and will advise you of all of your legal options while you focus on your recovery. Simply fill out the form on this page today to make an appointment in our offices.
Can I sue a bar for over serving a drunk driver in Florida?
Many people assume that a drunk driver is the only person responsible for causing a DUI accident.
However, there are a few third parties that can be held liable for drunk driving accidents in Florida, such as the person or establishment that provided alcohol to the driver.
Dram Shop Liability for Drunk Driving in Florida
Florida allows claims against businesses that serve alcohol to certain persons under a provision known as "dram shop" laws. However, not all third parties who provide alcohol can be held liable for the costs of an alcohol-related accident.
For instance, different liability rules apply to:
- Bars and restaurants. Florida's dram shop law differs from other state’s laws, because in Florida, it doesn't specifically prohibit an establishment from serving alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated. Instead, the law focuses on a bar’s liability for serving alcohol to anyone under age 21, as well as the establishment knowingly providing alcohol to someone who's "habitually addicted" to alcohol.
In both cases, the bar or restaurant could be held liable for injuries caused by intoxicated minors or drunk drivers with known addictions. This exception is based on the assumption that alcoholic drivers lack the ability to make safe and responsible decisions about drinking, and the operator serving the driver assumes that responsibility. The law even allows the drunk driver himself to collect injury and property damages from the bar that served him, as long as the bartender or provider of alcohol was aware of the driver’s alcohol dependence.
- Liquor stores. Establishing accident liability for a liquor store, grocery store, or another vendor of closed containers of alcohol is particularly difficult, since it's harder to establish fault for products that aren't consumed immediately after purchase. However, Florida businesses that sell beer, wine, and spirits to minors or people with a known history of addiction to alcohol can be held liable just as proprietors of bars and restaurants can. In the case of minors, a bar or liquor store may be held strictly liable for damages caused by the drunk-driving minor, even if the establishment was unaware the person was a minor at the time of sale.
- Social hosts. Hosts of parties or participants in social gatherings cannot be held liable for any injuries caused by drunk driving unless they willingly and knowingly provide alcohol to a minor. If alcohol is given to or accessed by a person under 21 at a private gathering, the host or property owner can face fines and civil damages as well as criminal charges.
A successful dram shop claim can provide victims and their families with many different kinds of compensation. A bar or restaurant can be held liable for the costs of emergency room care, surgery, inpatient hospital stays, rehabilitation, medications, and in-home assistive care. In addition, a business may have to pay for the victim’s lost wages, future disability expenses, lost or damaged property, and funds to compensate the victim for unnecessary pain and suffering.
What Recourse Do You Have?
In order to get payment for injuries and property losses, victims have to prove that the business was aware of the circumstances in which it was providing alcohol to a minor or addicted driver, and that the actions of the waiter or bartender directly led to the accident. The victim or his family must also file a claim within the time limit allowed for Florida injury claims, otherwise the case won't be heard by the court and the victims will lose their right to legal action. Victims only have four years from the date of injury to bring a case against a dram shop—and unfortunately, evidence is often destroyed in the days and weeks following the accident.
If you're considering filing a drunk driving case, it's best to speak with our attorneys as quickly as possible. Simply fill out the form on this page today to make an appointment in our offices, or call the number on this page to speak to an attorney about your legal options.
- Bars and restaurants. Florida's dram shop law differs from other state’s laws, because in Florida, it doesn't specifically prohibit an establishment from serving alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated. Instead, the law focuses on a bar’s liability for serving alcohol to anyone under age 21, as well as the establishment knowingly providing alcohol to someone who's "habitually addicted" to alcohol.
Compensation for Diminished Value in a Florida Car Accident Claim
As a Florida driver, you know how important it is to carry an adequate amount of car insurance. It's required by law, and buying the best coverage you can afford will also help you get medical care and insurance payments for property damage after an accident.
Unfortunately, there are some situations in which insurance won't be enough to cover your losses after a crash.
For instance, if you were struck while driving your brand-new car, the car will now have an accident history. Even if the repairs are excellent and the car still looks brand-new, it was involved in a collision, which can take thousands of dollars off of the resale value. In these cases, a diminished value claim can help drivers collect the difference between the original price and post-accident price of their vehicles.
Getting Compensation in a Diminished Value Claim
Florida law allows drivers to recover the difference between a car’s pre-crash value and its value after repairs from an insurer. Our attorneys only represent clients in diminished value claims when handling a car accident claim that has caused personal injuries.
Compensation for the lost value of your car depends on the following factors:
- Fault. In Florida, you can only seek compensation for diminished value from an at-fault driver's insurance company. If you are found to be at fault for the accident, you won't be able to pursue a diminished value claim against your policy.
- Time limits. Florida drivers have four years from the date of accident to file a diminished value claim against an at-fault driver.
- Appraisals. You'll need an accurate appraisal of the car’s value both before the accident and after the repairs have been done. An experienced appraiser uses a variety of metrics to determine the amount of value a vehicle has lost, including an analysis of the auto market in your area, inspection of the collision damage, and thorough knowledge of how damage history affects auto depreciation. Since most used cars are sold to dealers, it's helpful to obtain a trade-in value letter from several car dealers with an estimate of the value of your car. The dealership should also state the reasons why your car is valued at that trade-in price, drawing a clear line from an accident history to a lower retail value.
- Evidence. There are many ways to prove the loss in value of your vehicle. For example, if the repairs didn't restore the car to its exact condition before the crash, you must show adequate evidence to support this, such as copies of work orders outlining which parts were used and how they affect a car’s performance. If the car doesn't look the same, you should have photos of mismatched paint, gaps in seals, and other aesthetic differences.
Get The Right Legal Help For Your Florida Accident
Insurance companies often fight car accident claims, denying a driver’s right to recover for their injuries or lowballing the amount of equity that has been lost. If our attorneys are handling your personal injury claim, we can inspect vehicles, review your repair documents, draft demand letters to insurance companies, and fight for your rights in court. Let us maximize the value of your car wreck claim and deal with the insurance company on your behalf. If you have been injured in a wreck and concerned about getting fair compensation for your injuries and the damage done to your vehicle, contact us today for an evaluation of your car accident case.