Getting injured in a motorcycle accident can be a devastating, life-altering event. In many cases, when a motorcyclist is hit by a car, truck, or SUV, the person on the motorcycle takes the brunt of the damage. This often results in serious injuries like broken bones, lost limbs, spinal cord injuries, and/or brain trauma. In fact, a motorcyclist was 37 times more likely to die in a wreck than someone riding in a passenger car, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In Florida, motor bike operators and their passengers accounted for over 14 percent of all deaths on Florida’s roadways despite being only 7 percent of the motorists on the road in the state, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Read More
You have probably seen the commercials – “We have the cheapest auto insurance around!” and “Don’t let your insurance costs break the bank!” Many auto insurance companies advertise their lowest rate insurance in the hopes of expanding their customer base, but the lowest price policy usually means you are getting the least amount of insurance coverage. And in Florida, the minimum amount of coverage is shockingly low.
Minimum Insurance Coverage in Florida
Florida law only requires Florida residents to have $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage liability. You are required, by law, to purchase this minimum coverage, though you have the option to purchase better coverage.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, which means that if you are seriously hurt in an auto accident, your car insurance should pay your medical costs up to your policy’s limits, regardless of who caused the accident. Your personal injury protection insurance should also cover:
- Your child and other members of your household
- Passengers in your car who do not have their own personal injury protection insurance and do not own a vehicle
- You while you are a passenger in another person’s vehicle
But here is the issue – if you purchase only the minimum amount of insurance coverage mandated by law, you’re exposing yourself to significant liability if you or a loved one is involved in a serious automobile accident.
Summertime equals vacations for countless families across the United States, and the state of Florida is certainly no exception. Some Florida residents may be planning trips to visit friends and family, heading to a beach, or even traveling out of state. Vacationers from other states may be making Florida their destination. One thing is for sure: summer months are seeing a significant increase in traffic on the roadways. The risk of being injured in an accident is present any time one travels, but that risk increases with more vehicles on the road. Read on for important steps drivers can take to ensure their careful attention to the road while driving leads to safer travels for everyone.
All drivers in Florida are required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as part of any automobile insurance policy. Instead of going through the court system, these policies are meant to pay medical bills quickly. Yet the Florida system appears to have multiple problems with fraud, and the Florida Legislature is considering getting rid of the no-fault system.
No-fault automobile insurance began in the 1970s. As advocates explain, “its central idea was that an injured accident victim would simply receive compensation from his or her own insurance company instead of having to show the fault of another driver to recover losses from the other driver’s insurance company.” This insurance scheme was meant to reduce insurance premiums because every case would not have to go through the judicial system to be resolved.
Bicycling is a fun and healthy activity. It is also great transportation with a low carbon footprint. There are cities and towns across America who promote bicycling to reduce petroleum fuel usage and stay fit as a whole community. The State of Florida established the Conserve by Bicycle Program administered by the Department of Transportation.
Conserve by Bicycle Program
The Florida Legislature established the Conserve by Bicycle Program in 2005. The program aims:
To save energy by reducing petroleum-based fuels
To increase cycling to improve community interconnectivity
To reduce traffic congestion
To provide recreational opportunities
To encourage healthy trends to reduce long-term health costs
To provide safe travel to schools for students.Read More
Bicycles are an inexpensive and healthy way to get around. Some people bicycle for relaxation, while others bicycle for competition; and many simply bike for fun. In south Florida, the nice weather allows for bicycling year round, but bicyclists must still be aware of others on the road.
When cycling on roads, there are a variety of precautions an individual can take for safety. The first rule is to have a bicycle that fits the individual. When an individual sits on a bicycle, their feet should touch the ground. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests “there should be 1 to 2 inches between the rider and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if using a mountain bike. The seat should be level front to back, and the height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be level with the seat.”
It is also important that bicycle tires be properly inflated and that the brakes are in proper order. Also, it is imperative that one have a reflector on the back of the seat and reflectors on both wheels. It is also helpful for a cyclist to have a headlight to allow cars to see them. Safe Kids Worldwide suggests that cyclists “wear clothes and accessories that have retro-reflective materials to improve biker visibility to motorists.”
One of the most important safety precautions is to have a proper fitting helmet. The helmet should fit snugly with the front low on the forehead. The side straps form a “v” over the ear and angle towards the chin. Once buckled under the chin, the rider should be able to fit no more than two fingers under the strap. NHTSA has a pamphlet entitled “Fitting a Bike Helmet” giving detailed instructions and pictures.
While using safety gear and being an aware cyclist can protect cyclists from many things, accidents still happen. In February 2012, cyclist Aaron Cohen was hit by a car on the Rickenbacker Causeway and died. The driver fled the scene. Cohen was a triathlete and took safety precautions prior to riding. He knew the rules of the road and followed them.
“Investigators found evidence suggesting [the driver] had been drinking before he struck Cohen. But they were unable to test his blood alcohol level because he drove away.” The driver was sentenced to 364 days in jail for leaving the scene of a crime. If the driver had been found driving drunk, the sentence would have been a minimum of four years.
The cycling community is petitioning for a legislative proposal called the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. This proposal supports “increasing the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident to be more commensurate with penalties for driving under the influence (DUI).”
Take precautions when riding a bicycle. But if you are injured while riding a bicycle, contact our knowledgeable attorneys to assess your situation to determine if you have a case.
The attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, PA. will provide a free, no obligation consultation at our South Florida offices located in Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties. If you are unable to travel, we can see you at your home, hospital, or other location which is convenient for you. Call us at (305) 653-5555 or contact us to schedule your free consultation today.
Americans are known for their love affair with automobiles. The wide fins associated with cars from the 1950s. The muscle cars of the 1970s. The introduction of minivans for soccer moms in the 1980s. Cars today have better braking systems, more safety measures, better fuel economy, and more bells and whistles than ever. Yet there are still lemons out there. Florida had an Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices law addressing vehicles on the books, but the most recent legislative session has updated that law.
Florida law works to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The law has a specific section relating to vehicles. That section was recently updated during this past legislative session. If a person buys a defective car from a dealer, House Bill 55 requires that “a claimant provide a demand letter to the motor vehicle dealer as a condition precedent to initiating civil litigation, including arbitration, against such dealer under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.”Read More
Most people are aware that they can be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt, but what if the one they are wearing does not protect them the way it should?
Seat belts are highly effective at preventing injury or death during an accident, but only if they are well designed and manufactured. Under federal law, you have the right to sue a vehicle manufacturer if a faulty seat belt contributes to personal injuries during an accident.
Real World Connection:
A California lawsuit profiled by the Christian Science Monitor made its way to the Supreme Court and paved the way for other similar claims. As the report says, a Utah woman named Thanh Williamson was fatally injured in August 2002 when the 1993 Mazda MPV Minivan that she was riding in collided with another towed car that broke loose from a motor home. The driver and his daughter, in the front passenger seat, were wearing lap-and-shoulder belts and survived the crash. However, Mrs. Williamson was sitting in the back middle seat, which was equipped with only a lap belt.
Last year, the Florida Supreme Court made an important change to the case law governing rear-end automobile accidents. Traditionally such accidents are presumed to be the fault of the person driving the rear vehicle. This presumption exists because the driver of the forward vehicle generally can’t see what caused a rear-end collision, making it difficult for him or her to present evidence in court, and because the rear-vehicle driver is usually in the best position to avoid the accident. Therefore, since the 1950s, when a front-vehicle driver sues a rear-vehicle driver for a rear-end accident, Florida courts shift the burden of proof to the rear-end driver to rebut the presumption he or she caused the accident.
In 2012, the Florida Supreme Court addressed two cases of the rear-end presumption that produced different legal outcomes in the state’s lower appeals courts. The first case arose from a 2007 accident in Sanford. The passenger in a rear-end motorcycle, Crystal Charron, collided with an automobile driven by Warren Birge. Charron then sued Birge for damages. The trial court granted Birge summary judgment–that is, the case was not even submitted to a jury–based on the presumption that the motorcycle driver, who was not a party to the lawsuit, was at fault.Read More