Articles Posted in Car Accident Laws

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Between 2013 and 2014, the number of hit and run accidents in Florida increased from approximately 77,000 to about 84,000. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, hit and run collisions in Miami and other cities is increasing, and the numbers are already dangerously high. The department had made a commitment to addressing the problem by raising awareness around the issue and stepping up enforcement.

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The Florida Highway Patrol reports that many hit and run drivers leave the scene of the accident because:

  • They are not licensed to drive
  • They are driving with a suspended license
  • They have no insurance
  • They are not eligible for insurance or a license
  • They are driving drunk or drugged
  • They have outstanding warrants
  • They do not want to pay for insurance increases

No matter what the reason, leaving the scene of an accident is against the law, and authorities are working to find drivers who are involved in hit and run collisions. Details of these cases is published online and in the media so that the public can come forward with information. In addition, body shops are also sometimes able to provide clues that can help police catch these drivers.

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Insurance is meant to protect you financially if you are ever in a car crash in Homestead or another community. You pay insurance premiums to an insurance carrier so that in the event of a car accident you can get compensation for catastrophic medical costs, car repair expenses, lost wages, and other expenses. Insurance coverage is the law in Florida and you must be covered if you are a driver.

You may expect that in the event of a car or truck collision in Homestead or your community insurance laws will protect you, but this is not necessarily the case. There are a number of laws that can actually make it harder for you to get compensation for your injuries.

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For example, in January of last year a number of changes were made to car insurance “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage in Florida. The changes require survivors of car accidents to file PIP claims within 14 days of the accident in order to get compensation. The new rules also require treatment for the injuries to be permitted by a chiropractor, dentist, doctor, paramedic or other accepted provider. Injuries not treated within 14 days by an acceptable health care provider could be denied.

As many patients and personal injury attorneys in Homestead and other Florida cities noted, the new PIP rules were problematic for three main reasons:

•Many injuries are not treated within 14 days because it can take longer than that for a proper diagnosis to be made. In the case of soft tissue injuries and other serious injuries, symptoms take some time to develop.

•Some injuries require treatment by a practitioner not on the “approved” list. Some survivors of a serious traffic crash, for example, may need the services of a therapist. Someone who has suffered a burn injury may need to get skin grafts and may need the services of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. The new PIP rules also do not allow massage therapy or acupuncture to be covered, even though studies have shown that both these options can help injured car survivors deal with chronic pain.

•Someone who is severely injured in a car or truck accident may not be well enough within in 14 days to submit a claim.

Despite these concerns, the PIP changes were made, largely because insurance fraud in the state was costing Florida an estimated $1 billion per year. The new laws are intended to limit fraud. Unfortunately, they also can limit law-abiding drivers’ rights to fair compensation. While the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation forecasts that the new laws will slash car insurance premiums by 13.2 percent due to a smaller number of fraudulent cases, so far premiums have not dropped this much. The Office of Insurance Regulation notes that the number of fraudulent and suspicious cases in the state has already dropped in the year that the law has been in force.

If you have been injured in a car accident in South Florida, make sure that you are protected. Speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the collision to make sure that you have the best chances for compensation. If negligence played a role in the accident, you may find that filing a legal claim rather than seeking an insurance claim can secure fairer compensation. Alternatively, your attorney may be able to negotiate with the insurance company for a fairer amount.

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Representatives of the AAA have stated that Florida has the weakest child passenger safety legislation of all states. Obviously, this is not a distinction that our state wants, and the AAA has urged Florida to pass new rules that would require children to stay in proper safety restraint systems.

Current Florida laws require that parents and guardians keep children up to three years old in car seats. The problem is that children who are four years of age or older are not required by law to be placed age-appropriate safety restraints. The law simply requires them to wear a safety belt.

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According to the AAA and other safety experts, there are a number of problems with the law. The key problem, of course, is that if a child is in the car when a vehicle is in a serious car accident in Hollywood or another community, their chance of injury or death is much higher if they are not in proper safety restraints. While parents still have the option of keeping their children in age-appropriate safety systems past age three, many safety experts state that passing a law mandating the use of these systems would go a long way towards ensuring that children are safe in cars.

A third issue, according to the AAA and other experts is that the law states that children should wear safety belts after age four. This can be very dangerous for children, since seat belts are designed for adults and not children. Children who are restrained by a seat belt in a traffic collision in Hollywood or another community may suffer from lacerations, head injuries, and other injuries. A seat belt may also fail to properly restrain in them in the event of a broadside collision, head-on impact, or other type of crash, potentially leading to life-threatening injuries.

The AAA would like to see the state pass legislation that would mandate children be kept in appropriate safety seats up to age seven. Already, Senator Anitere Flores and Representatives Keith Perry have suggested legislation that would toughen up Florida’s laws. Experts and legislators have noted that the new law would help improve traffic safety, an especially important concern since traffic accidents are the leading cause of child injury in Hollywood and Florida – not to mention the leading cause of death among children.

In the meantime, parents can and should take a moment to ensure that their children are protected in the car with the appropriate safety restraints. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the AAA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should use a five point harness car seat until they grow out of it by weight or height. These seats provide the highest level of protection in a crash. Children who no longer use car seat should use a booster seat until they grow to at least 4’9”, which usually occurs at about ages 8 through 12. A booster seat elevates a child so that the seat belt fits them correctly and protects them in the event of a collision.

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Unfortunately, Florida is not known for being especially pedestrian-friendly or bicycle-friendly. Despite the wonderful weather, many people choose to get around by car rather than by foot or bicycle and this has resulted in many pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Hollywood and across the state.

Florida laws, however, have been passed to make the streets safer for everyone. For example, the law requires motorists to stay at least three feet away from bicyclists. They are also supposed to treat bicycles like other cars on the roads, giving them their own lane in areas where a separate bike lane is not provided.

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Unfortunately, not all motorists follow the law and many safety experts say that motorist aggression and negligence leads to many serious car collisions in Hollywood involving bicycles. Common causes for these accidents include:

•Failure to yield right of way
•Trying to squeeze by bicycles rather than waiting for bicycles to pass
•Trying to share lanes with bicyclists
•Tailgating
•Entering bicycles lanes
•Drunk driving
•Distracted driving
Better enforcement of driving rules and better education of drivers could help reduce traffic accidents in Hollywood and other communities. In the meantime, bicyclists can take a few steps to reduce their own risk of collisions and injuries:

1) Always wear a helmet. For bicyclists in Hollywood, brain injuries are one of the leading causes of bicycle-accident fatalities. Wearing a helmet can greatly improve your chances of surviving a crash. It is important to wear one each time you hop on your bike, even if you are just going a short distance. Buy a quality, well-fitted helmet and wear is properly each time. Browse until you find a helmet you like. If you don’t like the look of traditional helmets, there are now invisible helmets that fit around the neck.

2) Stay visible. Motorists may not be looking for bikes and may not notice you, so do all you can to make yourself seen. That may include wearing highly-visible clothing, especially at night or in bad weather. You can also make your bicycle more visible with lights and reflectors. Even with all these precautions, though, make eye contact with the motorists sharing the road with you – often, it is the best way to ensure that a motorist has really seen you.

3) Don’t assume that motorists will do the right thing.
Everyone on the road is expected to follow the law, but not everyone does. Unfortunately, many drivers follow too closely behind bikes, run red lights, and take other risks. When you are on your bike, you are more vulnerable, so it is even more important to drive defensively and to consider the movements and actions of the drivers around you.

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Who is responsible for a car accident in Hollywood that is caused by a text message? Is it the driver who chances looking at the message when their eyes should be on the road? Is it legislators who have not made texting and driving illegal in Florida? Is it the maker of the mobile device?

According to New Jersey, the person sending the text may be held at least partly at fault in these types of cases. State appeals court judges in that state have determined that senders of text messages can be held responsible for an accident if they know they are sending a text to someone who is driving.

The ruling came about as a result of a 2009 accident in which two teens were texting when one of them crashed his truck into a couple on a motorcycle. The couple sued the two teens and the courts agreed that the teen sending the texts was also at fault since she knew the other teen was driving his truck. The court decided that sending a text message is like waving a paper in front of a driver’s face: a clear distraction.

Indeed, studies – including one from the University of Michigan – have determined that answering texts is a habit and many people do not even realize that they are reading or responding to a text until after the action is completed. The researchers concluded that some people feel compulsion to check and reply to texts in real time.

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Others have decried the ruling, arguing that the responsibility for safe driving remains with the driver. After all, drivers can prevent car and truck accidents in Hollywood and other communities by turning off their mobile devices or simply putting them out of reach. Motorists can also help prevent traffic accidents in Hollywood and other communities by simply refusing to respond to messages or texts or by using hands-free devices (although some studies have suggested that hands-free devices can be just as distracting).

Who is responsible when a text leads to a fatal car or truck accident in Hollywood or another Florida city? There is likely to be a lot more debate about the issue. In New Jersey at least, the latest ruling may mean that victims who have suffered serious injury can pursue multiple liable parties, which may increase their chances of getting fair compensation for their injuries.

What do you think? Who is responsible for distracted driving?

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Florida leads the country when it comes to car accident insurance fraud, and this has made many insurance companies crack down on fraud. Unfortunately, innocent drivers who follow all the rules are often caught in the middle. Law-abiding drivers may be caught up in a car insurance scam and even injured in a staged traffic collision in Homestead. The injuries from these accidents are often all too real. In addition, car insurers may be looking more closely at legitimate claims. This can make it harder for law-abiding drivers to get the insurance money they deserve.

Unfortunately, staged car accidents and other types of car accident fraud occur every day. One of the most common types of car accident insurance fraud involves a staged car accident. This is just what it sounds like: fraudsters create an accident (with you as the victim) and then make an insurance claim, escalating the supposed injuries and costs to extract more money. If you’ve been in a staged car accident in Homestead, you may not even know it. Fraudsters who stage car accidents do several things, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau:

•They target cars that are more likely to be well-insured, such as newer cars and luxury cars. There are also staged truck accidents in Homestead and other communities because big rigs are often well insured.

•They target distracted drivers, younger drivers, women drivers, and elderly drivers, often because they hope these drivers will not start a loud and strong protest, which could call attention to the scam.

•They drive older cars that they don’t mind junking after the staged car accident and they fill the car with passengers, so that there are multiple claimants.

Even if you are in a newer car and are hit by an older car filled with passengers, however, do not assume that you have been the victim of car insurance fraud. In many cases, it really is just a car accident in Homestead. In many cases, you may have simply a sneaking suspicion that something is amiss. In other cases, you may notice that a witness steps forward and claims a different chain of events than what you saw happen. In some staged car accidents, you may be blamed for the accident even though you know that is not the case. For example, a common staged car accident occurs when a fraudster waves a car into a lane and then crashes into it, later alleging that they did not wave the victim forward. In some cases, you may be pressured to pay cash rather than reporting the accident to your insurer or the other driver may insist that you use a specific professional for the claim.

If your gut is telling you that something is not right or if you suspect fraud, the best thing to do is to contact the police and your car insurer. They can investigate the accident and can look for signs of fraud. You can also make an anonymous report at the National Insurance Crime Bureau phone lines: 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422).

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Fort Lauderdale, as well as many other communities across the country, have been relying on red light cameras in order to prevent car accidents and in order to catch drivers who violate the rules of the road. Advocates of the red light cameras say that the devices help prevent car accidents in Fort Lauderdale and free up police for other tasks. They note that the cameras generate revenue for the city and may be more effective at catching those who break the law. Advocates also claim that red light cameras may discourage drivers from running red lights, since the risk of getting caught is higher. This, they claim, can help prevent traffic accidents in Fort Lauderdale.

Opponents of red light cameras argue that the cameras have a track record of sending tickets to the wrong drivers. They also note that the cameras only catch drivers at some violations. They do nothing to reduce the number of cell-phone related car accidents in Fort Lauderdale, for example. Those who oppose the cameras also point out that it is possible for drivers to simply find out where the cameras are and avoid those intersections – all without changing bad driving habits.

In Fort Lauderdale and across Florida, red light cameras have been approved since 2010 but still have not become accepted by drivers. Many drivers see the tickets simply as a cash grab. Indeed, the tickets are estimated to create more than $120 million for Florida cities and the state.

Fort Lauderdale now has 23 red light cameras in the city, after recently adding six more cameras. According to Florida Senate President Dan Gaetz, the intersections in Fort Lauderdale that have cameras saw their rates of accidents double after the cameras were installed. In 41 other cities, car accident rates fell after red light cameras were introduced. In eleven cities, however, car accidents increased. That is a large enough number that some lawmakers are asking whether red light cameras are in fact the best way to reduce car and truck accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other cities.

Some lawmakers have also pointed out that red light cameras can only stop certain violations – most notably, cars running red lights. This is not necessarily the violation that causes the most accidents, yet red light cameras cannot catch drivers who are distracted, driving drunk, or falling asleep at the wheel.

Have you been injured in a car accident in Fort Lauderdale or another South Florida community? You have rights under Florida law. If your accident was caused by a driver’s negligence or recklessness, you may seek a legal claim to recover compensation for your medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and other damages. To get more details, schedule a free, no obligation consultation with the Flaxman Law Group to discuss your situation and your options. You may qualify for more compensation than you realize which is why getting legal advice is important before you make any decisions in your case.

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We rely on trucks to carry a range of cargo – from fuels to consumer goods to life-saving fire-extinguishing chemicals and water. In some cases, however, cargo that has been incorrectly secured can lead to serious truck accidents in Davie and other Florida communities. Cargo that rolls off trucks can also cause secondary car accidents in Davie and other cities. To prevent these types of traffic accidents in Davie and across the nation, there are federal rules, FMCSRs, which regulate cargo, among other things, for truck drivers and commercial motor carriers. Under these rules, truck drivers and motor carriers must:

1) Ensure that the cargo is correctly secured and distributed. How the cargo will be distributed and secured will depend on the type of cargo. Securing the cargo ensures that the cargo does not slip and cause a secondary car accident. Distributing the cargo evenly ensures that the cargo is not lopsided, which can increase the risk of a truck rollover.

2) Ensure that all the elements of the truck that are related to the cargo are secured. On an 18 wheeler truck, this will include tarpaulins, tailboard, tailgate, spare tire, and any other equipment used in securing the cargo and operating the truck. In some cases, elements of the truck may become loose or fall off the truck, which can lead to an accident. For example, if the tarp covering the cargo is not correctly secured, it can fly off and cause a secondary car accident.

3) Ensure that the cargo does not obscure visibility or prevent the safe operation of the truck. Under FMCSR rules, nothing must obscure the driver’s front view or side view, although an exception is made for drivers of self-steer dollies. In addition, cargo and other objects must not prevent the truck driver from accessing emergency equipment or from freely moving his or her legs. Cargo and other objects must also not prevent any passenger from safely leaving the cab.

There are also many additional rules for hazardous cargo. For example, many types of hazardous cargo must be clearly labeled. In addition, additional precautions may need to be taken in cases were cargo is highly flammable, unstable, or otherwise dangerous.

Unfortunately, although there many federal rules regarding cargo, not all truck drivers and motor carriers are careful about following the rules. If you are injured in a truck accident in Davie or in any Florida community and you think that the accident was caused by a cargo problem, you may have a legal claim. If the federal rules regarding cargo are not carefully followed, then you may be able to seek a legal claim to get compensation for medical costs, lost income, and other costs related to your injuries.

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Across the country, each year over 140 000 children are admitted to emergency rooms due to injuries caused by car accidents. Car accidents remain the leading cause of death for children older than three years of age. Despite these statistics, many pediatricians and childcare experts note that the majority of parents are not correctly securing their children into car safety restraints.

According to experts, a big part of the problem is that the safety guidelines when it comes to children and cars is confusing – and changes often. The safety seats of just a few years ago have been replaced with new guidelines and new devices. Worse, the laws concerning child safety restraints vary by state. Pediatricians and experts recommend that parents follow the guidelines available through the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP guidelines are clear and tend to be conservative, which adds some extra precaution. AAP guidelines suggest:

1) Children under two years of age should be placed in a rear-racing car seat. This protects a young child most in the event of a Miami Gardens car accident.

2) Children over the age of two should be placed in a front-facing car seat until they reach the weight limit for the seat.

3) Children should use booster seats until they can sit at 57 inches tall (usually this is by about age 11). This is because the rear seat belts are more likely to cut into a child’s neck, face, and chest area in the event of a Miami Gardens truck accident or car accident, possibly causing serious injury. Seat belts are designed for adults, and a booster seat ensures that a child has the height needed to stay safe in an accident.

4) Children should not sit in the front seat until they reach the age of 13 years of age. The rear seat is the safest place for a child in the event of a Miami Gardens traffic accident. In the event of an accident, the child is more likely to hit the soft front seat rather than crash into a dashboard. Since children may not be as tall, air bags in the front seat can also pose a hazard, potentially causing Miami Gardens head injuries in the event of a car collision. Keeping a child in the back seat helps prevent this. In the event of a head-on crash, children will also be more protected in the back.

According to a survey completed by Dr. Michelle Macy of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, only about 3% of children between the ages of 1-3 were correctly seated in rear-facing car seats. In the survey of 22 000 children between 2007 and 2009, Dr. Macy also found that only 10% of children between the ages of 8 and 10 were using booster seats.

According to Macy, in addition to following AAP guidelines, it is important to select a car seat with the highest weight capacities possible. This makes the car seat safer for the child and allows a parent to use the car seat for longer, which is financially better for the family as well.

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As of July 1, Florida has introduced changes to its PIP coverage, so anyone who is involved in a Miami car accident from this month forward can expect some changes. PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage, also commonly called “no-fault” coverage, ensures that if someone is injured in a Miami traffic accident or Florida traffic accident they have medical care paid for promptly, regardless of who caused the car collision.

While the system is intended to ensure that everyone has money for needed medical care without a complex claims process, there have been criticisms of the system. Florida has come under fire for having one of the highest instances of insurance fraud in the country, and many claim that this is because the PIP coverage system is easy to abuse. In recent years, many fraudsters have been accused of staging Miami truck accidents and car accidents and even working with clinics to get the maximum $10 000 payout for even minor or fake injuries. The insurance has also become very expensive.

As a result of the criticisms, Florida legislators have made some changes. Starting July 1, those injured in a serious car accident will only be able to claim the maximum $10 000 PIP amount if they have an “emergency medical condition.” Less serious injuries will have a maximum coverage of $2500. In addition, only dentists, medical doctors, and osteopaths will be able to declare an injury an “emergency medical condition.” Chiropractors will not be permitted to make the decision.

As a result of the new rules, car accident victims in the state will need to seek medical treatment within 14 days of their initial injury and accident. If they fail to do so, they will not qualify for PIP benefits at all. In addition, the new changes will mean that treatments such as massage and acupuncture will not be covered by PIP.

Experts have criticized the new rules, saying that it may be harder for some Miami motorcycle accident and car accident victims to get treatment for their injuries. For example, some victims may not notice symptoms until after the initial 14 days have passed. In addition, soft tissue injuries – which can be painful and expensive to treat – do not qualify as emergency medical conditions. Even some doctors have questioned the new rules, pointing out that the $2500 cap for non-emergency conditions is troubling since some tests – including MRIs – can cost more than $1000 alone.

It can be challenging to recover after a Miami car accident – and even more so if your insurance does not cover the full cost of your injuries. The new rules are confusing for many accident victims and may not allow for enough compensation to pay for medical care. It is more important than ever before to be aware of all your options before you make any decisions in your case. If you are seriously injured in a Miami traffic accident, contact a Miami personal injury attorney to at least review your options and your possible costs.

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