Florida Accident Lawsuits Overview
Florida Accident Lawsuits Overview
Polo tycoon John Goodman paid $46 million on April 18, 2012, to parents of a 23-year-old Florida man, who was killed in an accident caused by drunken driving by the magnet. The auto accident lawsuit settlement came a week after another 23-year-old man from Pinellas County succumbed to his injuries he had suffered from an auto accident 10 days ago. On February 6, Hazell Stoudemire, elder brother of the New York Knicks' star forward Amar'e Stoudemire, died when his SUV rammed into a tractor trailer in Lake Wales, FL. A year ago, wrestling star and actor Randy Savage lost his life when his car overturned and he lost control of the vehicle in an accident in Tampa.
Common Florida Auto Accident Counties and Causes
According to the data released by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the State of Florida has an average of 1.25 deaths per 100 million miles driven. In 2010, there were 235,461 reported Florida auto accidents, an average of 645 traffic crashes per day, and 195,104 persons sought medical assistance for their injuries. About 2,500 deaths occur every year because of these accidents. People belonging to the 4-35 age group have the most number of auto accident fatalities in the state. The numbers also suggest involvement of one in five licensed drivers in the auto accidents taking place in Florida.
In 2010, Miami-Dade County accounted for 43,260 accidents, the highest in Florida. Broward County with 26,233 and Hillsborough County with 17,480 were listed second and third in the number of auto accidents. In Duval, Orange, Palm Beach, and Pinellas Counties, annual accident figures go beyond 13,000 traffic crashes. Among the cities, Miami recorded the highest number of accidents followed by Jacksonville and Tampa.
Human errors, such as failure to obey signals, cell phone use, overspeeding, and no seat belt, cause more than 60% of total Florida auto accidents. In almost 90% auto accident lawsuits, human error had been cited as the main reason for the accident. DUI incidents account for about 30% of total auto accidents in the state. According to 2010 statistics, 17,748 Florida auto accidents were alcohol related. More than 12,000 of these resulted in 800 deaths and human injuries. As many as 1,236 drug-related accidents took place in 2010, causing 106 fatalities and 957 injuries.
In 2010, about 777 people killed in Florida auto accidents were driving without seatbelts. Pedestrian behavior contributes to less than 5% of total Florida accidents, but the group has one of the highest fatality rate of about 16%. Manufacturing and maintenance defects, road and weather conditions, no release of air bags, driver health and fatigue, and traffic situation also contribute to a number of accidents across the state.
Auto Accidents Examples
- Vehicle collisions, including traffic crashes at intersections, on-the-road accidents, head-on and rear-end collisions, and run-off-road clashes, are the most common types of auto accidents in Florida.
- Driver negligence and rollovers are responsible for accidents involving the highest number of fatalities.
- A number of car accidents also take place because of lane departure and violation, pedestrian behavior, and collision with animals, trees, and other roadside objects.
- Construction site accidents caused by ineffective parking and traffic arrangements.
- Trucking accidents involving commercial vehicles, cranes, rigs, and 18 wheelers.
Most Common Florida Accident Injuries and Damages
Florida accident victims have the right to claim compensation for all types of injuries and damages suffered by them. The following are the most common types of auto accident injuries.
- Death due to accident or injuries received during accidents.
- Brain and head injuries, including concussion, traumatic brain injury, and internal injuries diagnosed long after the accident.
- Neck injuries, such as strain, pain, whiplash injury, spinal cord injuries, disk dislocation, and cervical radiculopathy.
- Back injuries, including fracture, strain, disc injury, sprain, and spine injuries.
- Face injuries, including bruises, scratches, fractures, dental problems, or injuries requiring cosmetic surgery.
- Psychological injuries, emotional distress, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Florida Auto Accident Civil Lawsuit for Damages
The state law allows filing of a civil lawsuit seeking recovery or damages from the party responsible for car crash only when a Florida accident victim has sustained
wrongful death due to accident or injury caused;
significant and permanent injury to vital bodily function;
injury likely to impact a victim's life to a reasonable degree; or
lasting scarring or disfigurement.
Car accident victims commonly seek punitive damages and other compensation for:
- wrongful death and injury caused by an accident
- economic, emotional, and physical personal injury suffered
- damages as punishment for the culprit
- loss of wages or property because of the accident and consequent injury
- costs of treatment at present and for the future
- repair of the vehicle damaged in the accident
The court decides the amount of compensation based on the severity of the injury and the comparative fault of the defendant.
Process of Filing Florida Accident Lawsuit
Victims suffering from physical, psychological, and economic injuries due to auto accidents have the right to sue individuals, companies, state agencies, or anyone fully or partly responsible for their plight. A Florida accident lawyer usually advises drivers to follow the below-mentioned process when they become victims of major or minor auto crashes.
- Stay at the accident site with your vehicle.
- Note contact details, registration number, and insurance information of the other party as well as details of witnesses.
- Call police (call 911) or highway patrol as soon as possible.
- Record photos of the damaged vehicle, injuries, and accident site using your mobile phone or camera.
- Inform your insurance provider about the accident.
Pre-litigation Stage of Florida Accident Lawsuit
- Contact any Florida accident lawyer experienced in handling auto accident cases.
- The attorney collects all information, medical reports, bills, repair estimates, damage sand loss estimates, and attempt to settle the case with defendants or insurance provider.
- If the attempt fails, your Florida accident lawyer goes for formal filing of an accident lawsuit granted under the tort laws.
- Filing: The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.050 allows plaintiffs to file Florida accident lawsuit seeking compensation in the nearest circuit court.
- Trial Date: If the lawsuit survives the motion to dismiss moved by the other party, the court sets a date for the trial.
- Mediation: Usually the court encourages mediation during the interim period through a formal period. Florida accident lawyers representing both parties meet or seek help of a third party mediator to finalize a settlement.
- Discovery Phase: If mediation does not succeed, the lawsuit enters discovery phase. Your Florida accident lawyer as well as the attorney hired by the defendant investigate and gather evidences, share them to the permissible limit, and present them before the judge.
- Summary Judgment: The plaintiff can seek a summary judgment if he feels the evidences gathered by him are enough to seek compensation from the other party. However, it depends on the judge to grant it or deny it in favor of a trial based on disputed key facts.
- Trial: A Florida court settles the auto accident through bench trial or jury trial and orders for compensation. In bench trial, it is the judge who makes a decision based on evidences. In Jury trial, the judge decides the application of the law, but the jury determines if facts meet the legal requirements governing personal injury laws.
- Settlement: Both parties are allowed to negotiate and settle the case any time. If the settlement is reached during the trial, all details are placed before the court for approval that the claim has concluded.
Statutory Regulations for Florida Accident Lawsuit
The state laws in Florida provide a number of statutory regulations to govern civil accident lawsuits in the state.
- The statute of limitation is four years for injuries and two years for wrongful deaths caused by an accident.
- Under the state law, the small claim must not be go beyond $5,000.
- Insurance covers damages in no-fault cases. However, the court allows both insurance and compensation claim for recovery of damages in cases where the injury is serious or caused by the other party.
- For Florida auto accident lawsuits against government vehicles or employees, plaintiffs are required to use Form 95 to sue the agency or department.
- Claims above $15,000 must be filed in the circuit court.
Florida Accident Insurance
Florida follows no fault accident insurance law, which requires the insurance provider to compensate for the costs incurred by policyholders injured in an accident, notwithstanding who is at fault. According to the Florida's Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law effective from January 1, 2008, all motorists in the state must carry:
- Minimum personal injury protection of $10,000
- Minimum property damage liability of $10,000
The Florida Financial Responsibility Law stipulates that if an action by anyone leads to a car accident resulting in property damage and injuries, he has to buy full liability insurance called Bodily Injury Liability. The set limit under the law is:
- Minimum $10,000 per person for those
- Minimum $20,000 per crash for those convicted prior to October 2007. For those convicted after, it must carry a policy of $300,000 per person.
- DUI convicts convicted after October 2007 must have Bodily Injury Liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
There are many exclusions and clauses governing the no-fault insurance claim in Florida. The victims of auto accident are at liberty to file lawsuits seeking punitive and compensatory damages for serious injuries and wrongful death from those responsible. Contact your Florida accident lawyer for more details on compensation claims.
Florida Seat Belt Law Policy
Lack of compliance with state seat belt law is found to have played a part in about 34% fatalities caused by auto accidents. The following are the key features of Florida State Seat Belt Law applied to cars manufactured after 1968.
- All occupants on the front seat must fasten seat belts.
- Kids, children, and those less than 18 years of age must be buckled up whether sitting on the front or rear seats of cars.
- Drivers are responsible belting of for passengers below 18 years.
- There is provision for individual fines for passengers above 18 years of age and not using seat belts.
Major Florida Car Accident Lawsuits
In April 2012, John Goodman, owner International Palm Beach Polo Club, paid $6 million in damages to parents of a young man who died in a car accident involving the polo magnet. Goodman, in a drunken state, rammed his Bentley into the car of the 23-year-old victim and pushed it into a canal in February 2010. The victim drowned and died following the incident.
Mercedes Benz paid $4,050,000 to a 75-year-old man from Naples, who sued the automobile giant after airbags in his car failed to deploy in an accident in 1998. In December 2001, Community Asphalt Corp agreed to pay $15,000,000 to settle a Florida accident lawsuit with a 33-year-old man hit by one of its trucks. The victim had serious head injuries.
In April 2007, the Miami-Dade circuit court awarded $2.7 million to a woman. She filed a Florida car accident lawsuit after another car slammed into the rear of her vehicle. The 66-year-old had claimed that she suffered from neck pain, aggravated diabetes, and heart stroke due to hypertension caused by physical and emotional injuries.
In November 2007, a Tampa jury awarded $6.4 million to a 33-year-old victim, who suffered from brain injury, fractures, and disability following an accident at a city intersection. In 2010, WWE wrestling star Hulk Hogan compensated family of a young man who was seriously injured in a car accident caused by his son by paying $5 million.