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1259-Blogimage-02-640x-432Why did the turtle cross the road? Who knows, but the turtle probably wasn’t intending to cause a multi-vehicle accident on Florida Route 331. Motive aside, that’s exactly what happened. And, while the turtle may be primarily at fault, turtles are what we call judgment-proof. Thus, in an accident like this, it begs the question of which driver was at fault.

What Happened?

According to a local news report, the accident occurred on Florida Route 331 as the driver of a black pickup truck noticed a small turtle crossing the road. Thinking they were doing the right thing, the driver stopped in the middle of the road to allow the turtle to pass. Not surprisingly, as cars approached from behind, drivers had to slam on their brakes or swerve out of the way to avoid a rear-end collision. However, an approaching semi-truck was unable to come to a complete stop in time and rammed into the back of the black pickup truck as well as at least one other vehicle. The incapacitated semi-truck then ended up coming to a stop in the lane of oncoming traffic.

Legal Analysis of the Accident

This accident raises two different issues, both of which relate to how Florida courts determine which driver was at fault for an accident. The first is the concept that drivers who rear-end another motorist are presumed to be at fault. This presumption applies because most rear-end accidents are the result of a driver following too closely or being distracted. However, the presumption can be rebutted, for example, in situations where a driver’s tail lights are out so motorists behind them can’t see if they are braking.

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Uber-car-accidentEarlier this month, prosecutors filed criminal charges against two men for their roles in a December 2022 DUI accident that claimed three lives. According to a recent news report, the accident occurred when a Toyota Tacoma began driving west in the eastbound lanes of Route 44 near DeLand, Florida. As the Toyota was driving the wrong way, it collided with an Infiniti. The driver of the Infiniti lost control of the vehicle, which spun out into a nearby median. As a result of the head-on collision, three people died.

The driver of the Toyota fled the scene, leaving behind an injured passenger. Police spoke with the passenger, but she was initially reluctant to identify the driver. Subsequent investigation revealed that the driver of the Toyota was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Prosecutors are charging him with leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury, three counts of leaving the scene of a crash with death, three counts of vehicular homicide and reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury.

The driver of the Infiniti, who remained at the scene, was also intoxicated. Through its investigation, law enforcement determined that the Infiniti was traveling at approximately 100 miles per hour in the moments before the crash. This prompted prosecutors to charge the driver with reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury as well as three counts of vehicular homicide.

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When thinking about liability in a drunk driving accident, it’s common to assume that the drunk driver is the only potentially liable party. However, there are various laws in place that allow accident victims to pursue a claim against other parties, such as bars and restaurants or manufacturers and distributors of a dangerous product that contributed to the accident.

1259-Blogimage-01-640x-432For example, recently, a federal judge issued an opinion in a case involving a fatal accident caused by a driver under the influence of Ultra Duster, a commonly-available inhalant most frequently used to clean electronics. According to the court’s opinion, a man purchased a can of Ultra Duster at Walmart. He inhaled the contents before getting behind the wheel. As he was driving, he lost control of the vehicle, hitting and killing two children and an adult.

While the victims’ families certainly had a potential case against the driver, in his case, the court was tasked with determining whether the distributor of Ultra Duster was also liable for the accident under a theory of strict product liability. Ultimately, the court held that, while the distributor placed the product into the stream of commerce, the connection between the company’s actions and the victims’ death amounted to “speculation.” Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s strict liability claims.

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Accident Victim

If you’ve been injured in any accident involving another’s negligence, you are legally entitled to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, Florida law requires you to bring a personal injury claim within a certain time. If you don’t, you will almost certainly lose any ability to hold the at-fault party accountable, and, in turn, you may be leaving a lot of much-needed money on the table.

Here at the Blakeley Law Firm, P.A., we want to ensure that accident victims are fairly compensated for everything they’ve been through. And we understand that nothing is more frustrating than learning that you’ve missed your chance to hold a negligent party accountable. So, we’ve put together a list of Florida personal injury statutes of limitations and some of the most common questions related to how long you have to file a personal injury claim.

Motor Vehicle Accidents – 4 years
Dog Bites – 4 years
Assault and Other Intentional Acts – 4 years
Product Liability Claims – 4 years
Slip and Fall Cases – 4 years

As you can see, the vast majority of negligence cases must be filed within four years. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule:

Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases are generally subject to a two-year statute of limitations. However, determining when the statute of limitations starts to run can be complex. Generally, the medical malpractice statute of limitations begins on the day of the medical error, but if the patient didn’t learn of the error until a later date, they have two years from that date. However, medical malpractice cases are subject to a four-year statute of repose, meaning that a case cannot be brought more than four years after the alleged medical error (unless the victim is a minor).

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In Florida, most drivers have underinsured motorist insurance, which provides coverage for losses incurred due to accidents with people with inadequate insurance. Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to avoid their obligations by refusing to pay insured individuals the benefits they are owed. In such instances, the insureds can file lawsuits against the insurer, alleging breach of contract and other claims. In many instances, insurance companies will attempt to move cases to federal court in efforts to obtain more favorable rulings. Recently, a Florida court discussed the requirements for proving a federal court can exercise jurisdiction over a matter in a case in which the plaintiff sought remand of an underinsured motorist claim. If your insurer denied you uninsured motorist benefits, you should speak to a Florida car accident lawyer about your options for seeking redress.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was involved in a rear-end collision with an underinsured motorist. She sustained significant injuries and subsequently filed an underinsured motorist claim with the defendant, the company that provided her automobile insurance. The defendant denied her claim, after which she filed a lawsuit in state court. The complaint alleged her damages were in excess of thirty-thousand dollars and one cent, but the sum in parentheses after the damages amount was $100,000. The defendant, a resident of Michigan, removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand, arguing that the defendant failed to show the amount in controversy was sufficient to meet the jurisdictional requirements.

Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Uninsured Motorist Claims

Defendants that remove cases from state court to federal court bear the burden of proving that federal jurisdiction exists. In part, this requires a defendant to set forth a notice of removal that includes a plausible assertion that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. If a plaintiff disputes an allegation in a notice of removal or a court questions it, the defendant then has to produce evidence showing the amount in controversy requirement is met. Continue reading

In Florida, when one driver collides with another vehicle, it is often presumed that the driver is negligent and should be held accountable for any harm that ensues. In some instances, however, even if it seems liability is clear, a defendant in a case arising out of a car accident may be able to assert a defense that precludes a jury from assigning him or her fault. For example, the unexpected and sudden loss of consciousness while driving is a defense to negligence claims in car accident cases. In a recent opinion, a Florida court explained what evidence a defendant must offer to support a loss of consciousness defense, in a matter in which it ultimately reversed a verdict in favor of the defendant. If you were injured in a collision, it is smart to meet with a Florida car accident lawyer to determine what damages you may be owed.

The Accident and Trial

It is reported that the plaintiff’s car was stopped at a red light when it was struck from behind by a vehicle operated by the defendant. The plaintiff and her minor children, who were passengers in her car, sustained serious injuries. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, averring that his negligence caused the accident and their harm.

Allegedly, during the trial, the defendant argued he should not be liable because he suffered a sudden loss of consciousness prior to the collision. The jury issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, after which the defendant filed a motion for a directed verdict. The defendant’s motion was granted by a judge who had not presided over the trial, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading

Rear-end accidents often cause significant trauma. In most instances, they occur because the driver of the second car was driving too fast or while distracted, or otherwise acting negligently. While the person operating the second vehicle is usually responsible for causing rear-end collisions, they may not be solely liable, and the courts may be reluctant to rule in favor of plaintiffs as a matter of law in cases arising out of such accidents. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion issued in a rear-end collision case in which the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. If you were hurt in a car crash, it is advisable to speak to a Florida car accident lawyer to discuss your potential claims.

The Subject Accident

It is reported that an accident occurred on a highway in Florida when a car driven by the plaintiff was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer operated by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant company. The plaintiff sustained significant injuries in the accident and brought a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging the negligence of the defendant driver caused the crash. Depositions of the parties were taken, after which the plaintiff moved for summary judgment. The defendants filed a response in opposition to the plaintiff’s motion.

Liability for Rear-End Collisions

In Florida, a party moving for summary judgment must offer proof that there is no true dispute as to a material fact and that he or she is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If parties offer such support, their motion will only be denied if the opposing party demonstrates that there is a genuine disagreement over a material fact. In cases in which the parties offer conflicting evidence, the proofs offered by the party responding to the motion will be presumed to be true, and all inferences in that party’s favor that are reasonable will be drawn. Continue reading

Pedestrians that are struck by vehicles frequently suffer devastating injuries that cause permanent harm. As such, they will often pursue claims against the parties that struck them to help offset their damages. It is not uncommon in cases arising out of pedestrian crashes, though, for drivers to argue that the injured parties are, in fact, at fault for the crash, and therefore, they should not be awarded damages. In a recent Florida ruling, a court discussed what evidence is admissible to prove a plaintiff’s negligence in a pedestrian accident case. If you were struck by a vehicle while walking, it is smart to meet with a Florida pedestrian accident lawyer to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was walking along a rural road at 7:00 pm on a summer day. Prior to embarking on his journey, he consumed alcoholic beverages at a convenience store. He admitted that he was unfamiliar with the area and impaired due to the alcohol. As such, he called a friend to ask for directions. He was then struck by the defendant’s van while he was talking on the phone.

Allegedly, the defendant stated that he moved away from the shoulder of the road to avoid the plaintiff, but the plaintiff veered into his lane of travel. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging his negligence caused the accident. At trial, the defendant introduced evidence of the plaintiff’s BAC level, arguing that the plaintiff was impaired and caused the accident. The jury found in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading

When a case is to be decided by a jury rather than a judge, the parties must engage in the process of jury selection prior to trial. During the process, the parties will attempt to determine whether any potential jurors harbor explicit or implicit biases that may render them unable to make objective decisions and, if so, may seek to preemptively strike them from serving on the jury. If a court inappropriately denies a party’s request to strike a juror, it may result in an unfair trial, as demonstrated in a ruling recently issued by a Florida court in a truck accident case. If you were hurt in a collision involving a commercial truck, it is advisable to speak to a Florida truck accident lawyer regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s decedent was driving on a highway through a construction zone. He was following the defendant motorist. The defendant truck driver was approaching from the opposite direction. The defendant motorist then swerved into the defendant truck driver’s lane, sideswiping the truck and causing it to jackknife and crash into the decedent’s vehicle. The decedent died due to the injuries sustained in the accident, and his wife, the plaintiff, filed a lawsuit against the defendants.

It is alleged that during jury selection, the plaintiff sought to use a peremptory strike against a juror whose husband had worked in the trucking industry. The trial court denied the strike due to the fact that the juror was the only African-American on the panel, and the plaintiff failed to meet the race-neutral test established by Florida case law. The issue was revisited prior to trial, but the court maintained its position. The jury ultimately returned a verdict for the plaintiff but found the defendant truck driver was not liable. The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which the court granted. The defendants then appealed. Continue reading

In many car accident cases, it is undisputed that the plaintiff suffered harm in the subject collision. In others, though, the defendant may argue that a crash did not cause the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. In such instances, the defendant may attempt to offer the testimony of a biomechanical expert on the issue of the force conducted in the accident and whether it was sufficient to bring about the plaintiff’s harm. Recently, a Florida court discussed the limitations imposed on biomechanical experts in car accident cases, in a matter in which the plaintiff objected that the expert was not qualified to opine on the issue of causation. If you were injured in a crash, it is important to understand what evidence may be presented to refute your claims, and it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney to assess your options.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was injured in a collision involving the defendant. She subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging that the defendant’s negligent driving caused her harm. The defendant argued that the crash did not cause the plaintiff’s harm and disclosed that she intended to rely on the testimony of a biomechanical expert to support her opinion. The plaintiff moved to preclude the expert from testifying on the grounds that he was not qualified to testify regarding whether the accident caused the plaintiff’s harm. The court ultimately agreed and granted the plaintiff’s motion.

Testimony Permissible by Biomechanical Experts

In federal courts, Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence governs expert testimony. Specifically, it states that a person who is qualified by experience, training, skill, or education may testify if his or her knowledge will help the fact finder understand the evidence or determine a disputed fact, and the proffered testimony is based on adequate data or facts and is the product of reliable methods and principles. Continue reading

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