South Florida Hit and Run and Drunk Drivers

Within the past few weeks the police in the Fort Lauderale area have been investigating two instances of pedestrians being injured in vehicular accidents. In the first instance, law enforcement is attempting to locate a car that a surveillance camera caught hitting a pedestrian, Marshall Clinton, 51,and then driving away. The crash happened about 11 p.m. Friday, May 23, 2008 as Mr. Chilton crossed the street. Marshall Chilton, 51, was admitted in the hospital with broken bones and is expected to recover.

In a second incident in Fort Lauderdale, a man is accused of killing a woman, Ms.Kathleen Gosnell, 60, and injuring Mr. Raymond Haruben, 63, after striking them with his vehicle on Thursday, May 22, 2008. Toxicology reports confirmed that he was Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI). Steven Kopson, 53, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged with manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, among several charges.

Both these incidents raise the question, “If I am a pedestrian in an accident who was struck by a hit and run driver- who will pay for the treatment and pain and suffering I have sustained through no fault of my own?” The answer is that even though you are a pedestrian, your own PIP and UIM insurance will ensure that you are fully protected and covered for your injuries even though you weren’t driving your vehicle at the time.

The importance of PIP coverage and UIM coverage on your automobile policies is especially important when you are a pedestrian and you you are struck by a hit and run driver. It is in that instance that your own insurance coverage is there to protect you. Your PIP Insurance or Personal Injury Protection Insurance will cover the first $10,000.00 of your medical bills and your UIM Insurance will afford you coverage for everything over and above the first $10,000.00 up to the limits you choose.

What if your injuries are serious and you need treatment well over and above $10,000.00 and what about pain and suffering, wrongful death and lost or diminished capacity to earn a living? UIM coverage is the only coverage that will protect you if the party at fault in an accident either is unknown, has no Bodily Injury coverage (which is not required in the State of Florida) or has a minimal amount of Bodily Insurance Coverage. In effect you can seek compensation for your injuries and damages from your own insurance company should any of these circumstances occur, but only if you have UIM Insurance coverage.

If you would like to read further about this issue, we have addressed the Florida UIM and PIP Insurance issue in a previous article on our blog entitled: “Florida No-Fault, Med Pay and UIM Insurance” dated May 12, 2008. It is our hope that all Florida drivers will contact their insurance agents and demand a quote for UIM coverage on their policies. That way, should the unfortunate happen and you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver or underinsured driver, you won’t have to worry about your financial future being decimated by medical bills.

If you have any questions about these issues please feel free to call our offices. We want every Florida driver to be aware and informed about their right to protect themselves through proper and FULL automobile insurance coverage.

Mattel Toy Recall

As remarkable as it may seem, the world’s largest toy maker has announced another recall of its products, which involves 800,000 Barbie accessories, Fisher Price train locomotives and bongo drums. The reason given for Mattel’s third recall was identical to the previous two; the presence of unacceptably high quantities of lead in the paint used to brighten these toys.

In early August, Mattel recalled 1.5 million toys featuring Elmo and other popular characters. Later in the same month, “Sarge” toy cars from the hit Disney movie “Cars” in addition to 9 million other toys containing tiny magnets were recalled. The total number of toys recalled by Mattel is now an incredible 19 million. The latest recall was announced jointly by Mattel and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (C.P.S.C.).

In September, a consumer watchdog web site Consumer published an article about a study done by a national non-profit agency called Kids in Danger, which proved that injuries among children in this country have more than doubled in the last five years compared to the previous ten years.

Despite these recent recalls, child safety experts are concerned that the market could still be flooded with these lead tainted toys. The government agency in charge of inspecting these products, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), has only 15 inspectors for the entire country. You read that correctly. The United States of America, a country of 300 million people, has a total of 15 people in charge of inspecting all toys that are placed into the marketplace.

What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the C.P.S.C. is not legally able to levy fines against companies that withhold information about a recalled product. According to the article, Mattel has been accused of doing this on at least two occasions.

So, what can we Parents do to protect our children?
• Sign up for the C.P.S.C.’s recall alerts at Whenever there is a dangerous toy being recalled, you’ll receive an e-mail alert.
• Go on the site and check for past recalls and make sure you do not have any of these toys in your home. Also, share this information with family and friends.
• If you find any toys in your home that have been recalled due to lead, you should consider taking your children to their pediatrician for a check up, including blood work. Quite often, the symptoms from lead poisoning can lie dormant for years.
• When purchasing new toys for your children, fill out the recall registration card so the manufacturer can contact you directly in the event of recall.

Our children in the South Florida area are in need of our help to keep them safe. When the very things they love may do them serious harm it us up to us as parents to do what we can in our small neighborhoods as well. Speak up at your play groups, send out a message to all the parents in your child’s school, or volunteer to do a safety check in you child’s school or day care to weed out any suspect toys. This may be a national re-call but it has small town implications and touches us all the way down to our own child’s bedroom or playroom. So, let’s get together South Florida and make a difference one child at a time.

Florida No-Fault, Med Pay and UIM Insurance

Since 1972, Florida has been a “no-fault” state with regard to automobile accidents. That simply means irregardless of who causes an automobile accident, each party must submit the first 10,000.00 of their medical bills to their own insurance company for payment. (This is known as P.I.P.) The P.I.P. law (Personal Injury Protection) requires your insurance company to pay 80% of your medical bills up to the $10,000.00 limit.

This vitally important law provides a number of other benefits to Florida citizens who are involved in auto accidents, namely a $5,000.00 death benefit and a lost wage benefit. For those drivers who do not have health insurance, P.I.P. provides the only avenue to have one’s medial bills paid. (Medical debt is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy in the United States.)

What does this mean for you and what should you do? First, please call your auto insurance agent immediately to discuss the alternatives to P.I.P. Specifically, obtain a quote for “medical payments” coverage, which is separate and apart from P.I.P. Even if you have health insurance, consider the inconvenience associated with obtaining referrals to specialists and other red tape. Medical Payments coverage will allow you to choose any doctor you wish without the need for a referral. This becomes especially important when one requires treatment with a medical specialist.

Another potential problem that you may encounter in Florida is being struck and injured by an uninsured driver. There are far too many drivers on Florida roads without insurance. This creates a danger for all of us who incur medical bills for accident related injuries. However, there is a very simple solution to this problem. It’s called U.M. Insurance. Uninsured Motorists (U.M.) Coverage is perhaps the most important type of auto insurance you can have in Florida. In the event that you are struck and injured by someone without auto insurance, U.M. Insurance allows you to turn to your own insurance carrier and force them to “stand in the shoes” of the uninsured driver.

U.M. Insurance requires your own insurance carrier to compensate you for all of the damages that you would have been entitled to receive from the uninsured driver. Unfortunately, many insurance agents do not explain this essential layer of coverage properly and often advise their clients to reject U.M. insurance in writing.

Finally, it is extremely important to protect yourself and your family should they be injured in an accident. The purchase of “medical payments” coverage and “Uninsured Motorist” coverage will provide that protection.

South Florida Car Accident Injures Two Girls

Two children were struck by cars and seriously injured in separate accidents Sunday, police said. Both are expected to survive despite their serious injuries.

About 4:45 p.m., a car hit a 13 year old girl who was riding her bicycle near Northwest 28th Street and University Drive, said Mike Moser, a spokesman for Coral Springs Fire-Rescue. She was expected to survive, Moser said. The girl was flown to Broward General Medical Center as a precaution.


About two hours later in Davie, a 7 year old girl was run over when she tried to grab the right rear door handle of a neighbor’s car, Davie police Lt. Bill Coyne said. The accident occurred as the car pulled into a driveway in the 4400 block of southwest 74th Avenue. Paramedics rushed the girl to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood where she was in critical but stable condition.

Orange County, Florida Car Accident, Woman Dies, 2 Injured.

A 40-year-old Orlando woman was killed and two passengers were injured early Sunday after she drove off the road in east Orange County and hit a concrete culvert, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

About 2:30 a.m., Tonya M. Shepherd was driving a 1998 Ford Mustang south on West Christmas Road near Fort Christmas Road when she failed to negotiate a curve, drove onto the east shoulder and hit the culvert.

Shepherd was pronounced dead at the scene. Passenger Jerry Kincaid, 42, of Orlando was ejected from the car and suffered minor injuries. Another passenger, Tiffany Adkins, 21, of Orlando, was critically injured. No one in the car was wearing a seat belt, the FHP said.

Miami Firefighter loses life in Automobile Accident

A Miami firefighter lost his life in a fatal car crash in Miami on Friday Night.
Investigators stated that two teenage girls in a Red Honda were traveling Northbound on NW 24th Avenue, at which time they ran a stop sign causing the collision and the firefighter’s Wrongful Death.

Roberto Garcia, the firefighter, was a 20 year veteran of the Miami Fire Dept. who moved up to the rank of Captain. His passenger and he were out celebrating and were returning home when this tragedy occurred. Ironically, rescue personnel from Captain Garcia’s own station responded to the call. “We found one of our own”, said Ignatius Carroll, a Miami-Fire Rescue spokesman.

Captain Garcia’s passenger received only minor injuries. The two girls, whose names have been withheld, were taken to the Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition. Our Condolences go out to the family of Captain Garcia.




Miami, Florida Police Officer in Serious Automobile Accident

A Miami Police Officer was involved in a serious automobile accident on Wednesday with a 19 year old pre-med student who also lives in Miami. The student was taken to Kendall Medical Center with nine life threatening Injuries. There is some controversy surrounding the accident involving whether or not the officer had his sirens on.

Investigators say that the officer was responding to a call and had his lights and sirens engaged at the time of the impact with the female student. However, witnesses to the collision have a different version. Orestes Perdigon, the student’s father stated that, “He had no sirens on, nothing at all.” Apparently, the student had the right of way as the officer may have drove through a stop sign just before impact.

This Miami incident follows a similar occurrence just days ago, when a Middle School Student was badly injured after being struck by an Orlando Police Officer in pursuit of a criminal. The officer was chasing another vehicle who ran a red light when suddenly, the Officer collided with a Volkswagen which careened into the 11 year old student who was waiting to cross the street. According to one woman, the officer was exceeding the speed limit. “It looked like it was a chase to me”, said Celine Gasco, 33 who was stopped in her car at an intersection when the collision took place. Once again, as with the incident in Miami, Orlando investigators appear to be claiming, despite the eyewitness testimony, that the officer did nothing wrong.

Law Enforcement Agencies must provide better training to their officers on the issue of pursuing Criminals. While most Police Departments, like the Orlando Police Department, have a policy which only allows a high speed chase when the officer is in pursuit of a violent felon, Police Officers often violate the local traffic laws and injure innocent citizens. These Officers are performing their job in a vacuum because they are not weighing the interests of the innocent bystander when they pursue non-violent criminals.

Under Florida law, this constitutes Negligence and subjects the Police Department and the Police Officer to a lawsuit so that the injured bystander can collect for their Injuries. It would be in the public’s best interest if some of these officers were to spend less time in the gym and more time in the library. While a majority of police officers are fine individuals who act professionally while doing their job, there is a percentage of officers who are unable to see the big picture and often do not have their priorities in order. This often leads to incidents like the ones we just saw in Miami and Orlando where innocent bystanders suffer Injuries as a result of the Officer’s Negligence.