This is a busy legislative session in Tallahassee, and one of the issues being considered will effect every Florida driver. The $10,000 “no-fault” Florida PIP requirement that has been in place for many years may be ending in favor of new requirements for $25,000 bodily injury and $50,000 per incident coverage.
When you consider the enormous increase in medical expenses over the years, $10,000 really doesn’t cover much if a victim has sustained serious injuries. Florida’s PIP law has long been blamed for insurance fraud. It’s been revised several times since 2000 to try to curb “bad faith claims.” But those reforms have also restricted coverage. Florida PIP was created in 1971 as a way to reduce lawsuits over traffic lawsuits.
Two horrible rear-end vehicle accidents in Florida ended the young lives of four young women recently, leaving family and friends searching for answers about how and why these tragedies occurred. Two women from the University of Florida were killed when their car was rear ended in Okeechobee County on March 5th, and two Weston women who were students at FSU were killed on the Florida Turnpike last week, also in a rear end accident.
Most people think there’s nothing you can do to avoid, prevent, or escape a driver who comes up behind you and doesn’t stop. The reasons for these accidents may involve driver impairment (drugs or alcohol) or distracted drivers (texting) or any number of other reasons, but there are some things you can do as a sober, responsible driver to lower your chances of being hit from behind.
Most people who have lived in or traveled to several states have an opinion on the state with the worst drivers. “Boy, those New York drivers are the worst,” I’ve heard several people exclaim over the years. Or, “Don’t go to Florida, they are terrible” is another. Of course we live here, so we have to drive in Florida. What are the numbers on serious, fatal accidents?
Traffic Fatalities – The Numbers
Florida is number 12. That’s not the twelfth best, it’s the twelfth worst. The worst 12 states as far as fatal accidents for 2015 are listed in the table to the right. Overall, there were 35,092 traffic fatalities nationwide in 2015.
Why Wyoming has such a high rate of fatal accidents is hard to figure, so we Googled it and found this from the Casper Star Tribune – “Nearly twice as many people have died on Wyoming highways this year compared with 2013, and increases in oil field traffic and drunken driving may be to blame.”
Back to Florida. County-by-county, the rural counties in Florida have experienced higher rates of fatal accidents per person, and the worst 10 counties are:
While everyone should always be aware of the danger of driving while impaired, the holidays are statistically the time when drunk driving accidents are most likely to occur. Lazarus and Lazarus, Broward county accident attorneys urge everyone to be especially alert and careful during this and all holiday seasons.
Summer holidays like the 4th of July bring out the worst in people, and winter holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve are also high on the list for serious injury accidents with impaired driving the cause.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the times of year when most DUI arrests and accidents happen are:
Memorial Day weekend sees more than 400 traffic fatalities most years. Over Labor Day weekend, the NSC notes that more than 400 traffic fatalities and more than 42,000 serious injuries occurred. In between the two dates is a stretch known as the “100 deadliest days for teens,” when more teens have too much free time and are more likely to engage in unsafe behaviors.
The 4th of July is known as the most dangerous holiday for people on the roads. More than 100 people died in traffic accidents over the 4th of July holiday this year.
Thanksgiving weekend, which includes “Blackout Wednesday” is the most traveled time of year, and therefore the number of accidents goes up proportionately. DUI arrests and accidents are also traditionally high, and extra caution should be observed.
Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and in-between has actually observed a slight reduction in DUI arrests, injuries, and fatal accidents possibly due to the fact that enforcement has been so concentrated on these holidays for many years. Alternatives to driving drunk like free cab rides may also be responsible for the decreases.
Broward County accident attorneys Lazarus and Lazarus have been representing victims of drunk driving accidents for over 20 years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, here are some sobering stats regarding drunk driving accidents:
• In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
• Of the 1,070 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2014, 209 (19%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
• Of the 209 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014, over half (116) were riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver.
• In 2014, over 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s one percent of the 121 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.
• Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes.
• Marijuana use is increasing and 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system.
• Marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use, however other factors – such as age and gender – may account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.
Broward County Accident Attorneys – The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus
Florida had over 61,000 DUI arrests in 2015, second only to Texas and California in the U.S.
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus is committed to providing superior representation to victims of drunk driving accidents. We specialize in helping victims deal with their injuries, their expenses, and their recovery. Your rights under the law and getting you compensation for your losses are our primary concern.
You may reach out to us any time by calling 954-356-0006 and asking for a confidential consultation.
Floridians Should Check Vehicles for Winter Weather and Insurance
People who live in Florida most likely live here because of the weather. We hate snow.
But every year the holidays entice many Floridians to embark on road trips to the north for family holiday gatherings. It’s usually a wonderful experience, but please take a few minutes to think about some common-sense tips.
If You’re Driving Your Own Car
Take your car to your favorite repair shop and ask them to check it for winter travel. Your engine coolant and wiper fluid may freeze up north.
Double check your insurance, make sure it’s paid up and everything is up-to-date. Driving on unfamiliar roads can sometimes lead to accidents and you don’t want to be uninsured.
Different states have varying car insurance minimums. So if you start your holiday road trip in Florida, which only requires $5,000 of property damage liability, and $10,000 worth of PIP, and get into an accident in New York, where minimums are about $50,000 greater, you would be under-insured to cover a New York driver’s damages. Luckily, car insurance companies usually recognize you shouldn’t be penalized for having the legal limit in one state, and crashing in another with higher limits. Thus, so long as you were not intoxicated or conducting any other policy disqualifying behavior, your company will likely bump your limits up to the state’s in which you crashed. To be safe, call and verify.
If You’re Renting a Car
If you rent a car, you need some sort of rental car insurance. Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and the others all offer different options. Rental companies offer a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), Supplemental Liability Coverage (SLC), Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) and Personal Effects Coverage (PEC). Of those four, you may only really need the first two. You pay for the LDW, about $9 to $20 per day, which essentially says the rental company will cover any damage that happens to the car. If you have collision insurance on your policy however, you may opt out of the coverage. If you have a credit card as well, you may charge the entire rental to the card, and your card provider will sometimes cover the LDW at no charge to you.
Once again, call and verify with your own insurance company what will be covered and what won’t should something happen if you have an accident in a rental car in another state.
Floridians aren’t accustomed to driving in the snow. It’s another world. Just remember to reduce speed, or get off the road if you feel the least bit uncomfortable driving on icy roads. Listen to advisories on the radio, and follow them.
Here’s a story with a video offering some safety tips for driving in the snow from the American Automobile Association: CLICK HERE
Lazarus and Lazarus – Florida Accident Attorneys
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus cares about your safety. Every day we meet with people who have been involved in serious accidents, and we know that many times the incidents were preventable. We think it is our obligation to inform all Florida drivers to observe traffic laws, don’t misuse your cell phone when behind the wheel, and never drink and drive.
If you or a loved one does need an accident attorney in the future, we would be happy to arrange a confidential consultation if you call us at 954-356-0006. Protecting your rights are our primary concern.
Many People are Unaware What “Basic Coverage” Means
I recently had a conversation with young woman who was working at Starbuck’s. She was forlorn because of an auto accident she had on the way to work and said that her car would be in the shop for several days. She wondered aloud about getting a rental car while she was without her car, and I told her it would depend on her insurance. She said “I have PIP.”
I didn’t want to tell her that she would likely be getting a ride to work for a while because she was having a bad day already, but PIP coverage does not provide rental cars for drivers while their cars are being repaired. In fact PIP does not cover repairs. PIP stands for “personal injury protection” and covers medical expenses.
So many drivers are unaware of the facts as they pertain to auto insurance, we would like to help with some basic facts.
The 2016 Florida Statutes, Chapter 627, Section 736 is titled: Required personal injury protection benefits; exclusions; priority; claims – and you may read the section by clicking here.
Some basic information about PIP:
·If you are a resident of Florida and you own a motor vehicle, you are required to purchase PIP. If you are a resident of Florida and own a motor vehicle, you are required to purchase PIP.You are covered by PIP if you are the named insured.You, the insured, are covered by PIP while driving your vehicle or when a passenger in another’s vehicle.You are also covered while outside a motor vehicle if struck and injured by a motor vehicle.
·Resident relatives who live with you, the insured, may be covered by your PIP benefits while they are driving your car, as passengers in your or another’s car, and while pedestrians if struck and injured by a motor vehicle.
·Others who are injured while driving your insured motor vehicle or who are injured while a passenger in your insured motor vehicle or who are injured as a pedestrian when struck by your insured motor vehicle may be covered by your PIP.
·If you or your insured relatives living with you are injured while outside Florida, and are in your insured motor vehicle, you and your insured relatives are covered under PIP as long as the injury occurs within the United States, its territories or possessions, or in Canada.
It is prudent to visit with an insurance agent and take the time to discuss exactly what you expect from your automobile insurance before you buy it. Benefits like towing, repair, and rental cars are certainly worthwhile but they cost more.
PIP usually covers $10,000 of medical expenses and many injuries sustained in accidents exceed that amount.
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been helping Floridians injured in automobile, truck, and motorcycle accidents for more than 20 years as qualified accident attorneys. We are committed to provide everyone with the information you need to stay as safe as possible, and to have the information you need to make informed decisions.
We are available to meet with you if you’ve been involved in an accident, and you may contact us by calling 954-356-0006 to arrange a free consultation.
Click here to view our contact page where you may request that we contact you online.
Early Photos and Witness Statements Help to Substantiate Your Case
The immediate reaction after a serious motor vehicle accident is often “oh no, what am I going to do?” There is usually confusion, phone calls to family and friends, and a general feeling of disbelief and bewilderment.
It’s a very good idea to make a mental note – right now – that if the time comes and you are involved in an accident, you must try to do your best to remain calm. Cool heads rule in situations like this and if you want to come away from a bad situation with as little negative results as possible, you’ll want to try to calmly and accurately document everything right from the start.
Accident Injuries and Accident Damages
Using an acronym sometimes helps remember what to do in stressful situations, so you may want to remember POW:
Pictures – Almost everyone on Earth carries a phone with a camera. Try to take pictures immediately after an accident as long as it doesn’t interfere with rendering aid or with law enforcement’s investigation. If you can’t do it, perhaps someone else can do it for you. Damage to vehicles, road conditions, conditions at the time of the accident. For example, if a stop sign was laying on the ground and that caused you to not see it, take a picture. By the next day it may be repaired and your story has no support.
Early pictures of injuries are important because once they are bandaged or casted by medical personnel it may be weeks before you have the opportunity again.
Observe – Some things you cannot record with a camera, but try to remember or write down other things you notice. Who was there? Did someone leave the scene? Anything that seems unusual, try to make a written note of the details.
Witnesses – If the police are involved they will look for and interview witnesses, but sometimes a witness will leave before the law enforcement arrives. Try to get the names and numbers of people who might be able to help, and do it nicely. Witnesses can be a very important asset later if they are needed.
None of these things should ever be done if they interfere in any way with medical personnel or with law enforcement. They are valuable pieces to puzzle which may be gradually pieced together during the course of building a case which might involve statements, depositions, evidentiary fact-finding, lab tests, expert witnesses etc.
Once again, cool heads come out ahead.
Finding a Qualified Florida Accident Attorney
Now, after the dust settles and you have time to visit with an attorney who specializes in auto, truck, and motorcycle accidents, that attorney will be able to calmly explain your rights and your options. The pictures, observations, and witness information you gathered will greatly affect his or her ability to get to the truth for you.
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been working with victims of serious vehicle accidents for over 23 years. They work with people across south Florida and they are familiar with all aspects of accidents, from dealing with insurance companies and doctors, to working with law enforcement.
Calling 954-356-0606 will put you in touch with Gary and Arleen Lazarus, two of the most caring, competent, and dedicated personal injury attorneys in Florida. After a confidential meeting you will have all options explained to you with no obligation whatsoever.
Be Very Careful After an Accident – LOL may become an OMG
You’ve been in a car accident. You’re shaken up, but fortunately you’re not hurt badly. You think the same about the people in the other car.
The next day you share the details with everyone on social media. You post pictures from the scene, your thoughts about what happened, and you even comment about the nice-looking police officer who came to the accident. It all seems harmless and kind of funny.
Two days later you get word that someone in the other car is actually injured far more seriously than you thought, and you realize it might be better if some of the things you posted on the internet remained private. Quickly you delete everything you posted and you’re all in the clear. Right?
That’s not entirely accurate.
In today’s high-tech world not only are the images and text messages you deleted still somewhere on your computer or smart-phone, they’re on your friend’s devices as well. They’re also in a place known as “the cloud” which means they are now part of a virtual world where they can be accessed by almost anyone. Forever.
Electronically stored information, or ESI, is a very significant part of almost every legal case today. Nothing is ever really deleted, and through a process known as legal discovery your pictures, emails, and text messages can be recovered and used as evidence in a court of law. There are companies that specialize in extracting ESI and they are very proficient.
Everyone has a duty and a legal responsibility to be forthcoming and to tell the truth when speaking with a police officer or when giving statements under oath. However, no one has to publish potentially damaging evidence across the internet for the whole world to see.
There are real-life examples of people who doomed their court cases and settlements because of things they posted online. Insurance companies will do everything and anything they can to avoid paying damages and they will scour the internet trying to find something incriminating related to a victim who is completely innocent of any negligence in a personal injury case.
In the time gap between an accident and your first phone call to an attorney, it’s in your best interest to remain silent.
Securing the counsel of a qualified attorney after any accident is a very prudent decision. Your attorney can advise you on your rights as well as your responsibilities pertaining not only to your injuries and/or damages, but your right to not self-incriminate.
Personal Injury Experts
These are complex areas of law, and the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus is very experienced with social media as it relates to personal injury cases. Calling 954-356-0006 immediately after you are involved in any accident or personal injury incident will put you in touch with Gary and Arleen Lazarus, who have been advising victims for over 23 years.
Issues Regarding Insurance and Licensing Have Politicians Busy Deciding Their Future
It seems everyone these days is doing the Uber. Using Uber saves money over traditional taxi cabs and the service offers an opportunity to people with a car to make extra money. A win-win for everyone, right?
That’s not entirely accurate. Several issues have arisen over the past few years as Uber has grown from an idea to a multi-billion dollar enterprise in just 7 years.
Uber Technologies Inc. is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. As of April 12, 2016, the service was available in over 60 countries and 404 cities worldwide. Since Uber’s launch, several other companies have copied its business model, a trend that has come to be referred to as “Uberification.”
In Florida, state, county, and municipal governments are challenging Uber’s right to operate due to unfair competition with traditional taxi companies, who must be licensed. Another big issue is insurance, and that is the main topic for this article.
Florida Auto Liability Insurance
The minimum requirement for auto insurance in Florida for a personal vehicle is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). If you have been in a crash or convicted of certain offenses, the Florida DMV can request you purchase additional auto insurance coverage such as bodily injury liability coverage (BIL).
A taxi must carry Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage of $125,000 per person, $250,000 per occurrence and $50,000 for property damage liability (PDL) coverage.
An Uber driver must do what? This is where it gets murky.
Broward County commissioners have been up, down, and all around when trying to get a permanent solution to ride-share services regulation. The Sun-Sentinel reported that the last time commissioners tried to regulate Uber, they got “Ubered” — the new word for politically clobbered — for going after laws that Uber called too onerous. The result is that in Broward, Uber is now largely free to police itself concerning drivers’ backgrounds, insurance coverage and condition of vehicles. Palm Beach County is still working on an ordinance. Miami-Dade, too.
However, as a result of Florida’s regulation of taxi cabs, many companies now regard their drivers as independent contractors. This means that cab drivers may own or lease their vehicles and are responsible for providing their own liability insurance. If a cab driver is accused of negligence, a cab company can distance themselves in an attempt to circumvent any liability.
So, the question “are you safe in an Uber car?” has no definitive answer. Everyone must make a decision based on their own situation, but we would recommend everyone ask questions and be aware.
Trust the Legal Experts
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been assisting victims of serious auto accidents for over 20 years in south Florida. We have the experience, compassion, and commitment to represent you if you are ever involved in any accident and to sort out who is liable for your injuries and damages. Please reach out to us at 954-360-0006 and ask for a consultation with Gary or Arleen Lazarus. We will listen to you, and all communications are completely confidential.
I recall having a conversation with a friend once about a fly on an airplane. The man said that he was bothered by a fly that had somehow made its way onto an airplane he was traveling on and he expressed that it annoyed him the whole trip. Then he pondered “if the fly was on his shoulder, and flew forward six rows to bother someone else, was that fly actually flying as fast as he plane?”
This conversation took place at a party where perhaps my friend had consumed an adult beverage or two so he wasn’t necessarily all there. A fly cannot travel 500 miles per hour under its own power, nor can my friend. Both were actually experiencing Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
You feel acceleration when the plane takes off and then when it reaches a constant speed, you feel no sense of speed at all.
This applies to a motor vehicle as well, when you’re traveling 75 miles per hour in a 3000 pound car on the highway, talking to others in the car, sipping a Starbucks and listening to music. All seems peaceful and at rest, when in reality you are part of a very powerful force with tremendous potential energy.
Force is defined by another of Newton’s Laws – he made laws, but he wasn’t a lawyer, imagine that – and this is the law that relates directly to the damage that is done in a vehicle accident.
The Law is stated F=ma or the Force of an object is equal to mass X acceleration. We don’t want to get very technical here, but it is important to understand the very real potential for tremendous damage when a vehicle you drive impacts another vehicle or object. And the larger the vehicle, the more damage.
When you’re driving a fully loaded SUV, you’re driving a truck. The average weight of a Cadillac Escalade is 5,552 to 5,815 lbs. The weight of an average Toyota Corolla is 2,800 to 2,875 lbs. When you plug those numbers into the Force equation there is a big difference in the effects on vehicles, property, and human bodies. All vehicles can be dangerous but trucks require even more caution.
We are only a little over 3 months into the year, and already in Florida (all vehicles) the numbers are very disturbing:
Total Crashes: 91,700
Injury Crashes: 38,617
Total Injuries: 59,310
Crashes with Traffic Fatalities: 580
Total Traffic Fatalities 626
Commercial Vehicle Crashes: 9,475
Commercial Vehicles: 10,262
Property Damage Crashes: 52,503
Pedestrian Crashes: 2,203
Pedestrian Fatalities: 128
Bicycle Crashes: 1,536
Bicycle Fatalities: 31
It’s very important to be ever-vigilant of the incredible power that rests in your hands when operating any vehicle. Buckle up, be cautious, and never drink and drive.
If you are involved in an accident, it’s prudent to contact an attorney who has experience dealing with the aftermath and injuries involved. The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been helping the victims of vehicle crash injuries for over 20 years. They are eminently qualified to guide you through the legal and medical issues you may be facing. Call Gary and Arleen Lazarus at 954-356-0006.
Gary T. Lazarus was born in Queens, New York, on August 26, 1965. He received his Bachelor of Science from St. John's University in 1987 and received his Juris Doctorate from Nova Law School in 1990. In 1992, Gary founded this Personal Injury Firm, dedicated to the representation of persons injured due to the negligence of another.