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Miami Personal Injury Law Blog

Bike lane collision in Sarasota leaves man dead

Miami and the entire state of Florida in general are known for being very hospitable to bicycle riders. There are a good number of very clearly marked bike lanes that offer cyclists their own space when sharing the road with motorists. Just because these spaces are marked, however, doesn’t mean that collisions between vehicles and cars don’t happen. In any area where bicyclists share the road with motorists, both sides must maintain an awareness of each other. A failure to do so will often produce a catastrophic result (particularly for the cyclist).

Such was the case in a recent accident in Sarasota. Authorities are investigating the cause of a collision between an elderly driver and bicyclist. The cyclist was reportedly rushed to a local hospital after having been thrown from his bike in the collision. While the details of his injuries were not released, they were sufficiently serious to cause his death.

Explaining the idea of sovereign Immunity

Imagine if someone visiting a federal courthouse or post office slips and falls in the lobby or parking lot and sustains injuries. The legal principle of premises liability would typically hold the property owner liable for any injuries or damages caused by unsafe conditions. However, what about those cases that involve property owned by the government? Can one sue Uncle Sam?

The philosophy of “sovereign immunity” protects the government from liability claims. This is an idea that dates back to old English times to keep subjects from suing the king. Today, it extends that protection to federal, state, and local governments. However, there are instances where the government can actually waive the right to such protection.

Pedestrian rights in Florida

Accident victims who come to us for help here at the Law Offices of Ivan A. Schertzer often do so after having been hit by a vehicle while walking in the street in Miami. If such an accident has happened to you, you might question who is at fault, particularly if you were walking in a marked crosswalk. The rules and regulations regarding your right of way when crossing the street on foot may seem simple. However, it may be helpful for you to know exactly what they are, particularly if you are planning on seeking compensation following your accident.

Your rights as a pedestrian in a crosswalk at an intersection that has a traffic signal may are pretty straightforward. As you probably could guess, Florida State Law says that motorists are expected to stop and not enter the crosswalk when signals indicate that you may cross. They should not enter into the crosswalk area until you have crossed the side of the street on which they are traveling. The same holds true at intersections without signals yet have signs instructing drivers to yield to pedestrians.

The car accident reporting process in Florida

Car accidents in Miami will typically involve law enforcement to at least some degree. When such accidents occur, most may be too preoccupied to be concerned about officials might be doing. Their thoughts are on any injuries to themselves or passengers or assessing the damage to their vehicles. Yet in the event that one intends to seek compensation from another party following an accident, it may be beneficial to understand the accident reporting process required by the state of Florida.

The Florida Crash Records database reports that as recently as 2010, there was an average of 645 crashes every day on the state’s roads and highways. The law requires that either a Florida Traffic Crash Report, Long Form or Short Form be completed following any car accident. A Long Form is required if an accident involved any of the following elements:

  •          A commercial vehicle
  •          Injuries or fatalities
  •          Debilitating vehicle damage
  •          A possible DUI offense

What is assumption of risk?

For many in Miami, the logic behind the idea of premises liability may seem very simple: if one is injured on another’s property, the property owner is liable for any resultant damages. Yet in reality, the application of this legal doctrine is often not quite as simple as that. Oftentimes, a property owner may look to other factors that could erase his or her liability in the matter, such as the negligent actions of other parties involved or the exact circumstances of the accident. One defensive principle that he or she may cite is volenti non fit injuria, or the assumption of risk.

The Latin translation of volenti non fit injuria is “to one who is willing, no harm is done.” Applied in a legal context, this principle argues that when one voluntarily enters into an area or engages in an activity that he or she knows could be potentially dangerous, he or she assumes the risk of any accidents or injuries that could occur as a result. In reference to premises liability, a property owner could potentially argue that certain features of his or her property could have created dangerous conditions that a victim should have reasonably anticipated, and that the victim’s knowledge of this frees the owner of liability.

Florida’s bicycle positioning laws

With its great weather, beautiful beach fronts, and heavy pedestrian traffic, Miami is a great city for bicyclists. Yet simply because the city lends itself well to bicycle traffic does not mean that bike riders do not still face risks on the road. In fact, according to the Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan released by the state’s Department of Transportation in 2013, Miami-Dade County saw nearly 2500 bicycle injuries and fatalities between 2007 and 2011. Bicyclists are already at an inherent disadvantage when on the road with motorists, and thus both should be mindful of each in the hopes of avoiding a collision.

While the job of accident avoidance doesn’t fall primarily to bicyclists, they should still be aware of how to best position themselves on the road in relation to vehicles as well as other bicyclists. According to the Florida State Statutes, the state’s bicycle regulations cover the requirements for ideal positioning while on the road. For example, when riding on a one-way roadway, a bicyclist is required to ride as close to the left-hand curb as possible.

Linking dram shop laws and wrongful death lawsuits

Anytime that anyone in Miami loses a loved one unexpectedly is a tragedy. That tragedy may be compounded if the death was due to something completely preventable, such as drunk driving. The families and friends of those lost to drunk driving accidents often face much more than an emotional loss; they're also left to supplement any support that the deceased provided, be it parental, emotional, or financial. According to information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 10,300 families were forced to deal with the pain and suffering of such a loss in 2012 alone.

For many, the only hope of surviving the financial strain of this loss is through the potential for compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit. In these cases, the obvious target of such action would be the responsible driver. Yet can liability also be extended to any other parties who may have contributed to his or her intoxicated state?

Considering pedestrian accident victim demographics

Cities like Miami, Florida, strive to be pedestrian-friendly, as residents and tourists alike can benefit tremendously from walking to their destinations. Beyond that, many people do not have the option of using a car or public transportation to get where they are going. The very reasons that prompt many people to rely on walking as a primary source of transportation are also linked to the fact that pedestrian accident rates are especially high among some of the most vulnerable members of our community. It is for that reason that we here at the Law Offices of Ivan A. Schertzer are committed to spreading awareness about child and elderly adult pedestrian accident incidents.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian accident fatalities were actually on the rise in recent years. In 2011, almost 4,500 people lost their lives in pedestrian collisions. That figure reflects an increase in pedestrian deaths from the year before, and is notably higher than fatal incident rates from 2009. The NHTSA explains that everyone is vulnerable to being involved in a painful pedestrian accident, but notes that children and elderly adults are at the highest risk of being hit by a vehicle while standing.

Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages in Florida?

As a surviving family member of someone who lost his or her life as the result of some form of medical malpractice, you understand all too well the pain and suffering that can follow such a tragedy. Incidents of medical negligence and/or maltreatment can have very real and traumatic effects on patients and their families, often resulting in fatal injuries and serious financial difficulties. As a result, it is important for you and your family to understand your rights as wrongful death claimants, as well as be aware of the damages that may be available to you in such cases.

Modern Healthcare discusses the current state of wrongful death damages in medical malpractice lawsuits in the state of Florida. In the spring of last year, major changes were made to medical malpractice wrongful death tort law, as the state’s highest court eliminated caps placed on noneconomic damages. For over 10 years, medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits resulting in financial awards for pain and suffering were subject to a cap of $1 million in damages. That Stipulation applied to all cases, no matter the number of claimants who were identified as being eligible for pain and suffering damages.

Stats reveal Floridians’ vulnerability to pedestrian accidents

No matter if they are walking, running or simply strolling along, an increasing number of Florida residents are taking to the sidewalk to get where they are going. Florida’s warm weather and seemingly endless array of recreational activities encourage people to step outside whenever possible and enjoy their surroundings. Unfortunately, though, the large number of pedestrians on Florida sidewalks and pedestrian zones also translates into a higher number of painful injury incidents.

Pedestrian accident incidents are a major issue across the country, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Close to 76,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic collisions in 2012, and more than 4,700 accident victims were fatally wounded. Those troubling figures reflect a six-percent increase in fatality incidents from the year before, and account for 30 percent of all traffic-related injuries. While pedestrian accident injuries are a major problem on the national level, there is evidence to suggest that incident rates are especially high in the sunshine state.

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Law Offices of Ivan A. Schertzer
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North Miami Beach, FL 33162

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