Common Road Defects that Can Lead to Serious Accidents

While the majority of car accidents are caused by driver error, road defects nonetheless cause a significant number of wrecks each year and often leave victims with serious injuries that could have been avoided through proper planning or maintenance. Thankfully for victims, Florida law allows people to recover compensation for the losses they sustain as a result of accidents caused by road defects they can show that the defect was the result of someone else’s negligence. Some of the more common road defects that cause serious accidents include the following:

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Where Your Accident Occurred Can Have an Impact on Your Claim

Accidents involving road defects can often be more complicated than other types of personal injury cases, especially if they occur on a public road. This is because, under the legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity, a government can be held liable for injuries only to the extent that it has consented to such liability. Thankfully for the people of Florida, the legislature has allowed lawsuits against the government and its various agencies, albeit with significant limitations on how long victims have to file a lawsuit and how much victims can recover. For this reason, it is critical for victims of accidents involving defects on public roads to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.

In regard to accidents caused by road defects on private property, such as private drives or parking lots, these claims can proceed much like any other premises liability claim would – which is to say that victims should retain a lawyer in order to ensure that they receive the full and fair value of their claim.

Call a St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you have been involved in car accident and believe a problem with the roadway played a role, you should call the St. Petersburg car accident lawyers of Berkowitz & Myer today. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney, call our office at 727-344-0123 today.

Common Forms Of Distracted Driving That Cause Car Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 6.3 million police-reported car accidents in 2015. Those crashes resulted in 2.44 million personal injuries and 35,092 fatalities. 

NHTSA also reports that about 17% of all car accidents – and about 10% of all crashes involving fatalities – are caused by “distracted driving.” Those same accidents also resulted in 3,331 fatalities and 387,000 personal injuries. The National Safety Council, however, reports that at least 28% of all car crashes are caused by texting and cell phone use alone.

What is “distracted driving”?

The NHTSA defines “distracted driving” as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” The End Distracted Driving program, which is sponsored by the Casey Feldman Foundation, identifies the most common causes of distracted driving as follows:

  • Talking on cell phones
  • Texting on cell phones
  • Looking up information on cell phones
  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Attending to – or disciplining – child passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading – including maps
  • Using a GPS navigation system
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player
  • Adjusting temperature controls

What To Do If You’ve Been In A Car Accident in Florida

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Florida, you must do the following and failure to follow these mandatory procedures could result in license revocation, criminal charges, and other penalties:

  • Stop your vehicle immediately – and position it so that it won’t impede other motorists (If you can’t do this, then either ask someone for help or call a tow truck).
  • If the accident results in a personal injury or death – or it involves property damage that appears to be more than $500.00 – you must immediately report the accident to law enforcement. If the investigating officer files a report regarding the accident, you won’t need to do so but if not, you must file a “Crash Report” with the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident.
  • You must provide the investigating officer with your name, address, telephone number, driver’s license, registration and insurance card.
  • If someone has been injured, you must attempt to secure medical help right away or take the injured to receive help.
  • You must give your name, address and telephone number to anyone else who has been involved in the accident – and who asks for that information.

As soon as possible after the accident, you want to contact a law firm that specializes in car accidents and personal injuries. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our St. Petersburg car accident attorneys, call Berkowitz & Myer at (727) 344-0123 today.

Negligence That Causes Head-on Collisions

Head-on collisions are widely considered to be the most dangerous kind of car crash because of the high rate of fatality. A head-on collision happens when the front of one car collides with the front of another and this usually occurs when both cars are in motion. Even with crumple zones and bumpers, head-on collisions can cause severe and often fatal injuries. With a reported 18 percent of non-intersection accidents being head-on, it is important to recognize the common causes of these crashes and to know your rights if you have been injured.

If someone causes a head-on collision because they were negligent, you have the right to hold that driver liable for your losses, including medical expenses and lost wages. The following are some common acts of negligence that lead to this type of crash:

    • Distracted driving – Distracted drivers often depart from their lanes while they are not looking at the road. If they cross a double yellow line, they can crash into an oncoming vehicle head-on.
    • Drunk driving – Drunk drivers are notorious for traveling the wrong way on one-way streets, which can certainly result in a head-on crash. They can also swerve out of their lanes like distracted drivers often do.
    • Fatigued driving – If a driver loses focus or falls asleep, they often lose control over their car and the car may travel into oncoming traffic.
    • Dangerous passing – If someone tries to pass while there is a double yellow line or when they think they can beat an oncoming car, the risk of a head-on collision is high.
    • Rural roads – Head-on crashes are very common on rural roads because of the narrow lanes, turns and hills, high speed limits, and lack of law enforcement.
    • Road hazards – If a driver suddenly hits a road hazard like a pothole, they can lose control of their car and veer into oncoming lanes.

Call a St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney for Help Today

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a head-on crash, you should not delay in calling a skilled St. Petersburg car accident lawyer to discuss your rights. Call the law office of Berkowitz & Myer for a free consultation at 727-344-0123.

1http://safety.transportation.org/htmlguides/HOcrashes/exec_sum.htm

2http://safety.transportation.org/htmlguides/freewaycrash/types_of_probs.htm

Can an At-Fault Driver Still Have a Personal Injury Case?

So you’ve been injured in a car accident.  It’s unfortunate, but it happens.  Do you have a personal injury case?  Maybe you do, and maybe you do not.  There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before a determination as to the viability of a personal injury case is established.  We are going to focus on one such question for purposes of this article:

Who was at fault?

This is not always an easy one to answer.  If you were stopped at a traffic light and someone negligently rear-ended you, then we probably do not need to spend too much time figuring out whom to blame.  However, not all cases are so clean cut.  In Florida, we have what is known as “comparative fault.”1  This means that fault is apportioned as a percentage of responsibility.  For an easy example, consider an injured driver in a two-car accident.  Let’s say that injured driver’s “damages” as a result of the accident amount to $100,000.  If a jury were to find each driver to 50% at fault, then the injured driver’s award would be reduced by the amount he or she was responsible for the accident.  The $100,000 award would be reduced to $50,000.  If the injured driver was found to be 30% at fault, then his or her award would be reduced to $70,000.

Were you issued a citation at the accident scene?

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions out there when it comes to traffic tickets.  I’ve heard far too many people over the years say that they never pursued a personal injury case because the police officer issued them a ticket at the accident scene.  Did you know that testimony about “who got the ticket” at the accident scene is often not admissible in a personal injury case?  A jury usually never gets to hear about which driver the officer cited.  Sadly, many Florida personal injury lawyers turn down cases only because the client was cited by law enforcement.  Are they afraid to fight about liability in a courtroom?  Are they only interested in taking on cases where little work or analysis is needed (low hanging fruit)?  I cannot answer that, but I can tell you that not all lawyers are created equal.  While there are times when there is simply not a viable personal injury case to be pursued, do NOT simply take “no” for an answer when you are turned down by a lawyer because you were considered at-fault by law enforcement.

Recent Berkowitz & Myer case 

Our firm recently represented a very sweet, and very injured, young woman that I will refer to as “Jane” (to protect her identity2).  Jane was in a horrific car accident last year.  She was transported to the hospital via ambulance with severe injuries and will have to suffer from the effects of those injuries for the rest of her life.  It is undisputed that Jane caused this accident due to negligent driving.  But was she 100% at fault?  Well, initially Jane sought legal counsel from a very well-known personal injury firm who signed her up, investigated the case, and subsequently dropped her as a client because they determined that because she was at fault.  Jane wasn’t ready to give up.  She then sought out a top notch litigation firm in Tampa to get a 2nd opinion.  This firm also investigated the facts surrounding Jane’s accident and dropped the case, telling Jane that she “didn’t have a case.”

Fortunately, Jane did not give up.  She was referred to Berkowitz & Myer from a past client of ours.  Our firm conducted our own investigation.  Attorney Christian Myer discovered that while Jane was certainly to blame for the accident, the other driver in the accident was also negligent to a certain degree.  Discovering this fact was only the first step.  Mr. Myer had to then convince an insurance company to pay for the portion of damages caused by their insured.  After a hard fought negotiation process, Mr. Myer was able to convince the insurance carrier to pay a six-figure settlement to Jane.  While Jane will never fully recover from the injuries suffered in the auto accident, the funds she received due to Mr. Myer’s tenacity and creativity will greatly assist her moving forward.

Get a 2nd (or 3rd) opinion before giving up!

Sadly, most people in Jane’s shoes would have given up the moment a well-known personal injury firm said to them that they did not have a case.  And nearly all of those that did not initially give up after hearing that news would give up after hearing the exact same news from a 2nd law firm. Be like Jane! If you’ve been told “no” but you aren’t ready to give up, it’s time to call Berkowitz & Myer, for a no-cost consultation today.

1 Fla. Stat. 768.81

2 Confidentiality clause in settlement agreement precludes using actual names

Injured by a Drunk Driver? You May Likely be Entitled to Compensation

There are many festivities planned each year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the St. Petersburg area. While revelers will be out wearing green and celebrating their Irish heritage (or pretending they are Irish for the day), there will also be an increased risk of accidents and injuries on the roads around St. Pete. This is because, unfortunately, too many people make the dangerous decision to become intoxicated and then try to drive home.

Consequences for Drunk Drivers

If you are injured by a drunk driver on St. Patrick’s Day or on any other day of the year, you should be aware that you have certain legal rights. However, you must often take action on your own to invoke these rights. Too many people believe that law enforcement and prosecutors will help them receive compensation as victims of drunk drivers, which is generally not the case.

When a drunk driver is arrested following an accident, they can face fines and jail time if they are convicted of driving under the influence in violation of Florida law. However, these fines largely go to the courts and a criminal case will not work to compensate you for the medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering you experienced because of the drunk driver.

Instead, you must bring your own legal action in Florida civil court to seek the compensation you deserve from the dangerous driver. The process of filing a personal injury lawsuit can be complicated, however, an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney can guide you through the process. We know how to use a criminal DUI conviction of the driver to your advantage to help resolve your case in the most favorable and efficient manner possible.

Call our St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorneys to Discuss Your Rights Today

At the law office of Berkowitz & Myer, our St. Petersburg auto accident lawyers know how a drunk driver can impact your life and we will protect your rights to hold that driver liable for your losses. Call us for a free consultation today at 727-344-0123.

1http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/events-calendar/st-patricks-day-festival/6085

2http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.193.html

no-cost consultation: (727) 344 0123

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