Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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Reckless Driver in Coral Gables Crashes into Fountain

Early on June 1, 2014, a driver in Coral Gables parked his car improperly, garnering him attention in the media. More more specifically he drove over an embankment and into a large fountain.  The driver, who fled the scene of the accident when it occurred at about 2 a.m., hit a curb in his Nissan Pathfinder with such force that the SUV was launched into the air and landed into the fountain at the entrance of the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables.  Residents throughout south Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, should be aware of the danger of reckless drivers, and be aware of the civil protections victims have if injured.

Damage to the Fountain

Thankfully there were no injuries to any bystanders due to the reckless driving of the SUV.  However, the operations supervisor at the shopping center said that the center has suffered well over $100,000 in damage to the fountain at the entrance of the mall.  The center featured a beautiful entrance fountain which, according to the operations supervisor, was made out of custom-made tiles imported from Spain.  The mall had to bring in a crane to pull out the SUV from the fountain.  The SUV was not able to be removed until mid-morning June 1, giving early morning shoppers a head-turning surprise in what they likely thought would be a regular visit to the shopping center.

Driver is Missing

As noted above, the driver of the Pathfinder left the scene by the time the police arrived early on June 1.  When the police arrived they noticed several open Heineken bottles in the passenger area.  The fact that the police found open beer bottles in the vehicle makes it appear that the drive may have been driving while intoxicated.

Given that the driver may have been drinking, it may be fortunate that there was only property damage, instead of injuries to people.

If there were in fact personal injuries, then the driver would likely be facing both criminal and civil charges for the damages he caused.

DUI Drivers as Causes for Personal Injuries

Sadly, DUI drivers are all too often the cause of severe personal injuries in Fort Lauderdale and other places throughout the U.S.  While intoxicated drivers may face criminal charges for drunk driving or other traffic infractions such as reckless driving, the intoxicated drivers may also be civilly liable to the individuals whom they injure or for the property that they damage.

Victims of drunk drivers may be other drivers, pedestrians, or even bystanders in street-facing homes and businesses.  Individuals who are victims of drunk drivers may suffer any number of injuries.  These injuries can include everything from broken bones, whiplash, as well as very serious and permanent injuries that may leave the victim disabled for life.

Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer

To help answer more questions about car accidents and personal injury law in Fort Lauderdale, contact Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer, the Law Office of Cohn & Smith at (954)-213-6914.

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Car Accident Injury Leads to Potential DOT Reform

On Thursday, January 2, 2014, a reckless driver hit Critical Mass bike ride leader Ray Strack while he was riding his bike home from the store. Strack suffered serious and painful injuries from the car accident that have left him bedridden.

According to Strack’s Facebook page, he went to the store on his bike to get a loaf of bread. Christian Alexander Stewart of Fort Lauderdale was driving a red Mazda down Oakland Park Boulevard across the Intracoastal Waterway. When the vehicle in front of Stewart switched lanes suddenly, Stewart glanced away for a second. When he looked back up, he saw Strack and immediately hit him from behind. Stewart was driving around 30 mph at the time and was ticketed by police for not exercising due care.

While Stewart was fine following the accident, Strack was transported to the emergency room. He suffered a spinal vertebra fracture, as well as a deep cut on his head. Strack is now at home and is recuperating in bed.

Critical Mass is a worldwide bike riding coalition in which cyclists gather for a group bike ride weekly. Fort Lauderdale’s Critical Mass chapter has several hundred active cyclists, and Ray Strack has taken the role of impromptu leader, organizing rides and setting routes.

Bike Accident Risks in Florida

The state of Florida has long been known as a leader in car accidents, but the state is even better known for pedestrian accidents and bike accidents involving car driver negligence. In fact, Green Mobility Network labeled South Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, “one of the most dangerous places in the country for bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Strack had long criticized Oakland Park Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale as one of the city’s most dangerous roads. While his car accident injuries are truly unfortunate, the accident has brought attention to pedestrian and bike safety issues in the aggressive southern corridor. Like in this incident, many drivers who are negligent and hit cyclists receive non-criminal citations and are never prosecuted. Many victims’ only hope for justice is to seek restitution by filing a car accident negligence claim.

Unlike other bike-friendly cities, Fort Lauderdale has a surprising lack of bike lanes. When criticized on the lack of bike lanes, James Wolf, District Secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, stated that there simply isn’t enough room for bike lanes. Cars require certain lane widths, and it’s often too hard to squeeze in bike lanes. To add bike lanes, DOT would have to buy property and convert it into roadway.

Currently, Florida law requires four feet for a bike lane, which creates a challenge on slimmer roadways. When streets are resurfaced and cyclists request a bike lane, DOT often opts instead to create additional driving lanes. When it can, it will add a bike lane and include painted cyclist signs on the roadway to inform drivers that they must share the road with cyclists.

Many cyclists opine that bike lanes themselves don’t even decrease the frequency of car accidents. They argue instead that it is a matter of driver education and willingness to share the road with cyclists.

Wolf of the DOT shared that the DOT was currently discussing revising the bike lanes requirement from 4 feet width to five feet. DOT will be investigating engineering, safety data, and practicalities. Should the law change, the rate of Fort Lauderdale car accidents and bike accidents will hopefully decrease.

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident in Fort Lauderdale, seek the expert legal advice of Cohn & Smith, Fort Lauderdale’s premier auto accident lawyers.

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Florida is one of the most dangerous states in the country for car accidents. In fact, in 2012, there were 281,340 reported accidents. 2,255 of those accidents involved fatalities, and 198,032 of those accidents involved injuries. Broward County, home of Fort Lauderdale, is the second most dangerous county in Florida. In 2008, there were 26,417 reported accidents in Broward County.

When considering whether to pursue a legal remedy in an auto accident scenario, it is important to consider all aspects of the situation. Many factors come into play during a car accident, including number of cars involved, number of drivers and passengers, weather conditions, whether one or more of the drivers is impaired by alcohol or drugs, speed, size and type of vehicles involved, and more.

It is often hard to consider these factors immediately following an accident as one may be in shock. However, by following some simple tips you can gather enough information to help you prove fault and use ammunition in an auto accident lawsuit.

Prior to an Accident

While no one wants to be involved in an auto accident and it is impossible to predict when one will happen, it is always a good idea to be prepared.

·      Keep a cell phone car charger in your car at all times. If you get in an accident, you’ll want to have a phone with adequate battery power to call the police, call your insurance company, notify loved ones, and take photos.

·      Keep a copy of your car insurance card and vehicle registration in your glove compartment. The police will want to see these documents when you file a police report.

·      If you don’t have a cellphone with a built-in camera, keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment in case you need to take photos of the accident.

·      Keep an emergency kit – spare tire, tire jack, tools, flares, water, and snacks.

·      Pen and paper. You’ll want to write notes about the accident and give and receive contact information

After an Accident

Your mind will undoubtedly be racing with worries, stress, and even anger. However, by following a few easy tips immediately following an accident, you will be able to build a stronger auto accident case.

  • Call 911. Immediately after pulling over following an accident, dial 911 and report the accident. Even if the other driver apologizes and admits fault, you want everything memorialized in a police report to avoid the other driver later recanting.
  • Take photographs. Take photos of your car’s damage, the damage of any other cars, the license plate and VIN # of any involved cars, photos of you or any other drivers or passengers who were injured, and photos of the scene, including skid marks, dented signs, puddles, and more.
  • Write down on a piece of paper what happened. Include time, date, weather conditions, roadway conditions, names of involved drivers and passengers, and witness accounts. Include information about what you were doing right before the accident, as well as anything interesting about the driver at fault, such as their breath smelling of alcohol. You can then relay this information to the police. Make sure the police include everything in the police report.
  • Draw a diagram of the scene of the accident. This will help your car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale to understand what happened.
  • Notify your insurance company.
  • Call the insurance company of the other party, if they have car insurance.
  • Call an attorney. You want a skilled, experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer to consult with and represent you in any proceedings.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, call the premier Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers at Cohn & Smith for a free consultation today.

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Business Vehicle Crashed

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that says, “How’s My Driving?” In many cases, the drivers of these business vehicles are flat-out dangerous. The hazard is especially great when the employees are driving large trucks or delivery vans. A pizza delivery truck recently struck a pedestrian in Jacksonville and caused life-threatening injuries.

Employer liability

When an employee causes an accident while driving a business vehicle, the employer may be liable for the consequences. Florida imposes vicarious liability on vehicle owners for the actions of a driver who is using the vehicle with permission. When an employer directs or allows an employee to use a vehicle, the employer is liable for any harm that ensues. This is an important safeguard for injury victims, because the company that owns the vehicle typically has greater financial resources than the employee who caused the accident.

Potential damages

After a crash with a business vehicle, the employer may liable for a wide range of damages. This typically includes compensatory damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages and property losses. In some egregious cases, the employer may also be liable for punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded when the following criteria are met:

  • The employee acted with malice or wanton and willful recklessness.
  • The employer knowingly caused, participated in, condoned or engaged in malicious or reckless conduct that contributed to the loss or injury

If you’ve been injured in a crash with a business vehicle, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale auto accident attorney today. A dedicated lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

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Florida's waterways make for beautiful scenery, but they can be dangerous in a crash. In a recent crash in the St. Petersburg area, two vehicles ended up in a canal. Everyone made it out safely thanks to quick-thinking bystanders, but the situation could have easily turned deadly.

Despite canal guardrail projects throughout Florida, canal crashes still occur, and they can be fatal. Even if the driver and passengers are uninjured by the force of the crash, they may not be able to escape from the submerged vehicle. In fact, around 400 Americans die every year by drowning in their vehicles. If you’re involved in an automobile crash that lands you in a canal or other waterway, follow these tips to get out safely:

  • Safety preparation Buy an emergency safety tool and place it near the driver’s seat of your vehicle. This tool contains a seat belt cutter and a window breaker to use in a waterway crash. It can help you escape from a tangled seatbelt, or break open an electric window whose wiring has been fried by water.
  • Window escape The faster you get out of the vehicle, the more likely you are to survive. Remove your seat belt and open your window as fast as you can. The pressure of the water probably will prevent your door from opening until the car is submerged, so you should escape through your window immediately.
  • Door escapeIf you can’t escape through your window, you need to wait for the vehicle to fill with water. Because of the pressure exerted by the surrounding water, it is nearly impossible to open the door until the water fills the interior of the vehicle. Wait for the water to reach your chin, take a deep breath and open the door to swim to safety.

If you have been involved in a canal crash, you may have a claim against a number of parties. Contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney to discuss your legal options.

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Toyota Motor Co. recently recalled 885,000 vehicles because of a defect that could prevent the airbags from deploying during an accident. The airbags also could spontaneously deploy without cause or warning, creating a dangerous situation for the driver and everyone else on the road. The recall affects 2012 and 2013 Camry hybrids and sedans, as well as the Venza crossover and the full-size Avalon sedan and hybrid.

Cars don’t always function as the manufacturer or buyer anticipates. When a driver discovers a defect, it’s often too late. If you’ve been injured because of a defective auto part, there are some several different facts to consider:

  • Common defective auto parts Defects are especially dangerous when they affect a vehicle’s safety gear. Here are some common auto part defects to be aware of:
    • Seatbelt latching system failure
    • Seatbelt webbing defects
    • Airbag defect, by failing to deploy or deploying without reason
  • Liable parties The liable parties after an accident may include the other driver, the owner of the other vehicle and the manufacturer of a defective part that led to the crash. In some situations, the vehicle manufacturer may be strictly liable when a defective part causes an accident. Strict liability means the victim does not have to prove negligence. This liability can extend to:
    • Manufacturing defects
    • Design defects
    • Assembly defects
    • Installation defects
  • Potential damagesThe victim of a crash caused by a defective auto part may be entitled to compensation for:
    • Medical expenses
    • Rehabilitation costs
    • Lost wages
    • Diminished earning capacity
    • Pain and suffering

If you’ve been involved in an accident involving a defective auto part, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale auto accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you pursue legal action against all liable parties and obtain the compensation you deserve.

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Texting while driving is extremely dangerous because it distracts the driver’s eyes, hands and brain. Nevertheless, a recent study found that more than 40 percent of teens admitted to texting while driving. If your teen is a driver, you may need to employ some high-tech help to prevent texting behind the wheel. Consider these options:

  • iText Guard iText Guard guard is a new smartphone app aimed at preventing teen driver texting. The app recognizes when a phone is traveling faster than 10 mph, and disables the phone’s texting, emailing and Internet surfing features. After the phone comes to a rest or travels slower than 10 mph, these features are reactivated.
  • Ford MyKey Ford MyKey is aimed at making teens safer and better drivers by using a configurable key with custom safety features. The key can be programmed to block text messages and send incoming calls directly to voicemail. MyKey can also set a maximum speed for the vehicle. The feature is available in a wide range of Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
  • Drive Scribe The phone app called DriveScribe takes a unique approach to preventing teen driver texting. DriveScribe can be set to block calls and texts, but it also allows drivers to earn safe driving points that can be redeemed for rewards. The app offers discounts at retailers such as Amazon, Nike, Old Navy and Macy’s.

When a teen driver causes a crash, the teen and the parents can be liable for the consequences. If you’ve been in a collision involving a teen driver, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale automobile crash attorney as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can advise you of your legal options.

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A church van recently crashed on Interstate 10, killing three of the van’s passengers. The crash occurred when the van suffered a tire blowout.

When drivers ignore tire safety, the consequences can be tragic. Reduce your risks by following these key safety tips:

  • Tire pressure Underinflated and overinflated tires can both cause crashes. Check your tires at least once a month to make sure the pressure is within the manufacturer’s recommendations. Don’t just feel or eyeball the tires — use an accurate air pressure gauge.
  • Tire tread Tires endure a lot of wear and tear. You should periodically inspect your tires for tread issues. If your tread is worn down to less than 1/16 of an inch, you should replace the tires. If there is an irregular wear pattern, your tires may need to be aligned, balanced or rotated. Most manufacturers recommend rotating the tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
  • Tire aging You can check the age of your tires by looking at the date code. This is usually found on the outer wall of the tire. The code starts with the three letters “DOT,” and is followed by four numbers. If the numbers, for example, are “0113,” this means the tire was manufactured in the first week of 2013. Tires should have a professional inspection after five years, and once a year after that. This is especially important in South Florida, where the heat causes tires to age faster.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, tire failure may be to blame. Contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney today to discuss your legal options.

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Teen drivers don't have the best track record. In fact, more than 28,000 teen driver crashes were reported in Florida in 2011. When these accidents result from the negligence of the teen driver, the parents or guardians of the young motorist may be legally liable for the consequences.

Top causes of teen driver crashes

Because of their relative immaturity, teen drivers are more prone to risky behavior behind the wheel. Common dangerous teen driving practices include:

  • Talking, texting or emailing on a smartphone
  • Cramming too many passengers into the vehicle
  • Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
  • Eating, drinking or grooming

Parental liability

Under Florida law, a parent who signs his or her minor child’s driver license is liable for the child’s conduct behind the wheel until the child turns 18. A parent may be liable even after the child turns 18, because Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine makes the owner of a vehicle vicariously liable for the negligence of those entrusted to operate the owner’s vehicle. This doctrine can come into play when a student takes a parent’s car to college and causes an accident.

Potential damages

In a personal injury lawsuit against a teen driver and his or her parents, several types of damages may be recoverable, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

If you’ve been injured in a crash with a teen driver, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can identify the potentially liable parties so you can get full compensation for your injuries.

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In a tragic turn of events, a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy lost her life when her patrol car crashed into a parked truck on a local crane company’s private property. The deputy suddenly swerved to avoid colliding with a motorist whose illegal right-hand turn set her on a collision course that took her life. Attorneys for the deputy’s bereaved family argued that the orientation of the parked truck contributed to the deputy’s accident, making the crane company liable for what they argued was an avoidable death. The crane company, however, persuaded the court that Florida law does not generally give rise to liability against property owners when drivers collide with stationary objects on private property after exiting public roads.

Middle of the road

One of the factors in the Monroe County decision was the fact that the deputy collided with a stationary object on private property. As a result, the judge was probably reluctant to ascribe liability to a property owner who was engaging in a completely lawful use of its own property when an unforeseen circumstance resulted in death. Had the stationary object been on a public thoroughfare, the outcome may have been different.

Florida law dictates that when a stationary object is the cause of a car accident, the question of liability generally turns on the issue of fault and whose negligence caused the accident. Stalled cars and improperly parked cars are common stationary objects that may cause accidents, leading to liability on behalf of the driver of the car into which the moving vehicle collided. Road defects and debris that has fallen off a truck or other cargo vehicle are other sources of single-car accidents. The culprits of such unsafe conditions may also be liable for damages.

High-profile crash

In the summer of 2013, renowned journalist and investigative reporter Michael Hastings lost his life in a single-vehicle collision with a stationary object, the tree around which Hastings’ C-class Mercedes Benz collided with before erupting in flames. Hastings shot to fame after his controversial reports about a top U.S. Army general’s insubordination to the commander in chief took the nation by storm, and the events surrounding his deadly collision were classified as mysterious by some. Car-accident experts saw much less sinister forces at play, agreeing that when drivers collide with objects at high speeds, serious injuries and even death are inevitable.

In such unfortunate cases, it’s important that one of the first calls that survivors or the loved ones of the deceased make is to an accident attorney, who can help them start putting the pieces back together.

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