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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

A 2009 motor vehicle accident statistics report by the Florida Department of Transportation showed that 5,474 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents due to texting while driving, and another 448,000 were injured. In response to these statistics like these, Florida state officials signed anew texting while driving ban into legislation, which took effect in October 2013. This ban isn’t surprising, being that every state in the nation, besides Arizona, Montana and South Carolina have illegalized texting while driving. But, unlike many states, such as California, Florida’s laws aren’t nearly as tough.

How the New Texting While Driving Ban Works
When You Can Be Pulled Over
The new law only partially bans driver cell phone use. Under the new law, drivers are allowed to check maps on their cell phones, use voice commands, read texts that contain addresses, text and email while at a stopped light or while stopped in traffic, and talk on their cell phones without restrictions. Texting and emailing while driving, however, is not allowed.

Even though texting or emailing while driving is not allowed, doing so isn’t necessary enough to allow an officer to pull a person over. Drivers can only be pulled over for breaking the new ban as a secondary offense. What this means is that the person has to be breaking another driving law – such as speeding – before they can be pulled over for texting while driving.

The Punishment The fine for texting while driving is pretty minor. For a first offense, the result is a $30 fine plus court fees and for a second offense, the fine goes up to $60 plus court fees.

If a driver gets into an auto accident while texting and driving, and a death or serious injury results, an officer can legally confiscate his or her phone. Law enforcement and court officials can then look at the confiscated phone for evidence that the driver was texting or emailing at the time of the accident. If it is found that the driver was indeed texting or emailing at the time of the auto accident, the courts will likely find them guilty and liable for causing the accident.

How Enforceable Is This New Ban?

Between all of the allowed uses of a cell phone while driving and the secondary offense rule, police officers and the courts may have some trouble enforcing the new law. First, police are going to have to prove that they did pull the driver over as a secondary offense. If it is found that the driver was not breaking another driving law when pulled over for texting while driving, then the case is not valid and should be thrown out of court. In addition, the officer will also need to prove that the driver was illegally texting (for example, talking to a friend) as opposed to legally texting (for example, checking directions or looking at an address). If no accident resulting in death or serious injury results, the police cannot legally confiscate the phone and use it as evidence. Without evidence, the officer cannot prove the texting activity was illegal.
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The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed what we have all believed to be true; that is the fact that seatbelt use in all motor vehicles saves lives.

By carefully analyzing motor vehicles accidents and fatality rates, the NHTSA has recently reported that the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved approximately 12,546 lives in 2010 alone. For the five year period between 2006 to 2010 this number is reported at over 69,000 lives across the nation.

The National Highway Safety Administration reports that in 2010 in Florida an estimated Florida 769 lives were saved by seat belt use , 151 lives saved by frontal airbags and 111 lives saved by the use of motorcycle helmets.

Given the rising statistics in auto accidents due to technology and other new distractions on the road , it is refreshing to learn that advancements have been made in improving safety statistics.Miami auto accident lawyer urges and reminds everyone to remember to buckle up always. Insist that all passengers in your car do the same.
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Car accident lawyers around the country are carefully watching the environment changes as technology brings about new ways in how the laws apply in cases. Specifically the increased use of cell phones while driving and the implications for the person on the other end of the phone.

In Miami, and throughout South Florida, it is still legal to use a cell phone for text messaging while driving. While driving here, one can’t help but notice the glancing heads towards the laps or the cell pones being held at eye level while driving. Clearly we all agree this is a dangerous habit.

A judge in New Jersey recently had to address an interesting issue with respect to an accident caused by text messaging. In that case a couple had sent several text messages back and forth. One party was actually driving while the text messages were being sent and eventually caused an accident causing serious harm to a couple on a motorcycle. While the driver admitted guilt and was clearly liable for the accident and injuries, the question was whether his girlfriend who had engaged the series of messages with him was also liable. After all she knew he was operating a motor vehicle and understood, or should have known of, the dangerous condition her messages were causing.

The lawyer for the victims in this case argued that the girlfriend knew or should have known that text messaging while driving was illegal in New Jersey and therefore she aided and abetted her boyfriend in engaging in this crime. Although the driver made the choice to focus his attention away from the road and safe operation of the vehicle, that it was her messages that set the events in motion. The victims’ attorney believed that her actions were contributory to the losses and therefore she too should be held liable in addition to her boyfriend.

The judge in this action eventually agreed with the girlfriend. However, the fact that this argument was made presents an interesting perspective for all personal injury attorneys and lawyers in the country.

Miami attorney Ruth E. Johnson urges all drivers to avoid cell phone use while driving. The risks are so monumental that it is worth a second thought each and every time one is tempted to check a message, read an email or dial a number.
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For this car accident lawyer, this one hits very close to home as fellow West indian, Kirk Camacho, and his family have suffered an unbearable loss due to the beyond negligent actions of a fellow Miami driver. My heart breaks for the loss that this family is dealing with.

The accident happened just a few miles south of our office at Southwest 184th Street and the busway that runs adjacent to South Dixie Highway in the southern Miami metro area. Mr. Camacho was travelling with his two daughters eastbound on SW 184th Street early Friday morning. When crossing the intersection with the busway, the mini-van that the Camachos were in was practically cut in half by a Range Rover Sport that was heading southbound illegally in the busway and without the right of way at the light.

The youngest daughter, Kaely, was sitting in the rear passenger seat and was airlifted to Ryder Traum Center, where she died. Her father and sister also suffered injuries but were released from the hospital. The driver of the Range Rover, 38-year-old Sandor Guillen, actually attempted to flee the scene of the accident. Law enforcement officers created a perimeter around the area and were able to apprehend the at fault driver.

NBC reports that Guillen has been charged with several criminal charges, including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of a crash involving a death. Investigators also report that speed was clearly another factor in this case based on the damage to the vehicles.

Again my sincere condolences go out to the Camacho family as they go through this most difficult time.

In addition to the criminal charges, Guillen will face claims for damages due to the losses this family has suffered as a result of this accident. There are several potential claims which the Camacho family may pursue, including wrongful death.
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The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers ; an in car video study of the habits of teenage drivers. As previously reported in this blog, auto accidents is the leading killer among teenagers. Therefore, research was conducted in order to pinpoint exactly what activities these drivers engage in that puts them at risk.

AAA found that distracting activities are significant among all teenage drivers. These activities include use of cellular telephones, text messaging, makeup application and other grooming habits. Another distracting habit among the drivers was reaching for items in and about the vehicle.

The study found that the greatest distraction for all teenage drivers was the use of electronic devices. An alarming 70% of the drivers used an electronic device while driving. This was even greater among older teenage drivers.

Gender was also a huge factor as this study revealed that females in their teens use electronic devices, including cell phones, double the amount of time than their male counter parts. Female teen drivers also engaged in other distracted behaviors, including reaching for items and eating and drinking, significantly more than male teenage drivers.

What was particularly interesting was the finding that when parents or adults were in the vehicle, distracting behavior among the teens decreased.While the opposite was true when passengers were teenagers. With other teens in the vehicle distracting activities actually increased.

As a Miami personal injury lawyer, this study is not surprising as the number of accidents due to distracted driving is on the rise. Our office applauds the efforts of educators and law makers alike who have made efforts to decrease distracted driving habits on the streets of South Florida. However, more needs to be done to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
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Most, if not all, Florida drivers are familiar with this State’s requirement that each vehicle owner carry $10,000.00 of personal injury protection coverage (PIP). Essentially this is $10,000.00 of medical and loss wage insurance. This form of insurance coverage applies no matter who is at fault in the accident and may cover others within the drivers household, children, and passengers in the vehicle who do not own a vehicle and have no PIP coverage. PIP insurance benefits are available if you are involved in an accident in another person’s vehicle, as a pedestrian, or on a bicycle.

Also known as Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law , PIP insurance requirements are imposed on all owner/registrants of a motor vehicle with 4 wheels. In order to maintain legal licensing and registration, these vehicle owners must carry $10,000.00 policy limits of this coverage.

Florida law makers have recently approved a bill reforming the current law. The new version of the PIP law continues to require $10,000 in minimum coverage, but this can only be used by those who are seriously injured in a motor accident. The legislature has limited coverage in what it defines as moderate or “soft-tissue” damages to $2,500.

The new law allows victims up to fourteen days after the accident to seek medical treatment in order to receive PIP benefits. It also allows insurance companies to examine accident victims under oath. The law limits treatment with chiropractic care by only allowing coverage for treatment if referred. Although the change still permits chiropractic care, it does not cover acupuncture or massage therapy.

This personal injury lawyer in Miami believes these changes will cause greater harm than good for the drivers in Florida. By limiting benefits, it only causes greater losses to those injured in an auto accident. With the significant costs of medical care, the limits imposed by this change will leave many unprotected and without the ability to receive needed care and medical attention to their injuries. Simple diagnostic testing, including x-rays and cat scans will surely “eat away” at the available coverage for many. This will. leave very little or no coverage available for actual care of the injuries. By excluding various forms of therapy, this new act also leaves the injured party without access to forms of medical care that, in our office’s experience, have proven beneficial for injuries. The exact benefit of this reform to the injured remains unclear.
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As a Miami car accident lawyer it saddens me that motor vehicle accidents are still the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15-24. The risk is even higher for those between the ages of 16-19.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are a number of factors responsible for the increased death rate among teenagers and young adults. Speeding, low seat belt use, inability to recognize hazardous situations, alcohol use and risky driving behavior are some of the recognized factors that increase the risk of death among this age group.

The other obvious factor is use of cell phone and the resulting distracted driving that occurs. Use of cellular telephones among those aged 15-24 is high. What is particularly high is the use of these devices for text messaging and email. This is the most dangerous use of the phone while driving. Clearly, when added to the factors mentioned above, cell phone use only increases the risk of death among young drivers.

Parents and law makers alike need to proactively address this issue and protect these drivers by educating them of risk factors and setting boundaries regarding dangerous behavior while driving. It is clear that new initiatives will be created to assist in the effort to reduce teen deaths due to auto accidents.
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The latest Texas Transportation Institute study has ranked Miami’s 836 Highway in its top 40 most congested highways in the country. From a review of the study I found that the 5 mile corridor on the 836 between 107 Ave and 57 Ave was the only roadway in the state of Florida to make it to the “most congested” list. This stretch also made it to the institute’s “3 cup morning” list.

Although congested roadways lead to slower speeds, this does not mean less serious collisions and safer conditions for drivers. The daily grind of stop and go traffic leads to more accidents than steady traffic flow.

Automobile collisions can lead to injuries. For most of us there just is no way to avoid the congested 836 and other freeways in south Florida on a daily basis. Therefore if ever involved in a car crash in South Florida one should seek counsel of a personal injury lawyer in Miami.

In Miami, there are still not laws against using a cell phone and driving. Throughout the country, however, there are concerted efforts to reduce distracted driving through the institution of laws prohibiting cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle.

The Chicago Tribune has recently reported that one town has taken the fight against distracted driving one step further. Town officials of Oak Park, IL have announced that they are considering a ban on eating or drinking while operating a car.

So is eating while driving really a risk?

In Canada, an observational study discovered that consumption of food or drinks while driving was the most frequent distraction. The same study revealed that using the phone was the third of all distractions.

Distracted driving is one of the leading negligent acts which result in auto accidents. A Miami car accident attorney may assist those who have suffered losses as a result of the distracted driving of others. By thoroughly investigating such accidents and claims, Law Office of Ruth E. Johnson assists victims in obtaining maximum benefits for such losses Continue reading

The Centers for Disease Control have recently reported that four million people in this country admit to driving while under the influence of alcohol.

As scarey as that statistic is, even more scarey is the fact that this astronomical number reflects only those who actually admit to driving drunk. It is therefore clear that the actual amount of persons operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is greater than four million.

Drunk driving is a leading cause of injuries related to auto accidents. It is a significant contributing factor to motor vehicle crashes and should not be ignored.

It is for this reason that the CDC is making efforts throughout the country to encourages each state to increase checkpoints in an effort to discourage driving under the influence.
Miami auto accident attorney , Ruth E. Johnson, applauds such efforts to make the roadways safer and promote responsibility while drinking.
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