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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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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Auto drivers who do the daily commute between the two major South Florida metropolitan cities understand the need for alternatives. The Florida Department of Transportation has proposed a study that anticipates yearly savings of $12 million in a commuter rail line connecting Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

A consultant working for the state agency estimates that such a rail system would cost over $40 million per year. This is based on the proposed railway that will connect the Miami-Dade government center to the Fort Lauderdale government center along the abandoned Florida East Coast Railway corridor. This is less than the current Tri-Rail system which costs over $52 million per year.

There are no guarantees regarding the new rail system as there is considerable debate regarding the cost effectiveness of a new system versus the current Tri-Rail. Hence the need for the results of the study.

Any efforts to reduce traffic congestion and the number of auto accidents on the roadways of South Florida should be applauded. It is quite clear that the increase in the number of drivers on the roadways only leads to more collisions. Miami personal injury attorneys are available to assist those who may be involved in such accidents.
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The Governors Highway Safety Association is a group that consists of all the high ranking highway safety officials through out the country. This group recently reported its recommendation that states should wait for the completion of further research prior to banning the use of cell phones while driving.

The group indicates that there is insufficient evidence out of the states that have already banned the use of hand held cellular phones that these bans have actually reduced the number of crashes on the roadways. The group does, however, urge all states to make efforts to reduce distracted driving on a whole. They encourage laws that make it illegal to text while operating a vehicle. Over half the states in the country already have such laws in place.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report which shows that approximately 5,500 fatalities in 2009 as a result of distracted driving. The report went on to indicate that over 500,000 were injured in auto accidents with inattentive drivers.
This means that 20% of the injury crashes in that year consisted of a distracted driver.

With these statistics it is surprising that the safety groups want more direct evidence regarding the use of hand held cell phones prior to issuing laws restricting use while driving. Many motorists have become aware of these dangers and have intentionally reduced the use of cellular phones while driving on their own. Most parents do not allow teenage drivers to use their phones while operating a vehicle and are anxiously awaiting the laws that ban this in states where they don’t already exist.
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