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Florida Governor, Rick Scott, made a significant move recently by signing three claim bills that have monumental consequences to those involved. These are three bills relating to negligence claims that required the at fault parties to compensate the victims.

One of the bills , named HB 965, forces the Lee County Hospital to pay Aaron Edwards almost $15 million for permanent injuries. Edwards suffered permanent injuries to his brain during his birth in 1997 at the facility. Significant hospital errors during his delivery have left him confined to a wheelchair and without speech.

Yet another bill approved by Scott requires payment to Eric Brody. Brody also suffered severe brain damage after an auto accident with a Broward County Sheriff Officer who was at fault. Brody is to receive almost 11 million dollars.

The third bill relates to the notorious Rachel Hoffman case. Hoffman, a 23 year old student at Florida State University, agreed to act as an informant for the Tallahassee police. In what appears to be a drug sting gone array, the young lady was murdered. Her parents then filed a wrongful death claim against the city, payment for which was approved by the Governor.

Our Florida Governor did, however veto a separate bill awarding $1.4 million to an amputee. Don Brown lost his leg in an auto accident with a Sumter school bus. The Governor, believed the award to be excessive.

As a Personal injury lawyer I would like to remind the readers of this article that these damages that have been awarded are minor reflections of the true loss suffered by the injury victims. It is because, as an attorney, I understand this, that I fight for maximum money and benefits for each and every client.
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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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Auto accidents are on the rise and lawmakers around the country are making efforts to increase driver safety by reducing distracted driving habits among drivers. and can certainly understand the call from Washington and state governments to eliminate distracted driving as much as possible. These efforts include bans on cell phone use while driving and, in certain parts of the nation, even eating.

In addition to cell phones, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other safety groups have endorsed bans on the use of hands-free devices for phone calls while driving as well.

In addition to cell phone technology, the NHTSA is also making efforts toward the banning of the moving map feature of GPS navigation devices. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and uses satellite technology to locate and direct drivers to their destination. These devices integrate a moving icon that shows drivers their exact location as they move on the roads. These devices update continuously so the driver can see where they are in relation to local streets and their destination.

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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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Miami Dade college student Eric Steven Gonzalez suffered fatal injuries when his car met in an accident with a Waste Management truck. Investigators reveal his death occured on impact.

The Miami Herald reports that the 20 year old’s deceased body remained in the vehicle for hours before Miami Dade rescuers could remove him. The impact with the truck was so very severe.

This accident hits too close to home for The Law Office of Ruth E. Johnson as Gonzalez’ aunt works within our office building. Our most sincere condolences go out to all of the family.

Injuries from truck accidents are often severe. Our office has handled cases for victims of injuries from commercial truck accidents. Commercial trucks are not only large, but very heavy in weight. It takes great skill and attention to operate these vehicles in a careful manner. The slightest mishap can have deadly results.
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Miami and the surrounding South Florida area have traditionally been a great destination for “snowbirds” and retired vacationers alike. It comes as now surprise, then, that Florida was ranked second, only to California, for the numbers of drivers over the age of 65. This is according to The Road Information Program also known as TRIP.

TRIP also reports that our state is number one in motor vehilce fatalities involving drivers 65 years and older. In 2011 it was reported that 503 auto accident deaths in Florida involved at least one driver over 65. This number, according to TRIP’s policy and research director, Frank Moretti, would have more than likely been higher had it not been for the Florida Department of Transportation’s efforts to improve road safety with older drivers in mind.The Florida DOT has taken steps towards improving road and lanes sizes and visibility of traffic signs.
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As a Miami resident and wife of an avid cyclist, the news of the recent tragedy on Key Biscayne was devastating.

There was an awesome turnout yesterday morning where cyclists met for a group ride in honor of 37 year old Aaron Cohen, the fatal victim of a hit and run accident last week. The riders went along the William Powell Bridge where Aaron and Enda Walsh were hit by a female automobile driver who fled the scene and later turned herself in.

As an accident lawyer in Miami it is truly amazing to see the support and respect that these riders have displayed not only for the injured, but for the sport on a whole. The facebook pages of local bicycle team have been filled with deep rooted thoughts and prayers for all involved. What is more surprising are the posts that show the great respect that these riders have for their beloved sport. Not deterred by fear, there is a momentum to keep riding.

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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.

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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 →