Hit and Run Accidents – What You Need to Know

A recent news story involving a hit and run accident has captured a lot of attention across the Tampa Bay area recently. When a Plant High School student was visiting family in Tallahassee over Thanksgiving weekend, a car tragically struck her as she tried to cross the street and the driver fled the scene. The victim was Jacqueline Faircloth, a Plant High School senior, who suffered major head trauma, chest injuries, a broken jaw and a broken eardrum. Faircloth was in critical but stable condition at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and has experienced improvement, but continues to remain in a medically induced coma to limit brain swelling. An arrest has been made and more details continue to unravel, but it is a striking reminder of the severity of such an incident and the damage that can occur in a split second.

As for the driver of the vehicle that struck Faircloth, records indicate he had no prior criminal record in Florida. Reports indicate the driver panicked, not knowing what to do, but had the passenger traveling with the offender not come forward, police could still be searching for the perpetrator. Interestingly, hitting a pedestrian is not necessarily considered a criminal act if it is an accident and the driver stays at the scene until certain statutory duties have been fulfilled. These duties include notifying law enforcement, presenting a valid driver’s license, exchanging pertinent information and in a case where injuries are involved, provide reasonable aid to the injured party until help arrives. These requirements are covered under 316.062, the duty to give information and render aid provision. By not providing the general information required without injury, you may be charged with a civil infraction and should seek guidance from a qualified attorney. As soon as the driver leaves the scene of the accident, however, it is considered to be a hit-and-run.

Hit-and-run accidents often involve pedestrians or bicyclists – and Florida is among one of the more dangerous states in the nation for this type of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports Florida pedestrian accidents have increased since 2012, when the number of hit-and-run crashes totaled nearly 70,000.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury

The crime of leaving the scene of an accident where serious bodily injury is involved is a second degree felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If death results, it becomes a 1st degree felony punishable by up to 30 years. See Florida Statute 361.027.

If you are in a circumstance where you have fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident and would like to know options for avoiding formal conviction, attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides can help. We can guide you through your options to explore potentially reducing the charge, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, a strategy may include entering a pre-trial intervention program or making negotiations for withholding adjudication. We can also assist with trial if the facts and the case warrant it. There are several defenses to leaving the scene that may pertain to your situation. These options can be explored in more detail by speaking to one of our personal injury attorneys directly. Contact us to learn more about your legal rights when involved in a hit-and-run.

What You Need to Know About Airbag Recalls in Florida

While airbags are designed to save lives and reduce injuries, a faulty airbag can do far more harm than good.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a massive airbag recall warning for more than 7.8 million vehicles.  The airbag recall targets mechanisms supplied by Takata, Inc., a Japanese auto parts manufacturer, and includes vehicles from major American and Japanese automakers, as well as German manufacturer, BMW.   According to federal officials, the inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, sending sharp metal fragments and other shrapnel into the faces and necks of accident victims in the event of a car crash. Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem with the most recent fatality involving an Orlando woman on September 29th.

The NHTSA believes humidity plays a role in causing airbag malfunctions as it may trigger the chemical propellant responsible for airbag deployment.  Automakers plan to recall additional models in high-humidity states, such as Florida, in an effort to prevent serious accidents of personal injury or wrongful death as further testing is conducted. You can also hop over to this website to know how to claim compensation for the injuries sustained with the help of attorneys . Safety officials and car accident attorneys are urging drivers to act immediately to fix vehicles with potential airbag defects, as the consequences of delaying can be fatal.  The issue is serious enough that in circumstances where a replacement airbag is not available for one of the affected vehicles, dealerships have begun disabling airbags entirely until a replacement can be installed.

Vehicles affected by the recall include:

  • More than 600,000 BMW vehicles including 3-series sedans, coupes, and wagons as well as M3 convertibles and coupes;
  • More than 370,000 Chrysler vehicles including Dodge Durango SUVs and Ram pickups;
  • More than 58,000 Ford vehicles including the Ranger and Mustang;
  • More than 160,000 General Motors vehicles including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac models;
  • More than 5 million Honda vehicles including the Civic, Accord, CR-V, and Acura RL, TL and MDX;
  • More than 64,000 Mazda vehicles including the Mazda6 and RX-8;
  • More than 11,000 Mitsubishi vehicles including the Lancer and Raider;
  • More than 690,000 Nissan/Infiniti vehicles including the Maxima and Infiniti QX4;
  • More than 17,500 Subaru vehicles including the Legacy, Outback and Baja; and
  • More than 870,000 Toyota/Lexus vehicles including the Lexus SC, Corolla and Toyota Tundra pickups.

To determine whether your car is included in the airbag recall, visit http://www.safercar.gov/ and enter your vehicle’s VIN number. If you’re subject to a recall, you will see notifications and receive up-to-date information there.  If you or someone you know has a case involving a defective airbag or other defective product, please contact our Personal Injury lawyers today.

Study: Parents Don’t Always Insist on Booster Seats

A recent study has concluded that parents are generally diligent about requiring booster seats in their own cars for their children, but are surprisingly lax about insisting on booster seats when their child carpools with someone else.

The study, conducted by the journal Pediatrics, surveyed around 1,600 parents nationwide who had kids between four and eight years old. According to the survey, 76 percent of parents said that their child used a safety seat while riding in the family car. However, only 55 percent said that they require booster seats when driving other children. Twenty-one percent did not routinely ask other drivers to require a booster seat for their child.

Booster Seats Save Lives

Booster seats are important in reducing child injures. Seatbelts are designed to fit adults, so until children reach a certain size, they will not receive adequate protection from seatbelts.
In the event of a collision, ill-fitting seatbelts can cause injury to a child’s spine, bowels and bladder. Booster seats work by aligning the child’s body properly with the seatbelt, giving full protection.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using booster seats reduces the risk of serious injury and death among children by over 50 percent.

The Law on Booster Seats

Florida law requires all children under five years old to be restrained while traveling in the vehicle. If the child is under four years old, the child must be secured in a child safety seat. Children between the ages of four and five may use either a safety seat or a seat belt to restrain the child. It is recommended that children weighing 40-80 pounds and under five feet tall ride in a booster seat.
The penalty for violating the restraint law for children is a fine of $60 and an assessment of three points on the offender’s driving record.

Source: “Carpooling parents don’t always use booster seats”, Reuters.com, 1/30/12

Drowsy Driving: High Time We Take It Seriously!

For too many people, it’s become a habit to get into a vehicle and drive while dog tired. Because we all know that dozing off behind the wheel can be deadly, many grab a cup of coffee, drive with the window open, or play loud music, all in an effort to stay awake.

A 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll found that 60 percent of adult drivers admitted to driving drowsy over the past year. That equates to approximately 168 million Americans driving drowsy every year, and about a third of them admitted to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel. Thirteen percent said it happens once a month! Those most at risk for driving drowsy include men, teens, young adults and individuals who work non-traditional shifts.

It has been estimated by the National Traffic and Safety Administration that sleepiness contributes to 100,000 car accidents annually. Sadly, these accidents account for over 1,500 deaths, 71,000 reports of injury and monetary losses upward of $12.5 million.

If so many studies prove the dangers of drowsy driving, why is more not being done to halt it?
Unlike driving while intoxicated, there is no field test to indicate when a driver is drowsy. Further, officers are not trained as extensively in recognizing signs that point to drowsy driving. Lastly, state legislatures have not made it a priority to implement laws that forbid or charge individuals for driving while drowsy. Currently, the only state in the U.S. that has a drowsy driving law on the books is New Jersey. Maggie’s Law was passed after a young college student was killed by a drowsy driver.

Our lives always seem to get busier and there are often not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Many carve precious time out of sleep to catch up, not knowing what a dangerous habit this is. Remarkably, a recent study has found that the impairment of an individual who has been awake for 20 hours can be compared to that of a driver whose blood alcohol level is .08 — the legal limit in most states. Traffic officials further note that, because a drowsy driver does not slam on the brakes or try to avoid an accident, most of these crashes prove to be fatal.

Educating others on the dangers of driving drowsy is essential to curbing this behavior. Parents need to discuss this with their teen drivers and set an example by only driving when they are alert and in control.

Source: “Driving drowsy as dangerous as driving drunk, studies show,” CNN.com, 11/9/11

In Dash Technology: Are Federal Regulations Needed?

Roads are already dangerous places. With the increased prevalence of cell phones, smart phones, navigation systems and other distractions, drivers are paying less and less attention to actual driving. In addition, to keep up with growing reliance on technology, many new cars offer features that integrate these distractions into the car. Many cars now offer an in-dash ability to make phone calls, look up gas prices and check Facebook.

Distracted driving is becoming a serious problem. In the last year alone, over 3,000 people in the US were killed in car accidents caused by in-car distractions, despite the recent passage of laws to govern phone use while driving. Ten states have laws banning the use of hand-held phones while driving and 35 states have a complete ban on texting while driving.

For example, California banned both handheld cell phone use and texting. As a result, there has been a drop in deaths due to cell phone distraction by almost 50 percent since the laws were passed.

Car companies are also concerned about the use of in-dash applications. Many have already established limits on use while the car is in motion. But car companies will not stop trying to come out with the best and most comprehensive in dash system without government involvement.

The Federal Government has decided that now is the time to act. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently begun looking into the feasibility of guidelines for in-car navigation and integrated technology systems.

The NHTSA suggested that these car systems meet guidelines to minimize the distracting effect to the driver while the car is in motion. It also proposed voluntary guidelines that would disable functions such as texting, web browsing and dialing when driving.

Source: Fox News, “As car tech advances, can distracted drivers keep up?” John Quain, Mar. 13, 2012

Defective Hip Replacement Claims

It is estimated that almost three quarters of a million people will have either a hip or knee replacement surgery this year. The numbers are large and continue to grow with our aging society and increasing numbers of Arthritis sufferers. The surgery is almost commonplace but the risks associated with every surgery remain. Every surgery, even the most routine surgery is fraught with risk. This is major surgery and with a good result, can be a positive life changing event with a substantial recovery time and attendant pain. The risks include adverse reaction to anesthetic, infection, medical malpractice and ultimately the failure or complete malfunction of the implant.

Information continues to be developed through ongoing litigation that many of the manufacturers of these replacement devices have known for some time that the devices were defective and not properly suited for the replacement surgeries they were used in. Many of the implant devices used in both the ‘resurfacing’ and the ‘total’ replacements need to be surgically removed and replaced. These defective devices cause serious pain and the risk of a condition known as metallosis, infection, compromised function and total implant failure. Metallosis is when the metal in the implant breaks down and metal ions find their way into the soft tissues surrounding the implant. The body sees them as foreign bodies and the immune system wants to attack them and this causes many serious problems. The solution to these ‘unexpected’ circumstances is to have an even more risky and expensive second surgery to remove and replace the initial defective implant. This is hardly the ideal solution, but it is, at this point, the only one.

If you are having problems with your implant, seek appropriate medical attention. The result of the device failures are very serious and include debilitating pain, infection and possible cobalt contamination in the blood from Cobalt Metallosis. If you are having trouble or you have one of the defective implants, seek medical attention first. You should also consider seeking competent legal advice regarding your remedies and right to damages and compensation. A second joint replacement surgery will cause great pain, lost income, emotional damage and expose you to all of the risks associated with a second serious surgery. These injuries and damages are compensable and you owe it to yourself and your family to explore your right to monetary compensation.

If you have had a hip or knee replacement and are having problems or concerns you should investigate and if appropriate, you should choose a law firm like the McIntyre Firm who has substantial experience in dealing with defective products and defective medical devices. The McIntyre firm can evaluate whether you have a claim, explain your legal rights and help you evaluate a legal strategy to get the financial compensation you may be entitled to.

Uninsured And Undersinsured Drivers In Florida

Despite all the laws and regulations in place, a substantial number of Florida’s financially challenged drivers do not have liability insurance. Liability insurance is the coverage that extends to third parties injured by the uninsured driver. Current statistics reflect that approximately 23% of Florida’s drivers do not have the required coverage which is mandated to protect you and your family if they are at fault in a motor vehicle accident.
There are some very prudent things you can do to protect yourself, more than just wearing your seat belt and watching out for the other driver. Call your insurance agent and make sure you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage. In its simplest form, you are buying an inexpensive third party liability insurance coverage for the uninsured driver who may hit your car next week. The personal injury lawyer based in New York can help with any kind of accident or injury case.

Another scenario is being struck by an at fault driver who does not have enough liability insurance to cover the personal injuries sustained by you or your family member. This type of driver in ‘under-insured’
What if I had an accident with an uninsured driver and didn’t have this coverage? Florida law is very specific what it takes to ‘reject’ this specific coverage. The law requires a knowing, written rejection. If you have had an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, your Uninsured Motorist Coverage would kick in and give you the opportunity to make a good formal claim and settlement with your own insurer.

UM coverage is often times your only meaningful remedy to recover damages for your injuries as these uninsured or underinsured drivers rarely have any significant financial resources or assets to pursue for serious personal injuries or death. UM coverage will pay for your damages including lost wages, medical bills for care and treatment and when the situation requires, for a wrongful death, as if the uninsured driver actually had the required insurance coverage.

UM Claims, as they are called require a level of competence, tenacity and in some cases, creativity in establishing Uninsured Motorist coverage. Perhaps the agent made a mistake and did not comply with Florida law in not obtaining your proper rejection of this coverage. This UM coverage may be your only remedy to be made whole and collect damages.

Alcohol and Liability

According to the people at https://emmausmedicalandrecovery.com/, colleges are in session and young adults are gaining access to alcohol despite the 21 year old drinking age, this is nothing new. We are coming to the end of the high school year and we know our young adults and teens are experimenting with adult beverages. For many it is a rite of passage, for some, a response to peer pressure. Regardless of the cause, we know it is not a good thing at a tender age. Drunk and impaired driving is a scourge on American society. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) analyzed and found a morsel of good news: “deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 4.9% in 2010, taking 10,228 lives compared to 10,759 in 2009′.

Alcohol related crashes injure countless others and create an incredible financial burden on our healthcare system and limited governmental resources. Alcohol addiction can only be treated by addiction treatment help  by experts at rehab centers. We needn’t go into details and statistics to validate this proposition. We all know or heard of someone from our neighborhood or place of business whose life has been impacted by injury or death from an alcohol related event. The question is better framed as ‘what is our Legislature doing’ to curb this very real and prevalent danger. The answer is actually, very little. For the older segments of our population, the term Dram or Dram shop relates to a barroom or a saloon. Our governmental regulation of bars and other alcohol establishments is often referred to as the Dram Shop Act.

The legislature created Florida Statute 768.125. This Statute regulates and limits the liability of the bar for serving alcohol to a patron who in turn causes injury or death to themselves and or a third party. The cruel irony is that the Statute, rather than try to regulate the subject, in reality it serves to protect the bar from civil liability to victims with two significant exceptions.The place where lawyers were needed and people can hire experts to provide legal aid is easier to access now.

If the facility sold alcohol to a minor who in turn causes injury or death to himself or third parties, the bar owner can be found civilly liable and pay damages to the under-age patron and or his victims. The Statute does not limit the claims for relief to automobile circumstances only.

The second exception is where a jury can be shown that the bar ‘ knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages …’ The burden of proof is very difficult. It is time for the legislature to put some teeth in this Statute so that it can deal with several outstanding issues involving social hosts who serve guests adult beverages. As a community, we need to take more aggressive steps to control and manage this problem.

If you know someone who is the victim of a drunk or impaired driver, they should seek competent, experienced legal counsel who have significant experience with the civil damages side of drunk driving. We must be able to regulate the source of this alcohol and make the sellers accountable if we expect to rid our community of the dangers of impaired driving and underage drinking.