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Pensacola Injury Law Blog

Riding in Pensacola Proves Dangerous for Motorcyclists

Unrecognizable man on motorcycle in the streetIn late September, a motorcyclist was killed by an SUV on Belleview Avenue. The motorcyclist was not doing anything wrong. The driver of the SUV backed out of their driveway, unaware of the man on the motorcycle, striking and killing him. The man on the bike was not wearing a helmet and alcohol does not appear to be a factor, but charges are pending as a result of the death.

It was an accident that could have been prevented, and some are saying that drivers are simply not paying enough attention as they exit their driveways. Some bike riders talked to reporters, detailing events much like the one in which this man lost his life. Near misses abound, and motorcyclists want drivers to be aware. Motorcycle riders talk about having to lay their bikes down in order to avoid being run over by a backwards-moving vehicle.

The death of a former employee of a Harley Davidson shop prompted the formation of Ride Smart Northwest Florida. Its founder, Jacqueline Henderson, says that cars backing out of driveways and not seeing motorcyclists is not a new problem. She said it’s important to be aware when driving a motorcycle, even if vehicle drivers are not.

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in Pensacola, you may have the legal right to compensation for your injuries. Reach out to our attorneys today for more information on seeking compensation for your financial losses. We will review your accident at no cost to you and advise you of your options.

What should I be doing after I’ve hired an attorney to represent me in a case?

Advice from Attorney Michael Thomas

If you’ve been injured and believe that someone else should be responsible for your injuries, you may be wondering what you should be doing after you’ve hired an attorney to represent you in your claim against the responsible party for your injuries.

Unfortunately, resolving your claim might take some time, but there are still a number of important things for you to do while your attorney is handling your case.

If you’ve been injured, the first and most important step is for you to seek medical treatment right away, follow your medical provider’s instructions, and continue to see your medical provider as often as you are advised. I speak with people every day who put off treatment thinking they would get better on their own, only to still find themselves in pain weeks later.  If you delay your treatment, you will be giving the other side powerful ammunition to claim that you must not have been hurt, otherwise you would have sought treatment sooner. More importantly, your health should be your primary concern, and you should seek treatment immediately and follow your doctor’s orders to prevent your injury from getting worse.

At a certain point in your treatment, your doctor will be able to tell you when you have reached “maximum medical improvement.” This does not mean that you are completely healed, but rather that the doctor has done all that they can do to get your condition to improve. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement your doctor will be able to give your attorney a formal opinion about the extent of your injuries and their impact on your future. This, however, does not mean you should stop treating, as your doctor may want you to continue treatment in order to maintain your improvement.

While you are treating with your doctor, your attorney will be working to determine what type of claims and rights you may have, who the responsible parties should be, and whether there is any insurance coverage available for your claim. Once you’ve hired an attorney, its best to let your attorney deal with the insurance companies and responsible parties. Your focus should be on doing everything your doctor says for you to do to get better.

Additionally, there are a few other small steps you can take to help your claim:

  • Save all evidence you have related to your injury, including any items that were damaged or medical equipment (such as a cast, crutches, or a cane) you needed to use while you were treating with you doctor
  • Take pictures of your injuries throughout your treatment in order to better document your recovery
  • Make a list of all the tasks and hobbies that you can no longer do without pain due to your injury
  • Avoid talking to anyone other than your doctors and attorney about your injuries.
  • Avoid posting on social media entirely. Anything you put online can and will be used against you if your case goes into litigation.
  • When in doubt about something, call your attorney and get advice.

 

Your attorney will work hard to settle your claim. If your attorney is unable to reach a settlement with the at fault parties, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit.

 

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS WARREN R. TODD

The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or highly-populated region in the nation who meet stringent objective qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state or region who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile measured by objective and uniformly applied standards in compliance with state bar and national Rule 4-7

Distracted Driving

Advice from Attorney Michael Thomas

Nlegal-textingot long ago, my best friend was killed by a distracted driver who was texting while driving. Unfortunately, he is not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8 people are killed and 1,161 people are injured every day in a crash involving distracted driving. One out of every four car crashes involves a cellphone in some way. In 2013 alone, 341,000 crashes involved texting while driving.

By now, we should all know about the dangers of cellphone use and driving. Yet so many of us continue to drive while distracted by our phones. Surveys conducted over the last few years show that more than one-third of all drivers and nearly half of drivers under the age of 40 admitted to texting while driving. But texting isn’t the only distraction that our cellphones bring. In 2014, surveys estimated that 80% of all drivers owned a smartphone. To call these devices “phones” is something of a misnomer; smartphones today do so much more than enable interpersonal communication. Whether you are checking your email, updating your social media account, setting your GPS, or even picking the next song to play in your car, all of these activities serve as distractions that make driving even more dangerous.

Many of us believe that using hands-free technology is safer than manually using our phones while we drive. However, recent studies have called this logic into question. Regardless of whether we realize it, using a phone in any way takes our mind off of driving. Research shows that voice-to-text technology such as Apple’s Siri places significant cognitive demands upon us as drivers, even without taking our hands or eyes off of the road. One study from the Texas Transportation Institute specifically compared the difference in driver impairment between drivers manually texting and drivers texting hands-free using voice-to-text technology.  Notably, the study found no improvement in driver ability when the drivers used voice-to-text technology; both methods significantly delayed driver response time.  Perhaps more concerning, drivers reported that texting with voice-to-text technology made them feel safer than manually texting, suggesting that these devices create a false sense of security.  Even the popular show Myth Busters debunked the idea that hands-free technology is safer than manually texting while driving. In fact, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found hands-free devices to be so cognitively demanding that drivers remained cognitively impaired for up to 27 seconds after finishing a phone call or selecting a song to play! Because our minds remain distracted for such a long time after we put the phone down, texting while stopped in traffic clearly is not a good idea either.

Using your phone while you drive is not just dangerous, it is also illegal. Almost every state in the country bans some form of cellphone use while driving. Florida joined that list in 2013 when the Florida legislature enacted the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving. If you get into a crash and cause personal injury, your phone records can be admissible in court to prove you were texting and driving at the time of the crash. In other states, drivers who kill another due to texting and driving have been found guilty of felony mansalughter.

With all the traveling we do each day, it is important to remember to keep our hands, eyes, and mind off of your phone. After all, the most important thing is to make sure everyone makes it to their destination safely.

Couple Saved After Capsizing

A couple from Pensacola found themselves confronted by Hurricane Irma while traveling back home in their houseboat. The couple capsized due to rough waters and had to be saved by officials.

According to reports, the couple traveled to Saint Marks to harvest scallops. The couple had traveled for five days before deciding to return to Pensacola. They were navigating their 32-foot pontoon on Choctawhatchee Bay close to the Mid-Bay Bridge when their boat turned over. Even though weather conditions were clear at the time, there were 3 to 4-foot waves in the bay and the wind was blowing at nearly 20 mph.

The pontoon was nearing the bridge when the port side was struck by several large waves. Even though the driver of the pontoon slowed down to safer speeds, the waves forced the boat to capsize. The couple jumped from the boat with their life vests on before they were taken under. They were rescued by another person on the water and transported to the U.S. Coast Guard Station.

The pontoon was recovered from the bay and taken to a boat ramp where it was placed on a trailer. Estimated damage to the boat is said to total about $30,000.

If you have been involved in a boating accident in Pensacola due to someone’s negligence or error, you may have a case for personal injury. Call our office today and schedule an appointment for a case evaluation. We will advise you of your legal rights and help you make decisions appropriate to your circumstances.

Accidents and Social Media

Advice from Personal Injury Attorney Ben Shell.

My clients often ask me if they should stop posting on social media if they have a pending injury claim. While some may not like it, the answer is a resounding YES.
Why stop? I can tell you with absolute certainty that the insurance defense lawyers and the insurance adjusters on the other side are looking at your posts and photos. And they will make every opportunity to use them against you in your auto accident case.
The reason I know this is because this was my practice. I began my career as a defense attorney, representing Fortune 500 insurance companies and their insured. The first thing I did when I got assigned a case was to do a check on all social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. But I would take it a step further, I would actually make a copy of these profiles. Then, during the discovery process, I would request that the Plaintiff produce a complete and authentic copy of their profiles. My next step would be to compare the two profiles for any differences. Essentially, I was looking for anything that may have been deleted or altered. First, that would tell me what areas I need to focus my attention on. Second, you can imagine what it would look like to a jury if one side was caught trying to hide evidence.
If you do anything after an accident, such as going to the beach, movies, or even a family Bar-B-Que, this information can and will be twisted and used against you. The rationale will be that you are obviously not that injured if you are able to go to the beach. Or you’re obviously not upset or depressed about your injuries if you’re able to go the bar with friends.
You may be sitting there and thinking to yourself that you don’t have to worry about it because your profile is private. That is absolutely not the case. Keep in mind, even if your profile is set to private, you will still be required to produce a copy of your profile if the defense attorney ask. Under Florida law, Courts have routinely held that individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy with social media accounts, regardless of the privacy settings.
Do yourself a favor and avoid posting on your social media accounts. Trust me, they will be there in a few months when your case is settled.

Pensacola Day Care Shut Down After Hot Car Death

inside of the kindergarten classroom with drawings on the wallsA day care in Pensacola has been shut down after a tragic incident. Police say that a 3-year-old child was left in a day care van and died as a result of the high temperatures inside the vehicle. The cause of death has not been confirmed by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, but the state’s Department of Children and Families says that it was indeed a hot car death. The incident occurred on August 18, when temperatures in the area reached 93 degrees.

As police investigated the incident, parents arrived to pick up their children. They were kept outside, waiting to find out which child had been transported to the hospital. Parents were obviously distressed as they waited for their children to be escorted out of the center. As parents picked up their children throughout the afternoon and evening, law enforcement and state officials took pictures of the day care and the van which was eventually towed away.

A woman emerged from the center telling those in the crowd that she wasn’t going down for this. She was escorted back inside the building and left the scene quickly after her statement. If law enforcement officials do rule the death as one caused by being left in a hot car, it will be the second in only a month’s time. In the first incident, a 3-year-old boy was left for an entire day in a vehicle parked outside a day care before he was discovered in the evening.

If a loved one has been injured as the result of someone’s negligence in Pensacola, you have rights. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation.

What should I do if I am injured in an automobile accident?

Advice from Personal Injury Attorney, Warren Todd

When people are injured they are often stressed, anxious, and angry. They do things they shouldn’t do and don’t do the things they should do. So what should you do if you are involved in an automobile accident?

Remain calm and call 911 for medical attention and law enforcement.

If you are able, obtain the names and contact information of the witnesses. Even if you are confident the other driver was clearly at fault, it is very important to obtain this information because sometimes law enforcement does not make it to the scene before witnesses leave or they simply do not obtain this vital information.

Again if you are able, take pictures of the vehicles involved in the crash and the scene to document the damage, location of the vehicles, and any physical evidence such as skid marks, gouge marks, or debris.

Be polite and avoid any confrontations with the opposing driver and passengers.

Get prompt and appropriate medical treatment. You would be surprised how many times I hear from insurance adjusters or defense lawyers your client must not have been hurt that bad because they declined the ambulance or didn’t go to the emergency room.

Be smart and do whatever you can to preserve evidence to help support your case.

Car Drives Through Pensacola Emergency Room

Emergency Room EntrancePeople visit emergency rooms for medical attention. Patients and their families anticipate being diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Many even anticipate settling in for a long wait. What people don’t expect is to see a vehicle crash through the front doors.

According to reports, a man drove through the front doors of Sacred Heart Hospital’s emergency room on August 17, 2017. Police are not sure why the man drove through the doors, but the accident occurred around 1:00 a.m. What police do know at this point in the investigation is that the driver told a passenger to “hold on” before accelerating through the doors.

Initial information gathered at the scene revealed that the incident began as a domestic violence issue. Both the driver and the passenger were being treated for injuries after the crash, but it is unknown whether either party had sustained injuries in the original incident. No one in the hospital was hurt when the car entered through the front doors.

The crash is still under investigation. Information gained immediately has led police to investigate the original allegation of domestic violence, as well as the crash itself. No charges have been filed as of yet as police try to unravel the details of the case.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Pensacola, you have legal rights to compensation if the crash was due to someone’s negligence. Call our office today to set up an appointment for a free case evaluation to discover what you may be entitled to under current state law.

Fatal Semi Truck Accident in Pensacola

Semi-trailer truck damaged during an accidentOn Wednesday, August 9, 2017, two vehicles were involved in a collision on U.S. 98. The crash occurred just after 12:00 p.m. and involved a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck. The accident, sadly, proved to be fatal for the occupant of the vehicle.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a female driver was operating a 2006 Cadillac GTS. She was traveling behind a semi truck, operated by a male driver. For reasons currently unknown, the woman was traveling at a higher rate of speed than the semi-truck and did not slow down. Due to the speeds of the two vehicles, the woman crashed her vehicle into the back of the semi-truck.

The Cadillac was forced off the road as a result of the initial impact. The vehicle came to rest in the grass. The driver of the semi-truck was able to complete a controlled stop very close to the scene of the accident. Emergency personnel responded to the scene of the accident and discovered that the female driver had passed away. Troopers also noted that the woman was not wearing a seat belt.

If you are involved in any type of truck accident in Pensacola, you have legal rights. You do not have to accept the settlement the insurance company offers you without having it examined by a legal professional. You also have the right to take your case to court, seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages and more. Call our office today to discuss your case with a member of our team.