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Pensacola Injury Law Blog

Woman Crashes Into Car Stopped for Funeral Procession

A woman from Molino is recovering from injuries sustained in a serious crash that occurred on February 6. The woman rear-ended a car that was stopped for a funeral procession. Pictures released of the accident show one car with severe back-end damage and another vehicle flipped over onto its roof.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the 66-year-old woman did not see the vehicle stopped on the highway. The woman failed to stop and slammed into the rear end of the vehicle. The impact of the collision crumpled the back end of the smaller car and caused the woman’s SUV to flip over.

The female driver of the SUV was transported to a local hospital and reported to have serious injuries. Police cited the woman for careless driving. The person in the vehicle that was struck sustained minor injuries and was treated at Sacred Heart Hospital. She was cited for impeding traffic.

The Florida Highway Patrol was still investigating the accident at the time of its reporting.

If you have been involved in a vehicle collision in Pensacola, you have legal rights to be aware of. You are entitled to seek compensation for injury and property damage. Call our team today and discover more about your legal options. We will hold your initial case evaluation at no cost to you and help you make decisions appropriate to your case. Reach out to us by phone or online and begin the process of recovering your financial losses.

Father Charged with DUI Following Accident

Old building with street lightA man crashed his car into a light pole at the beginning of November with his children in the vehicle. Authorities have said that the man had eight alcoholic drinks before getting in his vehicle.

The man and four children were all treated for injuries due to the November 10 accident. The man was not charged immediately following the crash due to a pending investigation, which is now closed.

A warrant affidavit was filed in late January, and the man turned himself in. Witnesses told investigators that just prior to the crash, the man had been speeding and passing vehicles in a no-passing zone. The man was also observed to enter a left turn lane and make a right turn instead. That turn caused the car to leave the road and hit the telephone pole.

Following the accident, the man told investigators that he had just left work and was heading home. Video from the man’s job showed him ordering eight drinks between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Troopers indicated that the man appeared to be under the influence of alcohol when they interviewed him at the hospital. A blood test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.12.

The man was charged with two counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury and two counts of DUI with a person under the age of 18 in the car.

If you have been injured in a DUI accident in Pensacola, reach out to our team. We will help you schedule a case evaluation at which time we will advise you of your legal options.

The importance of Uninsured and Under-insured motorist

Advice from Personal Injury Attorney,                              Ben Shell.

I would like to take a minute to discuss something that I believe to be the most important provision of your automobile policy. What I’m talking about is uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage (UM). Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provides a valuable source of recovery after a car accident, when someone is injured by another driver who is uninsured or does not have adequate insurance.

People often think that because they have insurance on their car, they are protected.  But as a personal injury attorney, let me tell you, this could not be more wrong.

To put this into perspective, I would like you to imagine a scenario. What happens if you are driving in Florida and you’re hit by an uninsured driver and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage (UM)?  If you’re in a car accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance, you can lose everything, including any right to collect for your pain and suffering, and injuries. Importantly, this coverage protects not only yourself, but also any passengers in your vehicle.

Now for those of you who are sitting there thinking that this situation could never happen to you, I would like you to consider one thing. According to the Insurance Research Council, 23.8% of drivers in the state of Florida are uninsured. When you’re driving home today, I want you to imagine that one out of every four vehicles on the road is uninsured.

Now this 23.8% statistic only documents uninsured drivers and does not even consider underinsured drivers. For example, suppose you are in a car accident and you incur $25,000 in medical bills. If the at-fault driver carries liability insurance with a policy limit of $10,000, the at-fault driver is underinsured. In a situation like this, you would need to have uninsured motorist coverage on your own auto policy, or else you could be stuck owing an extra $15,000 dollars for an accident that was not your fault. This does not take into consideration the amount of pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the accident.

But with the right auto insurance, this does not have to happen.

Child Hurt in Pensacola Car Accident

Car CrashA toddler was left in critical condition after being involved in a car accident in Pensacola on February 1. The child was in a vehicle that was involved in a three-car crash at the intersection of Johnson Avenue and North Davis Highway.

According to local police, an elderly woman from Pensacola is suspected of having had a medical event that led to her losing consciousness. The woman was unable to control her vehicle and collided with a Hyundai Santa Fe. That vehicle rolled and landed approximately 200 feet from the scene of the collision.

A child inside the Hyundai was ejected from the vehicle and thrown under the elderly woman’s car. That child was transported to a local hospital to be assessed and treated for injuries. After the woman’s car hit the Hyundai, it struck a Nissan Rogue and then came to a rest. The elderly woman suffered minor injuries and charges are pending as a result of the accident.

Aside from the young child and the female driver, no others were injured in the collision. An investigation is being conducted into the events that led to the crash.

If you have been involved in an accident in Pensacola or the surrounding area, you have legal rights that you should be aware of. After you have sought medical attention, contact our team of personal injury attorneys. We will help you arrange a case evaluation and advise you of those rights and your options moving forward. Call today or reach out to us online at your convenience.

Seat Belt Defense

Advice from Personal Injury Attorney, Ben Shell.

As most of us know, in Florida there is a law that requires all drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt. What a lot of people don’t know is how the failure to wear a seat belt could affect your personal injury claim if you have been a victim of an automobile accident.

Essentially, if you were involved in an accident and were not wearing your seat belt, the at-fault driver can claim a seat belt defense. To better explain this, I would like you to imagine a hypothetical scenario. Let’s imagine you were stopped at a stop sign and were not wearing your seat belt. Then imagine you get rear-ended with enough force that your head hits the steering wheel, resulting in you breaking your eye socket. The at-fault driver can argue that your head would not have hit the steering wheel if you were wearing your seat belt, and, therefore, you never would have suffered a broken eye socket.

Without taking into consideration the safety implications of failing to wear a seat belt, there are also significant legal consequences which could potentially affect your claim. One of these potential consequences is called the seat belt defense.

This evidence will then get presented to a jury which will be responsible for determining what percentage of the injuries was caused because you failed to wear your seat belt. If the jury finds you to be 80% responsible for your injuries, you would only receive 20% of your just compensation from the at fault driver. This means if you had $100,000 in medical bills, you would only be able to recover $20,000. Seat belts save lives. Please make sure you and your passengers wear one.

 

 

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

Advice from Personal Injury 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 party responsible 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 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.

Pensacola Drivers Struggle with Icy Roads

Car on Extreme Icy RoadIn some cities, a tenth of an inch of snow might seem like no big deal, but in Pensacola, it created a hazardous driving environment. In a place where cold weather is abnormal and snow and ice is almost impossible, the residents were unprepared for the below freezing temperatures that left behind icy roads and city closures. Many people in the area did not even know how to use an ice scraper.

One accident left a Milton man dead after he lost control on a patch of ice on State Route 87. His car slid into a median construction zone, and crashed into construction machinery, causing the highway to close.

Many other minor crashers were reported due to the icy roads, according to the FHP spokesman. Several troopers worked alongside the Florida Department of Transportation in an effort to clear the roads as much as possible to combat the expected black ice sheets.

Many offices were closed due to the severe weather, along with Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts. Residents have been warmed to limit their exposure to the cold weather, especially children who must wait at bus stops. Schools have cancelled all outdoor sports and activities until the weather warms up.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a serious car accident in the Pensacola area, we are here to help. Reach out to our team of experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation today, and let us review your case. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, loss of work, or pain and suffering.

Coal Barge Stuck on Sandbar

Top view of Tugboat pushing a heavy barge on the riverOn Monday January 8th, inclement weather led to coal barges breaking loose on the Intracoastal Waterway. A company transporting coal from Mobile, Alabama to the Gulf Power Plant Crist in Pensacola had four barges break away, grounding them in the Fort Pickens Area. By Tuesday, three of the barges had been recovered.

According to spokespeople from Gulf Power, there was no coal spillage as a result of the accident. However, no updated information has been provided by the tow companies on the current situation regarding coal spillage. There has been no visible environmental damage caused by the situation so far, and it is not expected to create any problems if contact with Gulf water happens, as it was carrying unoxidized coal.

Several attempts have been made to recover the grounded barge, beginning with an Ocean Atlas Tugboat on Thursday afternoon. Bayou Chico sent two more tugboats in the hopes of recovering the barge on Thursday evening. Alternate attempts were set to be made by a crane barge from Mobile. The main concern was lightening the weight of the barge before it settles into the sandbar, making it even more difficult to remove.  

If you or someone you know has been involved in a boating accident in the Pensacola area, reach out to our team of attorneys today. With boating accidents on the rise, our team is here to help. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today, and we can advise you on the best next steps for your case.

How does the Florida Car Accident Threshold for Personal Injuries work?

Advice from Personal Injury Attorney, Warren Todd.

In 1971 the Florida Legislature passed legislation making Florida a hybrid no-fault state for purposes of automobile accident personal injury claims.  The law in its current version requires resident registered owners of operable vehicles to have No-Fault insurance to cover $10,000 of their own medical bills, lost wages, and some essential services.  These required benefits are payable regardless of who was at fault for causing the car wreck, meaning both the negligent party and the innocent victim are entitled to these benefits under their own respective insurance policies.  The purpose of the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law is to ensure injured people are able to promptly obtain some basic level of insurance without having to establish who was at fault which in some cases can take months or years to resolve.

As a tradeoff for the perceived benefit of having $10,000 of No-Fault coverage immediately available for most injured parties, the Legislature also adopted what has become known as the Florida No-Fault Threshold.  The statute as interpreted by decades of case law restricts an injured person’s ability to recover non-economic damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, and loss of the enjoyment of life unless the injured party can prove they sustained a “permanent” injury as a result of the car wreck.

Florida law recognizes the following as “permanent” injuries which entitle an injured party to recover for pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, and loss of the enjoyment of life:  A significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, and death.

While it may seem unfair for a car accident victim to submit claims for their medical bills and lost wages directly to their own insurance company, the prompt payment portion of the No-Fault system does usually benefit most injured parties.  However, the “permanent” injury threshold requirement restricts injured parties who had non-permanent injuries from making a full recovery to which they would have been entitled under a fault based system.

Due to these legislatively imposed limitations, it is very important for injury victims to seek medical care from a competent physician who is familiar with the “permanent” injury threshold requirement and is willing to provide a written opinion when the patient has a “permanent” injury.  In my experience, many physicians shy away from treating car accident injury victims due to this proof requirement and others are often unwilling to provide record evidence of a “permanent” injury.  For this reason, if you have been injured in a car accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can provide guidance on the type of physician or specialist who is willing and capable of providing the necessary written opinion for your case.

Dealing with Suddenly Cold Weather at Work

hand red with frostbiteWith many places facing suddenly cold weather, including North Florida, it is important to keep in mind safe practices for the workplace to deal with this temperature shift. Although exact guidelines by OSHA have not been specified to cover cold environments, employers must establish a work environment devoid of winter weather related hazards that could cause harm to employees.

One way to do this is providing proper training for workers regarding cold weather hazards. Cold stress is a main hazard, and employees should know how to monitor themselves and their coworkers for signs of it. Other hazards training should be provided on include slippery roads and surfaces, downed power lines, and windy conditions which can be combated through safe work practices and equipment knowledge. Scheduling should also take into consideration the warmest part of the day, as well as allowing ample breaks for outside workers with heated areas provided.

Another key component is providing warmth through proper clothing. It is recommended that workers facing cold wear at least three layers of loose clothing. These layers should include insulated outerwear, face covering if needed, hats to insulate the ears, and gloves to protect the hands. Workers should also have waterproof outerwear to avoid moisture and dampness that can increase heat loss from the body.

If you have been injured at work in the Pensacola area due to the cold or any other factor, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation. We will review your case and guide you through your next best steps.