Recently in Personal Injury Category

November 19, 2014

Seeking Justice after Being Injured on the Road

Florida car accident attorney.bmpIn 2012, there were over 10,600 road-related deaths in the US for every 100,000 of the population. This meant that there were 33,561 deaths in total and 2.36 million injuries linked to the road. In fact, it's said that there is a road accident every 14 seconds on average in the US. The most common reasons for road crashes include alcohol, (driving under the influence), speeding and using cell phones while driving.

Reasons for Accidents and Fatalities

While many people are injured or killed as a result of their own actions, many people die or are injured on the road due to no fault of their own. If you are the victim of an accident due to someone else being reckless and not taking enough care and attention while driving you maybe be able to make a claim against them to get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. Personal Injury lawyers like us here at Blake & Dorsten P.A from Florida and Thomson Snell and Passmore from Kent in the UK specialise in automobile accidents and can both help you if you need to make personal injury claims.

There are many steps that you can take in order to stay as safe as possible while out on the highway however. These include driving at a sensible speed and paying respect to signs, not driving when you're tired and using caution whenever necessary. Distractions such as cell phones are often the cause of road-related deaths and injuries, so you should give your full attention to the road.

Safety Advice

It's also advisable to take a break when you need to. Driving can be tiring and our ability to control a car can be compromised greatly if we don't take regular breaks. If you are driving with a passenger who is legally permitted to get behind your wheel, think about swapping roles every now and again. Don't have a few drinks before getting behind the wheel and make sure that your vehicle is well maintained. Use your lights effectively and if you do need to stop due to a suspected fault with your car, make sure your vehicle is as far away from the traffic as possible.

When Not to Drive
Pinellas personal injury lawyers
Find out what the state of play is regarding traffic and weather before you embark on a long drive. Many deaths have occurred after people started journeys against advice from the authorities. The amount of alcohol-related road deaths has decreased significantly over the decades, falling by 26% per 100,000 people across the United States between 1991 and 2006. However, the National Safety Council recently found that one-in-four road accidents in the US could now be linked to cell phone use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that speeding can be linked to around a third of fatal crashes.

Contact Legal Professionals

Nonetheless, if you have been the victim of a car accident that wasn't your fault, help is at hand. Personal injury lawyers can help you to bring the perpetrators to justice. You may be able to make a claim against a driver if they caused you to be injured via neglect and recklessness. When you're looking for lawyers, you should shop around until you feel you have found someone with a proven track record who you can trust. Anyone who has been involved in car accidents that weren't their fault can contact a lawyer for help. If you are looking for legal help or guidance please contact us here and we may be able to help you.

February 26, 2014

Personal Injury Claim - Understanding the Damages

Clearwater personal injury lawyers.jpgEvery year there are millions of people who are injured in personal injury accidents - on the road, at work, at home or outdoors. And more often than not, they are not at fault for these mishaps, in which case they deserve to be compensated for their agony and loss. Personal injury claims help these victims to achieve this compensation. But before deciding on going about a personal injury claim, how will you evaluate if your claim is worth pursuing? The answer to this key question lies in 'Damages'. So what are damages? What are the different types of damages? How do you evaluate these damages?

1. Compensatory Damages:

When it comes to personal injury claims, most damages would fall under the category of compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are damages that can be evaluated and monetarily compensated. While it is easy to put a value on some compensatory damages like medical expenses, loss of property etc., it is difficult to put a value on the pain that one has suffered because of the accident. These loses can be categorized as monetary and non-monetary losses.

i. Monetary losses:

Losses that can be easily evaluated and put a price on are called monetary losses. They are relatively easy to calculate based on evidence or indications such as cost of medical treatment, value of property etc.

Medical expenses:
Almost all claims will cover medical expenses as damages as it is imperative that an injured victim is treated for the injury suffered due to the accident. It not only covers the cost of treatment that the patient already has incurred, but also covers such costs that the patient will be required to incur in future for the rest of his/her life.

Loss of income:
If the accident has resulted in loss of income for the victim then they can claim damages for the same. It not only covers the income that the victim has already lost because of the accident, but also will cover his/her future income as can be calculated. This is termed as 'loss of earning capacity".

Loss of property:
If the accident resulted in the loss of a physical property such as vehicle or any other item of value, then it can be covered as damages. The value can be calculated based on the cost of repair or fair market value in case of irreparable damages.
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ii. Non-monetary losses:

Losses that are physical and emotional and that cannot be easily evaluated are called non-monetary losses. It is difficult to put a value on non-monetary losses and it may considerably vary between victims.

Pain and suffering:
Most personal injuries involve pain and discomfort and it is imperative that the damages cover this suffering. The damages will cover compensation for physical pain endured during the accident and also during the recovery phase.

Emotional distress:
Damages will also cover the psychological impact of the injury. This includes anger, fear, loss of sleep, anxiety, frustration etc. that is associated with the injury.

Loss of enjoyment:
If the injury resulted in the victim's loss of interest and enjoyment in life such as hobbies or other recreational activities, the damages can cover this.

Loss of consortium:
Loss of consortium is provided to the spouse who is affected because of the victim's inability to indulge in the relationship. It includes loss of companionship, loss of affection, loss of sexual relations etc. Traditionally, these types of damages are lightly compensated.

2. Punitive damages:

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their outrageously careless act that resulted in the injury in the first place. Punitive damages are awarded on top of compensatory damages and are designed to provide some kind of emotional closure to the victim. They can act as deterrents in future. However, punitive damages are not awarded in all personal injury cases and they are reserved for serious acts. Also most states have a limit to the amount that can be claimed as punitive damages to avoid excessive claims on this account. Some common examples of punitive damages are injuries that result from reckless or wanton behavior such the Defendant injuring the Plaintiff in a DUI or a wrongful death case when the Defendant had knowledge of the danger and took no steps to correct same.

It is imperative to be aware of the different damages that one can claim for a Clearwater auto accident lawyer or a Miami personal injury attorney. Also it is important to ensure that the claimant is not negligent on actions that they have to take, in order to mitigate the impact after the accident, as this will have a bearing on the damages awarded.

Continue reading "Personal Injury Claim - Understanding the Damages" »

November 26, 2013

What Is "No-Fault" Automobile Insurance?

pinellas fleeing and eluding.jpgYou've been in a serious automobile accident that was another driver's fault and you both have automobile insurance. Whose insurance pays for your injuries and the damage to your car? The answer may depend on the state in which you reside.

The majority of states are using what's known as traditional tort insurance. The driver who is at fault and his or her insurance company are responsible for any injuries or losses that the innocent driver suffers. Sometimes the at-fault driver's insurance company will pay all of the innocent driver's accident-related expenses. In other instances, the innocent driver may have to hire an auto accident attorney and sue the at-fault driver to collect the money this driver may deserve.

But a handful of states (like right here in Florida) require drivers to purchase no-fault automobile insurance (sometimes known as personal injury protection or PIP). In these no-fault states, each driver's automobile insurer pays for its client's expenses after a car crash. The innocent driver may be barred from suing the driver who is to blame for the accident, or they may only be able to sue in limited circumstances.

Am I in a No-Fault Insurance State?

Nine states require drivers to have no-fault auto insurance. Those states are:

Florida
• Hawaii
• Kansas
• Massachusetts
• Michigan
• Minnesota
• New York
• North Dakota
• Utah


Additionally, Kentucky, New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow motor vehicle owners to choose between traditional auto insurance and no-fault insurance. (These are sometimes referred to as choice no-fault insurance states.) If a Pennsylvania driver doesn't make a choice, then he or she is automatically provided with traditional tort coverage. In Kentucky and New Jersey, drivers who don't make a selection default to no-fault coverage.

When Can You File a Personal Injury Suit in a No-Fault State?

Drivers in no-fault insurance states are not completely barred from filing personal injury lawsuits in connection with automobile accidents. The state just raises the bar on eligibility requirements to keep the courts from getting clogged by minor lawsuits.

In five no-fault states, drivers must meet what's known as a verbal threshold. If the accident and its injuries were sufficiently serious--for example, someone in the accident is killed, dismembered or permanently disabled--then a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is allowed. The states that have a verbal threshold (sometimes known as a qualitative threshold) are:

Florida
• Michigan
• New Jersey
• New York
• Pennsylvania

In other no-fault states, there is a monetary threshold or quantitative threshold that must be met before a lawsuit is permitted. Those states and their thresholds are:

• Hawaii: $5,000
• Kansas $1,000
• Kentucky $1,000
• Massachusetts $2,000
• Minnesota $4,000
• North Dakota $2,500
• Utah $2,000


No-fault insurance and its rules can be confusing. If you've been hurt in a car crash that was someone else's fault, talk to an automobile accident lawyer today--even if you live in a no-fault insurance state. Your attorney can review the details of your claim, help you understand your state's laws and determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Continue reading "What Is "No-Fault" Automobile Insurance?" »

October 29, 2013

Simple Tips on How to Make a Personal Injury Claim

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There are certain times when you will be facing adversity through injury. If the injuries which you have suffered are due to the negligence of another person, the most natural thing to do is pursuing legal action. But how will you proceed on when dealing with this?

Make your Report Detailed

Whether you are creating your accident report yourself or if the police are preparing it for you, you should make sure it's detailed. Talk about everything that you have suffered such as a concussion, bruise and anything between. If some bumps develop in the place in the future, it really helps to note them down. Also, think about the mental side of things and more possibly, write down whatever you are going through.

Know How Much Money You Have Lost

When you don't attend work because you have suffered an auto accident, you will lose money because you will not be able to attend work. And for those who are able to attend work, they may be getting paid at a lower rate. In the long run, you will have lost a reasonable amount of money. Also, if you have missed out on other opportunities such as attending learning and educational opportunity, you should consider listing down the cost of those classes.

Get Advice from Trusted Friends

As a result of suffering personal injury, you will absolutely need to get an experienced legal professional to offer you the much needed representation. Getting the best legal professional can be challenging hence there is a need for you to consult friends and family members who you can trust. It's in your best interest that you need to invest in a knowledgeable and highly experienced personal injury attorney. By asking for reference from the people you trust, you can actually be able to hire an attorney whom you will work with and deliver you great results.

Don't Fall for Advertisements

Whether you are picking an auto accident attorney in Saint Petersburg, FL or Anchorage, AK, you should never just rely on advertisements. Good attorneys advertise their service but usually get the bul of their business by building an actual reputation over time. Even if an advert is very good, it may not be able to tell about the actual ability of the attorney. Talk to the people you know and they will be able to refer you to a reputable attorney who has what it takes to deliver you fantastic service. In many cases, people who have hired attorneys based on the adverts they saw on television have ended up being utterly disappointed and you don't have to be part of the statistic. It's really worth your effort to search when looking to hire a lawyer because the person you hire determines the results that you get in the long run.

Ask Questions

When you are meeting with an attorney for the first time, it is important that you ask as many questions as possible. For instance, you should ask about the attorney's education, length of experience in similar cases, working plan, case management and a wide range of other issues. By taking the best approach when hiring an Anchorage insurance lawyer or a Pinellas auto accident attorney, you stand better chances of achieving fantastic results.

About the Author:
This guest post was contributed by Robert Stone. He is a premier plaintiff's Anchorage Auto Accident Lawyer.

Continue reading "Simple Tips on How to Make a Personal Injury Claim" »

September 27, 2013

Look Twice for Motorcycles

Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney.bmpMotorcycles represent just 3% of registered vehicles in the U.S., but account for 13% of traffic fatalities in 2007, according to Examiner. For example, in California, 80% of all motorcyclists involved in an auto accident resulted in death or serious injury. The statistics here in Florida are almost identical. Personal injury lawyers are able to represent people injured in motorcycle accidents by proving liability through negligence.

But motorcyclists often have a bad reputation. In a courtroom populated by non-motorcyclists, there may be little mercy to be had. Whether motorcyclists' bad reputation is justified or not, juries often have an overwhelmingly negative opinion of the cycling community. This woman did little to alleviate this negative sentiment.

Liability

Factors like injuries and liability issues involved in a motorcycle accident are very different from an auto accident. The law of the land for motorcycles is "negligence." This means that the person in the accident who behaved in a thoughtless or careless way is held liable. No matter the driver or vehicle, one must still be cautious of all motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Contrary to popular negative viewpoints of motorcyclists, the driver of the other vehicle is often held negligent. They are usually negligent because they did not look twice for motorcycles, or check their left-hand turn mirror before turning, etc. If they were doing something illegal, like running a red light or speeding, they will be held liable for the auto accident and any injuries sustained by the other party.

Motorcyclists are still held liable often enough. For example, an inebriated motorcyclist will find no succor in court if they swerve in front of or into a car, causing it to crash. On top of a probable DUI charge, they will also be responsible for any injuries suffered from the crash even if they are injured themselves.

The most common causes of these accidents are motorcyclist head-on collisions, cars executing left-hand turns, cars not looking twice for harder-to-see motorcycles, motorcyclists lane splitting, speeding and alcohol use, collisions with fixed objects, road hazards, and super-sporty cycles being operated recklessly.

The Basics of a Negligence Claim

In order to prevail in a motorcycle accident case the plaintiff must prove:

- That the law required the negligent driver or the defendant to be careful when operating a vehicle. Truly, it is a common law that motorists exercise caution when riding or driving.

- That the defendant was driving without caution versus in a safe, prudent manner. If there is any ambiguity, the two drivers' conducts are compared to that of a "reasonable person."

- That the defendant's actions while driving or riding were directly responsible for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.

- That they were injured, suffered losses, and deserve to recover those losses. If the plaintiff cannot prove any damages, suffered losses aren't recoverable. This is true even if the defendant is proven guilty of acting carelessly.

If the plaintiff is equally at fault with the defendant, the recovery for suffered losses may be reduced ("comparitive negligence"). Often the plaintiff's behavior while operating his/her vehicle is used as evidence for defense against the negligence claim in order to reduce the recovery amount.

Continue reading "Look Twice for Motorcycles" »

July 22, 2013

What You Should Know before Filing a Personal Injury Claim

St Pete personal injury lawyer.jpgNoah Kovacs has over ten years of experience in the legal field. He has since retired early and enjoys blogging about small business law, legal marketing, and everything in between. He recently purchased his first cabin and spends his free time remodeling its kitchen for his family. Twitter: @NoahKovacs

A guest blogger who gives useful tips in what to expect if you need to file a personal injury claim...

Going to court or being involved in a lawsuit is not the place most people want to find themselves, especially after they've been injured. However, if you've been injured on the job, involved in a car accident, or otherwise experienced bodily or emotional harm due to another person's actions, you may be entitled to monetary damages through a personal injury claim, but before you file a claim there are a few things you'll want to consider.

Time Limits

Often called the statute of limitations or periods of prescription every personal injury case has a time limit. If you don't file by the deadline then you'll miss your opportunity to seek compensation for damages. To ensure this doesn't happen to you make sure you seek legal consul from a qualified litigation law firm immediately following any personal injury event. Florida has a four year statute of limitations claims on most injuries so make sure you consult with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer soon after your injury.

Experience Matters

Like everything in life experience matters. To give your case the best chance of winning you'll want to hire the most experienced attorney you can. Chances are good that if you're going up against a corporation or a wealthy individual you'll be facing an entire team of experienced lawyers. Take special consideration to hire an attorney with experience in the specific field of your case (traffic accident injuries, slip and fall claims, etc.).

No Up-Front Payments

It is common practice for personal injury lawyers to require payment only after a case has been successfully won. Typically this comes in the form of a standard fee plus a percentage of the financial compensation (33-40%).

Commitment

The majority of personal injury lawsuits can take anywhere between 2 - 3 years or longer to complete so you need to be ready to commit a large portion of your time and life to winning your case. If you're not ready to commit to the case, don't file it until you are.

Hidden Secrets

The opposing side's legal team will spy on you, it's their job. They'll be looking for any incriminating evidence that they can use against you to prove your claim is without merit, or wrong. Any hidden secrets you have whether personal or professional may be discovered and disclosed in the court of law. If you're not willing to endure this, it may be in your best interest not file a claim.

Continue reading "What You Should Know before Filing a Personal Injury Claim" »

July 11, 2013

Aaron Hernandez sued for Florida nightclub shooting

Saint Petersburg violent crimes defense lawyer.jpgThe Aaron Hernandez murder investigation has taken a turn for the more bizarre. Per the ABA journal, he is now getting sued for an earlier shooting of a man near a south Florida nightclub.

As the country now knows, Aaron Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder in Massachusetts. His friend and semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd's body was found shot in a park less then a mile from Hernandez's home. The evidence seems strong. Hernandez refused to cooperate with the police and destroyed his cell phone as well as several minutes of security footage in his home. However, surveillance cameras outside the park shows a his SUV enter the area shortly before gunfire was heard. The SUV was a rental, rented by a friend of Aarons and when it was returned a '45 caliber gun casing was found, the same caliber as what killed Odin Lloyd. Hernandez was seen at home with a handgun. The deceased had previously texted his girlfriend letting her know that he was with the now ex-NFL tight end and that he felt worried. Most damning of all? A piece of bubble gum and another '45 casing was found near the body. This same brand and flavor of bubblegum (a very unusual one) was purchased by the defendant earlier that day!

It gets weirder. Now, police have found more evidence linking Hernandez to the previous killings of two men in a Boston drive-by shooting in Boston over a year ago. There is suspicion that Odin Lloyd was killed because he was seen by Hernandez talking with guys at a nightclub who knew the Boston shooting victims.

Pinellas Personal Injury attorney.jpg Not Smiling Now

Within hours of his arrest, Hernandez was cut by the Patriots. He is still being held in jail without bond, something his criminal defense lawyer disagrees with.

"There is no eyewitness testimony," said his lawyer, at a Massachusetts court hearing last week as he unsuccessfully argued for $250,000 bond. "There has been no indications of any direct evidence as to who shot the decedent, who was present when the decedent was shot, whether there was a plan to kill the decedent, and any other indication that if there was such a plan, Mr. Hernandez was part of it."

As if he does not have enough headaches to worry about, Hernandez has been sued by a personal injury attorney in federal court June 13. The New York lawyer claims that his client, Alexander Bradley, was shot by the murder defendant. On February 13, Bradley was shot in the face while in a vehicle with the suspect and two other men after a night at a South Florida strip club. The Plaintiff, who is seeking $100,000 for injuries, was found in an industrial park by the club, severely injured.

The personal injury attorney admitted to USA Today of his surprise with the defendant's arrest.

"You can't make this stuff up. When I filed this simple lawsuit for Mr. Bradley's injuries, the last thing I expected was they would find a dead body near his house and he'd be under investigation to two other dead bodies". "That's not what I expected when we filed our simple lawsuit."


Continue reading "Aaron Hernandez sued for Florida nightclub shooting" »

May 6, 2013

Five ways to choose the right Florida Car Accident Attorney

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A car accident can be a traumatizing time for anyone, especially if it happened to be a particularly bad accident. Some people come out with very few injuries, while others end up suffering from a lot of damage. Regardless of what happens during a car accident, it can be a life changing experience and therefore you are going to want to make sure that it does not happen again. Due to the trauma and injury that you can receive from it, it may be possible to hire a Florida personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit against the person who caused the accident. On the flipside, you may find that someone has sued you for the car accident. In cases like this, you are going to want to make sure that you get a good lawyer. You need to find an attorney who is going to help you through this time and provide you with the appropriate legal advice that will help you in your case. Finding someone like Blake & Dorsten, P.A. in Florida or Crenney & Associates in Pennslyvania for car accidents will ensure that you have a good amount of expert legal advice on your side.

Recommendations

The first thing that you can do when it comes to finding a lawyer is to get a recommendation off a friend or a family member. All you need to do is look around and ask. Often this is one of the best ways of doing things simply because you know that you can trust the judgment of someone who is close to you.

The Internet

There are many Personal Injury lawy firms now who will advertise themselves on the Internet. All you need to do is take a look at their website and see what their lawyers are like. It is important to phone up the firm as well and make an inquiry. This way you will be able to find out more information about them and what services they can provide for you when it comes to your case.

Advertisements

You are more than likely to see a few lawyer advertisements both online and on television. If you do find these, then make sure to write down the number and keep it in mind.


Reviews

If you want, you can take a look at reviews online (such as on yelp.com or avvo.com) and see whether or not a particular lawyer is going to be your best option when it comes to your car accident case. Everyone wants to make sure that the people they are working with can provide them with a competent service, therefore it is a good idea for you to make sure that you hear what others have to say about a particular firm.


Ask Your Lawyer

The legal field is a small world. If you have another lawyer (such as a criminal defense attorney), then you can speak to them about getting someone who specializes in this particular area of law. Many people may prefer to go through their current lawyer for advice when it comes to important things like this.

Continue reading "Five ways to choose the right Florida Car Accident Attorney" »

August 1, 2012

Personal Injury and Debt

pi case.jpg5 Steps that help deal with debt torment and personal injury:

Dealing with the problems of debt is not easy. Life becomes more difficult as you may receive frequent calls from creditors and their collection agencies. In addition to this, if the debt is a result of a car accident, you may start having more problems with regards to that if you do not have appropriate car insurance. The other party involved in the accident can claim dollars with regards to personal injury. Other than trying to get debt relief, you or your trial attorney may also be required to handle the personal injury case, if the other party sues you. There are various things which are to be considered with regards to the accidents.

5 Steps dealing with debt and personal injury

Some tips that may help you to deal with the debt in the case of a personal injury or car accident include:

• Knowing the details of debt relief options - It is important for you to know all of the details of the different debt relief options that are available. Some of the most common options available are the likes of debt settlement, consolidation, management and so on. In case of the secured debts, some of the options are the likes of loan modification and refinancing, etc.

• Negotiate with the creditors - You or your lawyer can negotiate with the creditors in order to get a settlement agreement, or re-payment agreements, or even a loan modification. That may help you to pay off your debts with ease.

• Lower your usage of credit cards - It is important for you to lower the usage of the credit cards, so that you can keep a proper control over your debt amount from increasing. Only if you keep a control over the debts, it may be possible for you to pay down the debts.

• Paying off the tickets you have got - Rather than dragging alongwith unpaid traffic tickets, it is best to consult with a Florida traffic ticket attorney. A good traffic ticket attorney may be able to get your ticket dismissed, get a reduced fine and keep harmful points off your driving record!

• Hiring a personal injury attorney - If you or a loved one are victims of a car accident due to drunken driving, or if a wrongful death has occurred do to this accident, the emotional and financial impacy may be devastating. Hire a trusted Florida personal injury attorney who can guide you through these troubles.


Continue reading "Personal Injury and Debt" »

July 3, 2012

Tampa Bay Buccaneer arrested for a suspected DUI

wright.jpgAnother year, another rash of arrests for the Tampa Bay Bucs. According to an article in today's Tampa Bay Times, free agent Eric Wright was arrested in California on suspicion of DUI.

We have previously blogged often about the troubles and arrests of the Buccaneer's players and their apparent goal of giving the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders a run for the title of most arrests per NFL franchise. It is still disappointing to see that the team has yet to learn from their past.

According to police reports, Eric Wright, who recently signed a 37 million dollar contract with the team, was arrested on suspicion on felony DUI (with serious bodily injury) after an accident in downtown Los Angeles.

Accordin to the LAPD, officers responded to an auto accident after midnight. They determined that Eric Wright's Mercedes XLS sports coupe had rear-ended a Chevy Silverado. The football player admitted to both driving the vehicle and drinking at a friends house earlier. He refused the breathalyzer (it is not known if this is his second refusal and therefore a criminal charge). He was charged with a felony DUI because the other driver had an injury. dui 3.png

Eric Wright posted $100,000 in bail and was released soon after. His scheduled court appearance is a mere three days before the Buccaneer's have their training camp!

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Eric Wright has faced legal problems. While a student at the University of Southern California in 2005, he was accused of sexual assault. While there was noever enough evidence to charge him, that assault investigation led to the police discovering him in possession of 136 Ecstasy pills.

At the time of this entry, it was not known if Eric Wright had hired a DUI lawyer or if he was being sued by an auto accident attorney. Based on Eric Wright's new 37 million dollar contract, we believe that it is only a matter of time before a lawsuit is filed against him.

Continue reading "Tampa Bay Buccaneer arrested for a suspected DUI" »

December 19, 2011

USA TODAY: All States Should Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving

An interesting story in last week's USA Today poses an interesting an important question to consider this Holiday Season:

Should all states ban cell phone use while driving?

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According to the USA Today article, state governments should prohibit all drivers from using portable electronic devices such as cellphones while behind the wheel, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) unanimously recommended Tuesday.

The recommendation from the Safety Board followed a hearing on a Missouri highway crash on Aug. 5, 2010, which killed two (2) people and injured thirty eight (38). The chain-reaction crash of four (4) vehicles included two (2) school buses.

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The Board ruled that the initial collision was caused by a pickup driver, Daniel Schatz, 19, who was one of the fatalities, sending eleven (11) text messages in the eleven (11) minutes before the crash. His pickup rammed the back of a tractor-trailer that had slowed for construction on Interstate 44 near Gray Summit.

Schatz's truck was then rear-ended by a school bus, which was rear-ended by another school bus. The buses, which investigators found had brake problems, carried members of the John F. Hodge High School band. A student, Jessica Brinker, 15, who sat in the last row of the first bus, died in the crash.

"Two lives lost in the blink of an eye," said Deborah Hersman, the board chairman. "No call, no text, no update is worth a life."

An estimated 3,092 traffic fatalities in 2010 were blamed on "distracted drivers," according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than one (1) in six (6) drivers send text messages while driving, and nearly half of drivers less than 25 years old are doing it, according to a NHTSA survey released last week. And yes, the author of the Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog is guilty of this (as well).

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"This is becoming the new DUI," said Robert Sumwalt, a member of the Safety board. "It's becoming an epidemic."

The District of Columbia and thirty five (35) states ban text messaging for all drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. No state bans all cellphone use for drivers, but nine (9) states and D.C. ban drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving.

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Association spokesman Jonathan Adkins said the group supports a texting ban and found in a July report that cell-phone use increases the risk of a crash.

He said he expects the safety-board's recommendation to spur debate, as his group calls for more research on whether banning hands-free use of cell phones makes driving safer.

"This could be a game-changer," Adkins said.

Missouri has a state law prohibiting drivers under 21 years old like the pickup driver from sending texts while driving. But state police issued only 120 tickets for the offense during a two-year period, Sumwalt said.

The Board's federal recommendation for private vehicles would greatly expand previous calls to prohibit cellphone use among commercial drivers.

In September 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration banned commercial drivers from text messaging while operating trucks and buses. The rule applies to about 4 million drivers.

The agency just adopted a prohibition Nov. 23 against commercial drivers using hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel. Violations carry a $2,750 fine. Ouch!!

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I'd love to hear what you think about this issue?

November 10, 2010

CLEARWATER/TAMPA: Family of Woman Killed in Harbour Island DUI Fatality to Sue Suspected Drunk Driving Dentist

According to a story that will appear in tomorrow's St. Pete Times, the mother of a young woman killed walking on the Harbour Island bridge by a suspected drunken driver is suing the man accused in her death.

Early on Oct. 30, Kate Kohlier and Doug Kozar were leaving work at Tampa's Marriott Waterside Hotel (coincidentally, where this author was married) and walking across the Harbour Island bridge when they were struck and killed by a car driven by Matthew R. Moye.

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Another hotel employee, 47-year-old Joao Armando Fonseca Barbosa, suffered a broken ankle when he jumped out of the way of the speeding Cadillac, police said. Last week, Barbosa filed a Negligence lawsuit against Moye.

Kohlier was twenty-four (24) and "on the brink of graduating from the University of South Florida (USF) with a degree in psychology," said attorney Tom Carey, who is representing Kohlier's mother, Cindy Collins, in the lawsuit.

The University of South Florida (USF) has awarded the degree to Kohlier posthumously, Carey said.

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Moye, a dentist in Riverview, has been charged with two (2) counts of Vehicular Homicide, two (2) counts of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Manslaughter and one (1) count of DUI with Serious Bodily Injury. He was released from the Hillsborough County jail after posting $119,000 bond.

The Wrongful Death suit, which will be filed in Hillsborough County, seeks damages in excess of $15,000.

Asked why he was filing the suit before criminal proceedings are completed, Carey said the incident was egregious enough to warrant the action.

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"It's the kind of case, the kind of tragedy, that could have been averted," Carey said.