Ride-Share in Florida: Are You Protected in an Accident?

Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft are here to stay, whether the local and state governments regulate them or not. It is becoming increasingly obvious that their system is more effective and cost-efficient for everyday consumers. But the question remains, how protected is the consumer if they are (1) hit by one of these ride share vehicles or (2) injured while in a ride share vehicle?

 

In Florida, all automobile insurance policies require the driver to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to protect them if they are injured. One of the most important parts of the coverage is that you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident to have the potential to have up to $10,000 in your medical bills paid for by your automobile insurance. You must also see a medical doctor, not a chiropractor. The idea behind PIP was to make sure injured persons could seek medical treatment after an automobile accident and not have to worry about how the initial bills would be paid for or the waiting game with filing claims/lawsuits.

So in the two scenarios above, here’s what you need to know about PIP coverage. If you are hit by a ride-share vehicle, you PIP insurance should still protect you for the first $10,000 if you follow all of the requirements mentioned above. If you are in a ride-share vehicle and injured in an auto-accident, you likely will not have the benefit of PIP coverage. Here’s why. In Florida, taxis and limos are not required to carry PIP coverage, and thus, ride-share vehicles usually do not require it either.

The next situation to be concerned with is bodily injury coverage. It is important to remember that Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury coverage. This means that some drivers driving on the Florida roadways could get away free without paying you a penny if they cause an auto accident. It is another reason why we stress our clients to get Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage on their policies to protect them from the millions of drivers without bodily injury coverage.

Thankfully for Florida drivers and ride-share passengers, Uber and Lyft carry bodily injury coverage on their vehicles that will protect both drivers and passengers. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently announced that Uber’s policy carries $1,000,000 in liability limits.

It is imperative that if you are involved in an automobile accident with a ride-share vehicle—either passenger or a driver—that you seek medical treatment immediately. Afterwards, call the Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, who specialize in automobile accidents. Studies show that hiring a car accident attorney will get you 3.5 times more compensation than dealing with insurance companies on your own. Attorney Steve Hoskins has the distinction of being a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer—a distinction that less than 10% of all Florida attorneys possess. He has the experience, resources, and reputation to not only get you the compensation you deserve, but handle every facet of your case so you can focus on recovering and returning to normalcy.

We don’t get paid unless we win your case, and we offer free appointments to discuss your case. Don’t delay in calling our offices today, as time is of the essence in making accident claims. Call 1-866-460-1990.

Sports Related Brain Trauma: Let’s Keep Talking and Address the Issue

Football Collision

Whether you’re a Friday Night Lights bleacher fixture, a proud college football fan, or a NFL fanatic, football season is in full effect—and the competition is so fierce that there will be an estimated 130-plus plays, hits, tackles, spears and lay outs. For a young and healthy athlete, that can lead to serious brain trauma.

 

Until recently, mild sport concussions were believed to be short-term injuries that did not have a lasting effect on the brain. However, research has shown that athletes with a history of concussions suffer from noticeable brain abnormalities years after being injured.

Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto studied 43 student athletes by conducting an MRI analysis of the students’ brains. Roughly half of them had a history of concussion while the others did not. Researchers found significant changes in the brains of the students with a history of concussion and no changes in the other participants’ brains. Some of the changes included changes in blood flow, size and connections.

One of the most notable brain changes that researchers saw in the concussion-affected students was a 10 to 20 percent decrease in frontal lobe brain volume. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain that controls speech, problem solving and decision-making. Researchers also found that the concussion-affected students had less blood flow to their frontal lobe areas. Some brain shrinkage was observed, but it was not as severe as the brain shrinkage that is found in Alzheimer’s patients.

The brain changes that people experience after suffering a concussion can have a significant impact on their lives for many years. When the brain injury has been caused by the negligence or recklessness of others, such as an impaired or distracted motorist, an attorney can assist the victim in seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

At the Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, our expert personal injury attorneys have worked on behalf of thousands of personal injury victims to help them obtain the full and fair settlement or jury verdict they are entitled to for medical costs, lost earnings and other damages. We understand the significant emotional and physical toll that a brain injury can take, and we know the long-term financial costs involved. Studies show that hiring an experienced accident attorney will get you 3.5 times more compensation than dealing with insurance companies on your own. Attorney Steve Hoskins has the distinction of being a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer—a distinction that less than 10% of all Florida attorneys possess. He has the experience, resources, and reputation to not only get you the compensation you deserve, but handle every facet of your case so you can focus on recovering and returning to normalcy.

We don’t get paid unless we win your case, and we offer free appointments to discuss your case. Don’t delay in calling our offices today, as time is of the essence in making accident claims. Call 1-866-460-1990.

Florida’s Roads Becoming Deadlier

The number of crashes on local and state roads has skyrocketed since 2011, and distracted driving, such as texting and checking emails, is likely the main culprit.

 

A new study indicates the United States might be looking at its deadliest driving year since 2007—a report that comes just one day after news that the U.S. set a record for miles traveled in the first half of 2016. And, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), Florida has been hit the hardest by the increase in traffic deaths.

Motorists drive 1.58 trillion miles—or 250 round trips from Earth to Pluto—between January and June, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported this week. This increase seems to have brought with it an increase in fatalities. The NSC released a study that found traffic deaths up by nine percent since 2015, and 18 percent higher than in 2014. The report shows Florida having the deadliest increase, with an estimated 43 percent rise in fatalities since 2014.

Between January and June, Florida recorded 1,114 traffic fatalities. The NSC attributes the rise in fatalities to the influx of traffic brought on by a more robust economy and drop in unemployment rates since the Great Recession, coupled with lower gas prices than in the first six months of 2015.

Further, the rise is also strongly attributed to DUI crashes and distracted drivers. In 2015, the first year the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles started tracking distracted driving crashes, 214 died statewide. All told, there were 45,740 distracted-driving related crashes in 2015 in Florida.

Yet, the ban on texting while driving doesn’t appear to be helping in Florida. Out of every ten crashes that have occurred in Florida during 2016, eight have been the result of distracted driving. Currently, texting while driving is only a secondary offense in Florida, meaning a police officer must stop a driver for a different reason to fine them.

The Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd specializes in handling automobile accident claims involving injuries or death. We provide highly effective legal representation with attentive hands-on service and a sincere commitment to victims of accidents and wrongful deaths. Led by Attorney Steve Hoskins, one of Florida’s few Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers, the Personal Injury department has successfully represented thousands of victims and their families along the Treasure Coast. We have offices in Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, and Okeechobee, and we also offer hospital or home visits for a free initial consultation.

We will make sure you don’t settle for less. Don’t delay in contacting us today at 1-866-460-1990.

Despite Safety Advances, Insurers Are Still Not Offering Discounts for Autonomous Braking

After hearing good things about the latest in crash-prevention technology, you decided to add automatic emergency braking to your new car. The feature costs about $2,000 on most vehicles. Yet, even though data shows it can prevent crashes, the discount from your insurer is likely to be zero.

Most insurers are not ready to cut rates for car owners who invest in automatic braking or other new technologies, such as lane departure warnings or blind spot detection. Many companies are still compiling their own data to confirm the long-term impact of these technologies. Out of the 11 biggest auto insurers in the United States, only two (Hartford Insurance Group and Liberty Mutual Insurance) offer discounts for automatic braking, which uses cameras and radar to spot objects in the way or slow or stop the vehicle if the driver doesn’t react.

An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 40 percent of all rear-end collisions last year would have been prevented with autonomous braking. That equates to about 700,000 automobile crashes being subverted. The government and most major automakers have agree to make autonomous braking standard on most cars by 2022.

One reason why not all insurers offer discounts is because automatic braking is still not on many vehicles. By the end of 2016, approximately 21 percent of all vehicles will have the feature. Another reason discounts are still not offered is because insurers are trying to determine whether the radar sensors and cameras used in automatic braking will drive up repair costs.

Still, of the insurance companies that offer discounts for the technology, they cut up to three percent of the annual premium. However, the discounts could grow as more vehicles get automatic braking as standard equipment and insurance companies see in claims data that it reduces crashes.

The Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd specializes in automobile accidents, and studies show that hiring a car accident attorney will get you 3.5 times more compensation than dealing with insurance companies on your own. Attorney Steve Hoskins has the distinction of being a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer—a distinction that less than 10% of all Florida attorneys possess. He has the experience, resources, and reputation to not only get you the compensation you deserve, but handle every facet of your case so you can focus on recovering and returning to normalcy.

We don’t get paid unless we win your case, and we offer free appointments to discuss your case. Don’t delay in calling our offices today, as time is of the essence in making accident claims. Call 1-866-460-1990.

As Self-Driving Cars Hit the Road, Innovation is Outpacing Insurance

Breakthroughs in self-driving car technology are surpassing insurers’ abilities to factor the systems into auto premiums.

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A recent fatality involving a Tesla Model S electric sedan using the company’s Autopilot system has focused attention on the risks of innovative “autonomous driving” technology. For now, insurance claims process for cars using the systems generally works the same way as for cars without them, said Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group.

That is, when an investigation of the accident is completed, the insurer of the driver at fault pays for injuries and damage to the others, up to the limits of the policy. In the event of autonomous vehicles, where there is a question about whether the driver or the software is a fault, in practice, the insurer would typically pay the claim and then have the right to “subrogate,” or file a claim against someone else, such as the manufacturer or another insurer.

However, Khobi Brooklyn, a Tesla spokeswoman, recently released a statement that the company’s Autopilot system “does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility.”

Tesla markets its vehicles to the general public, and drivers must carry state-mandated minimum liability insurance, which pays for damage to other people, cars and property. In Florida, the minimum coverage is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). There are proportionally few cars with self-driving features currently on the road, so the issue is a new one. Fewer than a dozen states, including Florida, have enacted regulations specifically addressing self-driving cars, according to the National Conferences of State Legislatures.

It is too soon to say how self-driving systems will affect insurance rates. The technology is so new that there is not a lot of data to determine whether it significantly affects the frequency or severity of accidents. Insurers, as they have done with other advances, such as rearview cameras and rollover prevention systems, gather information over time and adjust rates to reflect the impact of the changes.

Yet the very nature of self-driving technology may make it challenging to apply data from the cars to insurance premiums. This is because the computer software that powers the system is continuously updated. So while insurers generally track trends with a certain make and model of car, the safety performance of an individual self-driving car may actually change over time, as software updates correct problems.

In the future, during the claims process insurers may seek data from more sophisticated versions of black-box recorders to shed light on the cause of an accident. The insurance industry must study whether accidents with autonomous cars lead to more product liability claims, in which drivers blame carmakers or suppliers for accidents, rather than their own driving behavior. Liability laws must evolve to ensure autonomous vehicle technology advances are not brought to a halt.

Whether you’ve been injured in an auto or trucking accident, motorcycle accident, slip or fall, dog bite, or if your loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death accident, you deserve to have a powerful and proven Florida Personal Injury Lawyer defending your rights. Before you speak with an insurance company, contact me for a free consultation. I will make sure that you are not bullied or rushed into making a decision, and you will not owe anything unless I win your case. Don’t delay in contacting me today at any of my four offices in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach and Okeechobee. Call 866-460-1990.

Airbag Recall Proves Problematic for South Florida Drivers

With a national recall of defective airbags in more than 24 million vehicles, drivers are worrying corrective measures are not coming fast enough. New rounds of recall letters are hitting mailboxes as the death toll has climbed to at least eleven; however, a number of letters that warn many South Florida drivers for the first time about defects that can kill them also say something else that could frustrate them: replacement parts will not be available until an unspecified point in the summer.

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At least one automaker, Honda, is agreeing to make rentals or loaners available—if consumers ask for them. Yet, reports show there is an extensive waiting list for rentals, making the plan unreasonable. Honda has repaired more than 45 percent of the 12.2 million Takata airbag inflators it has recalled in approximately 8.5 million Honda and Acura vehicles.

Yet the growing list of deaths blamed on defective airbags is only adding to a sense of urgency. Further, the count is just for deaths related to metal fragments from inflator ruptures. The list does not include Patricia Mincey of Jacksonville, who died recently after sustaining catastrophic injuries two years ago that left her a quadriplegic when the airbag in her Honda Civic inflated forcefully during a minor collision.

This comes on the heels of a Texas teenager Huma Hanif’s death after the airbag inflator in her 2002 Honda Civic erupted and sent deadly metal fragments flying. The car was moving at 15 mph at the time of the crash.

It is already a recall of epic proportions, by some measures the largest in U.S. automotive history. The numbers have fluctuated, but the largest estimates are that more than 28 million airbags in more than 24 million U.S. vehicles are subject to recall. More than 7.5 million airbags have been repaired, but U.S. regulators say 85 million unrecalled Takata airbags may eventually need to be recalled unless the company can prove they are safe.

Florida is considered a high-priority area because high humidity is suspected of contributing to the risk of airbag failures. For drivers, the issue can seem like a distant concern until they are personally affected. Now a growing number are getting letters with phrases they find difficult to ignore: “metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion possibly causing serious injury or fatality to you or others in your vehicle.”

So what can you do?

  • Drivers are supposed to receive airbag recall notices from manufacturers for affected vehicles, but victims and families in more than one incident said they never got such word.
  • Consumers can check here to see if their make and model year of car is affected:

http://www.safecar.gov/rs/takata/taktalist.html

Whether you’ve been injured in an auto or trucking accident, motorcycle accident, slip or fall, dog bite, or if your loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death accident, you deserve to have a powerful and proven Florida Personal Injury Lawyer defending your rights. Before you speak with an insurance company, contact me for a free consultation. I will make sure that you are not bullied or rushed into making a decision, and you will not owe anything unless I win your case. Don’t delay in contacting me today at any of my four offices in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach and Okeechobee. Call 866-460-1990.

 

Tires Older than Six Years, Even if Tread is Good, Can Fail Quickly

How old are your tires? The answer to that question could save your life.

Tire age and quality might have played a factor in a recent crash on Interstate 95 in Jupiter that resulted in six fatalities, including four children from a Stuart family. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) investigators reported tread separation—a highly dangerous situation in which the tread comes apart from the body of the tire—caused the driver of a 2011 Mercury Villager to lose control and smash into a concrete wall on the southbound lanes of the interstate before veering back onto the highway and being struck by another vehicle.

Tread Seperation

Auto safety experts say tread separation is most often the result of old tires. Car manufacturers recommend that vehicle owners discard tires older than six years. Yet, many consumers are unaware of this recommendation and judge the integrity of their tires solely on the thickness of tread remaining. Safety advocates warn that tires degrade over time- even if they’re on a vehicle that has primarily sat in a garage and only accumulated a few miles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that 90 people are killed and 3,200 are injured yearly in crashes caused by tire aging. Sean Kane, president of Safety Research and Strategies, says the fault does not fall on vehicle owners, but with tire manufacturers, who make it difficult for consumers to easily determine when a tire was made.

Tires have a “born-on” date molded into the side-walls, and the date can be found at the end of a long serial number that begins with the letters “DOT.” The final four numbers correspond to the two-digit week the tire was manufactured followed by the two-digit year. For instance, a tire that ends with 3015 means a tire was made in the 30th week of 2015. Increasing the difficulty, some born-on dates are molded into the inside portion of the tire, requiring consumers to go underneath the car with a flashlight to find it.

The combination of age and South Florida’s hot and dry climate is a volatile mix because it can shorten the lifespan of tires. If tires are not properly maintained, the results can be catastrophic. When aged tires fail, they fail very rapidly. A driver is not likely to “hear” the tread giving way and pull over to the side of the road. The dangers are particularly acute when the tread on a rear tire separates because it causes the vehicle to over-steer, a condition in which the vehicle begins to spin and the driver loses control.

Whether you’ve been injured in an auto or trucking accident, motorcycle accident, slip or fall, dog bite, or if your loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death accident, you deserve to have a powerful and proven Florida Personal Injury Lawyer defending your rights. Before you speak with an insurance company, contact me for a free consultation. I will make sure that you are not bullied or rushed into making a decision, and you will not owe anything unless I win your case. Don’t delay in contacting me today at any of my four offices in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach and Okeechobee. Call 866-460-1990.

New Florida Boating Law Ends Repeat Inspections

Boating Inspection

As of July 1st, Florida boaters get a break from repeated law enforcement safety inspections. Pass one check for required life vests, fire extinguisher and distress signal on board, and you receive an official decal to keep authorities off your back for good.

The change was backed by Republican State Representative, Ritch Workman, who represents Indian River County in the Senate, after he felt hassled by “unwarranted safety checks.” However, other government officials believe the law is a step backward.

Last year, Martin County’s five-boat marine unit made 1,467 vessel inspections, which did not require deputies to first observe probable cause or reasonable suspicion of a violation. Indian River County listed 362 inspections in 2015, resulting in 167 warnings and just two citations. Due to budget restraints, deputies do not patrol the waters full time, but concentrate on busy periods. St. Lucie County follows the same practice, but the sheriff’s office could not provide numbers.

Under the new law, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will produce annual decals—but with no expiration date—for boats that pass safety checks. Any boat still could be stopped and boarded when officers have probable cause or reasonable suspicions of violations. The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate and overwhelmingly in the House. Governor Rick Scott signed it into law on March 25, 2016.

While the law encourages more positive encounters between boaters and maritime authorities, it does diminish public safety on the waterways. Florida’s extensive waterways, including miles of coastline, as well as rivers and lakes, make the state a boating paradise for its residents; unfortunately, this also makes boating accidents a reality in this community of recreational water sports enthusiasts. When a boat accident results in injuries, a Treasure Coast personal injury attorney is essential for helping you clarify your rights and recoup any compensation to which you may be entitled.

Whether you’ve been injured in an auto or trucking accident, motorcycle accident, maritime accident, slip or fall, dog bite, or if your loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death accident, you deserve to have a powerful and proven Florida Personal Injury Lawyer defending your rights. Before you speak with an insurance company, contact me for a free consultation. I will make sure that you are not bullied or rushed into making a decision, and you will not owe anything unless I win your case. Don’t delay in contacting me today at any of my four offices in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach and Okeechobee. Call 866-460-1990.

Hit-And-Run Drivers Plague Florida’s Roads

In 2015 alone, there were more than 92,000 hit-and-run crashes investigated in the state of Florida. Such crashes—up by nearly 7,500 from 2014—are an increasing problem that are being met with tougher penalties.

Governor Rick Scott signed a law last year that enhances the penalties for leaving the scene of a crash, making it a second degree felony and requiring a mandatory minimum four year sentence for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. Drivers who leave an accident could also have their license revoked for three years under the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. If the driver was under the influence during a fatal crash, the law increases the mandatory minimum sentence from two to four years.

Leaving the scene makes the situation worse, not only for those who flee, but even more so for victims left behind. It is crucial that all individuals involved in a crash, including witnesses to a crash, contact 911 and remain at the scene until help arrives. Law enforcement officials say those involved in an accident should call law enforcement, remain calm, get vehicle witness and driver information, and help the injured.

Hit-and run crashes on the Treasure Coast

St. Lucie County                 Indian River County                  Martin County

2012: 599                                 2012: 254                                    2012: 376

2013: 616                                 2013: 308                                    2013: 406

2014: 896                                2014: 230                                    2014: 437

2015: 985                                2015: 453                                     2015: 504

If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, your actions afterwards will impact your ability to find the responsible party and collect the compensation you need.  If the police are able to track down and identify the party responsible for your hit-and-run injuries, you can pursue a claim with his or her insurance company, or file a lawsuit.  If the party responsible is not found, you will need to file a claim with your own insurance company.  In either event, you can consult an experienced attorney for assistance in getting the compensation to cover your damages.

You deserve to have a powerful and proven Florida Personal Injury Lawyer defending your rights. Before you speak with an insurance company, contact me for a free consultation. I will make sure that you are not bullied or rushed into making a decision, and you will not owe anything unless I win your case. Don’t delay in contacting me today at any of my four offices in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach and Okeechobee. Call 866-460-1990.

Robot Cars Bring Potential for Hike in Traffic Congestion

Self-driving cars are expected to usher in a new era of mobility, safety and convenience. However, transportation researchers say people will use them too much, causing major traffic complications.

Experts foresee robot cars chauffeuring children to school, dance class and baseball practice. The disabled and elderly will have new mobility. Commuters will be able to work, sleep, eat or watch movies on the way to the office. People may stay home more because they can send their cars to do things, such as pick up groceries that they’ve ordered online.

Researchers believe the number of miles driven will skyrocket. It’s less certain whether that will mean a corresponding surge in traffic congestion, but it’s a clear possibility. Gary Silberg, an auto industry expert at accounting firm KPMG, compares it to the introduction of smartphones. “It will be indispensible to your life,” he says.

Cars that can drive themselves under limited conditions are expected to be available within five to 10 years. Versions able to navigate under most conditions may take 10 to 20 years. Based on focus groups in Atlanta, Denver and Chicago, KPMG predicts autonomous “mobility on-demand” services—think Uber and Lyft without a driver—will result in double-digit increases in travel by people in two age groups: those over 65, and those 16 to 24.

Vehicles traveled a record 3.1 trillion miles in the U.S. last year. Increased trips in Heavy Freeway Trafficautonomous cars by those two age groups would boost miles traveled by an additional 2 trillion miles annually by 2050. If self-driving cars without passengers start running errands, the increase could be double that. And if people in their middle years, when driving is at its peak, also increase their travel, that yearly total could reach 8 trillion.

Driverless cars are expected to make travel both safer and cheaper. With human error responsible for 90 percent of traffic accidents, they’re expected to sharply reduce accidents, driving down the cost of insurance and repairs. But the biggest cost of car travel is drivers’ time. That cost comes down drastically when people can use travel time productively on other tasks.

In the best-case scenario, congestion is reduced because driverless cars and trucks are safer and can travel faster with reduced space between them. Highway lanes can be narrower because vehicles won’t need as much margin for error. There will be fewer accidents to tie up traffic. But those advantages will be limited as long as driverless cars share roads with conventional cars, likely for decades. The congestion nightmare would result if a large share of people can’t be persuaded to share robot cars with strangers and to continue using mass transit.

Whether you’ve been injured in an auto or trucking accident, motorcycle accident, slip or fall, dog bite, or if your loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death accident, you deserve to have a powerful and proven Florida Personal Injury Lawyer defending your rights. Before you speak with an insurance company, contact me for a free consultation. I will make sure that you are not bullied or rushed into making a decision, and you will not owe anything unless I win your case. Don’t delay in contacting me today at any of my four offices in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach and Okeechobee. Call 866-460-1990.