Passengers Not Wearing Seatbelts May Have to Share Blame if Injured in an Accident

Disla v. Blanco, 4D11-2556, 2013 WL 3811805 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. July 24, 2013)

This auto accident case involves a person losing control of their vehicle after suffering a seizure. The plaintiff in this case was a passenger in the vehicle who suffered personal injuries as a result of the collision.

The defendant in this lawsuit, Joseph Blanco, was driving the plaintiff home one evening. While operating his vehicle, Blanco suffered a seizure causing him to lose control. During the episode, Blanco’s car ran over two different curbs, side-swiped a tree, and ran into someone’s home. The plaintiff sustained a broken neck as a result of the impact. To repair her broken neck, the plaintiff underwent a surgical procedure to fuse back together her neck. With the advice of her lawyer, the plaintiff in this case sought pain management from a medical specialist. Ultimately, she needed to have a second procedure done on her neck which included an additional fusion of the spine.

At the trial, issues were presented to the court regarding the defendant’s negligence in the accident; the plaintiff’s comparative negligence by not having her seatbelt on at the time of the accident; and whether or not the medical treatment that the plaintiff underwent and continues to go through, was and is reasonably necessary.

It was determined that the defendant had no previous knowledge of any existing medical condition pertaining to seizures. Drivers in Florida are required to exercise reasonable care when handling a motor vehicle. Had it been shown that the defendant had a history of seizures, a jury could have found him to be negligent in operating the vehicle because he was aware of the potential harm that he was creating by driving the vehicle. In this case, the defendant had never had a previous seizure and the court determined that he was not negligent with that regard.

When the verdict returned from the jury, it was determined that the plaintiff was ninety percent responsible for her injuries because she was not wearing her seatbelt. The defendant was held to be ten percent liable to the plaintiff for her injuries, and of the over two-hundred thousand dollars in damages being sought by the plaintiff, just over ten thousand dollars was assigned to be paid by the defendant.

Though the plaintiff in this case won the lawsuit, and received an award for damages and costs, it was not what she ultimately looking for from the case. In Florida, a theory of comparative negligence is used in auto accident cases. When a person contributes, even partly, to causing their injuries, a defendant can present evidence to show that the amount of damages should be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of liability. A jury decides on what percentage of liability to assign each party. Then a total calculation of the damages is computed, subtracting what percentage of fault is assigned to the plaintiff.
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Multi-Car Accidents – Whose Fault Is It?

WHEN THERE ARE SEVERAL AUTOMOBILES INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT, THE DAMAGE THAT IS CREATED IS THAT MUCH WORSE

On Friday night, July 19th, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue responded to the scene of a multi-car accident in Royal Palm Beach. The collision that took place on State Road 7 and Okeechobee Boulevard involved five separate vehicles. Of the nine victims who were transported to both Palms West Hospital and Wellington Regional Medical Center, there were several who needed to be removed from the vehicle they were in. Thankfully, none of the parties involved in this large accident had serious injuries to speak of; however, knowing what kind of damage multi vehicle car accidents can cause, they are all extremely lucky.

MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT SCENERIOS

An issue that many times presents itself when there are multiple cars involved in an auto accident is determining who in fact is at fault for the collision. This is true with even the most basic of multi-car accidents, including rear end collisions.

Everyone becomes quick to point the finger at someone else as to being responsible for the accident. It may seem pretty easy to say who is at fault in a rear end collision involving multiple automobiles, but in fact, there are many questions that are raised because people are generally looking forward and do not see what has happened behind them. Times when people attempt to shift responsibility include:

Front Vehicle at Fault: At times, the front vehicle in a multi-car accident gets blamed for the collision. Accusations of cutting off another driver, braking too aggressively, and recklessly attempting to switch lanes are a few of the things that are used to place blame on a front vehicle.
Middle Vehicle at Fault: There are situations when a middle vehicle in a multi-car accident receives blame for the collision. Accusations from a rear vehicle may include that the middle vehicle was the first one to strike the first vehicle in line. It is generally the case that the lead vehicle saw what was taking place behind them.
“Phantom Vehicle” Scenarios: When there is a situation where an at-fault party claims that another vehicle, who was not involved in the actual accident, caused the collision and drove away, it is referred to as a “Phantom Vehicle” situation.
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Miramar Fire Leaves Two Families Homeless

BROWARD FIRE RAISES PREMISIS LIABILITY QUESTIONS

Earlier this week in Miramar, two families were left in shock when a fire engulfed a building which housed the apartments that both families lived in. At around nine in the morning on Monday, July 22nd, an apartment complex, located on SW 27th Avenue in Miramar, had a significant fire consume a large portion of one of its buildings. The fire began in one specific unit, but quickly spread to four additional apartments.

The damage created by this inferno was devastating to at least two families who completely lost everything they had. Firefighters work aggressively at putting out the flames, but nearly an hour of constant flames within the building had already caused extreme damage for those victims. It has been reported by Miramar Fire Rescue that the fire may have been caused by an electrical issue. Due to the amount of damage that was done by this unfortunate event, there are now two families who are being forced to start their lives over.

INJURIES CAUSED BY FIRE

In this Miramar apartment complex fire, the victims were extremely lucky to walk away with their lives. Sadly, each year there are almost five thousand people that aren’t as lucky and are killed because of burn injuries. Many of these unfortunate injuries are not caused by the victim’s actions, but come at the hands of a third-party. This makes it very important for those who have experienced a burn due to a fire to be fully aware of the laws that govern accidents causing burns.

Though fires are a significant cause of many victims’ burns, there are other ways in which a person can receive a burn injury.

• Contact with open flames due to an explosion • Contact with hot machinery • Contact with Boiling or scalding liquids
• Contact with exposed electrical wiring • Contact with dangerous chemicals • Exposure to radiation
Knowing what causes burns can really help us to avoid serious injury. However, sometimes even the most cautious of behavior can still result in a burn. The long-lasting effects that a burn can produce include having limbs amputated, limited physical mobility and permanent disfigurement.

PREMISIS LIABILITY

There are scenarios which occur, even with fires, which can cause a third party to be responsible for damages and injuries suffered by unsuspecting victims. Property owners owe a duty to make their property safe for those living there as tenants. Premises liability laws are what govern responsibilities of an owner as to tenants of their property. A lawsuit may be filed against the property owner for damages incurred as a result of the injury you sustained on their premises if it was caused as a result of their negligence.
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