Distracted While Driving

Next time you are stuck in traffic – take a look around you. Most of the drivers in nearby cars are starring at their phones. At night, you can see the white light of a handheld device in nearly every car. Hardly anyone is paying attention to the road ahead. Most drivers are distracted. The latest statistics show that American’s traffic deaths are rising. The combination of automobiles and smartphones are contributing to the danger. Despite a media campaign of awareness, many drivers still text and drive or use their phone in other distracting ways.

Traffic fatalities on United States roads in 2016 increased to 37,461, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is a 5.6% increase over 2015 and 8.4% from 2014. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s records, fatal distracted-driving crashes specifically involving cellphone use, increased to 14% in 2015 from 12% in 2011.

The Capital news service in Tallahassee Florida reported that more than 39,000 people were injured in Florida last year after being involved in a distracted driver crash. The month of April has been designated Distracted Driver Awareness month. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles keeps records on traffic crashes and vehicular legal infractions. Despite a ban on texting while driving, police have issued very few citations in part because texting is a secondary offence. This means that motorists must first have been stopped for some other violation.

While distracted driving is “anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes of the road or mind off driving”, smart phones appear to be the greatest culprit. Think about: texting while driving requires all three categories of distraction. The driver takes their eyes off the road to look at the screen, their hands off the wheel to type the text and respond; this forces them to think about something other than driving. Texting while driving reduces the driver’s ability to react in order to stop or avoid a hazard.

Accident reconstructionist, road designers and vehicle engineers all consider perception distance, reaction distance and breaking distance when evaluating automobile safety. A vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour requires approximately 66 feet of perception distance, another 66 feet of reaction distance and over 227 feet of braking distance. This means it takes almost 360 feet to stop a car traveling at 60 miles per hour assuming a focused driver on a dry roadway. A driver that is texting, reading emails, or looking things up on their cellphone greatly increases the perception distance and reaction distance before hitting the brakes on their vehicle. This results in all manner of crashes from the simple, slow speed bumper tap in traffic to the disastrous highspeed highway fatalities.

In Florida, unlike many other states, there is no handheld cellular phone ban, there is no cellphone ban for school bus drivers, there is no cellphone ban for novice drivers and, text messaging while driving is only charged as a secondary infraction. While it will be easy to recommend that all of us contact our legislators and voice concern over these lax driving laws, in reality, often times the better way to enact change is in the Courts.

In Las Vegas, Nevada prosecutors charged a motorist who killed two people while speeding, and talking on her cellphone with a felony. With the advent of improved accessibility to cellphone records and the increased technology allowing access to smart phone usage history, civil personal injury actions against distracted drivers are becoming more and more common. Recent efforts in Florida have been made by victims of distracted drivers to sue for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrong doer for intentionally harmful or criminal behavior. Florida Courts are beginning to recognize that when a defendant engages in conduct that is “fraudulent, malicious, deliberately violent or oppressive, or committed with such gross negligence as to indicate a wanton disregard to the rights of others” the award of punitive damages maybe appropriate. This standard comes from a 1994 Florida Supreme Court case. In 2011, a trial Court in Collier County, Florida allowed a punitive damage claim against a driver who was texting while driving that caused a death.

Florida Statute §316.305 “forbids the operator of a motor vehicle from manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing, and instant messaging”. The violation of this law is a traffic infraction not a criminal offence. It will be difficult for the distracted driver that was texting while driving to argue, after causing an accident, that that conduct was not intentional. It is this very illegal and unsafe intentional conduct which we, at Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. believe will give rise to a claim for punitive damages, in the event of an accident causing serious injury or death.

Our goal is to promote safe driving and see that laws on the books regarding distracted drivers are strengthened.

Certain businesses, like AT&T have installed applications on their employee’s cellphones that make it impossible to operate their phone while the vehicle’s engine is activated. This means no texting and driving, no receiving phone calls, no surfing the web or other distracted driving conduct. This very same technology should exist to prevent all motor vehicles from allowing the operator or driver to text, receive or send emails or other manual phone operations while driving. It will save lives, avoid injuries and reduce crashes.

At Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A., we are a law firm that seeks to pursue safety as a business model. We believe that enforcement of laws relating to safe driving through appropriate civil claims and litigation is often a place where change for the better begins. If you or family member or friend have been injured by a distracted driver, please call Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. to discuss this matter and receive a free consultation. Our firm specializes in the representation of injury victims throughout the state of Florida. Our bilingual staff will be available to assist you on a 24/7 basis.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries) are defined as a blows/jolts to the head or as penetrating head injuries that disrupt the function of the brain. TBIs claim more than 50,000 lives and leave more than 80,000 individuals with lifelong disabilities each year. In addition to the immediate impact a brain injury can have, its long-term effects increase the risk of acquiring crippling neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic dementia. TBIs occur most often in motor vehicle-traffic accidents, slips and falls, and assaults.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent TBIs:

TBI Prevention Methods:

–       Always wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle

–       Use an appropriate child safety seat or a booster

–       Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs

–       Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle or motor vehicle

 

Fall Prevention Methods:

–       Use the rails on stairways

–       Provide adequate lighting, especially on stairs

–       Sit on safe stools

–       Do not place obstacles in walking pathways

For more information on TBIs here.

 

The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Davis have over 25 years of experience in dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury cases and personal injury litigation.

 

If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI or any other injury, contact us for a free consultation or call us at 305-577-3777.

Beware of Facebook, Twitter and Other Social Media

When bringing a personal injury claim, it is important to consider that many private aspects of your life will not remain private. Many insurance defense firms, private investigators, and defendants search and comb through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. During the discovery phase of any litigation, most courts will allow the Defense to go through your Instagram, Facebook, and other social network accounts. Just one photograph or video may be taken out of context and destroy or lower the amount of monies awarded.

Recently, a woman who brought a personal injury case in Gwinnett County, Georgia tweeted about her travels and partying during the course of her case. As a result the jury lowered their damages award. The woman, a victim of a car accident, claimed that the injuries she sustained to her arm as a result of the car accident and she was unable to perform her job duties as a hairstylist. However, the Defense attorney provided tweets and pictures of the Plaintiff having fun in New Orleans with her friends and enjoying spring break on the beach. The Plaintiff asked for $1.1 million for her injuries and received $142,000.

What is the insurance and defense attorney looking for in Social Networks?:

  • Pictures of you having fun, showing that you have not been injured, and that you have returned to your normal routine;
  • Videos of you performing acts that you now claim you have difficulty with or cannot do;
  • Statements regarding the incident or accident;
  • Potential friends to interview and depose;
  • To catch you in a lie to damage

If you are involved in any type of legal matter, including a personal injury case here are a list of tips when using social networks:

  • If you can live without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. CLOSE DOWN YOUR ACCOUNT. This will be the safest way that you will ensure that you will not damage your case;
  • Set your settings as private as possible;
  • Ask your friends and family to not tag you in any posts or photographs;
  • Do not discuss any aspects of your case on these social networking site;
  • Do not “check-in” anywhere.

In fact, many insurers are not trying to challenge liability as must as causation and whether the victim has a permanent injury.

The Miami based attorneys at Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. are experienced personal injury attorneys who understand the techniques used by defense attorneys and insurances. The use of social media is just one of the ways that the other side will try to lower the damages awarded to a victim of another’s negligence. If you or a loved have been injured because of the negligence of another, contact us for a free consultation to discuss your potential case.

What to Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney – Miami

Your choice in a Miami personal injury lawyer can make a big difference in the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries, how your case is managed, and how your case is finally resolved. It is important that you obtain an experienced personal injury attorney who understands Florida law, understands the insurance companies and their strategies, and who has resources to fight for your rights successfully.

When choosing an attorney to represent your interests, you must search for an attorney that is the “right fit” for you and your case. Many personal injury cases takes months to several years to resolve. You will be working with your attorney, so it is important that you trust your lawyer and get along with your lawyer. Just alone in Florida, the Florida Bar reports that there are approximately 93,895 barred attorneys as of January 2013. There are many of attorneys to choose from – Do not sell yourself short.

What Do I Look for In a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Not every attorney is a personal injury lawyer. It is important that you ask the attorney that you are about to hire what type of law they specialize in.  I always like to compare it to medicine: You wouldn’t want a cardiologist checking out a problem with your bones. Similarly, you wouldn’t want a family lawyer handling your personal injury case.

These are the factors you should consider when picking your lawyer:

  • How many years has the lawyer been practicing?
  • Has the attorney ever been disciplined by the Floria Bar?
  • Does the attorney have a list of past results?
  • Does the attorney have a list of the past type of cases that he or she has handled successfully?
  • Will the lawyer take your case to trial?
  • What is your lawyer’s policy on communicating and speaking to clients?

The attorneys at Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A., a Miami Personal Injury law firm, specialize in personal injury cases such as workplace violence, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, and negligent security. We pride ourselves in communicating with our clients and putting our clients first. Jeffrey R. Davis has been practicing personal injury law for over 25 years. Olga Porven, a former insurance defense attorney, has the insight into what the insurance companies strategies are in defending personal injury cases.

If you or a loved on have been injured as a result of the negligence of another, contact us for a free consultation or call us at 305-704-7415.

Bicyclist Killed – Hollywood, Florida

A car hit a 52 year-old Bicyclist in Hollywood, Broward County and the bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident occurred near Taft Street and Northwest 66 Avenue in Hollywood, Florida. The name of the cyclist and of the driver have not been released by the authorities. It is unclear at this point whether any of the parties were under the influence at the time of the accident.  Furthermore, details such as whether the driver was texting will likely be investigated by the responding police agency.

South Florida is no stranger to bicyclists being injured and sometimes killed by cars.  It would be difficult to discuss biking accidents without mentioning the death of, Aron Cohen, the 36 year old bicyclist, who was killed while riding his bicycle in Key Biscayne by a hit and run car crash. In addition, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida is one of the top states for accidents involving bicyclists; 83 bicyclist fatalities in 2010 as a result of a car accident. Florida is currently ranked by the League of American Bicyclists 21 in their Bicycle Friendly State Program, however, this ranking does not take into consideration the number of bicycle involved car accidents per year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety documented that in 2010 many more cyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas (71% to 28%). Traffic, the large number of motor vehicles on the road, and the ever growing South Florida population, make cycling on the road almost an extreme sport – something it should not be. Many organizations have lobbied and worked diligently to push through legislation that increases bike safety and that provides for sharing the road.

If you or your loved one have been injured by a car while riding a bicycle, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. As a Florida cyclist you may be entitled to insurance benefits that you did not know were available to you, from your insurance and that of the driver of the car.  Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. may be able to help you if you have been injured by a car, preserve your legal rights and your right to recover the insurance benefits available to you, and the justice that you deserve. The attorneys as Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A., Jeffrey Davis is available to discuss any case you may have concerns about.  Contact us for a free consultation regarding your case involving a bicycle accident.