Safe Driving Tips to Remember for Back-to-School Safety Month

The start of school means increased congestion on the road, children on sidewalks waiting for their bus, and parents trying to drop their children off at school before work, which is why the month of August is designated Back-to-School Safety month.  Here are some safe driving tips to remember this month and throughout the school year to keep our children safe. Drive Slowly in Residential Neighborhoods and School Zones The beginning of the school year means children will be waiting at bus stops, especially in residential areas. During the summer months, it can be easy to forget that children will be waiting at these areas for their buses to arrive once the school year begins. While technically the children should remain on the sidewalk and off the road, it should never be assumed children will stay on the sidewalk or curb. When driving past the stop, drive at or below the posted speed limit just in case a child decides to jump into the street or immediately cross the street without looking. School zones also have reduced speed limits, usually at 25 mph, and while this speed can seem slow, the speed limit has been reduced for a very good reason. Be aware of this reduced speed and adjust your speed accordingly. Drive Slow and Be Patient in School Parking Lots Some of the most chaotic and stressful situations for drivers and pedestrians involves the school parking lot. During drop-off and pick-up times, children are getting in and out of cars, freely crossing through the parking lot, and dodging parked and moving cars. Parents may not always be paying...

Car Accidents Involving Out-Of-State Drivers

South Florida has a high volume of tourists year-round due to its warm weather and popular vacation destinations.  In fact, Miami is one of the best places to visit in the United States, according to new rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Not surprisingly, there are many car accidents involving victims who are not Florida residents. It is not uncommon for a tourist who is lost or confused to cause a car accident. It can be confusing for a Florida driver who is involved in one of these accidents to understand the legal steps to take, if an accident occurs with an out-of-state driver. If you have been involved in a car accident with an out-of-state driver and you are pursuing a lawsuit to obtain damages you suffered in the accident, you will likely have many questions for an attorney. Will the lawsuit be filed in Florida or the state where the at-fault driver’s license was issued? What if the other driver returns to their home state before I file the suit? What if the other driver’s insurance is from another state? What if the required coverage is different than coverage in Florida? What if I never see the other driver again?  Understanding Jurisdiction To understand where the lawsuit will be filed requires a good understanding of jurisdiction. The term jurisdiction deals with the court’s authority to hear a case. A judge cannot rule on a case unless he or she has jurisdiction to do so. To have the case be heard in Florida means Florida courts need to have jurisdiction. Two different types of jurisdiction exist: personal...

Liability of Co-signers after an Auto Accident

In most cases, vehicle co-signers are not held liable for an auto accident that occurs when they are not behind the wheel. However, there are some circumstances where Florida drivers should tread lightly when co-signing on an automobile loan. In cases where the Florida driver is simply a co-signer and never obtains the vehicle’s title, the driver will not likely face any lawsuits. However, in situations where the driver was a co-owner of the vehicle and currently has their name on the title, the driver can be held liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In Florida, whenever someone co-signs on a loan obligation, he or she may be considered “vicariously liable” for damages resulting from the accident when the other person on the loan causes an accident. This doctrine has led to situations where co-owners of vehicles were sued on charges such as wrongful death and serious injury, even though they were not involved in the accident. This issue was dealt with extensively in the case of Bowen v. Taylor-Christensen. The case dealt with a tragic death of Thomas Bowen, who was hit and killed by a car driven by Mary Taylor-Christensen, while Bowen was changing a tire on his car off the side of a highway. Bowen’s widow, Mary Jo, filed a law suit against Taylor-Christensen, who was said to have been drunk driving at the time the accident happened. Bowen also added Taylor-Christensen’s ex-husband, Robert Christensen, whose name was also on the car’s title alongside his ex-wife’s name. The trial court denied Bowen’s request for a directed verdict to hold Christensen liable under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality...

Important Vehicle Recall Update and What Consumers Need to Know

Auto manufacturers are recalling more vehicles than any other time in U.S. history. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 46 million cars have been recalled so far this year. The problem is many drivers have no idea that their cars are under recall. According to the NHTSA, 1-in-5 cars that are on the road are under some type of auto recall. The Takata airbag recall accounted for more than 37 million recalls after the defective airbags caused 23 deaths worldwide over recent years. Thousands of individuals were injured due to these defective devices, as well. As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation launched a website called Airbag Recall to keep drivers updated on recall notices. The following vehicle recalls have been issued in the last year: 8 million recalls for cruise control problems; 4 million recalls due to loose steering wheels; 350,000 transmission shifter recalls; and 123,000 power steering recalls. Federal law dictates that auto manufacturers send written notification to all car owners if a recall is issued for their specific vehicle. While this written notification is legally required, it does not always make its way the current car owner. If ownership has transferred or someone has moved, the auto manufacturer may not have the most recent information for the owner. It is helpful if a potential purchaser reviews the car’s history before buying the car. Many different sites and apps exist to allow for a quick search, including CarFax. By entering the license plate or vehicle identification number (VIN), the owner or purchaser can get all of the recalls that exist for the...

Summer Months are the Deadliest for South Florida Teen Drivers

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and unfortunately, it is just when the summer begins that the majority of these accidents happen. Teens are out of school and on the road, spending more time with their friends. According to a study released by AAA, as well as accident data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the dates that have the highest number of car accident fatalities are June 10, July 4, July 9, August 8, and August 14. AAA has even dubbed the stretch between Memorial Day and the start of the school year the “100 Deadliest Days.” For teen drivers, as well as their parents, it can help to be prepared and be safe on the roads this summer.  Here is a list of summer driving safety tips to remember: Practice, practice, practice. Driver’s education can only do so much to get teens ready for the road. Driving is an enormous responsibility. That extra road practice with a parent can go a long way. It is recommended that the teen’s parents continuously monitor the progress their teen driver is making on the road. Make sure that they are still exercising the safety tips taught in driver’s education and following the rules of the road. Be a Good Example: Your teen is also watching how you Make sure that you are ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to safe driving behaviors. Follow the rules of the road, keeping your hands on the wheel and not texting while driving. Parent-Teen Driving Agreement: Parents should put these expectations and guidelines...

Steps to Take Following a Parking Lot Accident

Car accidents do not just happen on highways. In fact, many reported accidents are the result of parking lot fender benders. While speeds tend to be slower in a parking lot, the damage can be costly.  Many parking lot accidents tend to involve hit-and-runs. Certain steps should be taken to protect your rights if you are involved as a driver or a pedestrian in a parking lot accident.  Call for Help. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you believe anyone was injured following the accident. If the accident was a hit-and-run, calling 911 can help obtain valuable evidence and protect you in the event a police report is needed to submit a claim.  Remain Calm. Emotions run high when it comes to any type of car accident. If the person who hit you or your car is present, tensions can rise and situations can quickly escalate. However, responding in anger will not help the situation. Remain calm and call the police.  It is also important to take down the contact information and statements of anyone who witnessed the accident.  Stay Where You Are. It is extremely important that everyone involved in the accident stay at the scene until the authorities clear them to go.  In Florida, it is the law.  Leaving the scene of an accident can bring an additional charge, especially if injuries or vehicular damage was done.    Never Apologize or Admit Fault. It can be a knee jerk reaction to want to say, “I’m sorry” after an accident, but whatever you do, never admit fault. Conversations should be limited, giving the other person insurance and...
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