Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Golf carts are a popular transportation device throughout the area. The convenience of being able to quickly load up supplies and visit the beach or a neighbor without getting into a car has lead more and more families to purchase a golf cart. Yet, while these machines do not travel as fast as cars, it is unwise to assume the risk of harm is lessened. Florida golf cart accidents strike all the time, and the results are sometimes serious.

Unlike cars, which have various safety features built in (crashworthiness standards, seat belts, air bags, and more), golf carts come with far less security. Collisions which might not cause any personal injury in cars might have serious consequences for those in a golf cart. Golf cart travelers are rarely strapped in and often ride on the back or hang onto the side. When thrown from the machine the potential for serious harm rises exponentially. In many ways, the increased risks are similar to motorcycles in that the lack of physical protection means accidents often result in more serious injuries.golf cart (navets).jpg

For example, the Monitor reported last week on a golf cart accident case that just went to trial, filed by a man who suffered a serious traumatic brain injury after falling out of the back of the machine. According to the report the man was volunteering at a local speedway when he was riding in the back of an E-Z-GO golf cart. While riding on the back the man fell out of the cart and hit his head. His head injury was very severe and he spent over a year in hospitals and rehab facilities. The injury has not fully healed, and his still requires help with basic tasks. He was unable to go back to work following the incident.

After being denied worker’s compensation for the injury–because they were volunteering at the track–the family filed civil lawsuits against various parties, including the speedway, driver, and manufacturer of the golf cart. The case settled with all parties except the golf cart manufacturer. The case went to trial last week.

Product Liability

The specific claim against the golf cart manufacturer is that they failed to place an adequate warning label on the back of the cart letting consumers know that riding in that space can lead to death or serious injury.

Our Palm Beach product liability attorney understand that arguments about improper warning labels are a common form of product liability suit. When an individual in injured by a consumer products–anything from a golf cart to a toaster–the injured party may have a right to seek compensation for their losses. These suits can be based on inadequate warnings, manufacturing defects (i.e. a part was missing), or a design defect (i.e. the product was inherently made dangerously).

Beyond claims of a lack of proper warning, the plaintiff in this case is also arguing that the manufacturing company tried to “obfuscate” an investigation into the safety of the product by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The interfering with the investigation, the plaintiffs argue, led to the warning label being absent.

For their part, the golf cart company in this case is expected to argue that the man contributed to his own injury by riding in the golf cart in an inappropriate manner. In addition, the company will argue that the racetrack (via its employees) did not drive the cart properly.

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Several were injured in a police pursuit that ended in a serious collision on Monday evening in St. Petersburg. According to an article in The Tampa Bay Times, the Gulfport police officers were chasing a stolen car into St. Petersburg, where the stolen car collided with a bus that then crashed into an apartment building. As our experienced Palm Beach accident attorney knows, the probability of the occurrence of automobile accidents is severely increased during dangerous police pursuits.

car side (chris meller).jpgMiraculously, there were no deaths resulting from this accident. However, at least two people from the stolen vehicle suffered injuries, as well as several bus passengers. According to Gulfport police Chief Robert Vincent, the incident started at 5:50 p.m. when Gulfport police Officer Jesse Kellington saw a 2012 silver Toyota Venza on the road during his routine patrol. Officer Kellington’s alerts were triggered after he checked the license plate of the vehicle and discovered that the vehicle was listed as stolen. The St. Petersburg police department revealed that the car was an Avis rental and had been stolen on Sunday after a woman had left her keys in the ignition.

Upon discovery of the stolen status of the vehicle, Officer Kellington began pursuing the car at S. Newton Avenue and 51st Street in Gulfport. Kellington reported that there were three men in the car. He was not aware of the toddler in the back seat.

The driver of the stolen vehicle led Kellington into St. Petersburg where the pursuit ended abruptly with a severe impact. As the vehicle entered St. Petersburg, it ran a stop sign and T-boned a PSTA bus at the intersection. The impact was so powerful that the bus lost control and crashed into a two-story apartment building. Fortunately, there were no bystanders present at the portion of the building that the bus had crashed into. Lieutenant Joel Granata of St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue was at the scene of the accident and reported that there was no major damage to the apartment building.

Reports have disclosed the identity of the driver of the stolen vehicle as Derrick Mims. Both Mims and a passenger of the vehicle were taken to a hospital to treat serious injuries suffered from the accident. The other passenger fled the scene and is yet to be found. The toddler in the back seat was taken to the All Children’s Hospital and was reported to be in stable condition. Fortunately, no one on the bus suffered any serious injuries.

Chief Vincent asserts that Mims was the cause of the accident given that the incident was a result of his decision to run from the police.

As depicted by this particular case, unexpected accidents can happen at any time due to someone else’s reckless actions, injuring innocent bystanders. Our experienced Boynton Beach accident lawyer helps injured individuals in all types of accidents and has advised such individuals of their legal rights in order to receive compensation in their recovery. Please contact The Law Office of Eric H. Luckman for a free consultation if you have suffered injuries in any kind of accident.

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A terrible motor vehicle accident that occurred in 2009 was finally resolved this week. According to an article in The Palm Beach Post, Leslie Opper, the victim in the accident who suffered severe injuries, was awarded a $9.3 million verdict by an Indian River County civil court jury.

courthouse.jpgOur Palm Beach County personal injury attorney understands that several factors are taken into consideration when a jury determines the amount of compensation that should be given to the injured party in his/her recovery. For example, whether the injuries are permanent and whether the victim is unable to work due to the nature of the injuries sustained are a few of many different critical factors that the jury must consider in making its determination. While verdicts of this size garner headlines, it is important to remember that each case is decided on very specific individual factors.

This Case

The accident in this particular case occurred on April 11, 2009 at approximately 9:20 p.m. A ninety-four year old local man was driving to Walgreens in his Ford sedan when he failed to see Opper, who was traveling on a motor scooter. Consequently, the man failed to yield to Opper and forcefully hit him head-on, causing Opper to sustain severe injuries from the waist down. The force of the collision was so severe that Opper was thrown into the windshield of the vehicle. In his pre-trial statements, senior driver described the impact to the windshield as an explosion.

Fortunately, there was an off-duty paramedic in the parking lot who called for a helicopter. There was also an ambulance passing by at the time of the collision. If it had not been for these rescuers who happened to be at the right place at the right time, it is unlikely that Opper would have survived. Even with the miraculous aid of these rescuers, Opper still had a very slim chance of survival. According to the expert testimony of doctors from Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Opper had less than a 16% chance of living. He had sustained injuries to vital parts of his body – the spine, pelvis and femur.

Since the accident, Opper has undergone more than twelve surgeries, and he is expected to go through several more procedures in order to lessen the intensity of his pain. The injuries sustained are permanent and it is unlikely that Opper will ever go back to work.

Our Palm Beach injury lawyer knows that under such circumstances, lost wages and the permanent factor of the injuries must be considered in calculating the compensation that the victim is entitled to in his/her recovery. Due to the fact that injured parties such as Opper will never be able to work again, lost wages must be accounted for in order for such victims to fully account for the losses they suffered as a result of the accident.

Unfortunately, in situations such as these, drivers have poor judgment and fail to exercise safe driving habits, creating a hazard for themselves as well as others around them. Such situations can cause serious injuries and deaths. Our personal injury lawyer at The Law Office of Eric H. Luckman has experience in helping injured individuals in all types of accidents. Please contact our office for a free consultation if you or a loved one is ever in this situation.

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Automobile Crashes into Supermarket – Reminder of Ever-Present Car Accident Risks

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Similar to the plane crash that was reported in our previous post, an unusual accident occurred at a Central Florida supermarket, injuring ten Palm Beach residents. Thelma Wagenhoffer, a 76-year-old woman, crashed into a Publix supermarket. According to an article in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, an investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol reveals that Wagenhoffer’s 2004 Toyota Camry “accelerated rapidly as it crossed the parking lot” and crashed into the Publix. After crashing through the glass doors, the vehicle continued to travel for at least another 40-50 feet. The incident occurred early in the afternoon on Saturday. Our Palm Beach County automobile crash attorney understands that these sorts of bizarre accidents happen more frequently than some might suspect. Innocent bystanders are often hurt in the process

Three of the injured remained hospitalized on Tuesday. Lupo Mario Hernandez, age 83, suffered the most serious injuries after being pinned beneath the car. He was rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach and was reported to be in serious condition on Tuesday. The situation could have been worse for Hernandez had it not been for the incredible feat by a group of heroes who lifted the car off of him.

The victims who suffered minor injuries were treated and released from Florida Hospital Flagler over the weekend. Other injured parties who required more medical attention continued to recover at home on Tuesday, including Lasaunda Hampton. Hampton was one of the four people who took the first impact at the entrance of the supermarket. She had been sitting on the bench with her 3-month-old baby, Tyshawn Davis, who was strapped into his stroller. Miraculously, Hampton’s baby escaped the accident with just a minor bump on the head. car accident.jpg

Oddly enough, neither alcohol or mechanical problems were a factor in the incident. Like in many similar situations, our Boynton Beach injury lawyer recognizes that the cause of the accident likely stems from negligence. In fact, Wagenhoffer was charged with careless driving on Tuesday. Due to the severity of the injuries sustained by the people in the store, Wagenhoffer was ordered to appear in court. It is common for some form of civil traffic or criminal charge to follow after these incidents. Those charges are separate from any civil suit brought on behalf of those hurt in the ordeal.

Of course there are times when drivers have poor judgment and fail to exercise safe driving habits. Our Palm Beach automobile accident attorney understands that when drivers fail to exercise reasonable care while driving, they have failed to adhere to the basic rules of safe driving, and may be held accountable for the consequences of their actions.. From investigations that have been conducted thus far, it appears that Wagenhoffer simply lost control of her vehicle likely because of basic driving errors.

Those caught in these sorts of situations often face injuries that last a lifetime. It is important for those hurt to receive basic compensation to help in their recovery. Our Palm Beach personal injury lawyer at The Law Office of Eric H. Luckman has worked with many local residents hurt in similar incidents. We offer free consultation for individuals who have suffered injuries in all types of accidents.

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The Palm Beach Post reports that a helicopter fell from the sky, hit the roof of a West Palm Beach, Florida home before crushing part of a car and crashing into a yard, officials say. When the helicopter was finally hauled out of the unsuspecting homeowner’s yard a sliced palm tree remained in its place.

Nedra Obradovich’s roof had a run-in with a small, rented helicopter that landed in her front yard Saturday afternoon. Thankfully no one was seriously injured as a result of the West Palm Beach accident. Obradovich, the pilot and a passenger of the helicopter were able to walk away from the crash, although the pilot and passenger, whose names have not been released, were taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution.

Obradovich expressed enormous relief at her good luck, “I’ve said it a thousand times, I’m so grateful.” The homeowner added that if the helicopter had crashed a few feet in the wrong direction, it would have landed squarely on her house.

Firefighteres.jpgShe had been working on her computer in the moments before the crash and recalls standing to the roar of something approaching. “It sounded like rolling thunder,” Obradovich said. “It was circling.”

After the Palm Beach crash, Obradovich found a man and woman walking aimlessly. “I ignored everybody and ran to them. I was concerned,” she said. Thankfully there were no broken bones and it wasn’t long until everyone was whisked off to the hospital

The long-time Northwood resident believes the pilot may have been aiming for the empty part of her lot to the east of her house, but instead came crashing right beside her home – hitting the car she recently inherited from her mother. “My car actually broke the fall,” Obradovich said. “Apparently the helicopter fell on the car and rolled. Luckily the car was there. I never park it there. If it had fallen directly on the land they may not have survived the impact.”

Federal investigators examined the wreckage Saturday night and said it appeared the helicopter’s engine had failed, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Holly Baker said. The helicopter was about 700 feet in the air before it crashed. The helicopter, owned by the California company Spitzer Helicopter Leasing, was being operated by Ocean Helicopters, a flight school based out of the North Palm Beach County Airport.

National Transportation Safety Board records show helicopters from the flight school have been involved in at least two other accidents in the past 2 1/2 years, one as recently as four months ago, the newspaper said.

Power has since been restored to nearby homes which lost electricity when the small silver and red chopper fell from the sky in West Palm Beach. Obradovich’s inherited Ford Fusion appears to have been the only casualty of the crash as it appears to have been totaled. The chopped up palm tree in the front yard has been around since 1988 and may even survive a direct collision with a copter as palm trees can continue living even with their tops chopped off.

Thankfully helicopters falling from sky aren’t regular occurrences, yet many other accident do occur with surprising frequency throughout our area. Many local victims suffer personal injury and property damage as a result. Our West Palm Beach injury lawyer is skilled and ready to help regardless of the circumstances surrounding your accident. If you’ve been injured by circumstances out of your control, please call our Palm Beach injury attorney today for a consultation to determine what your rights are and how to get you the compensation you deserve.

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Palm Beach County Battles Back Against Traffic Fatalities

Fiery Palm Beach Car Crash Claims Life

Officials in Palm Beach County are hoping to see a decline in traffic accident deaths this year as they have begun a series of new and improved safety measures designed to make the roads safer for travelers. These measures include placing guardrails along State Road 80, where more than a dozen car accidents have resulted in drownings in nearby waters over the past decade. Local law enforcement officers have also been cracking down on drunk drivers, especially in locations that have historically had high crash rates. Also, high gas prices have contributed to fewer drivers on the road, which in turn has resulted in fewer crashes.

In spite of these new developments, however, authorities say that the current year’s traffic fatalities are keeping pace with those of last year. Among the top reasons that Palm Beach car crashes continue to occur is the high occurrence of a category of activities that is often labeled as “distracted driving.” Distracted driving is a broad term used to describe any situation where the driver is not giving his or her full attention to the road. Common types of distracted driving include texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, applying makeup, changing radio stations, or even talking to passengers while driving.

Our West Palm Beach accident attorney knows that distracted driving occurs all the time in this area and throughout the rest of the state. Unlike many other states, Florida does not have a law that prohibits talking on a cell phone or sending text messages while driving. One need only take a quick look around to see how many drivers are chatting away on their phones while driving, or even worse, repeatedly taking their eyes off the road to type a text message. Drivers like these are the cause of many of the West Palm Beach car crashes that occur every year.

One of the best ways that all drivers can improve safety on the roads is by knowing the dangers and taking them seriously. All too often, there is an attitude of “it won’t happen to me,” and that attitude leads people to downplay the risks involved in their behavior. Only by recognizing that the risks of distracted driving are real for everyone can we really start to reduce the number of accidents that occur every year as a result.

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According to the doctrine of sovereign immunity, lawsuits against the state are subject to different rules than those that apply to suits against private citizens. Sovereign immunity is a concept that essentially means that the government cannot be sued by citizens. However, in the United States, this doctrine can be abrogated where the state agrees to waive immunity. Most states and the federal government have passed legislation that allows at least some causes of action to be brought against the government.

Because states have the authority to grant or deny permission to bring suit against them, they also have the authority to determine the conditions under which such suits can be brought. In Florida, citizens are permitted to bring lawsuits against the state, but those suits must conform with certain requirements and are subject to some restrictions. One such restriction involves the amount of money damages that the state can be required to pay in the event that a lawsuit results in a judgment against it. Florida law requires legislative approval in order to allow the state to pay out any damages in excess of $200,000. In essence, once a judgment that exceeds that amount has been entered against the state, the Florida legislature must pass a bill authorizing the payment of more than $200,000 to the winning party. If the bill does not pass, then the plaintiff will only be permitted to collect the first $200,000 of the awarded damages. gavel.jpg

Our Florida injury attorney recognizes that many lawsuits take time to be resolved, especially where the defendant attempts to deny liability. However, those suits often taken even longer when part of the judgment must be approved by the legislature before being paid. In fact, according to an story by local Fox News 29, one Florida car accident victim has been waiting for more than a decade to receive the judgment he was awarded by a jury.

Thirteen years ago, Eric Brody was injured in a car crash involving a Broward County sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle. His injuries resulted in severe, permanent brain damage. Brody and his parents brought a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, which resulted in a jury awarding Brody $30.6 million. Because of Florida’s limit on damages payable without legislative approval, most of this judgment has not yet been paid. This week, however, Senate President Mike Haridopolos has announced that he plans to push for a bill to be passed in order to give Brody the compensation that he deserves in 2012. During the last legislative session, the bill did pass in the Florida Senate, but it was never voted on in the House. Haridopolos wants to avoid letting the bill languish any longer, and he is hoping to get it through early next year.

The law is full of special rules and nuances like this one, which is why it is important to always speak with a Florida injury lawyer about your case, rather than trying to settle it with the insurance company or the other party on your own. The insurance companies may not protect your interests or inform you of special circumstances that apply to your case. Having your own Florida accident attorney advocating on your behalf is the best way to protect your rights and help make sure that you get the compensation you receive for your loss is fair.

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Fiery Palm Beach Car Crash Claims Life of One, Leaves Another in Critical Condition

Tragedy struck in the town of Jupiter last Saturday when a vehicle in which two brothers were traveling crashed and burst into flames. When the burning vehicle was discovered by police, officers were able to extinguish the fire and pull one of the brothers, 35-year-old Mario Pizano, out of the car. Mario was taken to the hospital where he remains in critical condition. Unfortunately, Mario’s brother, 39-year-old Jose Jesus Pizano, was not reached in time, and he perished in the fire. car fire.jpg

According to an article from The Palm Beach Post, officers are still investigating the Palm Beach car crash, and at this time, the cause of the accident is not known, nor do authorities know what caused the vehicle to catch fire. No other vehicles were reported to be involved in the collision.

Our West Palm Beach car accident lawyer knows that vehicle crashes happen every day in this area, but the vast majority of them do not result in vehicle fires. Vehicle fires used to occur with greater frequency than they do now. In fact, in the 1970s, Ford designed and released a new car model called the Pinto. The Pinto was Ford’s answer to other vehicle manufacturers’ compact cars, but it came with a fatal design flaw. The gas tank was located too close to the rear bumper, with insufficient protection between the two, so that when the Pinto was rear-ended, even at low speeds, the gas tank often exploded. Many people were badly injured or killed as a result. After lawsuits resulted in the realization that Ford had known about this risk and blatantly disregarded it, the manufacturing of the Pinto was discontinued.

However, thanks to the efforts of the victims, their families, and their attorneys, vehicle manufacturers have been given huge financial incentives to take steps to make their vehicles as safe as possible, including protecting against vehicle fire. Modern vehicles come equipped with safety belts and air bags. Vehicles are purposely designed in specific shapes in order to strengthen them against bending and breaking in a collision. Warnings are printed prominently inside vehicles to help parents determine the safest place for their children to ride. And, of course, gasoline tanks are now more protected than they once were in order to prevent them from exploding on impact.

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West Palm Beach car accidents injure thousands of residents every year. While the total number of fatalities caused by these crashes has decreased slightly over the past decade the total number of accidents has remained constant. Unfortunately, negligent driving remains as prevalent in our area as ever before. It is only through superior safety designs by car manufacturers that fewer lives are lost in area accidents. Our Palm Beach car accident lawyer works with many victims who have been hurt by the driving mistakes of others.

In an effort to crack down on dangerous driving, local law enforcement officers have installed red light cameras at many intersections. The cameras are designed to catch local travelers who drive through a red light. A photo is snapped upon each violation that allows authorities to identify the car’s license plate number and issue citations. An investigation by WPTV News found that over the past 18 months Palm Beach County officials have handed out over 20,000 tickets to drivers caught by the red light cameras. That represents over $3 million in fines.

Law enforcement officials suggest that the main purpose of the cameras is to crack down on accidents. However, there is disagreement about whether these cameras actually make it less likely that area residents will be involved in a Palm Beach car accident. A nationwide study recently found that the cameras may have caused a slight decrease in overall crashes. Yet, a 2008 study focused specifically on Florida did not find any such benefits from these red light cameras.

A WPTV News study examining accident rates in Palm Beach country revealed mixed results. At two intersections the total number of accidents dropped by 33% and 36% following installation of the cameras. However, at one intersection accidents actually increased by 100% after the installation. In many other locations there was no noticeable change in crashes after the cameras were placed on the lights.

On one hand, proponents of the cameras explain that residents are slowing down earlier and stopping short of the white line in order to avoid triggering the camera. However, one local official who is opposed to the cameras said, “In my opinion, they’re [red light cameras] going to cause more rear-end collisions.” Whatever the case, it is important for the data to be accurately studied so that changes can be made if necessary to ensure that the focus is kept on what matters–reducing Florida traffic accidents.

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Most Palm Beach car accidents involve collisions between two or more vehicles, usually caused by the negligence of one of the drivers. Far too many area residents are harmed in these crashes each day. However, beyond these frequent incidents, cars often pose hidden dangers for many drivers. Those risks are particularly strong when one purchases a used car.

For example, WPTV reported yesterday on a college student who parked his 2009 Grand Prix in his school’s parking lot shortly before the vehicle unexpectedly burst into flames. The fire department rushed to put out the blaze, which engulfed the entire car. Fortunately the driver was not injured in that case.

Shockingly, the bizarre incident is not unique, as many other 2009 Grand Prix drivers have faced similar problems. One driver reports that his car fire almost destroyed his house.

He explained the situation: “There was steam coming out the front of the car. And I thought I must have blown a radiator hose. So I opened the hood to try and let the steam out. Thinking I was going to get steamed, I backed off and when I did flames came rushing out.”

Unknown to that driver or the college student, the cars that they had just bought at a used car dealership had actually been recalled a few months before because of the risk of engine leaks landing on the car’s manifold. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explains how new car dealerships are forbidden from selling openly recalled vehicles, but the same rule does not apply to used car sellers. As a result, millions of cars with open recalls are on the road each day and many more are being sold in used lots throughout the country.

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