Who is Liable After an Accident

Who is Liable AFter An Accident

 

With the number of drivers who are licensed to drive in the State of Florida exceeding more than 15 million, it is safe to say there has been many car accidents in this State. Victims of car crashes know that more often than not, the accident was avoidable if everyone had been more cautious and practiced defensive driving. However we know that you can do all the right things and still get hit by a reckless driver or be the victim of an accident and be left with substantial damages.

There are many reasons why motor vehicle accidents happen including negligence of a driver, parts of a motor vehicle that are defective, roadways that were designed poorly, hazards from an area under construction, etc. As most know evidence is the key to building a sustainable and triumphant claim. When you can demonstrate that the car collision caused your injuries and you can prove the defendant is liable for said accident you are more likely to be successful. Some things you can do right after a car accident is write down phone numbers of any witnesses, take pictures of all damages, injuries, and the area. Also seek immediate medical attention regarding your injuries, don’t wait, as this is more evidence of the damages you sustained from the accident in question.

If you decide to hire an attorney, please make sure it is an attorney who practices in the area of personal injury. Every attorney will state they can handle a personal injury claim, but you should do your research and only go with an attorney who specializes in that area, as there are many legal pitfalls regarding the prosecution of a personal injury claim.  As you may or may not know, insurance companies will examine all the details of your case and try to devalue and minimize your claims. A personal injury lawyer will make sure you obtain the proper medical treatment, they will launch an investigation as to the facts of the accident, collect evidence including the black box data from all of the motor vehicles involved in the crash, and fight to get you compensated for your property damage. Finally, they shall prosecute your claim to obtain the justice that you deserve, even if it means going to trial. At Hicks & Motto we have been fighting for our injured clients for over 40 years. If you have questions, we have the answers, call Hicks & Motto 561-683-2300.

Get Ready To Go To Court Online

Lawyer reviewing a case on the computer.

Since the pandemic, we have seen many online services or contactless services become available and this also includes court. Having online platforms like Zoom to help us continue the court process and to accommodate people is very valuable but online court does have its challenges. Below is some advice on what you can do to help make a good first impression in online court

First of all, you want to do a test run a day before your scheduled hearing date or conference with the program you are intending to use for this virtual appearance. You should make sure you know how to use the platform and all of its features.  When you are setting up your account make sure your username and photo that will be displayed is appropriate. Make sure there are no cat filters on either as you may have heard there was a famous incident last year where an attorney did not know there was a filter on and when he went to start a meeting with a judge, the filter turned on and he became a talking cat and he couldn’t change it. During your trial run, check to see if you have a camera that is functioning, the lighting is good and if the location you are tuning in from has a strong internet or wifi signal, if not think of relocating to an area with a steady signal, as this is very important.

Furthermore, take note of where you will be during the court hearing. You should be in an area with limited noise, preferably no noise, have a plain background behind you, do not have people in the frame conversating or doing other activities, dress appropriately, and make sure you talk to your lawyer beforehand so you know how the two of you will communicate throughout the hearing. Treat the virtual event as if you were in actual court, as judges have little tolerance for disturbances or anything that hinders the court process.

Have the attorneys at Hicks and Motto help you professionally and diligently fight for justice with your case and help you through this new world of online court.

Dog Bite/Attacks

Dog barking angrily and showing teeth

 

Surprisingly dog bites/attacks have been the reason for over a billion dollars in injuries a year. This number includes incidents where dogs have hurt bicycle riders, joggers, the elderly, and children by knocking them over and incidents where canines have bitten people.

Dogs are incredible animals; they truly are man’s best friend, but bites from canines may lead to significant scars/injuries and can cause loss due to the dog owner’s negligence. In that case, the owner can be held accountable. In the State of Florida, dog owners are held strictly liable if their dog injures another person. Pursuant to Florida law, victims are able to make a claim against the owner despite the dog owner having no prior knowledge of their canine’s inclination to sometimes be aggressive. On the other hand, if the dog’s owner knew that in certain situations their pet can become aggressive but did not take steps to protect others, they might be charged with dereliction of duty.

If injured by a dog, an individual can make an insurance  claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, but be aware there are some insurance policies that exclude coverage for certain breeds like pit bulls, rottweilers, chows, etc.

After receiving proper medical attention for your dog bite injuries, it is helpful to note/collect certain information like the pet’s owners contact info, pictures of your wounds and the dog, the pet’s vaccination records, when the incident happened, where it happened, and if there were any witnesses at the time the incident occurred. You should also contact the police and/or animal control to report the incident.

At Hicks and Motto, we have seen many dogs bite cases throughout the years. Reach out to us if you have been a victim of a dog bite/attack and let us pursue your possible claim. Don’t go into a legal battle alone.

Questionable Tactics Insurance Companies Use To Lessen the Settlement Received From a Motor Vehicle Collision

Small car damaged from a motor vehicle accident

 

Automobile insurance adjustors want to save their companies money on every claim, so they will try many different ways to get a claimant to accept a low-ball offer, even if their claim might call for a higher compensation. One highly questionable tactic is the quick low-ball settlement offer that is extended by the insurance company shortly after the accident takes place. Insurance companies will do this to:

  • Blindside the claimant and bring the offer to their attention during a stressful time where the person might not be at their best to make an important/informed decision regarding settlement.
  • Get the claimant to accept the low-ball offer prior to the victim accessing all the damages and injuries, they have sustained from the accident, without the benefit of multiple doctor visits and/or diagnostic testing.
  • Have the victim agree to an offer that doesn’t represent what their claim is possibly worth Insurance Companies may also postpone/delay the processing of the claimants’ documents to try to get them to a point where they will accept anything to pay for mounting medical bills, car repairs, and everyday expenses they may be struggling to pay for after an accident. Furthermore, after not seeing any progress in a claim people will sometimes drop their claims altogether which is a win for the insurance company.

The Bodily Insurance adjustor (the at fault’s insurance company) might reach out to a claimant just a few hours after an accident to try and get details from the claimant and get them to deny that they were injured from the accident. Therefore, never speak to the adverse insurance carrier prior to consulting with an attorney. Adjusters also may ask the claimant for a statement that is recorded but again this can negatively impact the victim’s claim, as this can provide the adjustor with information to give you less of a settlement. If requested, always respectfully decline, and contact an attorney.

Insurance companies may also send the claimant a medical authorization to execute, which will allow the insurance adjuster to obtain ALL of your medical records regarding your entire life. Signing this form will allow the adjustor to obtain every medical record/report generated by every doctor the claimant has ever seen. In summary these records can be used by the insurance company to make a case against the victim that they were not injured by the accident in question and again justify giving the claimant less money for their claim.

Here at Hicks and Motto, We deal directly with the adverse insurance company so you can focus on healing and getting back to normal. Call Hicks & Motto, 561-683-2300.

What are the elements of a wrongful death claim?

Car with damage from an accident causing a wrongful death claim.

 
 

Losing a loved one is never easy but losing a loved one due to the negligence of a third party is particularly difficult. Oftentimes, when we lose someone due to the negligence of others, we feel compelled to find answers, and we want someone to be held accountable for their improper actions.  In order to establish a viable wrongful death claim, however, there are three specific elements that must be met.

 

  1. Negligence:

In order to hold a third party accountable for the loss of a loved one, it is first necessary to prove that the third party had a responsibility to provide a duty of care to a loved one and failed to do so, resulting in damage or injury to another person. This is called negligence. Examples of negligence may include a driver who fails to stop at a red light causing a traffic accident that injures another driver, or a physician who fails to check his patient’s chart for allergy information prior to prescribing the penicillin that causes the patient’s death.

In cases where wrongful death may have occurred due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider, negligence must be proved based upon an established standard of care. This means that the negligent healthcare provider’s actions must be compared to the actions of a reasonable healthcare provider in a related background to see if the established standard of care was met.

 

  1. Causation:

The second element that must be met is causation, otherwise known as the “but for” test. In a wrongful death claim, this means that the deceased would have lived “but for” the negligence of a third party. To return to the example above, the patient would not have died but for the physician’s failure to check the patient’s chart for allergy information prior to prescribing penicillin. If the physician had checked the patient’s chart, which is a reasonable standard of care for a physician, the physician would have known not to prescribe penicillin to the patient, and the patient would have lived.

 

  1. Damages:

The final element to be met is damages. This means that it is necessary to prove to the court that the loss of your loved one caused losses that impacted you and your family in a negative way. Some examples of damages are hospital bills, the pain and suffering endured by the deceased, burial and funeral costs, lost income, and loss of companionship. Unless proof of these losses is provided, the element of damages cannot be met.

 

If you have questions regarding a possible wrongful death claim, contact the attorneys at Hicks & Motto for a consultation free of charge. You have questions, we have answers.

 

 

What You Need to Know When You Have a Slip and Fall Injury and Possible Claim

Man holding injured knee after falling down some stairs.

 

In this chaotic fast paced world where you are on the go 24/7. Slip and fall accidents do occur and it’s amazing how just this simple incident can lead to major issues that can last a lifetime. If you get hurt because of the negligence of a business owner, a company, or another person, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and damages. If you want to pursue a claim, here is some advise:

First, you need to have evidence to demonstrate liability or why the person or company is at fault. Just because you fall at a business, doesn’t mean the business owner is liable. The evidence you collect and whether or not it would hold up in court will differ based on the case. In any event, since everyone has a cell phone with a camera function, it is crucial to your claim to take photographs of the area where you fell and of any substance that might have contributed to the fall, i.e. water, a grape, soap. In addition, if there were any witnesses to the fall, attempt to obtain the person’s name and telephone number, as their testimony as to what occurred can be very beneficial to the claim. Finally, preserve the shoes that you were wearing at the time of the fall, as they are now evidence regarding the claim. You should place the shoes in a safe area, and no longer wear them.

Furthermore, you need to seek the appropriate medical treatment to help alleviate the pain and discomfort, and ultimately lead to the resolution of your injuries. Not every doctor is trained to treat injuries arising from a slip and fall incident, sometime specialists are needed depending on the injury. Never delay, seek medical treatment immediately after the fall.

You can represent yourself, but you do have the option to retain a lawyer. Most people will say, “well I don’t have money to go see a lawyer”, but in the State of Florida, personal injury attorneys work on what is called a contingency, which means we ONLY get paid if we are able to obtain money for your claim.

Here at Hicks and Motto, we specialize in personal injury claims and have seen numerous cases and would love to be able to help you receive justice for your claim. We look forward to speaking with you and fighting on your behalf. Remember at Hicks & Motto, “Results Matter”.

Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Continue to Rise Every Year

Hicks and Motto attorneys for motorcycle accident injuries

 

 

In what we find to be unsurprising news, deaths from motorcycle accidents increased dramatically when tracked over a 10-year period – in fact, the statistics show that from 1994 to 2014, nationwide fatalities increased EVERY YEAR.

Sadly, Florida’s statistics follow the same trend. The most recent data show that total motorcycle crashes increased from 8,706 to 9,143, with fatalities increasing from 497 to 531 (source: Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles).

To put this death toll into context, here’s a jarring view – motorcycles account for less than 1% of the national miles driven but account for 15% of traffic deaths. So, with close to 5,000 people dying every year while riding a motorcycle, it makes this form of transportation 26 times more deadly than driving a car.

There are many reasons for this high rate of fatalities and injury accidents involving motorcycles; the most commonly reported being that the motorist didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late.

If you are a motorcycle rider, what can you do to stay safer on Florida’s congested and dangerous roadways?

  • WEAR A HELMET, even though you are no longer required to by Florida Statutes Section 316.211. It reduces your probability of head injury by as much as 70%.
  • BE CONSPICUOUS; wear bright colors and always be sure your headlamp is on even in daylight.
  • AT NIGHT, wear reflective gear and in addition to your headlamp, use your running lights (if your bike is equipped with them).
  • EXCESSIVE SPEED is involved in a significant number of accidents, so obey posted speed limits.
  • ALCOHOL INTAKE impairs reaction time. You do not have to meet legal standards of intoxication to be a few seconds too slow – and on a motorcycle, that is the difference between life and death.

Motorcycle riders are at an overall higher risk on the road – the stats bear it out – and are at a much higher risk of serious injury or death. Motorcycles have the same rights as cars to be on the roadways, regardless of some people’s opinions to the contrary. If a motorcycle rider is injured or killed through no fault of their own, they or their family are entitled to the same compensation as those injured or killed in an auto accident.

If you or a loved one need a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer with the experience to negotiate adequate compensation, or take your case to trial, contact Hicks & Motto at 561.683.2300.

Florida Ranks Number One in U.S. Boating Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries

Florida ranks number 1 in boating accidents Hicks and Motto Attorneys

 

 

With the warm sun, sandy beaches, and ocean just steps away, Floridians have always enjoyed an active outdoor lifestyle.  Boating is a favorite activity for many South Florida outdoor enthusiasts; however, it is extremely important to know how to stay safe when out on the water.

Florida’s boating facts are astounding.  According to 2018 United States Coast Guard statistics, Florida had the highest number of fatal injury, non-fatal injury, and property damage accidents compared to any other state.

Here are some other key findings from the report:

  • In known causes of boating deaths, 77% were from drowning
  • In known drowning victims, 84% were not wearing life jackets
  • In fatal boating accidents, alcohol is the leading contributing factor
  • In fatal boating accidents, lack of operator boating safety education is a major factor
  • In boating accidents, operator inexperience or inattention are among the top five contributing causes, along with improper lookout, speed, and machinery failure.

These statistics indicate that responsible boating can prevent injury and save lives.  To prevent accidents and injury:

  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Never boat under the influence
  • Take a boating safety course
  • Know navigational rules

Both federal and state laws can apply to boating accidents on Florida’s waterways.  Depending on the circumstances, the operator of a boat may be liable.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, you may be able to recover from the responsible party.

Please stay safe and boat responsibly.

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