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A Car Crashed into My Home, Now What?

Car accidents with stationary objects happen more than you might think. Usually it is a telephone poll or a fire hydrant, but sometimes a car will actually run into a building, causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

In fact, it just occurred in Fort Lauderdale on August 21, 2015. A small supermarket’s front window was completely destroyed when a car ran straight into it.

A Car Crashed into Home

Thankfully no one was hurt in that accident, but it could have been a lot worse. In that case, the driver stated that she hit the gas instead of the brake, sending the car careening into the building.

If a vehicle crashes into your home, you may face the very real problem of having to find somewhere else to live while your house is being repaired. All of this is extremely expensive.

Accident Causes that Result in Damage to a Home or Business

There are several reasons that a driver may run into a home, business, or other building. Generally, it is because of driver error, like the Fort Lauderdale incident. Other reasons may include:

  • Drowsy driving
  • Hazards in the roadway
  • Poor road design
  • Drunk driving
  • Vehicle malfunction

Regardless of the reason, you as a property owner will rarely (if ever) be deemed at fault.

House and Property Damage after a Car Accident

In normal Florida car accident cases that involve another vehicle, you would use your insurance first and then turn to the other driver’s insurance carrier, if necessary. In accidents that involve a home or other property, the insurance claims involved will generally work in the same way.

Your homeowners’ insurance or renters’ insurance will likely cover some, if not all, of the damage that was a direct result of the crash. However, accepting a settlement from your own insurance company may take away your rights to sue the driver for his or her recklessness while driving. Sometimes, in accepting a settlement offer, you also assign your rights to sue to the insurance company.

That means that the insurance company may still sue, but you will not get any of that money. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney before accepting any settlement, even from your own insurance company. You may actually be able to get more by suing the driver (or his or her insurance company) yourself.

We can help you get the compensation that you deserve. Call (305)-379-87688 for a free case evaluation today.

Help! I’m the Victim of a Hit and Run!

Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in Florida. That, however, does not prevent some people from trying to get away with hit and run accidents in Miami.

Many people may be confused after a hit and run happens to them. Once you realize you have been the victim of a hit and run, what should you do next?

Hit and Run Accidents in Florida

What is a Hit and Run?

Hit and runs include collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, buildings, or parked cars. They also include situations when the other offender may stop, but fails to provide any information about him or herself.

Drivers are required to provide their name, address, and registration information to the other driver involved in an accident. They may also be required to show their drivers’ license if requested.

This informational requirement applies even where the driver hits a parked car or other stationary object. If the driver cannot find someone to provide their information to, they should let local law enforcement know about the accident and provide the information to them.

Also Read : Do Not Do These Things after a Car Accident

What Should I Do After a Hit and Run Happens to Me?

Your insurance company will likely deal with property damage associated with a hit and run. However, sometimes your own insurance is not enough, especially if personal injuries are involved.

We suggest taking the following steps after a hit and run where you were not present to see who may have caused the damage.

1. Ask around the parking lot or other area. Did anyone see who hit you? Can they tell you what the car or driver looked like? Gather these witnesses’ names and phone numbers so you can speak with them again later if necessary. Keep in mind that you must find the hit and run driver to initiate a lawsuit to recover damages.

2. Call law enforcement. Many insurance companies require that you report a hit and run incident to the police within 24 hours. Even if your insurance company does not require this, it is still a good idea so you have a record of what happened.

Reporting it to the police also shows the insurance company that you didn’t just run into something and are trying to cover it up. Generally, they assume that if you are reporting it to the police, then it is probably a valid hit and run.

Also Read : Fatal Hit and Run Accident in Miami Caught on Surveillance Video

3. Gather evidence. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle. It is also a good idea to take photos of the surrounding area, weather conditions, etc. Always err on the side of taking too many photographs. These will be helpful for your insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

4. Call a personal injury attorney. Our personal injury attorney can help you with your hit and run accident. Having an experienced personal injury attorney in Miami, FL on your side can help you collect and gather evidence and file a personal injury lawsuit.

Also Read : A Complete Guide to Car Accidents

4 Important Things to Consider with Mediation

You have been injured in a car accident and you have already filed a personal injury lawsuit for those injuries. Or, perhaps you are considering filing a lawsuit and you just want to explore your options before going through the process.

Regardless of the situation, the thought of going to trial may be intimidating. After all, a full out trial comes with extensive costs and time.

mediation

Trials can significantly delay your personal injury claim and you just want to be compensated for your losses as soon as possible so you can get on with your life.

An alternative to going to court is going through mediation. This form of alternative dispute resolution can help determine a settlement that is fair for both parties.

Sometimes mediation is ordered by the courts, while other times you and the other party can opt for mediation to resolve the claim.

The Purpose of Mediation

Mediation involves a professionally trained mediator —such as a former judge or attorney—who helps you and the other party try to reach an agreeable settlement.

They are not there in the judge’s capacity, however, and they do not make decisions; instead, they help facilitate them. They may also make suggestions and recommendations, but they are not the final say in your negotiations.

Their goal is to bring both sides to the table to discuss and hopefully come to a settlement. You cannot force the other party to go to mediation nor can they force you. However, the courts can require it as part of your case.

Mediation is not the same as arbitration. In arbitration, the final decision is legally binding, while mediation is only binding if both parties sign a contract agreeing to the decisions.

What to Expect During Mediation

Mediation typically involves a preliminary discussion phase, which involves statements that will not be admissible in court.

This allows everyone to show evidence that would otherwise be excluded and even openly discuss factors of the case without any fear that something they say will be used against them later in the courts.

Both parties are typically required to sign a mediation agreement, stating that they agree to work out their settlement via mediation instead of taking the process to court.

After the preliminary discussion phase, you, the plaintiff, will be allowed to speak. This is where an attorney becomes handy. A car accident attorney can explain the view of the case and any proposed settlements you may have as well as their reasons for requesting such settlement.

The opposing party most likely will have attorneys or representatives present for mediation; therefore, having an attorney present who understands the process and can help protect your rights is important.

If you and the other party cannot be in the same room together, then the mediator may act as a go-between, discussing the case with you and then going back to the other side for discussions and further negotiations.

The mediator is there to help both parties see the other side of the case. They may discuss weaknesses they have found in your claim and may give you an idea of what you can expect in court if you took your case to trial.

Tips for a Successful Mediation

Mediation can be suggested before you file your case with the courts. If both sides agree, this may be an indication the other side is willing to settle.

To ensure more successful mediation experience, here are a few tips to consider:

1. Make sure there is a decision-maker present for the other side during mediation. There is no point in discussing a settlement with people that need to speak to a higher authority before making their decision.

2. Select a mediator that is specifically experienced in car accident settlements.

3. Remember the mediator cannot enforce an agreement or force you to sign an agreement. Agreements are mutual.

4. Mediation will cost money, but may be factored into the costs you have already worked out with your attorney.

We can review your case and help determine which dispute resolution method is best. Call now for a free consultation.

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Distracted Driving is More Than Texting

If you do not text and drive, you may assume that distracted driving isn’t a problem for you. But distracted driving has existed long before the invention of the cell phone.

You also may not realize that some of the tasks that you are completing on your cell phone are also illegal. Here, we will go through a few things you may not know about distracted driving.

Distracted Driving is More Than Texting while Driving

Types of Distracted Driving

Every day, there are more than nine people killed because of distracted driving. Another over 1,000 people are injured because of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. It can be something simple like checking on the kids in the backseat or adjusting your music.

There are three categories of distracted driving:

  1. Visual: You have taken your eyes off of the road.
    1. Looking at a map or navigation system
    2. Looking at pets or children
    3. Reading
  2. Manual: You have taken your hands off the wheel
    1. Reaching down to get something
    2. Eating or drinking
    3. Adjusting the radio or navigation system
  3. Cognitive: You have taken your mind off of driving.
    1. Daydreaming or “spacing out”
    2. Deep conversations with passengers or on the phone
    3. Drowsiness or falling asleep

In many cases of distracted driving, you are doing all three of these things, especially in cases where the driver is texting, checking e-mail, or looking at social media.

Distracted driving can significantly increase the likelihood of an accident. In 2011, for example, almost 1 in 5 crashes where someone was injured were due to distracted driving.

Distracted Driving Risk Factors

Age. Younger drivers are at an increased risk to be involved in an accident where distracted driving is involved, even if they are not driving. Younger drivers (under 20) have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatalities.

It is important to avoid providing a bad example for future drivers and to encourage young drivers to put their cell phone away while they are driving.

Drinking and Driving. You should never drink and drive. Being drunk while driving has its own very serious risk factors, but those who have been drinking are also more likely to use their cell phone while they are driving.

Drinking clouds judgement, and drunk drivers occasionally feel invincible, causing them to engage in other types of risky behavior.

Passengers. Passengers in the vehicle may also increase the likelihood of a distracted driving accident. Passengers may encourage you to look at photos, videos, or texts while driving; they think it is okay as long as they are holding the phone. This visual distraction is still very dangerous.

Children and pets should be restrained in the vehicle for safety and to avoid their movement being a distraction to the driver. Pets and children will, for example, occasionally climb on the driver and cause the driver to lose control.

Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving

You may strictly adhere to Florida’s state-wide ban on texting while driving, and good for you! What you may not realize, however, is that Florida’s law extends to more than just texting. The law states:

“A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”

The law obviously extends to checking your e-mail and chatting. However, the law likely also extends to checking Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn or building your electronic to-do list.

It could even extend to using GPS services while driving, specifically typing in addresses or business information. If you have streaming music, adjusting stations or looking for artist could also be including in this law.

7 Ways to Avoid Tailgating Accidents

Tailgating is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. Tailgating occurs when a driver follows the car in front of him or her much too closely.

Florida law prohibits vehicles from following too closely, but it does not specifically state how close is “too close” in most situations.

Generally, however, vehicles on the highway should allow for at least one car length between them.

Following too closely significantly decreases the driver’s reaction time, which increases the likelihood of an accident.

tailgating accidents in United States

However, there are some actions you can take to help avoid an accident, even when the driver behind you is being unreasonable.

1. Keep calm.

If the tailgater upsets you, it is still important to keep calm so you can maintain control of your vehicle.

Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that just because the person behind you is being ridiculous does not mean that you have to respond or react.

You should also make efforts to keep your passengers calm as well.

2. Stay focused.

Keep distractions to a minimum so you can observe your surroundings carefully and react quickly if necessary.

Dealing with tailgaters can make you tense, so you need to use all of your energy and efforts to stay focused to avoid an accident.

3. Slow down.

If you drive at a slower speed, that will give the car behind you more time to react if you have to use your brakes quickly.

Although your tailgater will likely not appreciate this course of action, this is probably the best way to increase the amount of time they need to react.

Keep in mind that large cars or trucks and motorcycles require more time to stop than the average passenger vehicle.

4. Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.

If you are rear-ended, it is possible that you are pushed into the car in front of you, causing a pile up.

You can avoid this type of accident by increasing the distance between you and the car in front of you; leave yourself plenty of stopping room.

When the weather is poor, you should increase this distance even more.

Also Read : Do Not Do These Things after a Car Accident

5. Pull over and let the vehicle pass.

If the driver behind you is clearly becoming irate and dangerous, it might be best to just pull over and let them pass you when it is safe to do so.

Slowing down to allow them to pass (do not speed up) can work just as well. If you move toward the side of the road, without going off, this will generally signify that you would like to let the driver behind you pass.

Moving in this way allows the tailgater to see around you to determine when it is safe to pass. Avoid speeding up, if at all possible.

6. Avoid tapping your brakes in an attempt to get the tailgater to back off.

Many people will try this technique, but it can have unexpected consequences. Your tailgater may slow down momentarily, but once they realize what you did, they may not take you seriously the next time you actually need to quickly apply your brakes.

Never brake hard just to “teach them a lesson.” This is more likely to end up causing an accident—one where you might be partially liable for the damages.

7. Do not be part of the problem.

If you are in multi-lane traffic, you are likely not legally obligated to get out of the tailgater’s way while you are in the left or middle lanes.

However, it will likely cause less problems if you switch lanes when it is safe to do so. Slower traffic should generally keep right.

As the vehicle passes you, you may want to make a mental note of their license plate number or other identifying information.

You can report these troublesome drivers to non-emergency law enforcement if you think they are dangerous.

If the tailgater is from a company, they may have a “How’s My Driving?” number that you could call to report any problems.