Tag Archives: Destin car wreck attorney

Do You Know Florida’s Car Seat Laws?

As of Jan. 1, 2020, Washington state has new laws on child car seats. This includes stricter rules on age, weight and height of children, restraints and how long a child must be in a rear facing seat. With this in mind, the question then leads to – do all parents in Florida know the laws in place enforcing the use of child safety seats in vehicles?

Children Under the Age of 18

In Florida, all passengers under the age of 18 must wear a seatbelt while in the vehicle. The proper type of seatbelt or harness depends on the child’s age, height, and weight. A driver can receive a traffic ticket and fine for not making sure that any passenger under the age of 18 is wearing a seatbelt. All drivers in Florida, as well as anyone sitting in the passenger seat, must wear seatbelts at all times. Failure to wear a seatbelt may result in a $30 fine, as well as additional fees. Although not part of the law, the Florida Department of Highway Safety recommends that all children 12 and under not ride in the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Children Under the Age of Five

All children ages five and under must sit in a federally-approved car seat while in a motor vehicle in Florida. Failure to use a car seat for children five and younger can result in a $60 fine and three points on the driver’s license. Children three and under must sit in a separate car seat or a built-in car seat if the vehicle has one. Children four and five years old can either sit in a car seat or use a booster seat depending on the child’s height and weight.

Best Practices

Florida has some of the most lenient car seat laws in the country. Parents should understand that these are minimum standards.

Best practice would be for a child to remain rear facing car seat at least until age two or until the maximum height and weight limit of their convertible car seat. After age two the child can then transition from rear facing to forward facing, yet remain in a 5-point harness until at minimum age of five or six years old or until the maximum height and weight limit of their forward-facing harness seat. Once a child has outgrown their forward facing harness, they should remain in a belt positioning booster seat until they pass the 5-step test, which is typically 4’9″ tall and between 10-13 years old.

Children should remain in the backseat until at least age 13, as that is typically the age in which the body can withstand the impacts of an airbag. While a child may appear to be the size of a full grown adult, their bone structure is still not as calcified or strong enough to withstand the forces of the airbag.

Car Seat Installation

Every car seat is different, every car is different and therefore installation for a car seat could be different in every vehicle. Reading the manual is critical to a successful install. Always read the manual and even watch our ZTV episode that featured a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician from the Pensacola Fire Department. Joe and Pensacola Fire Inspector John Bartholomew show you how to properly install a child car seat, as well as provide tips to ensure your child’s safety in case you are ever involved in a car accident.

Watch Car Seat Installation Video Here > 

Parents can’t always prevent car accidents, but they can prevent injuries to their children, by making sure their child is properly secured in the vehicle .

If you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by another’s carelessness, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Instead, put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve.

Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law, P.A., a Pensacola Personal Injury law firm, has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer. For more information, visit: https://www.zarzaurlaw.com

11 E Romana Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Telephone: 850-444-9299
Email: info@zarzaurlaw.com





Changes to Washington’s Child Restraint Law Focus of Child Passenger Safety Week



Facts About the Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three million people are injured each year in vehicle accidents across the country. The different injuries resulting from a car accident can be as varied as the individual circumstances of each collision, but there are some types of injuries that are more common than others.
More serious injuries might become permanent and result in some level of physical disability. When any car accident occurs, the police should be contacted and you should seek medical attention immediately, even if you think your injuries aren’t that serious. The initial shock and disorientation caused by the wreck can send your body into a fight or flight situation and you may not feel the pain of the injuries right away.
Injuries resulting from car accidents can be as unique and wide-ranging as the types of crashes that cause them. Your position in the car, how you are hit, whether you are wearing your seat belt (we sincerely hope that you always are!) all contribute to how your body reacts to the force of a collision. But even in accidents that seem minor, injuries can be common.
It is very important to keep a close eye on how your body and mind feel over the weeks following an accident, because some symptoms are not immediately apparent.
Whiplash is one of the most common car-accident injuries. It happens when the car stops or turns suddenly, causing the neck to “whip” back and forth rapidly, and causes pain and injury to the muscles and tendons in your neck. Look for symptoms like neck pain and stiffness, loss of range of motion or worsening of pain with movement.
Concussion can also result from your head being thrown back and forth. It’s a serious injury that can occur even if your head doesn’t make physical contact with anything. Impact with a side window or steering wheel can cause scrapes and bruising to the head, or even deeper lacerations. More severe collision impacts can cause a closed head injury. In that situation, the fluid and tissue inside the skull are damaged because of the sudden movement or impact of the head. Less severe closed head injuries often result in concussions, while the most severe impacts can cause brain damage. You may see signs right away, such as headache, head pressure, temporary loss of consciousness, seeing “stars,” dizziness, or ringing of the ears, but it may take a few hours for symptoms to appear. Concussions can be significant, so if you’re having difficulty with concentration, memory, or focus, see a doctor right away.
In a car accident, broken bones are caused by the blunt force of the crash or compression. Any bone can break in an accident, but the most common are the extremities: hands, arms, feet, and legs. Especially in a rear-end accident, the force of the impact can cause the bones in a driver’s arms, wrists, or hands to break because of their position on the steering wheel. Signs include swelling, redness, bruising, deformity, loss of function and severe pain.
While whiplash affects the neck and shoulders, musculoskeletal injuries can happen to muscles, ligaments, tendons or nerves anywhere in your body that were stretched, compressed or bent during an accident. Depending on the severity, these soft-tissue injuries can be just as painful as a broken bone and can limit your mobility. Symptoms such as pain that worsens with activity, inflammation, redness and swelling could point to a significant soft-tissue injury.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you’re at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research shows that about 9 percent of the general population who are in car accidents develop PTSD. That number is significantly higher for people who have been in a car accident and seek mental health treatment, with an average of 60 percent diagnosed with PTSD.
A car accident is scary, and it’s very common to experience a number of symptoms associated with PTSD, including:
  • Feelings of anxiety and increased heart rate when you’re faced with reminders of the event. Hearing a horn honk or brakes screeching may automatically activate a fear response.
  • Feeling a little more on edge when you’re driving. You may be jumpy or startle more easily in a car.
  • Being more watchful. You’re more likely to scan your environment for potential sources of threats (for example, people driving too fast).
  • Avoidance. Because of the anxiety that often follows an MVA, it’s natural that you may want to avoid some situations or experience hesitation at times, such as driving on the highway.
These symptoms should naturally subside over time, but keep an eye on them. If you notice they’re getting more severe and/or more frequent, if you’re avoiding more situations or the symptoms are beginning to interfere with your life, then you may be at risk for developing PTSD.

If you’ve been the victim of a car wreck, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joefor a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Follow the link to the car wreck checklist and put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.






Car Wreck Checklist

Is Whiplash a Serious Injury

Florida: The Most Dangerous State for Pedestrians

Florida is the deadliest state for pedestrians: A 2017 study found eight of 10 most dangerous cities are located in Florida. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts, “On average, a pedestrian is killed every 1.5 hours in traffic crashes.”

According to Florida’s integrated report exchange system, for Escambia County in 2018:

83 crashes involving pedestrians
56 crashes involving bicycles
10 pedestrian deaths
One bicycle fatality

As more and more people are choosing to use the oldest and most basic form of transportation—walking, for fitness, sightseeing and more, there’s new evidence that even walking across the street is becoming more dangerous.

A report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that the number of pedestrians killed in traffic jumped 11 percent in 2016, to nearly 6,000. That’s the biggest single-year increase in pedestrian fatalities ever, and the highest number in more than two decades. The National Safety Council reported that traffic deaths overall went up six percent nationwide in 2016. Most would assume that with increased safety of vehicles, as we move towards more semi-autonomous vehicles, that traffic deaths would go down. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening with a spike in fatalities as it relates to pedestrians and cyclists.

Maureen Vogel, spokeswoman for the National Safety Council, says: A stronger economy and lower gas prices have put more cars on the road and have people driving more often, “but that is really only part of the story … so something else is at play here.”

Drivers and pedestrians distracted by cellphones and oblivious to each other, could be the cause of this spike in pedestrian injuries and deaths.

1. Be safe and seen: make yourself visible to drivers.
2. Be smart and alert: avoid dangerous behavior.
– stay sober
– walk on sidewalks
– don’t assume vehicles will stop
– don’t rely solely on pedestrian signals, be alert to engine sounds and backup lights
3.  Look before you step!
– look both ways
– don’t wear headphones
– cross streets at marked cross walks

Be Alert and Watch for Pedestrians:
1. Scan the road and the sides of the road ahead for potential pedestrians or bicyclists.
2. Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians crossing or bicyclists coming up the road.
3. Do not drive distracted or after consuming alcohol or other drugs.
4. Do not use your cell phone while driving.
5. Look carefully behind your vehicle for approaching pedestrians, especially small children, before backing-up.
6. For maximum visibility, keep your windshield clean and headlights on.

Be Responsible and Yield to Pedestrians at Crossings:
1. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked.
2. Yield to pedestrians when making right or left turns at intersections.
3. Do not block or park in crosswalks.
4. Be Patient: Drive the speed limit and avoid aggressive maneuvers
5. Never pass/overtake a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.
6. Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at STOP signs.
7. Use extra caution when driving near children playing along the street or older pedestrians who may not see or hear you.
8. Always be ready to stop for pedestrians.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to the fault of a distracted driver, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.








Car-Truck Crashes. What To Do In This Serious Situation.

Few accident situations require such agile and immediate action as the car-truck accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, a total of 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016. Seventeen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 66 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 16 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. The number of people who died in large truck crashes was 27 percent higher in 2016 than in 2009, when it was the lowest it has been since the collection of fatal crash data began in 1975.  The number of truck occupants who died was 47 percent higher than in 2009. The main reason for this fact is that the trucking industry or commercial motor vehicles are ruled by regulations different from those applied to motor vehicles. Before mentioning some tips to consider in case of car-truck accident, it is important to define important terms.

Large Truck and Car Crashes
Large Truck and Car Crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), created in January 2000, is an independent organization of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The main objective of this organization is to reduce accidents on the roads involving long trucks and buses. The FMCSA offers guidance through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). It is mandatory that motor carrier operators and drivers know and comply with all applicable FMCSR (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 2009).

A commercial motor vehicle is any motor vehicle used on an interstate highway for commercial purposes to transport passengers or property. Another feature is a gross or combined vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg) or more. Vehicles used to transport more than eight passengers commercially (49 C.F.R. § 390.3, 2017) can also be considered a commercial motor vehicle.

Useful Recommendations

Call Your Lawyer.
In a car-truck crash situation, evidence is a priority. Data from the engine control, distinctive tire markings at the accident scene, and even the records of the transport company must be quickly obtained by your lawyer before they are destroyed. It is important to mention that most trucks are equipped with systems that report collisions automatically. Defense lawyers have quick access to the vehicles’ information, officers, and witnesses. Unlike motor vehicle accidents, truck collision cases are immediately defended after an accident.

Know the Regulations.
Motor carriers are highly regulated entities subject to standards that apply only to the road transportation industry. The FMCSR includes the applicable safety standards of the road transport industry for drivers and motor carriers. It is important to know the rules and regulations that can be useful in different situations.

Motor Carrier Information.
A driver must have a commercial driver’s license to legally operate one of these vehicles. The FMCSR also defines smaller vehicles with a combined gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more as commercial motor vehicles if used for commercial purposes.

Learn About Insurance Coverage.
The FMCSR only requires that interstate carriers maintain a minimum of $ 750,000 in insurance coverage with a minimum of $5 million required for carriers of hazardous materials. The provision of minimum coverage has not increased since it was approved in 1981 and, as a result, many motor carriers today do not have sufficient insurance. If the tractor and trailer are owned separately, it is likely that a separate insurance policy covers the trailer.

Associated Truck Accident Factors.
Hundreds of associated factors were collected in a FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study for each vehicle in each crash. In descending order, the top 10 factors coded for large truck accidents are:
1. Brake problems
2. Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
3. Prescription drug use
4. Traveling too fast for conditions
5. Unfamiliarity with roadway
6. Roadway problems
7. Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
8. Over-the-counter drug use
9. Inadequate surveillance
10. Fatigue

Avoid Collisions with Trucks.
In an ABC News article, AAA reported in their Car-Truck Study, that car drivers were at fault more often due to five actions that accounted for about 65 percent of unsafe driving situations, the actions were:
1. Failure to stay in your lane and attempting to drive around trucks the same way they drive around cars.
2. Not yielding right of way
3. Speeding
4. Violating signs and signals
5. Driver inattention

The AAA study states that drivers lack proper education about driving with big rigs.

Like with cars, AAA warns of a truck’s blind spots, the areas on both sides of a truck where the driver cannot see other vehicles in his rear-view mirrors. So when passing a truck drivers should never “hang around” the truck.

Drivers also need to understand that trucks cannot move like cars. A truck is less maneuverable. It doesn’t stop as quickly, and therefore drivers need to give that truck more room and more margin for error when driving around the vehicle.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.


Fried, J. A. (2018, February). 8 Tips for trucking cases. Trial: American Association for Justice, 22-27.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. (2009). A motor’s carrier guide to improving highway safety. U.S. Department of Transportation. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/carrier-safety/motor-carriers-guide-improving-highway-safety

Cornell Law School – https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/390.3

AAA Study: Car-Truck Study – https://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130212&page=1


Driver and Cyclist Crash-Risk Perception. Do You Know the Rules?

Florida’s roads and streets are the main scenario for the interaction between pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists and more. We face the everyday hazardous act of sharing the roads, trusting in the driving and riding knowledge of everyone in traffic. But what happens when this knowledge is affected by a different perception of reality?

ZL_blog_Cars_&_BicyclesAccording to the Association for Phycological Science (APS), a 2012 study revealed there’s a difference between cyclists’ and drivers’ perceptions about road interaction. The study showed that cyclists look at the car-bike road interactions as risky and with a high crash propensity. On the other hand, the study found drivers look at the car-bike dynamic with less chance of accident and less risky than other automobile accidents. These hard findings make drivers think about the importance of complying with the regulations and, above all, the need to respect other users on the road. Cyclists must also engage in responsible riding and respect all motor vehicles.

Looking into the statistics published by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the annual average number of bicycle accidents in the last five years is 6,800 and the number of bicycle crash fatalities is 135 per year. This fact makes it even more imperative for both parties to become aware of the dangers they face when driving and riding the public roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and bicycling.com reminds us to keep in mind the following guidelines when riding a bicycle to reduce the risk of accidents and avoid injuries.

BE VISIBLE – Use protective equipment such as a helmet, a white front light, and a red rear light. Don’t forget to use reflectors on the bicycle, helmet, and clothes.

GO STRAIGHT – Plan a safe route. Choose roads with less traffic and slower speeds. Always ride in a straight a line as possible so drivers can sense how far left they have to go to get past you safely. Don’t weave in and out of traffic.

DON’T GET DOORED – Avoid getting clotheslined by a car door! On a road line with parked cars, take up more of the lane. Assume that the person in car does not know you are coming and will open the car door. Look over your left shoulder to check that traffic is clear and give the car a wide berth. Also, look at wheels and be prepared to take defensive maneuvers if the car’s wheels are turned and they pull out in front of you. The driver may honk at you…but at least they saw you.

USE COMMON SENSE – Do not use your cell phone or listen to music during your ride. It requires that your vision and attention stay focused on the road.

SIGNAL A WARNING – Before passing a pedestrian announce yourself with “on your left” or “passing on your left” or using a bell so they can be aware of your presence. It is also important to use your ears in vehicle traffic, since many engine sounds can tip you off to any danger, with possibly the exception of hybrid engines that don’t make much noise. When a potential dangerous encounter occurs, a scream is instant and can get a driver’s attention.

STAY TO THE RIGHT AND BE PREPARED FOR AN EMERGENCY MOVE – Drive in the same direction as traffic. If the driver passes you and immediately begins to turn right, you have two choices: a panic stop or instant turn. If you must panic stop, then shift your butt to the right of your saddle, straighten your arms as you lower your chest, and squeeze both brakes firmly. Never squeeze just the front brake or you’ll pitch forward. Or you can avoid the collisions by making a right turn with the car. If possible, brake before the turn, not during it. Keep your right pedal up so it won’t hit the curb. Be fair and take your fair share of the lane to avoid being overtaken by a car.

READ THE LIGHTS – Obey road signs and drive predictably. Stay clear of traffic by staying ahead of it, however, don’t gain ground at red lights by passing a lane of cars on the right. It’s illegal and you can get “doored” from either side.

KEEP PEDALING & RIDE ASSERTIVELY – If you have the right of way at an intersection, don’t coast through or drivers may assume they can cut in front of you. Keep pedaling, but be prepared to stop.

Drivers should also keep in mind the following key points when sharing the public roads with other cyclists.

BE COURTEOUS – Give way to cyclists in the same way you would with another vehicle on the road.

RIGHT ON RED – Avoid hitting a cyclist when you turn right in red. Observe to your right and behind you to make sure there are no cyclists nearby.

OBEY SPEED LIMITS – Reduce speed if road conditions are hazardous and drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist.

PASSING – Do not pass a cyclist too closely. Pass a cyclist only when it is safe if you need to cross into the adjacent lane.

Common Motorist Errors: How to Avoid them

TURNING LEFT AND CUTTING CYCLIST OFF – When a driver is turning left in front of an oncoming cyclist who is going straight through an intersection: Make eye contact with the driver and nod to indicate you’re moving forward.

RUNNING THROUGH A STOP SIGN – If a driver fails to obey a stop sign and pulls in front of a rider: Stand on your pedals at stop signs to improve visibility.

TURNING RIGHT AFTER PASSING – Keep your hand on the brake when a driver passes and look for a turn signal.

Sharing the road is mandatory, so it is important to to have a sense of safety and security for both cyclists and drivers. Practice the guidelines above to keep roads free of accidents. Remember that sharing the streets is about promoting mutual understanding and above all avoiding accidents and injuries.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Association for Psychological Science. (n.d.). Bicyclists beware: The psychology of car-bike crash risks. Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/motr/bicyclist-beware-cars-view-less-risk-in-crashes-with-bikes.html

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (2016) Crash and Citation Reports & Statistics [Statistics]. Retrieved from https://www.flhsmv.gov/resources/crash-citation-reports/

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (n.d.). Bicycle safety. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety

333 Secrets of the Lifetime Rider. https://www.bicycling.com

What’s at Stake with the ‘No Fault’ Repeal?

On January 2018, the Florida House of Representatives voted in favor to repeal the no-fault car insurance system through the House Bill 19 (HB19). The new bill seeks to increase the amounts of coverage through a form of civil liability benefiting both the plaintiff and the defendant in the event of a traffic accident. The bill also adds reforms to avoid possible frauds, a fact that is the main cause of the increase in the values of the policies.

As explained earlier in a Zarzaur Law blog-post, the No-fault auto insurance allows policyholders to recover financial losses from their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the car accident. The minimum coverage amounts under the No-fault law are $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL). No-fault insurances also include a pain-and-suffering coverage in case policyholders suffer from physical or emotional distress as a result of the accident or is being sued by other parties affected in the accident for suffering this kind of distress.

Since the application of the no-fault law, PIP coverage, as well as pain-and-suffering, have represented the largest items of reimbursement in Florida (Ryan et al., 2017). This situation has led insurance companies to perceive being victims of frauds and abuses. Although reforms were made in 2012 through House of Bill 119 (HB 119), the measure has not been able to reduce the companies’ costs which will inevitably lead to increased policy prices. For this reason, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America propose the repeal of the No-fault system and replacing it with a mandatory $25,000/$50,000 bodily injured liability (BI) coverage, a $10,000 PDL as a prospective solution to the problem. Once the bill passed to the Senate, they included an additional $5,000 for Medical Payments (MP) coverage. In order to avoid future frauds, the proposal also includes a Bad Faith reform and a No pay, No play law which will prohibit drivers with no insurance to claim for financial compensations.

Car accidents leave thousands of people seriously injured every year. According to a study by the National Safety Council, the estimated cost of death, injuries and damages caused by traffic accidents was $432 billion in 2016. Expenses incurred by car accident victims not only are high, but other expenses also harm their quality of life, such as their inability to continue working and eventual loss of their jobs, as well as damage to their property. The minimum coverages are often not enough to cover all the damages, especially when it comes to permanent and irreversible injuries caused to a human being.

Although much has been said about the interest of lawyers for the repeal of the law, let’s not forget that lawyers have the moral and ethical imperative to serve their clients. It is the duty of lawyers to ensure that those who have financial responsibility in an accident comply with their part. Attorneys will always seek the welfare of the client with or without the repeal.

The fate of the bill is now in the hands of the Senate committee (SB 150). Their primary concern is the increase in the policies’ prices the new law would impose. Although the bill has been postponed, we hope discussions about this new policy moves forward so to improve the car insurance system for the well-being of all Floridians.

Pensacola Personal Injury Attorney, Joe Zarzaur  works in all areas of personal injury including car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle and boating accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall and wrongful death.

We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation.

CS/HB 19  – Motor Vehicle Insurance. (n.d.). Florida House of Representatives. Retrieved from https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=60053&SessionId=86

Insurance Information Institute (2014) Background on: No-fault auto insurance. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-no-fault-auto-insurance

Ryan, T., Schaaffe, D. & Walsh, S. (2018, January 25). Florida personal auto insurance impact of repealing no-fault coverage. Retrieved from http://3o15h033zmpwracwx2i00rqx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Impact-of-Repealing-No-Fault_Final.pdf

National Safety Council. (n.d.) Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates. Retrieved from http://www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/2017/12-month-estimates.pdf

Liability in Lending Out Your Car

Did you know car insurance follows the car, NOT the driver?

If you decide to lend out your car, your car insurance acts as the primary coverage and the driver’s insurance (if they have any) acts as the secondary or excess insurance. If your car gets in an accident, you will have to be the one to file a claim with your insurance, pay the deductible and most likely expect a rate increase.Does insurance cover others driving my car?

For example, let’s say you let your friend, David, borrow your car to go to the store for you. On the way, David causes a 4 car pile-up that goes beyond your insurance coverage, you can still be sued by the other people involved in the accident for medical and property damage costs. Even though you were not the one driving, the car is in your name, with your insurance.


Permissive v. Non-permissive Usage


Giving consent to someone else to drive your car is usually no problem. There is an omnibus clause in your insurance policy stating any driver, family member who lives with you, and/or dependent children at school will be covered under your insurance if they have permission to use the vehicle. Your insurance will usually cover the driver if they have permission to use the vehicle. Again, contact your insurance provider for complete policy details and to discuss further for accuracy.


If a driver does not have your permission to use the car, you will likely not be responsible for third party damages. However, you may still be liable for the damages to your own car. For example, imagine your car was stolen and was involved in an accident with a Mercedes. You would not be responsible for damages to the Mercedes, but would have to go through your insurance to fix the damages sustained by your own vehicle.

Additionally, if your friend borrows your car without permission and causes an accident, their insurance will be primary and yours secondary. However, if your friend does not have insurance then unfortunately, you are out of luck and will be liable for damages.

Keep in mind, unless you explicitly deny permission to a friend, or family member somehow, most insurance companies will assume permission was granted. It would be hard to prove otherwise, even if you did not verbally grant permission or give them the keys.


Excluding Driver on Policy

If you exclude a driver on your policy to not cover them on purpose, you will save on your premium. You likely chose to exclude these people because they are higher risk for causing an accident-whether it be their age, bad driving record etc.

Since Florida is a no-fault state, you will not be held liable for personal injury, but you and the excluded driver may be responsible for personal liability.


Using an Employee Vehicle on the Job

What if you borrow or use a company vehicle? An employer can be held liable for an employee vehicle being involved in an accident by an employee if the employee was driving for employment purposes or within the “course and scope of employment”. Moreover, an employer can be held liable for giving an employee use of their car if they know the employee is a reckless, incompetent and/or unlicensed driver.

For an employer to be held liable by the use of the car by an employee, it must be shown that an employer-employee relationship exists.


Having a Family Member Use Your Car

This usually only involves letting a minor child borrow the car. The head of the household or guardian will be liable for a minor’s reckless or negligent driving if they give permission for the minor to utilize the vehicle. In Florida, liability extends to the a parent or guardian who signed a minor’s application for their driver license. This is why it is imperative that parents and guardians of minors only allow these minors to borrow the car if they seem fit as a driver. Any bad habits, or bad driving tendencies known to the parents or guardian could lead to full liability of any accident the minor causes.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Contact your insurance company to make sure you understand the policy for lending out your car to other drivers.
  • Make sure if you do lend out your car that it is to someone with a valid driver’s license, and someone whom you trust with your car. If you know the person is reckless or unsafe on the road as a driver, think twice before letting them borrow your car.
  • Make sure your vehicle registration and insurance information are in your glove box.

Safety and prevention techniques reduce the likelihood of having an auto accident. If you have questions about the liability in lending your car to someone who got in an accident, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you.

We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation.




Danger: Beware of Road Rage

Road rage incidents in Florida have been on the rise according to The Tracea non-profit focusing on gun issues.  They report that Florida has the most road rage incidents, with 147 incidents, occurring between 2014 and 2016.

Beware of road rage accidentsIn 2012, Florida legislature passed a law that makes it illegal to drive more than 10 miles per hour under the speed limit in the left lane if another car is approaching. Road rage is dangerous and can lead to serious situations because if you are going 10 under the speed limit and someone is trying to pass you, but cannot, they may react in an aggressive, dangerous manner that would cause you to be in an accident.

Statistics from NHTSA and the Auto Vantage auto club indicate how aggressive driving and road rage are serious problems on the road.

Statistics show:

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve guns
  • 50% of drivers who are on the receiving end of aggressive behavior respond with aggressive behavior back.

 Signs of Driver Road Rage:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Yelling at other drivers
  • Giving obscene gestures to others
  • Racing with another driver
  • Weaving between cars
  • Honking horn at others
  • Sudden breaking
  • Flashing lights
  • Failing to follow traffic rules

 Traffic Safety Tips to Prevent Road Rage:  

  • Take a deep breath before you start cursing or getting aggravated or annoyed with the person driving next to you, in front of you or behind you.
  • Do not pull up next to another driver- intentionally yelling or making obscene gestures that would potentially cause the other to react violently.
  • Allow yourself enough time to get to your destination. Sometimes being pressed for time leads to being impatient and stressed, which can result in road rage.
  • Do not provoke an aggressive driver and report to the police the moment you feel uncomfortable.

Practice safe and courteous driving. Everyone is on the road, and rushing is not worth causing an accident that could potentially lead to fatal consequences.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation.



Be Aware: Dangers of Blind Spots by Zarzaur Law

Blind spots can be tricky and dangerous because they can hinder your view of another vehicle, and prevent you from seeing children or other obstacles that are behind you when backing up. Serious, sometimes fatal accidents happen due to blind spots. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 840,000 blind spot accidents occur annually in the United States, with 300 of these resulting in deaths.

Changing lanes is a common blind spot related accident. Blind spot related accidents often can be avoided. These collisions occur when drivers fail to check traffic patterns and driving in another car’s blind spot.

Blind Spot Auto Accidents

Prevention and Safety Tips to Avoid Blind Spot Collisions

· Adjust your side and rearview mirrors to the proper position. Side mirrors should be adjusted in a way where a small part of the end of the car is visible. Rearview mirror should frame the car’s rear window.
· Check all mirrors for cars AND look over shoulder for oncoming traffic prior to changing lanes or backing up. Make sure to use your signal to notify other drivers if you are changing lanes.
· Be conscious of how your line of vision changes as you travel along intersections and crosswalks, keeping in mind the large objects and obstacles that could be present. Be aware of your surroundings and what is happening around you. Be prepared for situations, such as pedestrian jaywalking if you see someone alongside the road.
· Watch traffic patterns in multiple lane highways so you do not change lanes into the same lane as another car.
· Avoid driving in another car’s blind spot. They may not be able to see you and if they change lanes in front of you, it could result in an accident.

Safety and prevention techniques reduce the likelihood of having an auto accident due to a blind spot. Unfortunately, these accidents still happen and if it does happen to you or someone you love, it is important to consult an expert.  Hire a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Trial lawyer based in Pensacola and Destin, Florida.  We, at Zarzaur Law, know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you.  Legal consultations with a lawyer at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are free. And there is no cost, no fee, unless you win. You can call us any time of day, any day of the week at (855) Hire-Joe.