Tag Archives: Destin car wreck lawyer

What Is An EMC (Emergency Medical Condition) And Why Is It Important For My Florida Car Wreck Case?

Florida is one of only 13 other states in the US that has no-fault car insurance laws. Basically, these states require each driver to purchase their own injury coverage for car wrecks. If a wreck occurs between Florida drivers, then both the at-fault party and the victim have “no fault” or “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage. These PIP benefits are available for each party’s own medical bills and lost wages WITHOUT regard to fault. So even the at fault driver is entitled to their own policy’s PIP benefits for their injuries and lost wages But, what about an emergency medical condition?

Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) From Accident and Personal Injury Protection Coverage.

When this law was first passed in Florida, all parties to a car wreck were immediately entitled to the entire $10,000.00 from the wreck until the entire amount had been paid out or exhausted. However, years of abuse of this benefit made the Florida legislature pass reforms to the PIP laws, making it harder to access the entire $10,000.00 benefit.

Under the current version of the PIP statute, parties are only entitled to $2,500.00 of the $10,000.00 PIP benefit at the outset. To access the remaining $7,500.00, the injured party must be diagnosed with an emergency medical condition, or “EMC.” 

EMC Is Defined As:

“Emergency medical condition” means a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following:

(a) Serious jeopardy to patient health.

(b) Serious impairment to bodily functions.

(c) Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

An EMC can only be found by a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, dentist, physician assistant, or an APRN.

Omitted from this list are chiropractors, and it was the intent of the Florida legislature to remove chiropractors from the approval process in regards to PIP benefits.

EMCs can be diagnosed in real-time or later in your treatment. For example, if you go through the initial treatment and then realize that PIP only paid $2,500.00 since there was no documented EMC, So long as a physician is able to say that you “had” an EMC related to the car wreck at any point, then you will be eligible for the entire $10,000.00 benefit.

PIP Coverage Follows You No Matter What Car You Are In At The Time Of The Wreck. 

If you do not qualify for PIP under your policy and there is no auto policy in your house that you qualify for PIP under, then you may qualify for PIP in the vehicle you were occupying at the time of the wreck.

PIP coverage can assist you as an injured party in a car wreck. It can aid you in getting the treatment necessary to diagnose or be the diagnosis of your car wreck-related injuries.

Injuries And Medical Bills

It should be noted that “no-fault” insurance refers to injuries and medical bills. If your car was damaged in an accident, which means the other driver was at fault and you were not at fault the cost to repair your vehicle would fall to the at fault driver’s insurance policy.

This is a significant issue for your case since these PIP benefits can be used to pay for valuable treatment related to your Florida car wreck case.

At the end of your case, all medical bills have to be paid, and if your health insurance pays for them, you will be required to reimburse your health insurance.  PIP benefits, however, do not have to be paid back or reimbursed.

So, it’s in your best interest to use all of these benefits before you start using your own health insurance or start accumulating medical bills to be paid out of your own pocket.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >

Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

If you or a loved one was involved in a Florida car wreck and/or has Florida PIP questions, please feel free to reach out to our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855HireJoe.

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

Key PIP “No-Fault” Coverage Issues That You Must Know About After A Florida Car Wreck.

What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Or No-Fault Coverage?

There are only 13 states in the United States that require every driver to purchase and maintain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Florida is one of those 13 states. Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000.00 in personal injury protection coverage, which is also known as “no fault” coverage. This coverage is personal in that it insures the policyholder for the benefit of the policy. 

Initial Medical Care Time Limit And PIP Coverage

An injured party must seek medical care within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident or they lose up to $10,000.00 in case value, F.S. 627.736 (1) (a).

Initial care must be provided by a medical doctor (M.D.), doctor of osteopathy (D.O.), dentist, chiropractor, hospital, facility owned by a hospital, or by emergency medical personnel (EMS) F.S. 627.736 (1) (a)1.

How Do I Pay My Medical Bills After A Car Wreck?

If you are injured, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage from your own policy will pay for bills up to $10,000. Florida requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Projection coverage. Under Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance law, most injured drivers seek reimbursement for accident costs from their own carrier, regardless of who caused the collision.

If your bills are higher, your own health insurance should pay for your additional medical expenses once your PIP has been exhausted. If you do not have health insurance, some providers will treat you with an agreement to be paid out of your settlement. This agreement is set up between your lawyer and the medical provider.

Emergency Medical Condition From Accident and Personal Injury Protection Coverage.

The $10,000.00 PIP limit only applies to a M.D., D.O., dentist, P.A., or APRN determining that the injured person “had” an emergency medical condition (chiropractors cannot do this). F.S. 627.736 (1) (a)3

If no emergency medical condition is documented by the proper professional, then you will only have $2,500.00 of the $10,000.00 PIP benefits. F.S. 627.(1)(a)4.

PIP cannot be used for massage therapists and acupuncturists. F.S. 627.736 (1) (a) 5.

What Type of Recovery Am I Entitled To After a Car Accident?

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, some of the damages you may seek can include:

  • Vehicle and personal property damage
  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Wrongful deathThe PIP death benefit is $5,000.00 in addition to the $10,000.00 of PIP coverage. 627.736 (1) c. F. S.

Pip Coverage Follows You No Matter What Car You Are In At The Time Of The Wreck. 

If you do not qualify for PIP under your policy and there is no auto policy in your house that you qualify for PIP under, then you may qualify for PIP in the vehicle you were occupying at the time of the wreck.

PIP coverage can assist you as an injured party in a car wreck. It can aid you in getting the treatment necessary to diagnose or be the diagnosis of your car wreck-related injuries.

It should be noted that “no-fault” insurance refers to injuries and medical bills. If your car was damaged in an accident, means the other driver was at fault and you were not at fault the cost to repair your vehicle would fall to the at fault drivers insurance policy.

How Much Will An Attorney Cost Me?

In Florida, most injury cases are paid for with a “Contingency Fee.” That means, your lawyer will be paid from any recovery. If you do not recover, the lawyer is not paid. The standard fee for Florida lawyers is 33.3 percent before suit is filed, 40 percent after suit is filed.

This contingency fee is standard across Florida and approved by the Florida Bar. Your lawyer generally cannot charge more, absent unusual circumstances.You can hire the most experienced expert in personal injury law for the same fee as a lawyer without similar expertise or experience. It makes sense to hire a board certified civil trial lawyer under these circumstances.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >

Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

If you or a loved one is injured in a car wreck while “on the job” feel free to reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

Injured In A Car Wreck While “On The Job.” How Is It Handled?

car accident on the job in florida

Injured in a car accident on the job?  Is it a personal injury case or worker’s compensation claim? Or both?

The Correct Answer Is Both.

In Florida, a motor vehicle accident that occurs while you are working is an injury that will be considered an “on the job” injury. This means that the law requires that the medical bill be paid through your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance coverage.

Does PIP Cover Injuries From An Accident While “On The Job”?

Typically, in a Florida car wreck case, your “no fault” or “personal injury protection” or “PIP coverage” will be the primary payment source for your medical expenses. This is NOT true when the wreck occurs while you are “on the clock” and working. When a motor vehicle accident occurs while you are working, you should report the wreck and the injury to your employer. Your employer then has an obligation to notify its workers’ compensation carrier. The workers’ compensation carrier will then arrange for your treatment to take place.

What Is Considered “On The Job?”

Keep in mind that driving to and from work is not considered “on the clock” and is generally NOT considered a worker’s compensation injury.  This is also true for lunch breaks and other breaks where you are not being paid at the time of the wreck.  Sometimes however if you are on a special errand for work and you are combining that with a lunch break or you are doing something for work on the way home, then it could be a worker’s compensation injury.

How Does Worker’s Compensation Work?

Consideration of the potential for worker’s compensation involvement is critical to your motor vehicle accident case. If you are the victim of a car wreck in Florida and you are working, all other insurance companies (including the at-fault driver’s insurance) will be expecting your medical bills to be paid by worker’s compensation. The at-fault driver’s insurance will not be required to pay the medical bills as the primary payor since the law requires the worker’s compensation carrier to pay those bills. If worker’s compensation is not involved when it should be, the at-fault driver’s insurance will argue that they are not liable for medical expenses because they should have been submitted to worker’s compensation.

Many Florida car wreck victims do not realize that worker’s compensation should be involved since they are usually not at their workplace when the wreck happens. Some employers do not understand that employees injured in car wrecks are actually suffering an “on the job” injury if they are on the clock at the time of the wreck. This is a critical issue and sometimes it requires that the employee direct their employer to notify the worker’s compensation carrier.

Do Not Delay Notifying Your Employer of the Accident and Injury.

Until the worker’s compensation carrier is involved, medical treatment will be delayed. This is sometimes not in the injured party’s best interest, and they are required to use their PIP coverage to get emergency care. These items need to be addressed at the outset of a case and must be handled properly or it could cause issues with both the car wreck case and the worker’s compensation case.

HOW LONG AFTER AN ACCIDENT DO I HAVE TO REPORT IT TO MY EMPLOYER?

You should report it as soon as possible but no later than thirty (30) days or your claim may be denied.

Reference: Section 440.185, Florida Statutes

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >

Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

If you or a loved one is injured in a car wreck while “on the job” feel free to reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

Sources:

https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/

https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/employee/faq.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/motorvehicle/resources/crashdata/facts.html

 

I Rented A Golf Cart And Was Involved In A Dangerous Wreck – What Next?

golf cart accident Pensacola

If you have visited any tourist destinations in Florida or any resort community living environment, you have seen these vehicles on the road. Several years ago, the Florida legislature passed a statute that allowed golf cart access to certain roadways. The law states that such vehicles must meet basic visibility and speed standards before they can be classified as “low-speed vehicles,” but if they do, they can be used on certain public roads. Keep reading to learn more about what to do when there is a golf cart accident.

What Is An LSV?

Section 320.01(41), Florida Statutes, defines LSVs as “any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour, but not greater than 25 miles per hour.”  LSVs must be registered, titled and insured with personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Any person operating an LSV must have a valid driver license in their immediate possession.

LSVs may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less and must be equipped with the following safety equipment:

  • Headlamps;
  • Front and rear turn signals;
  • Stop lamps;
  • Tail lamps;
  • Reflex reflectors, red – one each side and one on the rear;
  • Exterior mirror on the driver side and an interior rear-view mirror or exterior mirror on passenger side;
  • Parking brake;
  • Windshield;
  • Seat belt for each designated seat; and a
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN).

Golf Carts

Golf carts are defined in section 320.01(22), Florida Statutes, as “a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.” Golf carts may be operated on roadways that are designated for golf carts with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less. Golf carts may also cross a portion of a county road which intersects a roadway that is approved for golf carts, or that intersects a golf course or mobile home park. In both examples, the roadway should have signs posted that golf carts share the roadway. The operation of golf carts on roads must comply with any more restrictive ordinances enacted by the local government and should be verified prior to operating these vehicles.

Golf carts are not required to be titled or registered and, therefore, are not required to be insured with PIP. Golf cart operators are not required to have a driver’s license; however, to operate a golf cart on designated public roadways, a person must be 14 years or older.

Issues With Low-Speed Vehicles

Here is the issue with these low-speed vehicles: not only can they cause a golf cart accident, but they also are not safe on roads that are predominately comprised of regular vehicle traffic. If the roadway is not mostly full-sized vehicles, then it seems more appropriate to consider the limited use of these low-speed vehicles. 

However, resort towns are the worst for even regular vehicle collisions since people are not familiar with the roads or directions and are typically distracted by sightseeing or confusion.

A Dangerous Novelty

So if you know that tourist roadways are already a dangerous place to drive, even in a full-sized car, and you add to these roadways (many less visible vehicles), it could spell disaster. Then, considering these low-speed vehicles offer basically no protection from a collision with a full-sized vehicle, it should make the decision easy to reject outright. But people are on vacation, and they want to feel like they are on vacation. They want their families to have experiences that they would not be able to have at home.

Perhaps, they feel that riding a golf cart on a street that is covered with full-sized vehicles is such a novelty that it is too much to pass up. We would suggest that you also consider what is likely to happen to you and your family even if there is a low-speed collision with a full-sized vehicle.

What Happens In An Accident? 

What is likely to happen is that the golf cart or scoot coupe will be launched forward and perhaps over. The scoot coupe or golf cart will likely be crushed, and your family will have little protection from the crash. These vehicles (scoot coupes, golf carts) are not subject to testing for safety purposes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is not dedicated to studying crash data between cars and golf carts or scoot coupes.

No Safety Features

Our country has made such great advances in vehicle safety in the last decade. These safety features include airbags, automated driving functions, blind spot warnings, and other features meant to help drivers avoid collisions or protect them once a collision occurs. Then we decide to go backward and allow the most unsafe vehicles on the road, along with cars and trucks. It almost defies logic.

Just Because It Is Legal Doesn’t Mean It Is Safe

Florida’s laws are controlled, in large part, by tourism interests. If the tourist lobby supports a law, it will likely get through the legislature. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean that it is safe. This is a prime example of that statement.

In the event that you or a loved one is involved in a collision between a low-speed vehicle and a car or truck, you have rights that need to be protected. Your car insurance may apply in this case, and the other driver’s car insurance will also likely apply. The rental agency may also share in the responsibility if the golf cart was not street legal or wasn’t actually a low-speed vehicle. If you are in need of a free consultation about one of these low speed vehicle, golf cart, or scoot coup collisions, our firm is available 24/7 and on weekends at zarzaurlaw.com or 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

Sources:

Car Wreck Checklist

https://www.flhsmv.gov/?s=low+speed+vehicle+accidents

https://www.flhsmv.gov/pdf/crashreports/crash_facts_2019_ada.pdf

Big Truck Wrecks, Why Are These Cases So Different?

18-wheelers, big trucks, semi-trucks, however you may refer to them, they are all potentially deadly when coupled with careless operators. When these Big Trucks wreck, they usually have life and death consequences. For this reason, trucking company insurance companies treat every collision in a much different manner than regular automobile insurance companies.

Big Truck Insurance Company’s Accident Response

For example, if you are involved in a wreck between passenger vehicles and the insurance companies are just typical automobile insurance carriers like State Farm or Progressive, they will rarely visit the scene and even less rarely hire law firms to assist with the accident investigation. Big truck insurance companies, however, do both. As soon as a Big Truck insurance company learns that a wreck has occurred, they will immediately dispatch an investigator to the scene of the collision. Within hours or a day or so, they will also usually hire a local law firm to help coordinate the investigation.

Big Truck Insurance Company Investigation

Having an investigation conducted before the injured parties even know the extent of their injuries gives the Big Truck’s insurance company a huge advantage over the evidence in the case. Having a law firm involved early also protects this information from being discovered later since investigations performed in anticipation of litigation are privileged and do not have to be disclosed to any opposing party.

The timing of the investigation is important in these big truck wrecks since the physical evidence and witness testimony will remain fresh for only so long. The sooner an investigation can be conducted, the more reliable the information will be for those conducting the review.


WHAT CAUSES MOST TRUCK ACCIDENTS?

According to truck accident statistics, a great majority of these accidents occur due to mechanical difficulties, especially those related to tires or brakes. Other than that, most accidents are caused by driver fatigue, lack of information regarding the route, as well as job pressure and aggressive driving.


Why It Is imperative For Injured Parties To Also Have An Investigation Done.

Since the Big Truck insurance companies are responding immediately, it is imperative that the families of injured victims also respond as quickly as possible. Ideally, the injured party wants to have an investigation conducted at the same time. If the injured party can get on the scene at least as fast as the big truck insurance company, then it will assure equal opportunities to discover and preserve the evidence and witness statements.

Witnesses and Video Evidence

These days, video evidence is also prevalent. Nearby businesses and vehicles close to the scene of the wreck are all potential sources for video evidence. These sources, however, will remain intact forever. Most systems will record over videos within a week, sometimes less. This means the investigation must contact these potential sources within the first several days following a wreck. As you can imagine, the footage from these big truck collisions can be quite compelling. If the footage is not helpful to the trucking company, you can bet it very well may never see the light of day. If, however, the injured party has their investigator working at the same time, there is less of an opportunity for any improper evidence collection (or destruction).

Five Must-Know Facts About Truck Accidents

  1. A 52% increase in these accidents has been noted since 2009.
  2. 74% of all fatal passenger vehicle cases include a large truck.
  3. Tire defects account for around 30% (the most common cause) of all truck-related accidents.
  4. Most of these accidents occur during the day — between noon and 3 PM, up to 19%.
  5. 68% of all truck fatalities are passenger vehicle occupants.

If you or a loved one is a victim of a big truck wreck, it is vital that you hire a law firm that has experience with these wrecks. This experience will bring with it a law firm investigator that will be on the scene and hopefully be there before the big truck insurance company’s investigator and law firm show up. Feel free to contact our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

Sources:

Car Wreck Checklist

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-car-accident-laws.html

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks

24 Disturbing Truck Accident Statistics (2022 Edition)

At Fault Driver Says It’s My Fault, What Do I Do?

at fault driver in car wreck

A very common issue and question – “I was involved in a car wreck with serious injuries and the other party is claiming it was my fault. Do I need a lawyer?”
The short answer is YES, but here’s some important information you will need to know.

Importance Of The Police Report

One of the main pieces of advice that we offer is to always get a police report following a wreck. Despite this admonition, many people involved in wrecks choose for convenience or because they think it is not necessary to wait for the police to come and do an accident investigation.

This means that once the parties leave the scene, there is no official record of what happened. There are only competing recollections offered by the two interested parties in a collision.


NO POLICE REPORT = NO OFFICIAL RECORD OF WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CAR ACCIDENT.


The Insurance Company Is NOT On Your Side

The insurance companies will always suggest that their insured is not responsible or will suggest that at least some responsibility lies with the other party. They will nearly always make this argument when they learn that there is no official wreck report.

As we have noted in several other blogs, insurance companies do not exist for the greater good. They exist to make money. To be exact, their main mission is to retain as much money as they can from the billions in premiums they collect each year. If they learn that there is a way to argue that a collision was not their insured’s fault, they will seize that opportunity because it will likely save them money.

An Evidentiary Battle

If you find yourself in a situation where the other party is now suggesting that you (the victim) are to blame for the collision, this will now become an evidentiary battle. It will be your account versus their account and, without more, each party will bear 50% responsibility for the event.

Without a wreck report, it will be imperative to seek out sources of independent evidence like witnesses or video footage that may have captured the event.

Steps to Take if You Don’t Have a Police Report

Having a police report form immediately after the wreck is very helpful, but the lack of a report is not fatal to your case.
A police officer who investigates a wreck and cites one party for a driving violation can be powerful evidence that the defendant driver is actually at fault. For instance, a defendant driver’s finding or admission of guilt in a citation hearing can be used as evidence of fault in a related injury case. However, because the officer most likely did not see the wreck occur, the report itself is hearsay and may not be admitted as actual evidence

Physical Evidence And Witness Testimony
If a police report is not available, you can still prove that the other driver was at fault, but the case moves into more of a “he-said, she-said” case. In this situation, you will have to rely on the physical evidence and witness testimony. For instance, you can prove fault by showing that the at-fault driver rear-ended you, which gives rise to a presumption that they were at fault. You can prove fault by testimony from other drivers who saw the accident and stopped to render aid.

Qualified Expert
Finally, in extreme circumstances, you can prove fault by hiring an qualified expert in accident reconstruction, who can show fault through complicated models that recreate the scene of the accident.

Only experienced lawyers are capable of navigating this process. Potential clients shouldn’t just hire any lawyer. Not all lawyers are equal in their training and qualifications. The Florida Bar does not typically allow lawyers to hold themselves out as “experts.” However, the Bar does allow lawyers who have extensive experience in personal injury and tort cases to become specialists in civil trial. Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Three out of the four lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

So, when potential clients ask us about whether or when to hire a lawyer after an accident, we remind them that only a Board Certified civil trial lawyer is a specialist in this area of the law. Since all injury lawyers have the same “no fee no cost unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason to hire someone who is not a specialist.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

Sources:

Car Wreck Checklist

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-car-accident-laws.html

The Best Way To Find An Auto Accident Lawyer After A Florida Car Wreck.

Auto accident lawyers seem to be everywhere you look these days. Auto accident lawyer billboards, auto accident lawyer television commercials, auto accident lawyer radio and internet ads, and all sorts of other auto accident lawyer-focused promotions.

But What Is The Best Way To Select An Auto Accident Lawyer For Your Car Wreck Case?

Not all auto accident lawyers are the same. Not all auto accident lawyers have the same background, experience, training, and reputation. When looking for an auto accident lawyer for your car wreck case, look for those who are board-certified in civil trial.

Board Certification Matters

The Florida Bar allows for lawyers to become certified in their area of expertise, but to do so, you must have plenty of experience and success in that area first. Then you are required to take a board certification bar exam. Once that is successfully completed, then your background and trial experience are analyzed by the Florida Bar Certification committee and you may receive certification. This certification lasts for 6 years, after which it must be renewed and you have to provide proof that you have continued to be engaged in this kind of work and that you still have a great professional reputation.

Again, the Florida Bar checks with judges and lawyers that have worked with you, and it will determine whether the lawyer’s board certification should be continued.

Only 1% of Florida Lawyers Are Board Certified In Civil Trial

One of the first ways that you should narrow the field of potential auto accident lawyers in Florida is to find those that are Board Certified in Civil Trial. Among the entire Florida Bar, that number is only about 1% of Florida lawyers. Each community in Florida has probably closer to 15% of the auto accident lawyers who are Board Certified in Civil Trial.


Here is a link to the Florida Board of Certified Civil Trial Lawyers listing >


The Lawyer You Hire Should Also Be The Lawyer Handling Your Case

What Should I Expect from my Personal Injury lawyerThen, once you have narrowed the list to just those lawyers who are board-certified, make sure that that particular lawyer will be the one actually handling your auto accident case. So, some firms will have a board-certified civil trial lawyer as part of their firm, but is that board-certified expert going to be handling your case or will your case be handled by some lawyer in the firm that is not board-certified?

Remember, pretty much all auto accident lawyers charge the same, no fee, no cost unless you win, so hire an expert to handle your case if you can.

Ask Questions

Meet the lawyer handling your case and ask them all the questions that you and your family have. If they seem unsure about some topic, then you should probably not hire that lawyer. In Florida, you can almost never go wrong (or too far wrong) if the lawyer handling your auto accident case is board-certified in civil trial. They are considered experts in the type of law that includes auto accident cases.

We here at Zarzaur Law have three board-certified civil trial lawyers handling auto accident cases. So, make sure your auto accident lawyer is also an expert, or hire one that is.

If you have questions about an auto accident lawyer or an auto accident case, you can find our auto accident lawyers on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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 Accident And Injury Caused By A Careless Driver Without A Vehicle Collision: Do You Have A Case?

Many times, car wreck victims are injured and even killed by careless drivers who never actually make contact with their vehicle.


The question then comes from these victims or their families: is there a legal case against the other driver even when there is no actual contact between the vehicles?

The short answer is “Yes, you may still have a case.”


Forced Off The Road By A Careless Driver

Often, careless “phantom” drivers force other drivers to suddenly change direction or force victims off the road. These sudden changes often result in the victim’s car being forced into opposing traffic or even a fixed object like an embankment or bridge pillar. This type of collision can be quite violent and can easily cause significant injury or death.

“Phantom Drivers” are all too real and all too dangerous. The problem is that a phantom driver leaves behind very little evidence, leaving you in a position where you have to prove someone else was at fault for your accident. 

Evidentiary Proof

The evidentiary proof is extremely important in these cases since, most of the time, the at-fault driver may not even remain at the scene. Usually, these at-fault drivers cause the victim to change their direction of travel, which results in a collision with another car or structure. The driver causing the chain of events will typically stop and observe, and then when they realize there was no impact with their vehicle, but they also appreciate the severity of the event, they will leave the scene.

They feel justified in leaving since there is no impact. The lack of impact, however, doesn’t lessen their responsibility for causing the event. It only makes it harder to prove the case. This is where an experienced Florida car wreck lawyer and a car wreck law firm come into play.

Law firms with vast car wreck case experience will have immediate access to resources like investigators and crash scene evidence investigation tools that make the identification of “phantom” careless drivers much more likely.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles are commonly involved in these types of accidents since they are smaller in size and much more likely to go unnoticed. Motorcycle drivers are forced in these situations to “lay down” their bikes, which can cause serious injuries or death as they skid with their bikes across pavement and, many times, can collide with fixed objects or other traffic.


In 2021, there were 8,575,569 registered on-road motorcycles in the United States, approximately double the number (4,320,807) in 2002. (IIHS, 2021)


If you or a loved one was injured or killed by a vehicle that did not make contact with any vehicle but was the cause of the accident, please feel free to contact our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

 

Sources:

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-highway-safety

https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/

How Does A Personal Injury Civil Trial Work In Florida? Part II: Trial And Evidence, Burden Of Proof, and The Verdict.

While most personal injury cases settle in the pre-suit phase, a small percentage do not settle and then have to be filed in circuit court, where the legal and factual issues are litigated. Most of those cases are settled prior to trial, either through standard negotiations between the attorneys or during a mediation conference. Generally, settlement is in the best interests of both parties in a personal injury lawsuit, but some cases are resolved through a jury trial.

How Civil Trials Work: Part II – Trial And Evidence, Burden Of Proof, and The Verdict.

Opening Statement

After the jury is selected and sworn in by the judge, the attorneys make opening statements. Attorneys often say this is a “roadmap” of the evidence and the issues in the case. While attorneys may not argue the case in the opening, they should discuss the issues in the case and the evidence that will come in as related to the issues in the case. In most personal injury cases, these issues include fault, or negligence, injuries and damages. The attorneys may also explain how the issues and evidence relate to the law in the case and how the trial will proceed.

Attorneys often introduce who their witnesses will be and how they will testify. As the plaintiff has the burden of proof, the plaintiff’s attorney goes first, followed by the defense attorney.

 

The Trial And Evidence

After the openings, the trial begins. As with openings, the plaintiff goes first in submitting evidence to support the claims. Evidence includes live testimony by witnesses, the reading and playing of video depositions, and the introduction of documentary evidence.

The submission of evidence at trial is governed by the Florida Evidence Code and the common law rules of evidence. These rules are complex and require a detailed understanding of the law.

For example, the term “hearsay” is known by most non-lawyers, but it is a specific term for a type of evidence that may not be admitted at trial. Hearsay is an “out of court” statement that is not sufficiently reliable to come in as evidence. A statement by a witness that “he said the light was green” or “my doctor told me I would need surgery” is generally not admissible to prove the assertion. In such a case, the actual witness who said the light was green or the doctor who told the patient “he needed surgery” would need to testify in court about these issues. Otherwise, such testimony will be excluded. There are certain exceptions to the hearsay rules, which require the legal analysis of experienced attorneys.

Testimony

Generally, the attorneys will call witnesses to testify about liability, injuries, and damages. If medical testimony is necessary, doctors may generally testify by video deposition, as they are difficult to schedule for court appearances. The rules of evidence apply to videos as they do to live witnesses. If there are objections, they must be resolved before the video is shown to the jury. The general procedure for witness testimony is “direct” examination, “cross” examination by the opposing party, and “re-direct” to cover issues raised in cross-examination. As with most issues in the trial, any limits on the testimony will be resolved by the trial judge.

Exhibits

In addition to testimony, the parties may submit documentary evidence, or “exhibits,” to prove the case. These may include photos of the accident scene, photos of the vehicles, medical records and bills, and documents to support lost wages. The attorneys may object to this material, but the objections are usually resolved by the parties or the court before trial.

The plaintiff puts his or her case on first, followed by the defense case. After that, the plaintiff may submit rebuttal testimony or evidence. After that, the evidentiary portion of the trial is concluded. Depending on the complexity of the trial, this phase may last a day, a month or more. Regardless, the same rules of evidence apply no matter the complexity of the trial.

Questioning Of Witnesses By The Jury

In Florida, jurors may question the witnesses via written questions. After the witness testifies, the judge will ask the jurors if they have any questions. If there are questions, the court and the attorneys will review them before they are submitted to the witness to answer.

 

The Burden Of Proof

The plaintiff has the burden of proof in civil trials. The burden is the “greater weight” of the evidence. That means the plaintiff must prove the case by the “more convincing force and effect of the entire evidence in the case” (FLA JURY INST 405.3). This has been argued to be “tipping the scales of evidence” in favor of the party.

This burden is much less than the “beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt” that is required in civil cases.

This burden applies to the plaintiff’s claim and any affirmative defenses raised by the defense. All must be proven or else the judge can dismiss the case and the defenses at the conclusion of the evidence. This procedure is called a “directed verdict” and means the court did not think the evidence established the case.

 

Closing Arguments

If the case is not dismissed by the court, the attorneys will make closing arguments. Again, the plaintiff goes first, the defense next, and then the plaintiff may make a rebuttal. In closing, the attorneys will argue the facts and the law (which will be read to the jury in the jury instructions) and ask the jury for a verdict for their clients. While closing arguments may be emotional, there are limits to what the attorneys can do when asking the jury for a favorable verdict. The court will enforce these limits by way of objections and cautionary instructions to the attorneys and/or jury.

In closing argument, the attorneys will often refer to the verdict form when requesting a verdict for liability and damages. The defense attorney has the right to respond and argue the case also. In a rebuttal, the plaintiff’s attorney can respond to the defense as the plaintiff has the burden of proof.

 

Jury Deliberation

After the closing arguments, the judge will read the jury instructions and send the jury back for private deliberations on the verdict. If there were any alternate jurors, they would be excused from the trial at that point. Jurors may deliberate for as long as it takes to get a verdict.

In Florida, a unanimous verdict is required, meaning all 6 jurors must agree. If all cannot agree, the jury may be “hung,” and in a worst-case scenario, the case will have to be retried.

 

Post-Verdict

The case does not end with the verdict. Each side has the opportunity to challenge the verdict through post-trial motions and appeals.

As you can see, the trial of even a “simple” personal injury case is a very complex and uncertain undertaking. That is why most cases settle. An attorney can never know what a jury will do. However, having an attorney who is very experienced in trials will always increase the value of your case, whether at trial or through settlement.

This is why it is important to hire a board-certified civil trial lawyer to handle your personal injury case and navigate the complexities of the trial process.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.

Sources:

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/cases_pretrial/

https://www.juryduty101.com/states/florida

https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/personal-injury-lawsuit-steps.html

COVID-19 and Florida Medical Malpractice Cases.

All of us can easily recall the sight of healthcare workers braving the threat of the pandemic to care for the sick and dying. As a country, we were all cheering for our healthcare workers and thankful for their dedication to their professions. At the same time, many state legislatures were busy passing laws that they knew would likely garner public support. 

The Florida legislature, with a Republican majority, was no exception to this desire for attention. When politicians want attention, they think of laws that they can champion that will let them share in the spotlight that is rightfully focused on the healthcare industry.

Civil Immunity From COVID-Related Lawsuits

Florida Republicans decided to pass a COVID-19 medical malpractice law that basically insulated healthcare workers from being sued for malpractice if the matter was related to a COVID-19 diagnosis or treatment. The Florida legislature did in fact pass Florida Statute Section 768.38 Liability Protections for COVID-19 Related Claims.

Complexity And Expense Of A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

First of all, as Zarzaur Law pointed out in several videos during the height of the virus in 2020, medical malpractice lawsuits are already incredibly expensive and difficult to prosecute and win in Florida, even in the absence of this new COVID-19 statute. As we have discussed in many blogs and vlogs before, medical malpractice statutes in Florida make the pursuit of any medical malpractice case expensive and time-consuming.

Generally, the pursuit of a medical malpractice case will cost approximately $100,000.00–$300,000.00 in out-of-pocket expenses to prosecute. No law firm or lawyer in their right mind would ever decide to spend this amount of money on a case that they did not feel they had a better than average chance of winning.

This is why most every medical malpractice case generally requires that the injury be catastrophic or result in death before law firms can even consider handling the case. This is true even in the most egregious cases of medical recklessness.

Liability And The Jury

Obviously, before any health care provider is found liable for negligence, a jury would have to conclude that they were negligent. No jury, we would contend, would find any healthcare worker caring for COVID patients during the pandemic liable for anything short of intentional murder. No jury would ever conclude that a medical provider was negligent for giving care in the midst of the pandemic. For this reason, we feel that passing laws that make it harder is really a solution in search of a problem.

Non-COVID Patients And The Pandemic

However unnecessary we may think it is, Florida now has a statute that makes it nearly impossible to sue a healthcare provider for COVID-related issues. Setting aside all potential medical negligence cases that are related to COVID diagnosis or treatment, the COVID statute also protects healthcare providers rendering NON-COVID care if their negligence was directly related to the COVID pandemic.

So, this allows healthcare providers to argue that non-COVID patient negligence was related to the COVID pandemic, and if so, the healthcare worker will be able to use the statute to shield himself/herself/itself from liability.

Practically, this is how that may play out. A cardiac patient is not cared for properly and dies while an inpatient at the hospital. The hospital could attempt and argue that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t able to provide the amount of care that it would otherwise have provided. This argument could be used to try and use this statute as protection from responsibility.

The section of the statute dealing with these indirect issues reads as follows: “An act of omission with respect to an emergency medical condition… and which act or omission was the result of a lack of resources directly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;”  § 738.38(d)(5) Florida Statutes.

The challenge for the healthcare provider would be to show that the misfeasance was “directly related” to the COVID-19 pandemic. This causation element would likely involve fact issues that would need to be determined by the fact-finder in a case, but if found to exist, would allow healthcare workers to avoid liability for negligence associated with non-COVID patients.

This is obviously a dangerous and expansive argument, but it very well could be used by defendants to try and escape liability for culpable conduct. If you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice and you desire to have a FREE CONSULTATION with a firm that has a medical doctor on full-time staff, please feel free to reach out to our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO WITH JOE ZARZAUR & DR. EVAN MALONE >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S 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.

It is also 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.