Tag Archives: Pensacola Car Wreck Lawyers

Carpal Tunnel Injuries Caused By A Car Wreck

When people hear about carpal tunnel they think of people that use computers such as secretaries or factory workers who are constantly using their hands. However, even though it is considered a repetitive use injury, it can be trauma-induced. Carpal tunnel from a car accident is possible and is referred to as CTS or acute or traumatic.

Carpal tunnel injuries are surprisingly common in car crashes. When the hands are firmly gripping the wheel, or slung off into windshields or doors as a result of a crash, trauma to the area can cause inflammation leading to serious pain and loss of function. Even relatively “minor” crashes can cause these most serious and debilitating injuries.

Recent Case

In a recent case, our client was rear-ended with her hands on the wheel, causing a flexing type motion of both wrists. Within a few days, she had significant pain in her neck and shoulders and pain and numbness in her fingers.

She sought medical treatment, which included physical therapy and pain injections. She later had nerve conduction testing in her arms which showed nerve damage consistent with carpal tunnel syndrome. Unfortunately, she needed neck surgery which helped with the pain but continued to have carpal tunnel symptoms.

The physician initially recommended she wear a splint on both hands, to reduce pressure on the nerves. This was not helpful so her treating physician recommended surgery, a carpal tunnel release, where the ligaments are cut to lessen pressure on the nerves. This surgery often requires several months of rehab and can be very painful. Fortunately, we were able to obtain a very fair settlement for her, on the eve of trial.

What is CTS?

The carpal tunnel is a small space along the wrist that houses the median nerve, blood vessels, and several flexor tendons that run from the forearm to the palm of the hand. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that surfaces from damage to and pressure around the carpal tunnel.

When involved in a car accident, if the forearm, wrist, or hand sustain damage and the muscles become inflamed, the median nerve can become compressed which results in CTS. Typically this kind of injury occurs when someone braces themselves in an accident like gripping a steering wheel or placing their hands on the dashboard. With the force of impact, the wrist can become injured and the soft tissues can be damaged.

Symptoms of CTS Can Include The Following:

  • Aching pain
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Numbness
  • Weakness in the hands
  • Reduced grip strength and a tendency to drop things

Proving CTS Was Caused By A Car Accident

This type of CTS can be a mild case or so extreme that it becomes debilitating for the patient. In order to prove that CTS was caused by an auto accident, a substantial amount of medical records will need to be turned over to insurance companies for them to cover the costs or to even support the case.

Some Treatment Options Available For Those Diagnosed With CTS Include:

  • Avoiding excess strain and not performing job duties and activities that aggravate the condition.
  • Icing and using wrist splints to support the area.
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Receiving corticosteroids.
  • Using opioid pain relief for cases of severe CTS.
  • Receiving endoscopic or open surgery to correct CTS.
ADWAXF Bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome surgery

Even “simple” car wrecks can pose very complex legal and medical issues. A board-certified trial lawyer will have experience in dealing with all such issues, and with the help of cooperating physicians or experts, can get your case fairly settled. If the case does not settle, such lawyers can present your case at trial in the best possible light.

 

Watch the YouTube Video with Joe Zarzaur and Dr. Evan Malone  >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer 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.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/can-i-make-carpal-tunnel-injury-claim.html

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Carpal-Tunnel-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet

The Anatomy of a Personal Injury Case

The Basic Structure of a Personal Injury Case Has Three Distinct Component Parts: Liability, Causation,  and Damages.

Liability – Legal Term For “Fault”

For a personal injury plaintiff to have a successful case she and her lawyer must prove “more likely than not” that the other party is liable for the injury, that the actions of the other party caused the injury, and then the personal injury plaintiff must prove the extent of their injury and damages. If a personal injury plaintiff fails to meet its burden of proof on any of these three items, then the entire case fails.

Liability is a fancy legal term for fault.  Who is at fault and can you as the plaintiff in a personal injury case prove that the opposing party is legally responsible for the injury and damage?  Many times, in personal injury cases in Florida, the legal theory is negligence.  Negligence is a type of conduct that is unreasonable under the circumstances.  Stated differently, negligence is failing to act as a reasonable and prudent person would act under similar circumstances.

Liability/Negligence Examples

If an injury is caused by someone rolling through a stop sign instead of stopping, then it is negligence if the reasonable and prudent person would have stopped at the sign instead of rolling through it. Or, if this is a medical malpractice case, the measure of negligence is whether the reasonable prudent physician (of similar training and experience) would have made a different decision in the care and treatment of a patient.

Liability can also take forms other than negligence.  For example, you can establish liability against an opposing party in a Florida personal injury case by alleging violation of a statute, alleging strict products liability against a product manufacturer or seller, or alleging conduct that was even worse than negligence like recklessness.  Reckless or wanton conduct is acting in a way that you realize is likely to cause harm or damage and you act that way anyway.  In the stop sign example above, we noted how rolling through a stop sign might establish negligence but going 90mph through a stop sign at a known busy intersection would amount to something more than negligence, it would likely amount to reckless conduct.

So, the first building block of a personal injury case is liability or fault.  Initially, you and your Florida personal injury lawyer will have to decide what legal theory or theories are available to bring against the opposing party.  As referenced, most of the time this legal vehicle will be negligence, but all theories should be considered and if viable under your fact situation, should be considered by your legal team.

Second, in evaluating how successful your legal theory is there needs to be frank and candid consideration of the other two elements of a personal injury case: causation and injury/damages.

Causation – Ties Together Liability and Damages

Causation or legal causation is an examination of whether you as the plaintiff can show that the negligence or fault of the opposing party caused/or substantially contributed to your injury/damages.  Legal causation means that the actions of the opposing party must be linked to the injury or damage.  So, in the rolling through the stop sign example, the negligence would be rolling through the stop sign.  If that negligence caused a crash, then the legal causation requirement would be satisfied.  However, let’s assume that at the same time one party rolls through a stop sign another party at the four-way stop didn’t notice the stop sign and speeds through it striking your vehicle first before the car that was rolling through could even make contact and never contacts the car.  The car that rolled through the stop sign and never made contact was negligent, but that negligent conduct did not cause damage or injury since it never impacted the injured party’s vehicle.  The other vehicle that sped through the stop sign did make contact and would satisfy the legal causation since that driver’s negligence caused the damage/injury.

Damage / Injury Caused by the Other Party

Third, a successful personal injury case also involves the evaluation of the damages/ injury caused by the other party.  For instance, there are situations where an opposing party rolls through a stop sign and causes impact with another vehicle and doesn’t cause an injury.  So, then a plaintiff in a personal injury case could prove fault (rolling through the stop sign is negligence remember?) and could prove legal causation (the rolling car struck the client’s car) but if there is only damage to the car and there is no injury then you would likely not have a case worth pursuing since Florida law requires a permanent injury to have a successful car wreck case.

Likewise, if you are the victim of medical malpractice and let’s assume for purpose of this example that we can prove that the doctor was negligent (she did not act as the reasonable doctor would have acted under similar circumstances) and we can prove that that negligent act legally caused an injury to the patient, but we have trouble establishing that the severity of the injury will be sufficient to justify bringing the action.

Medical malpractice cases are expensive cases to bring since the laws in Florida require the injured party to spend about $100,000.00-$200,000.00 to bring and maintain a medical malpractice case.  Not every injury would make economic sense to pursue.  For example, let’s say you go in for surgery and the surgeon leaves a surgical sponge inside of your intestines, but the sponge eventually comes out and there is no permanent injury from the sponge being left in, but you suffer weeks of stomach discomfort and must see the doctor many more times than you otherwise would have.

However, if there are no significant and permanent medical issues that are the direct result of the negligent act (leaving the surgical sponge in the intestines) then you would likely not be recommended to pursue that case since it doesn’t make economic sense to do so.  The costs of the case would likely exceed or be equal to what the case is worth and then the client and the law firm net nothing or take a loss.

In sum, a winning personal injury case requires that the injured party and her lawyer prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).  This burden of proof requires evidence of three distinct elements liability, causation, and damages/injury.  The personal injury lawyer will be evaluating all three of these elements from the very first call.

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.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/determining-fault.html

https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/how-the-causation-element-works-in-florida-personal-injury-40575

 

Common Injuries From Airbag Deployment in a Car Wreck

Airbags undoubtedly save lives every day, as they help to lower the risk of hitting your head and body against hard surfaces, being ejected from the vehicle. There is little debate that these restraint systems have been proven to save lives and reduce the severity of injuries.  However, they do not guarantee NO INJURY when activated.  Injuries from restraint systems are quite common and very commonly benign compared to more severe injuries such as death, brain injury, or loss of limb.

These entries contain information that is used to not only describe the accident but more so to direct the triage, examination, evaluation, assessment, and treatment of the (potentially) injured patient.  Apart from the widely understood force generated by a motor vehicle accident as the etiology of injuries to the involved persons stands the prospect of injuries resulting from the passenger safety features of a vehicle.  Airbag injuries.

The airbag works as an inflatable seatbelt that inflates upon frontal impact from another vehicle. … Activation of automotive airbags is triggered by impact sensors that work to detect frontal impact and trigger a control unit that deploys the airbag to cushion the passenger.


FRONT AIRBAGS REDUCE DRIVER FATALITIES IN FRONTAL CRASHES BY 29 PERCENT AND FATALITIES OF FRONT-SEAT PASSENGERS AGE 13 AND OLDER BY 32 PERCENT


Common Injuries From Airbag Deployment

Face Injuries
Because of the positioning of airbags, your face is the easiest target during a crash. The airbag prevents your face from meeting the windshield, however, the force of the airbag can strike your eye or fracture fragile bones in the face. Eye damage, including temporary or permanent blindness, is possible. Concussions may also occur if the impact is strong enough.

Chest Injuries
In order to prevent your body from being thrown out of the car, airbags deploy very fast and hard. If it collides with your moving body, the chest area may be vulnerable to injury. Broken bones in the chest or damage to the soft tissue are not uncommon.

Neck and Back Injuries
Your spine and cervical spine are also vulnerable to the impact of an airbag. While your body is prevented from being thrust forward as it might otherwise, damage to soft tissue can still cause you to suffer from whiplash or other similar car accident injuries as the soft tissue is damaged. Just because you did not notice the traditional, jolting movement does not mean you will not need to see a whiplash chiropractor if you are suffering from stiffness and pain in the back or neck.

Burns
The speed of airbag deployment can cause surface abrasions or burns. The face and arms are most likely to suffer from this. Think about the fabric encountering your skin, and suffering from something like rug burn, but as a result of this.

Internal Injuries
The chemicals that release during deployment can irritate the lungs or even cause asthma attacks. The skin can also become irritated, causing a condition known as airbag dermatitis.

Additionally, enough pressure on the abdomen can cause damage like lacerations to organs, including the liver, spleen, lungs, and heart. In severe cases, internal bruising or bleeding is possible.


TO PREVENT INJURIES, YOUR SEAT SHOULD BE APPROXIMATELY 10 INCHES FROM WHERE THE AIRBAG WILL DEPLOY. HOWEVER, SOME INJURIES WILL BE UNAVOIDABLE AS A PART OF THE AIRBAG PROTECTING YOU FROM MORE SEVERE CONSEQUENCES.


 

The Most Common Types Of Airbag Deployment Injury:

– Abrasion (63.6%)
– Contusion
– Laceration
– Thermal burn (7.8%)

Common Injuries From Airbag Deployment [Pensacola]Frontal airbags are generally designed to deploy in “moderate to severe” frontal or near-frontal crashes that are equivalent to hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8 to 14 mph or higher.

 Therefore, the knowledge of if a passenger was restrained and whether airbag deployment occurred coupled with which seat, they were occupying is extremely useful in the context of an evaluation for traumatic injuries.  Emergency personnel will understand best which possible internal injuries to assess for based upon such information when applied to additional historical information, patient symptom profile, vital signs, and examination findings.  Such injuries may include (though not limited to):  internal abdominal or thoracic bleeding, contusion or laceration of internal organs, injuries to the central nervous system, injuries to the spinal column.

“When used properly…”
 What can you do to best allow your seatbelt, airbag, or child restraint system to do the job they are designed for?  Read the manual.  Follow the guidance.  And revisit this information frequently by making it a habit.

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.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470262/

https://www.iihs.org/topics/airbags

https://emj.bmj.com/content/19/6/490

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/airbag-injuries-and-car-accidents.html

https://www.iihs.org/topics/airbags

 

What is Different When Car Wrecks Involve Children?

car wrecks that involves children

 

Car wrecks involving children are happening every day. They and their parents incur medical bills, and they often have serious, painful, and permanent injuries.

They may require substantial future medical care. In other words, their injuries may be the same as an adult, but the legal case for the injury of a child is much different.

Definition Of A Child

Under Florida law, a child is anyone under the age of 18 who has never been married or legally emancipated. This is common in most states. A person under the age of 18 cannot legally enter into a contract and cannot file a lawsuit in their own name. Most of the time a parent or other legal guardian must be responsible for their affairs, including their injury claims.

If a child is injured and the claim cannot be settled without filing suit, the suit must be filed by a parent, a legal guardian, or a court-appointed guardian if the circumstances require it. Similarly, the settlement documents for a claim must be signed by an adult or guardian.

Settling A Case For A Child

There are very specific rules for settling a personal injury or car wrecks involving children. The rules were enacted for the protection of the child and his or her financial interests. There is a sliding scale of rules that depend on the amount of the settlement.

If A Case Is Settled For Under $15,000 There Are No Special Rules And Court Approval Is Not Required.

The parent or guardian can sign the release presented by the insurance company, and there are generally no restrictions on the use of the net settlement funds.

While court approval is not required for such smaller settlements, the parent or guardian can petition the court for approval. If the claim goes to court, the settlement must be approved by the trial court judge.

For Larger Settlements, The Rules Are Different. 

1. If the total, not net amount, of the settlement, exceeds $15,000, there must be a case filed in the probate division of the county where the minor lives.

2. For cases where the gross settlement is greater than $15,000 but less than $50,000, the court may appoint a guardian to handle the funds for the child. Usually, the guardian is the parent or legal guardian of the minor. These are fairly routine proceedings.

3. If the gross amount of the settlement is $50,000 or greater, then the court must appoint guardian ad litem to review the settlement. These guardians are often local lawyers who are familiar with such issues. They have an obligation to review the settlement and give guidance to the court about whether it is reasonable.

In all cases, the primary interest is that of the child, not the parents. The purpose of the rules is to make sure the funds are properly used/invested for the benefit of the child and preserved until the minor becomes an adult. The court has very broad powers to preserve the interest of the child.

While the cost of the court approval process can be substantial, insurance companies or settling parties often agree to pay the costs and fees associated with this. You should always attempt to get an agreement for this in order to preserve as much as possible for the child.

Wrongful Death Claims

If a child is killed in a car crash, a wrongful death claim may be filed. In Florida, such claims are governed by the Florida Wrongful Death statute, this is a very complicated area of the law and requires the expertise of an experienced trial lawyer.

These claims must be brought a court-appointed personal representation. In such cases, the parents of a minor child can recover from mental pain and suffering. They can also recover for medical expenses and other monetary costs associated with the injury and treatment of the injuries that led to death.

Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations for the death of a minor child is 2 years from the date of the death, in other words, the surviving parties much settle the claim or file suit within 2 years of the death, or it will be barred.

While the normal statute of limitations for injuries is 4 years from the date of the incident, there are special rules that extend the statute for minors.

If a child is a minor at the time of the incident, they may wait until they turn 18 to file suit. However, the absolute limitation to file such a claim is 7 years, regardless of when the child turns 18.

For example: If a child is 10 years old when injured, the case must be filed within 7 years, even though the child does not turn 18 during that period. This is a very complicated area of Florida law and requires the expertise and experience of a civil trial expert.

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.

If you or your child have been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-parental-responsibility-laws.html

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer | Car Accident Attorney | Zarzaur Law

The Most Common Car Accident Injuries.

Car Wreck Settlement Process

Everyone knows someone who was involved in a car wreck, and most know people who were seriously injured or killed in a car crash. This is not surprising.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are 3 million injuries in US car crashes each year. These result in 100 deaths per day. The costs of medical care and the loss of productivity caused by these crashes is almost $100 BILLION per year.

 

INJURIES CAUSED BY CAR CRASHES

Car crashes cause damage. The most obvious damage is to the vehicles involved; however, such crashes can cause bodily injury that is not always immediately visible.

Soft Tissue Injuries

The most common injuries caused by car crashes are soft tissue injuries. These are defined as injuries other than broken bones, to the “soft tissues” of the body.

Bruising and Contusions
Often seat belts or air bags can cause these conditions. While these generally heal without long term issues, they can be indicative of more serious, long term injuries.

A “Whiplash” Injury
While the term refers to the mechanism of the injury, a forward and back whiplash of the spine, it often is a term for the type of injuries sustained, such as strained or sprained muscles, tendons and ligaments of the spine. The whiplash motion can cause serious long-term injuries such as concussion and spinal disc injuries. Treatment options may include physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, massage and in some cases may lead to spinal surgery to repair disc injuries. This treatment can be very expensive, and disrupting. Even with appropriate care, these injuries may result in lifetime problems and treatment modalities.

Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Some crashes may cause serious brain injuries. Many people sustained concussions from striking their head or simply from the whiplash mechanism that may stress the soft tissues of the brain. You do not need to sustain a discrete period of loss of consciousness to be diagnosed with a brain injury. Many people have no memory of the crash and have other symptoms of concussion. It is very important to get immediate treatment if there is a suspicion of a concussion. Such injuries can change the way your brain functions, which may result in lifelong problems.

Broken Bones

The impact of a crash can caused your body to strike the interior of your vehicle, resulting in serious and painful injuries. Even with modern safety features such as seatbelts and airbags, there are many ways to stress your bones such that they are fractured in a crash. Treatment for broken bones may require surgery to set the bones and often the use of hardware to help the bones heal. This treatment can be very expensive, time consuming and painful.

Avoiding Serious Injury

While there is often no way to avoid a crash, there are common sense methods to protect yourself from serious injuries. These include wearing the seatbelt in your car. The CDC found that 61% of fatality victims were not wearing their seat belts. While some may find them uncomfortable or inconvenient ,the seat belt is a proven life saver.

If you have young children, you should leave them in approved booster seats as long as required. These are proven to provide great safety to a child. Again, regular use may be inconvenient, but they are an invaluable tool to keep kids safe,

 

Low Impact Crashes

Even low speed crashes can cause serious injuries. While most such crashes cause long term injuries, factors such as the type of vehicles involved, the mechanics of the crash and the pre accident condition of the victims can lead to serious long-term injuries. There have been many scientific studies the show the forces in a low speed crash may result in long term damage.

 

If you are injured in a car crash, whether a high speed or low speed crash, you should seek the services of an experienced person injury lawyer. A board-certified civil trial lawyer has much experience in dealing with these cases and can give you the advice you need.

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.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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.natlawreview.com/article/8-most-common-car-accident-injuries-and-what-to-do-about-them

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/traffic-accidents-faq.html

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/getting-disability-benefits-injuries-after-car-accident.html

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/traffic-accidents-faq.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/requirements-for-ptsd-diagnosis-2797637

Car Wreck Checklist

Is Whiplash a Serious Injury

What Should You Do If You Get In A Wreck With A Rental Car?

Wreck With A Rental Car

As we all know, Florida is one of the top 3 tourism destinations in the country. While tourism is great for the economy, it also means that there are a lot of rental cars out on the roads being driven by people who may not know the roads very well. So, a question we often get from potential clients is this: what do I do if I get in a wreck with a motorist driving a rental car?

First and foremost, you should do the same thing you would do in a wreck with any other driver: stay at the scene, contact law enforcement, and exchange insurance information. Be sure to get the driver’s personal insurance (if any) as well as any insurance they might have purchased from the rental company when they rented the vehicle. Often, this information can be found in the glove box of the rental car. Follow the CAR WRECK CHECKLIST >

The Next Question Is: Who Is Going To Pay For The Injuries I’ve Suffered?

If you are a Florida resident with a car insurance policy, you have a “Personal Injury Protection” or “no-fault” policy. This means that your insurance will pay 80% of your initial medical bills, up to $10,000. The remaining 20% must be paid out of pocket or by your health insurance. Of course, these costs will ultimately be demanded from the at-fault driver.

Comprehensive Coverage

Once you exhaust your “no-fault” or “PIP” benefits, the next step is recovering from the at-fault driver. Often, an out-of-state driver might have “comprehensive coverage,” which means that their personal insurance covers their liability for accidents they cause in a rental car. In other words, this type of insurance can follow the person and not their car.

Rental companies also offer insurance as part of their rental package. If a driver who rents a car purchases insurance through the rental company, this policy will likely cover the injuries the rental driver causes. Most companies offer several different coverage options which vary between minimum coverage and extremely generous policies.

Dangerous Instrumentality

Unless there is something wrong with the vehicle itself, however, there is usually no avenue to triggering the rental company’s own insurance policy, separate and apart from the policies they sell to their renters. Florida is a “dangerous instrumentality” state—which means that ordinarily, an owner of a vehicle is liable for the injuries caused by anyone that they allow to drive their vehicles. Many people know this and rightly assume that the doctrine applies to rental car companies, who own their vehicles and allow renters to drive them.

Graves Amendment

However, in 2005, the US Congress passed a law known as the Graves Amendment as part of a larger traffic bill. This amendment insulates rental car companies from liability for the negligence of the drivers that they rent to. This amendment has pre-empted Florida’s “dangerous instrumentality” law that would normally provide for liability.

Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can navigate this complicated process. So, 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 a civil trials. Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Two out of three of the lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

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.

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

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/long-arm_statute

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0048/Sections/0048.193.html

https://www.findlaw.com/injury/car-accidents/the-graves-amendment-and-rental-car-liability.html

https://www.iii.org/article/what-is-covered-by-collision-and-comprehensive-auto-insurance

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer | Car Accident Attorney | Zarzaur Law

Hit and Run Fatalities Are On The Rise In Florida.

As an Ironman® triathlete who has spent many hours on a bike, I have become quite familiar with the dangers associated with being a pedestrian on our roadways.  In fact, I have just about given up doing my training rides on the actual roads and do about 95% of my training on an indoor trainer.

Share the Road

Even though the law in Florida requires that motorist “share the road” with cyclist that law does not appear to deter many driver’s from creating hazards for cyclists.  Sometimes these issues are caused by plain inattention or distraction like when they are on their phones.  Other times, however, motorist get frustrated that you are in the roadway at all and attempt to intimidate cyclist by getting their vehicles within inches of the bike.  The end result is, unfortunately, the same:  unnecessary injuries and deaths.  Many times, these events are also followed by the driver fleeing the scene of the collision.

An Increase in Hit and Run Accidents

Loosely these events are called “hit and run” accidents since the driver causes a collision (hit) with their vehicle and then leaves the scene (run).  Last year, fatalities in Florida from hit and run accidents went up 18% from 2019.  Further, more pedestrians were also killed by vehicles hit and ran from the scene than were reported in 2019.

Complicating this issue is that 85% of these hit and run accidents occur after dusk and before dawn.  So, they happen under the partial or total cover of darkness making the identification process that much harder.  It also makes the at fault driver more likely to have been under the influence of something, the later in the night it gets.  Of the 254 pedestrians hit by cars last year, 137 of them were walking on or near the roadway and 25 of them were on bikes.

Investigation Tools

Fortunately, the abundance of security cameras in both residential and commercial areas has provided a key investigation tool in attempting to identify vehicles involved in a hit and run.  Many times, eyewitness accounts of a nighttime event will render various descriptions of the car and the driver since darkness if not helpful in allowing for a clear view of the hit and run suspect or their vehicle.

Even partial tag numbers can be helpful on many occasions.  In fact, our investigation team can run a search with a partial tag number and a general description of a car.  This will allow for a report of all cars meeting that description with those numbers of letters in their tag.  So, memorizing the entire tag number is not always required to help identify the suspect.  Partial tag numbers especially if the letters or numerals are consecutive are sufficient some of the time to at least narrow the suspect list down to a manageable number.

The Investigation Process in a Civil Case

It is extremely important in hit and run cases that the law firm start the investigation as soon as possible.  The authorities will do some initial investigation but if they hit a wall, they rarely push through it unless there is a fatality.  In fact, it has been our experience here at Zarzaur Law, that unless there is a fatality, authorities will likely not have a huge incentive to get to the bottom of any event unless the injuries are life-threatening.

Burden of Proof – Civil vs Criminal

Also, it is noteworthy that the criminal justice system requires that the State prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  This means that authorities investigating a hit and run accident will need to find compelling evidence that a specific person not just a specific car was involved before they can bring criminal charges.   However, in the civil justice system the burden of proof is “more likely than not” which is a much lower bar than in the criminal system.  Further, we are looking for the owner of the car and the driver and can use either as targets to get more information.

Another helpful piece of information is that criminal hit and run investigations sometimes stop when the suspect pleads the 5th amendment and refuses to answer questions when asked by the investigating officer.  In the civil system, however, we can actually use the fact that the suspect pleads the 5th against him or her in proving that they committed the civil offense.  The basis for this is that the constitution protects you from self-INCRIMINATION not from admitting to a NON-CRIMINAL offense.

Hit and Run Case in Downtown Pensacola

Our firm has handled many types of hit and run accidents and have typically been successful in identifying the suspect(s) and bringing them to justice in the civil system.  We have also noticed that if we are able to find more evidence in the civil system, we can refer those items to the investigating officer and in some cases, they can re-open the criminal investigation into the hit and run suspect.

Watch our ZTV video segment which provides an overview of an actual Hit and Run case that happened in Downtown Pensacola, FL and handled by Zarzaur Law, PA, plus an interview with the victim (our client).  >

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.

If you or a loved one is a victim of a hit and run accident, whether they be a pedestrian or a cyclist, it is imperative that you get a law firm on your side as soon as possible.  There must be evidence collection and investigation performed within hours or days of the event.  Weeks or months will be too far removed for any meaningful evidence collection for sure.  If you have further questions about hit and run accidents please call us at 855HIREjoe or you can find us on the web at zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

Hit-and-run crash fatalities rise in Florida

https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/hitrun/

 

Car Wrecks and Teen Drivers – Who is Liable?

If you are the victim of a car crash that is not your fault, there is a decent chance that the at-fault driver is a teenager. The question we frequently get is this: can a plaintiff recover damages from anyone else besides the teenage driver? The answer is yes. 

Teenage Drivers and Reckless Driving

Everyone knows that teenage drivers are more dangerous than most other motorists. One reason is that they have less experience with driving than the rest of us. Further, the teenage brain is not fully developed and hence is more susceptible to the temptations of driving recklessly and too fast.


STUDIES SHOW THAT DRIVERS AGED 16-19 ACCOUNT FOR MORE THAN A THIRD OF ALL DRIVING DEATHS THAT INVOLVE SPEEDING. THIS NUMBER IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE.


As we said in a previous post, traffic fatalities are increasing among all age groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although overall traffic levels are down, fatalities are up because the reduction in gridlock is causing drivers to drive faster than they would normally. Because teens are even more susceptible to speeding and reckless driving than the rest of us, fatalities among teens have risen at a higher rate than other segments of the population.

Dangerous Instrumentality

When you are involved in a car crash with a teenage driver, there is a good chance you can recover from the teenager’s parent’s insurance policy. Under Florida law, a motor vehicle is classified as a “dangerous instrumentality.” Florida’s “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine means that an owner of a vehicle is legally liable for any damage caused by the negligence of anyone that they allow driving their car.

Vicarious Liability

In the vast majority of cases, the cars driven by teenage drivers are actually owned by the driver’s parent. In this case, the wreck implicates the parents’ insurance policy, even though the parent was not the one driving the vehicle. Lawyers refer to this liability as “vicarious liability”—meaning that the owner of the vehicle is liable despite the fact that the owner did not cause the crash. 

Burden of Proof

The only viable defense against a vicarious liability claim involving a dangerous instrumentality is that the person driving the car never had permission to drive the car. This issue is very rare and usually arises when the driver is a car thief. The burden to prove this defense is on the owner, and the rare successful defenses usually involve situations where an owner has made a police report prior to the wreck. 

If you have been in a car wreck caused by a teenage driver, you should not automatically give up on filing a claim against their insurance. Instead, you should hire an experienced lawyer to handle your claim. 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. Two out of three of the 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. 

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.

If you’ve been the victim of an auto accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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://definitions.uslegal.com/d/dangerous-instrumentality-doctrine/

https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/teen-drivers/

https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2021/01/26/teen-drivers-speeding-high-death-rate-Governors-Highway-Safety-Association-PennDOT/stories/202101260171

https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2021-01/GHSA_TeenSpeeding_Final_Jan21.pdf

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2021/01/28/iihs-aaa-crash-test-speeding-traffic-safety/4265112001/

Alarming Increase in Car Wreck Related Death – Pensacola FL

If you’re like us here at Zarzaur Law, you’ve noticed something about traffic since the COVID-19 pandemic began. There might be fewer cars on the road these days, but the cars that are there are driving faster and more recklessly.

 

The Biggest Increase in Fatalities in More Than 15 Years

You are not just imagining things. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are about 15% fewer total cars on the roads than there were at similar times in 2019. Despite this significant decrease in traffic levels, the rate of traffic-related deaths has risen by a staggering 13.1%—the biggest increase from one quarter to the next in almost 15 years.

Disturbing Factors

There are several potential explanations for the phenomenon. At a basic level, data show that more drivers are using relatively empty roads to drive faster than they would normally. In fact, an NHTSA study found that more drivers had been clocked going over 100 miles per hour after the pandemic began than in recent years. Further, a higher percentage of these drivers were not wearing their seat belts, as shown by the fact that more and more drivers are getting ejected from their cars when they wreck. Even more concerning, the drivers involved in the wrecks were more likely to be driving with drugs and/or alcohol in their systems.

DRIVING FASTER AND MORE RECKLESSLY COMBINED WITH REFUSING TO USE AVAILABLE SAFETY EQUIPMENT IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

The Question Now Is: What Do We Do About the Problem?

An international study recently showed that police presence on the road is the “best predictor of fatality rates.” Reduced patrols on our highways due to pandemic or budgetary factors is likely one reason for the increase. What is also clear, however, is that simple precautions can also prevent fatalities:
• Wearing a seat belt
• Not speeding
• Waiting to enter an intersection until it is safe
• Not texting while driving

If you happen to be the victim of a car wreck with a reckless driver, you should always hire an lawyer to represent your interests. You can bet that the other driver’s insurance company will. Potential clients shouldn’t just hire any lawyer, because 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. Two out of three of the 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.

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.

If you’ve been the victim of an auto accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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.consumerreports.org/car-safety/top-safety-scores-cant-save-drivers-in-high-speed-crashes/

https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2021/01/25/Traffic-is-down-but-driving-deaths-are-up/stories/202101150069

https://cdan.nhtsa.gov

Car Accident Lawyers in Pensacola, FL

 

Hospitals Taking Advantage of Victims of Car Wrecks

Car Wreck VictimYou’ve been in a car wreck and you have to go to the hospital via ambulance. You get to the hospital and the ER doctor (or nurse) asks you what happened. You tell them it’s a car wreck and you assume that they are asking you that question simply because they need to know how to treat you. Little do you know that the relevance of your injury source is not only applicable to the ER staff but also to the business office, you may ask why?

Hospitals Holding Car Wreck Patient’s Bills

The business office of a hospital is really interested to know whether or not this treatment will be reimbursed by health insurance or possibly paid through an auto insurance policy. As you may be aware, Health insurance and drug companies have always negotiated fees for service contracts with providers which allow them humongous discounts on services. In turn, health insurance can provide its insured with a health insurance policy that covers all types of services in hospitals.

For example, these deals worked out between the health insurance companies and providers function like this:  You go into a hospital for emergency room treatment and the hospital bill is $4,000. The health insurance companies have negotiated (well before you ever walked into the hospital) that their insureds will receive those same services billed at a $4,000 rate, for a much lower rate like $800. So, the hospitals only get their billed rate if someone other than a health insurance company is paying the tab.  The hospitals have then an enormous financial incentive to look for reimbursement sources that are closer to dollar for dollar instead of the lower rate agreed to with health insurers.

All the car insurance companies who are paying car wreck claims and suits are not in the position to negotiate fee for services and therefore if they get a bill for $4,000, they are on the hook for $4,000. Hospitals have realized this and have issued directives that their billing offices should HOLD all car wreck patients bills in a limbo status so that they can determine whether or not they can get dollar for dollar reimbursement versus the health insurance reimbursement rate. As you can see, this practice does not benefit the client who had purchased health insurance and is now paying bills like they do not have it.

The Issue for Patients

If a hospital holds their bill and purposely wait on the car wreck case to maturate through the legal system, they basically place their patients (our clients) in a tough spot.  If the patient’s account is not billed to his/her health insurance within the time frame permitted by their policy then the health insurance can deny the claim.  Many times, patients/clients wait over a year for their car wreck cases to be concluded and they miss the deadline for submitting claims to their health insurance.  These time periods are generally 12 months. The problem gets worse since most drivers that cause wrecks don’t have enough car insurance to pay their medical bills in full. So, what ends up happening is that the full medical bills remain pending and make it difficult to negotiate down at the end of the car wreck case.  Hospitals then look to the client to pay them back.  Their starting point is the full billed amount.  They prefer to do this despite having the ability to bill health insurance at the outset since they are gambling that they will end up netting more if they go through the legal process.  This interest, however, is in conflict with the client’s interest since money being spent to pay for medical bills above the amount that the health insurance would have paid rightfully belongs to the client.


Hospitals have become so aware of this reimbursement opportunity that they have actually engaged third-party companies to work on their behalf.


Take for example this summary of a typical car wreck treatment situation: As soon as hospitals get the billing code for anything car wreck related in their system a third-party company is sent all of the bills and they start billing the client dollar for dollar and urge the client to pass on their information to any law firms that may represent them. Instead of submitting these claims to health insurance, which is there and ready to pay the bills, hospitals instead wait on the car insurance claim which typically miss all the deadlines required by the health insurance company.

These companies and hospitals figure that in a worst-case scenario they will negotiate their lien down some, but they still make more money after paying the third-party company and getting reimbursed then they would have had they just sent the bill to health insurance. If you or your law firm is not paying attention to these practices they could end up costing you more of your settlement that should otherwise be paid.

The Loser In All Of This Is The Patient (Our Client)

The patient has been smart enough to purchase health insurance and has been diligent enough to make sure the health insurance premiums were paid on time every month.  So now, when the accident happened, the patient should have been able to take advantage of the discounted rate for the hospital bills. Instead, the hospitals have decided not to send the bills to the health insurance companies and the hospitals have decided that they’re going to take some of your car wreck recovery settlement so they can increase their profits and their margins despite the fact they’ve already agreed with the health insurance companies to take a lower amount for your care.

Watching Out For Our Client’s Best Interest

At Zarzaur Law, as part of what we do for our clients, we watch out for this behavior. When we notice that a healthcare facility or practitioner is purposely evading the lower reimbursement through the client’s health insurance, we strongly urge them to file it with health insurance. We also confirm the health insurance information via letter so that we make certain that once the case is settled, the health care facility or practitioner can’t argue that they did not know there was health insurance. We remind each billing entity or institution that they have an obligation to bill health insurance since that’s in the best interest of the patient (our client) and we also remind them of the deadlines that are required by these providers.

If the healthcare providers then argue at the end of the car wreck case that they are entitled to more money because of the health insurance deadlines have passed, we show them the letter that we’ve written on behalf of the client and urged them to take the reimbursement rate as a full satisfaction of the bill or take nothing since we see this as nothing more than the fleecing of a client at their worst time.

At Zarzaur Law we will strive not only to get our clients the most recovery but also try to ensure that that the recovery ends up in their pockets. We not only see it is our job to gain the most money from the car insurance companies but also net our clients the most money once all the bills are paid. This is especially true if they have been prudent enough to purchase health insurance before the car wreck. It is our opinion that everyone should be able to take full advantage of that especially in the most dire of circumstances.

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.

If you’ve been the victim of a car wreck, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. 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:

Florida Car Wrecks and Health Insurance