Tag Archives: Pensacola Personal Injury Attorney

Triathlon Accidents And Injuries Are On The Rise.

It’s every triathlete’s and cyclist’s worst nightmare—(newbies and experienced riders alike)—and it’s happening with increasing frequency. When a vehicle enters the bike lane, runs a red light, or makes a right-hand turn in front of a bike, the outcome usually doesn’t favor the cyclist.

Growing Concerns

Over the weekend of September 24, 2022, an accomplished triathlete in Tampa, Florida was killed while on a training ride on her bicycle, and another Ironman World Champion runner-up finisher sustained significant injuries when she was hit by a car while training in Texas.  They are just the latest in a number of fatal accidents from car vs bicycle crashes.

Florida Leads The Nation In Bicycle Crash Fatalities.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicyclist fatalities in 2020 were highest in Florida (170), California (129), and Texas (79). In 2020, there was a 9% increase in the number of bicyclists killed (938), compared to 859 in 2019.

 

Florida Ranks Third
In Total Bicyclists Crashes
And Accidents.

 

When Do Bicycle Accidents Happen Most?

Bicycle-related deaths peak in the warmer months, starting in May, and they remain high through October. In 2020, the most deaths occurred in August (157) and the fewest in February (53).

 

Each year, approximately 55,000 cyclists are injured by vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); 30 percent of all bicycle accident injuries occur when a bicyclist is struck by a car.

 

In the stress and pain of the moment, it’s hard to know what to do if a car hits you while riding.

What to Do If You Get Hit by a Car While Riding Your Bike

In the unfortunate event that a motorist versus cyclist accident does occur, it should be treated much like any other motor vehicle accident involving attention to the health, safety, and wellness of those involved with the immediate deployment of emergency medical personnel and law enforcement.

Once immediate safety has been secured, someone should obtain (via notation, digital voice memo, or photographs):

Documentation of the scene, including details of the weather, road conditions, and time of day, including identification of all parties and vehicles involved (first and last name, phone number, date of birth, vehicle make/model/color, license plate or tag numbers). Please identify any witnesses to the event (first and last name, contact information). Documentation of all bodily injuries, including helmet and clothing damage, as well as vehicle and bicycle damage

 

Bicycle Accident Check List

1. Call the police and report the accident (even if you don’t think you are hurt).

2. Pay attention to and remember what the other party says about how the accident occurred.

3. Preserve the condition of your bike, helmet, clothing, footwear, lighting, and other property.

4. As soon as possible, report the accident to your own car insurance company.Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to accident claims (let your lawyer deal with the at-fault party and their insurance company).

5. Seek medical attention.Under Florida law, your car insurance is “primary” for your medical bills. Allow the ER or hospital to bill you for your car ins.

6. Keep documentation of the accident. Police report, photos of the bike (etc.), the scene, surroundings, other party’s vehicle

7. Maintain an injury log.

8. Don’t discuss the accident on social media.

9. Consult a personal injury lawyer that specializes in bicycle accidents in Florida.

10. Always remember: you are invisible on a bicycle.

 

Seeking medical care for a thorough assessment by a qualified medical professional (emergency department, urgent care, primary care provider, medical specialist) should not be overlooked or delayed. The most common injuries, such as skin abrasions (i.e., road rash), may be a harbinger of an underlying injury such as fractures, dislocations, cardiopulmonary or vascular injury, or disrupted tendons/ligaments, while a broken helmet could be an indication that an evaluation for intracranial, neck, or cervical spine injury may be warranted.

 

How Does One Law Firm Have A Staff That Has Collectively Raced And Finished Over 25 Full Ironman Distance Triathlons?

One word: perseverance. Zarzaur Law prides itself on hiring lawyers and staff that will not settle, people that are self-driven and pride themselves on achieving things that seem insurmountable.

Perseverance In Sport And Representing Clients Who Have Been Injured

The sport of triathlon is a challenging sport, even with the smaller distance events. The combination of three different sports and the need to train for multiple events requires athletes to be both fit and disciplined. High pain thresholds, mental toughness, time management, and devotion to a goal. All of these characteristics are necessary and valuable traits for the sport of triathlon but are also important in the business of personal injury litigation.

Insurance companies and their lawyers are like distance courses. They are in a war of attrition and their goal is to wear you and your lawyer down until you are willing to either give up or take next to nothing for your case. Our lawyers and staff are the perfect opposition for such a battle tactic. We have proven, even in our hobbies, that distance and discomfort are to be embraced and overcome.

 

Athlete / Triathlete Accidents and Injuries Are Special Types of Cases

Personal injuries that occur during triathlon activities such as swimming, biking, and/or running bring a special type of case to our firm. Our fellow athletes who become clients can’t help but become cases of special interest. We are you, and we understand what drives you and what places you in harm’s way. We have been on the road with crowded drivers who have no patience for cyclists; we have been in the races with hundreds of swimmers fighting for position around the first bouys; we have been on the run courses that traverse busy intersections with sketchy traffic control.  We have been there and we have thought about how easy it would be to be injured by such negligence.

Sporting events, including races, walks, and triathlons, can often yield many different types of injuries to participants. Injuries sustained from races may include:

  • Collision with other runners, swimmers, cyclists, automobiles
  • Wrecks due to improper racing conditions, like fog or damaged racing surfaces.
  • Hypothermia
  • E. coli contraction
  • Exhaustion or serious injury due to coaching negligence
  • Serious infection or disease caused by waterborne bacteria.
  • Respiratory infections
  • Road rash
  • Knee injury
  • Muscle strain
  • Torn ligaments
  • Head injury
  • Heat exhaustion

 

The Long Term Effects (Physical And Mental) Of A Sporting Accident

We also know what a toll a serious injury can have on an athlete’s life. We have all had injuries if you have competed in any of the three sports that make up triathlon. Fortunately, none of us have suffered life-changing injuries, and most of our clients end up with this fate. This is not something we can speak about via personal experience, but it is something we can relate to given our experience with the sport and being injured and suffering temporary disabling conditions.

We understand the mental and emotional injury that is suffered day in and day out when you cannot do the thing that you love and that your body craves. This helps us as a personal injury law firm. We have a taste of the disability and loss that you or your family’s sports-related injury has and will continue to have in the future.

 

Hire a Law Firm With Triathlon Experience.

Having a law firm that knows athletics and specifically knows the sports of triathlon not only assures you and your family that we will understand the facts of your case, but also provides a guarantee that we will also appreciate how this injury or loss will continue to affect you and your family for years to come.

 

Pensacola injury lawyer Joe Zarzaur
and Dr. Evan Malone are active cyclists
and participate in triathlons
on a regular basis.

 

By hiring Zarzaur Law, you will hire a legal team that understands cycling, knows cyclist rights, and will aggressively help you fight for your rights. At Zarzaur Law, we handle bicycle injury cases, defective bicycle components, defective roadway conditions, as well as everything else related to bicycle accident cases.

 

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 in 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.

 

For more information review the links below and research the organizations specific to your locale:

CDC Bicycle Safety

https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/bicycle/index.html

NHTSA Bicycle Crash Stats

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813197

2021 Florida Statutes – 316.2065:  Bicycle regulations

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.2065.html

Florida Bicycle Association

https://floridabicycle.org

Bike Pensacola

https://www.bikepensacola.org/

West Florida Wheelmen

https://www.westfloridawheelmen.org/advocacy

https://media.acg.aaa.com//content/1205/files/2019%20Q2%20Consumer%20Pulse_Bicycle%20Safety.pdf

Bicycle Deaths

In A Distracted World, Can Cyclists Ever Feel Safe?

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Taxable In Florida?

At Zarzaur Law, we do get a lot of clients asking at the end of their case if their personal injury compensation is taxable. Normally, the compensation you receive for the physical pain and suffering associated with your car accident (or other type of accident that caused personal injury) and attendant injuries is not taxable. This compensation is considered to align with your compensation for medical expenses and, therefore, avoid tax liability. These personal injury awards are reportable, but not taxable.

While we are lawyers and not accountants, we always advise our clients to seek the advice of a tax professional with questions in regards to income from a settlement.

Below is some basic information to help answer this question.

 

Personal Injury Damages That Can Be Compensated For And Not Taxable Include:

Medical expenses 
Physical and mental pain and suffering
Permanent injuries and impairments

 

Handling Your Medical Expenses

According to an article by Picnic Tax, the tax treatment of settlements received for an injury depends on how you handle your medical expenses. If you did not deduct any medical expenses related to your physical injury on previous tax returns, the settlement money you receive is not taxable. The IRS won’t allow you to double-dip, however. If you deducted medical expenses related to your injury during the previous year, part of your settlement is taxable.

An Example:

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident in 2020. As a result of the accident, you required surgery that cost $30,000. You paid the hospital bill in 2020 and deducted $30,000 from your income taxes as a medical expense. In 2021, the lawsuit related to your accident was settled, and you received $50,000 for your physical injuries to cover both past and potential future medical expenses. In this case, $30,000 of your settlement is taxable and $20,000 isn’t.

 

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress settlements related to your physical injuries aren’t taxable. In the car accident example, if you were unable to work for several months after your accident and had subsequent surgery, you were also unable to enjoy life as you normally would. This resulted in severe depression and emotional distress. In this case, your emotional distress settlement isn’t taxable because the distress was the direct result of your injuries.

However, compensation for emotional distress only, without a physical injury, may be taxable. 

 

Questions To Ask A Tax Professional About Your Injury Settlement

If you are concerned that your Florida injury settlement could have a negative effect on your finances come tax time.

Ask questions such as:

  • What type of information and documentation do you need from me?
  • Is any of the money I received taxable?
  • How does the IRS determine what is and isn’t taxable?
  • What impact does the injury settlement have on other taxes that I may have to pay?

 

A Florida tax professional can answer these questions, among others, to ensure that you’re making safe financial decisions.

 

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Topic >

 

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 in 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.

Are Legal Settlements Taxable? Tax Implications of Settlements and Judgments

https://www.irs.gov/government-entities/tax-implications-of-settlements-and-judgments

What If I Lose My Job During My Injury Case? 

Personal injuries caused by an accident that was due to no fault of their own, can have significant effects on every aspect of a client’s life.  In many personal injury cases, these effects can include an impact on a person’s job or career.  The loss of a job means the loss of income for the injured person and those who rely on him/her.   Like every other item of damages associated with a traumatic injury, clients want to know whether wage losses or job losses are the types of damages that are available as part of a personal injury case.

 

Wage Loss And Accident Injury Connection

The key to whether such damages are recoverable in a personal injury case depends upon how much and what type of evidence you have which connects the wage loss to the injury.  For example, if you miss wages as a result of your personal injury (such as a car accident injury), then you must connect your injury or treatment to the wage loss. 

This can be done by showing the following:
1. Your medical appointments required an absence from work.

2. Your treating doctor restricted you from working and it is notated in a medical record. 

Either of these situations can be demonstrated by reference to the medical records or medical appointments. 

 

What About Job Loss Due To Injury?

Some clients not only miss wages as a result of their personal injuries but end up losing their jobs.  It may appear to be unfair that an employer in Florida can fire you for an injury that you did not cause.  Unless the injury was suffered while working (workers’ compensation injury), the employer has the right to terminate most employees for any reason, including their physical limitations that result from a traumatic injury.  Business owners can work with clients, but most will only tolerate absences and limited work performance for so long before they determine that it is no longer in their best interest to keep you employed.  

 

Obviously, if your employer can find some position that will allow you to continue your employment, that would be best for you.  If, however, your employer doesn’t have any roles that are less physically demanding  you may find yourself without a job and without an income while you are recovering from the injury. 

 

Proper Documentation And Proof Of Termination Due To Injury

In order to be able to recover for wage loss associated with any personal injury case, you have to have evidence that connects your wage loss to the injury-causing event.  This means that your termination or resignation should be documented in a way that connects your injury to your inability to work.  These documents should reference a superior at your former employer so that you have not only a document as evidence but a witness that can be called to verify the basis of the termination/resignation.  Ideally, if you can coordinate your departure from employment while your injury case is pending, you and your personal injury lawyer can make it clear for evidentiary purposes. 

For instance, you and your personal injury lawyer can discuss the wording of the resignation letter or the termination notice and make sure that it references your absences since the injury, otherwise you would have remained gainfully employed.  

 

Mitigating Your Lost Wages

Once you are without a job, it is important that you just don’t give up on making money.  The law will require that you “mitigate” your lost wage damages.  Just like the law requires that you seek medical treatment for your physical injuries, the law also requires that you try and find a replacement source of wages.  This means only that you must make reasonable efforts to find a replacement source of income.  This does not mean that you have to find a job but it certainly means that you have to use reasonable efforts to find any job that you are physically able to do that could replace some of the lost wages. 

 

So, as you can see, losing a job while you are dealing with your personal injury case is not a simple business.  It is complicated and deserves the attention of a law firm that has professionals working for you and your family.  If you have questions about any personal injury matter, which would include a serious car accident injury, please feel free to reach out to zarzaurlaw.com or call our firm at 855HireJoe.

 

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS SUBJECT >

 

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 in 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.

Client Stories – Car Accident Victims Michael and Amber C.

Car Accident VictimsHurricane Sally struck the Gulf Coast on September 9, 2020. Not only was there the stress of post-hurricane clean-up, but at the time, the COVID pandemic was still lingering and making an already bad situation worse. For one Florida couple, this was made even more devastating when they were struck and then almost crushed by a Sewer Mac dump truck that not only hit them from behind but fell sideways on top of their vehicle. They contacted Zarzaur Law, P.A. for help with their car accident injury case.

This is their story.

Devastating Crash

So we were in a car accident in Pensacola, Florida during Hurricane Sally. A tanker truck fell on top of us. We thought we were dead that day, so it was a really bad accident. We’d never been in that situation before, and we didn’t know what to do. The accident happened over the weekend, and we contacted Zarzaur Law, and we got a call from Joe that Monday.

Immediate Response

We emailed Joe Zarzaur on Sunday evening, and then we talked to him on Monday, and it was really good because we didn’t know what to do, we didn’t know what to expect, or what the process was. We’d never sued anybody before, and we didn’t even know if we were suing somebody. We wanted to know what our next steps were.

Treatment Questions Answered

We knew I was injured and we needed protection, and we just wanted to make sure that we were protected. We’ve heard horror stories, so the nice thing about it was that their office walked us through everything. I suffered from PTSD through the process, and I remember our paralegal Jessica having to listen to me cry on the phone, but there were no doctors available at that time because of the hurricane.

So they actually helped us find a doctor to go to and to get things taken care of. So that was really helpful in the whole scheme of everything with it. But the thing I like most is our, our immediate phone call with Joe and knowing “You’ve come to the right place and that we’re going to handle all the steps for you.” As far as contacting physicians and saying “This doctor is going to see you and where you should go.” So we felt very at ease almost instantly. They’re professionals, and they know what they’re doing.

Joe took his time on the phone with us, so we didn’t feel rushed. We felt valued and we knew we were in the right place. We had so many attorneys trying to contact us after it hit the news and all that. So we were glad we chose Joe Zarzaur and Zarzaur Law.

We wouldn’t change anything. As we went through the process, they helped us. Once we got through the doctor’s part and got all the medical things done, we went on to the next steps. They walked that through with us as well.

We Knew Joe Would Fight For Us.

We knew, okay, we were injured more than we had thought, and I remember talking to Joe and saying, “Listen, I just need someone who’s got our best interests at heart and will protect us.” I remember talking with him on the phone about that, and the next thing I know, we’ve got people connected with us. Joe even gave us his own cell phone number to call if we felt we really needed it and all that. So through the whole step, all the way to the end, once we got into the settlement part of it and everything, we didn’t have to do anything.  Joe’s team told us exactly what to expect at each interval.

We were very well informed. The team was amazing. The entire team, everyone we came across was professional and good.

Then the outcome was better than what we had hoped for. Yes, we felt like we were being taken care of.

Michael and Amber C.

Watch Their Video On YouTube 

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While Traveling In Florida

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries – no matter how minor you think they might be.

GET MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT HERE AT 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.

If you’ve been injured in a car 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.

Two-Hour Car Seat Rule: What You Need To Know.

Did you know that when traveling with a baby, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you take your baby out of the car seat every two hours? Do you also know what the recommendations is for when you can start doing longer drives with your baby?

Surprisingly, many parents have not heard of the two-hour car seat rule. If you have never heard of this before, don’t worry; during National Baby Safety Month, we wanted to share important information about this recommendation.

 

At What Age Does The Two-Hour Car Seat Rule End?

The two-hour car seat rule age is not specific, but it should be followed until the baby is old enough to sit upright and control their head and neck movement.

Sitting Devices, Such As Car Seats, Strollers, Swings, Infant Carriers, And Infant Slings, Are Not Recommended For Routine Sleep In The Hospital Or At Home, Particularly For Infants Younger Than 4 Months. – AAP

 

What If The Baby Falls Sleep In Its Car Seat?

Many babies fall asleep in their car seats, but as soon as you get the chance, the baby should be moved to a flat-lying position.

If your baby has been sleeping for most of your trip, it may be even more important for you to take frequent breaks.

Sleeping In The Car Seat Is Actually The Most Dangerous Time For Your Baby, As They Can Slump Down And Restrict Their Own Breathing.

Moving your baby to a flat-lying position when sleeping is better for their spine and their breathing and heart rate.

Also consider what plans you have for your baby’s sleep at night throughout your trip. You should never allow your baby to sleep in their car seat in a hotel room or at home.

Only use car seats in the car when the car is moving. Other uses are not safe for the baby.

Over half of the infant deaths that occur in reclined sleeping devices happen in car seats.

Bottom line—if your question is, “At what age does the 2-hour car seat rule end?” The answer to that is more about the baby’s ability to sit correctly than age.

 

Buy The Appropriate Car Seat.

There are different types of car seats on the market. They are designed to be age, weight, and height specific.

Again, a suitable car seat is rear-facing. Read more on best choices here >

 

 

 

How Long Should I Keep My Child In A Rear-Facing Car Seat?

For at least two years, according to the AAP guidelines.

 

Important Child Safety Seat Reminders For Parents

As children grow, so do their restraint types (rear- facing, forward-facing, booster seat, or seat belt). Always use the one that fits your child’s current age and size.

Use the NHTSA Car Seat Finder located here > 

Every car and every car seat or booster seat has different installation instructions, so make sure you read both the car seat instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual.
Remember that children in rear-facing seats should never be placed in front of an active passenger air bag.

Use either the lower anchors and tether, or the seat belt and tether when installing forward-facing seats.

To get assistance with installation, find a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST) at a location near you using NHTSA’s Inspection Station locator.

For Escambia County >

For Santa Rosa County >

For Okaloosa County >

For Walton County >

For Miami-Dade >

Remember to register your car seat or booster seat so you can be notified in the event of a safety recall.

Plan to use car seats or booster seats when traveling and riding in taxis or ride-share vehicles.

Find out when your child is ready to use an adult seat belt, reference the “Car Seat Recommendations for Children”. Be sure to read the information for Booster Seat and Seat Belt Use.

Keep children in the back seat until at least age 13. It’s the safest place to ride.

— NHTSA’s Research and Program Development

 

Avoid Long Journeys

Parents and caregivers are advised to avoid planning long trips until their baby is ready to withstand traveling for long hours. Besides long-distance travel, traffic in your city must be factored in to keep away from being stuck in one with a newborn baby in the car.

When long journeys are unavoidable, breaks should be scheduled in between hours to give the infant child a chance to relax before continuing with the trip.

Bottom line – Infant car seats should only be used in the vehicle.

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While Traveling In Florida

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries – no matter how minor you think they might be.

 

GET MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT HERE AT 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.

If your child has been injured in a car 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.safekids.org/blog/5-tips-new-parents-during-baby-safety-monthhttps://momvanup.com/the-2-hour-car-seat-rule-when-does-it-end/

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20190520/putting-your-child-to-sleep-in-a-car-seat-is-risky

2 Hour Rule

https://www.momnewsdaily.com/family/2-hour-car-seat-rule-all-you-need-to-know/

https://www.safekids.org/blog/5-tips-new-parents-during-baby-safety-month

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/best-infant-car-seat#our-pickshttps://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2022/american-academy-of-pediatrics-updates-safe-sleep-recommendations-back-is-best/

Dangers Of Drowsy Driving In Florida.

We are all familiar with the hazards of drinking and driving or even texting and driving, but many people underestimate the dangers of drowsy driving. Each year, drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 car crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Drowsy driving contributes to an estimated 9.5% of all car accidents, according to AAA.

 

Florida’s Ronshay Dugans Act

In the state of Florida, in partnership with the Florida Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), September 5-11 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

On September 5, 2008, 8-year-old Ronshay Dugans lost her life after a cement truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit the school bus she was riding. Florida’s Ronshay Dugans Act was established in 2010 by the Florida Legislature, recognizing the first week in September as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in her honor.

“I pray that Drowsy Driving Prevention Week brings awareness to anyone who gets behind the wheel that didn’t get enough sleep. This week brings comfort to us letting us know Ronshay’s spirit lives on when someone hears her story. If you have to turn the air up or drink coffee to stay awake, this is a sign of drowsy driving. Our family is asking motorists this week, and every week, to rest before traveling and if you are sleepy, utilize rest stops.”
–Josie West, aunt of Ronshay Dugans

 

FLHSMV ESTIMATES THAT
3,991 REPORTED CAR CRASHES IN FLORIDA
INVOLVED DROWSY DRIVERS LAST YEAR.

 

Drowsy Driving Laws In America

Only two states (Arkansas and New Jersey) have laws directly classifying drowsy driving as a punishable offense.

California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, and Maine have adopted driver’s license restrictions for motorists with untreated sleep disorders.

Massachusetts, California, Alabama, Florida, and Texas all have weeks or days dedicated to spreading awareness of drowsy driving and how to identify the signs of driving while drowsy.

For more information on drowsy driving state laws, consult the full list of legal resources available at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

Drowsy Driving Vs. Drunk Driving

Studies show being awake for more than 20 hours results in impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, the legal limit in all US states.

Drowsy driving killed 795 people in 2017.
In 2017, nearly 2,000 people died in alcohol-related accidents.

Even if you aren’t drunk, driving while tired can slow your reaction times and thought processes enough to cause a car accident.

 

How Often Do People Drive While Drowsy?

About 27% of drivers report driving while being so tired they have difficulty keeping their eyes open (AAA)

1 In 25 Drivers Admit To Falling Asleep Behind The Wheel (CDC)

 

47% OF THOSE WHO HAVE
DID SO ON A TRIP
LASTING ONE HOUR
OR LESS (NHTSA)

 

When Does Drowsy Driving Happen?

Most drowsy driving crashes occur between midnight and 6am or later on in the afternoon when the body regulates sleep (NHTSA)

Drowsy driving crashes often only involve a single passenger running off the road (NHTSA)

Drowsy driving crashes are more common on highways and rural roads (NHTSA)

 

Drowsy Driving Behavior By Length Of Drive

Respondents explain when they’ve ever displayed these drowsy driving behaviors.

 

Driver Fatigue Warning Signs

Specific drowsiness indicators signal that you should refrain from driving until you have had more sleep. However, driver fatigue may not always show itself in the same form, making it harder for some to detect.

Key warning signs of drowsy driving include:
1. You can’t seem to keep your eyes focused.
2. You can’t keep your eyes open and keep blinking.
3. Your head suddenly feels unbearably heavy.

These symptoms are particularly dangerous because they are so common, but it is critical that you do not ignore your body’s signals that it is tired.

 

Who Are The At-Risk Groups For Drowsy Driving Car Accidents In Florida?

Drowsy driving can happen to anyone, but it does affect some groups more than others.

These drivers that are at a higher risk of drowsy driving include:

Young And Inexperienced Drivers
Teens and young drivers have had less time on the road, so their skills are not developed behind the wheel. Younger drivers are also more likely to drive during late hours for work or social reasons, making them more susceptible to drowsy driving.

Shift Workers And Those With Extended Hours
Shift and night workers are often subject to long hours on the clock, and when it comes time to clock out, they are typically exhausted. A long drive home is the last thing they need, but many still trudge to their cars out of obligation and routine anyway. Those who work night, rotating, or double shifts have six times the risk of drowsy driving than other types of workers. Professionals who often work grueling shifts can include doctors, nurses, pilots, police officers and firefighters.

Commercial Drivers|
Those who drive for a living put more miles on the road than the average commuter. Commercial drivers are also at much higher risk of drowsy driving, given the long hours and unforgiving deadlines that many commercial drivers face.

Business Travelers
Those who travel the country regularly for business are at particular risk of drowsy driving, as they are often subjected to jet lag, changing time zones as often as ZIP codes. If you travel extensively for work, it can be challenging to get enough sleep to be safe on the road.

People With Sleep Conditions
Drowsy driving can be an everyday battle for drivers with sleep disorders. Narcolepsy or insomnia can leave some drivers feeling depleted and tired during the day, while those with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are categorically more at-risk of drowsy driving. Some medications can also be counter-effective, making drivers sleepy when they need to be focused behind the wheel.

 

The Consequences Of Drowsy Driving In Florida

The most expensive cost of drowsy driving is the human toll that it takes each year. With over 100,000 crashes attributed to drowsy driving, future accidents can easily be avoided with just a little effort.

The consequences of drowsy driving in Florida can be pretty severe. Assuming you survive your car accident in Florida, you could still walk away with significant injuries that could require months or even years of medical care. You could also suffer from long-lasting cognitive or physical impairments that can impact your performance and physical health.

In an August 2016 report, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates that the annual societal cost of drowsy driving is $109 billion. Additionally, the study notes that property damages are not even included in this cost.

 

Prevention: How To Stay Awake While Driving In Florida

1. Drive at times you are usually awake.
2. Take your time and don’t rush to get to your destination.
3. Eat a low-sugar, healthy diet before your drive.
4. Take energy-boosting vitamins.
5. Drink caffeine.
6. If you are sleepy, a 100-calorie snack may wake you up.
7. If you can’t make it, a 20-minute nap should suffice. That’s what rest stops are for!

“You can’t control what other drivers do, but you can control being drowsy behind the wheel,” said Michele Harris, Florida Public Affairs Director for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Take steps to stay alert because it could save your life as well as the lives of innocent motorists.”

 

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While Traveling In Florida

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries – no matter how minor you think they might be.

Get more helpful information on what to do after an accident here at our “Car Wreck Checklist” >

 

About Zarzaur Law, P.A.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, MedicalMalpractice, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more.

Licensed in Alabama and Florida. www.zarzaurlaw.com

Offices in Pensacola, Destin, Miami and Tallahassee

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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLHSMV/bulletins/32b01c0

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/drowsy-driving/drowsy-driving-vs-drunk-driving

https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving

https://www.thezebra.com/resources/research/drowsy-driving-statistics/

https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/car/drowsy-driving-statistics/

The Prevalence and Impact of Drowsy Driving

Zarzaur Law, P.A. Announces Sponsorship Of Ride 4 Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ronald McDonald House CharitiesPENSACOLA, Fla. (August 26, 2022) — Zarzaur Law, P.A., an award-winning personal injury firm based out of Pensacola, Florida, is pleased to announce its support and sponsorship of the “Ride 4 RMH” fundraiser ride.

The team ride, led by cyclist and triathlete Christopher Anderson, will travel from the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida location in Pensacola to the Ronald McDonald House of Houston, Texas. The ride that will take the team across four states begins November 1, 2022 and lasts seven to eight days.

The ride will cover 583 miles and will not only be a fundraising effort but also an effort to raise awareness and support for the organization and its mission.

The ride also has a personal meaning for Anderson. “I am drawn to the Ronald McDonald House Charities due to my daughter’s early life experiences. She was born with heart issues that required her to have open heart surgery at six months old. The expert in infant heart conditions in this area is the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. After Shelby’s surgery, our family needed to stay in Houston for two months. Our family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston for those two months for free, allowing us to focus on our daughter’s recovery and not the overwhelming cost. ”

All the funds raised will go back to the Northwest Florida and Houston Ronald McDonald House Charity locations.

Follow Their Journey Here >

———————————      ###

About Zarzaur Law, P.A.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, MedicalMalpractice, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more.

Licensed in Alabama and Florida. www.zarzaurlaw.com

Offices in Pensacola, Destin, Miami and Tallahassee

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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities is to love and support families of children with medical needs by giving them a place to call home.

We believe when families are together, they cope better. We believe no family should have to deal with their child’s medical crisis alone. And that was the beginning of our unique role as a children’s charity, enabling, supporting, and facilitating family-centered care. https://rmhc-nwfl.org https://rmhhouston.org

Alex Jones Trial: Lessons Learned About E-Discovery

Mobile phones have played a supporting role in eDiscovery in civil cases, while testimonials and data from laptops, social media, and emails have provided more concrete evidence used to defend and try cases.

Over the years, there has been a significant shift in legal matters involving discovery and, more specifically, eDiscovery. Mobile phones and text messages have become an integral part of the litigation process. However, there is so much personal data that could be a liability if produced without going through the proper discovery process.

Alex Jones Legal Team Critical Errors

Making crucial errors in eDiscovery can prove detrimental to both lawyers and their clients. There is no better example of this than in the case of the Sandy Hook parents, who won a $49.3 million judgment, including $45.2 million in punitive damages, against Alex Jones, the InfoWars founder, and commentator.

Alex Jones was ordered to pay $4.1 Million in compensatory damages to Sandy Hook parents and $45 million in punitive damages for claiming the massacre was staged.

Alex Jones’ lawyers accidentally turned over an electronic file containing approximately two years of text messages to trial evidence. Jones’ attorneys inadvertently gave the parents’ lawyer, Mark Bankston, the entire digital copy of Alex Jones’ mobile phone with every text message that had been sent for the past two years. 

What Does ‘eDiscovery’ Mean In Law?

Electronic discovery, also called e-discovery, is the process of obtaining and exchanging evidence in a legal case or investigation. E-discovery is used in the initial phases of litigation when involved parties are required to provide relevant records and evidence related to a case.

How Does The E-Discovery Process Work?

The process of discovery begins when a lawsuit appears imminent and ends when digital evidence is presented in court. Attorneys from both sides will determine the scope of e-discovery. The following is a simple description of the e-discovery process:

Identification.
ESI is identified by attorneys. E-discovery requests and challenges are made.

Preservation.
Data that is identified as potentially relevant is placed under legal hold so it cannot be destroyed. Failure to preserve data will lead to sanctions and fines if the lost data puts the defense at a disadvantage.

Collection.
Data is transferred from a company to legal counsel. The legal counsel determines the data’s relevance.

Processing.
Files are loaded onto a review platform. Data is usually converted into a PDF (Portable Document Format) or TIFF (Tag Image File Format) for court.

Review.
The review process assesses documents for privilege and responsiveness to discovery requests.

Production. Documents are exchanged with opposing counsel.

Legal Issues With E-Discovery

E-discovery is an evolving field that goes far beyond just technology. It can give rise to many legal, constitutional, political, security, and personal data privacy issues.

Proper E-Discovery Requires A Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert

An experienced Board Certified Professional will produce the correct document files, reviewed by the legal team, and ready for trial.

Alex Jones, Trial Lawyer, is a good example of what NOT to do for your client. It was unfortunate and entirely preventable.

A competent attorney should be able to know how to acquire, review, and produce the correct records without compromising the client’s privacy. Florida law recognizes a right to privacy, and courts are supposed to weigh and balance the competing interests in protecting personal information with the need to discover relevant evidence—evidence that could be critical in determining fault.

Make sure you hire a board-certified civil trial lawyer for your personal injury case. Only about 1% of Florida lawyers are board certified and only a handful of lawyers have the same board certifications as Mr. Zarzaur. 

The firm also has attorneys who are AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell & have been named Florida Super Lawyers®

Watch Our Video On This Topic >

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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/electronic-discovery-e-discovery-or-ediscovery

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/alex-jones-lawyers-accidentally-leak-years-emails-infowars-financial-d-rcna41378

Pensacola Among Top Fatal Pedestrian Crash Hot Spots.

According to the Journal of Transport and Land Use, Pensacola has been named among the top cities with fatal pedestrian crashes and one of the top cities in the country for fatal pedestrian crash hot spots.

These statistics are no surprise to Zarzaur Law, P.A. Our firm has seen a dramatic increase in calls to our office in regards to accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians. Pedestrian fatalities made up 22% of the total traffic crash-related fatalities throughout Florida in 2021, resulting in 817 deaths. 

Car and truck crashes continue to be a major public safety issue in Pensacola and the rest of Escambia County.

2021 reports show that Escambia County is among the top 25 Florida counties for pedestrian accidents.

 

In March of 2022 alone, four people were killed crossing Escambia County roads in one weekend, which has prompted The Florida Highway to work even closer with the Florida Department of Transportation to find a way to help combat this issue, specifically in Escambia County.

Some of those changes include upgrading the standard yellow pedestrian crosswalk signs to a brighter, more visible color.

In July 2022, A woman was crossing West Cervantes Street near “S” Street at about 4 p.m. when she was hit by a car traveling westbound, according to the Pensacola Police Department. The woman sustained serious injuries.

Pedestrian safety improvements are currently being made after several fatalities in recent years. In fact, 31 accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians (and cyclists) have occurred between 2012 and 2018.

Pedestrian fatalities are becoming more common in the United States and Florida, according to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The report crunched numbers from just the first half of 2021 and found a roughly 31% increase in pedestrian fatalities in Florida. Altogether, the state saw 444 pedestrian deaths in that time frame, which was the second-highest count in the country behind California.

Florida did, however, see the greatest difference in deaths between that period in 2020 and 2021.

The most dangerous streets for pedestrians are in Florida, followed by Alabama, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Delaware. Florida has seven of the 10 most dangerous metro areas, with Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford bearing the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous in the US.

Dangerous Pensacola intersections: Jackson Street between A street and Fairfield Drive

The roughly 5.5-mile corridor traverses a diverse and predominantly residential community between A Street and Fairfield Drive, connecting downtown Pensacola and the western portion of Escambia County. A lack of sidewalks, safe crossings, and dedicated bike facilities makes traveling the corridor challenging for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Jay Aber, a WSP senior transportation engineer and planner of the proposed Jackson Street improvement project , said one-third of accidents along West Jackson Street involved pedestrians and cyclists. Dangerous intersections include A Street, Fairfield Drive, New Warrington Road, Old Corry Field Road, Pace Boulevard, 57th and 65th.

Proposed improvements will complement the existing communities and address safety, mobility, and sustainable, long-term economic redevelopment.

Dangerous Pensacola intersections: West Cervantes Street Corridor.

A similar project to curb accidents in the West Cervantes Street corridor is underway. Planned improvements along West Cervantes Street include constructing seven lighted mid-block crosswalks, ADA-compliant ramps, and a wider multi-use path. New traffic signals will be added at four intersections, and existing signals will be enhanced with upgraded pedestrian features.

Vehicle lane widths will be reduced, and the speed limit will be lowered to 30 mph. A raised center median with a low barrier and designated openings for pedestrians at selected locations will be constructed within the project limits. The project also includes enhanced lighting, landscaping, and irrigation improvements. In addition, crews will mill and resurface the roadway where median and signal work are performed.

All of these projects are an effort to curb the continued rise in pedestrian deaths in Escambia County.

To request traffic calming measures with Escambia County, go here >

The Causes of Pedestrian Accidents:

Many factors are involved in the rising number of pedestrian accidents in Florida. Especially considering the population, the urban design, and the number of people who walk to work, school, beaches, and other places daily. The street culture of Florida also has many people who are running, cycling, skating, or simply walking through busy streets for work, school, and other purposes; and who are most at risk for pedestrian accidents every day.

The causes of these accidents include, but are not limited to:

    •  Over-speeding on behalf of drivers 
    • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • Negligence while driving
    • Distracted drivers on cellphones or other in car devices
    • Careless pedestrians neglecting public safety
    • Breaking traffic rules at intersections and traffic signals by both drivers and pedestrians

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

SAFETY TIPS FOR PEDESTRIANS

1. Be safe and seen: make yourself visible to drivers.

2. Be smart and alert: avoid dangerous behavior.

– stay sober

– walk on sidewalks

– don’t assume vehicles will stop

– don’t rely solely on pedestrian signals, be alert to engine sounds and backup lights

3.  Look before you step!

– look both ways

– don’t wear headphones

– cross streets at marked cross walks

SAFETY TIPS FOR DRIVERS

Be Alert and Watch for Pedestrians:

1. Scan the road and the sides of the road ahead for potential pedestrians or bicyclists.

2. Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians crossing or bicyclists coming up the road.

3. Never drive while distracted or after using alcohol or other drugs.

4. Do not use your cell phone while driving.

5. Look carefully behind your vehicle for approaching pedestrians, especially small children, before backing-up.

6. Keep your windshield clean and your headlights turned on for maximum visibility.

 

Be Responsible and Yield to Pedestrians at Crossings:

1. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, whether they are marked or not.

2. When making a right or left turn at an intersection, yield to pedestrians.

3. Do not block or park in crosswalks.

4. Be Patient: Maintain a safe speed and avoid aggressive maneuvers.

5. Never pass/overtake a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.

6. Follow speed limits and stop completely at STOP signs.

7. Use extra caution when driving near children playing along the street or older pedestrians who may not see or hear you.

8. Be prepared to stop for pedestrians at all times.

 

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 your family member has been the victim of an auto vs pedestrian 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.cnu.org/publicsquare/2021/03/15/sunbelt-leads-pedestrian-deaths

https://weartv.com/news/local/4-pedestrian-fatalities-over-weekend-prompts-florida-highway-patrol-to-combat-issue

US pedestrian deaths are reaching a new high

Reimagine Safety

https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/driving-tampa-bay-forward/florida-ranks-2nd-for-pedestrian-deaths-in-us-for-part-of-2021-local-group-advocates-for-solutions

https://www.route-fifty.com/infrastructure/2022/07/deadliest-us-metro-areas-pedestrians/374107/

https://jtlu.org/index.php/jtlu/article/view/1825

https://www.vox.com/23178764/florida-us19-deadliest-pedestrian-fatality-crisis

https://www.ghsa.org/resources/Pedestrians22

https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2022-05/Pedestiran%20Traffic%20Fatalities%20by%20State%20-%202021%20Preliminary%20Data.pdf

https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/

https://www.yahoo.com/now/escambia-among-top-25-florida-120231002.html

Don’t Sign A Release After Your Car Accident Until You Speak With A Lawyer

Courtesy of AllLaw.com

If you’re involved in a car accident and you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses, the car insurance company of the driver who was responsible for causing the wreck may contact you to try and settle the claim.

Your first reaction to a settlement offer may be a relief. Now you’ll get money to pay for your medical bills, and to get your car fixed and back on the road, all without having to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit.

But don’t get too carried away, because you’ll also have to sign a document called a “release” before the car insurance company sends you any money.

What exactly is a release and what is the legal impact of signing one?

If the car insurance company offers to settle your accident claim, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before signing the all-important release.

There Are Two Types Of Releases:

1. Property Damage Release-Car Damage

2. BI Release-Bodily Injury

What Is a Release?

A release is a legal document in which an individual agrees to give up, or release, certain legal rights. A release is also sometimes called a waiver. The purpose of the release is to end a legal matter (such as a civil lawsuit) and allow the parties to move on.

In the case of car accident claims or lawsuits, a person who signs the release gives up the right to sue certain individuals or entities as they relate to the specific accident. This means, if you sign a release from the other driver’s car insurance company, you will shield the insurer and its driver from any further legal action arising from the accident. In return, you’ll receive a settlement check.

Bodily Injury Settlement

In the typical settlement of a bodily injury claim, the injured person receives money as compensation for their injury. In return, the injured person agrees to release the paying party from further liability for that injury and to terminate any lawsuit that has been filed seeking damages.

Bodily Injury Release

The release agreement is actually a contract that eliminates all claims of the injured party as to the parties released. It is critical to have an experienced personal injury attorney evaluate the full extent of your injuries. This forever ends your injury claim.

Diminished Value

Florida is a “diminished value” state, which means you may be entitled to the diminished value of your vehicle after an auto accident. “Diminished Value” is the loss in market value that occurs when a vehicle is wrecked and repaired.

Things To Consider Before Signing A Release:

When you receive the release from the car insurance company, do not sign it until you have taken the following five things into consideration.

1. Consult an attorney about your claim and go over the release.

Not only will an experienced attorney be able to explain exactly what the release says and answer any questions you may have, but there may be certain legal rights you aren’t aware of that will vanish if you sign the release. Your attorney will point these out for you.

For example, let’s say you confirmed with your doctor that the car insurance company’s settlement amount is enough to pay for all your medical bills. But you may have valid claims for other losses that you may have overlooked or failed to consider, such as lost wages or pain and suffering. You won’t know for sure unless you have an attorney review the release and ask you the right questions.

2. Before signing the release, obtain permission from your car insurance company.

You may need your car insurance company’s permission before signing the release. This is due to a legal concept called subrogation, which is very important in car accident cases, especially underinsured motorist cases. Here’s how it works.

Imagine you’re involved in a car accident with another driver whose car insurance policy limits aren’t enough to fully compensate you for your losses. If you have underinsured motorist coverage, your car insurance company should make up the difference, up to your UIM limits. Your car insurance company will then use the subrogation provision in your car insurance policy to recover (or, more realistically, attempt to recover) the difference directly from the other driver.

Subrogation is how your car insurance company uses your legal right to pursue the other driver for reimbursement for the underinsured coverage payment it just made to you.

However, should you sign a release without your car insurance company’s permission, your car insurance company’s ability to go after the other driver is now gone? As a result, your insurance company may try to deny your underinsured motorist coverage claim.

3. Make Sure You Understand What You’re Signing.

Legal documents can be intimidating, and you may feel like there’s no point in reading the release if you won’t be able to understand it. However, you will probably understand more of it than you might think, especially the most important terms, such as the settlement amount and the details of the settlement payment.

Additionally, don’t take the word of the car insurance company’s representative as to what the terms of the release are. Always check it over yourself to make sure there are no misunderstandings.

4. Ensure that the settlement funds cover all injuries and damages.

Just because you feel fine and all your medical bills are fully covered by the settlement check, doesn’t mean you have been fully compensated. Many injuries from car accidents aren’t discovered until a period of time after the crash. The last thing you want to do is agree to a settlement of $20,000 for medical bills when a month later it turns out you need another $10,000 in medical treatment for injuries that have only recently presented symptoms.

 

REMEMBER THAT ONCE YOU SIGN THE RELEASE, YOU CAN’T GET ANYTHING ELSE FROM THE OTHER DRIVER OR THE OTHER DRIVER’S CAR INSURANCE COMPANY.

 

5. Determine if anyone else could be responsible for the accident.

This tends to be an issue when more than one person or entity is responsible for the accident. For instance, let’s say you have a release that only applies to a commercial truck driver that hit you. The settlement amount isn’t enough to fully compensate you, but you’re not sure if you should reject the release and file a lawsuit to try to recover the full amount. If it turns out that you have legal claims against the commercial truck driver’s employer and another individual driver, you might be more willing to sign the release.

The decision to sign the release will depend on a variety of factors and circumstances. Make sure you have the whole picture before you make your decision.

Watch Our Video On This Topic >

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’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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/before-you-sign-a-release-in-your-car-accident-settlement.html

https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/auto-accident/settlement-before-signing-release-5-things.html