Tag Archives: Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

EMC Is Defined As:

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

(a) Serious jeopardy to patient health.

(b) Serious impairment to bodily functions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Injuries And Medical Bills

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

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

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

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

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

Big Truck Wrecks, Why Are These Cases So Different?

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

Big Truck Insurance Company’s Accident Response

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

Big Truck Insurance Company Investigation

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

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


WHAT CAUSES MOST TRUCK ACCIDENTS?

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


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

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

Witnesses and Video Evidence

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

Five Must-Know Facts About Truck Accidents

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

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

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >


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


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

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

Sources:

Car Wreck Checklist

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

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

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

24 Disturbing Truck Accident Statistics (2022 Edition)

Women’s History Month: Belva Lockwood – First Woman Admitted To The Bar Of The U.S. Supreme Court.

Belva Lockwood - First Woman Admitted To The Bar Of The U.S. Supreme CourtArticle Courtesy of National Archives © 2005 by Jill Norgren

In the years just after the Civil War, as women began joining the legal profession, only a handful of spirited applicants succeeded in breaking through the cultural barriers that made it difficult to train for the law or win bar membership. The law was still the domain of men. Most Americans felt that professional work “unsexed” or degraded women. Female brains, it was thought, were unfit for the strain of mental exercise. The hostility toward women with professional aspirations was so great that only the very brave pushed ahead.

Perhaps The Bravest Was Belva A. Lockwood.

At birth Belva Lockwood had neither wealth and social standing nor the promise of a fine education. But eventually she would personally extract her law degree from the President of the United States, become the first woman admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, and become a leader in the woman suffrage movement in the late nineteenth century.

Belva Lockwood was born on October 24, 1830, in the Niagara County town of Royalton, New York, the second daughter, and second of five children, of farmers Lewis J. and Hannah Bennett. Belva was self-made: she invented herself as a middle-class professional woman. By the end of the 19th century, after she had successfully lobbied for legislation to open the U.S. Supreme Court bar to qualified women lawyers and twice run as the presidential candidate of the Equal Rights Party, she had become one of the most well-known women in America.

Leader In Equal Opportunity For Women

Belva Lockwood was a self-assured woman who exuded ego. She insisted on the right to prove herself, and she adopted bold positions in support of equal opportunity for women. At 22 she was widowed and left with a 3-year-old daughter. Refusing the traditional dependency of a widow, she separated from this child for nearly three years in order to attend college. Armed with her degree, she reclaimed her daughter and taught school in New York State before moving in 1866 to Washington, D.C. In the capital, she married Ezekiel Lockwood, an elderly war veteran with whom she had another daughter, a child who died before her second birthday. Belva Lockwood soon found herself the primary breadwinner as her husband’s health failed. She later wrote life’s hard lessons into her public talks, repeatedly urging men and women to support the schooling of girls so they would not be dependent on others. Occasionally, she went so far as to say that women should not be permitted to marry before they could support a family.

Law Degree Obtained – Despite Opposition 

Belva Lockwood rejected dependency, for herself and for other women, and did not hesitate to confront the male establishment that kept women from voting and from professional advancement. She began practicing law in Washington only after fending off the “growl” of the young men of the National University Law School, who declared they would not graduate with a woman, and wringing her law school degree from the hands of President Ulysses S. Grant, the institution’s ex officio head, in 1873.

First Women Admitted To Supreme Court Bar

Three years later, in 1876, when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to admit her to its bar, stating, “none but men are permitted to practice before [us] as attorneys and counselors,” she single-handedly lobbied Congress until that body passed “An Act to relieve certain legal disabilities of women,” an effort that a reporter described as having required “an unconscionable deal of lobbying.” Belva Lockwood agreed, writing later that to succeed, “nothing was too daring for me to attempt.” On March 3, 1879, on the motion of Washington attorney Albert G. Riddle, who had long been her champion, she became the first woman admitted to the Supreme Court bar, sworn in amidst “a bating of breath and craning of necks.” A year later, she argued Kaiser v. Stickney before the high court, the first woman lawyer to do so.

Run For Presidency

In 1884 Belva Lockwood turned heads again when she became the first woman to run a full-fledged campaign for the presidency of the United States. Her third-party candidacy startled the country and vexed other suffrage leaders, some of whom thought her a “Barnum.” She believed that her bid for the presidency would help women gain the right to vote and to be accepted into partisan politics. She could not vote, she told reporters, but nothing in the Constitution prevented men from voting for her. She outlined a 12-point platform, later refined and presented as 15 positions on a broad range of policy issues including foreign affairs, tariffs, equal political rights, civil service reform, judicial appointments, Native Americans, protection of public lands, temperance, pensions, and the federalization of family law.

Local newspapers and the national press loved the story of a lady candidate. Puck, a mass circulation weekly known for its satiric cartoons, put “Belva” on one of its covers along with Greenback Party candidate Ben Butler. Belva Lockwood financed her campaign by arranging to give paid speeches and even tried to arrange a debate with Grover Cleveland and James Blaine, the Democratic and Republican party candidates. She won fewer than 5,000 votes but was not discouraged. When she ran for the presidency for a second time in 1888, she told reporters, “Men always say, ‘Let’s see what you can do.’ If we always talk and never work we will not accomplish anything.” In an interview with a British journalist after the election, she argued that her second poor showing could be attributed to men who cling to “old ideas, developed in the days of chivalry” and rich, petted women. But she remained optimistic, saying, “After all, equality of rights and privileges is but simple justice.”

Stepping Stone To Greatness

Belva Lockwood had tremendous drive and the support of Ezekiel, her husband, who approved of her desire to rise in the world. She loved the fact that law was a man’s game and believed that it could be “a stepping stone to greatness.”

Belva Lockwood opened a small law office out of her home even before she was admitted to the D.C. bar. Initially, she worked alongside Ezekiel. 

Until 1875 the Lockwoods ran Belva’s practice out of their rooms at the Union League Hall in downtown Washington. Living there provided a convenient and inexpensive, if modest, home and office. The Union League was near the federal agencies where the Lockwoods filed their clients’ papers as well as the buildings that housed the District of Columbia courts. One of these was the local police court, whose sessions were convened at an old Unitarian church located at the corner of D and Sixth Streets, NW, three blocks from their rooms. Here people who otherwise knew Belva as an activist first took their measure of her as an apprentice attorney.

Police court proceedings provided the sleepy capital city with colorful diversion. In the early morning, people would gather at the old church building, waiting for the day’s session to begin. With a police force of 200 there were plenty of arrests—12,000 in 1873. Judge William B. Snell presided, hearing cases of drunkenness, stealing, swearing, and fighting. Although it was the last place to expect a proper middle-class woman, Lockwood had no qualms about entering Snell’s courtroom, perhaps because he welcomed her presence. While still in law school, in September of 1871, she had made her professional debut in front of him, when she won a reduction of sentence for an acquaintance who had been charged with drunkenness.

Solo Practitioner

Minor police cases, probate work, and pension claims provided sufficient business that in 1873 Lura McNall, Belva Lockwood’s surviving daughter, could advertise her mother’s apparent success in her Lockport Daily Journal news column: “The lady lawyer of Washington has quite an extensive practice, and a branch business and a lady partner in Baltimore.” Two months later Lura, well-schooled by her mother in public relations, wrote that this success “now seems beyond controversy as her office is daily and hourly filled with clients.” Against all odds, Belva Lockwood had established herself as a solo practitioner.

dc-police-court.jpg
The District of Columbia Police Court at D
and Sixth Streets, NW. (Library of Congress)

The Lockwood law office drew a multiracial clientele of laborers, painters, maids, tradesmen, veterans, and owners of small real estate properties. The fact that Lockwood’s clients were largely working class undoubtedly helped in her success. As a woman, she would not have been able, in the words of a female colleague, to make “an extensive acquaintance among business men in an easy, off-hand way, as male attorneys make it in clubs and business and public places.” But if these male networks were denied to her, other channels existed, and she clearly used them to scout for clients. She represented people in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia and was always ready to travel longer distances. In August 1874 the Washington Evening Star reported that she had legal business in the Southwest: “Mrs. Lockwood, the lawyeress, leaves for Texas tomorrow, to be absent some forty days for the purpose of settling up the estate of the late Judge John C. Watrous, of that state, who died some two months ago in Baltimore. Judge Watrous was a large landed proprietor in southwestern Texas.”

A Full Practice

Belva Lockwood’s goal was a competitive Washington-based legal practice. Initially, after her September 1873 admission to the District bar, she accepted cases that brought her before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. Scholar Jeffrey Morris has described this court created by Congress as “an unusual hybrid” that was given most of the trial and appeals authority of other federal courts, while also hearing criminal and civil cases that elsewhere in America came before state and local courts. In her first year of licensed practice, she appeared nearly exclusively as plaintiff’s attorney in the law or the equity division of this court, a pattern that maintained itself to a lesser degree from 1874 to 1885.

Between 1873 and 1885 she was recorded as attorney in 100 equity court proceedings, while in the same period 75 law division listings carried her name. Half of her courtroom equity work involved divorce actions. As a woman attorney, she attracted female clients and represented wives as complainants against defendant-husbands. When she represented men in divorce actions, they were complainants, never defendants. After divorce actions, her most frequent equity work involved injunction proceedings, lunacy commitments, and actions requesting the partition of land. Much of her civil law work did not bring her to court and is not recorded in docket books. But like the other storefront lawyers of her day, in order to stay solvent, Lockwood worked up untold numbers of bills of sale, deeds, and wills.

The postbellum emphasis on gentility made the thought of women working in the criminal courts egregious, even loathsome. Society’s morally repugnant dramas played out in criminal court, a place off-bounds to ladies. Lockwood could have refused criminal cases. Yet, despite her religious rectitude and middle-class aspirations, criminal cases and criminal court argument were as acceptable to her as any other kind of legal work. It is not difficult to imagine this no-nonsense woman facing the judge in a room teeming with people, many of them down on their luck, charged with drunkenness or simple assault. Nor is it difficult to contemplate why the poor and the unfortunate had to accept representation by an inexperienced, woman lawyer. But Lockwood cut a sharp figure and was blessed with a quick mind and tongue. By 1875 she had begun to attract clients charged with more serious crimes, representation that brought her before the judges of the criminal division of the D.C. Supreme Court.

From 1875 to 1885 Belva represented at least 69 criminal defendants in this court. They were charged with virtually every category of crime from mail fraud and forgery to burglary and murder. She won “not guilty” decisions in 15 jury trials and submitted guilty pleas in 9. Thirty-one of her clients were judged guilty as charged, while five others were found to be guilty of a lesser charge. An entry of nolle prosequi (termination of the proceedings by the prosecutor) ended four cases. She won retrials for several others. She handled most of these cases on her own with only an occasional male co-counsel.

A House on Washington’s F Street

In 1875 the Lockwood family took rooms in a house at 512 10th Street, a block from the League Building and two doors down from the residence into which the mortally wounded Abraham Lincoln had been brought from Ford’s Theater. She conducted business in one or two of these rooms with Lura and Ezekiel nearby. Although increasingly frail, her husband continued to work as a notary public. His name and seal appear on many of the legal documents filed by his wife up through the month of his death in 1877.

Ezekiel died on April 25, in the midst of much legal business. The widow grieved but did not adopt deep mourning. Five days after his death, she was at her desk petitioning, by letter, for correction of an error in the assessment of a client’s taxes. Three months, later she purchased the house in which they had been living. The property at 619 F Street, NW, described by one visitor as “a very fine house,” cost slightly more than $13,000.

Lockwood bought the F Street house as a statement of now her solid middle-class professional status. Although it was not fancy, the 20-room house made an impression on visitors. In American Court Gossip, Mrs. E. N. Chapin told her readers that the lady lawyer’s brick home had nicely furnished parlours “with several good paintings to add their tribute to the lady’s taste.” Heavily mortgaged, it was undeniably a risky venture. But the purchase made good business sense. The building would be a home, a boarding house, an office, and a long-term investment. She would use the property as collateral on loans and business deals.

Belva’s daughter, Lura, and her niece, Clara Bennett, played important roles as Lockwood’s legal assistants. Lura’s life was tied tightly to that of her mother. She and her husband, Deforest Payson Ormes, lived at F Street, and she died there at age 44. Lura began clerking for Belva in 1873, one of several women and at least one man who, in the 1870s and 1880s, worked or studied with Belva for periods ranging from a few months to several years.

Sometimes Lockwood combined the business of law and the business of running a boarding house. In the summer of 1877, veteran James Kelly came to her law office hoping for help with a pension and a bounty claim. Kelly had been in the army since the 1850s, moving about the country. His wife was dead, and he had recently sent for his two daughters, who had been left in California in the care of Catholic nuns. The girls, Elizabeth and Rebecca, came east only to witness their father’s mental and physical collapse. By 1879 he required care in the Soldiers’ Home, and in February 1880 Kelly was “adjudged a lunatic.” A month later the court appointed Lockwood “committee of the estate” with power to collect and receive the pension money due him from the government. She was charged with the responsibility of furnishing him with necessities and of looking after his two daughters.

The Kelly daughters had come under Lockwood’s care even before her appointment as guardian, when James asked that she watch over and keep them from the streets. Rebecca arrived at F Street in January of 1880 and in court papers was described as 16. Lockwood disputed this fact, declaring that the two girls came to her wearing short dresses and “had not changed to maturity as women.” Lockwood later described Rebecca as “weak minded.” In exchange for room and board, her father’s account was charged six dollars a month, while the girl contributed occasional housework until 1883, when she went into service in Maine. Clara later testified that Rebecca never had regular tasks and could not be depended upon.

Rebecca’s older sister, Elizabeth, posed more of a problem. She, too, lived at F Street. Lockwood told a court that she was “too imbecile for self support.” She required constant supervision to keep her from vagrancy and importuning men. Neither of the girls won the hearts of anyone at the F Street home but its owner. Clara, adopted by her aunt and dependent upon her for a home, said with some exasperation that Belva would always bear with the girls, “defend and protect them because they had nowhere else to go, quite to the discomfort of other members of her family.” In fact, Clara reported, her aunt lost boarders who were not willing to put up with the girls’ bad conduct.

The children of Cherokee James Taylor proved easier when put in Lockwood’s care. Taylor, a lobbyist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee, first met the Lockwoods in 1875 at the 10th Street boarding house, where Mrs. Lockwood cultivated Taylor as a legal client. He gave her his personal legal business while they analyzed the more substantial problem of the Eastern Cherokee, who were negotiating for legal recognition and the right to file monetary, treaty-based claims with the United States Government.

Like James Kelly, Taylor realized that the lady lawyer could help with personal difficulties while taking care of his legal business. Also like Kelly, his trouble involved children who needed attention. Taylor made frequent trips to Washington and sometimes boarded at F Street. On one of these trips, he asked Lockwood to supervise two of his several children. She agreed, taking in John and Dora Taylor in the early 1880s, often for several months at a time. She charged the senior Taylor $15 a month for John, who took no meals, and $20 for the room and board of Dora. She looked after their schooling, bought their clothes, and when it was time for them to leave Washington, arranged for their travel to Indian Territory.

Lockwood’s bustling household was situated in the center of downtown Washington, a location that was neither quiet nor fashionable. But more important to Lockwood was the ease with which she could reach the local courts as well as the federal offices and chambers she visited as she expanded her claims, patent, and pensions practice. Until June 1879 the U.S. Court of Claims (the court in which individuals prosecute a claim against the government) occupied 12 rooms up the hill from her house, in the basement of the Capitol. In that year the court was relocated not far from her at 1509 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Belva Lockwood : f-street-scene.jpg
The 600 block of F Street, NW, was an active location for Washington’s legal community in the late 19th century. (Library of Congress)

Her F Street home put her across the street from the Patent Office, which also housed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with which Lockwood did business. Perhaps most fortunate for the Lockwood law firm was the selection of a site barely one block from her home for the new Pension Building, completed in 1887.

The 600 block of F Street was, in fact, a hub of legal activity. Washington’s legal tradepaper, The Washington Law Reporter, operated out of rooms at 633 F Street, NW, and several attorneys had offices on that block. Like Lockwood, they were eager to be near the buildings housing federal departments as well as the District courthouse.

Lockwood Embraced Modern Technology

In 1881 Lockwood shocked Washingtonians, who thought that riding was immodest for women, by acquiring an adult’s tricycle. Lockwood was not immodest. She was a practical 51-year-old woman, a health enthusiast who was comfortable with modern technology and unafraid of publicity. With resolute determination, she took up the tricycle, making herself fair sport for columnists. She rode several miles daily, going to federal departments, the Capitol, and the courts. Cycles were “freedom machines.” The head of the Lockwood law firm bought hers after seeing that the male attorneys who used them were completing their work more quickly.

Staples of Her Washington D.C. Practice

Lockwood practiced law in the fashion of Washington men with small, street-level firms, her days a busy mix of clients, paperwork, and court appearances. A large number of her early civil cases consisted of the collection of debts from loans made, or money owed, for business transactions.

Clients suing for divorce were also a staple of her practice. In March of 1874, Lura wrote in her newspaper column that the divorce business was getting “very lively,” with Washington “likely to rival Chicago in this branch of the trade.” She was referring to the increased number of divorce petitions as well as a recent suspenseful case in which her mother outfoxed Frederick Folker, a postal employee, who was about to flee to California to avoid paying her client’s court-ordered alimony. Using a detective and application for a writ of exeat regno (“to restrain a person from leaving the kingdom”), Lockwood—described by Lura as “the lynx eyed attorney”—brought the court evidence of Folker’s refusal to pay and intended flight. The writ was issued and the ne’er-do-well ordered to give bonds for alimony and costs or go to jail.

As a woman, Lockwood always had to think about her image and used gentle forms of humor to soften the public’s view of her or to win a favor. When Lebbens Stockbridge brought a suit against her for $847 that he claimed to have placed in her hands as trustee, she reproached him in a 53-line rhyming poem that asked the court’s indulgence:

Oh! Cruel creditor thus to sue

For money charged as overdue,

And go into the Court and swear

To things as light as empty air;

And strive to get a judgment sum

Before the day of Judgment come;

You know I’d pay that little bill

Just as you fixed it in your Will . . .

She argued that Stockbridge had given her the money to hold for certain people “to whom she meant to leave it by will” but told the court that she would execute the trust.

Collaboration With Male Attorneys

Most of the time, she was more restrained. Male attorneys in Washington considered her a proper colleague and some shared casework. One of these collaborations, Kaiser v. Stickney, provided the opportunity for her first oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court, a quiet but historic appearance marking the first time that a woman member of the bar participated in the argument.

The court heard Kaiser on appeal from the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia on November 30 and December 1, 1880. Belva Lockwood was listed as counsel along with Mike L. Woods. The case involved the execution of a deed that bound local property for the payment of a debt. Belva Lockwood had been a lawyer for Caroline Kaiser, the appellant, since 1875. With some irony, she tried to use the much-criticized D.C. married women’s property laws to her client’s advantage by arguing that Kaiser, a married woman, could not legally be party to a contract that encumbered her own property. The strategy failed, and Kaiser was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which because of the District’s unique status, was the court that heard appeals from decisions of the D.C. Supreme Court.

Belva Lockwood: kaiser-v-stickney.jpg
Lockwood made history as the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court of the United States. (Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, RG 267)

First Woman Member Of The High Court Bar

Twenty-one months earlier, Belva Lockwood had become the first woman member of the high court bar. Now she stood with Woods, who began their presentation with the same argument made before the D.C. court. He and Justice William Strong fell into a heated discussion of the law. According to the Evening Star, which gave the story front-page coverage, Belva Lockwood rose at the conclusion of this exchange and asked to be heard. The justices agreed and she spoke for 20 minutes, giving her view of the case and, although she and Woods lost the appeal, making history.

“I have been now fourteen years before the bar, in an almost continuous practice, and my experience has been large, often serious, and many times amusing. I have never lacked plenty of good paying work; but, while I have supported my family well, I have not grown rich. In business I have been patient, painstaking, and indefatigable. There is no class of case that comes before the court that I have not ventured to try . . . either civil, equitable, or criminal; and my clients have been as largely men as women. There is a good opening at the bar for the class of women who have taste and tact for it.”

 

—Belva A. Lockwood, 1888

Retirement Was Not for Her

If the docket books are to be trusted, Belva eased out of courtroom work in the mid-1880s. She did not refuse civil and criminal trial work—several dramatic cases lay in her future—but either the money was not sufficient, or her increasingly long trips as a public lecturer, a second career that she cultivated after her first presidential campaign, made it difficult to attract clients. In the place of trial work, Lockwood expanded her pension and bounty claims business, with Lura and Clara handling much of the paperwork. Lockwood later wrote that the office handled 7,000 pension cases from the 1870s through the 1890s. This was a respectable number although small in comparison with pension claims baron George E. Lemon, who told members of Congress that, just in the 15 years after the Civil War, his law firm had processed 50,000 filings and appeals.

In her 70s and early 80s, Belva Lockwood balanced a career in law with tours on the lecture circuit and growing responsibilities as a member of the Universal Peace Union, a small pacifist organization. In 1906, in a multiparty case, she represented the Eastern Cherokee in their appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. This time, unlike her appearance in Kaiser, she made a successful argument, and her clients shared in a multimillion dollar settlement. In 1912 she took on the last important case of her career, successfully representing Mrs. Mary E. Gage in lunacy proceedings, before a jury, that followed accusations Gage had threatened to kill prominent Washington banker Charles J. Bell.

A woman of great energy, at the age of 83 Belva Lockwood led a group of women on a tour of Europe. Until her final illness, she was marching on the streets of the capital in support of woman suffrage and international peace. She died in Washington, D.C., in 1917 at the age of 86. Three years before, she had told a reporter that a woman might one day occupy the White House: “It will be entirely on her own merits, however. No movement can place her there simply because she is a woman.”

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.

Note on Sources

The docket books and case files used in this study of Belva Lockwood’s early legal career are part of the Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Norgren has surveyed the docket books of the district courts for the years when Lockwood practiced law (1872–1913) and will post the file numbers of all of Lockwood’s cases on a web site to be established at the time the biography is published. Archives staff member Robert Ellis provided valuable assistance and is much appreciated for his commitment and contributions to this project.

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/belva-lockwood-2.html

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Belva-Ann-Lockwood

Wrongful Death Series Part 7: What Should You Do If Your Loved One Dies Unexpectedly In The Hospital Or While Under The Care Of A Doctor?

Loved One Dies UnexpectedlyMany Florida families are faced with the real-life occurrence of a loved one dying unexpectedly in a hospital. They go in for what sounds like a routine type of procedure and end up having significant complications that cause their death. The family is rarely provided the full story and they are usually left to wonder what could have gone wrong. The hospital risk management may have even visited with your family to discuss the issue and perhaps offer some monetary settlement in an effort to get you to not visit with a lawyer.

They may have even offered to conduct an autopsy in their hospital to get you the “answers” you deserve. Again, all of this is in an effort to de-escalate the situation in hopes that they can keep you out of an office like ours.

So, what should you and your family do?

Here is Attorney Joe Zarzaur’s Advice.

Document

First, everyone needs to write out or dictate on their phone exactly what they recall happening in the hospital. This will be important later, so make sure everyone does it asap.

Consider a Private Autopsy

Second, your family should seriously consider a private autopsy before the funeral home does anything to your relative. These usually run between $7,000 and $12,000 plus transportation to and from the medical examiner’s office, unless the forensic pathologist comes to the funeral home.

Make sure to only hire a board-certified forensic pathologist. Keep in mind that a board-certified pathologist is not the same thing as a forensic pathologist.


Do not settle for a “hospital” based autopsy that is performed by the same facility and same employees that you are suggesting could have prevented your relative’s death.


Consult With An Attorney

Third, your family should consult with a law firm that has experience with medical malpractice wrongful death cases and whose firm is set up to handle these serious matters.

For a free consultation and advice on what your family should do in this tragic situation, please feel free to call us at 855HireJoe or email us at info@zarzaurlaw.com.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE >

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.

Important Toy Safety Tips This Holiday Season

While wandering the toy aisles of your favorite store to find your favorite children the perfect holiday gift is a great way to choose what to put under the tree, it is important to remember to keep them safe.


IN 2020, THE U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION (CPSC) REPORTED THAT THERE WERE NINE DEATHS AND MORE THAN 149,000 TOY-RELATED INJURIES THAT WERE TREATED AT AN EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT.


What can you do to prevent the children in your life from ending up at the emergency department or wrongful death?

Shop Smart.

Always choose toys that are age-appropriate — that means making sure that the toys you put under the tree this year match the interests and abilities of the child. Don’t buy a toy with small parts for small children to avoid choking hazards and follow the labels on the packaging.

Watch Magnets.

Magnetic toys must adhere to a strong safety standard that prevents swallowing. But high-powered magnet sets that have small magnets are dangerous for kids. Keep building and playsets with small magnets out of the reach of small children.

Beware of Batteries.

Button batteries and lithium coin batteries (small, shiny round batteries) can cause serious injury if stuck in a child’s ear or nose or swallowed. Make sure that the battery compartments of all toys are secure and taped shut.

Toss Old Balloons.

Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than age 8. Discard torn balloons immediately.

Keep Toys With Small Parts Away From Babies And Toddlers.

For children younger than age 3, avoid small balls and toys with small parts, which can cause choking. Also, stay away from toys with sharp edges away and toys with long strings, loose ribbons, or cords that could get wrapped around a child’s neck.

Avoid Flying Toys.

These can injure eyes in particular. Arrows or darts should have rubber suction cups or other protective tips to prevent injury.

When Shopping For Infants And Toddlers, Buy Toys That Are Larger Than The Child’s Mouth.

This will help prevent choking. If a toy is large enough but has smaller parts that could break off, do not give it to a young child. For example, a large stuffed bear may have beaded eyes that could fall off.

The CPSC reported that nearly 8% of all emergency department-treated injuries came from toy balls. While toy balls can make a great gift, it is important to remember that when you give small children (especially under the age of three) small toys, it creates a significant choking hazard.

Watch that younger kids aren’t playing with toys designed for older kids. Even if toddlers get upset after being told they can’t play with the same toys as their older sibling or cousin, it is better to play it safe.

RECALLS!

When shopping for toys this year, always make sure to check for recalls. The CPSC offers an easy way to search for product recalls here (www.cpsc.gov/recalls,). You can also look on safekids.org for a list of recalls.

Have Hand-Me-Downs Or Other Older Toys?

Although some of these toys may hold sentimental value, be careful before giving them to children. Older toys may not adhere to today’s safety standards. Toys like “Ralphie’s BB gun” from “A Christmas Story,” followed more lenient rules compared to toys made today.

Safety Gear.

While gifting a helmet may not seem like the most exciting present this year, it is one of the most important ones. Making sure that your child has a properly fitting helmet before getting on their new scooter, bike, or toy vehicle is crucial to keeping them safe this year.

Supervision Is Key.

The holidays can be exhausting, but always make sure to keep an eye on children while they are playing. Some of the most dangerous situations occur when a toy malfunctions or breaks, and it is important to be able to recognize the hazard as soon as it happens. If you notice that a toy seems to be dangerous, immediately take the toy and keep it in a safe place away from your child.

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 your child has been injured due to a defective toy, 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.eehealth.org/blog/2021/11/holiday-toy-safety/

https://www.safekids.org

https://www.cpsc.gov

 

 

Bicycle Accident Law – What You Need To Know

Whether a cyclist is riding a bicycle as a means of commuting, recreation, or exercise, it is imperative that those taking to the roadways, sidewalks, or pedestrian travel lanes on anything other than a motorized vehicle understand the rights extended to the cyclist as well as the responsibilities expected of the cyclist.

Florida is the deadliest state in the country for bicyclists, according to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 783 bicyclists were killed in the United States with Florida taking the lead with 125 deaths.

Almost every jurisdiction be it state, county, or city has some form of “bike law(s)” which dictates (s) to both motorist and cyclist. Understanding those laws is a great first step for many and should also be routinely reviewed by the seasoned cyclist no matter the purpose of the endeavor – recreation, commuting, etc.

Bicycle vs. Car Accident

In these situations, it is far more likely that the cyclist will be more significantly injured. In fact, Florida has the highest rate of bicycle accident deaths in the US (0.57 per 100,000 residents versus the national average of 0.23.). A higher number of bicycles on the road surely plays a part in this statistic.

Cyclists are required to follow the rules of the road, just as drivers are. 


For example:
– They must ride with the flow of traffic instead of against it.
– They must yield the right of way when indicated.
– They must stay in the designated bike lane. If there is not a bike lane, they must ride as far to the right as possible. (However, they may edge closer into the lane to avoid obstacles like potholes.

Always be on the lookout for this type of maneuvering. Paying attention can prevent many accidents.)


So, YES, cyclists have to stop at stop signs. They have to wait to turn left at a green light when there is oncoming traffic. They have to stop for pedestrians!


The rules apply to them as well, and when they disregard them, it can have devastating consequences.

In addition to that, taking the basic steps to mitigate the ever-present risk of an accident or avoiding/limiting the likelihood of a  car accident altogether should also be something that is requisite among all cyclists.

Florida Biking Laws, Broken Down

– Bikes are treated as vehicles.
– Cyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals.
– Cyclists must use a fixed, regular seat for riding.
– You cannot carry passengers on a bike that is not intended to carry more than one person.
– Parents must not allow minors to violate any of Florida’s provisions.
– All bikes must come equipped with a braking system.
– If riding on the sidewalk, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.
– Bikes must be equipped with a lamp when operating between sunset and sunrise.
– Bicyclists must use the designated bike path when not traveling at the speed of other traffic.

More Laws at FLORIDA BICYCLE. ORG

 

Steps To Avoiding A Wreck With a Vehicle

Along the lines of what is in the personal control of the cyclist and much of this is also addressed by bike laws: a tuned, functional, and road fit bicycle (brakes, reflectors); adequate safety lights (forward and backward facing); a safe helmet intended for bicycle use; bright or reflective attire; eyewear for the weather or daylight conditions.

Proper planning is also in the control of the cyclist, though not mandated by bike laws: choosing a well-lit route; choosing roadways with fewer obstacles such as crossroads, driveways, construction zones; avoiding dawn and dusk riding when a blinding sun may be on the horizon… the list could go on depending on the specifics of the locale one is opting to use for cycling.

These factors combined with the notion of respecting the rules of the road and anticipating vehicles and other pedestrians (”riding defensively”) are a fantastic frame for controlling what can be controlled to the best of the ability of the cyclist.

What Do you Do If You Are Hit By a Vehicle?

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

Following that, documentation of the scene (photos), notation of or digital voice memos regarding the incident (document the weather and road conditions, time of day, identification of all parties and vehicles involved (first and last name, phone number, dates of birth, vehicle make/model/color, license plate or tag numbers), identify any witnesses to the event (first and last name, contact information), documentation of any bodily injuries including damage to helmet and attire, and documentation of the damage to the vehicle(s) and bicycle(s).

Bicycle Accident Check List

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

2. Listen and remember what the other party says to you about how the accident happened. Don’t agree to anything said by the at-fault driver/party that caused the accident.

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

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

5. Seek medical assistance. Under Florida law, your car insurance is “primary” for your medical bills. Have the ER/hospital bill your car insurance company.

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

7. Document injuries.

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

9. Consult an accident lawyer that specializes in bicycle accidents in Florida.

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

Always Seek Medical Attention! (Even if you think the injury is minor)

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 accident 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.

Test Your Bike Law Knowledge

Take the tests, for both cyclists and drivers!

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

CDC Bicycle Safety

2021 Florida Statutes – 316.2065:  Bicycle regulations

Florida Bicycle Association

Bike Pensacola

West Florida Wheelmen

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 a bicycle accident involving a vehicle, 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://media.acg.aaa.com//content/1205/files/2019%20Q2%20Consumer%20Pulse_Bicycle%20Safety.pdf

Can A Pre-Existing Injury Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

It happens every day. A person is rear-ended in a car accident and develops neck or back pain. They get medical treatment and x-rays show they have degenerative changes in their spine. They had never had any pain or treatment before the crash. 

Can You Recover For Your Injuries From A Car Accident, Including An Aggravation Of A Pre-Existing Condition?

The answer is yes, but it often requires careful handling of the situation.

Reports from the World Health Organization indicate that about 1.3 million people die each year due to road accidents. Between 20 and 50 million more, individuals sustain non-fatal injuries, with some incurring permanent disability. It is no surprise that many people injured in car accidents have pre-existing injuries or conditions.

A pre-existing injury or condition can impact your personal injury case, but it really depends on the scenario. Personal injury laws are written to be equitable. If someone injures you, they should be held liable for the physical and emotional costs of those injuries. However, they can’t be forced to pay for the treatment of your pre-existing condition.

Common Pre-Existing Conditions

A common pre-existing condition that comes into play in car crashes is a degenerative spinal disease. The spine is made of bone and soft tissue, including ligaments, tendons, and discs. Spinal disks are like shock absorbers between the vertebrae, or bones of the spine. They help your backstay flexible. As the body ages, it can begin to show signs of wear and tear. The outer wall can become torn, and this can cause pain from the nerve fibers in the disk. 

Similarly, the bony portions of the back can develop arthritis, which can lead to limitations in motion and cause pain. These conditions may result from the normal activities of daily living, or a work injury, or a sports injury in which the pain quickly resolves. These conditions normally take many years to develop.


MOST PEOPLE OVER THE AGE OF 30 HAVE SOME DEGENERATION IN THEIR SPINE.


A Hidden Problem

The interesting thing about this condition is that it can be a hidden problem, with no symptoms caused by the pathology in the spine. In-car crash cases it is very common for someone with a pre-existing condition to have no symptoms until the crash. This is a very well-known phenomenon and one with which spinal specialists are very familiar. These conditions can result from even a minor crash as the spine is already weakened and more susceptible to injury than a more healthy spine. Our firm has handled many cases where a seemingly minor crash may result in a lifetime of problems.

Such injuries are often treated conservatively, with medication, therapy, or exercise. If these are not helpful, anesthetic injections, blocks, and nerve ablations may be used. It is not uncommon for these to become permanent injuries that may require lifetime care. In the most serious cases, a surgeon may decompress the spine and remove discs and fuse the vertebrae in order to alleviate pain and limitation of function.

How Does Such A Situation Affect A Car Wreck Claim?

It is very common for an insurance company to argue that your problems are related to the pre-existing condition and not the wreck. While it is true that a car crash cannot cause the degeneration seen on x-rays and scans immediately after the crash, it is similarly well known that the trauma can cause pain that did not exist before. Because of this, Florida law clearly establishes that a person can recover money damages for an aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

Your Settlement and The At-Fault Party

Careless Driver AccidentIf you can establish through testimony, including expert medical testimony, that the pre-existing condition was asymptomatic, and that the crash caused it to become symptomatic, you can recover the full value of your damages. This is obviously a very complex task and requires an experienced car accident lawyer to be your advocate to ensure the best result. It will require putting forth evidence of no prior problems or treatment, and subsequent problems and treatment after the crash.

The insurance companies are always very aggressive in using this as a defense, so it is best to have a capable advocate on your side. Your lawyer will be able to work with your doctors or other experts to prove the crash is the cause of your pain and maximize your recovery.

The negligent driver who caused the accident cannot use the auto accident injury victim’s condition as a defense in their case. Their defense attorneys can’t go before a judge and say, “My client shouldn’t be liable for the injury because the injury only happened due to the victim’s pre-existing condition.”

The judge or jury can order them to pay for treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to the injuries that happened due to the auto accident, but not for lost wages that may have accrued before the accident.

APPENDIX FROM STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN CIVIL CASES – REPORT NO. 13-02 

As such, we first must examine, 501.5(a), “Aggravation or activation of disease or defect.” It states, “If you find that the (defendant(s)) caused a bodily injury and that the injury resulted in [an aggravation of an existing disease or physical defect] [or] [activation of a latent disease or physical defect], you should attempt to decide what portion of (claimant’s) condition resulted from the [aggravation] [or] [activation]. If you can make that determination, then you should award only those damages resulting from the [aggravation] [or] [activation]. However, if you cannot make that determination, or if it cannot be said that the condition would have existed apart from the injury, then you should award damages for the entire condition suffered by (claimant).” 

Medical Treatment and Disclosure

If you have a back condition that was aggravated in an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, be transparent about your back problems before the accident and how they’ve become worse after the accident.

It is also important to seek medical treatment immediately after a car accident so your doctor can document your injuries and the source of those injuries and damages you suffered as a result of an accident caused by the negligent driver. 

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 auto accident in a ride-share vehicle, 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://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-supreme-court/1660736.html

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/road-traffic-injuries#:~:text=Every%20year%20the%20lives%20of,a%20result%20of%20their%20injury.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/eggshell_skull_rule

Are Employers Responsible for Distracted Driving Accidents In Florida?

If the driver of a car, truck or other vehicle is using that vehicle on the job, then the driver’s employer could be liable for any injuries resulting from a traffic accident for which the worker was at fault. The same goes for any vehicle damage resulting from the accident. But the issue isn’t always as clear as it might seem.

A legal doctrine known as respondeat superior (vicarious liability) makes employers legally responsible under certain circumstances for the actions of negligent employees who cause injury to someone else.

In the past, with regard to crashes, this mostly meant suing the employers of professional drivers (truckers, taxi drivers, delivery drivers, etc.) or workers who were running job-related errands or traveling between two job sites.

Nowadays, this can include workers conducting in-vehicle video conferences, responding to work-related texts, taking client calls, firing off a work-related e-mail, etc.

Was the Driver ‘On the Job’?

Whether someone is on the job while driving is not always a simple question. In general, any time someone is performing any duties related to work, the person can be considered on the job even when he or she is also doing personal business and driving a personal car.

Was the Driver an Employee or an Independent Contractor?

Especially since the dawn of the so-called “side hustle” economy, it’s not always easy to sort out whether a worker is truly an employee of a given company. The differences between an employee and an independent contractor can seem vague from a practical standpoint, but it’s a crucial distinction in the eyes of the law.

Typically, if the person who caused your accident was working as an independent contractor at the time, there’s no company that will automatically bear legal responsibility (as an employer typically would).

But there can be a bit of a gray area in some instances (including accidents involving rideshare drivers) when a company provides insurance for its independent contractors. It’s important to consult with a Florida auto accident lawyer if you have been injured by a driver that is considered ‘On the job.’

Doing A Business Errand In Your Personal Car.

If your boss asks you to run an errand and drop off a package and you have a serious car wreck on the way, you are within the scope of employment since you are conducting business that benefits your employer. You are “On the job.”

However, if you stop at a drive-through after you have completed your work-related task and have an accident, your employer may not be liable.

WATCH AND LISTEN AS JOE ZARZAUR, BOARD-CERTIFIED CIVIL TRIAL LAWYER, DISCUSSES THIS TOPIC >

If you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by someone ‘On The Job’, 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/employer-liability-for-employee-car-accidents.html

https://dictionary.findlaw.com/definition/respondeat-superior.html

 

Can Someone Else Be Liable For A Single Vehicle Accident?

single vehicle accident liability

Single Vehicle Accident Liability

 Sometimes, depending on the facts, there may be a liability from non-motorists that caused the injuries.

FLORIDA HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST TRAFFIC DEATH RATES PER 100,000 RESIDENTS AT 14.7. 52% OF FATAL CRASHES INVOLVED A SINGLE VEHICLE.


 

What Is a Single-Vehicle Accident?

By definition, single-vehicle accidents involve just one car, truck, or other types of motor vehicle.

Liability (Fault) In a Single-Car Accident

Single-car accidents are also no different than other traffic accidents in the sense that there’s always an underlying cause. It’s certainly true that the driver is often found at fault for the accident, but there are plenty of scenarios in which blame for a single-vehicle accident lies elsewhere.

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you’re alone in your vehicle at the scene of your accident, that doesn’t mean:

– You were the only driver (or person) involved

– Yours was the only vehicle involved, or

– The accident scene tells the complete story of how your crash happened.

When Is the Driver in a Single Vehicle Accident Not Liable?

Let’s look at a couple of examples of when a driver in a single-vehicle accident might not be negligent in connection with the crash, and therefore might avoid liability.

1. The Driver Hits An Object On Or Along The Side Of The Road (like a guardrail or a tree)

2. The driver swerves to avoid another vehicle

A pedestrian, an animal, a road hazard, or something else, and runs off the road or the vehicle rolls over, spins out, or leaves the road, due to the driver’s loss of control of the vehicle or some other cause.

As with any other kind of car accident, the things you do in the immediate aftermath of the crash (and in the days following) will play a crucial part in any insurance claim or legal action you decide to pursue.

3. Crashes Caused By Road Conditions

With the prevalence of road construction and road problems in our area, it may be that the single-car crash was caused by unreasonable road conditions. Florida generally has very poorly maintained roads that may cause car crashes. Generally, these claims are difficult because they must be brought against government agencies that are protected by Florida law. These suits require many additional procedural steps and are difficult to win. This must be investigated by an experienced lawyer.

If the crash was caused by defective construction or construction practices, a claim against a road contractor may be investigated. As with all these cases, a thorough investigation must be undertaken as soon as possible, so the state of the conditions can be preserved before they are repaired. Such road defects may include unreasonable drop-offs, missing or damaged guardrails, and missing or damaged warning signs.

4. Crashes Caused By Animals

If a domesticated animal strays into the roadway and caused a single-car crash the owner of the animal may be liable. This includes dogs and the claims may be covered by some homeowners insurance.

Similarly, if livestock wanders onto the road and is struck by a vehicle, the owner of the livestock may be liable if negligence is proven by the injured party. While there is no absolute duty to fence in animals like cows and horses, failure to the fence may be evidence of negligence leading to liability for injuries. An experienced lawyer will investigate and try and find insurance for the loss.

 

5. Crashes Caused By Falling Unsecured Material Or Debris

On our highways, we see many large trucks and many smaller trucks carrying material in the back of the trucks. Often the material is not properly secured, which may lead to it falling out at highway speeds. This may cause a crash due to direct impact or impact caused by attempting to avoid the falling material or debris. In such a situation, an injured motorist may seek compensation from the owner and or driver of the offending vehicle. If there is not sufficient insurance from the at-fault party, then the injured driver may seek damages from his own uninsured/underinsured motorist(UM) coverage.

6. Claims By Passengers

If a single-car crash is caused by the negligence of a driver, then injured passengers may seek compensation from the driver or from UM insurance. In all such cases, medical bills will be handled by no-fault(PIP) up to the limits of coverage.

Just because a car crash does not involve another vehicle, there may be a claim against a negligent party who caused the crash. Such claims involve careful investigation and the skills and expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

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.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/overview/key_data.html

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state

http://www.flhealthcharts.com/charts/DataViewer/DeathViewer/DeathViewer.aspx?indNumber=0110

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defending-yourself-after-a-single-vehicle-accident.html

What You Should Know About A Settlement Before Accepting It.

What you should know about settlement

An auto accident can be shocking and even life-changing. You are now having to deal with a vehicle that must be repaired or replaced, doctor appointments for your injuries, lost workdays, insurance company calls and letters, and managing life without a vehicle.

You may be tempted to accept an offer from the insurance company when they are telling you they can give you a quick settlement and will cut a check to you. However, this also can mean a lot of essential pieces of information that may be lost that affect your potential personal injury claim.

Before accepting a settlement offer, you should be aware of these critical pieces that can make a difference in your case.

Things To Remember About Settlements In A Car Accident

 

Know What Your Case Is Worth

A fair settlement will compensate you for current and future expenses and damages, including:

Car repair bills

Car rental while your vehicle is in the shop

Reimbursement for daily tasks you would perform had the accident not occurred

Medical expenses

Costs of future medical treatment and therapy

Lost wages due to missed work

Expected future lost earnings

Mental health treatment

Pain and suffering

Injuries May Be More Serious Than They First Appear

The full extent of injuries from a car accident may not be known for a long time after the accident. This could be due to many reasons, including the following:

The injuries require more extensive treatment than anticipated

The wounds don’t heal as expected

Complications arise

Secondary infections set in

Before accepting a settlement, accident victims must know how their injuries will affect current and future employment opportunities, mobility and activity levels, overall health, and quality of life. They should also understand what ongoing care or treatment will be needed due to the accident. These things are usually known once a person has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).  A doctor will determine that the patient has achieved MMI or has a permanent injury.

Settling Your Claim Too Soon Can Be Costly

The insurance company may offer you a quick settlement for your car accident claim. In some cases, the company may issue an offer before you complete medical treatment for injuries.


BE WARY OF A SETTLEMENT OFFER BEFORE YOU COMPLETE TREATMENT FOR YOUR INJURIES.


Until you complete your medical treatment, you cannot know for sure how much your medical bills may be or how much money you might lose from being out of work. Lost wages and medical costs after a car accident can be substantial.

Car Wreck Settlement Process

 

Liability Release

Settlement agreements include a release of liability, which means the insurance company is not responsible for any payments outside of the settlement agreement. The victim cannot ask for more money in the future and cannot take the case to court. When you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, the settlement agreement is a final resolution of your claim. After you sign the agreement, you cannot demand more money for your claim.

Therefore, make sure that the amount you accept compensates you fully for all your damages. Damages in a car accident case include both economic and non-economic damages.

This is true even if the accident injuries turn out to be more serious than initially thought, if unexpected complications arise, or if the victim didn’t understand the full value of the claim.


FOR ACCIDENT VICTIMS, THE LACK OF COMPLETE INFORMATION IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY DANGERS OF A QUICK SETTLEMENT.


Hire A Lawyer To Work On Your Behalf

Meeting with the best personal injury lawyer gives you the opportunity to ask questions and understand your options. Your lawyer is looking out for your best interest and is your advocate when dealing with the insurance company. If you have suffered an injury understanding your rights and options for recovering the maximum compensation for your losses can be fully achieved with the help of a board-certified civil trial lawyer.

The Counteroffer

When making a counteroffer, your lawyer can make sure to highlight the severity of your injuries, including your pain and suffering. They will also make sure to place the responsibility for your pain and suffering.

It is common to go back and forth several times when negotiating a car accident settlement. The negotiation process could take several weeks or even a few months.

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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.