Tag Archives: Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer

What You Should Know If Traveling By Car in Florida Over Labor Day Weekend. 

According to The Vacationer, an estimated 137 million people will be traveling for Labor Day weekend, which is more than 53% of the country.

Last Major Travel Holiday Of The Summer: Increased Traffic To Pensacola and Destin

Labor Day also marks the symbolic end of the summer, and both Pensacola and Destin, Florida have been named as one of the top locations to visit during the holiday weekend, according to tripstodiscover.com. This will also mean increased traffic to our popular coastal communities and increased risk of car wrecks caused by drivers not familiar with the area or driving carelessly.

Unofficial End Of Summer

Labor Day weekend is a common signal to many as the unofficial end of summer, but for law enforcement across Florida, it signifies an increase in motorists traveling on the roadways and the importance of reminding drivers to stay safe and sober behind the wheel.

“As Labor Day approaches, please keep safety at the forefront of your travel plans. While many of us will take this long weekend to celebrate with family and friends, our FHP Troopers and first responders will be working to respond to and protect our safety,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Historically in Florida, more crashes occur on the Friday before Labor Day than any other day during the four-day travel period. No matter how far your destination may be, please remember to buckle up, slow down, and never drive impaired. ”

 

According to FLHSMV data, last year, 4,016 crashes occurred from the Friday before Labor Day through Labor Day across Florida.

During this four-day period, there were 41 fatalities from crashes—eight of which involved drugs and/or alcohol.

 

So as you prepare to travel here are some top tips and info that you can use to ensure a safe arrival to your Labor Day destination in Florida. 

 

When Is The Best Time To Leave For Labor Day Weekend Travel?

According to Transportation analytics company INRIX here is what you need to know in regards to best and worst times to travel for the Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday: Before 12:00 p.m. or after 7:00 p.m.

Thursday: Before 12:00 p.m. or after 7:00 p.m.

Friday: Before 1:00 p.m. or after 7:00 p.m.

Saturday: Before 1:00 p.m. or after 5:00 p.m.

Sunday and Monday are expected to have normal to minimal congestion.

 

When Is The Worst Time To Leave For Labor Day Weekend Travel?

“Thursday, like three-to-four o’clock (p.m.) is probably the worst time to leave,”  Bob Pishue, transportation analyst for INRIX said. “That’s when you get commuters and people running errands, mixing with vacationers and schools getting out if they’re in session.”

Wednesday: 1:00-8:00 p.m.

Thursday: 1:00-8:00 p.m.

Friday: 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Saturday: 12:00-5:00 p.m.

What could help ease the pain on the road is taking state highways as opposed to an interstate highway. 

 

TOP 4 LABOR DAY WEEKEND DRIVING SAFETY TIPS

Focus on Driving
Keep 100% of your attention on driving at all times – no multi-tasking.

Don’t use your phone or any other electronic device while driving.

Slow down. Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.

Drive “Defensively”

Be aware of what other drivers around you are doing, and expect the unexpected.

Assume other motorists will do something crazy, and always be prepared to avoid it.

Keep a 2-second cushion between you and the car in front of you.

Make that 4 seconds if the weather is bad.

Make a Safe Driving Plan

Build time into your trip schedule to stop for food, rest breaks, phone calls or other business.

Adjust your seat, mirrors and climate controls before putting the car in gear.

Pull over to eat or drink. It takes only a few minutes.

Practice Safety

Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion.

Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor.

Have items needed within easy reach – such as toll fees, toll cards and garage passes.

Always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free.

 

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:

Labor Day

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2022/08/30/best-worst-time-travel-labor-day-weekend/7939023001/

https://www.tripstodiscover.com/best-places-in-florida-to-visit-on-labor-day-weekend/

https://www.flhsmv.gov/2022/09/01/florida-highway-patrol-offers-tips-for-safe-labor-day-travel/

Dangerous Intersections In Florida: North W Street and Massachusetts Avenue

Courtesy of WEARTV News.

Intersections are a prime place for an automobile accident to occur. More than 50% of the combined total of fatal and injury crashes occur at or near intersections.

An estimated 165,000 accidents occur annually in intersections caused by red-light runners. Fatalities caused by red-light runners run from 700-800 a year.

Fatal Auto Accidents In Escambia County

On Thursday, July 7, a 56-year-old woman was killed and a passenger was injured after a driver went through a red light. Surveillance video from a nearby business shows a sedan crashing into an SUV Thursday night at the intersections of Massachusetts Avenue and North W Street in Pensacola, Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol says the driver went through a red light.

Alarming Statistics About The Intersection of North W. Street and Massachusetts Avenue

According to Florida Highway Patrol, since 2019, there have been 53 accidents, 22 hit-and-run crashes, 12 crashes with injuries and 19 crashes with no injuries at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and North W Street in Escambia County, Florida.

The area is congested with traffic, and people need to pay attention.

THE TOTAL NUMBER OF CRASHES IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA IN 2021 JUMPED BY MORE THAN 1,600. THERE WERE ALSO 23 MORE DEATHS IN THE SAME YEAR.

Escambia County Has a Higher Rate of Fatal Accidents Than Florida as a Whole.

Dangerous Intersections In Pensacola FLAccording to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), while Escambia County accounts for a relatively small portion of the total number of fatal accidents in Florida each year, the county has a higher rate of deadly accidents than Florida as a whole. In 2020, only 0.08 percent of Florida’s car accidents were fatal. However, in Escambia County, this figure is closer to 1%. While this might not seem like a significant difference, it accounts for several needless accident-related deaths in Escambia County on an annual basis.

What Are The Most Common Accidents That Occur At Intersections?

The most common causes of intersection car crashes are disobeying a traffic signal and failing to yield the right of way. Running a red light, trying to get through the intersection on a yellow light, and even unintentionally misjudging the traffic signal are all leading causes of intersection car crashes:

  • SpeedingSpeeding is dangerous under any circumstance, no matter what the circumstances. However, when a driver is speeding through a busy intersection, this can cause serious accidents.
  • Violation of traffic laws: If a driver is attempting to make illegal U-turns, turns without checking to see if there is oncoming traffic, or fails to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists, this can cause serious intersection accidents.
  • Impatience: Drivers will see a traffic light turn yellow and hit the gas pedal to avoid having to wait for the red light to turn green again.
  • Texting, talking, reaching for something, or any other type of distracted behavior will keep them from paying attention to what is going on around them.
  • Drunk driving is obviously dangerous, and it frequently results in fatalities.
  • Drowsy Driving: In almost the same frame as distracted driving, drowsy driving reduces reaction times, and as a result, he or she may not be able to react fast enough to avoid another vehicle who runs through a red light.

Which Is The Most Common Crash Type, Accounting For 40% Of Crashes?

Most of these crashes involve left turns. Nationally, 40 percent of all crashes involve intersections, the second largest category of accidents, led only by rear-end collisions. Fifty percent of serious collisions happen in intersections and some 20 percent of fatal collisions occur there.

What Types of Accidents Occur at Intersections?

Running through red lights, rear-ending other drivers, and cutting off other drivers while making a left turn can result in serious accidents at intersections. The following are some of the most common types of accidents that occur at intersections:

  • Side-Impact or T-Bone Collisions: This type of accident occurs when the front of a vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle, usually at about a 90-degree angle. The occupant on the passenger side of the vehicle that was hit often sustains very serious injuries because there is no barrier protecting them from the impact of the crash. These accidents often happen when a motorist fails to yield to the right-of-way, runs through a red light, is distracted, or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Head-On Collisions: These are some of the most devastating accidents that often result in fatalities, particularly when the vehicles were traveling at a high speed at the time of the crash. They occur when the front of one vehicle crashes into the front of another vehicle. At intersections, these usually occur when a motorist makes an illegal left turn.
  • Left-Turn Accidents: These occur when a vehicle that is making a left turn gets into an accident with a vehicle that is going straight through the intersection. In most cases, the driver making the left turn is liable for the accident since he or she must yield to the motorists who are driving straight through the intersection.
  • Rear-End Collisions: These are the most common type of accident, resulting in 1.7 million accidents, approximately 1,700 fatalities and 500,000 injuries each year. They usually occur when a driver is tailgating another motorist or is not paying attention to his or her surroundings. For example, a rear-end collision can occur at an intersection if a motorist fails to slow down in time to avoid hitting a car that is stopped at a red light.

What are the Rules for Right-of-Way at an Intersection?

Dangerous Intersections In FloridaAll licensed drivers have a responsibility to understand and follow the rules of the road, including the rules for right-of-way. At busy intersections, there are very clear rules as to who has the right-of-way and who must yield to another vehicle. Failing to follow these rules can result in a serious intersection accident. Many intersections have cameras that will capture the events leading up to the accident, including whether one of the drivers failed to obey the traffic rules.

The following are examples of right-of-way rules that all motorists must follow when navigating an intersection:

  • Controlled intersections: These intersections will have traffic lights, stop signs, and/or yield signs that are meant to help keep traffic moving in a safe and orderly fashion. Motorists must obey these signs and signals and yield to the vehicles that have the right-of-way.
  • Intersections are not controlled by traffic signals: Motorists must yield to vehicles that are already at the intersection. If two vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the motorists should treat the intersection as if there is a four-way stop sign, and yield to the vehicle on the right.
  • Intersections with multiple-lane roads: Drivers on the one or two-lane road must yield to vehicles on the multi-lane road.
  • T-intersection right-of-way: The motorist on the dead-end street must yield to the vehicles on the through street.
  • Highway exit ramps: Motorists who are driving on an access road with a highway exit ramp must yield to the vehicles on the access road. In addition, when a car is entering a controlled-access highway, the vehicle on the ramp must yield to the motorists on the highway.

Always follow the speed limit, regardless of the type of intersection. When a driver exceeds the speed limit, he or she forfeits the right-of-way.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC 

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While At An Intersection.

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.

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://highways.dot.gov/research/research-programs/safety/intersection-safety

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811366

https://weartv.com/news/local/florida-highway-patrol-reveals-shocking-statistics-involving-escambia-county-intersection?fbclid=IwAR09jkEVmrl0SVRYfHEwiVhpPrG5LUZf8hEdv-j5BMJnXqLjMI6Bxs9rUpU

https://www.livestories.com/statistics/florida/escambia-county-car-accident-deaths-mortality

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

Proving Strict Products Liability In Florida

Florida tort law provides that a manufacturer of a defective product may be subject to product liability under two basic theories.

First, strict liability, and second, negligence.

In order to win under either theory, the plaintiff must establish that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous. 

Under a negligence theory, proof of a defect determines a breach of the duty, and the mere presence of a defective condition proves your case under strict liability.

 

What Is The Florida Product Liability Statute?

According to Florida 2021 Statutes 768.81(1)(d), “products liability action means a civil action based upon a theory of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, nuisance, or similar theories for damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product.”

Proving A Claim Under Strict Liability

So, pursuing a manufacturer of a product is easier on the plaintiff if they can prove a claim under strict liability since the plaintiff is not required to provide a duty and a breach of the duty. The basis of strict liability laws is that the State of Florida realizes that a consumer will not have access to private corporate manufacturing information before a lawsuit is filed and will have a difficult time establishing negligence. However, with the product itself, the injured party has the ability to examine the product and determine whether it is defective or not.

Strict Liability Theories

Strict liability theories are generally distinct from negligence as they remove the burden from the injured party to prove specific acts of negligence. Even though the term “strict liability” indicates some “automatic” or absolute liability for any use of its product, the manufacturer of a product is only responsible for injuries caused when the product is being used as it was intended.

Hence, in order for strict liability to apply to a manufacturer, the product must have been used for the purpose for which it was intended.

For example, a power drill that causes an injury cannot be said to be subject to strict liability if the injury occurred while using the drill as a weapon or as a blender in the kitchen. Those uses are different from the intended use of a drill, like screwing in fasteners or drilling holes for carpentry work.

Defective Airbag Example: 

What If the Airbags Didn’t Work During My Car Accident?

Strict Products LiabilityA typical car accident case is pretty straightforward: one driver is speeding, running a red light, or doing something else to cause a crash, and any person injured in the accident sues that driver or makes a claim with that driver’s car insurance company. But sometimes, these cases can get a little more complicated, and they become something more, something bigger, than a car accident case. One such instance is when an airbag does not deploy properly during a car accident, resulting in injuries that are more severe than they might have been if the airbag had done its job. The injured person may now have a product liability case on top of an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Proving Strict Liability

Since any product can be misused, a manufacturer cannot be held responsible and liable for every possible creative misuse that a consumer can conceive. Product liability does not make the manufacturer an insurer of all foreseeable accidents that involve its product. In order to have a successful product liability claim, the product must be defective in its design, manufacture, or lack adequate warnings. Further, any one of these items must render the product unreasonable, dangerous, or defective, and then the use that caused the injury must be an intended use.

Consumer Expectation Test

Strict Liability focuses on the reasonable expectations of the consumer. The test for design defects is called a “consumer expectation test” and makes a product defective if the plaintiff is able to demonstrate that the product did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in the intended fashion or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.

Design And Manufacturer Defects

Strict liability claims based upon manufacturing defects are all about whether the product was made in a way that is not consistent with its design. In other words, there was an error in the manufacturing process and quality control process that allowed for a product that was not made pursuant to the design specifications, and this defect made the product defective in its ordinary usage.

Inadequate Warnings

Products Liability In FloridaStrict liability claims based upon inadequate warnings are premised on a failure of the company to warn. Florida courts have recognized that a warning should contain some wording directed to the significant dangers arising from the failure to use the product in the prescribed manner, such as the risk of serious injury or death. 

A product is considered defective from a warning standpoint in Florida when the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the provision of reasonable instructions or warnings and their omission renders the product not reasonably safe.

Proving The Four Elements

On the negligence theory of products liability cases, the injured party must prove four elements. First, the manufacturer must be under a duty that requires them to protect others from unreasonable risks. Second, the plaintiff must prove that this duty was breached by the company. Third, there must be legal causation between the breach and the injury; and finally, the injured party must have injury or loss.

Statute Of Limitations

The Florida statute of limitations for product liability extends four years from the date injury the injury occurred. If the defect and accident results in a wrongful death claim, that statute is shortened to two years.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a product and you seek out answers related to whether a claim of products liability can be brought and won, you can reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

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

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a product and you seek out answers related to whether a claim of products liability can be brought and won, you can reach out to our firm for a free consultation. 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.

Offices in Pensacola, Destin, Miami, and Tallahassee.

Sources:

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

Keywords

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

https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/personal-injury/types-of-personal-injury-claims/what-if-the-airbags-didnt-work-during-my-car-accident.html

Victims Right To Counsel In Florida.

victims rights FLFrom Florida Bar News – Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a measure that requires police to notify crime victims of their right to counsel and “encourages” The Florida Bar to develop a registry of pro bono attorneys.

Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills and an attorney, said his service as a JAG officer inspired him to sponsor SB 1012.

“This bill really comes from a few lanes, one being my experience in the Army as a special victims counsel,” Burgess said.

The Added Amendment

The bill initially called only for notifying victims of their right to counsel and urged development of a registry of lawyers willing to represent them for free.

The Judiciary Committee on February 11 added an amendment related to the 2018 victim rights ballot measure “Marsy’s Law.”

THE EXPANDED BILL NOW CLARIFIES THAT CRIME VICTIMS – “UPON REQUEST” – MAY ATTEND OR BE HEARD AT A CRIMINAL PROCEEDING.

Current law permits attendance “when relevant,” or at a “crucial stage,” if it “doesn’t interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.”

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book of Ft. Lauderdale, a children’s advocate, sponsored the Marsy’s Law implementing legislation in 2019.

The new law takes effect July 1.

What Does This New Measure Mean In Regards To Civil Trial Cases?

This new law allows a victim’s attorney to be present at various stages of the criminal case leading up to the civil case to ensure that the victim’s rights are being protected. Many times, the criminal case and civil case overlap, and so now the civil lawyer for the victim can assist, coordinate, and be included in the criminal case as well as the civil case.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC

About Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee (Marsy) Ann Nicholas, a beautiful, vibrant University of California Santa Barbara student, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her murder and on the way home from the funeral service, Marsy’s family stopped at a market to pick up a loaf of bread. It was there, in the checkout line, that Marsy’s mother, Marcella, was confronted by her daughter’s murderer. Having received no notification from the judicial system, the family had no idea he had been released on bail mere days after Marsy’s murder.

The experience of Marsy’s family is typical of the pain and suffering family members of murder victims so often endure. Marsy’s family was not informed because the courts and law enforcement, though well-meaning, had no obligation to keep them informed.

While those accused of crimes have more than 20 individual rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, the surviving family members of murder victims have none.

The Marsy’s Law initiative began in California and was led and sponsored by Marsy’s brother, Dr. Henry T. Nicholas III. When it passed in November 2008, Proposition 9, The California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law, became the strongest and most comprehensive Constitutional victims’ rights laws in the U.S. and put California at the forefront of the national victims’ rights. Dr. Nicholas said after passage of the initiative, “This is a national movement already. There are hundreds of marches across the country for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week every year. We need to harness that energy to ensure victims’ rights for every American.” Marsy’s Law was opposed by nearly every major newspaper in California state and yet the people of California passed the measure with 54% of the vote.

The message was clear – Californians wanted crime victims and their families to have guaranteed rights.

Now, Dr. Nicholas is now lending his support to equal crime victims’ rights efforts across the United States. Since Marsy’s Law passed in California, it has been overwhelmingly approved by voters in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Currently, efforts are underway in Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Tennessee.

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. 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. Consult with an experienced accident  lawyer who has the knowledge and credentials 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. Offices in Pensacola, Destin and Miami.

 

Sources:

http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/main/e14e8f70d7dfe31f8525749c005012e4

https://www.sao12.org/victim-s-rights

https://www.marsyslawforfl.com

https://www.marsyslaw.us/marsy_s_law_for_florida_statement_regarding_signing_of_victims_of_crimes_bill_sb_1012_hb_697

Victims right to counsel measure signed into law

 

The Number Of Fatal Car Accidents In The U.S. Is At Its Highest Since 2007.

Traffic Fatalities in The US

NHTSA REPORTS A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN TRAFFIC FATALITIES

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its 2020 annual traffic crash data, showing that 38,824 lives were lost in traffic crashes nationwide. That number marks the highest number of fatalities since 2007.

The estimated number of police-reported crashes in 2020 decreased by 22% as compared to 2019, and the estimated number of people injured declined by 17%.

Contributing Factors

While the number of crashes and traffic injuries declined overall,  fatal crashes increased by 6.8%.

THE FATALITY RATE PER 100 MILLION VEHICLE MILES TRAVELED INCREASED TO 1.34, A 21% INCREASE FROM 2019 AND THE HIGHEST SINCE 2007.

In 45% of fatal crashes, the drivers of passenger vehicles were engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors: 

– Speeding

– Alcohol impairment

– Not wearing a seat belt.

A National Crisis

“The rising fatalities on our roadways are a national crisis; we cannot and must not accept these deaths as inevitable,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “People should leave the house and know they’re going to get to their destination safely, and with the resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, plus the policies in the National Roadway Safety Strategy we launched last month, we will do everything we can to save lives on America’s roads.”

“The tragic loss of life of people represented by these numbers confirms that we have a deadly crisis on our nation’s roads. While overall traffic crashes and people injured were down in 2020, fatal crashes and fatalities increased. We cannot allow this to become the status quo,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator.

In January, the U.S. DOT released the federal government’s comprehensive National Roadway Safety Strategy, a roadmap to address the national crisis in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

The strategy adopts the safe system approach and builds multiple layers of protection with safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and better post-crash care. It is complemented by unprecedented safety funding included in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Nationwide Statistics

2020 FATAL CRASH STATISTICS

NHTSA 2020 annual traffic crash data, as compared to 2019 data. The 2020 fatality numbers were the highest since 2007.

The 2020 crash data report also examines fatality data in key categories, as compared to 2019:

  • Injured people, including occupants and non-occupants, down significantly in most categories
  • Estimated number of police-reported crashes in 2020 decreased by 22%
  • Fatalities in speeding-related crashes up 17%
  • Fatalities in alcohol-impaired driving crashes up 14%
  • Unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities up 14%
  • Motorcyclist fatalities up 11% (highest number since first data collection in 1975)
  • Bicyclist fatalities up 9.2% (highest number since 1987)
  • Passenger car occupant fatalities up 9%
  • Fatalities in urban areas up 8.5%
  • Pedestrian fatalities up 3.9% (highest number since 1989)
  • Fatalities in hit-and-run crashes up 26%
  • Fatalities in large-truck crashes down 1.3%

Total vehicle miles traveled decreased by 11% in 2020, from 3,261,772 million to 2,903,622 million.

 

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Topic

Statewide Fatal Crash Statistics

STATE OF FLORIDA

FLHSMV Crash Dashboard

2021 vs 2020 total crashes in Florida – 17% increase

2021 vs 2020 total fatal crashes in Florida – 12% increase 

2022 is already at 132,053 crashes and 1,163 fatalities

Escambia County Fatal Crash Statistics

FLHSMV Crash Dashboard

2021 vs 2020 total crashes in esc county – 11% increase

2021 vs 2020 total fatal crashes in esc county – 37% increase 

2022 is already at 2,080 crashes and 25 fatalities

TRAFFIC FATALITIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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 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.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-transportation-secretary-pete-buttigieg-announces-comprehensive-national-roadway

https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2020-traffic-crash-data-fatalities#:~:text=The%20U.S.%20Department%20of%20Transportation’s,number%20of%20fatalities%20since%202007.

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

https://www.yoursun.com/study-us-41-us-17-most-dangerous-roads-in-area/article_f8867250-efdf-11ec-a493-638ddc206a7d.html

https://www.moneygeek.com/insurance/auto/resources/most-deadly-roads-florida/

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

What is an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) and Why It’s Important?

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 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 diagnosed 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