Put Away Your Phone

Let’s do an experiment. Go to your local public football field, make a path from one end to the other, and set up a few obstacles along the way. Now, blindfold yourself and try to walk the length of the path without hitting any of the obstacles.

football field

Think you can do it?

Well, that’s actually what you’re doing every time you send or receive a text at 55 mph.

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Now, distractions come in many forms. Eating, putting on makeup, using a navigation system, or adjusting the radio are all common distractions during driving. But, texting or otherwise using a phone, is certainly one of the most prevalent distractions.

In fact, a 2015 study found that a third of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and three-quarters said they had seen others do it!

Young drivers are particularly susceptible to distracted driving. Among drivers age 15 to 19 involved in fatal crashes, 10% were reported as distracted at the time of the collision. And, a whopping 38% of all twentysomething drivers involved in a fatal crash were using their cell phones!

driving-844132_640

We all know texting while driving is dangerous, but did you know it can also damage your case if you’re ever in a car accident? During personal injury litigation, all cell phone records are discoverable. And because Florida is a comparative negligence state, even if you weren’t the cause of the crash, you can be held partially liable for the crash if it’s found that you were using your phone at the time.

Also, texting while driving is a secondary traffic infraction in Florida. That means that if you’re pulled over for any other reason (like speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, or even a broken tail light) and the officer catches you texting, you can receive an additional citation.

So, the moral of this story is:

Don’t Text and Drive!

texting it can wait

It’s dangerous. It’s illegal. It’s just plain stupid.

And, maybe don’t walk the length of a football field blindfolded. You might trip.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident, call Rudez PL at 844-RUDEZLAW for a FREE consultation with Attorney Dan Rudez. Dan speaks Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian (Bosanski, hrvatski, Српски).

Why You Need UM Coverage?

If you live in the state of Florida, you probably know that Florida drivers are required to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection and property damage liability. But, the unfortunate truth is that 23% of Florida drivers are uninsured. And, even for those who carry the minimum insurance, this may not be enough to cover the damages from all auto accidents. That’s why it’s important for drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Florida law requires every motor vehicle liability insurance policy issued in Florida to include an equal amount of uninsured motorist coverage, unless the insured makes a specific rejection of the UM coverage.

UM rejection form

While filling out all of the paperwork for your auto insurance policy, you’ll probably see a form that looks like the one above. This is the UM coverage rejection form. If you check any of the boxes on this form, you will be rejecting UM coverage or choosing coverage that is less than your liability coverage. Your premium may be lower, but you are losing valuable coverage that would protect you in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Here at Rudez PL, we see many clients with excellent cases receive little to no money in damages, because the at-fault driver simply does not have enough insurance. But with UM coverage, we can seek damages from the client’s own insurance company to make up for what should have been provided by the at-fault driver.

And that is why I recommend that all Florida drivers carry UM coverage in the amount of their liability coverage. The slightly higher premium will be more than worth it if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a collision caused by an uninsured motorist.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, call Rudez PL at 844-RUDEZLAW for a FREE consultation with Attorney Dan Rudez. Dan speaks Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian. Bosanski, hrvatski, Српски.

Avoid the No-Zone

Have you ever checked your mirrors for oncoming traffic and begun to change lands, only to suddenly realize there’s a car right next to you? This happens because your car has a blind spot, an area outside of the car where other vehicles and objects are not visible. This situation can be a scary moment when you’re driving your car, but thankfully it’s often easy to correct and no collision occurs.

Truck Accidents

Semi-trucks also have blind spots and unlike your car, it’s not always easy for a large truck to correct itself if it’s encroaching on a vehicle that wasn’t clearly visible.

Blind spots on a tractor-trailer are often referred to as the “No-Zone” and they take up far more space than your passenger vehicle’s blind spots.

The “No-Zone” also includes areas where other cars are too close to allow the truck driver to stop or turn safely.

The most effective way to avoid a collision with a semi-truck or tractor trailer, is to avoid the “No-Zone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or a loved one are involved in a truck accident, call Rudez PL at 844-RUDEZLAW for a FREE consultation with Attorney Dan Rudez. Dan speaks Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian   (Hrvatski, Bosanksi, Српски).

How to Avoid a Dog Bite

Unlike states with a “one-bite rule,” Florida law states that dog owners are strictly liable any time their dog bites another person, regardless of whether or not the dog has previously displayed aggressive or vicious behavior. This means that if you are bitten by a dog it is possible to collect damages from the dog’s owner, even if they had no idea the dog would bite. (Statutory exceptions include cases in which the bitten person was trespassing on private property).

dog bite

However, we here at Rudez PL believe that it is always better to avoid injury when possible. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can protect you and your family from dog bites.

  • Avoid leaving children alone with dogs. And, yes, this includes your family pet. According to the Florida Department of Health, more than half of dog bites occur in the home and involve a dog known to the family.
  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog. This especially applies to dogs that are unaccompanied by a person, whether they are strays, or pets that got loose from their owners. But, even if a dog is with its owner, it may bite if it feels scared or threatened. Teach your children to always ask the owner before approaching a dog, and to let the dog smell their hand before petting.
  • If you do find yourself in a situation where you think a dog might attack, Don’t run. Often when a dog feels scared or threatened, their natural instincts will kick in. If you run from them, they may assume you are now prey and chase after you.
  • Do not interfere with a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies. These are times when a dog feels most vulnerable, and therefore they are more likely to react if they are startled or scared.

Dogs may be Man’s Best Friend. But, remember that they are still animals and any animal can bite. Respect your dog and other dogs you meet, and hopefully you’ll be able to avoid a dog bite.

If you or a loved one are victim to a dog bite, call Rudez PL at 844-RUDEZLAW for a FREE consultation with Attorney Dan Rudez. Dan speaks Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian (Bosanski, hrvatski, Српски).

Escalator and Elevator Accidents and Injuries

Central Florida has some wonderful shopping malls. There’s Mall at Millenia with its upscale stores and high glass ceilings, kid-friendly Florida Mall and its new Dining Pavilion, the recently opened Disney Springs outdoor shopping district, and the Premium Outlet Malls

Mall at Millenia.

But, with all of these malls, comes the risk for shopping mall accidents.

When you think of shopping mall accidents, you probably think of slip and falls. While these might be the most common type of accidents in a mall, and they can certainly cause substantial damage, there are many other ways you can be injured while shopping.

Escalators and elevators are one of the more common causes of accidents in shopping malls. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), approximately 17,000 people are injured each year in accidents involving escalators or elevators.

Escalator injuries can occur when clothes, shoes or even toes get caught inside the mechanism, or when mismatched steps cause the rider to trip. Even a sudden stop can cause a shopper to fall or otherwise injure themselves on an escalator.

Shoppers can be injured when elevator doors close on them or, in the most extreme case, an elevator cable breaks and causes the car to fall to the ground floor.

In Florida, and all 50 states, shopping mall owners have a legal duty of care to protect shoppers from harm while on their property by regularly inspecting and properly maintaining their facilities, including elevators and escalators. This means that if a shopper is injured by an escalator or elevator, the shopping mall owners may be liable.

For the most part, shopping can be a fun, enjoyable, and safe way to spend a day in Central Florida. But, if you are injured in a shopping mall, you may need the advice of a qualified attorney.

Most Dangerous State for Pedestrians

With few crosswalks, disconnected sidewalks, and many high speed roadways, it’s no surprise that Florida isn’t the safest place in the country for pedestrians. But, did you know that since 2009, Florida has ranked as the number one most dangerous state for pedestrians, according to Smart Growth America.

Every year Smart Growth America publishes a list of the most dangerous metropolitan areas, and last year, eight of the top ten cities were in Florida.

Most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians

Across the state, there were 8,936 pedestrian accidents in 2016. Often the victims of pedestrian accidents are from the most vulnerable parts of the population: adults over 65, racial minorities, and those from low-income backgrounds.
While being a pedestrian in a metropolitan area will always put you at risk, there are ways to keep your and your family a little safer:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. This goes beyond just looking both ways before crossing the street. When walking in a high traffic area, put away your phone and take out at least one earbud. Your eyes and ears need to be available to survey the area and check for any possible hazards.
  • Make yourself more visible. When it’s dark or rainy, stay in well-lit areas whenever possible. If your usual route doesn’t have many street lights, try wearing reflective clothing. And whatever you do, don’t wear all black at night.
  • Follow the rules of the road. Even though you’re not driving, walking with the flow of traffic and obeying all traffic signals will keep you safer.

And drivers, you can help keep pedestrians safer by following posted speed limits, turning on your headlights when visibility is low, and using extra caution while driving in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.

Florida PIP Insurance

On May 7th, 2012, Governor Rick Scott signed into law a controversial bill changing the way personal injuries are to be treated.  More specifically it drastically affects the way injuries are treated using personal injury protection insurance (PIP).

 

PIP is insurance all drivers are required to carry.  It provides up to $10,000 dollars for medical treatment and lost wages of accident victims.  Before these changes were made, accident victims were able to obtain treatment for their injuries from chiropractors, massage therapists or acupuncturists whenever they needed it.   They did not need prior approval from the insurance company nor did they did not question nor limit the accident victim’s treatment.  Additionally, they were not limited in time. Victims were freely able to obtain treatment to recover from the injury and help themselves, their doctors and their attorneys evaluate the extent of the injury, so that proper compensation could be sought on behalf of the client.

 

Now, it has become harder for accident victims to seek treatment.   You are limited on who can refer you to obtain treatment, you have a narrow window of time to obtain treatment and the PIP insurance can question you and investigate whether your use of PIP benefits are legitimate.  In order to maximize your recovery and obtain treatment under PIP insurance, you MUST follow the new guidelines that will apply to all accidents that occur on or after January 1, 2013.

 

FIRST:  You have 14 days to seek medical treatment for your injury from either a; physician, osteopath, dentist, chiropractor, physician’s assistant, advanced registered nurse, or a hospital or facility wholly owned by a hospital.

 

SECOND:  In order to be eligible for up to the entire $10,000 benefit for your treatment, paid by the PIP insurance, you must have either a; physician, osteopath, dentist, supervised physician’s assistant, or advanced registered nurse officially diagnose your injury/condition as an “emergency medical condition.”  A victim must have a referral from one of these medical care providers in order to qualify for PIP paid treatment.  If your condition is not labeled as an “emergency medical condition,” then you will only be entitled for up to $2,500 in PIP benefits for your treatment.

 

THIRD:  Massage therapy and acupuncture is no longer considered to be a PIP treatment option.

 

FOURTH:  The PIP insurance may now require the accident victim to undergo an examination under oath (EUO) in order to investigate whether the accident claim is fraudulent.   The accident victim who fails to comply will receive zero PIP benefits.

 

FIFTH:  The PIP insurance may also require the accident victim to undergo an independent medical examination, to evaluate whether or not they would need to provide you payment for your treatment.

 

ALL of these new requirements have not only made it harder for accident victims to obtain basic treatment of their injury, but it has also made it more difficult for accident victims to build their case to obtain maximum settlement recovery.  If you are in an accident, make sure you follow these guidelines so that you can maximize your medical and monetary recovery for your injury.  Don’t let these new laws hurt your chances for maximum recovery.

 

If you have further questions, or if you are in fact injured in an accident, feel free to give me a call for a free consultation.