Florida Legislature Drafting New Insurance Requirements for Uber & Lyft

The Florida Senate and House differ on certain aspects of the auto insurance requirements for the controversial ride-share services Uber and Lyft.

Many in the taxi and limousine industry are calling for stricter regulations on such companies and the Senate has expanded proposed insurance legislation to include a requirement for full, “around-the-clock” coverage on the vehicles used by these services.  The requirement would become active once a driver has been working for one of these companies for at least six months.  However, a similar bill making its way through the House has no such requirement.

Legislators are aiming to ensure that vehicles used as part of the ride-share service carry enough coverage to close the “gap” between when a driver is “between fares”, or on the way to picking up a passenger, and the time during which the passenger is in the vehicle.  Lawmakers are concerned that Floridians are at a risk of serious injury with no availability of coverage because of the so-called gaps.

Uber lobbyist, Cesar Fernandez, said the company can accept a higher coverage requirement on drivers during the gap, even though the company believes the drivers are not technically driving for a commercial purpose during those times, and in effect, are using their vehicles for personal purposes.  Fernandez said that requiring Uber to carry this gap insurance would be akin to asking a casino to carry insurance for those who gamble outside of their casino.

The differing bills do align in some areas, both require companies to provide at least $1 million in liability coverage for death, bodily injury and property damage while passengers are in the vehicles.

No matter where you stand on the issue, one thing seems to be clear, and it’s that companies like Uber and Lyft, may be here to stay.  With lower prices, technologically convenient usage and expedient pickup and drive times, many customers find these services to be a viable option when in need of transportation.

For further discussion on this topic or any other, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Man Killed in Lamborghini Crash at Disney World Racetrack

A Lamborghini that was participating in an exotic car race at Walt Disney World collided with a guardrail, killing the passenger and injuring the driver.  Florida Highway Patrol says Tavon Watson of nearby Kissimmee lost control of the vehicle on Sunday, April 12, killing Gary Terry of Davenport, Florida.

The incident report filed by authorities noted that Watson failed to maneuver the extremely powerful vehicle through the racecourse.  The vehicle’s passenger side struck the guardrail and the passenger, Mr. Terry was pronounced dead on scene.

The Disney attraction allows fans and enthusiasts to race luxurious, high-speed vehicles such as Lamborghinis, Porsches and Ferraris.  The cost, between $200 and $400, allows customers to drive for several laps with an instructor on a track located south of the Magic Kingdom parking lots.

The track is operated by Petty Holdings, a company that operates similar attractions at speedways located throughout the United States.  Ironically, the track where this incident occurred, along with a similar attraction, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, also located at Disney World, were already slated to cease operations this summer for unrelated reasons.

When driving a vehicle, Lamborghini or not, it is always important to not only drive within the limitations of the vehicle, but more importantly, the limitations set forth by local law.  Be aware of speed limits and road conditions and always maintain safe distances between your vehicle and those in front of you, all of which will help prevent injuries to you and your passengers in the event of a collision, particularly on race tracks.

For further discussion on this topic or any other, please contact the experienced attorneys at The Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

 

 

Catastrophic Brain Injury Prompts Recall of Residential Elevators

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the recall of certain residential elevators sold exclusively by Coastal Carolina Elevators.  The elevators can operate while the gate door is open, posing a potential crushing hazard.

The Commission states that Coastal Carolina Elevators, based in South Carolina, has received three different reports of incidents involving their products, including one that resulted in a catastrophic brain injury to a 10-year-old boy. Continue reading

Deadly Bicycle Accident in Manatee County under Investigation

Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly bicycle accident that took place in Manatee County late on the night of April 6.

That Monday evening, around 10:00 o’clock, state troopers claim that Christopher Brown was travelling eastbound, driving his Jeep on State Road 684.  As Brown approached a green light at the intersection of 43rd Street West, bicyclist, David Conlon, was trying to cross State Road 684 from the south shoulder in the crosswalk on the east side of the intersection. Continue reading

Fatal Crash on Turnpike Involving Vehicle Carrying 12 Passengers

Three people died and nine others were injured following a rollover crash of a Ford Expedition that took place on the Florida Turnpike last Saturday, April 4.

The accident, according to investigators, appears to have been caused by the tread on one of the SUV’s tires separating, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

38-year-old Uriel Miranda was pronounced dead at the scene, 2-year-old Yaretsi Miranda and 8-year-old Yordi Miranda later died at St. Mary’s Medical Center.  Martin County Sherriff’s Office noted that 6 of the passengers were transported by helicopter.  Officials from Florida Highway Patrol said that all survivors of the tragic accident were from Apopka, Florida.

The driver, 25-year-old Oduver Miranda was released from the hospital the day of the accident, along with 7-year-old Edwin Miranda.  The other survivors are all listed in stable condition and are being treated at both, St. Mary’s Medical Center as well as Lawnwood Medical Center.

The vehicle involved in the accident, a Ford Expedition, is only legally able to seat 7-8 passengers, however, at the time of this accident, there were twelve passengers.  Investigators determined that at least six of the passengers were unrestrained at the time of the accident.  Several of the twelve passengers, including seven children between ages 2 and 10, were ejected from the vehicle.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesperson stated that, “In fatal crashes in 2012, 79 percent of passenger-vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicles were killed.  Seat belts are effective in preventing total ejections.”

Florida law now mandates that children under the age of six must ride in a crash-tested, federally approved car seat or booster seat.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contract the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Tractor-Trailer Struck by Train, Exotic Car Destroyed

On Friday, March 27th, a tractor-trailer driven by Ryan Fung of Palm Harbor stalled on train tracks as a freight train was approaching. Florida Highway Patrol, who responded to the scene at Doctor’s Lake in Orange Park, said that Mr. Fung was able to escape the cab of the vehicle just before the train barreled through the trailer. No injuries were reported in the accident, however, there was some notable property damage.

The tractor-trailer happened to be carrying a McLaren sports car valued at over $300,000. Dr. Jorg Bober, the owner of the McLaren told local news reports that, “The company came by to pick up the McLaren for regular work, warranty work. And I guess he got stuck on the train tracks.

In a twist of irony, one of Dr. Bober’s nurses called him to tell him about the accident and to avoid the area as there was a significant traffic delay, only unbeknownst to his nurse, was the fact that Dr. Bober’s vehicle had been directly involved in causing the delay.

When asked how he felt about learning his exotic vehicle had been totaled he replied, “Eh, we’ll get another one.”

While the loss of such a fine vehicle is tragic to some extent, it is important to reiterate that there were no injuries in this incident. Considering that there was both a train and tractor-trailer involved, the fact that nobody was hurt is truly fortunate.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contact the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Rider Seriously Injured in I-10 Motorcycle Accident

On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, a tractor-trailer travelling westbound on I-10 in Leon County experienced a tire blowout on one of the tires attached to the cab.  The blowout occurred near mile marker 211 in the outside lane.  Unfortunately, in that same lane, a motorcycle being driven by 66-year-old Lonnie Jennings of Tennessee was following behind.

Mr. Jennings attempted to avoid the tire debris as it shot out from underneath the truck and towards his motorcycle, but he was unable to steer around it or brake in time.  The motorcycle slid over up onto the north shoulder of the highway where it finally came to rest.  The truck came to a safe stop roughly a quarter of a mile from where the tire blowout occurred.  Mr. Jennings was transported via ambulance to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with severe injuries.

When riding a motorcycle, or driving a car for that matter, in close proximity to a tractor-trailer, always be aware of your surroundings and the possibility of a tire blowout.  Tractor-trailers are often fitted with retreaded tires that are more susceptible to blowing out and coming apart, leaving dangerous debris on the roadway.  That is why it’s crucial to maintain a safe distance and be alert.  It is our position that liability exists for this accident.

For further discussion on this topic or any other, please contact the experienced attorneys at The Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

 

Fort Lauderdale Residents Arrested for PIP Fraud Following Staged Accident

The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud announced on Monday the arrests of Kendrick Callins and Lashaunda Gibbs of Fort Lauderdale.  The pair has been accused of staging an auto accident for the purposes of personal injury protection insurance fraud.

The investigation by the Dept. of Insurance Fraud, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other local law enforcement agencies, revealed that the two had allegedly organized and participated in a staged accident that occurred in September of 2012.

Callins and Gibbs are also thought to have recruited other participants, who intentionally drove a rented moving truck into a passenger vehicle owned by the pair.  Following the collision, fraudulent insurance claims were submitted to their respective insurers who paid the claims.  Both Callins and Gibbs each face a maximum sentence of 25 years for their part in the fraudulent activity.

PIP insurance, while extremely important and valuable to South Florida drivers, is also an area of insurance that has been hailed as potentially ripe for fraud.  While there has been some alleged fraud committed against insurance companies in the past regarding PIP coverage, it has been in significant decline over the last several years, which is great news for Florida residents.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contact the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

Company Pays Truck Driver $14 Million for Negligence

An Alabama man who was paralyzed in a frightening tractor-trailer accident was originally awarded $18.79 million in a lawsuit against the company that had recently serviced his trucking equipment days earlier.

However, due to an agreement reached by lawyers prior to the jury’s decision, Mr. Lacy will receive $14 million.  Pursuant to the award, Empire Truck Sales agreed to pay at least $2 million and no more than $14 million, even if the jury ended up finding for the defense.  Lacy is due to receive the portion of the money being paid by Empire within thirty days.

Mr. Lacy spent over two months in the hospital.  His attorney, Greg Allen, said that his client will be wheelchair-bound for the remainder of his life.  Lacy’s girlfriend, who had been with him for only a couple of weeks prior to the accident, has remained by his side and helped care for him.  Mr. Allen said this settlement will allow Mr. Lacy to customize his home and provide him with income since the accident robbed him of his livelihood.

Mr. Lacy was driving his rig to a job site in Florida in July 2011, when he lost control of his truck west of Tallahassee.  When Mr. Lacy attempted to slow the vehicle, the anti-lock brake system failed.  According to allegations made by Mr. Lacy’s lawyers, Empire Truck Sales had serviced the vehicle the previous month but had left a lateral control rod detached.  Three days before the accident, Mr. Lacy noticed the truck vibrating and returned it to the dealership where the company failed to repair the defect.

Despite Alabama having joint and several liability laws in cases such as this, because the accident took place in Florida, its state law applied and jurors were instructed what portion of blame belonged to which parties.  Empire Truck Sales was found to be 80% liable of the accident.

Weston and Fort Lauderdale accidents involving tractor-trailer trucks carry with them added complexity.  It is important that if you find yourself in a collision with a tractor-trailer, be sure to consult an experienced and skillful Fort Lauderdale trucking accident personal injury attorney to make sure that your interests are competently represented.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contact the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com

“The Faces of Brain Injury” Exhibition Featured at Florida State Capitol

The Brain Injury Association of Florida, Inc. (“BIAF”) survivors and their caregivers put on “The Faces of Brain Injury” exhibition at Florida’s State Capitol as one of the activities used to educate and heighten awareness of the needs of survivors of traumatic brain injuries during the month of March, which is National Brain Injury Awareness Month.

To read the full article click here.

For further information or discussion on this topic or any other, feel free to contact the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@schulaw.com