Car seat laws improved but need to go further in Florida to protect more of our children

Beautiful happy girl with teddy bear sleeping in the car

Schools across the state of Florida are letting out for summer break this coming week. That means that the summer driving season is upon us, where families will be driving around the state of Florida and to much more far-flung places around the country to visit relatives, friends and the multitude of tourist attractions that this great country of ours has to offer. Now is the perfect time to remind all of you who will be traveling this summer Florida’s most up-to-date car seat and restraint laws for children.

 

The most recent changes went into effect about a year and a half ago, on January 1st, 2015. Here is a quick refresher of the series of requirements, as stated in the 2015 Florida Statutes:

  • Children through the age of 3 must be secured in a federally-approved car restraint seat.
  • Children through the ages of 4 and 5 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat. Which one depends upon their size.

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.613.html

 

These additions to the state law increased requirements up through the age of 5. Before the beginning of last year, car seat requirements for children in the state of Florida only covered up through the age of 3. Although this is certainly an improvement, a number of child safety advocates continue to lobby for Florida state politicians to bring our laws in line with other states or to the standards recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ that children by restrained in a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches (57 inches) tall.

 

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital child advocacy supervisor Bevin Maynard was quoted as saying by the Tampa Bay Times that the magic number “is not weight or age. It is height.”

 

She has had quite a bit of experience working with children and their families when a child has been seriously injured in an automobile accident. She knows that statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state that the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States is improper restraint when in a traffic accident.

 

Some information for this blog post including the quote from Bevin Maynard was shared from the following article:  http://www.tbo.com/news/politics/new-florida-car-seat-law-takes-effect-jan-1-20141221/

 

If your child or the child of someone you know is injured in an auto accident you probably need a lot of comfort, in addition to expert legal advice on what to do. Call us at Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynne, P.A. We offer a free initial consultation, and we will try to help you through this very difficult and emotional time. Our phone number is (561) 686-3400.

At Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne, we know that car accidents unfortunately happen all the time. We help our clients and their children obtain payment to cover hospital and other medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more, if the situation warrants it.

If you want to learn more about how we can help you in a situation where someone you love has been in an auto accident, then go to this page on our website: http://www.sswlawfl.com/areas-of-practice/auto-accident/. We also specialize in Slip and Fall accidents, Wrongful Death & Serious Injury, Medical Malpractice, Defective Products, Premises Liability, Boating Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents and many other types of legal situations where injury or death has occurred.

Our main office is in Jupiter, Florida at 1015 W. Indiantown Road, Suite 101A. We have litigated cases in Palm Beach County and throughout the state of Florida.

 

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Required personal injury protection benefits in Florida – what they mean to you as a Florida resident

Personal Injury Claim

Most people who live here in Florida are aware that the state has a series of laws called the Florida Statutes that are “a permanent collection of state laws organized by subject area into a code made up of titles, chapters, parts, and sections. The Florida Statutes are updated annually by laws that create, amend, transfer, or repeal statutory material.”

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?Mode=View%20Statutes&Submenu=1&Tab=statutes

Included amongst the 2015 Florida Statutes is an entire section on Insurance: Title XXXVII, Chapters 624 through 651. Chapter 627 of this section covers Insurance Rates and Contracts. 627.736 refers to “Required personal injury protection benefits; exclusions; priority; claims”

At Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynne, P.A. we realize that most Florida residents reading this blog do not want to read through the rather complicated and long-winded statutes that discuss insurance requirements. You want to know what they are and how they affect you and your loved ones, in plain English.

Since the last changes to the statutes in 2012 & 2013, Florida drivers have been required to carry the following minimum insurances:

  • $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, and
  • $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits.

Florida does not, however, require drivers to have bodily injury liability (BIL) benefits (which pay the costs of others’ injuries if a crash occurs). Most other states do require you to have BIL benefits in your insurance coverage. All auto insurance policies must be purchased from insurers licensed to do business in Florida. Driving without insurance in Florida is illegal, and a driver may have his or her license suspended if caught driving without at least the minimum required insurance. To get a license reinstated, a driver has to show proof of insurance on every vehicle owned in the state of Florida, and must pay a fine of up to $500 per violation.

These are just the basic rules of insurance as they are presently constituted here in Florida. Our Board Certified lawyers from Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne are the right lawyers to get you the best settlement that you deserve based upon your unique set of circumstances when you have been involved in an automobile accident.  We will find out what coverage you and all of the motorists involved in the accident have – making sure to ask all of the right questions of all companies and interested parties in your case.

If a person you care about gets hurt or killed in a car, motorcycle or boating accident, or you simply have a question about a potential personal injury situation that you have not yet had answered, please call us at Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynne, P.A. We offer a free initial consultation, and our phone number is (561) 686-3400.

At Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne, we understand that motor vehicle accidents happen every day. We also understand that not everyone has the minimum insurance coverage required under the current state statutes.

We help our clients obtain payment to cover hospital and other medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more, if the situation warrants it. If you want to learn more about how we can help you in a situation where someone you love has been in an accident, then go to this page on our website: http://sswlawfl.com/areas-of-practice/accidents-serious-injury/. We also specialize in Wrongful Death & Serious Injury, Medical Malpractice, Defective Products, and many other types of legal situations where injury or death has occurred.

Whether you are in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Stuart, West Palm Beach or any other city in the state of Florida, you need to find and hire a law firm that has the level of knowledge and experience that will get you the financial results you deserve, while also working with you throughout your case until some type of resolution has been reached. With over four decades of experience, that firm is Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne.

Contact us directly at (561) 686-3400, or via email at info@sswlawfl.com.

 

Why you need a lawyer if you are the victim of a car accident caused by a drunk driver in Jupiter, Florida

car crash accident on street, damaged automobiles after collisio
car crash accident on street, damaged automobiles after collision in city

With the holiday season upon us comes lots of food, fun, good cheer – and many opportunities for drinking, partying and driving. Unfortunately, there are some people who drink too much. Accidents that involve drinking and driving spike at this time of year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, the number of fatalities rises 25% on an average day during the holiday season, and as much as 50% over the New Year’s holiday.

 

If you are involved in an accident caused by someone who is impaired by drugs or alcohol in the state of Florida that person is held responsible for all damages incurred. That is obvious to most people. Fewer people realize that in this scenario they are also considered a victim of a criminal act under our state law.

 

Obviously, drunk drivers are responsible for all damages incurred when they cause an accident. In addition, since Florida does not require mandatory insurance for car owners, there may be another defendant that you can recover money and damages from. Who is that? The person or restaurant who served the drinker the alcohol, that’s who.

 

 

According to Florida Statute 768.125 “Liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication.—A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.” – http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.125.html

 

It is usually simple proving a defendant served alcohol to a minor.  However, it often takes a lot more work to prove a defendant served alcohol to a habitual drunk.  Several of the points you must prove are:

  • how long the person has had an alcohol problem
  • the frequency of their drinking
  • how often the person frequents the establishment
  • how much contact and their behavior with the employees of the establishment that night, and before
  • what was the person’s specific behavior and alcohol consumption on the night of the incident.

 

These are just a few of the important questions that your attorney must get answers to for you to have a chance at winning a case against the person or establishment that served the drunk driver. You need to hire a law firm with lawyers who have the experience and knowledge combined with the dogged determination to get all the information to help you win your case.

 

If you or a person you care about gets injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver or you simply have a question about a potential personal injury situation that you have not yet had answered, call us now at Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynne, P.A. We offer a free initial consultation, and our phone number is (561) 686-3400.

 

At Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne, we know that drunk driving accidents happen all the time. If you are in an accident because of the negligence of another driver, or the establishment who overserved that person, then you need to contact us right away. We help our clients obtain payment to cover hospital and other medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more, if the situation warrants it. If you want to learn more about how we can help you in a situation where someone you love has been in an accident, then go to this page on our website: http://sswlawfl.com/areas-of-practice/accidents-serious-injury/. We also specialize in Wrongful Death & Serious Injury, Medical Malpractice, Slip and Fall, Defective Products, and many other types of legal situations where injury or death has occurred.

 

Whether you are in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Stuart, West Palm Beach or any other city in the state of Florida, you need to find and hire a law firm that has the level of knowledge and experience that will get you the financial results you deserve, while also working with you throughout your case until some type of resolution has been reached. With over four decades of experience, that firm is Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne.

 

Contact us directly at (561) 686-3400, or via email at info@sswlawfl.com.

What is mediation and when is a case mediated?

Parties to a claim or a lawsuit can agree to mediation at any time, however, prior to a lawsuit being filed there is no mandatory requirement for the parties to attend a mediation unless it is a contractual dispute and the contract requires mediation as condition which must be met prior to a lawsuit being filed.  However, once a lawsuit has been filed and the case has been set for a trial, most judges in Florida require the parties to attend mediation prior to being able to have a trial.

Florida Statutes Chapter 44 governs mediation.  Florida Statute 44.1011(2) provides the following definition for mediation: “Mediation means a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decision making authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives.”

The mediator is usually a retired judge or an attorney that specializes in settlement negotiations and has obtained specialized certification to become a mediator.  Mediation is generally conducted with a single mediator who does not judge the case but simply helps to facilitate discussion and eventual resolution of the dispute. Mediation is a relatively informal process enabling the parties to engage in face to face negotiations with the assistance of a mediator.  Neither party is forced to settle at mediation, but each must negotiate in “good faith”.

Mediation usually begins with the parties and the mediator meeting in one room.  Each party usually through their attorney summarizes his or her case to the mediator and opposing side in an opening statement while all the parties are in one room.  After opening statements, the parties separate into different rooms.  Then mediator meets privately with each side and reports offers between the parties. It is also important to note that all communications which occur during the mediation are confidential.

Mediation can last minutes, hours, or days.  Mediation ends when the parties have agreed on settlement terms or have agreed that settlement terms cannot be reached.  Although some cases settle at mediation, many do not.  However, in most instances the mediator continues to follow up with the parties in hopes of reaching a settlement.  Sometimes important information is learned at mediation that enables parties to engage in more meaningful settlement discussions at a later date.  For most cases, mediation has proven to be a very useful method for resolving claims before trial.

Ryan Wynne, the author of this article, is an attorney with the firm Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynne, P.A. who has practiced law in south Florida since 2007.

If you want to learn more about mediation, arbitration, litigation and what the chances are of your personal injury case settling before going to trial in Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Stuart, or anywhere else in the state of Florida then you should contact Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynn, P.A. Or, if you have questions about many other real world legal issues in cases of serious injury claims, auto accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, nursing home, products liability, insurance litigation, law enforcement misconduct, commercial law and other personal injury cases in Jupiter, West Palm Beach, or throughout the state of Florida, you need to contact a firm with a level of expertise that yields results. That firm is Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynn, at http://www.sswlawfl.com.

Our office is located at 1015 W. Indiantown Road, Suite 101A in Jupiter, Florida. You can contact us by phone at (561) 686-3400, or via email at info@sswlawfl.com. Contact us today for a FREE initial consultation.

Am I always at fault if I rear end someone in a car accident in the state of Florida?

The answer is no, you are not necessarily 100% at fault if you rear end someone in an accident. In actuality, regardless of whether an injury is caused by the fault of a front driver, a rear driver, or both, comparative fault in a rear-end collision entitles a plaintiff to judgment “against each” liable party, on the basis of that party’s percentage of fault, according to Florida Statute  § 768.81(3).

Drivers on Florida’s roadways owe a duty of reasonable care not only to those driving in front of them, but also to those who are following, and all other individuals within the foreseeable zone of danger. That is how the law is written in Florida Statute § 316.183(5).

In November of 2012, the Florida Supreme Court decided  the case of Birge v. Charron, in which the Court held that “where evidence is produced from which a jury could conclude that the front driver in a rear-end collision was negligent and comparatively at fault in bringing about the collision, the presumption is rebutted and issues of disputed fact regarding negligence and causation should be submitted to the jury.”  In layman’s terms, if a jury could find that the front driver was any percentage at fault then the rear driver is not presumed at fault.  The jury would then determine the percentage of fault of each driver.  For example, the front driver could be 60% at fault and the rear driver 40% at fault.  The point is, just because you rear end someone does not necessarily mean you are 100% at fault.

If you need an attorney, please contact Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne, P.A.  If you have any questions about how we deal with liability in rear end automobile accidents, call us.  All of the attorneys at Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne have at least five years of experience and are board certified in civil trial law including the author of this article, Ryan Wynne. Ryan is also a Partner of the firm.

If you want to learn more about how to go about hiring the right attorneys for you in a rear end automobile accident, or many other personal injury civil and criminal legal issues, then go to www.sswlawfl.com. Whether you are in Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Stuart, West Palm Beach or any other location throughout the state of Florida, you need to find and hire a law firm that has the level of knowledge and experience that will yield you maximum results.  With over four decades of experience, that firm is Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne.

Our main office is located in south Florida in Jupiter at 1015 W. Indiantown Road, Suite 101A. You can contact us directly at (561) 686-3400, or via email at info@sswlawfl.com. Contact us today for a FREE initial consultation.

The author of this article Ryan Wynne is a Partner and Shareholder of Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne, P.A. He has been admitted to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of the state of Florida.

Rear End Accident picture # 1     Rear End Accident picture # 2

Current status of the important Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance law changes in Florida made in 2013

When current as well as perspective clients come to visit us after an auto accident, they often ask us to help them understand what the current Personal injury protection laws in the state of Florida mean to their situation, and their rights for legitimate compensation recovery for their losses. Major revisions were made in the law at the beginning of 2013. Some of these revisions led to transparent, obvious changes, while others are much less clear, and still under interpretation.

The Florida Legislature passed changes to the PIP law effective January 1, 2013.  Here is a direct link to the state statute pertaining to those law changes as of last year: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

One change is that now personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is the only required insurance for drivers in Florida.  Other significant 2013 changes to the PIP law that affect all policyholders are:

  1. Injured party must treat within 14 days of an auto accident to qualify for benefits.
  2. Massage therapists and acupuncture are no longer eligible for PIP benefits.
  3. Injured party must seek initial services supervised or ordered by a licensed physician or chiropractor.
  4. (Major importance).  PIP benefits are limited to $2,500.00 (even if the policy says $10,000.00) if it is determined that the injured patient does not have an emergency medical condition (EMC).  Patients will need certification by a medical doctor, osteopathic physician, dentist, physician assistant, or advanced registered nurse practitioner corroborating that they did in fact sustain and emergency medical condition.

In fact, you are paying the premium for $10,000.00 in coverage, but could end up with zero if you don’t get treatment within 14 days of the auto accident or just $2,500.00 if you do not secure an EMC diagnosis.

As of today there still are numerous uncertainties with the 2013 law as it was passed.  For a while after the 2013 changes were enacted many of the insurance carriers were not requiring the EMC and were not limiting the coverage to $2,500.00 until the appellate courts and/or Supreme Court issued a ruling on whether or not those portions of the amendments are or are not constitutional.   A ruling of this sort still has not be entered.

Due to the inconsistent internal policies of the individual insurance companies it is important for parties who are involved in a car accident to be proactive and follow the statute.  If not, the injured party runs the risk of their insurance company not providing any coverage for medical bills or limiting the coverage for medical bills to $2,500.00.  With that being said, if you are involved in a car accident it is extremely important that you seek treatment within 14 days of the accident, if not, it is almost a guarantee that your insurance company will not pay for any medical treatment after that.  While you may feel fine or just a little sore in the days following an accident, you don’t know how you will feel in two or three weeks, so you need to protect yourself.  That is why it is crucial that you seek treatment within 14 days of the car accident.  You might be fine after that and not require any additional treatment, which is great, but you might get worse and that nagging pain might need additional treatment and/or diagnosis, and if so, you can seek that treatment with peace of mind because you followed the statute and your insurer should pay PIP benefits for the additional care you seek.

The author of this blog post, Ryan Wynne, is a Partner of Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynne, P.A.  He has been admitted to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, and practicing law in the state of Florida since 2007.

If you want to learn more about how the insurance companies are once again trying to use legal loop holes to avoid their obligations to you, or many other real world legal issues in cases of car accidents, slip and fall cases, airplane accidents, medical malpractice and nursing home abuse, truck accidents, premises liability, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, products liability, toxic/mass tort litigation, insurance litigation, and other personal injury and wrongful death cases in the state of Florida, you need to contact a firm with a level of expertise that yields results. That firm is Slinkman, Slinkman, & Wynne, P.A.

To learn more about our firm please go to our website, http://www.sswlawfl.com; or contact us directly at (561) 686-3400 or email us at info@sswlawfl.com. We look forward to helping you win the judgement that you deserve for your pain and suffering.