Due to a dramatic rise in the number of Florida car accidents resulting in wrongful deaths, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recently brought back their Arrive Alive safety campaign. Fort Lauderdale personal injury Lawyer Joseph Lipsky knows too well that because of its weather, rising population and ever popular destination for tourists, Florida is always one of the most-deadly states for driving.

The updated Arrive Alive campaign is a statewide safety program which brings together the resources of all police departments and the Department of Transportation, who with the use of real-time data hope to stem the residing tide of deadly car accidents. The State moved forward with its initiative after recent statistics demonstrated a rapid rise in Florida car accident caused wrongful deaths, increasing from 2500 in 2014, to more than 3000 in 2016. Incredibly, nearly 150 people have needlessly lost their lives on Florida’s roadways this year.

Not surprisingly, Florida is not alone in experiencing a rise in deadly car accidents. Nationally, car accident wrongful deaths increased more than 7 percent of the same time period. Yet, multiple studies show that Florida’s roads, due to a lack of safety laws, remains a leader in dangerousness. Some of the needed safety laws include police enforcement of passenger seat belt usage, mandatory motorcycle helmet use and a ban on texting while driving.

Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky reports an unsettling trend about a rapid increase in the number of wrongful deaths involving pedestrians.   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) just issued their latest report of traffic deaths, and sadly they note that the number of pedestrian wrongful deaths rose by almost ten percent last year.  This surprising increase in pedestrian fatalities was the largest in nearly 20 years.

Last year over 5,300 pedestrians died after being struck by a car or truck, an increase of more than 500 from the prior year. This increase was greater than the percentage of all traffic/driver or passenger fatalities, which rose just more than seven percent. Incredibly, Fort Lauderdale was the 6th most dangerous city for pedestrian deaths. This rise in roadway wrongful deaths reversed an almost 10 year drop in the number of annual traffic related fatalities.  In fact, 2014 saw a nearly 10,000 drop in deaths from just 8 years earlier. The rise in pedestrian deaths tied in with a similar rise in wrongful deaths of motorcycle and bicycle riders, of almost five percent over the past 10 years.

While government sponsored safety efforts and rapid increase in vehicle accident prevention technology, have had a beneficial effect upon vehicle occupants, by increasing seat-belt use and lowering the rate of drunk drivers, the same advances and efforts have ignored pedestrian safety.

Miami car accident lawyer Joseph Lipsky knows most drivers are aware of the likelihood of car accidents caused by drunk drivers or distracted drivers. However, those same motorists are generally unaware of the dangers caused by drivers who get behind the wheel when they are drowsy or sleepy. Sadly, studies prove that motorists who drive with less than 5 hours of sleep are two times as likely to have a car accident when compared to drivers who get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Basically, the less sleep a driver has, the greater likelihood of having a car accident.

Research shows that the less sleep a driver gets, the greater likelihood they will be in a car accident. In fact, drivers who have slept less than 4 hours a night have four times the number of car accidents, a ratio approaching the dangers of drunk driving.  As the AAA states, anyone who has slept less than 7 hours over a 24 hour period should not drive a vehicle.

Earlier research demonstrates that nearly 20 percent of wrongful death car accidents in the United States involve a drowsy or sleepy driver. Last year, a total of over thirty-five thousand people died in car accidents across the United States according to research collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This was more than a seven percent increase in car accidents resulting in wrongful deaths over the prior year. The information used by the NHTSA came directly from car accident police reports which were limited to crashes in which at least one vehicle was towed from the crash location or where an ambulance responded to provide medical care to an injured driver or passenger. The drivers involved in those car accidents informed investigators about the amount of sleep they had in the prior twenty-four hours.

Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney Joseph Lipsky wants owners of Ford vehicles to be aware of a potentially dangerous problem with seat belts which can fail and cause life threatening personal injuries. Ford just announced a recall of nearly 700,000 vehicles because a vehicle defect with their seat belt anchors can overhead resulting them breaking during a crash.  The anchors are part of the vehicle’s pretensioner system which is designed to tighten up seat belt webbing slack and work together with the vehicle’s air bag system.

As Ford says, the defect which affects 2016 – 2016 Fusions, 2013 – 2015 Lincoln MKZ’s and 2015 – 2016 Mondeo’s “may inadequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing risk of injury,” resulting in personal injuries which the seat belts were designed to prevent. To date, this known defect has resulted in at least two separate injuries.  Ford’s recall is supposed to commence in early January 2017. The anticipated repair will involve a Ford dealer mechanic injecting an insulating coating around the anchor. The coating will keep the anchor cool, allowing the seat belt to restrain the occupant as designed in the event of a car accident.

According to the Centers for Disease Control not only do seat belts prevent vehicle occupants from being thrown from their vehicle during a crash, as evidenced by research of traffic death statistics which demonstrates that occupants not using seat belts are nearly thirty times more likely to be thrown from a vehicle during a crash. Not surprisingly, almost 75% of people thrown from a vehicle during a wreck are likely to suffer fatal injuries. Considering over 15,000 people’s lives are saved each year by seat belt use, Ford’s faulty design jeopardizes hundreds of thousands of vehicle occupants’ lives safety. Additionally, failing to use a seat belt greatly increases the likelihood of serious injuries caused by vehicle occupants striking the dashboard and windshield.

Miami car accident attorney Joseph Lipsky hopes all parents take note, and help turn around a disturbing trend; parents not using proper child safety restraints in their vehicles. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken significant efforts in educating and assisting law enforcement in enforcement required child safety restraints, recent evidence demonstrates a rise in the number of children between 4 and 7 years of age, who are not properly restrained, and subject to serious injury in the event of a car accident. Incredibly, almost forty percent of all kids between the ages of 4 and 7 are not properly restrained.

Many parents are in a hurry to reward their children by moving them from baby seats to boosters. Unfortunately, the desire to advance children into a more “grown up” type seat actually places that child in danger. Research indicates that almost fifteen percent of kids younger than 3 were allowed to use booster seats too soon. However, this quick graduation to boosters is better than the nearly 55% of kids who are simply allowed to ride in a vehicle with no booster, only restrained by an adult seatbelt.

Too often parents disregard well publicized safety recommendations that children between the ages of 4 and 7 should not use a booster seat until they reach a large enough weight and height. Children who have not reached at least 35 inches and a weight of at least 40 pounds should remain in their harnessed child seat. Thereafter, children should use a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet nine inches tall. Adult seatbelts are designed for an adult weighing greater than 125 pounds. When a child uses an adult seatbelt, their risk of serious injury is alarmingly high. However, when a child uses the appropriate seat and safety equipment, there is a nearly 50% decrease in the likelihood of serious injury in the event of a car accident.

As this is National Teen Driver Safety Week, all parents of teenage drivers, including Florida car accident lawyer Joseph Lipsky, remind parents to speak with their children about the importance of safe driving. Considering car accidents are the leading cause of wrongful deaths for teenage drivers, with nearly 3,000 annually, in addition to the over 125,000 teenagers who suffer personal injuries in car accidents each year, parents need to take time this week to stress the importance of safe driving with their teenagers.

Topics parents need to discuss should include the most common causes of teenage driver accidents and injuries, to wit: alcohol use, not using a seat belt, texting while driving/distracted driving, speeding and having too many passengers in the car. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration considers these situations as the “5 to Drive” rules for safety. The ‘5 to Drive’ rules provide a clear and simple list for parents and teenage drivers to discuss and learn from, in hopes of avoiding a crash.

As summarized by the NHTSA, the “5 to Drive” campaign “5 to Drive” campaign rules are:

As the parent of a teenage driver, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Joseph Lipsky knows too well about the frequency of teenage driver related car accidents; and the ongoing need to reduce the wrongful deaths and injuries which unfortunately happen too often in those crashes. According to a recently released report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), older teenage drivers, those between the ages of 18 and 20, demonstrate a higher frequency of being involved in a crashes resulting in wrongful deaths, as compared to younger teenage drivers.

These deadly increases fly in the face of continuing efforts by the State of Florida to reduce teenage driving car accidents. Yet, the plain fact is that teenage drivers account for nearly 50% more car accidents than adult driver. Sadly, wrongful deaths from teenage driving car accidents rose nearly 10 percent last year. Considering that teenage drivers are nearly three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, ongoing driver education is a subject which affects everyone on Florida’s roads, not just those teenage drivers.

The report, which was underwritten by Ford, advocates that states more carefully monitor the unending number of teenage driver car accident wrongful deaths and direct greater resources at those older teenage drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), last year’s rise in teenage driver wrongful deaths actually reverses reductions seen over the past decade. Additionally, the majority of deadly teenage car accidents happen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings between 9 p.m. and midnight.

As a personal injury attorney helping seriously injured victims of crime in apartment complexes and business locations, so-called negligent security cases, Joseph Lipsky knows too well the affect a business owners’ ignorance of a rising crime rate can have the level of security they should have to protect their paying customers and tenants. Now, after a multi-year drop in violent crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reporting that violent crime rose nearly four percent over the last year.  The FBI is also reporting a nearly eleven percent rise in the murder rate.  This disconcerting rise in crime should be on the forefront of all business and apartment complex owners and operators’ minds.

In Florida, the law requires business and apartment owners and operators to take precautions to protect their business invitees, that is, their paying customers, from crime which is foreseeable. Basically this means, businesses must keep abreast of crime on and around their property; and, depending upon that level of crime over the past couple of years, take reasonable measures to deter and prevent future crime from occurring.  One of the most valuable tools for business owners is the FBI crime report, which is based upon actual police reports from every police department across the United States.  Also, in Miami and the surrounding communities of Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines and Hollywood, most local police departments have readily accessible on-line instant crime data.

While a responsible business owner will regularly monitor the crime reports, so as to change the level of protection they provide for their customers, too many businesses bury their head in the sand and purposefully ignore the crime report and their customers’ safety. By reviewing nearby crime, a business owner who is concerned about the customers may justifiably install additional lighting, add video surveillance cameras, locked gates, fencing and armed guards. Florida law does not require every business to enact all of the various types of crime prevention techniques, but only those which are reasonable for their property based upon the history of crime on and around their premises.  Also, the law does not require a small mom and pop type business to have the same level of crime prevention as a large apartment complex, such as a government subsidized section 8 type property, or a large gas station.  Larger businesses generally have more resources to provide a higher level of crime deterrence than small less profitable ones.

As a Florida personal injury attorney for over 25 years, Joseph Lipsky is concerned about the impending arrival of so-called self-driving or autonomous cars. Given the race by all automobile manufacturers to see who can get their cars on the road the fastest, as an attorney representing seriously injured victims of car accidents, Joseph Lipsky, like many of his fellow motorists, is concerned that the self-driving race will lead to dangerous situations for consumers. Now it finally appears the federal government understands this concern as they just released rules which are meant to guide car manufacturers about how they should rollout their technology on our roadways.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the new rules will go into place immediately.  The hope is that these rules will provide a unified understanding of what self-driving cars and trucks must have and be able to do in order to be considered safe. These rules begin with a 15 point Safety Assessment which manufactures must document in their vehicles. The 15 points include:

Operational Design Domain – How and where the vehicle is supposed to operate

Florida personal injury attorney Joseph Lipsky wants to make sure all seriously injured victims of all types of accidents, including car accidents and slip and falls accidents, understand the importance of telling their attorneys and treating doctors about any prior injuries and accidents they’ve had. With the technological advances in “cloud” based computing and analytics, personal injury victims need to understand the ease at which all insurance companies can access their past accident and injury information. Failure to disclose prior accidents and injuries often times may result in a judge dismissing a personal injury case for what they believe is “fraud upon the court.”

One of the first things insurance companies and their attorneys do when an accident victim files a claim for personal injuries is investigate that person’s past for any other accidents and/or injuries. Thereafter, when an injured accident victim fails to disclose any such prior injuries and accidents, especially in a deposition or in answers to interrogatories, the insurance company’s attorney will seek to present evidence to the presiding judge about those prior accident and injuries, for purposes of having the judge will dismiss the case.

Recently the Third District Court of Appeals, which presides over Miami-Dade and Monroe County, took such action when it dismissed a personal injury case against Home Depot. In that case, the injured plaintiff did not disclose a prior accident in which she received medical care.  The plaintiff also failed to disclose a prior hospital visit in which she complained of pain in her back, which was one of the injuries she was suing Home Depot for causing.  Once Home Depot presented evidence to the trial judge that the accident victim provided false and misleading deposition testimony, in not revealing the prior accident and medical care, the judge dismissed the personal injury case.

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