Aronberg, Aronberg & Green, Injury Law Firm Aronberg, Aronberg & Green, Injury Law Firm 2017-06-21T19:34:21Z https://aronberglaw.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Seth Green <![CDATA[Safety on Palm Beach County School Buses – No Child Left Behind]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6210 2017-06-15T21:37:40Z 2017-06-15T21:37:40Z The Delray Beach Personal Injury Attorneys at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green, Injury Law Firm have learned one of the best ways to prevent accidents is through education and awareness. For this reason, we are bringing you this important update about Palm Beach County School Buses. School Bus Safety Alarms On several occasions within Palm Beach...

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The Delray Beach Personal Injury Attorneys at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green, Injury Law Firm have learned one of the best ways to prevent accidents is through education and awareness. For this reason, we are bringing you this important update about Palm Beach County School Buses.

School Bus Safety Alarms

On several occasions within Palm Beach County, young and/or disabled students did not get off the school bus after it arrived at school. The students were left alone on a hot bus. To combat this problem, Florida Law requires newer school buses to have a special safety alarm installed. The safety alarm requires the bus driver to walk to the back of the bus and disable the alarm before exiting. This forces the bus driver to “search” the entire bus before exiting.

PBC School Bus Alarms Non-Functional

A recent report revealed, 1 out of 5 school buses do not have working alarm systems. Thirty-five percent of the non-working systems were intentionally disabled. As a result of the report, the school board is taking efforts to improve safety. Five school employees have been disciplined. The school board has also modified the alarm systems so bus drivers cannot disconnect them. Finally, the school board has increased the pay of bus drivers (from $12.37 to $14.00 an hr) in hopes of attracting more experienced and caring drivers.

 

Promoting Safety on PBC School Buses

Speak with your child about paying attention to his or her surroundings while on the school bus. It is helpful if your child has a buddy who can remind them when it is time to get off the bus. You should also speak with your child about alerting an adult if another student is not getting off the bus.  This is helpful because the students who get left on the bus are typically young or have other disabilities preventing them for helping themselves.

 

Our personal injury law firm has extensive experiencing litigating cases involving negligent supervision. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 561-266-9191.

 

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[How Will Self-Driving Cars Affect Auto Insurance?]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6205 2017-06-14T18:49:21Z 2017-06-14T18:49:21Z As our Delray Beach personal injury attorneys know, many factors influence the premium you pay for your auto insurance. But with the advent and expansion of self-driving automobiles on America’s roads and highways, how insurance is calculated may change dramatically. Currently, auto insurers collect and consider a wide range of factors in determining how much...

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As our Delray Beach personal injury attorneys know, many factors influence the premium you pay for your auto insurance. But with the advent and expansion of self-driving automobiles on America’s roads and highways, how insurance is calculated may change dramatically.

Currently, auto insurers collect and consider a wide range of factors in determining how much you should pay for your auto insurance. In conducting their analysis, insurers first estimate how likely are you to get into a car accident or have your car damages for another reason. Then, as our personal injury lawyers know, they calculate how much you need to pay in premiums to offset the probability that the insurance company will have to pay out on your behalf. In addition to calculating how expensive and hard-to-repair your car is, among the factors that auto insurers consider in assessing your auto insurance are your:

  1. age
  2. gender
  3. marital status
  4. driving experience
  5. driving/traffic ticket record
  6. insurance claim history; and your
  7. credit history.

But with self-driving cars, many of those factors are rendered irrelevant. Aside from considering the make and model of your car, it’s possible that the only thing about you that insurance companies will care about is where you live (i.e., how likely it is that your car will be broken into or stolen) and how many miles your car drives each day (because the more time you spend on the road, the more time there is for someone else to hit you).

To help illustrate the difference between insuring a normal driver and a self-driving car, consider the hypothetical case of John Smith, a single, 25-year-old male with 9 years of driving experience, 2 speeding tickets in the last 2 years, a claims history of $10,000, and a credit score of 750. Assume John drives a 2018 Auto ABC, drives 20 miles per day, and lives in zip code 01010.

  • When John applies for auto insurance, the company will consider all of these factors. Some of the factors which will encourage the company to assess him a higher premium is his age, his gender, his speeding tickets and his claims history.

But now assume that everything else remains the same, except John drives a self-driving 2018 Auto ABC.

  • Many of those factors mentioned above become irrelevant. It no longer matters what type of driver John is or how much experience he has, because as our lawyers know, John won’t be driving the car! The self-driving car will be driving itself.

The market will become far less about insuring the driver, and far more about insuring the vehicle. Along similar lines, we can expect to see a major shift from driver responsibility to manufacturer responsibility.

The transition from driven cars to self-driving cars may also have an impact on DUI laws. Today, it is illegal to get behind the wheel of a vehicle if your BAC is .08 or above. This is because when you are intoxicated, your ability to react and process information is severely diminished. But what if you’re not driving the car? Your self-driving car will still operate the same whether you are under the influence of alcohol (or other drugs) or not. This is another area of the law that is bracing for change.

For more information on this exciting issue, please visit the Insurance Information Institute’s webpage dedicated to discussion of this topic.

While people still drive their cars—and do so dangerously—make sure you are safe on the roads. And If you or a loved one is injured in an accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another, please contact our experienced Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. Please reach out to us to set up a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[Can Past Convictions Be Used Against You in Your Personal Injury Case?]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6200 2017-06-05T19:03:34Z 2017-06-05T19:03:34Z As our South Florida personal injury lawyers know, a prior criminal conviction can be used against you in a personal injury case in which you are a plaintiff. Florida Statute § 90.610 deals with when a conviction may be used for impeachment purposes. This article will explore whether convictions can be used against you in...

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As our South Florida personal injury lawyers know, a prior criminal conviction can be used against you in a personal injury case in which you are a plaintiff. Florida Statute § 90.610 deals with when a conviction may be used for impeachment purposes. This article will explore whether convictions can be used against you in your personal injury case.

First, let’s address how this would come up. As our personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, the majority of personal injury disputes settle before litigation commences. More often than not, the parties feel that it will be too expensive to pursue a jury trial and opt to agree to a payment out-of-court. If a case never gets to trial, then § 90.610 has no practical applicability — except for in one important respect, which we will discuss below.

But if your personal injury case goes to trial, you may very well choose to testify. If you do, Florida Statute § 90.610 — part of the Evidence section of the state statutes — says that certain prior convictions can be used to impeach your credibility. In other words, on cross-examination, the defendant’s lawyer can use certain types of prior criminal convictions to imply that the jury should not necessarily believe you are telling the truth.

Florida Statute § 90.610 provides that a party (in this case, the defendant, through his or her lawyer) may attack the credibility of any witness (including you, the plaintiff) by evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of 1 year or if the crime involved “dishonesty or a false statement” regardless of the punishment. In plain language, our personal injury lawyers know, that means that the defense lawyer can impeach your credibility with evidence that you have either been convicted of a felony or of any other crime involving dishonesty or a false statement. In Florida, a crime involving dishonesty or a false statement may include crimes such as fraud, theft, etc.

However, that rule of evidence has certain exceptions applicable to our personal injury case scenario:

  • First, the evidence cannot be used in the civil trial if it is “so remote in time as to have no bearing on the present character of the witness.” In other words, if a person brings a personal injury suit in 2017 and they were convicted of a felony in 1965, evidence of the conviction may not come in to evidence.
  • Second, evidence of juvenile adjudications can’t be admitted for impeachment under § 90.610.
  • Lastly, nothing in § 90.610 affects whether or not evidence is otherwise admissible under other evidence sections of the Florida statutes, including § 90.404 or § 90.608.

Earlier, we discussed how most cases settle. But even in the settlement stage, the Florida Rule of Evidence providing for the use of prior convictions to impeach can be used to the benefit of a defendant. As our personal injury lawyers know, a defendant and his or her lawyer may pressure a plaintiff into settling by implying that if the plaintiff gets on the stand in a trial, their lawyer will use their prior conviction against them. Thus, and unfortunately, the fact of a prior conviction admissible under § 90.610 can be used as leverage in the settlement process.

Having the law on your side is a good thing. But knowing the law, and all of its intricacies, can be even more important. This issue is one of many which demonstrate why it’s so important that you retain a skilled personal injury lawyer to handle your injury case. And when you do retain an attorney, it is vital that you tell him or her about anything which may be relevant to your case. And, as we have discussed in this blog, whether or not you have a prior conviction can affect how your case turns out.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another, please contact our experienced Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. Please reach out to us to set up a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[Could One of Apple’s Patents Prevent Texting & Driving?]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6196 2017-05-22T19:36:28Z 2017-05-22T19:36:28Z Our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers have written about the dangers of texting and driving. We have also posted about local, legislative efforts to curb the epidemic. Of course Apple Inc. does not have the ability to unilaterally make texting and driving illegal. (And even if it did, there is little proof that making the...

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Our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers have written about the dangers of texting and driving. We have also posted about local, legislative efforts to curb the epidemic. Of course Apple Inc. does not have the ability to unilaterally make texting and driving illegal. (And even if it did, there is little proof that making the practice illegal would have a significant effect—people still do things that are against the law!). Could One of Apple’s Patents Prevent Texting & Driving?

But Apple likely has the technological capability to block drivers from using their phones while operating motor vehicles. And given that distracted driving contributes to 8 deaths and more than 1,160 car crashes every day here in the U.S., the ability to stop texting and driving might mean the difference between life and death. The statement that Apple has the technology to stop texting and driving is not based on the educated guesses of our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers.

Apple currently has ownership of patented technology which would allow it to disable the use of cell phones while their operator is driving. The published patent—appropriately named “Driver handheld computing device lock-out” is U.S. Patent No. 8,706,143. It was filed on December 12, 2008, and was granted to Apple on April 22, 2014. In the description of the invention, the patent states that the “lock-out mechanisms disable the ability of a handheld computing device to perform certain functions, such as texting, while one is driving.” As our Delray Beach attorneys know, patents are not issued unless the inventors demonstrate that they can actually make and use the technology—in other words, patents do not issue for simple guesses. So we are pretty sure that Apple could use the technology if it wanted to.

The patent—complete with descriptions and sketches—describes technology which uses built-in motion analyzers and scenery analyzers in order to determine when a smartphone should be disabled. One of the patent’s images is a sketch of a car, with the driver seat area marked “unsafe operating area,” and the passenger’s seat and backseat area of the car marked “safe operating area.” In theory, an iPhone, signaling its presence in the unsafe operating area, would have some or all of its functions disabled until the phone is removed from the unsafe operating area. This, as our personal injury lawyers know, could be a game changer in terms of roadway safety.

However, even if Apple chooses not to use its technology, society will not be at a loss forever. As U.S. patents last generally 20 years from the date of application, our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers understand that Apple’s patent on this technology will likely expire in 2028. Still, we shouldn’t have to wait another 11 years to use technology that could save lives. Perhaps more so than the legislators in state and national governing bodies, Apple—producer of the world-famous and omnipresent iPhone—is in an especially unique position to reduce the ability of smartphone users to text and drive.

Aronberg, Aronberg & Green is not the only firm to raise awareness about the fact that Apple’s patented technology could be saving lives. A law firm in California has filed a lawsuit (a hopeful class action) against Apple over the issue. The named plaintiff claims that he was rear-ended by a texting driver, and is asking a judge to block the sale of iPhones in California until Apple enables the lockout feature described in its patent.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another (including by somebody who was texting and driving), please contact our experienced Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. Please reach out to us to set up a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

 

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[Thursday Lawyer Humor – Must Read – Try Not to Laugh]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6188 2017-05-18T15:38:19Z 2017-05-18T13:47:07Z These are from a book called Disorder in the Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place. Thanx Stu!!! ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that...

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These are from a book called Disorder in the Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place. Thanx Stu!!!

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, ‘Where are you, Cathy?’
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!
______________________________
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
______________________________
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
______________________________
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
______________________________
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
_______________________________
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget..
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
____________________________

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
_____________________________

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He’s 20, much like your IQ.
_____________________________
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitting me?
_____________________________
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid
_____________________________

ATTORNEY: She had three children , right?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
WITNESS: None.
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney: Can I get a new attorney?
______________________________
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death..
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
________________________________

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.

___________________________________
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
___________________________________
ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
___________________________________
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS: Oral…
___________________________________
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
____________________________________
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
____________________________________
And Last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No..
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[Everglades Airboat Tragedy in Miami – UM Graduate 22 Years Old Dies]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6184 2017-05-16T14:11:00Z 2017-05-16T14:11:00Z By: Tonya Alanez and Anne Geggis Contact Reporter Sun Sentinel An Everglades airboat ride with her parents and sister turned deadly for a University of Miami student just one day after her graduation. Elizabeth “Ellie” Goldenberg, 22, and four others were thrown from the vessel late Saturday morning in the Wildlife Management Area, 12 miles west of...

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By: Tonya Alanez and Anne Geggis Contact Reporter Sun Sentinel

An Everglades airboat ride with her parents and sister turned deadly for a University of Miami student just one day after her graduation.

Elizabeth “Ellie” Goldenberg, 22, and four others were thrown from the vessel late Saturday morning in the Wildlife Management Area, 12 miles west of Krome Avenue, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman.

Goldenberg died from her injuries at Kendall Regional Medical Center. Her sister, Dana Goldenberg, 20, was hospitalized with minor injuries, said Rob Klepper, the wildlife commission spokesman.

Goldenberg’s parents, David and Renee, both 54, of Hummelstown, Pa., were not injured in the crash.

Goldenberg’s mother, Renee Flax-Goldenberg, was en route to a funeral home to make final arrangements when reached by telephone Monday afternoon. “We loved her, we miss her. It’s a tremendous loss to the world that she was taken so young,” she said. “I’m a mourning mother … and it’s a criminal investigation, so it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to speak about the circumstances in which she died.”

Goldenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, magna cum laude, from the university on Friday.

Citing an open investigation, Klepper declined to provide additional details about the crash, including who owned the vessel or who was piloting it. “At this time, I am unable to state whether or not this boating incident investigation will result in any charges,” Klepper said.

The fifth person on board the boat was Steve George Gagne, 52, of Miami, according to Klepper. He has worked as an airboat captain in the past, records show.

Goldenberg’s mother said that Goldenberg’s funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Kesher Israel Synagogue in Harrisburg, Pa. Late Monday afternoon, a memorial service was held on campus at the Jerry Herman Ring Theater.

A fellow theater student, Ashley Bombino, 21, said she learned the tragic news of Goldenberg’s death in an email from the department. “It didn’t seem real,” Bombino said by telephone Monday. “Ellie was just beyond a light. Whoever is hurting because of this, just please know she is watching over us and will always provide a light in our lives.”

In a tribute posted to Facebook, Bombino reflected on Goldenberg’s inspirational, outsized personality.

“Ellie Goldenberg you were a shining star and the happiest of people I have ever met. You were so talented and such a beautiful soul that I still can’t believe you’re gone,” she wrote. “Thank you for always making me laugh whenever we had to do fittings for shows, being wonderful backstage while performances ran and most of all being there to talk whenever I felt low.”

Goldenberg’s UM debut was in an ensemble of “Carmen,” and her most recent performance was the role of Ilse in “Spring Awakening,” according to the Miami Hurricane, the university’s student newspaper.

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[Be Safe—Protect Your Body and Your Case]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6178 2017-05-15T20:58:58Z 2017-05-15T20:56:39Z In this blog post, our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers will explore the concept of comparative fault under Florida law. Be Safe – Protect Your Body and Your Case. “Be safe” seems like a pretty obvious recommendation from personal injury lawyers. But being safe and aware of your surroundings—when driving, walking through a department store, crossing...

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In this blog post, our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers will explore the concept of comparative fault under Florida law. Be Safe – Protect Your Body and Your Case.

“Be safe” seems like a pretty obvious recommendation from personal injury lawyers. But being safe and aware of your surroundings—when driving, walking through a department store, crossing the street, etc.—has multiple benefits. Further, the consequences of being too relaxed when it comes to safety can be serious and costly—even once your case gets to court.

First, the obvious: the safer you act, the less likely you are to be injured. But because not all injuries can be avoided, the second reason to practice safety precautions is especially important. Specifically, being safe and cautious can save you a lot of money in your personal injury case. On the flip side, as our personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, in the State of Florida, being negligent or absent minded in an accident—even if you were not the more negligent or reckless party—can significantly limit your ability to receive compensation, no matter how injured you might be.

Why? Because Florida is a state which statutorily adheres to the doctrine of comparative fault, meaning that in a negligence action, the contributing fault attributable to the plaintiff diminishes the amount awarded in damages for the injury.  So, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers understand, while contributory negligence is not a complete bar to recovery here in Florida, it limits the plaintiff’s ability to be made “whole” and recover all of his or her losses.

To explain this issue, let’s work with a hypothetical scenario. Suppose Dale Defendant is driving down an otherwise empty road when he looks down at his cell phone to read a text message while approaching an intersection (with a green light). At that very moment, Paula Plaintiff, listening to music on her phone, steps into the intersection to cross the street (not in a cross-walk). Dale finally notices Paula at the last second and slams on his brakes, but he still knocks Paula to the ground in the middle of the intersection. Paula winds up breaking her hip and left leg as a result of the accident. Due to her injuries, she has to miss three months of work and incurs thousands of dollars in medical and other expenses.

Suppose that after failed settlement negotiations, Paula sues Dale for her injuries. As our personal injury lawyers know, if the case makes its way before a jury, the members of the jury will have the ability to allocate fault in the accident. They will consider, of course, the fact that the defendant was texting and driving and did not see the plaintiff in intersection until it was too late. But they will also consider the fact that Paula was carelessly walking through the intersection, distracted listening to music, never looking up to check for oncoming cars.

Let’s say the jury decides to award Paula Plaintiff a total of $200,000 for her injuries, pain & suffering, etc. If the jury finds her to have been 20% at-fault in the accident, her award will be reduced accordingly. So with a $200,000 jury verdict, a finding that the plaintiff was 20% at fault means that she will be awarded $160,000 ($200,000 less 20%). As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, 80% is better than 0%, but it’s not better than 100%. Had Paula been more aware, she might not have been found at-fault at all in the accident, and she would have been entitled to recover the full $200,000.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another, please contact our experienced Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. Please reach out to us to set up a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you and remember Be Safe – Protect Your Body and Your Case!

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[In-Depth: Who is Liable in an Uber or Lyft Crash?]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6174 2017-05-12T20:32:37Z 2017-05-12T20:32:37Z Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Uber and/or Lyft. These popular ride-hailing mobile apps which allow users to enter a pick-up and drop-off destination and virtually request a car ride. Last summer, Uber completed its two-billionth trip. That’s a lot of Uber rides. While Lyft has not gained as much...

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Uber and/or Lyft. These popular ride-hailing mobile apps which allow users to enter a pick-up and drop-off destination and virtually request a car ride. Last summer, Uber completed its two-billionth trip. That’s a lot of Uber rides. While Lyft has not gained as much popularity as Uber, it still is surging in use. This blog will explore: In-Depth: Who is Liable in an Uber or Lyft Crash?

As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, that means that many of the cars on our roads are performing Uber or Lyft-ordered drives. In particular, we know that both ride-ordering apps have significant presences in the South Florida region, including in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

So, with so many app-ordered transports taking place every day, a question arises: who is responsible for the damages in a car accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver?

To explore this issue, our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers will delve into three separate but relevant issues. First, we will discuss the inquiry into when a driver is actually considered to be driving for Uber or Lyft. Next, we will examine the legal theory of respondeat superior. Last, we will discuss how the individual companies (Uber and Lyft) go about providing insurance for their drivers.

Issue 1: When are the drivers actually “Uber” or “Lyft” drivers?

First, it’s important to identify when a person is actually an Uber or a Lyft driver. That classification is not triggered when the person is approved to drive for either company. Because of how Uber and Lyft work, people can choose to drive at their preferred times. For instance, let’s say Ben decided to drive for Uber only from 1 PM to 3 PM on a Friday. Before and after that time frame, he is logged out of the app. Clearly, then, if he gets into an accident with somebody at 9 AM while on his way to the gym, Uber or Lyft (whoever he is driving for) bear no responsibility.

However, let’s say Ben logs into the Uber app at 1:00 PM, but has not yet picked-up a ride; he is still waiting to be hailed. If Ben is just driving around, logged in, and gets into a car accident, this is probably a gray area. It is unclear whether in this case Ben was actively an Uber driver. While on the one hand he was logged-in to the app and available to be hailed, as our personal injury lawyers know, he is not actually performing an Uber drive at the time that he got into the accident.

Next, let’s look at the more obvious scenario. Ben logs in at 1 PM and is immediately hailed. After picking up a rider, while driving the rider to his destination, Ben rear-ends another car. In this situation, Ben is in the act of driving for Uber, as he is logged-in and performing a transportation ride ordered through the Uber app.

So, if while Ben is considered an “Uber driver,” he gets into an accident in which he is negligent, from whom can the victim seek compensation? For answers to that question, we turn to Issues 2 and 3.

Issue 2: Respondeat superior

“Respondeat superior” is Latin for “let the master answer.” It is also the legal doctrine that a party is responsible for acts of his or her agents. In practical terms, it means that an employer is liable for harms and damages caused by acts of an employee while in the course of his or her work for the employer. A premise relied upon here is that the “agent” is an “employee.”

That premise is not always true, as our personal injury lawyers know. Often, people who work for others are “independent contractors” instead of “employees.” The key distinction that courts use in separating independent contractors from employees is the degree of control exerted by the employer over the employee.

Because of the theory of respondeat superior, it should be no surprise that both Uber and Lyft claim that those who drive for them are independent contractors. A Florida court of appeals recently confirmed that Uber drivers are independent contractors.

So making the claim that Uber or Lyft can be liable for a car crash involving one of their drivers under the argument of respondeat superior is a difficult one to make. This is the reality, as our personal injury lawyers know, even though both Uber and Lyft exert significant control over how the drivers perform their work (in particular, they provide the routes to drive!).

Issue 3: Insurance coverage

Even though it would be hard to hold Uber or Lyft responsible under a theory of respondeat superior because of the case law allowing the “independent contractor” classification to persist, there is another way to hold the companies responsible: through the insurance they provide. Both Uber and Lyft provide insurance coverage for their drivers, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers understand.

First, let’s discuss what Uber claims to provide. According to Uber’s website section dedicated to insurance, Uber (unsurprisingly) offers no coverage for drivers when they are “offline” and offers insurance for when drivers are between rides and when a rider is on an Uber-ordered trip.

For between-ride coverage, Uber provides drivers with a 3rd-party policy that offers bodily injury insurance of up to $50,000 per individual per accident, with a total of $100,000 per accident and up to $25,000 for property damage. For on-trip coverage, drivers are covered by Uber’s $1 million insurance policy, which covers “each and every incident that occurs between accepting a trip and reaching the rider’s destination.”

Now let’s turn to Lyft’s insurance offerings. While the Lyft website is a bit less specific, the company does state that it offers a policy with four types of coverage which are in effect from the time a driver accepts a ride until the time that the “ride has ended in the app.” The four components of the coverage are 1) contingent liability (for drivers while in driver mode waiting for a ride request), 2) primary auto liability, 3) contingent comprehensive & collision, and 4) uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.

After exhausting the insurance policies provided by the companies, a victim’s next-best course of action would likely be to go after the insurance policy of the driver him or herself. But because every case is different, we highly recommend that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer such as one of ours at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green if you happen to be injured in an auto accident.

So if you have been involved in an auto accident caused by a Lyft or Uber driver, please contact our experienced Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. Please reach out to us to set up a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[High-Tech Auto Safety = High-Priced Insurance Rates?]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6170 2017-05-08T20:09:01Z 2017-05-08T20:09:01Z Wouldn’t you think that the safer your car is, the less it would be to insure? After all, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, insurance companies usually pay for auto repairs after collisions. So, if your car has especially high-tech systems to help prevent collisions, making the collisions...

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Wouldn’t you think that the safer your car is, the less it would be to insure? After all, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, insurance companies usually pay for auto repairs after collisions. So, if your car has especially high-tech systems to help prevent collisions, making the collisions less likely, wouldn’t insurance companies want to reward such systems with lower premiums? As it turns out, it’s not that simple. Find out why High-Tech Auto Safety = High-Priced Insurance Rates.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, new vehicles “loaded with high-tech crash-prevention gear are having a perverse effect on car insurance costs: They are soaring.” With collision-prevention technology an increasing reality in the auto market (14% of vehicles sold in the 2016 model-year came packed with such technology), this problem is not one which only affects a small portion of the market. To be sure, the safety technology helps: car manufacturers and industry researchers argue that the technology does help to prevent crashes.

But the decrease in risk of crashing is leading to an increase in cost. The reason? High-tech technology which prevents crashes is very expensive, as our personal injury lawyers understand. For instance, as the WSJ article explained, it currently costs $166 to fix a standard left-side mirror on a 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML350. However, that same mirror (but with the collision-prevention technology) on that same car costs $925 to fix! Auto components such as side-mirrors, grilles, fenders and bumpers which come equipped with safety sensors are more expensive to repair due to the necessary software re-calibration. Another problem leading to increased cost is that the replacement parts have limited availability.

Is the extra technology necessary? To answer that question, consider the fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that human error accounts for more than 90% of all crashes that take place in the U.S.. If technology can help mitigate human errors behind the wheel, then crashes can be prevented, property damage can be averted, and injuries can be avoided. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has conducted research showing, for instance, that cars equipped with automatic braking technology experienced a 50% reduction in rear-end crashes.

As our personal injury lawyers know, other factors—aside from the high-tech safety features of a car—can lead to increased insurance rates. According to Allstate, information reflecting your age, gender, driving record and the number of miles you drive can affect your insurance premiums. Also relevant is where you drive and, importantly, where you park overnight.

Even with the presence of extensive safety features, car crashes are a reality of life in 2017. When a car accident is not your fault, and you suffer injuries in the accident due to the negligence of another, it is usually the at-fault party’s insurance company who is responsible for paying your damages.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an auto accident caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another, please contact our experienced Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. Please reach out to us to set up a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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David Aronberg <![CDATA[The “Foreign-Body Presumption of Negligence” is Alive and Well in Florida]]> https://aronberglaw.com/?p=6166 2017-05-05T20:00:04Z 2017-05-05T20:00:04Z At least one aspect of Florida law—and its interpretation by the state’s Supreme Court—is favorable to plaintiffs. This blog will discuss The “Foreign-Body Presumption of Negligence” is Alive and Well in Florida. As our Delray Beach medical malpractice lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, some features of the Florida State Statutes place truly burdensome limitations...

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At least one aspect of Florida law—and its interpretation by the state’s Supreme Court—is favorable to plaintiffs. This blog will discuss The “Foreign-Body Presumption of Negligence” is Alive and Well in Florida.

As our Delray Beach medical malpractice lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, some features of the Florida State Statutes place truly burdensome limitations upon victims of medical malpractice. For instance, Florida State Statute 766.118(2)(a) mandates a cap of $500,00 upon the noneconomic damages which can be obtained by a victim of medical negligence. However, another part of the Statutes, 766.102(3)(b), provides that the presence of a “foreign body” within a patient shall be evidence of negligence on the part of the medical provider.

To be clear, subsection (3)(b) of the statute begins with language that protects potential medical practitioner defendants. Specifically, as our medical malpractice lawyers know, the subsection begins by stating (in more complicated language) that the fact that somebody has a medical injury does not create an inference that the health care provider was negligent. It also says that the injured claimant has the burden of showing that the injury was actually caused by a breach of protocol by the health care provider. But buried in that (3)(b) paragraph is the language helpful to victims and their families. Because the favorable language is important and relatively clear, it has been pasted below:

“However, the discovery of the presence of a foreign body, such as a sponge, clamp, forceps, surgical needle, or other paraphernalia commonly used in surgical, examination, or diagnostic procedures, shall be prima facie evidence of negligence on the part of the health care provider.”

So instead of carrying the initial burden, if a claimant has a foreign body instrument (such as the ones described in the statute) within their body, such a fact constitutes evidence of medical negligence by the health care provider. Then the burden shifts to the provider to prove that they were not negligent. As our Delray Beach medical malpractice lawyers know, this puts the burden on the defendant health care provider (doctor, hospital, etc.) to show that they were not negligent, as opposed to on the injured victim who has enough to worry about.

A recent case which made it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the strength and power of Florida Statute 766.102(3)(b), which provides for the presumption of negligence given the presence of a foreign body. Dockswell v. Bethesda Memorial Hospital (Fla. 2017) involved a man who was admitted to Bethesda Memorial Hospital for surgery due to “colon resection due to cancerous polyps.” As a normal part of the surgery, the surgeon inserted a drainage tube into the patient’s abdomen to remove fluid. (The tubes are generally removed after surgery.)

While a nurse did attempt to remove the tube, it was undisputed that a 4.5-inch section of the tube remained in the patient’s abdomen. Four months later, after the patient experienced continuing pain in the abdominal region, he underwent a CT scan which revealed that a portion of the drainage tube remained in his body. He then underwent another surgery to have the piece of the tube removed.

Understandably, the patient (turned plaintiff) sued the hospital for negligence. The parties argued over the true meaning of the above-mentioned statute about the presumption of negligence given the presence of a foreign body, understanding that a drainage tube commonly used in that type of surgery qualifies under the statute as a covered instrument. As our Delray Beach medical malpractice lawyers understand, the Florida Supreme Court defined the issue before it as “whether, in a medical malpractice case involving a foreign body left inside a patient’s body, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant to prove that no medical negligence occurred.”

After reviewing the facts of the case and all of the relevant law, the Florida Supreme Court confirmed that “the foreign-body presumption of negligence set forth in section 766.102(3)(b) is mandatory when a foreign body is found inside the patient’s body, regardless of whether direct evidence exists of negligence or who the responsible party is for the foreign body’s presence” (emphases added).

As our Delray Beach medical malpractice lawyers understand, this statement by the Florida Supreme Court is critically important. Because it reaffirms that medical malpractice plaintiffs are relieved of the initial burden of proof given the presence of a foreign body, this ruling will likely lead to hospitals exercising higher standards of care, wary that should a “foreign body” be left behind in a patient, the hospital will face a difficult task in defending itself.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, please contact our Delray Beach medical malpractice lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 561-266-9191 or e-mail us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. We look forward to assisting you.

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