Motor vehicle crashes that occur in the State of Florida and elsewhere can lead to serious accidents in which drivers, passengers, and bystanders suffer serious injuries. To help prevent crashes, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is reminding motorists of the importance of “Move Over” laws. The law states that motorists must move over one lane for emergency or service vehicles stopped alongside the highway. The DHSMV is bringing awareness to the law by designating January as “Move Over Month.”
If you or a loved one has already been in an accident, contact a skilled auto attorney today.
Each year, move over violations result in more than 100 crashes on Florida highways. Violating the Move Over laws can be dangerous for both the motorist and public servants, including law enforcement, first responders, and any other motorists who stopped alongside the road to help.
In a recent three-year span, crashes due to motorists failing to move over increased by 41 percent, and citations increased by 68 percent. Motorists who violate the Move Over law can end up with fines and points on their driving record. They can also cause devastating crashes and injuries to others.
Complying With the Law
The Move Over law went into effect in Florida in 2002 to ensure the safety of law enforcement, emergency responders, and other public servants while they are performing their duties. State law requires vehicles to move over to give space to emergency vehicles, sanitation vehicles, utility service vehicles, or wreckers. This law aims to stop people from causing an auto accident or striking a pedestrian (in most cases, someone performing their duty) – thus, saving more lives.
Here’s how to comply with Florida’s Move Over law:
On a Multi-Lane Roadway:
- Exit the closest lane to the stationary vehicle while properly using your signal.
- If you cannot move over safely, slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
- Allow other drivers who are attempting to move over to do so.
On a Two-Lane Roadway:
- Slow to 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
- Slow to 5mph if the speed limit is 20 mph or less.
Common Injuries in a Car Accident Resulting From a Failure to Move Over
When people fail to move their vehicles over at the appropriate times, they can cause a serious car accident that brings about equally serious injuries. These injuries can come about to motor vehicle operators, their passengers, and bystanders who may be standing or sitting on the side of the road. When a motor vehicle operator fails to move his or her vehicle over and strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian could even incur fatal injuries.
Injuries that result from motor vehicle collisions can lead to a significant amount of medical treatment, including medical procedures, such as surgeries, along with physical and occupational therapy and the need for various types of medication. In addition, accident victims may have to miss a significant amount of time from work, losing considerable wages and work time. In the alternative, they may have to switch to ‘light duty’ work at a lower wage than they previously earned. In addition to these economic damages, they can also experience extreme pain, suffering, and inconvenience, as a result of the injuries they suffer in their accident.
Common injuries that result when another motor vehicle driver fails to move over can include painful soft tissue contusions, as well as cuts, scrapes, scarring, and bruises. More serious injuries, including fractures and broken bones, are also common in these types of accidents. If the person who was injured is a pedestrian, he or she could suffer a spinal cord injury, which could lead to some form of paralysis. In other cases, the accident might end up being fatal or result in a permanent injury to the accident victim’s head or brain, limiting his or her ability to live and function normally.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision caused by a driver’s failure to move over, you may file a claim against your own insurance company under Florida’s no-fault law or file a lawsuit for personal injuries and damages against the at-fault driver (this is possible if you suffered a permanent or debilitating injury—or if you already exhausted your PIP coverage).
An experienced Florida car accident lawyer can assist you with handling all aspects of your case and help you pursue the monetary compensation that you deserve for the injuries that you had to endure from your accident.
Why do Motor Vehicle Operators Fail to Move Over at the Proper Time?
Under Florida law, motor vehicle operators must move their vehicles over or switch lanes at certain times. This is especially true when there is a police car, emergency vehicle, or similar vehicle located at the side of the road. The primary purpose of these laws is to ensure that the occupants of the other motor vehicles, as well as bystanders who might be in the vicinity, remain safe while they are by the side of the road.
However, for one reason or another, some motor vehicle operators do not move their vehicles over at the appropriate time. There are several reasons why this may happen. In some instances, the driver may be unaware of the ‘move over law’ and may not even know that it exists.
Some other reasons why motor vehicle operators may fail to move over at the appropriate times include:
- Distracted motor vehicle operation – Motor vehicle drivers engage in distracted driving when they pay attention to something else other than the roadway when they are operating their motor vehicles. For example, they may be listening to loud music in the car, or an electronic device, such as a cellular phone or tablet, may divert their attention. The driver may be using a cellular phone to make a call without using your hands-free Bluetooth device, or the driver may be using the phone or tablet to send a text message or email while trying to operate his or her vehicle at the same time. In still other cases, the driver may have his or her head turned away from the road to discipline a young child who is sitting in the back seat of the vehicle. When a motor vehicle operator is distracted, he or she may not even notice a police car, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle stopped at the side of the road. Consequently, the driver may not move over, like he or she is supposed to do, and may strike another motor vehicle or pedestrian who is at the side of the road. When that happens, the accident victim can suffer one or more serious injuries and damages as a result.
- Negligent motor vehicle operation – In some instances, motor vehicle operators fail to move over at the appropriate times because they are engaging in some other negligent activity. For example, they may be driving too fast to change lanes or pull over safely, or they may be violating one or more other traffic laws. When motor vehicle drivers violate the rules of the road and fail to operate their vehicles in a safe, reasonable, and careful manner, they pose a risk to other drivers on the road or the side of the road—as well as to pedestrians who may be standing or sitting there. When a motor vehicle operator negligently drives his or her vehicle, serious injuries and damages can occur to anyone who happens to be in the negligent driver’s path.
- Motor vehicle mechanical defects – On some occasions, a motor vehicle operator may not switch lanes or pull his or her vehicle over safely because of a defect with the motor vehicle itself—or because of negligent repair work recently completed on the vehicle. If the motor vehicle operator can’t switch lanes or maneuver the vehicle away from the side of the road, and a collision occurs with another motor vehicle or pedestrian, then the motor vehicle manufacturer or repair facility could be a potential defendant in any lawsuit ultimately filed in the case.
When a motor vehicle operator fails to move his or her vehicle over at the proper time, a police officer could issue the at-fault driver a citation. In addition, if another motor vehicle operator, passenger, or pedestrian suffers an injury, the injured person may file a claim against the at-fault driver—especially if his or her damages exceed the applicable limits of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
If you or a person you love has suffered an injury in a motor vehicle collision that resulted from a driver’s failure to move over, an experienced Florida car accident attorney can review the circumstances of your accident and determine your legal options. Your lawyer could file a no-fault claim with your insurance company, and if necessary, may file a claim or lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver if certain thresholds are met or exceeded.
Florida No-Fault System Applies to Motor Vehicle Collisions That Occur in the State
When it comes to motor vehicle accidents that happen in the State of Florida, Florida uses a no-fault system. All motor vehicle drivers in the state are required to carry personal injury protection coverage, sometimes known as PIP coverage. The minimum amount of PIP coverage that a motor vehicle driver must carry is $10,000 worth. Therefore, if a motor vehicle operator is injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault for the accident, the driver will first go to his or her own insurance company for payment of medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
However, in some cases, the PIP coverage may not be sufficient to compensate an accident victim for the injuries and other damages that he or she suffered in the accident. In that case, if the driver meets the so-called injury threshold—or if the accident victim’s damages exceed the amount of the available PIP coverage—then the injured motor vehicle accident victim may file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver, seeking monetary compensation and damages for the injuries he or she sustained.
In cases where the at-fault driver was operating the motor vehicle in the course of his or her employment at the time the accident occurred, the accident victim may also file a claim or lawsuit against the owner of the vehicle (often, the driver’s employer) under an agency theory of liability.
If you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle collision caused by another person’s carelessness or negligence for failing to move over, an experienced Florida car accident lawyer will determine your legal options. If necessary and appropriate, your lawyer could assist you with filing a claim against the at-fault driver and/or the at-fault driver’s employer, seeking monetary compensation for the injuries you suffered in your accident.
Pursuing Compensation in a Florida Car Accident Case
Car accidents that result from a motor vehicle driver’s failure to move over can lead to serious personal injuries and damages. Not only can these injuries require a significant amount of medical treatment and be painful, but they can also be costly in terms of medical bills and other expenses the accident victim must incur out of pocket. Therefore, if you have suffered an injury in a car accident that resulted from another person’s negligence, your primary goal is to recover all of the monetary compensation that you need and deserve for the injuries you had to endure.
Since Florida is a no-fault state, you may recover this monetary compensation from your own insurance company by way of a PIP claim. However, in some cases, your injuries may cost you so much your PIP coverage alone may not adequately compensate you for all of the injuries, damages, pain, suffering, and inconvenience that you had to endure. If you suffered one or more permanent injuries in your accident, severe, or debilitating, you may file a claim or lawsuit directly against the driver who caused your accident (and in some cases, others).
The first step in the settlement process is typically to file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. Typically, your lawyer will prepare and send a demand package to the adjuster for the appropriate insurance company. The demand package will contain a cover letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement. The letter should accompany certain documentation that the insurance company will use to evaluate your case.
For example, a Florida car accident lawyer will typically include a copy of the police report, all related medical records and bills, lost wage documentation from your employer, photographs of the property damage to your vehicle, and photographs of your injuries, as part of the demand package. Once the insurance company adjuster receives and reviews this package, he or she may make an offer to settle your car accident case.
It is important to keep in mind that initial offers by insurance companies are routinely very low. This is because the insurance company, even if it is your own insurance company, is not typically interested in getting you the monetary compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Insurance companies, being large businesses, are most interested in keeping as much of their money as possible in-house. They do not make any money by paying out motor vehicle accident claims.
Therefore, they will try to get you to accept as little money as possible to settle your claim. It may take several rounds of negotiating with the insurance company adjuster before the insurance company finally increases its settlement offer to a reasonable amount. If that does not happen, your lawyer may be in a position to file a lawsuit directly against the driver who caused your accident.
An experienced Florida car accident lawyer can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your motor vehicle accident and file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. If you suffered an injury in your accident that was permanent, severe, or debilitating, or if your damages exceeded your PIP coverage, your lawyer may file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver on your behalf, seeking the monetary compensation and damages that you deserve.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations Applies to Car Accidents That Occur in the State
In Florida car accident cases, most car accident victims do not file a claim or lawsuit against the motor vehicle operator who caused their accident, such as when a driver fails to move over at the proper time. Instead, they typically go through their own insurance company and file a claim under their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
However, in some circumstances, the accident victim is injured so severely that his or her PIP coverage is not sufficient to compensate for all of the damages he or she sustained in the accident. At other times, the accident victim may have suffered an injury that was severe, permanent, or debilitating. In that instance, he or she may file a lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident.
Florida, like all other states in the country, has a statute of limitations in place when it comes to filing a lawsuit arising from a car accident. The statute of limitations acts as a deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit. In the State of Florida, if an accident victim satisfies all of the other requirements, he or she may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver within four years of the accident date.
If the car accident victim files his or her lawsuit even one day late, the court can dismiss the case, and the accident victim will not pursue or recover monetary compensation and damages for the injuries he or she suffered in the accident. In some extremely rare circumstances, a statute of limitations to file a car accident lawsuit may be extended, such as when the accident victim does not discover his or her injury until later.
The reason for having a statute of limitations in place is to ensure that car accident cases do not drag on for too long, to ensure that evidence does not grow stale, and to ensure that witnesses to the accident will remain available to testify in court, if necessary.
If you suffered an injury in a Florida car accident that happened when a driver failed to move over, an experienced Florida car accident lawyer can determine if you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the driver who was at fault. If you are eligible, your lawyer can ensure that your lawsuit is filed promptly and will pursue the monetary compensation and damages that you deserve for your permanent or disabling injury.
Important Evidence that Could Help in Florida Failure to Move Over Car Accident Cases
In motor vehicle accident cases that are caused by a driver’s failure to move over, serious and debilitating injuries can result. When that happens, you may file a claim or lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver who caused your accident. In some cases, these accident claims settle out of court. At other times, however, these cases ultimately go to court and are decided by a jury.
At a car accident jury trial that takes place in the State of Florida, the jurors will decide all disputed issues in the case. In some cases, one of the disputed issues is that of fault or liability. At other times, the at-fault driver may have already admitted fault for the accident. When that is the case, the only outstanding issue that the jury will typically decide is that of damages (i.e., how much the case is worth and how much the accident victim should recover).
If the case doesn’t’ settle before going to trial, and if the parties to the case cannot agree to pursue alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, the case will go to trial. At a jury trial, the accident victim who suffered injuries in the accident has the burden of proof. Therefore, the accident victim is responsible for demonstrating that the at-fault driver owed a duty of care, that the at-fault driver breached the standard of care by failing to move over at the proper time, and that as a result, the accident victim suffered serious and debilitating injuries.
When it comes to meeting the required burden of proof at trial, the accident victim, through his or her attorney, could introduce various pieces of evidence that may be helpful to the case. First of all, the accident victim’s attorney may introduce copies of all related medical records and bills into evidence for the jury members to review during their deliberations.
In addition, if liability or fault is in dispute at the time of trial, the accident victim could introduce a copy of the police report into evidence and may call the responding police officer as a witness at trial to explain how the incident occurred. This is especially true if the at-fault driver received a citation for the accident. Moreover, if fault is in dispute in the case, eyewitnesses to the occurrence may testify at trial regarding how the accident occurred and who caused it.
When it comes to proving damages, the accident victim could introduce the testimony of family members, coworkers, or friends, who may testify that the accident victim suffered serious injuries and that he or she can no longer perform the same activities as before the accident.
An experienced car accident lawyer can try to settle your case with the appropriate insurance company. Your lawyer can also let you know if you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in your accident case. If you have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, your lawyer can assist you throughout the litigation process and can represent you at all court proceedings, including at your jury trial.
What Happens During a Jury Trial That Takes Place in a Florida Car Accident Case?
If you decide to take your case to trial in a car accident case, your Florida car accident lawyer will be present with you throughout the proceedings. During a car accident jury trial, the attorneys in the case will select the jury and will make opening statements and closing arguments. During the trial itself, the parties will present evidence through witness testimony and also through documentation.
Witness testimony may include your own direct testimony, as well as the testimony of others who witnessed the accident and how it occurred. Your family members and friends may also testify as fact witnesses on your behalf. In terms of documentary evidence, your lawyer could introduce your medical records and bills into evidence, as well as photographs that depict the scene of the accident or your injuries.
Once the parties have presented all of the evidence to the jury at a car accident trial, the presiding judge will instruct the members of the jury on the law that they are supposed to apply when reaching a verdict in the case. The jurors will then retire to deliberate and decide all disputed issues in the case.
Since jury trials can often be a long and involved process, you and your lawyer could explore several types of alternative dispute resolution proceedings that may be available to you in your car accident case—in lieu of a jury trial.
One potential alternative to a jury trial is mediation, where a neutral, third-party mediator helps the parties to resolve their case by way of a settlement.
Another potential alternative dispute resolution proceeding is arbitration, where the parties to the case present their evidence and call witnesses before a neutral, third-party arbitrator who typically just decides the issue of damages in the case. The decision of the arbitrator in the case is then final.
An experienced Florida car accident lawyer will let you know if you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for failing to move over. If the case cannot settle, your lawyer will zealously advocate for you at any jury trial or alternative dispute resolution proceeding, to help you recover as much monetary compensation as possible in your case.
What Types of Monetary Compensation and Damages are Recoverable in Florida Car Accident Cases?
If you suffered injuries as a result of someone’s negligence for failing to move over, you must pursue and recover the monetary compensation that you need to be made whole. Since Florida is a no-fault state, if you sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you must first go to your own insurance company for payment of your medical bills and lost wages.
However, under certain circumstances, that coverage may not be sufficient to compensate you fully. When that happens, you may pursue a claim or lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident.
Monetary compensation in a Florida car accident case comes in many varieties. First, you may be eligible to recover compensation for all of your medical bills. To recover monetary compensation for your medical bills and treatment, the treatment you received must have become necessary because of the accident. You can recover this compensation even if your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid paid for some or all of your medical treatment and physical therapy.
However, these entities may pursue a lien to recover some or all of these expenses at the end of the car accident case. Your lawyer can answer any questions that you may have about potential healthcare, Medicare, or Medicaid liens that may impact your recovery.
In serious motor vehicle accident cases, including those that happen on the side of the road, you may be injured to such an extent that you have to be out of work for a long time. Even if you can work, you may have to switch to “light duty” work and take a pay cut as a result. Therefore, in addition to recovering monetary compensation for all of your medical treatment, you may recover some or all of your lost wages.
Serious injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident can also lead to a tremendous amount of inconvenience, suffering, and pain. Therefore, in addition to your economic damages, you may be in a position to pursue and recover monetary compensation for all of your pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
If the motor vehicle accident rendered you incapacitated or unable to use a particular body part, you could assert a damage claim for that. Also, if your injury significantly impacted your life and you can’t enjoy the same activities that you pursued before your accident, you may assert a claim for loss of enjoyment of life. Finally, if your injuries impacted your marital relationship, you could file a claim for loss of spousal consortium or family support.
The goal of damages in a Florida car accident case is to help you become whole to the greatest extent possible. An experienced Florida car accident attorney can help you pursue all of the monetary compensation and damages that you deserve to be made whole from your injuries.
Move Over and Make the Roads Safer for Florida’s First Responders
At the law firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, we want to thank our first responders for putting their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety and protect our citizens. These emergency responders are often first at the scene, the first to react, and the first to provide much-needed assistance to those who suffer injuries.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, contact an experienced Orlando auto accident lawyer immediately to help you obtain compensation for medical bills, future medical treatment, loss of wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses.
Orlando, FL 32814