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January 2016 Archives

Proposed New DUI Bill Equals Harsher Penalties For Offenders

Channel 3, WEAR TV, reports that suspected DUI drivers could face harsher penalties if they refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Under the proposed new law, drivers could face jail time and fines. The proposed bill is expected to be discussed in committee next week. For refusing the test, drivers would face a minimum $500 fine and six months of probation on top of an already suspended license for refusing the test. WEAR interviewed an officer with the Gulf Breeze Police Department who thought the new proposed penalties would be very beneficial. Why? Breathalyzer tests are voluntary. The Gulf Breeze Officer, Brandon Scapin, said "If you don't submit to lawful test of your breath your license gets suspended for a period of one year. If you have a prior refusal to submit to a lawful test of the breath, urine or blood your license will be suspended for a period of 18 months." He said the fear of spending time behind bars and paying a fine may encourage drivers to cooperate. The bill would make it a misdemeanor for someone to refuse a breath test if they're arrested again. A repeat offender would also be required to have a breathalyzer device installed in their vehicle, and would need to pass in order to drive their car. Gulf Breeze police officers are equipped with audio packs and their units have dash cams that record evidence that also helps in DUI cases. As always, law enforcement reminds you not to drink and drive.

Safety Alert: Hoverboard Injuries On The Rise

I have to admit, I have not gotten on a hoverboard, but I have seen them all around my neighborhood and I have seen them on tv, the internet and have read numerous articles about hoverboards. I am hesitant to buy them for my children based upon the risks that come with the hoverboards and the lack of regulations that the toys have or warnings that the manufacturers give to consumers. I have done enough research that most people who do use a hoverboard do not use it safely and as a result....ER physicians are seeing hundreds of people with injuries because of dangerous falls that are occurring.

Unethical Solicitation Of Potential Clients By Some Florida Attorneys Gains Attention From The Florida Bar

As a smaller law firm in Northwest Florida, we pride ourselves on the one-on-one attention we give each one of our cases. We don't hand our clients off to case managers, paralegals, or legal assistants. Yes, we have paralegals and legal assistants, but the attorneys are your primary contact in our office. The practice of giving personal attention to clients has generated hundreds, if not thousands, of referrals from our past clients. We were happy to see that The Florida Bar recently tightened up the rules governing the practice of law by taking issue with the Florida law firms that try to sign up a prospective client by using unethical and improper actions and communication. The Bar's Special Committee to Study the Unethical and Illegal Solicitation of Legal Business has seen an uptick in the improper solicitation of personal injury victims by lawyers and non-lawyers.

Car Turns Driver In For Hit And Run

It was a vehicle's emergency system that eventually turned in a lady who was involved in a hit and run last month in south Florida. As police received a call from a victim who said she had been struck from behind by a black vehicle that sped off, police dispatch got an automated call from a vehicle emergency system stating the owner of a Ford vehicle was involved in a crash and to press zero to speak with the occupants of the vehicle. The victim had to be taken to the hospital with back injuries.

Safety Alert: Are Self Driving Cars Part Of Our Future?

Most of us that surf the internet, read a newspaper or watch television know that many different technology companies are developing self-driving cars. Companies like Apple, Google, Tesla, Toyota and Uber are some of the technology companies developing and testing self-driving car technology. Google is the pioneer in autonomous driving technology. In 2005, Google established a team of engineers, led by Sebastian Thrun, who developed a robotic vehicle that won a contest sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Sine then, in November of 2015 Toyota announced over the next five years, it would spend $1 billion on research centers related to self-driving car at both MIT and Stanford. Apple, Google, Tesla and Uber have also committed to substantial research initiatives focusing on the testing and developing of autonomous vehicles. BMW, Audi and Daimler recently purchased Nokia's map business, including intellectual property focused on self-driving cars.

Safety Alert: Could Wearing A Winter Coat Endanger Your Child?

Kidsandcars.org is a non-profit child safety organization dedicated to preventing injuries and death to children in or around motor vehicles. An expert from KidsandCars.org visited with the hosts of NBC's TODAY show last month. Their topic centered on a potential danger to children wearing winter coats while strapped into their car seats. At an official crash test lab in Michigan, a child dummy that appeared to be securely strapped into a car seat came hurtling out of the motor vehicle during a crash simulation at 30-mph. As a parent, I would not have even thought it possible to be ejected from a child's car seat. The winter months are upon us and we should all be made aware of the potential risks associates with having your child leave their winter coat on in the car. When a child is wearing a winter coat, it may feel like they are strapped snugly into a car seat when the straps are actually dangerously loose. Experts say to strap your child securely in their car seat without their coat. Instead of putting the coat on your child, you can put the coat over the child to keep him/her warm, or you can use a blanket. This advice even applies to adults. Experts say they shouldn't wear their winter coats when they're behind the wheel or riding in a car.

What Happens When Accidents Are Caused By Law Enforcement?

Accidents happen". There are days and even weeks when this saying seems to be heard regularly, but very rarely do we hear or read about an accident caused by law enforcement. I was surprised to read an article recently on the WJHG Channel 7 website that a Panama City Police Officer was responsible for a car accident that occurred on Monday afternoon. The Florida Highway Patrol investigated the accident and cited the officer for following too closely to the vehicle in front of it and causing a wreck. It happened about 4:15PM near the intersection of 18th Street and Danford Avenue in Panama City. The policeman was trying to merge on to Highway 98 from the center turn lane. At the same time, a car driven by another resident from Panama City Beach was attempting to enter the center turn lane in front of the patrol car. According to the FHP report, Smith didn't see the other car and hit it from behind. Injuries were described as "minor", but the wreck closed part of Highway 98 for more than three hours while the investigation was taking place.

Personal Injury Protection

Last month, Allstate filed a brief with the Florida Supreme Court seeking the high court to overturn an August ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal. In the underlying appellate action, Allstate was in a dispute regarding No-Fault or Personal Injury Protection benefits. The case involved 32 consolidated cases and dealt with the question of whether the Allstate policies would reimburse the physicians under a fee schedule based on the Medicare reimbursement rates. The medical providers argued that the Allstate policies were "ambiguous". The 4th District Court of Appeal agreed and ruled in favor of the medical providers. In Allstate's brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court, Allstate points to a ruling out of the 1st District Court of Appeal (our district in the panhandle) that they believe entitles them to use the Medicare fee schedule as a basis for reimbursement.

Car Crashes: Who Has The Right-Of-Way?

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that the FHP is investigating a two-car crash which occurred Sunday night that left a Fort Walton Beach man hospitalized in critical condition. A 2010 Chevrolet Silverado pickup driven by a 26 year old female from Fort Walton Beach, was traveling northbound on Martin Luther King Boulevard and turning onto Hurlburt Road after the traffic light turned green when her vehicle was struck from behind by a 2010 Nissan Titan pickup driven by a 68-year-old male. According to the FHP release, the Nissan Titan failed to slow at the intersection when the crash occurred at 9:29 p.m. Sunday. 

Will Florida Have "No-Fault" Insurance In The Future?

Taking another step to reportedly reduce fraud in Florida, a state representative out of Delray Beach filed a proposal to end the state's personal-injury protection auto insurance system, known as "no -fault," in 2019. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, this proposal came two months after Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty mentioned repealing PIP and "doing nothing" to further reduce fraud in the personal-injury protection system. The idea appeals to state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, too.

Do Florida's Snowbirds Need Additional Insurance During The Winter Stay?

Do snowbirds need separate insurance when traveling to Florida for the winter season? According to Florida law, the no-fault law requires owners of motor vehicles that have been the state for at least 90 consecutive days or 90 non- consecutive days during the past 365 days to purchase a policy delivered or issued for delivery for Florida. The minimum coverage is: $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP)and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). So as a snowbird, that would cause some confusion and according to an article in the Boston Globe - it did. Mainly because their (Massachusetts) state auto insurance regulations exceeds those limits. In actuality, the state where the snow bird originally resides is what auto policy that would cover any issues during their stay in Florida, This is also affirmed by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulations who states that a snow bird's home state auto policy is sufficient as long as it meets the minimum requirements of Florida requirements.

Father And Son Team Working Together To Serve Our Clients

Our legal team consists of attorney Wm. Dennis Brannon and his son C. Paul Brannon. We work together as a father and son team to provide our clients with exceptional service and solutions in motor vehicle accident claims and other personal injury matters.

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