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Safety Alert: Drone Regulations Announced

Before the new year, all drone owners must register their devices before flying them. The new registration requirements were announced Monday. Officials hope they will encourage owners to operate the devices in a responsible manner. It would also make it easier for authorities to track down those involved in drone crashes or incidents. Drone owners will be responsible for registering devices.

Dangerous Intersection In Walton County

WJHG Channel 7 out of Panama City reports a Freeport man is dead after his motorcycle hit an SUV in Santa Rosa Beach this past weekend. The 58-year-old male was driving his motorcycle when a 69-year-old male pulled into his path. The Freeport male was reportedly unable to swerve in time and was killed in the impact. The crash occurred at the intersection of Highway 98 and County Road 83, soon after 3 p.m. Charges are pending in this case.

When Car Accidents Are Caused By Medical Emergencies

WEAR Channel 3 reports a medical emergency caused a driver to run a red light and hit another vehicle. On Saturday morning, a 45-year-old female was driving northbound on Palafox approaching Brent Lane when she suffered a medical emergency and ran a red light. Her 2010 Chevy Equinox hit a 53-year-old male's 2014 Chevy Equinox. The impact was so significant the 2014 Chevy Equinox rolled over on its right side and hit a highway and car wash signs. The female was taken to Baptist Hospital with serious injuries, however, her 16-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries. As of now, the 53-year-old male has reported only minor injuries.

Truck Accidents On The Interstate

There was a horrific accident that occurred here in Northwest Florida last Monday morning. The accident happened on Interstate 10 and involved a Hummer and four semitrailers. The positive - only three people suffered minor injuries. According to Northwest Florida Daily News, the accident occurred on a foggy stretch of I-10 at 5:08 a.m. in Walton County near mile marker 83.

Does Insurance Cover Street Racing?

WEAR Channel 3 reports a speeding driver lost control of the vehicle and caused a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate I-110. Five vehicles were traveling southbound on I-110 just north of Cervantes Street, according to the FHP. A 19-year-old male was clocked in his Mitsubishi Eclipse speeding at 117mph in a 55 mph zone with a group of other cars that were racing and driving recklessly. Other drivers were also racing prior to the crash. The report states the 19 year old lost control of his vehicle, hit a concrete barrier wall on the east shoulder of I-110 and hit the rear of another racer's vehicle, a Hyundai Genesis. The impact caused the Hyundai to hit the barrier wall, as well. The initiating racer drove back into the southbound lanes of I-110 where it collided with another racer's Mitsubishi Eclipse. The crash caused traffic to come to a sudden stop and caused a 33-year-old female's Hyundai Tiburon to collide with an unknown vehicle. That vehicle left the scene before authorities got there. The initiating vehicle's driver was arrested for causing the crash and charged with reckless driving resulting in property damage and racing on a highway. He also got a speeding ticket. The other two racers given court dates for racing on a highway. The FHP reports no one involved in the crash was seriously injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured in this accident and we have to ask - will there be insurance coverage for their injuries? According to my research, a standard auto or home policy won't cover any type of racing damage or liability. Common forms of amateur motorsports such as drag racing, autocross, rallies and track days are excluded from regular auto insurance policies. The fine print usually says something like this: "Liability arising from the sponsoring or taking part in any organized or agreed-upon racing or speed contest or demonstration in which your insured car has active participation, or in practice or preparation for any such contest." The sanctioning body for the type of racing you do may carry liability insurance. However, it will usually be bare bones coverage meant to protect those you injure. Most organizations aren't in the business of protecting drivers and repairing their vehicles. So, what's an amateur race car driver to do? If you are going to race at a sanctioned event, then some insurance companies will write policies for you. For example, a $30,000 track-day policy at Leland West (including coverage for damaged guardrails and wreckage removal) costs about $200. Other carriers to investigate include Lockton Motorsports and OnTrackInsurance. Policies are typically "agreed value" -- that is, you and the insurance company agree what your car is worth up front, and you pay a premium based on that amount. They typically cover only damage to the car, not any injuries the driver suffers or damage he may inflict on others. So what should we learn from this tragic incident? Take a pause before drag racing. More likely than not, drag racing is an auto exclusion that your car insurance company might write into your policy. In this case, your car insurance company would not cover you if you are injured while drag racing. Source: http://www.carinsurance.com/About/Articles/car-racing-insurance.aspx

Why Is My Insurance Paying For My Medical Expenses?

In order to register your Florida automobile, you must meet minimal insurance requirements. The requirements are as follows: (1) $10,000.00 of Personal Injury Protection ("PIP") and (2) $10,000 of property damage liability.

Safety Alert: New Regulations To Drones

We all knew this was coming. Recently, the Secretary of Transportation announced that all unmanned aircraft would be required to be registered with the government just as manned aircraft are today. We have watched drones fly around concerts, parties, school assemblies and know that many of these individuals have no idea how to fly them, and it is just a matter of time before someone gets significantly hurt. According to Secretary Fox, drone registration will help ensure that drone operators are educated on airspace issues and help enforce accountability by knowing who is flying, There will be a task force consisting of government leaders and diverse stakeholders who will determine the specifics of which drones will be covered - for example, toy drones could be excluded - and how the registration process will work.

Agritourism Activities: Safety and Liability

We recently went to a farm for pumpkins, sunflowers and fall festivities. As we bounced up and down on the hayride, I started to think about the possible liabilities in "agritourism". I expect that inviting the public to your farm increases your liability and legal responsibilities. First, what is an agritourism activity? An "agritourism activity" is any agricultural related activity consistent with a bona fide farm or ranch or in a working forest which allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy activities, including farming, ranching, historical, cultural, or harvest-your-own activities and attractions. An agritourism activity does not include the construction of new or additional structures or facilities intended primarily to house, shelter, transport, or otherwise accommodate members of the general public. An activity is an agritourism activity regardless of whether the participant paid to participate in the activity. In 2013, Florida passed a law limiting the legal liability of landowners, agritourism operators, and employees for the inherent risks associated with the activity. This protection is afforded to those who post a notice of the risks. What is considered an inherent risk? Inherent risks of agritourism activity means those dangers or conditions that are an integral part of an agritourism activity including certain hazards, such as surface and subsurface conditions; natural conditions of land, vegetation, and waters; the behavior of wild or domestic animals; and the ordinary dangers of structures or equipment ordinarily used in farming and ranching operations. The term also includes the potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to the injury of the participant or others, including failing to follow the instructions given by the agritourism operator or failing to exercise reasonable caution while engaging in the agritourism activity.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In Progressive American Insurance Company v. Grossi, 164 So. 3d 790 (Fla 5th DCA 2015) John Grossi was the named insured of an automobile insurance policy. His wife, Judy, was also insured by and through the Progressive insurance policy. After an automobile accident, Progressive denied John's claim for Uninsured/Under-Insured motorist benefits ("UM benefits"). Progressive established that Judy had changed the policy by making a modification (rejecting UM benefits). At the trial court, a summary judgment was entered in favor of John and Judy Grossi; Progressive appealed. The question on appeal was whether Judy Grossi had authority to reject UM coverage as her husband's actual or apparent agent. John claimed that Judy did not have actual or apparent authority to decline the valuable UM coverage. John argued that only he (the named insured) had the authority to reject UM coverage. Progressive disagreed and asserted that the wife was acting within the actual or apparent authority of her husband and that her rejection was of UM coverage was valid. Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal held that the named insured could reject uninsured motorist coverage through an agent. Furthermore, the court found that there was a plethora of evidence to support the insurer's position, including but not limited to Judy's numerous modifications of the policy in the past. Thus, the court reversed the trial court's order granting summary judgment and remanded the case to the trial court for determination of disputed issues of material fact.

Pre-existing Injuries And Personal Injury Claims

This year, Florida's Second District Court of Appeal weighed in on whether or not a pre-existing injury unrelated to a car accident was relevant and discoverable by the defendant. In Muller vs. Walmart Stores, the plaintiff alleged he sustained an injury at a distribution center when he was struck by a truck owned by Walmart and driven by one of it's employees. During discovery (the information gathering phase of the case), plaintiff revealed he had served in the U.S. army and had three different injuries in that time period. The plaintiff stated that he was not asking money for the aggravation of those prior injuries. Regardless, the defendant requested the plaintiff's entire military personnel file, some of which is classified as sensitive information. The plaintiff argued these records were irrelevant to the case at hand. The trial court granted the defendant's request, but the appellate court reversed. The appellate court found that, while there may be relevant information in the plaintiff's military records, the records also contain a lot of information that would not be pertinent to the present case. Thus, permitting the defendant access to the records would be "highly intrusive to [the plaintiff's] private interests." Consequently, the case was remanded (sent back) to the trial court, so that the trial court could receive the military file, review it, and only disclose the relevant documents to the defendant. Muller vs. Walmart Stores Inc., 164 So.3d 748(Fla. 2nd DCA 2015) To read the appellate decision: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-district-court-of-appeal/1701679.html

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