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“IT WAS THEIR FAULT!” BUT…IS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE?

“IT WAS THEIR FAULT!” BUT…IS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE?

By: Roman Diveev

            Imagine a car accident where it was not clear as to whether one person or the other was at fault. Each party says “it was their fault.” How does the law try to figure out who is to blame and by how much?

            There exists several different ways in which blame is allocated. Florida follows the pure comparative negligence rule. This rule establishes that a Plaintiff can recover only that percentage of his or her damages that can attributed to the Defendant. In other words, if the Plaintiff seeks $100,000 in damages, Plaintiff is 50% at fault, and the Defendant is 50% at fault, the plaintiff could potentially only recover $50,000. A few more examples are illustrated below.

Damages Sought by PlaintiffPlaintiff’s FaultDefendant’s FaultDamages Recovered by Plaintiff
100,0000%100%100,000
100,00020%80%80,000
100,00050%50%50,000
100,00080%20%20,000

 

            Be warned, however, that there are states which follow different rules. States such Georgia and West Virginia follow a modified comparative negligence rule in which a Plaintiff can only recover damages if the Plaintiff is 49% or less at fault. In other words, if the Plaintiff is equally liable or more liable than the Defendant, the Plaintiff is barred from recovering any damages. For Plaintiffs who are 49% or less liable, recovery is reduced proportionally.

            There exists another variation on the modified comparative negligence rule. States such as Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey follow a 51% rule. This is a slight difference in that if the Plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, they cannot recover damages at all. Like the previous modified rule, any fault at 50% or less is reduced proportionally.

            A handful of states such as Virginia and North Carolina follow a pure contributory negligence rule. This rule states that if the Plaintiff contributes in any way, be it 50% or 1%, then that Plaintiff is barred from recovering. This particular rule is the most extreme one compared to the others. Less states have chosen to follow this rule because it has the harshest consequences.

            Proving degrees of fault is a rather difficult task. In the end, if a case gets to trial, the jury will have to apportion a percentage of fault to each party. The jury will have to weigh evidence and testimony presented during trial. It is one of the reasons that selecting a good attorney and firm is important. The attorneys at Rue & Ziffra have been handling personal injury cases for 40 years.  If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, call 386-788-7700.  For more information, please visit:   http://www.rueziffra.com/automobile-accidents

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Road Rage

road-rage

Many factors can come into play in the events that lead up to a nasty, if not fatal, auto accident: carelessness, distractions, failing to check your blind spots. Even when you’re focused and doing everything a good driver should, making the common mistake of assuming that the other drivers around you are paying just as much attention to the road as you are, can end up being an unfortunate mistake. Yet, there is one factor that we all sometimes hear about in the news. Though, let’s be honest, we never truly think it will ever happen to us: road rage.

Road rage is a real danger, and it does happen. In large, tourist-filled cities such as nearby Daytona and Orlando, road rage is a growing concern. During a morning and evening commute to and from work, a driver’s stress level can escalate without he or she being aware of it. Whether you have that meeting you’ve been dreading, your child was sick last night, or you had a particularly difficult fight with your spouse, all these factors can have an emotional effect on you. The stresses of your day that may lie dormant as you’re focused on work, can end up manifesting themselves in ways that you may not realize, culminating during a time when your stress level reaches a climax: when you’re behind the wheel.

More often than not, altercations between drivers have nothing to do with personal vendettas against one another, but rather, personal stress often often lies at the heart of the quarrel. This is why we see so many “crimes of passion” in the news, where adults who had no prior knowledge of one another, have been injured or even killed for seemingly senseless reasons. Acknowledging your emotional state and recognizing its cause is the first step to dealing with your stress in a healthy way, before you run the risk of putting others in danger. At Rue & Ziffra, we are in your community, and on your side. Together, let’s help keep our community safe.

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October Newsletter – Road Debris Hazards

road

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, there is an abundance of debris on the roadsides and roadways. Motorists need to be aware of the hazards road debris can present.

The most common ways that road debris may contribute to accidents is by either:

• Causing a driver to lose control of his vehicle; or

• Being launched by the tires of a car into the windshield of another vehicle.

If an item in the roadway is particularly large, it may also necessitate sudden braking by an approaching driver or require drivers to change lanes, increasing the risk of a collision.

Most drivers have personal experience with having a stone or object strike their windshield, an event that can be very surprising and distracting. In some cases the object will go through the car window, and even strike the driver or another occupant.
A Florida woman lost control of her SUV when she swerved to avoid hitting a tire tread in the middle of the interstate. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, when the woman over-compensated, the SUV overturned before stopping in an upright position. The driver was killed; two passengers were flown to an area hospital in serious condition.
Many causes of auto accidents are due to road debris which can include tree branches, shredded tires, lumber, small objects that fly off other vehicles, and much more. Each can be deadly if encountered on a roadway by a vehicle. The latest report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that not only is road debris a serious and deadly problem, it’s one that is increasing in prevalence.
Swerving to avoid the debris is a common reaction, but it can also be more devastating than hitting the object. Even though hitting the debris may cause damage to your vehicle or injuries to you, swerving into another lane or off the road can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and strike another vehicle or object such as a guardrail.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
What should you do if you are injured in a motor vehicle crash as a result of road debris?

• First, call the police and seek emergency medical care if necessary.

• Second, if you are able to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle carrying the items that became road debris, report the license plate number to the police. Third, photograph the actual debris that caused the accident and the damage to your vehicle.

• Last, contact an attorney and report the accident to your car insurance company. Even if you are unable to identify the vehicle that created the road debris that caused the crash, you may have car insurance that provides coverage for the injuries you sustained.

Beware on Construction Debris on I-4

In a recent report on airing on local television station, WFTV Channel 9, dozens of drivers are claiming the construction work on the I-4 Ultimate project has left them with big repair bills.

More than 60 car owners claim their car was damaged because of something they drove over or hit in the 21-mile work zone. Wheel alignments, and damaged struts and tires are among the repairs cited.

A repair shop employee told Channel 9, customers driving off I-4 are frustrated with the traffic and the damage they said it’s doing to their cars.
“Lots of times it’s uneven pavement that they’ve hit, the wear and tear of the road the way it is,” the employee said.
Based on the list Channel 9 obtained from the Florida Department of Transportation, more than 60 drivers have tried to get the contractor to foot the bill.
A majority of the claims were for damage from potholes, nails or road debris, but only a quarter of the claims were reimbursed.
So far, more than $11,000 has been paid out.
Saying your car was damaged on I-4 is one thing, but proving it is another.
The I-4 Ultimate website shows drivers need documents, such as photos, police reports, witness statements and patrol logs, if a road ranger helped the driver.
According to the employee, they didn’t know drivers could get money if they could prove the damage was caused on I-4, and they plan to tell drivers who come through their shop about it.
The employee said, “It’s good business for us, but bad for the customer who has to deal with that.”
I-4 Ultimate officials said the contractor is required to patrol and repair the roadway when potholes open.

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Rue & Ziffra August Newsletter

traffic

2015 Increase in Traffic Accidents

 Traffic Deaths at a 50 Year High in 2015

 

Information released by the National Safety Council indicates the U.S., in 2015, had the highest one-year percentage increase in traffic deaths in half a century.  Estimates indicate that 38,300 people were killed and roughly 4.4 million sustained injuries that resulted in the need for medical attention.  The number of deaths rose by 8 percent from 2014, compared with a less than 0.5 percent increase between 2013 and 2014 and a 3 percent drop the previous year.

According to the NSC, an improving economy could be the possible cause for the increase.  Factors like lower unemployment and cheaper gas, usually combines with more miles driven.  People don’t drive to work as much or take as many vacations during a recession periods, considering they have less income for anything that is not completely necessary.

According to Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC, “Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted.  Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake, in spite of decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements. Engage your defensive driving skills and stay alert.”

Traffic Accidents and Human Error

 

Road danger is a man-made crisis, with human error accounting for over 90 per of accidents.  The majority of all accidents are related to bad driving behavior.

Disregard of Traffic Control Devices

 

Failure to yield at a traffic control device, usually a stop sign, yield sign, or traffic light can pose a significant risk to vehicles which have the right-of-way.  This can often result in a “T-Bone Collision” where the risk of injury is very high.

Even with side-wall airbags, the fact remains that most car safety devices are designed to prevent injury from a front-end collision.  Seat belts do not do much to prevent sideways movement.  Dashboard airbags are also not of much help, and may not even deploy from a side impact.

 

Failure to Yield

 

Beyond traffic lights, yield and stop signs, accidents relating to failure to yield often occur at unmarked intersections, entry ramps, traffic circles, and points where lanes of traffic merge. Not everybody respects the rules of right of way, or pays attention to merging traffic. It is important to exercise additional care at such points of potential danger.

 

Rear-End Collisions

In most jurisdictions, a driver who rear-ends another car is presumed to have caused the accident. In most cases, that presumption is correct.  The driver at the rear follows too closely, or doesn’t pay attention to what is going on in the roadway in front of his car, and doesn’t take notice that another car has stopped or slowed in front of him until it is too late to avoid collision. In higher speed rear-end collisions involving a line of cars, such as cars stopped at a traffic light, you may see the initial collision propel the stopped cars into each other, such that three, four, or even more cars become involved.

Additional factors which commonly contribute to accident include:

Dangerous Passing:  Attempting to pass another vehicle on the shoulder, in a “no passing zone”, where the line of vision of oncoming cars is obstructed, where oncoming traffic is dangerously close, or similar passing conduct will often contribute to car accidents.

Dangerous Turning:  Attempting to turn from the wrong lane, or suddenly slowing or stopping in a traffic lane upon realizing that you are about to pass a desired intersection or exit ramp, can be extremely dangerous to other drivers.

Overcorrecting:  Avoid panic-like steering.  Many rollovers occur when drivers overcorrect their steering as a panic reaction to an emergency, or even to a wheel going off the pavement’s edge.  At highway speeds, overcorrecting or excessive steering can cause the driver to lose control, which can force the vehicle to slide sideways and roll over.

Reading While Driving:  Attempting to read instructions, road maps, or other materials while driving a car.

Use of Electronic Devices:  Attempting to change a tape or CD, dial a cellular phone, use an inappropriate entertainment device (such as trying to watch a DVD while driving), or other similar act can distract a driver from the road and increase the chance of an accident.

Vehicle Defects:  Poor maintenance of a vehicle, particularly of its brakes, can contribute to accidents. Drivers are responsible to make sure that their cars are safe to drive.

Vehicle Lights:  The failure to properly use turn signals, the failure to properly maintain headlights, brake lights, and signal lights, the failure to illuminate headlights.

Road Rage

There is no question but that road rage contributes to car accidents. This happens both through intentionally dangerous driving acts, such as braking suddenly in front of another car, pulling up right on another driver’s bumper or even trying to tap the other driver’s bumper, and also through the fact that angry drivers are more likely to make mistakes in their driving conduct. Worse, as road rage incidents often occur on highways and freeways, the accidents that result can be extremely serious, and can involve additional vehicles. If you are being victimized by an angry driver, try to find a way to remove yourself from the situation – slow down or take an exit. If the angry driver pursues you, try to pull into the parking lot of a police station or a busy business. If you are considering engaging in acts of road rage, you should also remove yourself from the situation, if necessary pulling over until you have calmed down.

 

The attorneys at Rue & Ziffra have been handling automobile accident cases for 40 years.  If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, call 386-788-7700.  For more information, please visit:   http://www.rueziffra.com/automobile-accidents

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Rue & Ziffra Celebrates 40 Year Anniversary

Rue & Ziffra Law Firm Celebrates 40 Years Serving and Supporting Central Florida Communities

40 year anniversary

 

Port Orange, FL: The Central Florida personal injury law firm Rue & Ziffra has announced their 40thAnniversary celebration. The company takes pride in living up to its motto: “In your community and on your side.”

 Since first opening its doors in 1976 the company has been providing clients with caring and dependable legal services after an accident or when facing a stressful situation.

 As an avid motorcyclist, Attorney John Rue founded the firm dedicated to helping bikers who had been injured because of another driver’s negligence.  He later expanded his vision to helping individuals with other types of personal injuries.

 In 1991, Attorney Allan L. Ziffra joined Rue as the co-founder of Rue & Ziffra, P.A. Sharing a passion for motorcycling, Ziffra also felt compelled to help all victims with personal injury claims to make certain theyreceived full and fair compensation.  Ziffra was instrumental in expanding the law firms practice areas as well, adding the departments of workers’ compensation, medical malpractice and many more.  For a complete list of practice areas please visit:  www.RueZiffra.com.

 Following Rue’s original mission, the firm is committed to giving back to the community in a multitude of ways. For decades they have sponsored motorcycle runs throughout Volusia and Flagler Counties to raise money for various causes. In the past few years Rue & Ziffra expanded its outreach to a broad range of other community events including the introduction in 2012 of the Text Free Zone simulator that helps bring awareness to the dangers of texting and driving, supporting area high schools with various sports and academic activities, providing refreshments during Port Orange Family Days, Teen Safety Driving Schools or helping numerous other local charities and schools throughout Central Florida.

 Rue & Ziffra has dedicated a page on their website to show all the school and charity events they sponsor. Visitors will find relevant information, as well as pictures from previous activities and dates of upcoming events. During events staff members and attorneys are on hand with free giveaways or raffle prizes under the Rue & Ziffra tent and invite community members to stop by to chat and ask questions.  Visit the “RZ Cares” section of RueZiffra.com to see all community outreach events.

 “Our families live here and we are proud to be a part of such a wonderful community,” says Rue. “We continue to set goals to help more non-profit organizations right here in Volusia and Flagler Counties.”

 Some of the company’s attorneys were born and raised locally and all have lived in the area for more than 20 years.  Their children attend local schools and participate in local sports and other activities.

 When asked about their 40-year track record of success, Ziffra says, “It has been such an honor to serve this community that we call home.  Our firm will continue to help as many locals as possible.  When they need someone to fight for them they can call on us.”

 The mid-size personal injury law firm features an “On Call” after business hours attorney service for client convenience. They also send attorneys to meet directly with clients instead of investigators to expedite cases. Rue & Ziffra serves communities throughout Volusia County, including Port Orange, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, DeLand, Deltona, Orange City, DeBary, Bunnell, Sanford and Orlando, Florida.

 The company has offices in Port Orange, DeLand and Palm Coast and can be reached at 1-800-JUSTICE.The public is also invited to visit www.RueZiffra.com to learn more about services and initiate a complimentary case review.

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Upcoming Events

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