September 2010 Archives

September 30, 2010

Vehicle Product Liability & Crashworthiness Cases Checklist - Florida

In a previous blog, I wrote about the "enhanced injuries" doctrine in Florida. The doctrine stands for the proposition that a wrongdoer can be liable for damages extending beyond those resulting from the initial negligence. The example I used was of a simple car accident that triggered a defect in the victim's vehicle, which caused a fire and catastrophic injuries well beyond the minor injuries resulting from the initial impact alone. Today's blog is about the common characteristics associated with enhanced injury cases in the context of motor vehicle accidents and the various defects leading to those accidents.

Common characteristics include:

  • One or a few occupants are catastrophically or fatally injured while others have minor or no injuries;

  • Minor collisions resulting in catastrophic injury or death - see example in first paragraph;

  • Severe damage to or failure of a localized area of the vehicle (examples: roof crush or seat belt collapse);

  • Seat-belted occupants who are seriously injured or who are partially or fully ejected.

Typical Reasons for Enhanced Injuries:

Post-Impact Fuel Fed Fire Defects
Auto engineers agree that an occupant who survives the crash forces should not be injured or killed by a subsequent fire. Fire causing defects include:

  • Fuel Tank Location & Shielding. Fuel tanks placed in positions of risk to crushing or compromise, or not adequately protected against puncture damage.

  • Siphoning, Filler Tube & Fuel Line Failure: Excessive post-accident fuel leaks caused by failing to install inexpensive check-valve devices.

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September 28, 2010

The Dangers of Aged Motor Vehicle Tires (Florida)

tire_blowout.jpgThere is more to tire safety than adequate tread depth and proper inflation levels. Age alone is a major factor in tire safety. As tires age, the rubber dries out and makes them more prone to blowouts and tread separation. This applies to new-old-stock tires as well as to used tires.

No laws in the United States restrict the age of tires. In states with inspection laws - Florida is not one of them - all that is tested is tread wear. A tire has a useful life of six years. Accordingly, for consumers to get at least two years of useful life from a tire, it should be no more than four years old at the time of purchase.

Unfortunately, retailers can sell tires that are more than six years old. Many are much older, sometimes 15 years and above. These tires are accidents waiting to happen.

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September 27, 2010

Florida Motor Vehicle Insurance Premium Increase, Policy Cancellation Following Accident

We are frequently asked if insurance premiums will be increased or policies canceled or non-renewed because of a motor vehicle accident. If the insured was not substantially at faulpretty answer is No. See Florida Statute 626.9541(1)(o)3. An insurance company's violation of this statute may subject it to a civil lawsuit and government fines for engaging in an unfair and deceptive act.

Further consumer protection is afforded by Florida Statute 626.9702, which provides as follows:

(1) No insurer shall impose or request an additional premium for automobile insurance, or refuse to renew a policy, solely because the insured or applicant was convicted of one or more traffic violations which do not involve an accident or do not cause revocation or suspension of the driving privileges of the insured, without adequate proof of a direct, demonstrable, objective relationship between the violation for which the surcharge was imposed and the increased risk of highway accidents.

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