Mass Torts

A single tort occurs when civil actions (rather than criminal) causes someone harm or loss.

Truck Accidents

Florida Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer

Accidents involving large trucks can have devastating consequences. Because eighteen-wheelers weigh so much more than an average car, the impact is much more severe than an accident involving vehicles similar in size. In 2007, more than 5,000 people died in crashes involving large trucks in the United States.

In addition to the size of the truck, driver fatigue is another factor that makes these accidents to dangerous. Recent studies have shown that one in five semi truck drivers reported that they have fallen asleep behind the wheel at lease once in the course of a month.

Contact our experienced Florida Accident Lawyer and get your questions answered

Florida has specific laws for tractor trailer rigs and other large trucks. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck, it is important that you hire an attorney with extensive knowledge of these laws. Our Florida accidents attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have handled hundreds of cases involving commercial trucks. We have the experience and financial resources to take on the most powerful trucking companies and insurance giants.

If you’re injured in a crash with a truck, you and your family could be eligible for compensation to cover medical expenses, pain, emotional distress and lost wages. Please contact our firm to have an experienced Florida accident lawyer to represent you.

Know thy Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) in the Commercial Motor Vehicle “Big-Rig” Trucking Case
Tractor-Trailer Underride Accident Analysis:  Steering the Case to a Positive Result
Truck Driver DepositionQuestions/Checklist

Defective Airbags

While airbags save thousands of lives each year, they also cause serious injuries and even death when they operate improperly due to a defect. During an accident, airbags are designed to deploy in a fraction of a second. This instant deployment requires incredible force and speed—up to 2,000 pounds of pressure released at 200 miles per hour. The combination of incredible force and speed is

Defective Tires

A vehicle’s tires may be considered its most important safety feature. They serve as the contact point between the road and the vehicle, directly influencing the vehicle’s steering and handling, stability, traction, and braking systems. The effects of tire failure can be devastating. When a tire experiences abrupt failure, the driver may lose control of the vehicle while on the road. This is particularly dangerous

Miami Dump Truck Crash Causes 11-Car Pileup and One Death

Traffic accidents plague the state of Florida, causing multiple injuries and deaths on our roads every year. A recent multi-vehicle accident in Miami sent seven people to the hospital. The accident also resulted in one fatality, a female passenger in a taxi.

When a passenger is killed in an accident, it may be seen as more tragic. Often those involved in an accident immediately try to determine who was at fault. Even when more than one driver shares a measure of fault for an accident, it is not likely that a passenger can ever blamed. When a person is killed in an accident, and that accident was caused by the negligence of another, it can be legally called a wrongful death.

In the event of a wrongful death, the family of the deceased can be awarded compensation for a number of things, including:

  • Loss of income — if the deceased was a significant provider at the time of death;
  • Loss of companionship — if the deceased was married or partnered at the time of death;
  • Medical expenses — if the deceased was transported by ambulance, treated in a hospital or by a private physician prior to death;
  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering — in some cases there are additional damages added to the award to compensate the surviving loved ones for their loss. This award is often determined by the degree of negligence assigned to the person who caused the death.

There are many overwhelming emotions following the unexpected death of a loved one, and often many details to take care of regarding burial, notification and distribution of the estate. In the tumult following an accidental death it can be nearly impossible for family members to think about the legal implications of a wrongful death lawsuit.  Unfortunately, putting together a legal case once a significant amount of time has elapsed is difficult.

During those painful days, weeks and months following the accidental death of your loved one, turn to Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath to assist you in putting together the details of your lawsuit. We will advocate for you so you receive the maximum compensation for your loss. Call our West Palm Beach offices at 561-665-1990 or contact us online to make an appointment for your free consultation.

Head Injuries Can Have Lasting and Life-Changing Effects

Collisions can cause serious injuries among drivers and passengers alike. Even accidents with only minor impact can result in serious head injury, especially in children. A recent accident on Florida’s business highway 98 sent two 10-year-old boys to the hospital with head injuries. The drivers of both vehicles involved were treated for minor injuries and released at the scene, but the children were transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola for treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a condition that affects about 2.5 million Americans per year. Children and adults over the age of 65 are particularly vulnerable to TBI. The most common causes of TBI are:

  • Falling
  • Traffic accidents
  • Sports accidents
  • Assault

 Most of the time, people who get hit in the head during a sporting event or collide with the dashboard in a car accident suffer from minor concussion and recover without any lasting effects. In more serious cases, traumatic impact to the head can result in serious injury and have lasing effects. It is important to recognize the signs of TBI so the victim can receive treatment as quickly as possible in order to optimize recovery.

Here are some signs to look for:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Trouble balancing or standing

It is often difficult to determine the severity of a head injury at the scene of the accident or impact. If there is any suspicion that a child or adult may have suffered TBI as a result of an accident, it is essential that they be transported to a hospital immediately. With treatment and rehabilitation, most TBI victims do recover. Some, however, may suffer from permanent brain damage that completely changes their quality of life, ability to work or impairs cognitive function.

A Traumatic Brain Injury can be life changing. If you or someone you love has been head injured as a result of an accident, consult with an attorney with expertise in the field of TBI. At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath we care about your injuries and your quality of life. We fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 561-665-1990 or online to make an appointment for your free consultation.

Seat Back Collapse Litigation: Alive and Well

During the past several months, our firm has reviewed several new potential cases involving seat back collapse. These cases all involved relatively late model vehicles where the seat backs collapsed in a moderate speed rear end crash, resulting in severe spinal cord injuries.

Seat back collapse litigation has been ongoing between injured consumers and the automobile industry for at least thirty years. Despite decades of litigation and untold millions of dollars paid to injured consumers, the industry continues to pump out millions of lower end vehicles that have cheap seats that fail.

As a result, seat back collapse lawsuits are, unfortunately, still alive and well. As with the cases we’ve recently reviewed and handled in past years the fact pattern is generally the same: client is a driver or passenger in a vehicle which is stopped at a light or stop sign. Their car is rear-ended by another driver at a moderate speed – typically 20 to 35 miles per hour. The client’s seat back collapses, throwing them backwards. The client is paralyzed or suffers a catastrophic head injury due to the structure of a collapsed seat back rupturing their spinal cord or causing their head to hit the back of the vehicle. Even though the crash was one that should have only resulted in minor injuries, the client has permanent catastrophic injuries.

This problem generally only affects lower end vehicles with poorly designed seats. Cost of the seat is usually always a factor. These injuries do not happen to occupants seated in vehicles with good seats – think Mercedes, Volvo, etc…

Tragically, the worst of these cases involve injuries to back seated children. When a seat back collapses, if there is a child seated directly in back of the occupant whose seat collapses, the child can be injured when the front seated occupant’s head slams into the child’s face or chest. We made an advocacy video about one of these cases several years ago that involved a four year old client of ours named Alyssa Perrino. Alyssa suffered a catastrophic brain injury when her grandfather’s car was rear ended. His seat back collapsed resulting in his head impacting Alyssa’s head. Had the seat back not failed she would have likely not been injured.

Studies dating back to the early 1960’s show the industry has been well aware of the need for properly designed seat backs for decades. In 1968, after extensive testing, researchers determined that rigid seat backs guarantee more effective support of the occupant during rear-end collisions, providing the seat back support is high enough to also resist rearward movement of the head. Conversely, a seat that yields appreciably rearward places the motorist in a semi-reclined posture that may serve to attenuate some of the injury-producing forces. A well designed seat balances both of these factors to result in good crash protection for occupants. Unfortunately a good crashworthy seat costs money, and when some companies cut costs it comes at the expense of more dangerous seats that fail when they should protect.

In 1967, the NHTSA first published Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 207, which calls for a uniform loading test for seats and seat backs. The test simply requires that an empty seat be attached to a pulley and a static load 20 times the empty seat weight is applied rearward. The seat will pass if there is only minimal rearward bending. For example, an empty seat equal to 10 pounds is required to withstand a static load of only 200 pounds before collapsing. FMVSS 202, adopted in 1968, similarly sets loading limits for headrests. This is an absurdly low minimum standard and has no correlation to whether the seat will protect occupants.

Some manufacturers build good seats that are designed to protect occupants. Other manufacturers design their seats to only pass the minimum safety standard. This still happens today with certain lower end makes and models, despite decades of litigation and industry insiders knowing full well that many vehicles have cheap seats that will fail in certain crashes. As a result, for certain cars, moderate rear end crashes will continue to result in seat backs collapsing and occupants being injured.

Spring Break Parties May Cause Teen Traffic Accident Deaths

Spring break is a welcome release of the tensions of college studies for many American students. Many students head to warm climates with swim suits and close friends, and look forward to a week of music, dancing and fun. Unfortunately, the combination of teen impulsivity, alcohol, poor judgment and lack of adult supervision can end in tragedy. In March three Houston teenagers were killed when their car crossed a median line, overcorrected and lost control. The driver was looking at her phone, which she was using as a GPS device when the accident occurred.

Distracted driving is only one danger associated with the annual spring break ritual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a list of high-risk behaviors that are often implicated in accidents caused by teenagers on vacation. These include:

  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Driver Fatigue
  • Misuse of seatbelts and airbags
  • Driving on unfamiliar roads
  • Speeding

According to the CDC, drunk drivers kill someone every 31 minutes. Spring break parties are notoriously saturated in alcohol, so telling teens not to drink at their spring break parties is not particularly practical. However, parents can and should stress to their teen drivers and passengers that drinking and driving is a fatal mix, and that there is no safe amount they can drink prior to getting behind the wheel.

In addition to the above driving hazards, parents should speak to the their spring break goers about other health and safety issues such as swimming responsibly, practicing safe sex and avoiding violence, vandalism and other irresponsible behavior.

Vacation with friends can be great fun, but there is nothing fun about the aftermath of a fatal accident. Most young drivers are not aware of what steps they need to take immediately following an accident. The car accident attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have a checklist to help drivers keep track of details and information. If you or a family member has been involved in an accident, you may be able to collect money for lost wages, hospital bills and other costs. Contact us at 561-665-1990 or online to make an appointment for your free consultation.

Teen Killed in Motorcycle Crash to Become Poster Boy for Safety

Motorcycles are often invisible to cars.  Many fatal accidents are caused by drivers who are unaware of a motorcycle and fail to see them merging into traffic or crossing into their lane. One such incident resulted in the tragic death of Panama City teen Dylan Corbin, 19, who was thrown from his motorcycle and died of his injuries last fall. Now, Corbin’s image has joined fellow accident victim Kristopher John McElhenny, 18, who was killed under similar conditions in 2002. The two boys have become the face of Florida’s new motorcycle safety campaign encouraging drivers to “Look Twice, Save a Life.”

With its balmy weather and long stretches of highway, Florida is a great place to enjoy riding a motorcycle. However, the mix of motorcycles and cars and trucks on the same roads, traveling at high speeds can be deadly. Even with proper safety gear, a motorcyclist is extremely vulnerable in an accident.

Common motorcycle accident scenarios include:

  • Failure to negotiate a bend — especially when traveling at high speed, or when there is sand, salt or debris on the road, a motorcyclist can easily enter an uncontrolled skid while attempting to lean into a bend;
  • Overtaking a vehicle — in a contest between a motorcycle and a car, the car is likely to win. Overtaking another vehicle requires skill and timing. Often the motorcycle is not visible to the driver of the car, so the biker must correctly and accurately gage the speed and trajectory of the car, as well as the acceleration of the bike in order to overtake it safely;
  • Collision at an intersection — Bikers are required to follow all traffic flow laws, and sometimes act impatiently at stop or yield signs.
  • Merging into traffic — many accidents occur when a motorcycle, eager to join the flow, merges at an unsafe speed without fully clearing the traffic, thereby cutting off a car in the lane.

In addition to these common accidents, motorcycles are vulnerable to road conditions. When it’s raining or foggy, visibility is compromised and motorcycles are even more invisible to cars. It is crucial that bikers use proper lighting, reflective tape and protective gear at all times.

Accidents happen, and motorcycle accidents are often serious or fatal. If you have been involved in an accident, it is important that you act quickly to document the events of the crash. A personal injury lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath can help you get compensation for your injuries. Call our West Palm Beach offices at 561-665-1990 or contact online to make an appointment for your free consultation.

How to Properly Use Car Seats and Booster Seats for Older Children

The CDC estimates that 638 children ages 12-years old and younger died as passengers in automobiles in 2013, more than 127,000 children were injured in car crashes. Another study found that more than 618,000 children age 0-12 rode in motor vehicles without the use of a car seat, booster or seat belt “some of the time.” This is a staggering statistic considering that 38% of the children who died in car crashes in 2013 were not buckled up at all.

As kids get older it can be tempting to just buckle them into the car with a regular seatbelt than negotiate with child seats and boosters. A study by the University of Michigan’s Pediatric Trauma Program suggested that parents should remain as vigilant with older children and car safety seats as they are with infants.

What Guidelines Can Parents Follow to Make Sure Kids Are Safe in Cars?
A new law enacted in January 2015 says that children under 5-years old must use a child safety seat or booster in Florida. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“FLHSMV”) provided additional guidance to parents for making the decision to switch children 5-years and older to just a seatbelt:

  • Keep them in a booster until the child is at least 4 foot 9 inches tall, or until they can sit al the way back in the seat and bend their knees at the edge of the seat.
  • Make sure the shoulder belt lays across the chest and not the neck.
  • The lap belt should lay across the upper thighs and not the stomach.

The FLHSMV also suggested that children under the age of 13 should rid in the back of seat of the car whenever possible.

The Car Seat or Booster Did Not Protect My Child – Now What?
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 (“FMVSS 213”) says that child car seats and boosters must comply with certain standards. Unfortunately, products do hit the market that either do not comply with these standards or are designed in a way that can still cause a child to be thrown around or ejected, resulting in serious injury or death.

A defectively designed car seat may not provide enough head protection to a child. or it may be that the carrier separated from the base during impact. In most car seat injury cases the car seat manufacturer tries to blame the parents for not installing the car seat properly rather than admitting that the product had a defective design.

The product liability attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have the experience and resources to investigate accidents involving defective car seats and hold the manufacturers responsible. If your child has been injured while properly restrained in a child car seat then you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our office today for a free consultation.  If you have any questions on this blog or need information on other personal injury queries, please call the Law offices of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath located in West Palm Beach at 1-800 4-RIGHTS  (1-800- 474-4487)  We welcome your call and look forward to helping you.